Two Years Ago…we became a family of four

Two years ago today we were flying home from Hong Kong, exhausted, overwhelmed, a bit scared but very excited.

That means Big Brother has been home for two entire years!  What a wild, crazy adventure it’s been.  Although Big Brother has come so far, he still has so much to overcome.  But we’ll get there.  We couldn’t be more proud of you, Big Brother!

momavi2Mommy and Big Brother, the first day we met (January 10, 2011)

hk15Big Brother and Little Man checking each other out at the orphanage in Hong Kong

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hkcity Beautiful Hong Kong

 

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The Moments that Take Your Breath Away

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When I look back over the past 31 years of my life, the moments that stand out most sharply in my mind all tend to all have one thing in common-they all have that rare ability to make my stomach tumble and steal my very breath.

There are many moments I recall….like jumping into the ocean for my first dive at 12 years old or walking down the aisle to the handsome guy that would soon become my husband.  Spectacular sunsets, walks on the beach and misty, muddy hikes through the woods.  Also those moments when the early morning sun filters through the trees in such a majestic way that it nearly brings tears to your eyes.

Then there are those moments that not only take your breath away but usher in a new chapter of your life–like becoming a mom for the first time as I stood and held Little Man in an orphanage in Vietnam….

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And that moment in Hong Kong when Big Brother first looked at me–I mean really looked at me–and smiled….

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And then the surreal moment when I saw a little, tiny heartbeat appear on a monitor as I laid in the doctor’s office, wondering what I did to deserve so many blessings….

babybThese fleeting moments that are forever engraved in my mind seem so simple but yet so profound. I love awaking each day with anticipation that I’ll have a chance for just one more…

Our Top 12 Outdoor Moments of 2012

As 2012 is winding down, I feel a little sad that my family and I have not been able to spend as much time outdoors as we normally do.  With three rounds of family strep (yes, 3!!) and other medical issues, getting outdoors has been hard for us over the last couple of months.  So I’m really looking forward to getting back in the groove of outdoor livin’ in 2013.  To cheer myself up a bit, I decided to take a look back and reminisce on our favorite outdoor moments of 2012.

12. New Year tree huggin’ on Fiery Gizzard Trail (our fave trail), January 2012

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11. Autism and the healing power of nature, February 2012

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10. Nature day with mama, March 2012

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9. First canoe trip of 2012, April 2012

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8. Nature for all, May 2012

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7. Mother’s Day Caving, May 2012

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6. The Great Sand Dunes, June 2012

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5. Mini Muddy Buddy Run, July 2012

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4. Alone in the wilderness, August 2012

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3. Adventure and the special needs child, June 2012

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2. Alpine Views in Colorado, June 2012

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1. Water fun and Little Man’s 1st Kayak, July 2012

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo what was your favorite moment of 2012? Any adventures you want to share before the new year falls upon us?!

Merry Christmas Never Sounded So Sweet

This will be Big Brother’s 2nd Christmas. And even though he is almost 6 years old, this is the first time he has been able to actually sing a Christmas song. Nothing sweeter to my ears than this precious child who we were told would never talk! #miracleshappen

I dare you to watch and not smile…

Science and Nature for Kids {Nature-Inspired Christmas Tree Ornaments}

One of the things that I love most about Christmas since becoming a mom is watching my children not only decorate the tree, but make their own ornaments to use as well.  On our tree you will see a mix of sentimental hand-me-downs, glass ornaments and ornaments  lovingly made by the kids.  This year, however, I wanted to add a touch of nature to the tree.  One of the kid-friendly projects that we really enjoyed was making ornaments from some natural items we had on hand in the kitchen.  With a bag of oranges, some cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, acorns and twine, we came up with these beautiful ornaments!

Nature Christmas Craft

For the oranges, you can slice them thinly or you can use the peel to make a design.  Take all of your orange creations and place in a warm oven (lowest temperature possible) for several hours to dry.  To keep the oranges from sticking to your baking sheet, I recommend laying them down on a piece of cheesecloth.  You might also want to lay something on top of the peels to keep them from curling up while drying (I used the metal lid part of a mason jar for mine.) Keep a close eye on them and make sure to remove from the heat immediately if they begin to brown.

Stay tuned for some more nature-inspired Christmas crafts!

My Babies, My Life

I’ll admit it.  My blog has been quite boring lately.  I’ve been trying to squeeze out posts that are important to me, but then everything else gets left sitting around in my head, destined to be forgotten in the shuffle of life.  And reading other blogs?  Oh I’m so very, very behind.  I love reading and commenting on other blogs but I’m afraid all of that has taken a back seat to the happenings in my “real life.”

