Christmas Quiz Answers

Merry Christmas!  I hope everyone enjoyed the Lacher family quiz that served as our holiday letter this year.  Since you are probably here for answers, let’s get going!

Julia had a really big year this year.  She did graduate to a big girl bed – which she sleeps in extremely soundly all night, praise God!  Sleep has been a long, hard road and we are so thankful for this blessing.  For the most part, she only gets up in the night when she needs to go to the bathroom.  She has been potty trained and in big girl panties since the beginning of the year. It is fun to see her independence continue to develop, even though it has also brought out her extremely strong-willed nature! We just celebrated her third birthday with a cupcake party.  With a birthday just before Christmas, we really try hard to make sure her birthday stays a separate special event.  And the biggest thing for Julia this year is that she has bloomed into a little girl that never. stops. talking. ever.  So there is no way that she needs speech therapy as she is quite the little conversationalist!

Norah was very active this year, trying gymnastics (which she loved but we are trying to steer her away from!), soccer (her favorite part was having Daddy as coach), swimming lessons (where she is starting to be a bit more confident), and tennis – which she LOVES!  It has been fun to watch her grow in this.  We have a great tennis center here (Midland was actually named the US Best Tennis Town a couple of years ago during the US Open) so she can play pretty much year round if she wants to.  Our girly girl loves that she has found a sport she can play in a skirt and her hand-eye coordination is getting pretty good!  She also has been enjoying preschool and will be a star reader by the end of the school year.  As for Locks of Love, Norah may be able to do that when she is 30!  She has such pretty blonde curls but they are baby fine and prone to breakage so the poor girl has only had one haircut her entire life!

After getting an American Girl doll from Santa last year, Emily was excited to have a themed party in April where all her friends brought their dolls.  The dolls sat at little tables with exact replicas of the plates and cups the big girls used.  As a seven year old, Emily has been visited a lot by the tooth fairy this year and I can’t believe how grown up her smile looks now that she is getting her permanent teeth!  She continues to excel in soccer and has a blast doing it.  Coach Jeremy and Coach Dan/Daddy got the girls playing positions a bit more this year, and Emily does really well as a midfielder due to her speed, endurance, and ball-handling.  She also has been having fun exploring her new tech toy as everyone in second grade at her school received iPads that they use in class each day.  She is so responsible with it, bringing it home each night to show us what she has been doing and plugging it in to get it charged up for the next day.  Buffalo Wild Wings is a family favorite place to eat, but Emily is not a fan of spicy foods, despite our attempts!  She is happy to stick with ranch dressing rather than buffalo sauce!

I had several brushes with “fame” this year.  When Mom and Dad visited earlier this year, Mom and I went to check out a filming of an HGTV show that happened to be filming here in Midland and were chosen to be part of the “voting public” that got to walk through the house and provide comments on camera!  It was a very cool experience, right down to chatting with show host Bob Guiney (of The Bachelor).  My best friend Jennifer and I got a chance to escape for a girls’ weekend in Petoskey in July and attended a talk given by New York Times bestselling author Chris Bohjalian, who was promoting his new book The Sandcastle Girls.  We had the opportunity to chat with him afterwards, and he signed our books and posed for a picture with us.  I also appeared in several YouTube videos promoting Beauty Care products for Dow Corning.  One of them was filmed live at a tradeshow, and the others were filmed professionally as part of a marketing activity we launched late in the year.  You can find them by visiting the Dow Corning channel on YouTube.  And I am really looking forward to a big adventure in 2013 – my friend Beth (she and I met when we were in China; our daughters were in the same orphanage) and I are are going to be running the Disney Princess Half Marathon!  It is pretty amazing that I have gone from someone who has never run unless I had to, to someone who can go out and run 8 miles (so far) and actually enjoy it!  Slowly working my way up in mileage so I will be ready for the 13.1 come February!  As if I didn’t have enough to do as it is, I also turned my passion for scrapbooking into a small business by being an Independent Consultant for Close to My Heart and launching my own blog, TheScrappinista.com.  It is fun, although I don’t put quite as much time into it as I should.  As for rescuing the family from a bird in the house…well, that event DID happen, but it was Dan performing the heroics while I cowered in the corner, traumatized by the bird repeatedly flying toward my head!

