The Crew

The Crew
Christina, Matthew, Joshua and Katie Grace XiHua

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Well, I took a blogging hiatus.  It was not an official hiatus.  It was not a planned hiatus.  A hiatus non-the-less and it has lasted 3 months, believe it or not!  I've been a little lax keeping up with my posts in the past, but I have never gone this long without posting or without visiting any of my dear friends' blogs!

This time, there were things in my life that I needed to concentrate on at home.  Life.  Draining and sometimes dramatic life.   Now I am with it again, at least somewhat, and am ready to get back to blog world.  I love blog world, by the way.  

I want to go back a bit and catch up!  My last post was the beginning of Sept, so here goes....

First I will start with Marching Band/Football Season!  Christina made Drum Major of her high school marching band and what a delight it was to watch her grow this season in her leadership and conducting!  It's her senior year and last year of band.  We are so proud of her! 

Christina Leading the Band. They received a Superior (the highest) Rating overall at judging!

Hua Hua Cheering on the Team!  She is doing wonderfully by the way!  Her health is good, heart is healed and is such a joy to our family, I can't even tell you!!!  

Joshua Having Fun at the Game.  Sweetie face!

Matthew on the right with his best friend Hunter on the left.  I love teenage boys, they are so easy going and helpful!

We spent every Friday night at the high school football field, and every Saturday watching college football.  This is an Auburn Football household.  You can see the kids wear their game day best on Saturdays!

Two little Tigers enjoying a treat

Our wonderful sweet Joshua turned 7 on September 29th!!!   I am sorry that I didn't do a post just for his Birthday, but I am so happy to have this dear, happy, thinker as my little boy. He just makes my day, everyday!!

Birthday Friends had fun together, making treats and painting. 

For Joshua's Birthday, Lolli and Pops took our family to the Orlando Science Center and we had a great day exploring!  The kids here are unearthing a dinosaur!   

October is still very warm here in Central Florida, but we try to pretend like it was nearing fall type weather!  ;-)  Kids' fall activities were well underway.  Matthew had Solo and Ensemble Judging where he received a superior rating on his violin piece!

Good work, Matt!

Then of course, Halloween came around and the kids loved every minute of that!!!   Hua Hua had a party at school that day...

Sweet little Pre-K-ers 

Then that night, the kids went trick-or-treating!

Chrstina (17),  Matthew (13),  Joshua (7),  Katie Grace (4) 

November blew past so fast!!  Jacob's parents came from Mobile for Thanksgiving and we had such a nice time!   I have more pictures on my phone, but realized I don't upload as often from there as I do from my camera, so here is my Thanksgiving pic:

TA-DAH!!  A couple of cute faces, ready to do some serious eating!!  

We also did a photo shoot for the Christmas card.  Here is a nice moment with all of us together.

With Lolli and Pops

While Jacob's parents were here, Lolli took the kids to the park for a photo shoot.  She captured the cutest pics of them!!!

Well, that was our Fall as quick as I could in a post!  Now I can try to keep up better again as we plan for Christmas!!  

Monday, September 3, 2012


I post occasionally about my volunteer work as a Guardian Ad Litem.  It can be heart wrenching to know what children in foster care go through.  Abuses that would make your skin crawl, or heart breaking neglect due to parental drug use. Our family lives in a low income county of Florida.  We are not rich ourselves and have to consider every week, and with every purchase, if it is wise or possible.  We are rich in the joy of the Lord, Oh Yes!  In comparison to many that I have seen, though, we should be overwhelmed with joy everyday for what we have!  

Oh do you realize the poverty that lurks in America?  Have you driven out into the corners of your city or county?  Please!  You must be aware!  

I will share something I learned this week.  I must keep everyone's anonymity in the story and THESE PHOTOS ARE NOT from my visit.  Just similarities. 

