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The older and more mature I get, the more I realize not everyone’s life is how it is portrayed from a distance or in social media (Facebook or blogs).  Every family or individual has struggles, and most prefer to keep those private.  Some may share certain issues with friends or those who can give support, but a lot of things we keep to ourselves, pushing through each challenge as it comes, in a private way.  It may not be until we open up about certain struggles, that we find others have been along a similar path, and we had no idea.  So, it is partly for this reason (and for our own family record) that I share our private struggle we have been through these last couple years.

When our youngest, Cami, was born we knew she was our last child.  It was a hard pregnancy and scary delivery, which was so different from each of the other three pregnancies and deliveries.  Neither Chris nor I felt like we could easily go through that experience again.  But, as the years went on, I began to wonder if maybe I would be up for it.  Every time I mentioned it to Chris, he was still decided he couldn’t risk it.  Fair enough.

Still I struggled with this decision.  Were we really done having children?  Were we officially ready to move into the next stage of life?  I began having feelings of jealousy and longing when friends would announce they were expecting.  I secretly hoped I would become pregnant and that would take away having to make the decision.  The worst was feeling like I was struggling with this on my own, as Chris obviously didn’t have any of these feelings.  I finally decided that I wouldn’t be okay with knowing that our family was complete until Chris and I had prayed about it together.  When I finally approached Chris about it, he already knew my struggles and said he had been feeling like someone was missing from our family as well, and wondered how I felt about adopting.

I was overwhelmed with how right that statement felt and completely grateful for an understanding and loving husband.  We had a sweet discussion and before I knew it, Chris had researched adoption agencies as well as what the process would be for us, as expats.  It wasn’t going to be an easy or inexpensive process, but we were both ready and willing.  We knew the kids would be all for this decision as they had been dropping hints and asking questions about having another baby, but we just weren’t ready to get their hopes up quite yet.

Chris and I dove into all the preliminary preparations to even apply for adoption.  We had a pile of paperwork to fill out for our social worker in Germany and another pile to fill out for the adoption agency in the states, all requiring something different.

New Scotland Yard

We requested criminal checks from a couple different states, asked a few friends to write reference letters, and made a trip to New Scotland Yard for some fingerprinting.

Visiting for Fingerprints

After most of the preliminary work had been completed, the adoption agency wanted the kids to be involved in writing letters to birth moms, etc. so we decided it was time to tell them.  We had just come home from our trip to Iceland and it happened to be Mothering Sunday in the UK, so it seemed the perfect time.  We gathered everyone together and gave each of the kids some little things we had gotten for them from Iceland . . volcanic rocks picked up from the beach and an Icelandic coin each.  Then they unwrapped a gift to share – a journal.  I admit that I was already crying at this point, and the kids were pretty clueless why they jointly got one empty journal and Mom was an emotional mess.  Hannah finally put some of the pieces together and asked if it was a baby journal like we kept for each of them.  When we said that it was, she asked if we were adopting a baby.  Caleb had come to put his arm around me, to comfort me and when Chris said we were specifically adopting a baby boy, Caleb broke down sobbing.  I was really surprised and wondered if we had misread the kids’ desires as well.  But, when we asked Caleb if he was okay with this decision, he just nodded and said that he was so overwhelmed; that he had always wanted a younger brother.  At that point, Hannah had joined the two of us in crying and everyone else was all smiles.  Chris and I were grateful those were the reactions we got.

Having the kids ‘in the know’ definitely added a new level of  excitement and frustration.  Every time we felt we were getting closer to our final approval, there was a new batch of requirements – FBI checks, medical physicals for the whole family, etc.  Finally the time came for our home study.  A social worker who specializes in American adoptions abroad came to visit with us for about 4 hours.  The kids were really nervous as they felt they were on trial to see if they’d be good siblings.  They had put all their nervous energy to work before the visit by cleaning and organizing their rooms . . . even reorganizing the shoe basket by the front door.  They all wanted to ‘pass’ so we could get approved to adopt “Buddy” (our nick-name of our unknown baby).

After a few months, our final approval came and the adoption agency asked for our profile.  We thought this was just a letter to the birth mom with some pictures attached, however, they wanted it in book form.  This seemed like a big project, but Emma kept urging me on and I found I really enjoyed my time working on it.  With Emma’s deadline of getting the book done in a week, I powered through it and we all loved how it turned out.

