The Crew

The Crew
Christina, Matthew, Joshua and Katie Grace XiHua

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!  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


I cannot believe it has been 1 year since our beautiful little girl was placed in our ams!!  

Yesterday, we celebrated Gotcha Day, which was the day we met her sweet face for the first time at the Civil Affairs Office is Guangzhou China, and took her back to our hotel. 

 Today is Adoption Day, one year after we went back to the Civil affairs office and completed the adoption paperwork. 

When we first met our daughter, Katie Grace Hua Hua, it was the most beautiful and bittersweet day!!!  

She was SO timid.  She walked up to us as prompted by her nanny.  Said "Mama, Baba".  Let us talk to her a bit, and touch her shoulders and cheeks, and look at her. She continued to look back to make sure her nanny from the orphanage was nearby.  Then I picked her up which was okay for a moment, but when she realized that she was actually going to leave with us... leave her nanny,  leave her orphanage director, leave these people she knew and go with these faces (us) that were so different, she panicked.  She began to struggle to get down, and then began to bawl.  

I will take you through those memories below, with a few of our Gotcha Day videos.  These are all really short,  so you can watch them quickly.  

In the van driving over to the Civil Affairs Office -  You can't imagine how nervous and excited we were!  Years of anticipation and joy and hard work to get to this point!

Waiting at the elevator to go upstairs

Waiting as many families get their children.  Beautiful moments!  Finally it is our turn!!  She walks over and does as prompted.  They asked me to give her this lollipop - great idea, but I couldn't open it, lol!  

 I pick her up finally and all seems to be going well until I give her a little kiss and the nanny starts to move away at the same time.  Then panic sets in for our little girl.  

She cried and cried for about 20 minutes.  Our hearts broke with hers.  Can you imagine her fears?  

Jacob had a great idea to get out the finger puppets and that really calmed her. She started to interact.  

As we went out to get into the van, her fears rose again.  My heart was so sad for her in this time.  I knew it was so heartbreaking for her little heart, yet a moment for her life to change.  

Back at the room, we began to color.  After awhile she kept looking at me for my approval on her art work.  She wanted my approval and enjoyed my praise!  

A couple hours back at the room and we have giggles!!  I kept laughing at her and she loved that!  So she kept dribbling her water!  ;-) To hear those giggles was joy to my heart.  

Later that day, after changing her wet dress from all that water, she enjoyed putting on lip balm and always looking at me for approval. 

 That night.  We had set up a crib for her, but there was no way she would let me put her in it!  She hung onto me like a baby kuala!  So, I tried to take off the removable outer bars of the crib to get her to sleep in my arms and my plan was to lay her down and put it back on. But no matter what, she would not let go of me, so she slept in bed with us, (literally stuck on me!) and we had them take the crib the next day.  From that moment she was stuck to me like glue and has been ever since!

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Every time I get home to Boulder, there are just a couple of friends I always try and see, and Sheri is one of them!  We have been friends since Kindergarten!!  We played together as little girls at each other's houses, had sleepovers, ran around the neighborhood, went to Jr. high together and on to high school, still together.  

This visit, we met up in Boulder at the Pearl Street Mall, at the Walnut Brewery for lunch.  We had a nice lunch with my sister and all of our kids!  Of course we just chatted and chatted!!!  

Me with Sheri!!  Together again!!  She is just as beautiful as always!  

Sheri with her son, Sam and daughter, Grace.  Cuties!   

My sister, Polly, Joshua, Me, Sheri, and Sam

Matthew, Hua Hua and cousin Aaron 

Matthew giving Hua Hua a lift as they head outside to walk out onto the Pearl St. Mall

What a gorgeous family!!!!  Sheri's kids, Lily, Grace, Sam with Sheri.  Sheri's girls look so much like Sheri did in High School it is uncanny!

My crew:  Me and my kiddos along with my sister, Polly and her son, Aaron.  We were pretty much stuck like glue this whole vacation.  :-) 

Sheri helping Hua Hua up onto the climbing rocks

The paparazzi pic...  I snapped this pic of Polly, Christina and the boys coming out of a shot and it looks like a paparazzi shot of some stars out on the town shopping... :-) 

Joshua loving the rocks to climb on!!

Katie Grace Hua Hua getting braver by the minute.  They were hopping from rock to rock!

Some ice cream to finish the day near a post of ads for upcoming artists at the Boulder Theatre.  


My "granola" Boulder.  I snapped a shot of Christina (on left), but notice all of the hippies with the dreadlocks,  crochet clothes and scarves?  That is Boulder.  That is the Boulder I grew up in.  They are everywhere, playing music, sitting on the benches and in the grass.  Some colorful and fun diversity for ya!   I never see hippies here in the south!  

One more cutie on a rock picture!  

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