Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Photography and Photoshop

I recently took a "Push Past the Auto Zone" photography class, and I am currently taking a Photoshop class. I rarely spend money on things that are just for me. But boy am I glad I did! I am taking the classes from another mom who has adopted from China and she is amazing. Her name is Lisa and you can read more about her classes here.

It is so much fun for me to flex my creative muscle even though it has become somewhat atrophied over the course of 6 children. I love that I have a little control over my camera, and can I just say how much I LOVE photoshop! I have had photoshop for over one year and could not for the life of me figure out how to make it work. But look what has happened in two short weeks! I had almost forgotten how important "taking care of me" time is. Thank you Lisa!

Here are some examples of how I have improved. Mind you, some of my kids have looked at these and said that they don't see any difference. I have a long way to go, but I can see how far I have come - I guess that is all that matters!
My new photo skills - shot 100% in manual
My new photo shop skills

My new photo skills

My  new photo shop skills

New photo skills

New photo shop skills - no boogies this time!

New photo skills

New photo shop skills

My sweet niece let me practice photography

Black and white photo shop skills

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Lookie, Lookie!

Look at our sweet Sarah! This picture was taken about 12 hours ago. We met some friends through a private Facebook group. All the members have or are adopting out of Sarah's orphanage. My one request from my new friend was that she give Sarah a hug from me. (She just met her daughter who is Sarah's good friend and was given permission to visit the orphanage today.)

I'm so thankful for the kindness of our new friends. She said that the orphanage is clean and the workers are so kind. Her comment was that all of the children seemed happy. Notice all of their warm clothing they are wearing inside. I have heard that they have heaters but cannot always afford to turn them on. We have a service project  you can read about here.

These pictures are making me so happy. Today is already an amazing day!

Look at our girl - I can't wait to hold her. But look at her nanny's loving gaze. So sweet!

There is the hug I begged for. This makes me so happy.

I like seeing some of her personality shining through.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Update on my "Puppies"

It is hard to believe that I was barely keeping my head above water one year ago. Two toddlers 3 months apart was .... let's just say challenging. I would often joke when people would ask how it was going that two two-year olds was not easier than one two-year old - go figure. Here is a glimpse of what I am talking about.

It was so hard last year, and I honestly could barely make out any flicker of light at the end of the tunnel. That tunnel actually felt like a pit of despair at times. When we accepted John's referral, I was washed over with a peace that I had never felt before. That was such a gift, because in those darkest days, that is the only thing I could hang onto. I think it was a gift from a loving Heavenly Father, who knew I would need the reminder that I was doing the right thing and that I could do this. It was all going to work itself out.

Well, I am happy to report that we survived! Not only did we survive, but we came out better than we started and happier. We now lovingly call my "puppies" the "littles". The biggest improvement has to be that they became siblings and love each other. They always look for each other when they wake up. They are worried when one is sad or sick. They can actually be left alone in a room without me worrying one will be murdered by the other. I don't worry when I can't see them at our house because they rarely make horrific messes anymore. They laugh together, go to school together, have graduated to separate rooms from each other, and are as cute as can be.

I wanted to write this to give hope to others in the process. There is a light and it is beautiful and bright. Toddlers grow up and things do improve. Good luck to all of you in the trenches. I feel your pain and am super excited for you to round that corner!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Christmas Service Project

I have joined a Facebook group with families who have adopted from Sarah's orphanage. It has been wonderful to see more pictures and try to get a better idea of what Sarah's life is like. It has also been hard to see how poor her orphanage is and the serious needs they have. Just to give you an idea, up to a few weeks ago, they had never had heat. That is a lot for this mom's heart to bear.

In light of this information, I have teamed up with our adoption agency to raise money for Sarah and her friends this Christmas and Thanksgiving Season. It costs so much money for shipping that we have decided to just raise money and send it over to Sarah's orphanage directly. If you are interested in helping our sweet Sarah and other orphans in her orphanage, here is what you do:

Go to  CCAI (our adoption agency who is also a Chinese Children's Charity) and click on donate in the top right hand side of the page. From there when it asks if this is for  a specific project, click on that. Then type in "Bentley ZhuMaDian Project" and all proceeds will go directly to Sarah's orphanage in her name. You can also write a check and mail it into CCAI. If you do that please write "Bentley ZhuMaDian Project" in the memo. The link above will provide you with CCAI's mailing address.

There are about 600 children in Sarah's orphanage. They are located in Henan province, which is the poorest province in China. It is also the most populated with over 100 million people. Sarah's orphanage is located about 2 hours south of the main city, so there are even fewer resources.

As a family we are always looking for service projects this time of year. I honestly can't think of a better way to serve. These children are truly in need and so deserving. I like the idea that everything we give will go directly to these cuties. Each of Sarah's siblings are working on making money to send to her too.

The due date will be December 10 so that we can get the money to them before Christmas. Thanks for all of you who choose to help! Sarah, as well as all of us, will be eternally grateful.

This is our Sarah - this picture really pulls on the heart strings

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween ween 2013!

We had another fun October! It ended with the most candy I have ever seen. The kids totally scored in a big way. They received more full size candy bars than I could believe (especially considering I never got a full size candy bar in my Trick or Treating days). I almost felt guilty for only handing out bite size candy ... almost. The candy is now hidden safely out of sight from ... me!

We had a fun church party followed by me volunteering as class mom for Brig. I planned and ran the 5th grade Halloween party all by my lonesome because I could not convince other parents to help. The good news is that Brig had a blast, and said it was more fun than the church party - one point for mom! Ultimately I just want him to know I love him and care for him, and I think that came across.

Here are some pictures from the festivities.
Zombie Tennis Player

Black cat - all his own creation

"Brig" Foot this boy has some imagination!

Beautiful Rupunzel
Real hair extensions - she felt glamorous

John and Kate "The Supers" ready to save the world!

We didn't forget our sweetie in China