So what exactly have I been doing lately?  Well, I  have begun leading an advocacy group in my community that will work to create social change through interactions with members of congress and the media.  It’s a lot of work, but something I am deeply passionate about.  I’ll have some more exciting details to share about that soon.

But we’re also knee-deep in trauma/adoption/autism issues with Big Brother.  We are finally, however, finding the light at the end of the tunnel and are finally in a good place.  For the last couple of months, things were pretty rough.  Flashbacks, regression and constant violent outbursts dominated our days and nights. I’m not in a place right now to even begin to put my thoughts into words about all that has transpired, but I will at some point in time.

It’s just part of the job.  In fact, here’s a great post by another adoptive mother that sums up my thoughts exactly and might give you some insight into why we keep marching happily along in times of great darkness.

So what exactly am I rambling about today?  Well, I guess I just wanted to a chance to show off my babies.  After all, they are the reason I awake each morning with a smile on my face and the reason I advocate for those around the globe who have no voice.  They put the passion in my heart.  So excuse me while I do the mom thing and drown my blog with their cuteness 🙂

Give Hope This Year: Buy Fair Trade Gifts

This year, skip the Black Friday crowds and stores.  Instead, shop with purpose this holiday season by purchasing handmade, fair trade gifts.  These gifts truly give twice.  You see, each purchase helps  women in developing nations obtain economic stability. Be a part of helping women out of slums, sweat shops, the sex trade and extreme poverty by buying their Fair Trade products. These are products with a purpose!

I’m so excited to be partnering with Trades of Hope to help sell these amazing, handmade items from around the globe.

 

Each artisan has a story to tell of hardship, adversity and hope:

Helping women looks good on you.  Choose to give hope this year.  To read more artisan stories and to learn more about Trades of Hope including how to shop, go to my Trades of Hope site.

Get a Job, Take a Hike: how to make sure everyone in the family enjoys the trail

Yesterday we took a leisurely hike through a nearby state park. Although the park is quiet and full of kid-friendly trails, it’s hardly the landscape that epic adventures are made of.  But it ended up being one of the best hikes we’ve ever taken together. We had no agenda and no timeline.  We just wanted to share some peaceful time together in the woods.  To ensure that everyone would have a fun, fuss-free hike, we assigned each child a “job.” As our kids are growing older, I find myself continually brainstorming new ways to make sure our hikes stay fun and upbeat. Read on to see how we did it on our last hike!

Little Man took on the role of our fearless trail leader (his most favorite job of all) and Big Brother was the keeper of the leaves (again, a job he loves.)  Little Man led the way and Big Brother collected leaves and strung them on a shoestring.  One of his favorite ways to play is to put beads on strings, so he was estactic!

The boys had a blast and enjoyed every single moment on the trail.  We ended with a picnic and a rock-jumping competition in the creek.
Fallen trees make the best playground, don’t you agree?
Happy kiddos make for a happy mommy and daddy.
We’ll count this as a successful and fun fall hike!
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Other posts you might enjoy:

Science and Nature for Kids {Make a Bird Feeder from a Pumpkin}

Halloween has passed and winter fast approaches.  If you are looking for a way to reuse any leftover pumpkins, here’s a great way to enjoy a nature activity with your kids.  Turn your old pumpkin into a bird feeder!  It’s easy and fun for little hands.

Start with a medium-sized pumpkin:

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Cut it in half and scoop out the insides (great sensory fun for the little helpers):20121111-162533.jpg

Using a nail, punch out some holes on opposite sides of the pumpkin:
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Use string or twine to make the holder:20121111-162607.jpg

Now punch out some larger holes on each side:20121111-162627.jpg

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You can slide a twig into the larger holes to make some perches for the birds.  Then hang it in a tree and fill it with some wild bird seed:
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And wait for the birdies to find the food!20121111-162711.jpgSimple, easy and fun…and the birds will thank you.

Party for a Purpose

Are you (or someone you know) adopting? Are you looking for a way to raise funds? I just launched my direct sales business through Trades of Hope, a fair trade company that helps empower women out of poverty by selling their handcrafts. For the month of November only, I am offering to use my business for adoption fundraisers….meaning I will donate all proceeds from your online/catalog party to your adoption fund! Please feel free to share with anyone who might be interested (and please “like” my page, too!) You can learn more athttp://www.facebook.com/LaurenTradesOfHope

It’s time to party for a purpose with gifts that give twice!