United States Citizen!

Although Arielle was a citizen upon entry into the USA, she was required to go to the swearing allengence ceramony in order to receive her Certificate of Citizenship. At first I was a bit irritated but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how great this moment could be for Arielle and our whole family.

It was great, and I'm so glad we had to do this. She really didn't understand it all, but one day she will. I did video some of it. It was a really great day and the ceremony was well done. I cried.

I know this photo is corny, but I love it! I want to frame it! God Bless the USA! And God bless it's newest citizens!

Time for the beach!

We celebrated Evan's birthday this year with a few friends down the shore, on the boardwalk. The past couple years we really didn't do anything so this year we wanted to make it special. Actually his birthday was at the beginning of June but we waited until the weather got good and hot :) They had a great day!

They had a really good time. It was a great idea! The bigger kids enjoyed it too.

Asher had a "moment" when he realized his carousel ride was not going up and down like the rest... he was not a happy camper! You can read his face!

Arielle on the other hand had a
blast! I was going to have her stand next to him on a horse but thought she should have her first ride on the Carousel on a horse of her own. I don't Asher trust riding one alone...I've seen him almost fall off a pony because he just lets himself slide down, and that was with the pony guy walking next to him! Arielle went on most of the kiddie rides. She would not go on the scary fast ones. She did go on the swings, enjoyed it with laughing and shouting, but when she got off she just didn't know what to do with all that emotion. She buried her head in her Daddy's neck and cried. I have a feeling she will be back on again. She's just never had these crazy sensory experiences before, and the Jersey shore is certainly a sensory overload!!!

We didn't bring cake but we stuck candles into Evan's ice cream! Perfect! Its hard to believe my baby is 6 years old.

We also spent some time on the beach! Was a fun day for the whole family! And Arielle's first time at the ocean, ever! She keeps asking me over and over when we are going back. Brad is excited because I'm not really a beach person but he is.

Arielle told me she would not swim at all before we left. She refused to wear a bathing suit. She did have a bathing suit top on under her shirt-I made her wear it. I bought her a 2 piece bathing suit that completely covers her except her legs and arms. It's really cute on her too. But she told me she would not swim. She actually told me she was not allowed to swim, hahaha! But the doctor told us both that there is no reason she can not swim :) Well, as you can see by the photo, she had a change of heart! Once she saw all the fun, she could not resist. And before you knew it, she was in the ocean fully dressed!

She now asks me every day to go back. It was fun to watch her experience the ocean, a sensory delight for her!

My daughter Lauren was having a blast as well (not). She broke her ankle in 2 places and had surgery on it last month. We called and reserved the beach wheel chair so she could join us on the beach. I'm glad she came with us! and Evan was happy his big sister was there!

Later that week we went to sunset beach to watch the sun go down.

Beautiful Sunset!

Good times and memories

And a good evening for frisbee!


lookin' up

We went to Jim Thorpe last weekend. We rode the train and hiked through the gorge. It was a lot of fun.

One of the kids, who's name I will not mention, had severe gastrointestinal issues that caused us many trips to the potty. But other than that it was fun!

The the views were beautiful! and the day was perfect.

Of course the boys had to throw some rocks in the river. The rocks were plentiful!

We got some bulking from the teenager because I'm sure she's never hiked through the rocky crags of mountainous terrain. Well, it wasn't really that mountainous but for us it was!

But when we got to where we were going she understood the adventure. I only got this pic on my camera as it began to die. There were better areas of the falls to shoot a picture but I couldn't get the camera to work. There was a climb farther up the water fall but there was no way we could get Asher up there. And Arielle is somewhat unbalanced for some reason. Until we know exactly why, we opted out on that climb.

I like this shot :) Her smile is so beautiful!

Then we decided to stop at Penn's Landing on the way home to catch the fireworks...bad idea!


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Growing Pains

I've been working on a post in my head for weeks now, an adoption related post. But unfortunately, it's still in my head, in bits and pieces. Not sure when or if it will ever come out! I'll try to brief you about what is going here.   But first, look at these pictures of the past few years....
The first one is Evan and Daddy at Nifty Fiftys golf.June 2009.