I was on my way to track down a mom, who may or may not be back on drugs, who hadn't contacted us about a visit with her child since getting out of jail 3 weeks ago.  I'd hoped that she had not gone immediately back to drugs, but if she had, I wanted to be able to somehow "tell" if she was.  Well, I finally found the address she gave me of the trailer park where she was staying. I have done GAL visitations to trailers before. Some nice trailers, some not so nice, but this park was the worst.  I can't even describe it, but when I drove in, depression hit me like a wall.  If a wind blew through this place, I believe it would be flattened if it were not for the hoards of junk holding things down.  Or up.  Sadly, if it were flattened, would anyone even know??  It was so lonely.  Not a plant, tree, nor grass, or even a sign in sight to mark each line of road in this small couple of blocks.  The bareness of green in the searing Florida heat was depressing too.  There were just dilapidated trailers, dirt ground, tons of junk, lots of beer bottles, a few downtrodden people hanging around, clearly years of drugs and alcohol in their faces.  A couple of teenagers walking through looking quite forlorn, on a school day.  I stuck out in my big blue minivan, driving slowly, looking  around. Even though I always dress down in jeans and a tee for visits, I clearly was an outsider.

photo courtesy 

I couldn't find this girl's trailer, #20, because there were no road signs or markings, so I took a big breath a pulled up to a big group of bearded, grubby men with shirts off around a truck, and asked where #20 was.  One older man, who was difficult to understand due to years of substance abuse affecting his speech, very helpfully told me where he thought it might be.  So I turned and headed down a short road, noticing some children's toys in yards as I drove and thinking about what a different childhood I'd had in comparison to this.....

photo courtesy google images 
Seeing the trailer numbers, counting 23, 22, 21... there was one more trailer across boarded up with no # on it..  I looked inside and saw it empty, no number, and hoped she didn't give me a false address.  I decided bravely that I would go and knock on #21, since there was a truck outside and the door was open, and ask them where #20 was.  Now listen.  I consider myself a confident and brave women.  I also commune in complete harmony with all folks, rich or poor, all races, on a regular basis. But for some reason I have to admit that I felt an unease in this place that day. I kept Jacob on the phone at this point because I didn't really feel safe going up and interrupting someone unexpectedly.  I knocked on the outside of this trailer and noticed a sign that said to go inside and knock, I inched my way in, and kept calling out to ask if anyone was home.  

photo courtesy google images

The "foyer" or enclosed porch was so full of junk, there was just a small path to the other door.  I knocked a few times and called out, but no one answered even though it was very small and I was right there at the main room.  I knocked again. No answer. I could hear the TV and a fan were on but still no answer, so I left. 

photo courtesy google images 
I noticed on the fridge by the inside door, a school picture of a sweet little girl, and I felt sad inside that she lived in this mess. 

photo courtesy google images - Hungry Children in America
I decided to try driving down the next row.  At the end, alas, there was #20!  I sat outside for a minute not sure if I was going to go in.  There were 4 motorcycles outside and several 4 wheelers.  Tons of junk and it looked, well, ominous!  If this mom was doing drugs again, I didn't want to catch her in the act with a bunch of people over there.  I decided to go for it and said a prayer. 

photo courtesy flickr Bill Fultz
So I entered the gate and walked slowly up to the door.  I knocked.  An older man with a gray beard answered and said gruffly, "yeah?"   I said, smiling brightly, "is ----- staying here??"  Then he smiled big and said "Well sure she is!  Just a minute!"  MY fear was gone.  Then she came to the door and was smiling and said "Hi!  These are friends we are staying with, let me go get my step daddy."  Then her step daddy joined us and I am not exaggerating when I say that he looked like he came straight out of the mountains of WV and I literally couldn't understand anything he said, but he was very nice and smiley and talked a lot. (this pic below exact! Just add overalls and a beard)

photo courtesy
She explained that she hasn't called us yet because she and her step dad have been getting set up in a new trailer down the road and don't have a place to have the child visit yet.   Now, this mom still doesn't understand that no matter how many times we tell her, that her time is running out and that she needs to call anyway and start outside visits first.  Seeing where she grew up and how?  Only God can change and replace the things that were not given to her mind and development.  She was left out, probably neglected or worse, in her world that was disjointed. Now her child received the same.  This child cannot wait but needs stability now.  

photo courtesy Zimbo

Now, if you stayed with me through all of this, and I realize it was sort of long,  I will share what I learned.  

What I leaned was this:  

Yes, this person is the offender.   I have not forgotten this child's plight by any means.  Yes, she is still not following through, but she IS a person and wants to mean well if she could and doesn't have the tools to get where she needs to go at this point in her life. She needs prayer and love.  

I also learned that no matter how impoverished, junky, abused or addicted a community might appear, and you might feel apprehensive to even step foot in their boundaries, you'll often find their initial desire is for kindness and a chance to be kind. To be helpful and accepted as PEOPLE.  They deserve that chance.  These are the people Jesus touched when he walked the earth. 

