Monday, April 7, 2014

silly moments

Just some fun shots (for the record!) over the last several weeks.

There are moments when I could not love these boys more.  They are just remarkable little dudes.  And they are having the time of their lives running around like wild banshees with their posse in the 'hood.  This neighborhood is like something from a time gone by.  The children can literally be on the next street, down at the creek, or in the woods playing and they are totally fine.  And I don't say that lightly.  All of us parents in the neighborhood revel in the sweetness of our children truly running free as children should be able to.  

Hence, our return to nightly baths.  They have been coming home so, so very nasty.  Oh my.  



Recently, for the adoption of a certain young lady, all of us had to have TB tests.  Oh my goodness.  This was not a requirement for James' adoption -- nor were, a-hem, psych evals for JD and me!  Yowzers.  That's going to be fun.

Here's Jackson taking one for the team.  What a trooper.  :)

Then, out to lunch.  These are the sweet spots of homeschooling -- the ability to be flexible and spontaneous.

And serious.

And silly!

Some friends of ours from church moved into our neighborhood recently (so fun!) so we had them over for dinner and then invited a bunch of neighbors to come by for dessert, a beer, a glass of wine or a cup of coffee.  The kids enjoyed it as much as the adults did!

A few of the littler ones.

The bigger ones always end up outside.

Last week, I had to register Payton and Avery for their classes at Westminster Academy for next year.  Think college class registration before computers (if you're old like me and experienced that!).  Although, thankfully, at Westminster there's only a couple hundred students as compared to 10,000+ like there was at UT (Knoxville).  

Anyway, when there, I asked the Director what she thought I should do about Christine in that we don't know when she'll be coming home or what grade she'll be in.  Her suggestion was to go ahead and register her for some classes so her space will be reserved.  

Look at what I had to write for the first time!  Christine Beam.  Omigosh!  


Spring officially sprung last week.  It was awesome.  The boys in our neighborhood decided it was time to shed their shirts and make perfectly clear just how warm it really was.    


That's a lot of bare chests.

Bring on the tulips!

We're wrapping up our school year and, with the weather being what it's been, we just had to go to the zoo.  It'd been so very long since we last went.  

We had such a ball!  

There are times when I just yearn to run off with my kids somewhere.  

Look at these beautiful creatures.  Giraffes are truly something special.  Gorgeous.

But their tongues...let's just say they're not so gorgeous.

Look at the cheeks on that cutie (I'm talking about James!)

Look at that tongue!  Eeek!

Hello, eyelashes.

Feeding the birds.  James is having the time of his life.  Ha!




That evening, we dropped P off at choir and decided to stroll to a nearby restaurant to eat dinner.  We then sat outside and enjoyed Sweet Frog.  A lovely evening.  





The slip flops have sprung!


James climbed that tree by himself.  He's holding on for dear life, isn't he?!  Sweet boy will let nothing stop him!  Nothing.  










Thursday, April 3, 2014

shocker.

A post two days in a row?!

It's a miracle.  :)

Perhaps my posts wouldn't be 862 paragraphs long if I posted more frequently.

Ugh.

I need to do better because I feel like these little lives are passing by so fast and I'm not documenting these precious moments as I want to.

Not to mention the glory there is to share.  James continues to absolutely amaze us!  You should see this child work the Wii remote with his lower lip.  Y'all.  I can't even do it sometimes with my whole hand with five fingers!  He's a maniac.

Let me just list off some things for your reading pleasure about James:

1.  The boy is p-o-t-t-y t-r-a-i-n-e-d.  Yes-oh-yes he is.  It was a long time coming.  And it got a little ugly there at the end, to be honest.  We've never had to negatively reinforce potty training before.  Ick.  But we made it!

2.  This winter was a little rough for him (and us).  Poor little dude coughed himself silly for months.  Including throwing up in his bed many a night from coughing so much.  That's my favorite thing ever when parenting -- pukey bedsheets in the middle of the night.  Yee-haw, baby.

It appears he's an asthmatic.  Poor baby.  Lots of breathing treatments and now a daily inhaler that seems to be doing the trick, hence, why it's believed he probably has asthma.  We'll know more when I take him back to the doctor in a week or so.


3.  We celebrated two years with this little dude!  Crazy!  We look back at photos and he was a baby.  He has grown and changed so much.  It's just amazing.   It's like I thought he wasn't going to grow or something.  

In this photo, he's holding a framed picture of us in China that Aunt Karen sent as a two-year Gotcha Day gift.  Super sweet.  Thank you, K.  :)

4.  A classmate from school invited him to his first birthday party.  It was a princesses and super heroes party.  Little man got to go in his Halloween costume.

Superman was adopted too.  :)

He's quite the ladies' man.  All his friends from school are girls.  

Wearing Avery's rain boots.  And smirking, of course.

