Monday, December 13, 2010

Catching up with Ashlyn

Ashlyn is a Senior.

Let that sit a minute.

She is a Senior in High School.

She is looking at colleges.

Colleges are looking at her.

I am looking at locks and chains for her bedroom door.

Just kidding.

Kind of.

I am in utter disbelief that this child of mine that I've begged to stay little forever is very much indeed growing up.  But I am in awe of how she has grown in the last 6 months.  She is growing into a beautiful young woman.  She is a compassionate, kind and crazy person who can speak her mind against you and still have you liking her. 

She is completing her final year of high school and finishing up her high school athletic career.  She is considering trying to play volleyball for colleges, contemplating trying out for a few. 

She is thoroughly loving her final year in school with her friends.  They are such a fun bunch of kids and I have loved watching them grow up together.  They have won our local Fall Festival every year except one.  They are so goofy and funny and able to laugh at themselves.  I cannot imagine them not being together.  This year Ashlyn was retiring queen and she got to crown one of her best friends, RayVen, as the new queen.  Trivial in the grand scheme of things?  Yes.  But I still got a little misty....

I am so proud of the example Ashlyn is setting for her little sisters.  And she has made it pretty easy on her parents too.  So far. 

She has such a sweet faith in Jesus.  She just knows that He loves her and has a plan for her.  I am sure she will have a lot of struggles and challenges as she embarks on this next season of life and tries to find her place in this big crazy world.

But I've got to tell you.....

I just cannot wait to watch.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

So.......what's new?

So, as you can see, I've been working on a new blog design with Nikki at Blogs for a Cause. 
She is seriously talented and a joy to work with.  If you need a little spruce-up (and who doesn't from time to time) head on over to her site and see all her gorgeous designs.  If she can clean up the mess that I made of my own blog than she can do just about anything. 

And she's running a special right now on a Christmas look and a another design to be applied after the holidays for one low price. 

I'm tellin' ya, she knows her stuff.  And such a huge heart for God and the orphan!

Now I just need to clean up my side-bars......

I want to give an update on each of the girls, as much for my documentation as well as for you.  I'll begin with Abbey since she has changed the most.

So the Woods family has settled in nicely to life with another teenager in the house.  Abbey has meshed into our lives and hearts so perfectly that you know only our gracious Father could have written this story.  Not that it has always been easy, but we have always known that she was born to be our daughter. 

Abbey spent her summer adjusting and learning all about her new home.  The transition went much smoother that we anticipated.  We prepared for the worst, and hoped for the best and I think we got through the first few months pretty easily.  There was the unavoidable awkwardness and hesitation.  But playing together helped.  We rode four-wheelers, went to ball games, and went swimming in the pool.  Basically we just took it easy and melted into a family.

(playing ninja)
Abbey is now in the 8th grade at school.  She is attending regular classes with the other 8th graders except for last hour, when she meets for one-on-one tutoring to make sure she is doing well and getting all her assignments.  She is graded in the ESOL program, which means that she is not responsible for getting everything perfectly correct.  But she is responsible to participate and cooperate and learn the English that is associated with each subject.  As she is tested, we moniter her progress and as long as she is progressing steadily, we will keep her in this program until she tests at a proficient level. 

(First day of school)

It is unreal how much she has grown in the last 6 months.  She talks all the time now and we can understand her almost always.  She has such a good time at school and school activities.  She has such a nice humor about herself, which helps when we can just laugh at what we are trying to figure out.  She has friends here and still has her friends from China.  She loves talking to them on the phone and it has been such a blessing to watch her freinds follow her into America.  These Luoyang kids are amazing!

Abbey still misses China from time to time.  I think that is normal and healthy for her to be able to express, but it is still hard to hear.  I think I just want her to love it here so much that it is hard to think about her wishing for there.  She was talking about something in China the other day and said, "I want to go there!"  I was really in a sad mood that day anyway, so I asked her if she really wanted to go there.  She replied an excited, "yes!".  I said, "Do you want to go there to stay or visit?"  She told me, "No no no!  My home is here!  I just want to see it then come back here."  Oh my heart!  

She celebrated her 14th birthday on Sept 4th.  This was a day that was to be a celebration of her being with her forever family and not losing her hope of a famiy's love.  However, Wayne's dad died unexpectedly at 12:04am on that day and so her birthday celebration had to be postponed for awhile.  We were not even able to do gifts on that day.  We did run to a store and grab a quick cake to give her that evening at Wayne's parent's house, but it was just a sad day.  Abbey was her usual sweet compliant self, but I know that it must have bothered her.  She had only met her grandfather about 4 times so she wasn't close to him.  It was really difficult.

We did celebrate at a later date: 

Abbey is a beautiful girl on the inside and out.  I am sure that we still have a long way to go in our journey of getting to know her.  But I also know that it is a journey that God called us to take.  I hurt to think of some of the things that she has endured in her life and I am not sure I can handle hearing about it from her.  But I will, when she's ready.  God will show us what she needs and we will faithfully be that for her. 

And to answer the question:  Yes.

Even knowing how hard it's been and knowing that more hardships are to come.....

