Saturday, January 24, 2015

Busy Girls

Natalie and I have been so extremely busy that I haven't had time to post to our blog in ages, so brace yourself for a TON of pictures.

Natalie with her school project turkey that we made together.  Each feather of the turkey shows things she is thankful for.
During a reenactment of the first Thanksgiving each child chose their own Indian name.  Natalie chose "Cooking Owl" :)  Also, note Natalie's entry on the chart in the background.
Another school project... a funny one, especially for a vegetarian
Eating a huge Thanksgiving dinner with Mitch, Donna and family
Resting after the big meal
Pizza anyone?
In early December we went to Natalie's Greatgrandmother's house to visit with her and my Dad, Natalie's Grandaddy.  We had a wonderful time.  It makes me happy to see Natalie having wonderful times with people that I love so much.

Dressing like one of her favorite characters from Dora and Friends

Fancy girl going for a walk

Making a new friend at swim class.

Letter to Santa (wishlist reads Necklace, horse, doll)

Dancing at Target

 My 3 favorite girls
 Her wedding costume was one of her Christmas presents 
Natalie didn't want her friend Mitch to leave so she sat on his feet.

Unhappy girl
Celebrating Donna's Birthday

On a playdate with 2 awesome sister friends

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Reading Day

Louie and I finally got to participate again in our public school district’s annual reading day after a 3 year break. We had a wonderful time reading a book about a sweet Newfoundland dog to two different classes of 2nd graders. Louie was as patient and loving as ever. The first picture is of Louie with his favorite teacher.  I'm so proud of my sweet boy!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

3 Years Together!!!

November 7, 2014 was the third anniversary of our Family Day.  The wonderful day that Gary and I met our amazing daughter, Natalie Wanhan, in the Jiangxi province of China. I knew from the very first moment I met her I would do anything for Natalie including giving my life for hers without hesitation. Since then I have seen this beautiful (inside and out) child touch the lives of so many others. Recently I was asked on a form to list at least one strength of my child. I could have written for hours, but I just wrote the first few words that came to mind: focused, detail oriented, curious, compassionate and wise. When I read the words back to myself I seemed like I was talking about someone in their 40s or 50s. Natalie Wanhan is an old soul. It is mind boggling how a four year old girl is changing the world through her deep love and compassion. In the last 12 months I have lost Gary and three other friends. All four of those people had life altering moments with Natalie prior to their deaths. She inspires so many others, including me, to be their best selves. I am so excited to see what the future holds with this phenomenal child in my life and on our planet. 

When I asked Natalie what she wanted to do to celebrate our 4th Family Day she said she wanted to climb Pinnacle Mountain.  In the picture below you can see the sign that says it is a 1 1/2 mile trip that is steep, rugged and strenuous.  I wasn’t anticipating going all the way to the top because I thought Natalie would tire out before then, but she surprised me (as she frequently does).  Once when I stopped for a rest Natalie said “Come on Mama, we can’t stop until we get to the top.”  


On top of our little corner of the world.

Words can not express how much I love this child.  I am the luckiest mama!

After our hike Natalie wanted to wear one of her Chinese dresses and have dinner at a Chinese restaurant.  Happy Family Day to my delightful Natalie Wanhan.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Welcome to Tara West...aka the New Happy Haus

The last couple of months have been a whirlwind of activity and big life changes.  Natalie started a new school, a new dance class, a new swim class and we moved to new home.  We are finally settled enough for me to be able to take a few minutes to post some pictures and catch up on what we have been doing.  

Natalie with her new teacher at her new dance school.  We changed schools because the old class had lots of children that did not pay attention to the instructor.  It drove Natalie and I both a bit crazy.  Natalie is a very focused child and did not like all the interruptions to her dance class.  She is enjoying her new school very much and is more passionate than ever about her dancing.  She says she is going to be a dancer when she grows up and she dressed up as a ballerina for career day at school.  She also says she wants to be a mommy, dress designer and a doctor/princess (NOT a doctor OR a princess, but a combination of the two :-).
We have been spending lots of fun time with Natalie's godparents, Donna & Mitch

At the end of September we moved into a new home. Before that we spent most of our waking time for four weeks working on it and were only going to the old house to sleep.  So when we moved in it already felt like home to Natalie and she had a very easy transition.  We are in the process of getting the Happy Haus ready to sell... something I never thought I would be saying since I always planned on staying there until I got to the age that I couldn't climb the stairs on my own. 

We spent most of the summer in Monticello with my mom and stepdad (aka Marm and Papa).  The four of us get along wonderfully and really enjoy each other's company, so we decided to buy a house together.  Natalie and I have been lonely in the Happy Haus since Gary died.  Our new house has plenty of space so that we can have as much togetherness as we want and still have lots of privacy.

Katie and Louie have also adjusted very well to our new home.  They love taking walks in our new neighborhood and running around in their new yard.  After 8 years for Katie and almost 7 years for Louie of living on a sloped lot they are really enjoying being able to run on a flat surface.  They spend much of their daytime hours outside or snoozing in the dog area of the garage.  At night they usually choose to sleep in my room.  

Our new house is called Tara West - named by Mitch.  It has four columns on the front that made him think of Tara from Gone With the Wind which he knows is my favorite book.  We have moved from midtown to West Little Rock.  Hence, the West part of the new name.  Natalie says we should call it the New Happy Haus, so it will likely have two names.

This picture was taken the first night Natalie spent in her new room.  She choose sparkly pink as the color for her new room and she is absolutely thrilled with the way it turned out.  
We have spent quite a bit of time at the playground behind our house.  We usually take one or both of the Newfs with us.  The playground is completely fenced in so we can let the dogs romp around while we play.  Katie likes to climb on the playground equipment with us.  (By the way, Katie just turned 8 years old on October 29th - Happy Birthday Sweet Katie!)

Matching girls... Marm & Natalie

Sunset behind our new home

At school each child has a different job every week.  This pic was taken when it was Natalie's turn to be the flag holder.  It brought tears to my eyes to listen to the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance while watching my beautiful Chinese American daughter hold the flag.

For Halloween Natalie choose to dress up as Wonder Woman... I thought it was a great choice for her.  Not only did her black hair look good with the outfit, her bravery also was a perfect match.

We had a blast a the fall festival that was held at Natalie's school.

Natalie got to spend some time with two old friends

....and she got to spend time with new friends as well.

Dress designed by Natalie.  Strapless dresses are her all time favorite.

Last week I went on a field trip with Natalie's class to a pumpkin patch.  Natalie sat by one of her new friends and they had a wonderful time playing, talking...

and resting together.  Natalie and her friends are so sweet and affectionate with each other.   

On the hayride

Finding her way through the hay maze

Best Buddies

This is the pumpkin that Natalie picked

Feeding the goats

Mother, Daughter selfie...  We both wore orange in honor of our pumpkin patch trip.

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