He's in HOG heaven!

Well we were all in hog's business if you know what I mean.  The Tulsa State Fair is here and that means fall has arrived! Hallelujah!  It is my favorite for lots of reasons.

This year we as a little family of 6 went to the fair on a cool Saturday morning.  Entering the barns before the rides opened.  The barns are where we spend most our time.  Funny, because we only own a fish.  We used to own a few cattle when we first got married and two dogs.

Grant is a FFA guy and tells us about owning his pigs and showing them in front of the judges.  One of his favorite things to do is watch the judging and see if he can pick the winner.  Most of the time he does.  I think the kids will end up following in his footsteps which will be so fun to watch.  Although I can't imagine a pig being ok with the neighborhood HOA.  So I have no idea when we will own a pig!

The kids loved the petting barn and Caroline went around calling all the baby pigs O-Lydia (Olivia a kid show on Nickjr).

Luke isn't scared of any of the animals he went to hug them all until a duck bit his finger. He was so offended and went back to tell the duck "Bad Duck, No Bite".

The chicken has no eyes!
Jack rode his first "big" roller coaster and we had a blast and wanted to do it again.  Caroline was just barely tall enough but we decided to save that experience for next year.  The kiddie rides were enough for her.
They look petrified...HA!  
The kids and I got cotton candy while Grant discussed becoming a blacksmith.  You never know... it actually seems like something he would enjoy.
Slowest eater ever!  Daddy kept her company while the rest of us did sidewalk chalk.  We kept up the fair picnic from last year.  We saved a ton of money and everyone actually ate lunch and then we got plenty of fair desserts to taste afterwards.
 This girl and her ponies!!!  She is still trying to talk her Poppa into a pony.  Maybe one day.  She asked for riding lessons for her birthday so we will see if we can make that happen.  Toys would be cheaper by far but she is pretty committed to this pony thing.

Last year's Fair Trip click here!

When Nature Comes Alive

Just when you think the grass is safe...it moves!  Like a Halloween Nightmare.  The little kids were hanging out with their Dad as he was trimming up some limbs the other day at the Dawkins Farm and they found this...

A big green horn worm.  They eat plants and destroy tomato crops.  So they should be killed if one is seen.  Although otherwise harmless.

I think that it is odd sometimes that I have been alive this long and yet never noticed this worm.  Actually it is the perfect shade of bright yellow green that blends into the grass and goes unnoticed.  Natures camofloge at work.  Once you are aware though you will see them everywhere.  The horn on the tail is just a decoration I was informed.

 Grant in his Grandpa Dawkins overalls quite a handsome fellow if I do say so and I do!

How Much Chinese can YOU learn in 3.5 Months? A Video Blog

Caroline our youngest daughter has been home for three and 1/2 months now and is doing great.  Her adjustment is going really well as is ours.  She really just fits right in like she was always meant to be.
4 year old girl adopted from China in 2015  This is a 3 month update from her!

I thought today I would let her share an update.  This is a video blog it lasts about 4 minutes.

Also, a big thank you to my friend Janet who volunteered to give Caroline her first haircut despite being on maternity leave! She was truly a moving target but thank goodness the mullet is no more! I know no one will believe this but I didn't take a picture of the haircut; although the video is after so you can see the result!  The phone was being used as a distraction!

A Family Made of Love

From a family of 6 to a family of 9 a lot has changed over the years.

I got an email from a friend that asked if I was up to doing their family photos again this year.  This is one of my very first clients that entrusted their memories with me and so much has changed since our first year together.
The Shasteen family has made the world of adoption open up in front of our eyes and we have seen their beautiful family grow in size and in love.  They are also one of the families we reached out to when we were starting down the adoption road for advice and encouragement.

No new faces were added this year but a lot of inches were. These kids are growing fast and tall!
These two have a great story and you can read more about their cochlear implants here and see a short video clip too.  But really these two ooze happy!

The brothers are crazy but respectful.  They are all boy!  And I wouldn't want to capture it any other way.
This one reminds me so much of Jack in so many ways!  The smile and the attitude.

 I looked but couldn't find the first year I photographed them but I did find the second year.  Check it out!

Learning Turkey Mountain

The first really big question that must be addressed by any 5 year old that is raised by a hunting dad is "Where are the turkeys?"  This was the first of many disappointments on this our first trip to Turkey Mountain.  My sister went a few weeks before and said what a great time they had.  Our experience was lacking the "great time".  Now before I go complaining about Turkey Mountain you need to know we were in no shape prepared for this adventure.

The only map we had in hand was one of the zoo which isn't very helpful at turkey mountain. Although I had gone to the website and looked at their map before visiting.  The "trails" just were not lining up with my expectations of what they would look like.  The other thing that would have helped was better markings for each trail.

This being said the kids wanted to go DOWN.  I warned them that if we go down we will eventually have to come back UP.  Did they listen? No, and they whined the whole way up.  Except for a brief moment I'm not really sure we ever made it on a trail.  I think we were actually on the Riverside Bike Trail towards downtown.  It just seemed to go on and on without any sense of curving back to the parking lot.  It was also lacking in wildlife which to my kids made it "boring"! Not one worm, bug, or grasshopper...nothing aka boring!