Profile Book Cover

1st Page of Profile Book

After we sent 8 copies of our book off to the adoption agency, all we could do was wait.  This was almost harder than getting all the preliminary paperwork done, as it was all out of our hands.  Here it was, now July, and our lives felt on hold.  We could be called at any time to come to the states to pick up a baby.  We canceled a big trip and put off others, not knowing what the next few months would hold.  We all felt a bit stir-crazy and anxious.  Emma started knitting a baby blanket to keep her hands busy!

Emma’s Big Yarn Ball

We would get profiles of birth moms frequently from the adoption agency.  We then would respond to indicate which birth moms sounded like a good match for our family.  There was one in particular that was ‘perfect’.  She didn’t know the sex of the baby yet, so we waited a couple more months when she found out she was indeed having a boy.  We were so hopeful that this mom would choose us, but one day the call came that the birth mom had chosen someone else.  This one felt different than all the other ‘she picked someone else’ emails as we had been hoping and praying for this one specific one for so long.  We were sad but kept hopeful someone else would choose our family.

On 7 December, as we were walking out of ‘Scrooge‘, Chris leaned over to me and said we had been chosen by a birth mom who was due the end of February/beginning of March.  He had just gotten the email during the show.  We were both ecstatic but didn’t want to tell the kids right there in the middle of the sidewalk, so ended up telling them the next day after Chris and I had a chance to talk about it.  We were all thrilled!

It just so happened that we were going to be in the states for Christmas.  So, Chris and I took a quick trip to Utah to meet the birth mom and the adoption agency counselor.  While we were there, we took the opportunity to spend a couple hours with my sister, Eliza.

Salt Lake Temple

Temple Square with Eliza

We had a great time with the birth mom and got a little nervous when she said she was already experiencing labor-like pains.  She had two other little boys and both were extremely early.  We felt a little bit panicked as we had to start making plans to, literally, come back from London at any time between then and the beginning of March!

When we returned to London, we started to get our ducks in a row.  We moved some things around in our house to be ready for a crib and other baby paraphernalia.  But, I also had school plans and copies to ready so Caleb and Cami wouldn’t be behind while I was away.

Months of School Preparations

Chris and I also felt we should get the birth mom a gift that would be special to her and feel like a connection to her baby.  We had such a hard time finding something that was ‘just right’, until we found this necklace on etsy.

Birth Mom Gift

As we were making all these preparations, we continued to stay in touch with the birth mom and her counselor through once-a-week phone calls.  We looked forward to these talks and enjoyed hearing all the updates.  Then one Monday in late January, we got a call from our counselor at the agency saying that the birth mom and her partner had left Utah to return home to Arizona.  We were floored.  We had just talked to her the week before and everything was fine.  She was so close to delivery, why did she leave?!  It was quite frustrating on our end, because now all our legal preparations for Utah were obsolete and we had to hurry to find the same legal help in Arizona.  However, the laws are different from state to state so we were really struggling to find someone who could help us with our expat status.  We had help getting in touch with the right people, and finally got that worked out and were back on target.

Then in the middle of February the birth mom told us her doctor had told her it was ‘go’ time and to be on the ready.  We confirmed earlier flights than we had originally booked, okayed changes with our babysitters, and packed our bags for an extended trip to the states to welcome our new baby!  Emma had her baby blanket finished so the long wait seemed worth it.  We couldn’t believe the time had finally arrived!

Buddy’s Finished Blanket from Emma

Our flight was to leave early Monday on 18 Feb.  On Sunday morning around 12:30 a.m., we got a call from our adoption attorney saying the birth mom had changed her mind and the adoption wouldn’t be going through.  I was still half asleep and felt this was all a bad dream.  I was awake for most of the remaining night, convinced this wasn’t happening.  But, it was.  Chris and I went through all the motions on Sunday but were in a bit of shock.  When we came home from church, we told the kids what had happened.  They were as shocked as we were.  Surprisingly, they weren’t upset with the birth mom, but just hurt and shocked.  We asked them if we should keep trying and they all said yes.

