I only have a million things to do before going to China, but as I know that Xander's adoption is going to be our main focus over the next few weeks, I wanted to take a few minutes to record a few of the happenings over the last month or so.
Our Taylor turned 10 on the 4th of July! I cannot find words to express how much we love him!!!! He is the dearest, most wonderful son we could have ever hoped for. Taylor is compassionate, extremely intelligent, righteous, fun, competitive, hard-working, ever so sweet, innocent, athletic, dedicated, cuddly, and just plain good. He is quick to to say "I'm sorry!" and sincere about it too. He often puts others before himself and in my opinion, has the most handsome smile of any 10-year-old anywhere! This year finds Taylor into reading, playing basketball and baseball, ice-cream sandwiches, pancakes, reading, scouts, riding bikes, reading, waterslides, Hershey bars, sleeping in (our only kid who likes to do so), playing with friends, oh-- and reading.
T's nickname has been "Sunshine" since he was a very little boy and it fits him perfectly. Taylor, what would we ever do without you?? You will always be our most darling, precious first-born! We are so thankful for the example you are to your brothers and sisters. You will never know how much we love you and how proud we are of who you are!
Taylor showing his gifts!
Getting the traditional breakfast in bed
This year we had the brilliant idea of a combined birthday party for Taylor, Jessica, and Graci. Their birthdays all fall within a month of each other, and planning three separate parties is a little chaotic. With the China trip coming up, it was a perfect year to celebrate with one great big party! We had about 50 kids in our backyard and it was so much fun! We were able to get a great deal on a giant, 18-foot inflatable movie screen-- like the kind they set up in parks for a "night at the movies." We hung up a dozen helium balloons for decorations and called it good. We had Jesi's friends play games on one side of the yard and the older kids on the other-- and played for about 45 minutes. Then we opened presents and had ice-cream sandwiches. By then it was dark enough to start the movie. The kids had all brought bean bags, chairs, or blankets. We passed out big bags of popcorn with M & M's and had a big cooler of water for them to fill up cups with. It was the easiest party ever, and it counted for THREE KIDS! We are thinking this is going to be an annual event! My camera died after taking just one picture, but my sister took lots and I'll post them when we get them. I do, however, have a pic of the girls right before the party. They wanted make-up on, and I cannot tell you how excited they were for their friends to show up!
As I went to find the birthday pictures on the camera, I came across all kinds of treasures! Graci had taken about 100 pictures of the TV-- gotta wonder what was going through her head! She also tried so hard to get a good picture of Elli-- and out of about 50, these are the best ones by far:
I'm not planning on hiring her as my personal photographer anytime soon, but do admit that Elli is very difficult to take pictures of! She also took SEVERAL self-portraits!
I also found this treasure-- so glad I took it as I would have forgotten. One day I had searched EVERYWHERE for Jessica, and was getting a bit panicky! No one had seen her for quite some time and I couldn't figure out in where in the world she could be. I called her loudly many times, and had looked in her room at least twice before I noticed this:
I'm calling it "Snug as a bug in a what?"
I realize I'm being completely random here, but here are a couple of stories to show how thoughtful Graci can be. I had taken her shopping at JCPenney, and she had found a "High School Musical" nightgown that she loved. It was on clearance, and so she on her own initiative bought not only one for her, but one for Jessica as well.
Jesi was SO excited and the boys were a little jealous of their night masks. The girls went off into their bedrooms for the longest time and came up with these for the boys!
Another day, all the kids were gone except for Graci when the ice-cream truck came by. She pulled out her hard-earned money and went and bought ice-cream for everyone. She was SO excited to give it to them, and they were pretty happy too!
Realizing this post is all over the place... A few weeks ago the kids had their second annual "Downstairs Day." This was my sister's great idea to let me get all kinds of stuff done upstairs while the kids spent the day downstairs on their own. The night before, I get a schedule all ready and tape it to the wall, along with a laundry basket full of everything they will need-- food included. The day includes crafts, games, and of course TV. The kids LOVE it. One of the things on the schedule was to go into the storage room and make things out of play-doh. I normally couldn't get my kids to play long with play-doh, but I had a twist. I had given them directions to take anonymous pictures of their own creations for me to judge. I told them that I would look at the pictures at the end of the night and give a prize to the winner, stressing that they were not to tell me whose was whose. There was only one problem: the pictures all had the FEET of the one taking the picture, making it hard for me to be impartial! And the winner goes to...
In other randomness:
Parker's All-Star team!
Um, Jesi? That's a big bowl of watermelon!
Jesi, Graci and cousin Charity in curlers!
Sadly, I didn't take an after-curlers picture, but I do have a cute one of Jesi!
I have realized while going through my pictures that I need to take more of Elli, Taylor, and Parker! Somehow, Jesi and Graci seem to find their way into every other one!
On to China preparations!!! We are getting SO SO excited! Today Jeremy spent hours putting together a new dresser in the boys' room so Xander will have a place for his clothes. It wouldn't have taken hours, but this very good Daddy let his kids put it together with him-- we are talking start to finish. It takes a lot of patience to have four children trying to put together a dresser, and I was proud of them all.
I can seriously feel the electricity in the air-- I love it!! We love you, Xander Green! We will be holding you soon!