Speaking of Dan, not only did he support my efforts to train for a half-marathon, he trained with me – and completed his own half-marathon in November!  I ran a 10K that day and then returned home to get the girls and go back downtown for us to cheer him on as he crossed the finish line!  We were all so proud of him.  Dan kept plenty busy throughout the year.  He continues to enjoy his job in IT at Dow Chemical.  He also continues to serve at church on the audio team and has made lots of great friends this way.  It has been a sad year for us as our best friends, the Jordahl’s, moved to Florida and we miss them terribly.  They truly were our family here in Midland.  I think Dan is hoping to meet other guys who are potential backpacking buddies now that he and Dave won’t be sharing those adventures anymore.  We did have the opportunity to go see family this summer and Dan was our fearless leader, navigating us from here to South Dakota and back safely and with minimal meltdowns by the kids and Mommy!  Anyone who knows Dan should have been able to spot his false item right off the bat – he most definitely did NOT give up coffee!

Oh, and I must not forget Nuba – our sweet girl turned ten this year!

Thanks for playing along with us and reviewing the year that was 2012.  We wish you a holiday season filled with faith, friends, and family.  May you know The Gift that has been given to you.

Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

 

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Yes, We’re Still Here!

So…I have been REALLY bad about updating the blog.  Between work, three kids, three different morning locations (elementary school, preschool, and daycare), evening activities (soccer and tennis), my OTHER blog (TheScrappinista.com) and associated side business, Dan’s job…well, you get the idea.  Crazytown USA.  In light of some recent events I thought an update was long overdue.  So, here’s the quick and dirty on everyone, youngest to oldest:

Julia continues to amaze us with her vocabulary and fluency – people often mistake her for older.  She is sleeping in a big girl bed now and doing great.  Sleep issues have dwindled dramatically and are now infrequent.  For the most part, she goes to bed easily and only wakes up in the night to use the bathroom.  The big news is that we got great news at a doctor’s appointment today.  For her privacy, we have never discussed here what her specific medical needs are so I will be vague and say that things are greatly improving and for that we say Praise God!  Now if only her poor eczema issues would go away…Julia is in the midst of 2-year-old tantrums and it is driving us all a bit batty.  But two other kids have taught us that this too, shall pass.

Norah is attending a young 5′s program and is really flourishing.  I think it will be just the ticket for preparing her for all-day kindergarten next year.  She is really working on letter formation and expressing her feelings.   She is such a tenderheart – she has been known to wake in the middle of the night sobbing because she dreamed about her dear friend from daycare that she doesn’t get to see very often anymore.  After giving soccer a try in the spring, she spent the summer attending camps for tennis and gymnastics.  Through all that, tennis really clicked with her.  Seriously, this girl BEAMS when she smacks that ball – plus, the fact that you can play this sport in a skirt just adds bonus points!

Emily is already in second grade!  She has been busy reading chapter books, participating in extended math, making new friends (only one of her friends from kindergarten and first grade is in her class this year), losing teeth, and of course, playing soccer.  We are proud of her accomplishments and amazed at the young lady she is becoming.  She just seems to have grown up so much.

Nuba turned 10 this year.  Our oldest girl is a lot whiter in the face and more sleepy during the day, but she still loves to play, cuddle, and chase squirrels in the yard.  She drives me crazy sometimes but I can’t imagine life without her.

I have been keeping busy (see above).  I am still enjoying my job as manager of the Beauty Care technical service group in NA and have parlayed my hobby of scrapbooking into a stint as a Close to My Heart consultant.  Super fun!  I also am training for my first half marathon, which I will be running with my good friend Beth in Disney World in February!

Dan is also training with me and will actually be running his half-marathon in November here in Midland.  He also is keeping busy with work, assistant coaching Emily’s soccer team, and volunteering at our church.  I am so thankful for all he does around here, including cooking dinner almost every night.  I try to keep his clothes clean in return!

So, there you go.  There’s the update.  What’s new with you?

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Makeover

Don’t you just love a good makeover? I’m a sucker for those “my friends reported me for looking like a train wreck but look at me now!” shows on TV. And don’t even get me started on home decorating shows – if we actually had HGTV, I am pretty sure my family would eventually lose contact with me as I immersed myself into an imaginary world where I am a successful interior designer. So you can imagine how these before and after pictures make me feel:

Yes, I did have to have Dan disassemble the crib while I wasn’t around. And yes, I did tear up as we painted “Youthful Coral” over the sky blue walls and cloud-painted ceiling that have been part of the nursery since before Emily was born. But I am thrilled at the progress Julia has made in terms of sleep and we ALL have earned this makeover into a big girl room.