All Packed with No Where to Go

We let ourselves have a hard emotional family day, but then we tried to ‘pull up our boots’ and move forward.  Not many people knew about the adoption (just family and those who we had asked to do our reference letters, etc.) so we dealt with it quite privately.  We thought it would be easier that way, just in case; and here we were dealing with the ‘just in case.’  Our adoption agency updates of birth moms slowed down and we started having to ask for updates.  We started getting disheartened as we realized adoption agencies are more businesses than truly helping each individual match with an adoptive family.  As the time approached to renew all our homestudies and other paperwork, we struggled with what to do.  We had a couple more close opportunities for being chosen by birth moms, but they never panned out.  We struggled with knowing why this felt so right but our prayers weren’t being answered.  But, now for some reason, we felt the time was now past and we needed to move on.

We may never know why we had to go through this long process to still come out on the other end without a new little baby boy.  But, we continue to trust in Heavenly Father that He has a plan for us.  This was not an easy road to take, but it was a road full of growth for all of us as a family.  It’s hard to believe that this last year has gone by, always wondering what our ‘Buddy’ is up to with his birth family.  He is probably walking and talking now, after having just celebrated his first birthday.  I now wear the heart necklace we intended for the birth mom.  It is now my special connection with this experience.  This year of healing has been good for all of us, but also a great reminder of how grateful we are for each of our children and the special part they each play in our family.

Chris is a schemer . . and that is one thing that I love about him.  He loves to surprise me, and my birthday was no exception.  I guess the original plan was to tell me of our get-away the day before we were leaving, but each day Chris would come home to find one more thing on my calendar.  Still trying to hold on to his plan, he started contacting the people on my calendar.  They, in turn, would contact me and cancel our plans.  My full calendar was starting to empty.  On Valentine’s Day, Chris unveiled my birthday surprise early, to his chagrin.  At that point my empty calendar started making sense!  He had planned a wonderful 4 day get-away to Portugal, a country I had been wanting to visit.  He had even arranged baby-sitters, which I always dread.  He truly is wonderful!

All I had to do in preparation was get the grocery shopping & laundry done, finish up my Relief Society lesson for the day after we got back, and pack.  For all that could have been going on, it was the least stressful get-away we’ve had as we left nothing undone!

Resort Welcoming

As soon as we arrived in the small Faro, Portugal airport, life started to slow down.  We rented our car and headed to the resort where we would be staying.  We were met at the car and ushered into the reception area for check-in.  Our room wasn’t quite ready so we were shown to a patio overlooking the ocean, while they brought us complimentary virgin fruit drinks.

First View of Resort

While we waited, we thoroughly enjoyed the view . . and our drinks.  We truly felt like we were already relishing our holiday.

Suite Life

When our room was ready, the hospitality representative drove us to it in a golf cart.  We were in the top floor of this little condo (furthest on to the right).

Living Room/Dining Area

Bedroom

Closet Area

We were mostly in shock of the closet area (4 times the size of our closet space at home!) and bathroom (which was bigger than our bedroom at home!).

Bathroom

Once we were unpacked and settled, we decided to go explore the rest of the resort area.

Swan Pond

I could not wait to get down to the beach!  Not that we are really beach type people, but there is just something about walking along the beach in warm sand during February!

Pathway Down to Beach

The sand was just the right temperature – warm, but not hot.  The beach was also . . . empty!  It was great to have it to ourselves and we just strolled along, looking for fun shells to bring back to the kids.

Beach Combing

After the beach, we strolled around the rest of the resort complex and tried to get our bearings and understand what was available.

Panorama of Resort

Admittedly, after our exploring, we enjoyed doing nothing . . . we read, watched some TV, and napped.

Thursday, was a little more scheduled and productive.  After breakfast, we went for a little hike around the cliffs surrounding the resort.

Nesting Birds

It was a great little workout and we enjoyed seeing the view from each new cliff.  We were surprised to also see a number of fishermen out, probably getting the ‘catch of the day’ for the resort restaurants.

Cliff Fisherman

With being at the resort during the off-season, we enjoyed a round of mini-golf all to ourselves.  This area is well-known for its golf courses, which the resort did have.  However, mini-golf is much more my speed.  Even then I lost to Chris by two-digits.

Mini-Golfing

On Friday, my birthday, we were up and off just after breakfast.  We had wanted to see more of Portugal so had planned a driving tour of the south-west portion, where we were, an area called the Algarve.  As we retrieved the car from the reception area, Chris and I were both surprised when the hostess wished me a happy birthday.  Chris said he may have mentioned it when making the reservation but didn’t tell them which day it was on.

We started in an old town called Silves, where there is an old castle from sometime between the 8th and 13th century.  It was built by Portugal’s second king, Sancho I, when he took the town from the Moors.

