Saturday, November 24, 2012


What a difference a year makes!  This time last year, Miss Thang was on major food overload from her first thang's giving.  Click Here to remind yourself about how amazing she thought Thanksgiving really was.
This year was equally as fun.  We got to share it with Jinming.  Since Thanksgiving is an American holiday, this was her first one.  While we cooked American favorites like ham, sweet potatoes, and corn bread dressing; Jinming made some yummy Chinese dishes.  She made a wonderful eggplant with tomatoes and egg as well as carrots.  I think the carrots were a crowd favorite because there weren't many left at the end of the meal.

Brady acted as the event photographer.  He loved taking "creative" pictures of all of the food.
Our table was beautifully decorated by the one and only Kaden Pillstrom!  And yes, that is a bacon wrapped turkey in the picture above!
Thanksgiving came and went with hardly any drama!  I think it was because we were at my house and the family members that usually cause drama don't know where I live.  I'm sure several people went to my aunt's house expecting to find us, though!
Yesterday, mom and I went on our yearly shopping adventure.  As you know, almost all of the stores opened Thursday night.  I did end up going to the Old Navy outlet with a friend at 10pm for a few bargains.  The real shopping happened Thursday morning.  Surprisingly, mom and I got everything we wanted from the sale ads even though we went hours after they opened!  I couldn't believe it.  I figured it was because we went with no expectations and ended up super excited!
Last night, we went to the Peabody to watch the ducks and for the tree lighting.  This was JM's first trip to the historic hotel and it did not disappoint!
We got to the Peabody a little early so we went up top for the "bird's eye" view!  Lame pun...sorry!  It was really windy up there but my kids love it so I just knew JM would too!
Of course, the smaller kids were super excited to see the man of the hour, however, I did also notice a certain 16 year old hold her hand out and smile really big when he shook her hand! 
And finally, a family picture to remind us all of the Christmas we shared with Jinming!  I have loved having her here the past couple of weeks.  She is such an amazing girl and just fits right in with out family.  She and Kaden have become the best of friends and she has been spending a lot of time with him.  That makes me so happy because he has really been struggling with being the middle child! 
As for Jinming, my desire for her (while she is with our family) is to experience as much of American life as possible.  We may not be the most exciting people in the world but we try to have as much fun in life as possible!  I think she really likes it here and I know we will all be sad when it's time for her to go home. 
So, if you're wondering what I'm thankful for this is this sweet family God has allowed me to be a part of!  This has really been one of the best Thanksgiving's I have ever had!
Stay tuned, as we will be decorating the tree this weekend!  I think the Christmas spirit is starting to wear off on our international guest. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Zoo Time!

Today, I took four...that's right...four kids to the zoo!  Tony and I had planned on taking Jinming to the zoo today and as always, he got called in right before we left.  Oh well, we didn't let that hurt our fun filled day. 
The kids and I love going to the zoo.  My dad buys us a membership each spring and we always get his money worth.  The temps were in the upper 70's today and I figured this might be our last warm day for a while.
As soon as we got to the zoo, the three kids had to throw some pennies into the reflecting pool.  We do it every time. 
Then it was off to the cat country.  Today, many of the animals were out lounging in the warm sun.  It was a great day at the zoo and most of Memphis would probably agree.  It was very busy today. 
Jinming got her first taste of peanut butter and jelly today. I was making lunches and when she saw what I was making for Brady she decided she would try one. I'm so impressed with her! I'm not sure I could go to another country, get shuffled around to three different houses, and be brave enough to try new foods.
If you haven't been to the zoo in a while, you will be as surprised as we were to learn there is now a farris wheel!  Of course, as soon as we saw it, the three Pillstrom's were sreaming to get on.  Jinming had never ridden one and said her parents were always afraid of them.  I told her it was ok that she didn't have to ride but this girl is brave, remember?  She hopped right up there and I asked her if she was scared and she said, "No...YES!"  It was pretty awesome to see all four kids expressions.  The boys have ridden them before but the girls got their first experience!  Lynleigh looks a little scared, but in reality she loved it!  I think this is just her fake smile.
However, this was my favorite moment of the day.  If you're my friend on Facebook, they you know that I have talked about how good Jinming is with the kids.  She is so concerned about Lynleigh and I even catch her just watching Lynleigh when we are sitting at home.  Here, she is helping her and showing her the polar bear.  Who know's what they were talking about.  I couldn't help but take a picture because it's so sweet!
And last but not least...we took Jinming to fake China!  Our favorite thing to see is the Pande Exibit.  I have been taking pictures of the kids in front of the pandas since Brady was a year old.  Of course I had to take one of Jinming too!  She seemed to really enjoy going to the zoo with us today.  She told me that she saw many animals today that she would never get to see in China.  The boys also enjoyed asking her to read the Chinese symbols in the panda exibit.  And they also loved taking her to their favorite things and sharing information they have learned over the years!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bunny Tunnel