But yet, there is another makeover I am dreaming of…a makeover of my heart. I’ve really been struggling lately with some unsavory feelings and emotions. Today I pray that I can stop being so stubborn and realize that God has been thoroughly breaking my heart so He can rebuild it and restore it into something much more beautiful than where it has been lately. Today, these words from Psalm 18 mean the world to me:
I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.

Thank you, Lord, for saving me from myself – often my own worst enemy.

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Stampaganza

So…several months ago I signed up to be a Close to My Heart consultant. You see, I have been a scrapbooker for several years and CTMH products are how I got my start. My best friend invited me to an open house that a consultant was hosting to debut the latest catalog. I saw the My Acrylix clear stamps and thought it would be a cool way to make page titles interesting. That day, I bought my first stamp set: Sketchy Lowercase. Seven years later, I still use that stamp set on my layouts…but my collection sure has grown since then!

I truly believe CTMH products are at the forefront of the scrapbooking industry. They always have trendy new paper packs and embellishments, and are well known for the My Acrylix stamps (CTMH pioneered the clear stamp product form that has become the industry standard!) I signed up as a consultant because I was excited to get the products I love at a discount. But since then, I have discovered that selling the products is really fun too! Especially when they are running a fun promotion. And this month is the BEST promotion they will run all year – STAMPAGANZA!

During Stampaganza, buy two stamp sets and get one (equal or lesser value) absolutely FREE! For all multiples of three! Maybe you have always thought about trying stamping but were looking for an incentive. Maybe you already love CTMH stamps and are looking for a great time to add to your collection. Or maybe you just can’t resist a great deal. Whatever the reason, I would encourage you to check out erin.ctmh.com where you can shop online. You can view the stamps individually or you can browse the entire Idea Book there. And as an added bonus, you can get the exclusive June Stamp of the Month for only $5.00 with a $50.00 purchase – it is super-adorable!

Happy Stampaganza!

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441

Four hundred and forty-one days ago, a little girl gained a forever family.

It has been 441 days of hard work for all of us. Learning to trust. Learning to love. Learning that neither of those comes easy. Sisters learning to share, to giggle, to fight. Parents learning that although our former life was much easier, that God will make this one much more full and complete.

For me, it has been 441 days of joy that gave way to anger, sadness, depression, and rage…which is now beginning to be interspersed with joy again. Honestly, each of these 441 days has been a struggle for me. But how much more of a struggle for Julia, who was taken from everyone and everything she had ever known.

For Julia, it has been 441 days of amazing transformation from a terrified baby to a confident – and occasionally frightened – toddler. So much has happened in just 441 days…

You see, 441 days is quite significant. Yes, 441 days ago our lives all changed forever. But 441 days prior to that, a little girl was born to a Chinese mother. We will never know her name, we will never know her story. Knowing what I do about the situation for childbearing women in China, I am confident in saying that Julia’s birth mother loved her. She loved her enough to carry this child in her womb. And she loved her enough to find a way for this child, OUR CHILD, to receive the care – and the family – that she, for whatever reason, was unable to provide herself.

Tomorrow, Julia will have been with us longer than she was without us. They (the infamous “they”) say that this is a transition point for many children, where things finally start seeming a bit “normal”, whatever that means. My heart longs for this – for a household that isn’t stifled under the burden of compensating for the grief and loss that is more than any child should ever have to bear. A household that isn’t wondering if or when Mommy is going to start screaming again, or crying again. And at times, I see glimpses of this possibility becoming real – like today, a day fulled with playing, laughter, kind words, consoling hugs, and sunshine.

But it’s possible that days like today won’t ever be in the majority. And I must admit, the thought of that terrifies me. So instead, I must choose to rejoice in the good. I must choose to be the Mommy that my three children NEED, regardless of what I WANT. And I must choose to believe the Truth of James 1:2-4 which says Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Happy 441, little one. I hope that tomorrow, you feel a little more peaceful, a little more secure, a little more complete…and I hope the same for me too.

