Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cory Turns Five!

Cory Daniel Boone turned five last week. I have rarely seen him so excited. He wanted a Daniel Boone party, of course, and wanted his cousins (actually my cousins) to come.You got it, buddy. 

The day before Cory's birthday, January 14th, was a big one here. We had this guy celebrating his last day as a four:

And this lady turned two-and-a-half: (look at that sass!)

And this guy here turned two months old:

On Cory's actual birthday, we celebrated at Timothy (their one-morning-a-week school) with cupcakes. He opened his presents from Grammy and Papa when we got home.

The day before the big party, everybody was excited! And apparently cold. Nan arrived and played bowling-with-balls-and-legos with the kids.

And we made the birthday banner:

And I worked on the cake. Cory wanted a cake featuring Daniel Boone shooting a deer, complete with bullets hanging in mid-air. But when he saw one like this that Alison made, he decided a Daniel Boone Campsite cake was perfect.

I tried to get him to let me make feet hanging out of the tent.
Cory: Daniel Boone would NOT have hung his feet out of the tent.
Me: But maybe the tent was too small for him?
Cory: He would NOT have used a too-small tent.
Me: What if he suddenly grew too big for it?
Cory: That would NOT happen, Mom. He is off looking at deer. His feet can't be in the tent.
Me: Okay...but it would have been cute.

And with lit candles:
 The big day! Cory was decked out in his Daniel Boone costume and loving it. Look at that grin!

 The Mercantile. The kids shot balloons with BB guns, and inside each balloon was a picture of an animal and how many pelts they earned from it. Then they traded in the pelts for candy. So fun!

Nan and Mason

 Aunt Steph and Mason

 Peeking at the cake.

Gun safety with Uncle Curtis:

 Cory "Daniel Boone" Brannon

 Shooting at balloons. He and Iain were pretty good shots!

Checking to see what animal he got:

Annie Oakley?

Opening presents:

Happy birthday to you!

Smores around the campfire.

Present from Nona:

Jenna and Curtis on the swing.

Dear Cory,
How can you be five already? You are such a wonderful, fun, zany, kind, fiery, sweet, smart little boy. You have grown and changed so much in the past year. You've grown in self-control, in smarts, in abilities, and in size, for sure! You are best friends with Iain and you love playing with him more than just about anything. And you're a good big brother to Laina and Mason. You are kind and play sweetly with them. And you're my big helper with Mason. You know how to feed him in the car, and you call yourself the paci king because you're the best at helping him with his paci! You have risen to the challenge of being a big brother not once, but twice over the past year and a half and you do it well. 

You have the BEST sense of humor. You're witty, silly, and funny. You crack us up all the time with your imitations, especially of Kid Snippets. ("Hello bakery, are ya here?") And the way you laugh at slapstick humor is so all-boy. It's terrific.

You're a smart guy, too. I sometimes have to make you stop calling out the answers when I'm drilling Iain on his math. And your teachers at church are impressed with your answers to their questions, too. 

Our prayer for you this year is that you would draw closer to Jesus and love Him more every day. We are incredibly proud of you, Cor, and we love you so much. Even if you keep stealing my yellow sweatshirt. Hugs and kisses,
Mama and Daddy

Cliffs Notes

I am bound and determined to catch up on this blog. I love keeping it--it's a baby book, a family chronicle, an adoption record, a scrapbook, a way to keep up with people, a way to remember. But when I get behind on it, it feels like a burden. So: catching up, the cliff's notes version.

This is how we do school a lot of the day. I feed Mason or rock him, and read to these turkeys. We do a lot of reading lately.

Cory and Iain made a massive town all over the living room floor, complete with Big Ben.

The boys have loved playing Battleship, a Christmas present from the Whatleys.

Footies and a fire in the fireplace. Love it!!

Cory has taken to sleeping with a hat on. Camo or his Daniel Boone coonskin cap. So cute.

Laina went and got her denim jacket on to match my shirt. Girls are so fun. :)

Kelly and I took the kids to Ikea on Kids Eat Free day. They are a crazy bunch of nuts. Love them all! :)

 This guy has started smiling! With the big eyes and the dimples, he's a heartbreaker to be sure.

