Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

As the man who carries the quiver, I wanted to take a moment to publicly wish my wife a Merry Christmas! This whole adventure that we have been on for nearly 15 years of marriage has been truly amazing. God, in His greatness, is the only one that could have ever put two people like us together. Two people who are soo different but so much alike.

When we started this last adventure, our adoption, it was I who was so resistant. But not Christy...she was confident and gave me time to seek God's leadership. Now, almost 12 months later, what an experience. God is so good at using others in my life to point me toward Him and His holiness. I can say that adoption is not easy. No, but I'm reminded that God doen't always call us to the easy. I can say that adoption is refining though. Isn't it in the fire that the impurities are reveled? Well..that's adoption or should I say parenting in general. Both will reveal what is in the heart and sometimes it isn't pretty.

This year seems to be both a blaze and a blessing. I can see how God has truly sustained us and blessed us greatly. We are so blessed to have the opportunity to have 5 beautiful children and so much love from friends and family. I want to wish my wife the "Super Woman" of Live Oak Drive a very Merry Christmas! I love you greatly and wish us many more years together!

For you who read this besides my wife, I leave you with a video about Adoption.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Winter Wonderland?

It's no secret that I love snow. I always have. Growing up in the Cincinnati area, we could usually count on at least one or two good snows every year. We often had at least one snow day before Christmas.

Now, I live in NC, and in the 10 years we've been here, I can't recall one single December snow. You can imagine my excitement when I heard that we were supposed to get snow this weekend. Early on they were telling us it could be as much as 6-10 inches. The kids and I were disappointed when yesterday afternoon rolled by and only a few flakes fell. Then, about 7:00, Ryan happened to peek out the window and saw some snow was actually falling. The kids went wild and ran out on the deck to play in the "deep snow." They were absolutely thrilled. Ryan and I couldn't help laughing at them and their enthusiasm for such a pitiful amount of snow.

Abe's reaction was also funny. He ran to the door behind them, took one step out, and then started backing up. He started saying, "Abby cared, Abby cared" (read "Abby scared") and holding his arms up for her to hold him. He warmed up to it very quickly though.

Here are a few pictures of their brief fun. The rain came quickly and washed our winter wonderland away!

Yummy Hot Chocolate!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What a Difference a Year Makes!

One year ago today, we got a call that would change our lives forever. We were sitting in Golden Corral with the entire church staff for our annual Christmas party. I couldn't eat at all, because I was anxiously awaiting a phone call from Ft. Worth. We knew that an Ethiopian judge had already given his verdict on our case a few hours before, but we didn't yet have the results. We were prepared for delays, but miraculously, there were none. As we were exiting the restaurant, my phone rang with the news we were hoping and praying for. We had passed court on the first try, and Abe was officially a Campbell.

Here is a photo that was taken of him fairly close to that day:

And here is a photo taken of him today:

Oh my, what a difference a year (and a forever family) can make! We are so blessed to be Mommy and Daddy to this remarkable child! We love you Abe!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Catching up

Okay, so it's 1:27 AM as I sit down to write this post. I should be sleeping. But, I have this lovely head cold that my parents shared with my children who have now passed the gift on to me. So, I slept all evening and I am now wide awake. I have laid in bed for the past hour praying for anyone and everyone that the Lord brought to mind, and now I've decided to get up and do something I've been meaning to do for about 4 weeks. Blog.
I am so far behind on chronicling our world, but I'm going to try and hit the highlights of the last few weeks. Since I last wrote we have...

Been a Host Home for Disciple Now, which meant cooking and hospitality for 15 sixth grade girls and their 2 college small group leaders. I didn't take many pictures of the girls, probably because I was hopping whenever they were around. But here is a shot of the snacks, sodas, and shoes that came with them.

We also traveled to KY for Thanksgiving. It was a great time for all. However, we did confirm that Abe is simply not the best toddler traveler! Daddy and the older kids enjoyed a mountain hike with Nana, Pap, and cousin Christopher.

Meanwhile, Abe napped and I baked in preparation for the big day of gluttonous eating. Here are a few pics of the insane amounts of food.
The "real" food
Dessert shot 1

Dessert shot 2

Our children are working hard to raise money for the Lottie Moon Christmas offering at our church. All the money goes to support international missions. They came up with the idea of using their existing craft supplies to make crafts to sell. I thought it was a fine idea, but I wasn't sure who they might market them too. After a couple of days, they came to me and asked if they could take them to KY and sell them on Thanksgiving Day to all of their extended family. So, that's just what they did. They managed to raise $50 to add to their stash. They're extremely motivated for 2 reasons. One is that they have several friends who are supported by these dollars and they have an understanding of the importance of the project. Secondly, their daddy will get slimed in front of the kids at all 3 services if Kidztown meets their goal. Here they are busy at work...

