gotcha day party awesomeness {attack of the lace doily}

i've been dreaming of emery's gotcha day all summer. i wanted a lovely evening with kids and sweet friends and family and emery...and ice cream. lots and lots of ice cream :)

what started as a simple idea, soon went slightly lace wild and i found myself knee deep in doilies, piles of estate sale milk glass, and the cutest little party. with a small budget, i was able to use a lot of what i already had on hand, coupled with fast delivery from an awesome etsy shop called Whachuneed (she sells doilies and SO much more), as well as my sweet sister in love who helped me pull it all off.

i spray painted old stuff, hung indoor photos outside, and strung more doilies than i'd like to admit. (i originally saw this doily banner on pinterest. it's much more time consuming than i had hoped, but i loved the way they looked). in the end, i nearly passed out from exhaustion (true story. i have no idea what balance is. i'm all or nothing. you don't want to meet me on a "nothing" day :)

and her special night? better than i could have ever planned. wonderful and relaxed and filled with delightful friends and family. i kept seeing emery bopping around., buzzing through the crowd, going from friend to friend...eating piles of doritos and countless sprinkles. she drank from nearly every stray glass of lemonade and i rarely caught a photo of her standing still. it was just the way it's supposed to be.

 FYI, chalk paint is one of our favorite things. but this was the first time i tried it in spray bottles. maybe i bought the wrong kind of bottles? but they were a sad disappointment. only one of three worked. but we ended up filling them with water and they were just as fun :)

a little before and after...
this was our backyard on the day we bought this house in april 2012 (a foreclosure property which had been vacant for over a year)...you can't see it in these pics, but the weed were literally 3 feet high.

this past weekend, my hubby installed a new fence (on the right side) and we worked hard to make it look like a real backyard. i also made a (free!!) tepee (from bamboo and old drop cloths) and hung tulle valences i found for $1 each at an estate sale. score!!

i was delighted to see that the kids LOVED the tepee and valences! i kept smiling all evening to see them running in and out :)
 i printed a book of all of my instagram photos recently from snapfish. it turned out SO well! the photo quality printed so much clearer than i was anticipating and with a 50% off coupon, i printed 1,000 photos for $70. not exactly in the budget, but i was so glad i finally did it :)
ps. that's my sweet sister in law in the top left, who my kids call "la-la". she is the sweetest, most wonderful, kind and creative person. she and my brother live less than a block away. it's amazing to be neighbors with them!!

 emery is obsessed with doing "cheers" when she is eating something fun :)
 oh how i adore her in her blue chinese garb!!
 this big brother spent most of the evening saving earth worms :) he has such a tender heart.
 and this little gem? that's emery's lovely gal-pal, isabelle. they are the same age, but emery came home in july and isabelle this past winter. to have a dear friend with similar language needs, medical past, and a hilarious, spunky personality...well, it's quite fun to see them together. they have so much in common...even their voices and tempter-tantrums are alike :) oh and they both clearly love homemade jolly rancher lollys and ride-on toys :)


gotcha girl {1 year anniversary)

i can still feel the weight of her small 13lbs. frame. i can see her sweet and solemn expression. it's a day that is forever etched into my memory. after 3 years of longing and hoping and praying... i was speechless. literally. those first moments are indescribable. i studied every single centimeter of her face. her eyes. her lips her nose. staring and memorizing so hard, i could feel my eyes needing to blink, but i just couldn't take my eyes off of her for even a moment. i was so in awe of her, i couldn't even think of anything to say. when i tried, i just kept gasping for air. as if she was so incredible, it was hard to breath. finally i whispered, through tears, "i love you! i love you! i love you! i love you!" over and over and over. i get choked up even thinking of those first precious moments. seeing her in person for the first time was unlike anything i've ever experienced. it was mesmerizing and breathtaking and truly a day that changed me, deep into my soul.

so much has happened since gotcha.

more than this little blog can ever say.
there is so much that happens in real life that will never get posted. it just can't be translated.

if you've read this blog for any amount of time, or you know us in real life, you know i've shared a few of the challenges. a lot of those won't ever make the blog either...because they sound crazy. trauma and grief and healing are often unpredictable. how and when they happen can't be predicted and the behavior that results during those moments is unique to each child and family. at times, it's a long road.

but i can't ever describe the joy that this little girl has brought to our family. we marvel at her...at everything about her. the long road doesn't feel long when this little lady is bopping through the house. she dances and sings and mimics everything. she puts on makeup and puts away dishes. she sweeps the floor and organizes family tea parties. she feeds the puppy and soothes her brothers when they get hurt. she draws lovely pictures and carries a purse everywhere she goes. she stands on a stool an helps me make every meal. she has faced enormous challenges but never gives up. i just can't believe i get to be her mom. God created her with such awesomeness in mind.
she is so incredibly smart and kind and thoughtful and silly. strong and feisty and determined. patient and gentle and able to comprehend things that we've never told her. she is remarkable.

in honor of her first year home, i've been collecting a few photos from each month, including the only baby pictures we have. enjoy :)

may 26th, 2010 (her birthday) - july 25th, 2012

1st birthday, May 26, 2011 with the doll we sent her.