We had some plumbing problems in the hall bathroom that resulted in a new floor, toilet, and newly painted walls. While the plumber/tiler (a very nice guy from our church) was working, the kids stood in the hallway and watched. The whole time. And asked constant questions, which he was very kind to answer. The whole time.

Iain made this fire pit in the back yard. We used it for Cory's Daniel Boone party.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Book Review: Simple Secrets to a Happy Life

When I started in on Luci Swindoll's book Simple Secrets to a Happy Life, I admit my hopes were not high. It sounded very simplistic and "don't worry be happy." I hadn't read any of her other books, and really didn't know to expect any different. My first clue that Luci Swindoll is pretty amazing came in the forward by Anne Lamott. She mentioned Swindoll's intelligence, grace, incredible life experiences, faith, and friendliness. As I dug into the book a little deeper, I realized that the title was accurate. Swindoll's secrets to a happy life were simple. But happily, they were not simplistic.

The book is divided into small chapters with topics ranging from not being late to journaling to being grateful to helping others. Sprinkling personal stories, anecdotes, humor, and poignancy into the pages, Luci Swindoll gives the reader her eighty years' worth of valuable life lessons. It feels like sitting at her supper table and listening to her talk--you realize she has a lot of wisdom to share and you'd better take note.

One of the things that stood out most to me in this book was how very often Luci Swindoll pointed back to her mother as the teacher of these life lessons. Her mother was, apparently, a very cheerful, wise, and kind mother. Seems like Luci became a cheerful, wise, and kind woman as a result.

This book was an easy read, comforting in its gentle admonitions, and full of hard-gotten wisdom of a life well lived. I recommend it.

Note: Booksneeze has provided me with a complementary e-book in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Christmas! x2!

What what? Late on the Christmas post? It's New Year's now? 

Oh well.

We had two Christmases this year. My family was heading to Tennessee, and we were heading to Jeremy's parents' home in Florida, so my family stopped in on Saturday to have a pre-Christmas with us. It's the second time we've had Christmas in our home, and I really love doing it here.

This little dude rocked his My First Christmas outfit, complete with socks from Nona:

Cuter (and funnier) still is that it was his big cousin Titus's first Christmas too. Jenna got them matching onesies:

The more kids we add to this family, the more fun Christmas morning gets. This year, we had Iain, Cory, Isaiah, Laina, Titus, and Mason. 

Sunday morning we went to church. All three boys came into service with us (Laina went to her class). They did great. My mom made Laina her Christmas dress, and we got a fun picture of the kids together. And Mason wore his special shoes. Made my heart so glad to have him here for Christmas. I realized that this was the first Christmas since 2008 that we weren't waiting for a child to come home to us. It made me think a lot about how every Christmas is about the waiting and the miracle of the holy Child coming to us to bring us Home.

My mom got us a fireplace log for Christmas. I love having fires in the fireplace now! Although lighting a gas fireplace makes me jump every time.

After church on Sunday, we headed to Florida. The drive, though long, went so fantastically well! (And the drive home was even better: only three stops!)

Grammy and Papa got to meet Mason for the first time.

We went to a Christmas Eve service at their church which was wonderful. The worship time was glorious. And there were candles, and the three big kids held them, and no one got burned or lit anything on fire. Success!

Papa did the Christmas story on Christmas Eve, using the Nativity that Grammy made in the 1970's and that has been used every year since. The kids love it, although they were a little zany this year.

And then Christmas Morning. Christ the Savior is born. The weary world rejoices.

The morning was low-key, fun, and exciting for certain youngsters. 

I love this picture.

Yes, he wore his onesie again. :)

Cory is such a good big brother to Mason.
This guy is, too.

Christmas puzzles. And you gotta love Cory's headpiece.

We stayed another few days...

And then drove to see Yaya (Jeremy's grandmother). We were also able to see his brother and sister-in-law, and aunt and uncle. We had a mini-family reunion and an after-Christmas dinner at the assisted living center. And more family got to meet Mason.

On the way--isn't this guy adorable?

Laina showing Yaya some of her Christmas presents:

Looking at the photobook we made for Yaya:

Meeting Mason:

Aunt Gloria meeting Mason:

Family photos:

We stopped in Orlando for a day and a night and headed home!

And a few more pictures from home:

Playing Sorry:

Cory looking through a huge piece of ice:

And with that, we spun right into the New Year. Welcome, 2013!