I would adopt Abbey again in a heartbeat.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Help Please

Hey everyone! 

Life is finally slowing down a wee bit and I am really missing blogging! 

I would really like to get a blog makeover done.  I have piddled around with it a bit, as I am sure you can tell. 

So who did y'all get to tweek up your pages?


Friday, June 11, 2010

Thank you all for your emails of concern and I am sorry if we worried anyone.  We really are doing just fine.  But we are super busy until the end of this month with sports camps and youth camps so my blogging will be sporadic at best. 


Abbey is doing super. It really is much easier than I expected.  That's not to say that there are no challenges, because there are, they are just very managable.  For example, I feel like I must watch her as closely as a little one because she is just so curious about things.  You just never know when she is gonna stick her hand down the garbage disposal to try to figure it out.  Things like that.  But she is very content and happy.  She just has this look of joy on her face most of the time.  Language is still an issue, as expected.  But she does well using her translator or my jibbigo app on my iphone.  Her eating is getting better.  She is very willing to try anything, but she just doesn't really like a big variety of foods.  She loves potatos (and potato chips) and strawberry anything.  She really liked the spaghetti I made the other night.  We are working on her starting to just get up and get her something if she is hungry, instead of waiting until one of us eat.  I have watched her just wait for one of us to go to the kitchen and fix a snack and then realize that she was hungry.  I want her to feel free to fix her own snack at any time.  But we will get there eventually.

She had the oppurtunity to watch Ashlyn and Sarah play volleyball Monday night.  She was pretty impressed but said that she was not gonna get out there and play.  We shall see.....


My sweet Ashlyn had a birthday on the 3rd.  I can't believe that she is 17!  It seems like yesterday that she was a baby in my arms and now she is a young woman.  One word to describe Ash is EASY.  She has been the easiest of all my kids.  She just goes with the flow and doesn't let things get to her.  She is a smart girl with a good head on her shoulders.  She loves God and wants to obey him and gets irritated when people don't take his word seriously.  She is hilarious and makes everything fun.  We absolutely love this girl to peices!  I do not even want to think about her going off to college.  But as all the college brocheres in my mailbox say, that time is approaching. 

I am not much on big organized parties, but I love impromptu get togethers.  We just called up a few friends that were not busy and threw some steaks and hotdogs on the grill and celebrated Ashlyn's day.  Sydney picked out a cake for her, which her and Lauren (my brother's daughter) then smeared in each other's faces.

Abbey has told us that she wants to learn to play the guitar, so our friend Greg gave her a little impromptu lesson.  He said she had a real good grasp on music and would have the guitar down in no time.  (There's no pics of Sarah because she was sweet enough to take these pics for me!)

OK that's all I have time for now.  I have to drive my two college age youth helpers to a training at Jeff City so they can work as small group leaders at our upcoming Super Summer camp!  Driving 5 hours round trip today and tomorrow.  ~sigh~

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Crazy Big Family

Yep that's what Abbey is calling us.  I think she has figured out that life will not be boring in our house.  Our family laughs a lot and at times is just plain nuts.  But we are not boring. 

Abbey is settling in well and I think is doing great.  She still has some moments that I think she may be sad or feel left out of the fast moving conversation, but they are not very often.  She has contacted several friends back in Luoyang using QQ.  She has also contacted several Luoyang friends who are already here in the States.  Tonight during our grandson's t-ball game we were able to call Macy from the KC area.  She has been home since August-ish.  Her mom, Lori, and I have formed a friendship through our adoptions and she is a sweet freind to me.  We called her during the game and Abbey and Macy were able to talk for a good long time.  It was also hilarious for us to watch people walk by and hear Abbey speaking Chinese.  They would whip their heads around with this crazy look on their faces.  HeeHee.  Here are a few pics I managed to take before Abbey turned around to face the other way.  Typical teenager.
And here are a few more pics I took tonight.  I looked at my camera and I had not taken one pic since returning from China.  Shame on me!

These are only of Bryce because Jayden would not get his picture taken.  I"ll have to get him next time.  But look how tough Bryce looks without his front tooth!  Grrrrrrrr!

Ashlyn and Sarah are in volleyball camp this week, it is pretty quiet around here during the day.  But tomorrow Abbey, Sydney, and I will go to town.  Abbey's glasses are ready and we will get to pick them up.  And yes I will get pictures for y'all.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Yes we are home. 

I know that I kind of dropped off there.  But we are having a terrible time with jet lag.  Terrible.  I do not remember it ever being this bad.  However we never made that trip both ways with a 3 year old.  She is just not adjusting.  Right now it is 3am and she is up and ready for the day.  The only progress we have made in her adjustment is moving her up to getting up at 3 instead of 1am.  And those of you with bigger families know that the rest of the kids still need you, even though another child is draining you. 

So here Sydney and I sat.

Ashlyn is doing great.  I think she was back on MO time by Monday!  Freaky child.