5.  One of the most amazing things to report that relates to James is the enormous blessing his preschool has become to us.  All four of our older kids went to a different preschool very close to where we used to live.  It was a great school.  For seven years we had at least one child there.  In fact, there was one sweet teacher there that every one of them had.  The whole experience was just sweet to us.  We were excited to send James there too, but then we moved five miles away and there was a preschool just down the road from our new house that many neighbors used.  I had to look into it.  Right away, I had the feeling we should give it a try.  One big reason was that the building was so much more accessible for James -- no stairs!  The old preschool required him to go up and down stairs every time they entered or left the building.  That made me nervous.  Someone would always need to be near him.  But at the new school, he could march right into the building all by himself and I loved that.  

But more than that, when James and I toured it this time last year, the women there just seemed so open and willing to have him.  It was like they really didn't care that he has only a partial arm and partial hand and he may need extra help here and there.

Pretty much from the start James has loved it!  One morning I bawled hysterically as I pulled away because he marched his little self right into that building without looking back and instantly I saw how far he'd come from being abandoned as a newborn in China to the very capable and lovable boy that he is.  It seems these kinds of moments just come out of nowhere.  It was cathartic.

That child is a fighter, a winner, a doer, an overcomer, a dream come true.

Last month, they sent home the contracts to reserve your child's spot for the 2014-2015 year, with the requirement of a $400 deposit.  Yikes!

Our thoughts went to our being in the middle of an adoption and being unsure what next school year will hold.  Christine will very likely be home with us and she will need to go to school.  Yes, it's a personal choice, but, at this time, we wish to homeschool her and have her take classes at Westminster Academy (where Payton and Avery are and very likely where all our kids will end up).  We love this hybrid-style of education for our family.  Having them home three days a week and at school two days a week is perfect.  And it seems the kinder option for Christine as she transitions into her new life with us.  But that left us unsure of whether we could afford to pay for all we can with this adoption in addition to paying for three kids to take classes at Westminster in the fall, so I kindly responded to James' school saying that we were not going to be able to commit to James returning next year due to our adoption and the unknowns of next year.  I explained that we love St. Mary's and hope to have him there next year, but we just can't commit right now.

To my surprise, the director came back with an email that brought tears to my eyes.  She immediately said how much they love James and want him at St. Mary's.  She said he is a blessing to the teachers and students.  She asked if we would consider a scholarship.

Come again.

I thanked her for her kindness and told her we were humbled by such a generous offer, but we didn't want to prevent someone from a scholarship they really need.  She said the board was meeting the following day and if it were okay with us, she wanted to tell the board about our family and our adoptions and request a scholarship on our behalf.

Amazing.

Fast forward two weeks and we were awarded almost a full scholarship for James to attend preschool next year.

These are the kinds of things that God does to show us that He's with us.  

People often express to us a fear of adopting because they don't know how they'll afford it or afford another child.

We so get it.

We so get it.

We have those thoughts too.  Oh yes we do.

But then they quickly fade as we remember His faithfulness to us over and over again.

So we choose to trust Him.

Again and again and again.

And guess what?

He is faithful.  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

good news!


Omigoodness, I've been waiting almost three months to write this post!  Perhaps compared to this announcement, nothing else seemed worthy of reporting?

We are adopting Christine!  

And she now knows!

We weren't able to say anything publicly until she was notified and we found out last week that she was notified by her orphanage director because the Philippines gave them the official word.

You are being adopted.

The Beams are adopting you.

You've been chosen.

You're not alone.

You're loved.   

Her reaction?

Ecstatic

Screamed

Cried

Can you believe that?  

Sweet girl.  

We had to say good-bye to her without being allowed to have a single conversation with her about whether she would even like us to adopt her.  We certainly didn't enter into hosting her with the plans of adopting her, but she quickly gelled with everyone in our family and we started having secret conversations about whether or not we should consider adopting her.  We suddenly went from closed hearts to open hearts and we were asking God why.

Immediately upon her departure (like that night!), we sat the kids down to talk to them about the hosting experience.  We wanted to see if we all felt a void now that Christine was gone or if it was back to 'business as usual.'  It was not.  We were sad.  :(

That was a powerful sign.    

Why did God have us all on the same page?  How did Payton's hesitancies of having an older sibling suddenly disappear?  How did my dread of adopting again dissolve at the idea of adopting a sweet teenage girl versus a toddler (uh, very easily!  ha!).  It felt like a crazy turn of events, but it also felt very right.  

So, in January, we began a new home study.  And I'm happy to say that it should be done any day.  Just waiting for a few last pieces and -- boom! -- approved!

We've already started working on our dossier so that's good.  We're hoping to travel sooner rather than later.

Thank you so, so much for your prayers and support.  