Today, Lynleigh Ren received her second set of ear tubes.  As I was getting ready this morning, I was remembering all the trips for PE tubes that we have done over the years.  Between the three kids, we have had six sets of tubes (Kaden had 3 of those).  And while some people stress over this, it's the nature of the beast when you have cleft babies.
She didn't really understand what we were doing up so early this morning or why I let her wear her pj's and no shoes.  She kept signing that she couldn't walk because she didn't have any shoes on.  Oh, poor little miss "my feet never hit the ground" Lynleigh!  When we got inside, Mickey Mouse was on the tv, so she decided right off that this was her kind of place!  She hopped right out of my arms and started exploring, which is so out of character for her!
We passed the time by playing some games and working on writing letters.  I gave the doctor a fair warning that this could be great or it could be the biggest freak out he'd ever seen.  He's a really laid back guy and he wasn't worried about anything!  BTW, this doctor has done all of the tubes for the kids except when Ren had her cleft surgery.  We love him!
There was plenty of play time while we waited our turn.  The surgery center is very kid friendly, as  you can see.  We waited for about 20 minutes before it was her turn.  I was cracking up while we were there because everyone asks the same questions and tells you the same thing.  I think the nurses were all weirded out that I wasn't stressed or worried.  I told them we were old pros but they all went through the whole sphill every time! 
The procedure itself takes about ten minutes.  Needless to say, I read about 4 pages in my book before we were done.
And now for the big Bunny Tunnel reveal!  Like I said, we have been through the bunny tunnel more times than most families and I can actually remember each and every prize the kids picked.  Brady didn't get a trip to the bunny tunnel because his tubes were done at a different surgery center.  Kaden, has been at Le Bonheur for them all.  For his cleft surgery (he was 4 months old) I picked him a stuffed lion.  For each of the tube surgeries he chose a noisy rain maker toy, a soccer ball, and a chef utensil set.  You can read Kaden's story here :
Lynleigh has made two trips Le Bonheur.  One was for her cleft repair, which by the way was one year ago tomorrow!  The other was today.  Her first trip, she picked a cute little stuffed bird.  Today....
The winner is a princess doll!  She tried to talk the nurse into two of them.  But none the less, she walked away happy with this one!  As I said above, I was worried that this would be a huge freak out disaster.  Not today!  The nurse asked if she wanted to go with her and Lynleigh said, "Yes!"  She grabbed her new doll,actually said no to Pooh bear (I sent it anyway) and told me, "Bye Bye!" 
I'm just as shocked as you are but grateful for all the prayers because they were felt for sure!  She did struggle once we got home.  We were just pulling into the neighborhood when she projectile vomited all over the back seat.  We got home, she took a bath, and she reluctantly went to sleep with out pooh bear (who was victim to the said vomit).  Three hours later, she was a new person!! 
I'm so thankful for another great experience.  She has made so many strides through out the past year and having the tubes will continue to help her with her speech development. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Different Perspective

As you know, this week, we celebrated the arrival and birthday of Miss Thang! It was a week of busy, crazy fun. Saturday, we finished off the week with a huge princess celebration in honor of Lynleigh Ren. It was a great day. We had about 11 little 2-4 year olds in their beautiful princess gowns. Because it was a Rapunzal party, we served hazel nut soup, bread and cheese and apples for Maximus. After being a grouch for the first 45 minutes (she only got a half hour nap because of a soccer game), she finally warmed up to the 50+ people we squeezed into our new (and we thought huge) house. 50, you ask? Well, that includes the 11 little girls, parents, grandparents, and babies. Holy cow! Brady asked if he could be in charge of taking pictures for his little sister. Usually, this is my job. I love being the photographer in our family.
I think Brady did a great job capturing the moments of his little sister's special day! This next picture is of Gracie and Sophie. They were just too cute in their Mulan and Ariel dresses!
This one has to be my favorite by far! I love how hard she tried to blow out the candle on her own!
All in all, it was a wonderful day!  I have a ton of pictures and will have to blog more later!  Tony and I are about to meet with one of our pastor's about Orphan Sunday.  What an appropriate way to end Lynleigh week!