King Sancho I

Town Square

Walking around, there were many Moorish influences throughout the town . . . but also in the entire part of Southern Portugal.  I learned a lot of history on this trip, as we learned how different northern and southern Portugal really are, as far as their history.

Town Street

Beautiful (HUGE) Flowers

Silves Cathedral

We then drove north, along many windy roads to an area called Monchique.  This is where the highest point in the region is located.  We didn’t go all the way to the peak, as there was a low cloud cover, but just stopping along the road, we had a beautiful valley view.

Valley View

We then turned west, towards the coast, and drove to Arrifana.  This is a rocky beach area, which may be why it’s so popular with the surfers.  I’m sure there aren’t a lot of sun-bathers in this area, even during the summer.  We were surprised to see about 4 surfers on the water while we were there,  as we looked down from the cliff, shivering from the cold wind as we looked down from the cliff.

Arrifana Beach

To finish up our Portugal tour, we headed to the most southwestern point of the country, Cape St. Vincent.  The Romans used to refer to this spot as ‘the end of the world’.

Parked at ‘the End of the World’

This lighthouse is the second most powerful lighthouse in Europe and guards one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.  It’s light can be seen 37 miles away.

St. Vincent Lighthouse

Standing on the Edge of the World

It was quite windy and cold while we were touring this bit of the coast.  The waves were crashing against the cliffs below and it almost felt like we would blow away.

Waves Crashing on the Cliffs

As I was taking pictures of the cliffs, Chris pointed out the cliff fishermen on one of the cliff ledges.  Talk about a dangerous job, especially in windy conditions!

Cliff Fishermen

Then we finished our round-about tour of the Algarve and headed back to the resort.  It was truly amazing how much the landscape . . . and weather changed throughout the day as we drove.  When we arrived back at the resort, it was all sun with no cloud cover.

Resort Weather

When we got back to our room, there was a surprise from the resort staff.  This also came with a chilled bottle of wine, which we felt horrible about and hoped that the woman who serviced our room could just take it as a tip.  We decided to save the cake for dessert that night after we came back from the restaurant.

Birthday Surprise in Room

After dinner, we told the waiter we wouldn’t have any dessert that night and to just bring the bill.  It seemed to take forever and we actually wondered how long it took to bring a bill, as this was out of the ordinary.  Not 2 minutes later, the lights dimmed and our two waiters came around the corner singing ‘Happy Birthday’ in English (!) and carrying another birthday cake!  Chris and I felt so bad as we had been waiting to eat the one in our room.  They also brought us two glasses of champagne, which we left on the table.

Birthday Surprise in Restaurant

Chris and I were so full from dinner anyway, but ate about 3/4 of this delicious carrot spice cake (I fished out the cake from the chocolate icing) so as not to offend anyone.  We saved the other cake for breakfast the next day . . and were surprised to find a delicious white cake with cream and berries underneath it’s chocolate icing.

Birthday Cheesecake at Home

It was an amazing weekend away, but my birthday celebration was not over.  We got to celebrate with a delicious shish kabob dinner (starting to be everyone’s pick for their birthday dinners), cheesecake dessert, and gifts on Sunday when we were all together!  It was the perfect weekend and probably my biggest birthday celebration ever.  After two years of being 36 (or thinking I was anyway), I’m ready to move on and enjoy a year of being 37.

On Pointe

Outside of having visitors, our half-term week was on it’s way to be pretty uneventful.  All the kids wanted to do was sleep in and maybe go see a movie.  We then decided to take one of the days and meet Chris in the city for lunch.

Waiting for the Bus

It was a cold and rainy day, which doesn’t add up to be enjoyable public transportation weather.  Some of us handle it better than others (or maybe Mom has just gotten embarrassing, taking touristy pictures when we actually live here).

Family Lunch Date

We met up with Chris for a delicious lunch at Five Guys – even if they did get our order wrong and were a little clueless.  But, Chris appreciated the break from his normal workday . . . and we appreciated the bonus time we got to spend with him.

Our lunch date was timed quite nicely with Cami’s dance instructor telling her she was ready for pointe shoes.  Just a couple blocks from our lunch date, was the theatre district of London where there are a number of dance shops.  So, we decided to kill two birds with one stone . . . or is it more like two outings for the headache of one?

Pointe Shoes Everywhere!