I also learned the extreme suffering is just down the road.  Where I thought I had seen what was really tough, I just saw it was much worse. There are people and children there.  Hurting, hungry, neglected.  We must be aware and find a way to reach out.  

Matthew 25
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Katie Grace Hua Hua came to us dancing.  She danced to every song, commercial, or children's show that she watched or listened to, and is still dancing!   In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they did some sort of dance time at the orphanage, because she actually had some cute moves when she came home and they looked a bit practiced.  :-)  

When she figured out Christina was in dance class and saw her go every week, AND THEN, when she saw the recital... OH MY!  She wanted to dance!  I told her she could take a class this fall and she did not forget.  She has asked me about it all summer.  

I have the best videos of her during the Olympics!  (I just have to figure out how to get them from my phone to youtube) She LOVED the gymnastics.  Now, for me personally,  I would love to put her in gymnastics.  I was a gymnast and a dancer growing up, but I really have a heart for the Sport of Gymnastics, and sometimes feel like the Art of Dance has gotten a little lost with the ridiculous amount of make-up they pile on the little girls at recital and some of the dances?  Not age appropriate.  Fortunately we've just been able to kind of pass over that part with that with my oldest daughter.  Her dances have always been appropriate, we don't push into competition teams, yet she still gets to enjoy the art of dance and do her end of the year recital, and we definitely ease up on the make-up for performances.  ;-)

I might try Hua Hua out in gymnastics next year but the gym is a bit of a drive, so for right now, she is taking a Ballet/Tap combo class and she loved her first day!!  

Christina's 10th year at the studio and Hua Hua's 1st year.  Christina is also the Student Assistant in Hua Hua's class!  

"Okay Mom,  you have to let me go now and stop taking pics!  I have to close the door and start class!"

"Whew!!  That was a fun class!!"

Happy little girl, finally got to go to dance class!!!!  She puts on  this leotard every evening by the way.  :-)

Walking back to the car with her celebration lollipop.

Monday, August 20, 2012


Okay, this is not a back to school pic, but this is Christina at 3 years old.  Now she is a Senior in High School!!!  Where did the time go??  How did this baby grow up so fast???  (She really doesn't look that much different to me;-) 

Here is Christina now.  17 years old and a Senior.  Ready to finish her last year of high school!

Matthew (8th Grade),  Joshua (1st Grade),  Katie Grace  (Pre-K!)

Wanting to show their backpacks!  Hua Hua doesn't carry a backpack for half day Pre-K (per request of the school).  Joshua insisted on using his same SpongeBob backpack from last year.  Good thing it was still in good condition, I just threw it in thew wash and it was good to go!  

Matthew, showing his new kicks.  Teenage boys love their shoes, I will tell you that. He will be in 8th Grade.  I can't believe this will be his last year of Middle School and his last year at Davenport School of the Arts K-8.  Next year he will be in High School.  Wow.  

This is the sweetest, cutest, little Pre-K-er of the year!!  Of course, I am biased!!  

Joshua so ready to go to 1st Grade!  I love this little guy!!  When I dropped him off at the school,   I had planned to park and walk him in to his class.  He insisted that I did not.  He said, "Mom, I got it.  I am certain, I can find my class."  

Since Katie Grace has 1/2 day Pre-K from 12:30 - 3:30, we had the morning still, so she was able to go with Daddy and I to the Parents "BOO HOO Breakfast" that my friend Liz always sets up at Cracker Barrel every year on the first day of school.  We all meet up after drop off and chat and well, eat of course!  Jacob and I like to call it the YA-HOO Breakfast!!  There is really no boo-hooing for us when the kids are back to school!  ;-)

My awesome friend and neighbor, Liz, with Hua Hua and also our friend Theresa from school.  

Some of the parents at the Boo Hoo Breakfast 

Time to drop off Hua Hua at Pre-K.  She went right into her classroom and said hello to Ms. Jackie her teacher.  Then she told me, "Ok, Mom, you go in the other room and wait for me!" and motioned to the next room through the glass window, thinking that is where I would be, like on orientation night.   I told her, "No, Hua Hua, Mama is going to go home and then I will be back to pick you up after school is all done, just I like when Matthew and Joshua are done with school."  At first she got a really worried look and gripped my hand tightly, the she stopped and thought about it and a relieved look came over here face and she said.  "Ok, Mom, bye bye".   And off she went with her friends.