 This next on is June 2010...with Asher. I didn't intend to take a picture in the same spot, but it's interesting to see the change in our family....

This Year, June 2011! Our family is growing :) And along with this growth comes "growing pains"!
This was Arielle's first time golfing. We've had a lot of firsts recently! She really liked mini golf! This week we also went to the beach and she loved that too :) but it wasn't easy to convince her to wear a bathing suit. Well, she didn't actually wear one...but
I'll save that for the next post.
 There is so much that I have found out in the past 3 months about our daughter. So much more than we ever imagined. The effects of not having a mom and dad are so obvious.

She's actually  around 17,  almost 18 years old (Paperwork says she's now 14). Legally she will always be 4 years younger. There is nothing we can do about this. Her birthday, the one she celebrated all her life, is in September. This is the one we will celebrate. But it's not the one on her legal birth certificate. We will never know her actual birthday :(

I believe our circumstance is out of the ordinary. Not many come home from Ch*na at this age, although I do know it happens.

She has learning difficulty and medical issues far beyond what we expected. She never would have made it on her own. She would have been looked down upon. I'm certain they didn't teach her where she was. She does read simplified charaters but struggles. And I'm not sure where to even begin with English. Presently, she's been using Rosetta Stone English, Homeschool version. But we are bypassing the writing parts.

We've had our challenges at home. I'm not sure I will share it all publically, probably not. It is her story to tell one day. About her life with her Forever Family. I pray for a wonderful "forever"...I believe it will be :) One thing I will share about adopting teenage girls...they get emotional at certain times...boy oh boy how could I forget :)
There is one issue I've been praying about daily and could eventually effect our bonding. She never lets me out of her sight...well, that's not true. She is getting better with this as time goes on.  I'm not sure others have experienced this with older newly adopted children. She is literally a few steps behind me most of the time. She follows me from room to room. And she doesn't know how to entertain herself. It drains me but she is learning. I am praying about this as it could be a hinderance for our relationship as well as other future relationships. I understand that this is common in toddlers and younger children who come home, but I never expected it with someone who is 17. She also calls out my name when she's not sure where I am in the house. And says my name multiple times...both my little boys have done this-and basically outgrown it. Any advice or suggestions? Will it end eventually like the little ones? I do realize there are stages and levels of developement that she never had the opportunitely to go through successfully. Is she going through the developemental stages now? This was my first thoughts on it all. But I'd like to know what others have experienced.
Very Serious about their Golf!!!

I've seen a level of maturity in the last few weeks that I had not seen before. I must admit, when she first came home I was convinced she had a mental disability. Her response to all the stress was bizarre.  I see it less but it's still there, but I don't believe she is mentally delayed at all.

But there are so many good things about her!!!

As I said before, I see the effects on her life without a mom or dad to love her, teach her, and look out for her. No one to tell her "I love you honey" or to give her  a hug. No one to go to her when it thunders...she's afraid of thunder. Who consoled her as a little girl when she cried in the middle of the night? I can go on but I wanted to give you the plus side of older child adoption. The blessings we receive everyday by bringing this Gift from God into our family. Let me share 10 of our blessings:)

  •  "Mom, I want hug" She loves to hug!
  • She loves to give us a kiss (this surprized me!)
  • She understands and appreciates what she has in a family
  • She tells me everyday she loves me
  • she makes her bed and cleans her room EVERYDAY! minimal prompting!
  • She helps with the little ones when I need it
  • She's old enough to take care of her own belongings 
  • I don't have to teach her how to potty!
  • She gets along great with her little brothers and...
  • She loves to be with her older sisters
  • She is giving of everything she has
And these are just a few :) Arielle has been home for 3+ months now. She's doing well, but we all have a long way to go. I can't wait to come back to this post a year from now to compare where we are to where we were! That's the real reason I wrote this. God is Good all the time!
  • OH, and I'll give one more blessing...there are now pictures of mom on family outings. Arielle makes sure of it! Well, now that I'm looking at it, we could do without this "blessing!"