Another visiting Mama who looked as prepared as us asked me where the playground was located.  I had no idea but I did remember seeing something about that on the website.
Our one detour onto an actual trail was rough.  I had forgotten the cell phone, the trail was not marked, we didn't have a map in hand, the terrain was rocky and rough, and I had the little two in the double stroller.  We didn't last but 5 minutes on the "trail".  The further we went the worse it got and I didn't know the destination of this so called "trail".  All I could envision was a tire going flat or popping on the rocks and we would be stuck and the word stuck does not really capture my fears.  That I would be carrying in some form or fashion four kids plus a heavy camera up an impossible hill that I am barely in shape enough to survive on my own.

We returned to the bike trail.

Now turkey mountain on the hot hot day we were there was covered in trail hikers (with their walking sticks) and mountain bikers.  It seemed very safe.  We just didn't have a plan or working knowledge of what we were supposed to do there.  Next time and there will be a next time when everyone can walk we will try again more prepared.  This was not the mountains fault.

Before leaving we did see the "playground" which one could easily miss if they didn't know what they were looking for.  Climbing rocks.  The kids apparently were not as tired as they seemed whining up the steep incline to the parking lot because they had plenty of energy to climb.

Caroline preferred to stay on the ground.

To those who may think I scarred my children I didn't.  They still ask "is that the mountain I climbed?" when we pass a tall hill. :)

Prayer of Gratefulness

Friday morning Grant woke up and said let's go to OKC tonight.  We are not that spontaneous so this was surprising.  Grant had one goal this fall and that was to see his oldest niece, a senior, do her drum major thing.  He was afraid we would miss it if we waited too long to go and see her.

A little packing and a few phone calls later and we had a plan in place.  How fun to get out of town for a night!  After school and work we got in the car and started driving.  The plan was to stop at the McDonald's on the turnpike for dinner for chicken nuggets in the car and we should make it to the game with a few minutes to spare before it started.
Accident on the Turner Turnpike West bound
Dinner was ordered and handed out then we were off and stopped.  A car pulled out in front of us and for no apparent reason blocked us from going for 3 minutes or so.  At the time it was annoying.  But we had some extra time and we were in a good mood.  I casually mentioned that maybe God was keeping us from being in a wreck or something.

Fifteen minutes later on the turnpike going 75 or a little more we came to an abrupt stop.  The kind where wheels squeal and chicken nuggets go flying. We noticed a sign that said construction ahead.  But it wasn't the construction that stop us.

It's never a good sign when people are standing on the highway and groups of truckers are walking up the road.
Two semis wrecked and rolled over and toilet paper was scattered everywhere.  They were only about a quarter of a mile ahead of where we stopped or about 3-5 minutes ahead of where we should have been if that annoying car hadn't blocked us in at McDonalds.  I don't know for sure we would have been in the middle of those two semis but I'm thankful and grateful that we were not.  We got to pray as a family for God's protection over our family and for the truck drivers who were probably injured.

We made it to the stadium with 2 minutes to spare as the Deer Creek Band took the field at half time.  Sydney did great!!!  We are so proud of her!
Deer Creek Marching Band

Deer Creek Marching Band

These three are a mess and loved listening to Sydney's band! Oh and Savvy's glass are purely fashion.

Grace and Forgiveness

This morning was going perfect all the children were up and happy.  Grant had made it out the door with a kiss from his wife. And now the 4 children and I are at the kitchen table.   If you are a librarian (Susan!) you might want to stop reading this now...  A new routine I've started lately is putting a book at each of their places so when they come down they can eat their breakfast and look at their book.  Yes they are toddlers and sticky messy hands are the norm.  Most of the kids get board books which wipe up fairly easily.
Books for Breakfast in lieu of the cereal box

This new trick has eliminated some of the squabbles and just picking at each other that had started.  You know the I'm going to touch your food or act like I'm going to touch it to get you to scream thing.  The added bonus is that Savannah gets to read a quick book in the morning which counts towards her school reading!

This morning was perfect!

Until the Cheerios were on the floor.

The ones I knew she wouldn't eat but I gave to her because she asked politely.

The bowl was full of milk that I second guessed at when I was pouring it in.

I was flat out annoyed.   The mess was huge.  Only a mop could fix it.

The perfect morning was over.

And she didn't even know it until she saw the look on my face.

Caroline was so excited to show me something in her book that she knocked over her bowl.  She never knew it happened.  It was a complete accident.  As she does often she covers her eyes when she is ashamed of her actions.  She has done this since we met her.  I don't know nor will I ever know her backstory.  The story of what it was like when accidents happened in the orphanage.  The consequences given and received and the messages sent by punishment.

After a nudge by the guy in my heart and a really deep breath and a flicker of a recent conversation with a friend going through my head.  I smiled.  She didn't see it.   I told her to look at me and I kept smiling not because I felt like it but because a small voice inside me said to.  By the time I got her to peek at me the annoyance was gone and the dread of the clean up to come I knew could be managed.  But my little girl needed to learn something I can't explain to her in words yet.

She needed to experience grace and forgiveness.  We have a long road of smiling when we don't want to ahead of us for her to understand that perfection is not attainable and that the goal of praise is not rewarded on perfection.  It will never be achieved no matter how hard she tries and she tries hard!  That we love her no matter what and will continue to love her regardless of her actions.  Because we made a choice, a commitment, and soon a vow in front of our church that we will teach her how God loves her by demonstrating it the best we know how.  And for the right now that is with a smile.
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