Cami had been counting down the days to our trip to the dance shop so she was beyond excited.  We knew we would have a little bit of resistance because of her age, but Cami’s dance instructor told us to stick to our guns and to have them take a look at Cami’s strong ankles.  Well, when I asked the lady at the front desk about a fitting, she didn’t look too thrilled about helping us, as they don’t normally fit pointe shoes for children younger than 11.  I didn’t even think we’d get a chance to show off Cami’s ankles, but the lady finally agreed to at least have a look, reserving the right not to sell us the shoes if Cami wasn’t ready.

Trying on the First Pair

To be fair to Cami’s shoe-fitter, she was very encouraging to Cami and told her not to get frustrated if the fitting took awhile, as you have to find just the ‘right one.’  I never knew there were so many makes and models of pointe shoes!

Still Another Pair

It did take about an hour, but they were able to find just the right one that looked nice on both feet and supported them properly as well.  The lady must have seen something she liked about Cami’s feet, as she sold us the shoes.  Maybe it was another ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ moment.

Regardless, Cami was very excited to leave the store with her pointe shoes in hand!

I’ve been told, you always remember your first pointe shoe fitting.  I’m sure the next monumental dance step is when Cami can actually sew her own ribbons onto her shoes!

Walter Family Visits

We cannot say enough how much we LOVE visitors!  We are always thrilled when friends take us up on the offer to come stay with us while they tour London.

Robynn, Ben, Brooke, Emily, Jake, & Dave

The Walter family has grown up since we last saw them.  Ben and Emily were little . . . and Brooke and Jake weren’t even around yet!  So, it was great to catch-up during their London leg of their trip (before taking off for sunny, warm South Africa!).

I’m sure Robynn thought we were crazy when she asked what she could bring us from the states.  I have such a hard time finding snack size ziplock bags here . . . so that was my request – to top up our stash of snack bags.  They definitely topped us up . . . it doesn’t take much to make us happy!

Brooke & Hannah Crafting

The Walter’s also gifted us with a Rainbow Loom, something that is all the rage in the States right now.  Hannah has a couple friends that have one, but the rest of us had never heard of it.  Brooke became Hannah’s tutor, and before long Hannah was making bracelets and other amazing things she’d find instructions online for.  It kept her occupied for days!

It was really great that our kids were out of school during the Walter’s visit, so our mornings were very relaxed and unrushed.  It helped our school break feel special as well.  One morning the younger kids were all up waiting for their breakfast of crepes, bonding over their electronic devices and games, while they waited for all the older people to get going.

It was such a great visit . . . not even including our Indian dinner/movie night, Sunday dinner sitting around the table talking and laughing, and just hanging out.  We hope they got enough of London under their belts before they left.  Thanks so much for coming to see us, guys!

Winter’s London Culture

Coming out of the holidays, we had a major bite of the ‘London Culture Bug’!  There were so many fun family shows going on in the city . . . and feeling like we had gone through a drought since ‘Kids’ Week in the West End’ during the summer . . . we jumped on a few performances in January!

Honest Burger

A Friday night show just screams dinner beforehand.  We met Chris after work at Honest Burger.  We had never been there before, but rank it right up there as one of the best burger places in London.  The atmosphere was really fun!

London’s A Cappella Festival

The ‘show’ was actually the A Cappella Festival.  The older kids really enjoyed watching the movie ‘Pitch Perfect’ so we thought this was a great way to show them the “real” thing.  It just so happens that the main group for the night was called “The Real Group”.  They were an amazing A Cappella group from Sweden.  We all loved it.  We knew it was going to be a great night when the opening group was amazing in their own right, as well.

Royal Albert Hall

Our second outing for the month enabled us to actually go inside the Royal Albert Hall, a building we pass on a weekly basis.  We were there to see Cirque du Soleil.  We weren’t really sure what to expect from this show . . . let’s just say we loved the acrobatics.  The rest of the show was a little out of our league.

But, no matter what, we loved experiencing a bit different culture than we normally do in London.  There is always so much on offer!

It seemed Caleb was lacking the excitement worthy of entering into the realm of official teenager-dom for a long time.  Who am I kidding?  I don’t know that it has hit him yet!

Every time we brought up his birthday, he didn’t even know what he wanted to do to celebrate.  One thing he did know was what he wanted for his birthday meal – shish kabobs and spinach salad.