I think she was worried, but when she thought about how Matthew and Josh come home after school everyday, she realized it was okay!  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


My cousin, Ashley, who just returned home to the states after a year and a half mission in Georgetown, Guyana had this beautiful quote posted on her blog.  I've been meaning to re-post.  

If only we could all look into the heart of a woman like Mother Teresa and glean how she reflects the heart of God.  Feels His cry for the poor and needy.  Abandoning ourselves for others.  

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and make some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway. 

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

                      - Mother Teresa 

Saturday, August 11, 2012


I took so many pics on this trip and we had such an wonderful time, I just wanted to post one last round of our days with family!! 

Every time we visit Colorado, we always go to Boulder's Dinner Theatre!   I started my career at BDT, performing in many musicals, and have so many fond memories!  I have many talented friends who still work there and put on amazing performances!   Such talent!  My Mom and Polly ready for a ladies night out at the Theatre! 

Me and my sister, Marcie, enjoying some time together at the Theatre.  Great food and a fun production of Rogers and Hammerstien's Cinderella!  

Cousin Alyssa and Christina, all dressed up and with their hair done so cute for a night out with us!  

My dear friend, Cindy!!  We used to perform together in shows, were roommates, and she is still there, singing and dancing, as beautiful as ever!!  We love that we still are working in our craft and enjoying it.  

It was very hot in Colorado.  Did we think we would receive some relief from the Florida killer heat??  Well, we had hoped, but no luck!  So on several evening we drove over to my sister, Kristy's house and walked down to her neighborhood pool and let the kids swim!!   Joshua having a great time!

Joshua and cousin, Levi, playing dive for the sinking ship!

The sisters and I sat in the shade, chatted and enjoyed catching up.  ;-)  My sisters, Kristy, Marcie and Polly.  

Onto my childhood home.  My oldest sister, Marcie, now lives in the home we grew up in.  This is a beautiful home in Boulder that has an amazing view of the mountains.  Their family has renovated and redecorated the home since we were kids and it is just lovely!  

Sitting on the front patio, now totally redone with very nice tile and mountain furniture, where we had all sat, so many times growing up.  

Marcie made us a delicious lunch of spaghetti and we all enjoyed a nice visit!  Matthew and cousin Christian.  

Of course, Katie Grace Hua Hua and cousin Vanessa still stuck like glue.  ;-) 

My sister, Kristy, and a bunch of cousins watching a funny video! 

Cousin, Tyler so nice to sit and patiently listen to Hua Hua tell him about the dolly clothes!

My sister,  Polly, and I stuck like glue the whole vacation!

This is what Colorado looks like when you look out opposite of the mountains.  Not kidding.  The tan plains of grain, and that is about it, forever.  

We all decided to take a short walk after lunch "up the hill".  Tyler and newly acquired best friend, Hua Hua holding hands along the way.  He is sure is a sweet young man!

The decision to take that walk was a bad one.  It was 103 degrees.  We turned around after 1 1/2 blocks.   :-)  Except for my Matthew (13) and Kristy's Vanessa (11).  They went to the top of the hill near the tower and back.  Matthew is used to playing football in searing heat, so this was nothing to him. 

Back at my mom and dad's townhouse, we did crafts in the evenings!  The kids made treasure chests, sock puppets and other creations!!  Crafts are so much fun!  Did I say "the kids?"  Well, of course Polly and I did too! 

The littles working diligently, creatively. 

How do I only have one pic in all of this of my little brother, Daniel??  Probably because he had to keep driving up to Aspen for gigs that week.  (a long drive).  Isn't he cute?  And single, girls!!  Well, that I know of!   He is a talented musician, travels all over and plays guitar with a group at high end events.  He also writes his own music, sings, records!  He writes worship music too and plays worship on Sundays.

Little flower girl, watering Mimi's flowers. 

Love these colors!  Mom was always great at keeping a beautiful garden!  

Sunday after church, we went to breakfast!  Hua Hua loves to eat and you can see the joy in her eyes as she awaits her eggs and bacon!!

A last pic with my dear momma as we were almost to our last day.  Boy did we have a nice time.  Priceless. 

And with my sweet daddy.  Wish I could be closer to them.  

Mom walking with Hua Hua out to the car on our last day.  

A blurry pic of bleary eyed kids around midnight arriving in Tampa on the airport train.  They were great travelers!  

Many hungry children near the boarder of Myanmar and Thailand-click on photo