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Soccer season is upon us and what better way to get into the sport but to sign up a bossy two year old! Lynleigh's first soccer practice was this week and when I met her coach I had a few words of wisdom, "She doesn't like strangers, she doesn't know how to share, she's bossy, she's doesn't know how to talk and she's a little OCD. Good Luck to you!" Within the first 30 seconds, I knew this would be a long season! The coach started out asking everyone to say his/her name and do something silly. This lasted all of about 2 minutes before the eight two to four year olds lost interested. He asked Lynleigh to get in the circle and say her you not listen to my words of wisdom? She said no and gave him the hand. Why? Well, there were these orange cones....

Yeah! She couldn't focus on anything because she was so busy lining up the cones. She would get them in some sort of line and this one kid on the team would come over and kick them. Insert meltdown! I had to eventually go out to the field and take the cones away from her because she was never going to be able to concentrate with those dang cones out there!

Once the cones were gone, she was able to enjoy herself a little and play with the other kids. And wouldn't you know it, the coach found where I had hid them and put them back out on the field! Next week, I'll make sure they are "MIA" so she can function!
As much as she liked kicking the ball, it was a lot easier to carry it to where she wanted it to go! Plus she learned that if she held it, then no one could take it from her. Two year old logic!

She did try to kick it into the goal a few times and with a lot of effort, she would make it in!

I think she and her BFF liked digging in the goal for the ball as much as any other part of the practice!

So, she held it and she kicked it, and she complained about the shin guards!

But mostly, she just played with the cones and took a lot of breaks!

Meanwhile, this guy...

Was ready to hit the field! Kaden's an all around great athlete! He's good at almost every sport he tries. And what he's not good at, he makes up for in attitude! If it can be done outside, he loves it!

The best part about soccer for a kid like Kaden, is the running. He has an unlimited amount of energy and soccer really helps wear him out!
I'd say on a scale of one to ten, the first soccer practice was an 8. Hopefully, now that Lynleigh knows what it's all about, she will get into it a little more. As for Kaden, we don't have to worry about him! He was born for this sport!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Don't Blink!

This past week, I spent some time re-reading my posts from this time last year. I still can't believe that in 24 days, we will celebrate the one year anniversary of bringing Lynleigh Ren into our family! Wow! Does it seem like that long? In just 11 short months, she has gone from this...
To this!

I mean, I can't even remember that scrawny, scared little girl that walked up to us like she knew we were her parents. When I looked back at the blog, I can't get over one of the first pictures of Lynleigh. I was holding her but she was leaning towards her nanny. I wouldn't recognize that little girl today!
This little girl right here loves her Mommy and Daddy! She can't live without a hair bow! And she's the boss of the Pillstrom house! This weekend, Lynleigh and I got to spend some quality time together while the boys were out of town. We have had some sweet time together! All she's wanted to do this weekend is hug and kiss, and believe me, I'm all for that! I was a little worried when I started school because she had regressed a little. But this girl loves her baby sitter and now that she's in a routine, she's been such a little sweetie! She's about 90% potty trained. The other 10% would be during the night. She still wears a pull-up to bed because she drinks a lot of milk during the day. It may be a while before we make it to panties at night.
One of my favorite things Lynleigh does is mimic me. She's always wanting to put on make up and she will hold her purse just like me. Today, while I was blow drying my hair, I looked up to find her doing the same!

She cracks me up! In 24 days, we will celebrate our Gotcha 25, Miss Thang turns 3! I still can't get over that she's here and we get to see her grow! I sometimes feel like I blinked and the year passed us by! Here's to the next year and the many adventures it will hold! And stay tuned for the birthday of the year! You know it's coming up soon!!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

In China, We Are All Family

When we decided to adopt, I did not realize how big our world would become! During the past year, God has expanded my territory (a little Jabez reference)not only across the US but across the world. If you will remember, we spent the whole time in China with another family. Normally, the group will meet in Beijing and then split off to different provinces. Well, we were blessed to be with another family for the duration of our trip. I'm so glad, too, because it is very lonely when you are in a foreign country! This past week, I had the chance to meet up with that family again while we were in Texas. This sweet girl is Olivia.
She is three years old and the spunkiest little thing I've ever met! We were fortunate enough to be with Olivia's family on Gotcha Day and experience the whirlwind that goes along with it! There is something about her little face that will stick with me forever. It probably has a lot to do with her cute voice and hilarious personality. But mostly, it's because her family and mine are connected in a way I would have never dreamed! I can't explain it, but they will always be a part of our family.