Sarah is having a bit more trouble.  She cannot hardly stay awake all day still, which is Sydney's problem too.  We have tried everything to get Syd awake during the day, but about 2-3pm she just crashes.  We have tried everyting from taking a ride on the four wheeler to chasing butterflies to get her to stay awake.  But she just drifts in and out of sleep for about 6 hours during the day.  Grrrrrr.

Abbey is doing wonderful.  She is such a sweet girl with such a positive spirit.  She is not timid about joining in on what we are doing but is not overbearing either.  She does very well speaking to all the new people she meets.  I think this is her best area of English, just casual conversational polite phrases.  She is adjusting well to the time change also.  We took her shopping Tuesday to get her some shorts and I told her how many pair we were gonna buy her when we first got there.  She looked and looked with her brow deeply furrowed.  It was kind of sad because I know that she was thinking that none of this looks like what she is used to.  But she did come out with 5 pair to try on and we bought her two of them.  She is a size 1!  Little bitty thing!  But I was happy that she could fit in to the juniors sizes.  I was afraid she would have to go to the little girls section and not be able to find anything old enough for her. 

We have had several visitors, but nothing overwhelming.  We have two boys that are friends of the girls stop by and they chatted with Abbey alot.  She did very well with them.  They used the translator to communicate what they could not.  Ashlyn noticed that Abbey would put what she wanted to say into the translator and then let it translate it into English, then read it and say it herself.  I thought that was a very good thing.  She is a very smart girl. 

She gets up every morning and makes her bed, which I love teasing my other two teenagers about.  She helps with dishes when we all do them and yesterday just went in and started washing them on her own.  Nice. 

Today we have eye exams for Abbey and Sarah.  I don't remember if I mentioned it on here that we discovered in China that Abbey usually wears glasses but she left them at the orphanage for the other kids to use.  She has also complained of a headache several times, so we think that may be related.  Please pray for us at her exam at 1:00.  Sarah is due too, so we figured that if Sarah went first and Abbey watched that maybe it would help her understand what is going on.  Hopefully we can communicate well enough to get a good diagnosis on her eyes. 

Overall, it could not be going better.  I prepared for the worst, and it is not anything like that.  I know we are still in the early stages of this, but I am so relieved that she is doing so well.  God is so good to us.  There is no doubt that she was created to be here as my daughter.  Oh what wonderful plans he has for us.

Trust Him, friends.  He knows what He is doing.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

More hotel pics

Pictures around our hotel

Last day in Guangzhou

Today is the last day here in Guangzhou!!  Can you hear the joyous laughter radiating from us!!  We have loved our time here but are soooooooo ready to head home.  We will spend today packing (it will take a while, trust me)  and gathering last minute items.  Our guide will bring us Abbey's passport and immigration papers at 4:00 this evening and then we are done!  We leave the hotel at 5:30am Saturday morning (4:30pm Friday in MO)  and we will land in St. Louis at 7:45pm Saturday night, which will put us arriving at our home about midnight Saturday.  It will be a 31 hour trip toal. ~sigh~ 
I asked Abbey if she is ready to go home and she said yes. I am not sure that she understands just how long it will take us to get there and all the switching and waiting involved.  I plan on getting the translator out this afternoon and trying to get her up to speed on the plan.  Her cold had gotten quite a bit better but then we started running low on meds and started giving her 1/2 doses to get her through.  Now she is starting to get the cough back again.  I guess we will be heading to WalMart on the way home.  ~heehee~
I don't think I mentioned that we met another familly here.  We shared a guide with them while here in GZ.  They were a good Christian family that we really enjoyed spending time with.  They left on Wednesday and we have missed them ever since.  I will post a pic of Preston and Stephanie and sweet Miranda today.
Posting pics has proven to be somewhat difficult so I plan on trying to post several bunches of them throughout the day today.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Long Days

Ashlyn is awesome!!!!!!
As we are waiting for final paperwork to process, we are utterly bored.  Yesterday it rained all day long, which put us hanging out in the room for much of the day.  We were able to rent a dvd player from the front desk which helped to pass the time.  But since Abbey cannot understand the English movies and we cannot understand the Chinese, it kind of made it difficult.  She spent alot of the day on QQ chatting with her friends.  That's ok though, because I believe that is good for her.  We want her to know that her past is welcome in our family.  She will not be expected to leave it all behind, instead we want to blend it into our life.
Today we go to the American Consulate for an oath swearing ceremony then they give us her immigration papers.  This is the sacred brown envelope that cannot be damaged or tampered with in any way.  We will guard it with our lives!  These papers allow her to become a US citizen when she physically enters America.  It will be a joyful time, but also a little sad to think that she will no longer be a Chinese citizen.  
Tomorrow we get her final required item, her Visa.  It should be issued at 4:00 then we are free to leave!  We will leave the hotel 5:30am Saturday morning to catch a 7:30 flight to Shainghai (sp?).  It is only a 2 hours flight and then our flight to Chicago doesn't leave until 4pm.  It will be a long day in the airport with Sydney and then a long 13 hour flight to Chicago.  Hopefully she will sleep through at least some of it.  
I will try to post pics later today.  We are headed out to meet our guide soon.  
We are almost outta here! 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

More Swim Pics