Birthday Meal

As Caleb is now the sole-homeschooler in our family, I gave him the day off of school and treated him to a day at the movies.  He chose to see the movie “Jack Ryan” and then we did some shopping at the mall before heading home to get the girls off the school bus.  That seemed to fill his birthday celebration expectations.

Not one to miss a night of gym training, if he can help it, Caleb chose to go to his private at the gym that night, leaving us with a late night of celebrating.  After our 8:30 p.m. dinner, Caleb opened his gifts.

Nephi Statue from Israel

From books to gift cards to clothes, Caleb was thrilled with his gifts . . and was in quite a giggling mood all night.

Caleb’s Gifts

I tried my hand at making an Oreo cheesecake for dessert.  It didn’t look very pretty, but it was delicious!

Oreo Cheesecake

We’ll give it a little bit more time, and I’m sure Caleb will be excited about this new era of life he is entering!  As for us, we will continue to struggle with watching our kids grow up . . . missing their younger years, but looking forward to many grand adventures ahead.  We are grateful for the choices they are making and for the great examples they each are!

Happy Birthday, Caleb!!

One of the best things we could hear from our friends is “We’re coming to London!”  We absolutely love visitors!

Emily, Johnny, Tami, & Nat

Tami’s sister, Emily, had just finished up a degree in Leicester so Tami was able to fly out to do some touring with Emily and her crew before they all flew back to the states.  It was a treat to catch up on the Chandler family happenings as well as hear all about their London touring each evening.

American Goodies

Tami went above and beyond spoiling us with American goodies.  I had to snap a shot in the poor lighting of the night before the kids devoured it all.  We are still enjoying all of it!

Tami & Becca

Thanks for coming our way, Tami, and breaking up our ‘winter blues’.  So fun for us!

Shakespeare in London

We’ve been in London for 4 years now, and we finally went to see a Shakespeare play!  When we found out Jude Law was performing in Henry V ages ago, we made sure to get tickets!  It wasn’t performed in the Globe Theatre but that is forgivable.

I don’t know that I had ever read the play before, but was quite surprised at the subject matter and how good of a play it was . . . not the typical Shakespeare tragedy!

It was a great night out . . . and worth the entire 2 1/2 hour performance time!  Just the list of actors was amazing . . . award winners, have been in many well-known TV shows or movies, etc.

A New Chapter in Our Lives

Following her trial school day in November, Cami was persistent about getting her application in so she could start school with the girls in January.  We truly tried.  We got our portion of the application in with plenty of time to spare, but the transcripts and recommendation letters that were going through the post got held up during the holiday period.  We found out the last day of school before the Christmas Break that Cami was accepted to start on January 8th.  She was ecstatic!

In Cami’s eyes, Christmas break couldn’t go by fast enough!  We had an orientation day two days before school resumed where we found out which class she’d be in and had a walk around the school.  With two sisters already at the school, we didn’t have many questions, but we were so grateful for the individual attention that has been given as we all go through this transition!

Cami & Hannah Waiting for the Bus

Cami has had 3 school days, and so far . . she loves it!  It’s a bit different having just Caleb and I at home doing school, but we’ll find our own groove and I’m sure we’ll enjoy this new chapter just as much as Cami is.

New Year’s Eve 2014

We had the great opportunity to go with our family to the London Temple on New Year’s Eve Day.  Chris was able to go in with the older kids to do baptisms for the dead, while I went with the younger girls to the Visitors’ Centre.  We were able to watch the film “The Testaments” which is definitely one of my favorites!  We hadn’t seen it for awhile so the girls were captivated by it.  Afterwards, Chris took the kids out to lunch while I went into the temple for a session on my own.  I came out feeling so revived with a renewed sense of purpose!  I love that we have temples on earth so we can have those recharges that we often need!

Family Outside the London Temple

Later that night, Chris and I chaperoned a Young Single Adult multi-stake dance.  We had about 450 people sign-in (certainly there were some that slipped in without signing in) from all over, which was amazing!  We left around 11 when the YSA’s were leaving for the big London fireworks show.  We got home in time to ring in the New Year with the kids!  The party animals that they are, the kids all went to bed as soon as midnight hit and Chris and I got to get in a movie on our own.

As the new year has arrived, we, as a family, decided to make our New Year’s Goals centered around a word of each of our choosing.  We’re hoping this will help us feel more successful at the year’s end.  Not everyone shared their word, but hopefully the words will take on more meaning as the year progresses!

Happy New Year!

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