Gotcha Day!!! July 25, 2011 

HOME!!! August 3, 2011 

1st day together at home

learning to sit up

September 26, 2011: cleft palate surgery

December 28th, 2011: cleft lip and nose reconstruction
these pictures make me all teary. such a bittersweet day.

july 25, 2012: Gotcha Day Anniversary Party!!

(there are lots of past posts found here...read only if you have a few hours to spare :) i'm realllly wordy :)


little miss bargain {and my love/hate puppy}

i've been making the barn & estate sale rounds recently.
attempting to furnish our new house on a budget has been so much fun!
although i haven't found all of the pieces to replace what we have sold (we craigslisted most of our furniture because it didn't fit in our new downsized house), i have found some really cool stuff :)
emery is obsessed with purses. we found these for $1. she carries one EVERYWHERE. it's quite possibly the cutest thing ever.
she also fancies jewlery and we scored a stash of vintage-ish pieces for $5.
little girls rock.

this is by far my favorite piece. i'm still not sure if i will refinish it or leave it rustic...but it's so fancy and functional. it looks adorable in her room.

and this little computer table is also a favorite. it adds a secure place to hide my computer and camera from a certain electronics loving puppy.

said puppy has been having more good days lately.
i love her 4 out of 7 days a week.
i'll be honest and say i may have made a mistake adding a puppy to our mix while the kids are so young.
i had no idea that puppies are a lot harder to train than children...and though she's cute, i have no patience for her giant paws when i'm holding little people. or when i'm making dinner. or when she literally eats 3 turkey sandwiches right off the counter when i turn around to settle a nearby little boy ruckus. and i certainly don't have any room in my already squished brain for her escape tactics which include jumping over and digging under a 4 foot fence.
yes, maggie isn't on my good list lately.

but the kids?
well, they love her. all day long.

even when she acts crazy and eats their toys and socks.
even when i yell at her for eating an entire plate of french fries.
they still love her.

and maggie is clearly smitten with this one...

she rarely messes with emery. it's as if she knows emery's stature demands a comfort zone of safety.

oh maggie. i want to fast forward you out of puppy-ville.


free lemonade {it only costs $1}

the boys have been dreaming of setting up a free lemonade/freeze pop stand. and when i say dreaming, i mean asking and asking and asking. my brain could not withstand any more talk of lemonade stands.

so i set out to create the most fantastic lemonade stand of all time (no thanks to the awesomeness found on pinterest).
and, true to form, my brain often creates what my abilities cannot afford.
apparently, "free" lemonade stands can get pretty awesome...and pricey.
i give you exhibit a...seriously, have you ever seen anything cuter??

(source and source)

so, determined to use only what i have on hand (at 11:30pm), i revamped my pvc pipe photoshoot backdrop and voila...lemonade stand with 4th of july flair.
{and yes, i'm posting about 4th of july. that's how far behind i am in life: 4th of july. sorry world. i can't catch up.}

when the kids awoke and saw it...you'd think i bought them a toy store. it was the coolest thing they had ever seen. and it cost $0.

after looking through the photos, i realized that in nearly every one, one of us was eating or drinking our surplus...namely emery, who recently learned how to drink out of a cup and was sure to drink her weight in pink lemonade.

(emery and great granny are such soul mates :)

we may or may not have eaten more freeze pops than we gave away :)

we were clearly our best customers :)

the word spread and kids and adults alike came by in droves. it was awesome.

the most interesting part??
we noticed early on that the general public was uncomfortable taking anything for free.
we ended up adding a tip jar because so many people refused to take lemonade without being able to pay for it.
most people paid $1 for the smallest cup of lemonade ever!! crazy i tell ya!

i'm not sure what it is about our culture that feels uncomfortable accepting a free gift...but i was surprised to find how skeptical many people were of our intentions. i found myself convincing passerbyers that we weren't selling anything.
we ended up meeting so many sweet people and it was really fun to be out and about in our new neighborhood. it might just become our new 4th of july tradition.

in the end, our "free" lemonade/cookies/freeze pop stand profited $45!

i asked the boys how they wanted to give away their profits. foster wants his $22.50 to give at church, and rowan wants to use his $22.50 to buy a goat (for samaratins purse). they were so excited to have such a large sum of money to give away.

and this little American girl?

she charmed the hoards of lemonade drinkers with her flag antics. i think very large consumptions of lemonade may have contributed to her extra pounds of silliness :)

we are 4 days away from her 1 year gotcha day anniversary.
i can hardly believe it! although it feels like she's been here all along, it feels strange to say one year. after all that time waiting, she's been with us almost as long as we were apart. praise the Lord...she's ours.


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