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Found

…at the bottom of Norah’s hamper:

Yep, that is three – count them, THREE – pairs of underwear all together.  I asked, “Do you know anything about these?” and got the response, “No, I don’t know.”  I asked, “Did you wear more than one pair at the same time one day?” and got the response, “No, I didn’t.”  Emily asked, “Did you forget one day that you were wearing some already when you got dressed?” and got the response, “…Yeah, I forgot.”  Well, baby doll, it appears you forgot twice seeing as how there are THREE pairs nestled one inside another.  Wow.

Norah, I love you so much.  You are in your own little world sometimes, but I love you.  And you had better watch out for your undies – your little sister now wears the same size as you!  (Laundry just got a lot more complicated around here.)

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Protected: Pictures: Jan – Easter 2012

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Tuesday Morning

There is nothing quite like
The look in your daughter’s eyes

When you try to get the bikes down
For ten minutes…

And fail.

And a small voice says,
We can just take the Durango, Mommy

And the clock says that is the only choice
And you are still late for school.

And the disappointment still clouds her face
As she says good-bye.

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One Year Into Forever

It is absolutely amazing to think about the significance of the month of March for us over the past few years.  In March 2010, God spoke clearly to us while we were on vacation that we were to embark on the journey of adoption.  One year later almost to the day, we were meeting Julia for the first time.  And now, here we are one year later – celebrating our Forever Family.  In between, it has been a series of highs, lows, and frankly, the darkest moments of my life.  Let’s break it down…

Opening our hearts to a precious child born physically outside our family – EASY.  Flying halfway around the world, adjusting to the 12-hour time difference, and spending 2.5 weeks away from our other children – NOT HORRIBLE.  Loving a little girl as she howls over the loss of everything she has ever known?…Teaching her the rules of the home while still giving her the extra care she needs to work through her grief?…Living nearly an entire year of your life in a sleep-deprived state, waking up every one to two hours and hoping that prolonged screaming won’t be involved?…well, you get the idea.  Adoption is HARD.

But then, somewhere along the way the days become marked by more joy than sorrow.  The grieving becomes an occasional occurrence rather than a daily event.  Crawling gives way to first steps, followed by running.  First smiles turn to tentative giggles, which evolve into quick smiles and belly laughs.  And stress and tension give way to familiarity and love. But I think pictures speak louder than words…to me this picture of Julia is a perfect, adorable representation of how far she has come in the past year.  (Special thanks to Warner Photography for capturing the moment and allowing us to share it here!)

I could spend paragraphs telling you all the milestones that Julia has achieved already – and maybe I will at some point.  But for now, I just want to say thank you.  Thank you to all of you for your support over the last year while we adjusted to our new family.  Thank you to Julia’s birth parents for bringing her into the world.  And thank you to Our Heavenly Father, who led us to Julia and shows us all the ultimate model of adoption through His love for us.

And to our precious Julia – sweetheart, it has been a very long year in so many ways yet I also can’t believe it has already been a year since you were placed in our arms.  I am constantly amazed by your resilience, amused by your antics, and in awe of the progress we have all made together in the past year.  We love you forever.

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Year of the Dragon

I know, I know – the blog has been full of crickets and cobwebs lately.  Sorry.  Honestly, I just really haven’t felt like writing.  I have either been too busy enjoying my family and all the good times we are having, or I have been struggling with the same issues over and over and the thought of hashing it out on the blog was less than appealing.

Speaking of enjoying my family – we really had fun this year celebrating Chinese New Year, our first with Julia home.  Our celebration was spread out over several events.

The first part of our celebration this year was a small gathering at our friends’ home.  Tony and Sara also have a daughter that was born in China and have started the tradition of hosting a Chinese New Year pizza party with a dragon pinata and red envelopes for the kids filled with dollar bills.  It was lots of fun spending time with them and all the kids loved the pinata.

On the day of Lunar New Year, we made traditional dumplings for dinner – from scratch.  They were oh so delicious, and it was fun working together to make them (although I must admit that Dan, Emily, and Norah did most of the work).

Finally, on the Sunday following Chinese New Year, the girls all wore their traditional silks to church.  They had been looking forward to wearing them the week prior on the eve of CNY, but illness in the family prevented us from going to church that day.

Xin Nian Kuai Le.  Gong Xi Fa Cai!

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