Despite the way it looks here, it took Lynleigh a few hours to warm up to Olivia. I have no idea if she remembers her first friend or if seeing each other brought back any memories. But I do know that Lynleigh treated her like any other person and wasn't about to let her near the food!

We traveled with 11 families back in September and thanks to Facebook, I have been able to keep in touch with all but two. It's awesome to see how these little girls and boy have adjusted to American life. I love seeing Miss Alba (we saw her again at Disney) and Miss Rachel and their sassy photos. I have prayed for and seen God to amazing things for precious Leah. And cute little Ella is about to be a big sister! Her family is in the process to go back and get a boy! The whole experience is surreal and I am forever grateful that I was and am a part of it! Now on to the vacation. First, let me say, Lynleigh Ren does not like change! She had a hard time adjusting to being gone for 10 days. I did get some good pictures of her but for the most part, she cried the whole time!

Here she is at Sea World with her favorite/arch nemesis brother and the white dolphin.

She was actually brave enough at Sea World to ride a few rides. The first time she ever rode a carousel, I had to sit on the horse with her and she held on to me for dear life. This time, she was brave! At one point, she even took her and off the pole to wave to Brady! I was so proud of her. However, one thing she didn't like was the beach!

Normally, in the water, she is a fish. But I guess when there are real fish and sea weed grabbing her leg, she is just not a fan. Since we have been home, she is very attached to me and concerned about where her daddy is at all times. I think she is afraid I may take her away from him again so she asks me ten times a day "Ya-eee go?" I have three weeks until school starts so hopefully the attachment issues will be smoothed out before she goes back to the sitter.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Last Day of School

When I turned my computer on this morning, this picture above is what was looking back at me.  It got me to thinking of how amazingly crazy and awesome this school has been for our family!  How much we have all grown physically and spiritually.  I couldn't have asked for a more awesome school year!

As you know, I started at a new school this year.  I was super worried about how different teaching middle school vs. high school would be, and I was pleasantly surprised!  I loved my students and the people I work for so much that I didn't have much time to think about it being middle school.  I did have some ups and downs this year but over all, it was by far the best year teaching I've had!

At home, well, if you're on Facebook, then you know what's been going on there!  But there have also been some little things that have changed since September that I'm not sure if I have documented!  For example, this morning, both boys had spent the night with a friend.  As you know, Lynleigh is hit or miss when it comes to them and how she feels about their presence.  Well, today, they weren't there and I noticed that she cried a lot more while I was getting ready!  I think she actually missed them but didn't know how to express it!  She is talking so much more.  Most of her words are still gibberish to us but she is passionate about what she says!  Example, yesterday when she and Tony got home, Tony was holding her shoes.  He dropped the shoes on the floor and when Lynleigh saw him drop them, she started pointing her finger "fussing" at him and then walked over and hit him!  Now I know that hitting isn't nice, but it was so funny, I had to hid behind a pillow and laugh! 

And speaking of her shoes, this girl is serious about them!  She likes to choose the shoes she wears each day, which is usually her tennis shoes we got in China.  She is still obsessed with her glittery Toms but unfortunately, they are too small.  She will ask you to put them on her and then carry her because they hurt her feet!  She's such a diva!  Needless to say, we will be buying more Toms after Disney!  And then there's the matter of no shoes.  When we brought her home, she HAD to have shoes on at all time.  I mean, I totally understand!  I like to have shoes on too!  But she's slowly conforming to the ways of the South and will go all day, even outside, without shoes!  It's crazy!

Now to the boys.  They both had amazing years at DeSoto Central schools!  Kaden LOVED kindergarten!!  He had one of the greatest teachers I've ever met and she taught him so much!  I was worried he wouldn't like school but he loves it!  He got perfect attendance this year which is huge because he's our sick kid!  Brady also had a great year!  His teacher was one of the best as well!  We love her and are excited that she will be looping next year so he will have her for 5th grade!  I would have to say his worst moment this year would have been getting strep the second to last week of school.  Brady prides himself on perfect attendance at school and he missed his first day in two years!  Oh well, he'll get back on track next year!

Now, I sit patiently and wait for what ever time the announcement is made that we can officially begin our summer!  We are jammed packed with funness this year!  Disney next week, Texas at the end of the month.  Brady is going to Math and Science camp and we are joining the YMCA for some major pool time.  We are also hoping to move into a new house this summer.  Looks like next school year will be here before we know it...but let's not think about that right now!