Sometimes I can't believe we're adopting again!







  

Thursday, February 20, 2014

shackled to technology

We hear all the time how dependent we are on technology, but until our 'technology' (I feel like it should work flawlessly at all times if it's so technological) throws me a curve, I think I could easily go without it.

Not so much.

Our computer's been acting up for many weeks.  By acting up I mean not connecting to the internet, not sending emails, not saving things, etc.  We'd determined that it wasn't our network because all other devices work great.

So I threw up my hands and cast it aside in frustration depending solely on my phone and iPad.  The end of the world, I know.

Then about two weeks ago, we started hearing this hum coming from the back of our TV.  Sounded like the fan.  Once or twice the TV even flicked off unexpectedly.  We thought it odd and turned it back on.

I finally decide enough us enough and make an appointment at the Apple store for our trusty (albeit four years old) computer. Three hours later, I leave with a diagnosis of nothing wrong with the hardware, must be a software issue.

What?!

Where's the easy fix I was hoping for?

Return it it factory settings, I request.  They tell me it will work like new.  I no longer care what may be lost...I can't go on this way!  Oh, JD did back most of it up on an external hard drive but still.  I saunter home excited for a computer that, as the man at Apple said, will work like it just came out of the box.

Nope.

Still can't get on Google, hence no blogging for me with access to photos -- or the lovely post I did that never saved on that darn device so it's one paragraph in length when it was ten paragraphs and rich with updates and photos of all things Beam.

Oh, and did I mention that our TV quit for good last night?  Won't even turn on.  It's only a year and a half old.  The only other TV in our house is a 1992 16" that's a box (gasp -- it's not even a flat screen!).

Guess we'll try to watch the U.S. Men's hockey finals tonight on old technology that actually lasts more than a year or two.

What is wrong with how things are made these days?!  We have much more important things to spend money on than TVs and computers!

Did I mention that our refrigerator that we got in June has had five repairs to it already?  The Sears guy told me when he was here last week that four parts replaced equals a lemon and we can request a new machine.

Fantastic.

That's what I want to do is just keep passing this junk off to get new pieces of junk.

Okay, I'm done.  :)

There's my post on why no posts and stating that I don't know when there will be another one.







Sunday, January 26, 2014

hitting the ground running

No photos for this post because I don't have my computer.  I'm sitting in a hotel room on my iPad with Avery asleep next to me (gymnastics meet).  But an update's overdue so here's a wordy, picture-less one.

January's been a busy month.

We celebrated New Years at the lake with my mom and Allen.  Soo relaxing and laid back.  We wanted Christine to experience The Bump (aka Bumpass) and we all wanted to spend some more time with them over the holidays.  And Christine loves BBQ ribs and my mom does a bang up job with a delicious recipe of Allen's mom's, Lois, so that was our plan for New Years Eve.  Of course, everyone hit the sack before midnight except JD, Payton and Christine.  I'm done trying to hang on until midnight...so pathetic.  I'm just a 10 PM girl.  Maybe 11:00, if I'm being a real rebel.  :)

The following weekend Avery's gym hosted their annual meet (the New Year Opener) so Avery and I spent all day Saturday at the gym -- she competed then I had to 'do my shift.'  Brooks and Jackson had their first Upward basketball game that morning.  I missed it.  Pooh.  They love basketball!  I'll post photos at some point.  They're so stinkin' cute.

Then, on the 16th, it was the day we were all dreading...saying goodbye to Christine.  She handled it with such poise and grace.  None of us cried.  I was close, but really wanted to hold it together for her.  It began to snow on the way to the airport at 4:30 AM.  Poor girl missed the snow by an hour or two.  One of her greatest requests was one we had no control over.  It came the day she left.  Boo.

Our time with Christine was truly special.  She is a remarkable young lady.  She has a lot of bumps
and bruises from a childhood she did not create nor choose and yet she's full of zest, adventure, joy and the capacity to love.

It baffles us why she was never hosted before.  She doesn't know why either.  She was just never picked.  God definitely picked her for us because we were open to hosting anyone, just not a teenage boy. Well, guess what?  When we were ready to be matched the only children left were teenage boys and Christine.  Bingo.  We knew she was the one for us!

Our only real 'concern' was how she would get along with the children, especially Payton.

Oh my.

Why do I doubt God's ability -- and desire! -- to give us what we wish for?!

She and Payton hit it off.  The first night (Christine had been with us for two hours), Christine invited Payton to share the guest room with her.  We encouraged it knowing Christine normally shares a room with three or four other girls, so being put in a room by herself in a strange house, in a foreign land with complete strangers might be a little daunting for her.  She took me up on my offer!

Payton and Christine sat up talking in bed and learned that they have a lot in common -- the both love music, reading, movies, singing, etc.  The next day, Christine slept until noon and Payton told me, through her grin, that she wasn't expecting to have so much in common with Christine.  That was the beginning of a great friendship between those two.

