Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Or at least I hope some of you have noticed my absence from blogging.

My family and I just returned from a trip to Missouri and Texas.

We visited with friends in Missouri and visited family in Texas. On the way back home we stopped in Missouri again to look at some property we’ve had our eye on and then back home. It was a nice time away and I will be catching up on my blog reading and posting over the next few days.

 

6 Years Ago

It was six years ago today that this little girl legally became our daughter.

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I had often heard that adoption is not for the faint of heart and that was proven to be true for us.   We had gone to visit her.  We held her in our arms.  We watched her play and watched her sleep.  We fed her, bathed her, changed her diapers and rocked her to sleep.  In our hearts, she was our daughter.  She was already part of our family.

Then Guatemala shut down adoptions and no one knew for sure if the adoptions currently in process would move thru or not.  Two months later  I received word that our adoption had been finalized and the tears began to flow.  The little girl we already knew as our daughter was now legally ours.

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Five weeks later we traveled to Guatemala to bring her home.  It was a whirlwind of emotions and our lives have forever been changed in amazing ways because Liliana is our little girl.

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Lili loves animals.  She has a Papillion she named Jagger and hopes to have sheep and horses on our little homestead one day.

DSC_1327Even though she hasn’t always been with us, it’s difficult to even remember life without her in it.

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We love you Lili, our little Guatemala princess!!!

**I took these pictures today.  Lili has been sick for just over a week now and is finally getting over bronchitis and a sinus infection.  She still looks a little under the weather in some of the photos and yet her beauty still shines through.

Ending Christmas Day

Lili woke up early this morning, wanting to know if Santa had arrived. She was trying hard to patiently wait for Naomi to wake up, not able to lie still and wanting to talk. None of us knowing exactly when Naomi will finally begin to stir, I asked Lili if she wanted to wake Naomi. Without hesitation she jumped out off bed and headed to Naomi’s room. Soon, both girls came bouncing down the hall waiting for all of us to go downstairs. The anticipation of Christmas morning almost more than they could handle. I told them to go check to see if Santa had come, both quickly turning around and wasting no time getting down the stairs. I could hear excited chatter and then both coming back to report their findings. Soon we were all ready to go down together and with a fire burning in the fireplace, we settled in to begin opening gifts.  A reminder of the rule – one person at a time opening a gift, going youngest to oldest. Everyone watching and waiting to see what the recipient received before the next person opens a gift.

Soon, all the gifts were opened. Wrapping paper, boxes and gifts now occupying different areas of the living room. The mess on Christmas morning is always welcome. It’s a lovely sight that I look forward to each year. As I begin to pick up, I sing Christmas songs and remember the smiles, laughter, excitement and surprise.

It was a good day!

Merry Christmas!

 

A New Holiday Tradition

Unlike me, hubby was an avid reader when we got married.  It was one good example of how much our upbringing effected us.  Books were a big thing in his house, not so much in mine.  Yet, his love of books rubbed off on me.  Eventually, I began to read more and developed an appreciation and love of the written word in ways I never had before.  As a result, books became a big thing in our home.  Not at first, but over time.

My girls have an extensive library of books available to them and we began reading to them soon after bringing them home.  Our traditional bedtime routine has always included at least one book at bedtime.  Even when getting to bed later than usual, they still want/need/expect to have a book read to them.  It’s part of the routine, the tradition of bedtime.

We have many established Holiday traditions, but I’m always happy to try out something new that I think might make a good tradition in our home.  A few years ago, I was introduced to a tradition over at The Cloud Chronicles.  It seemed quite fitting for our book loving family, so last year I decided to give it a try.  Each evening, as the girls were getting ready for bed, I would pull out two new Christmas/Holiday books for them to read.  For a couple weeks, leading up to Christmas, we would read these books, with “The Night Before Christmas” being read on Christmas Eve.   The excitement and joy on their faces as we read their new books each evening was so much fun and I decided to make it even more fun and exciting this year.  I expanded the collection and wrapped each book, then placed them under the tree.  I went a little overboard in buying books for this year (assuming it’s really possible to buy too many books), as there were enough for each of the girls to open one from the end of November to New Years Day.  I was excited about our new tradition and when the girls discovered all the books under the tree, they were excited as well.  We could hardly wait to get started.

The first evening they got ready for bed, then cheerfully ran to the Christmas tree, plopped down on the floor and carefully selected their wrapped treasures.  One at a time they pulled off the wrapping paper to see what books we would be reading.  Daddy read one book and mommy read the other.  Then the joy melted away as one of the girls decided she wasn’t happy with opening only one book.  I began to watch our new Holiday tradition evaporate into thin air as we dealt with an unhappy child who was going to bed that night having opened only one book.  However, we would try again the next night and hope for a happier experience.

And the next night was happier.  Once again the girls bounded to the Christmas tree, plopped down on the floor and began sifting through the wrapped books in search of the perfect package.  Each of them opening their books, daddy reading one and mommy reading the other then reading the books opened the night before once again.  Four books read, in the quiet of our beautifully decorated living room, enjoying time together as a family and creating wonderful memories.  Unfortunately, night two didn’t go much better.  The same child was again unhappy that she couldn’t open another book.  The wonder, anticipation and excitement of all those books under the tree was just a bit too much for her to handle.  So another night we put an unhappy child to bed after reading four books and leaving all the others under the tree.  Our wonderful memory turning somewhat sour.

We tried again the following night and the following night and the following night.  Daddy and mommy getting more and more frustrated that our family reading time was ending with so much drama.

Then it happened.  The girls picked out their books and opened them.  We read their selections and they each chose an already opened book to read before going to bed for the night.  No tears, no complaining, just enjoyable family reading time.  And the child who had not been happy the previous nights asked, “Are you proud of me?  I’m not whining and crying about opening more books.”

Yes, very proud and so happy!!!

Maybe our new Christmas tradition will work out after all.  A mixture of books from last year, some new selections this year, all wrapped and under the tree.  Just the four of us spending time together, reading, and creating memories.

Our collection of wrapped and unwrapped Holiday books.
Our collection of wrapped and unwrapped Holiday books.

It’s true, Christmas can feel like a lot of work, particularly for mothers.  But when you look back on all the Christmases in your life, you’ll find you’ve created family traditions and lasting memories.  Those memories, good and bad, are really what help to keep a family together over the long haul.  – Caroline Kennedy