Christine also bonded with our other kids too -- she was a huge fan of James (who isn't?!), but also had sweet moments with Jackson and Avery and Brooks.  She really likes them as people.  She was
very complimentary about Avery and Jackson's character and personalities.  She and Brooks got along great too, but Brooks is our solo guy...he's very happy to be outside by himself exploring the yard and woods.  He often goes off and does his own thing, so although he was the one who asked me about ten times when she was going to wake up that first morning, and he sheepishly whispered things to me like, 'I'm so glad Christine's here' or 'Does she have to leave so soon?', he isn't an overtly outward person who is overly expressive around his fondness for others -- except certain friends who are always his 'best friend.' :)  Sweet boy.

Every time James went to school or Christine was separated  from him for a time, when they would reunite, she would hug him and tell him she missed him.  Oh my goodness, so sweet!  And James definitely took a liking to Christine.  So much so that one day, as we were driving down the road lamenting out loud about how Christine only had a couple more days with us, James blurted out, "Mama, why can't we adopt Christine?  I want to!"  He's definitely coming to understand the concept of adoption and thinks this is a very simple request, like 'Can we eat lunch at Chick-Fil-A today?'  So sweet and innocent, a child's heart!

Nonetheless, we definitely miss Christine and felt a void when we returned home from the airport.  We would love nothing more than to bring her back again this summer.  We shall see.

Praying...




















Sunday, January 5, 2014

christmas, family, friends, & eggs?

This Christmas was one of our best yet.

Only God.

We had so much more 'on our plate' than ever before with Christine being here and having a house full, but it was wonderful.

It was full.

Rich.

Abundant.

One I won't soon forget.

On Christmas Eve, Tommy and Wilma (JD's parents) arrived, Beverly and Bootsie came by for a visit and, later that evening, JD's childhood buddy, Theron, and his wife, Jeanette arrived.  We were so tickled that they would want to come spend Christmas with us.  

Shootin' the breeze.



Then it was on to our Christmas Eve tradition of the kids following their strings to their ends to discover their Christmas jammies (did you see this hilarious video?).

It was fun having Christine there to participate in all our family's traditions.






Then Payton had to perform at an 11:00 service for the Virginia Girls Choir.  Eek.  Thankfully, JD and his mama took her while I did the Santa thing at home, but they didn't get home until almost 1 am.  

And before we turned in for the night, Theron got Lucy all wound up to the point of her boot-scooting all over the family room, including on and off the couch.  Such a goofball.  



On to Christmas morning!...

Payton opens a gift from her aunt, uncle and cousin.

James gets a little help with a ribbon from Avery.

The kids drew names and Brooks had to have Christine open her gift from him first.  It was, a-hem, a fart machine...she's quite the prankster and was so excited to get it.  I had to run into Spencers to get it and I couldn't even say the 'f' word.  I'm such a wimp.  I said, 'flatulence machine' and the guy didn't know what I was talking about!   

Avery opens her gift from Christine.  Cute pants and...  

...this shirt.

Then it was P's turn.  Jackson got her the Star Wars shirt she wanted at Delia's, her new fave store.

A sweet little hug.

Then Brooks got the big, magnifying glass he wanted from James so he can go around 
outside and inspect things.

Payton gave James a light-up pillow pet.  His pillow pets until now were all hand-me-downs from his sibs.  In just a matter of a couple of years, they now light up.  Alrighty then.  :)

Avery got Jackson his own throw to curl up under on the couch because he is constantly under one.  And, let's be honest, begs to have one if anyone else is using them -- which is often the case.

James got a LeapPad2 from Mimi and Pappy and we have to beat him off of it with a stick!  :)

Later in the afternoon, my mom and stepdad hit the scene and we had Christmas with them.  

Christine was excited to get the first book of a series she wanted to read (Teardrops).  The girl is a reader.  Like, three days ago, I got her the next three books in the series at the library and she's already read them!  Anyone have the Twilight series they'd like to donate?  She's dying to read it and would like to take it home to her friends.    

A play phone for James to push the buttons on!  :)

Girlfriend loves her Legos!


And Payton got a guitar.  So great!  Now to just get her to play it.

That little ole James told big ole Theron to scoot over so he could sit next to him.  So stinkin' cute!

Oh, and did I mention that our chickens have begun laying?  Our girls decided to get in on the gift giving this Christmas!  Fresh eggs are awesome.  We think three are laying with three more yet to start.  It's super fun to go out there and find the eggs that they like to lay here and there and everywhere!

This is our first one.


What a great Christmas!  Thankful to end 2013 feeling so blessed.     

We're ready to tackle 2014 with gusto!

Happy New Year!
   


















 

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