All in all, they had a great time with all of their cousins!

The last night we were there, Nana had the idea that we should have a bingo night. The funny thing is, my mother-in-law would NEVER set foot in a Bingo parlor, so we were all surprised when she suggested it. I had the privilege of being the "caller." All of the grandparents played and the prizes were mighty motivating. Who doesn't want a box of Raisinets or some gingerbread lip gloss? It was very fun!

Who knew that calling Bingo required so much skill and concentration?!?

Lizzy held tight to her prize!

Last weekend, we enjoyed a trip to Colonial Williamsburg for their "Grand Illumination." The fireworks were so pretty, but the weather was SO cold.

Ahh, togetherness!
Abe fell in love with the hat and asks for one every time we have left the house since then. He keeps grabbing his shirt collar in an effort to put up a hood, even when there isn't one there.

Grandma resorted to wearing one of Isaac's hats.

Hot chocolate helped with the long wait!

Finally, fireworks!

The decorations around town were beautiful.

The cold weather motivated us to spend several hours at the folk art museum, and I'm so glad it did. We spent 3-4 hours there, and the only reason we left was because our tummies were growling. The collections were amazing and they had something for everyone- from toys to furniture to weather vanes to quilts. It was amazing and I highly recommend it to anyone headed to Williamsburg!

Abe really enjoyed coloring in one of the children's sections at the museum.

I love this picture. I was trying to get a photo of them in front of this gorgeous tree full of handmade ornaments. This is Lizzy imploring Lily to please just smile so that we can leave and go eat lunch at Friendly's. I never did get a good shot, but this one makes me smile.

Last night, the girls had their Christmas piano recital. I didn't get any good pictures of that either as the sanctuary where they played was really dark. But, I did get these good before and after shots of my favorite kiddos.

Well, now that I have eaten way too many peanut butter pretzels and used a 1/2 box of tissues with nose blowing, I'm going to go attempt to sleep again. At least I have accomplished something with my sleeplessness!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Man of Many Talents

I am married to an amazing man. One thing that I find fascinating is that he is constantly surprising me. Anytime I leave him alone at home for any amount of time, I can expect some sort of excitement. He's constantly rearranging, decorating, painting or making something. It makes me laugh- mostly.
This week, I went to a mom's night and Ryan stayed home with the kids. His surprise for me that night was not a house project, but a hair cut. Lily was definitely overdue for a haircut, and Ryan decided to save both time and money by doing it himself. I think he did a good job, don't you?

Lily looked like this when I left for Mom's night

And this was when I returned from mom's night

Here she is before co-op the next morning. I think she likes her new do!

Cereal Boss

On Tuesdays, I get up early and go to work at the church. Then, Ryan brings the kids to the church and we have our weekly children's ministry staff meeting. I then take the kiddos home for lunch and afternoon school. So this past Tuesday, when I picked Isaac up after our meeting, he was complaining that he was starving because he hadn't eaten any breakfast. I found it hard to believe that Daddy had refused him breakfast, so I questioned him about it.
The reason for his hunger became clearer when he explained that he had gotten some cereal, but he got too busy making something with it and he forgot to eat it. I wasn't sure exactly what he meant, until I walked into the kitchen and found the above creation. I suppose the puzzles, legos, tinker toys, lincoln logs, and blocks he owns aren't adequate. Instead, he has to design with Froot Loops!
Oh well, he ate a good lunch and what can I say? Watch out TLC, here comes the cereal boss!

Trick or Treat!

The first year that Ryan was serving as a children's pastor, we were working at a church that had a big fall festival. It was his responsibility to coordinate it, and so we had a no-brainer decision about what to do on Halloween each year.
Abby was 3 that first year, and from the very start, we enlisted Grammy to make costumes. It became tradition that she would make costumes each year. We usually settled on our costume idea several months before the festival. We have a variety of animals, fairy tale characters, and historical costumes hanging in our attic, all products of our Halloween efforts.
This went on for several years, until we came to our current church. Our church here does do an outreach at Halloween, but it is actually a haunted house alternative that is geared toward adults. It's a very effective ministry, but it left us without a plan for our children. We weren't sure what we should do. So, we've floundered for the last few years, trying a variety of church festivals.
Finally, last year we decided that we would just Trick-or Treat in our own little neighborhood. We felt really convicted that we needed to use every opportunity to build relationships with our neighbors. We knew that many of them would be participating in Trick-or Treat, and it would give us an opportunity to meet and greet some of them. It ended up being a great solution. We take a short walk around the neighborhood, get just enough candy to excite the children, and we get a chance to be friendly with our neighbors.
We did decide this year, that we would give Grammy a break. I knew she was short on time, and I knew that we could save both time and money by using what we had. So, I told the kids they could trick or treat, but that their costume had to come from what we already had. They had no trouble finding a costume and here is what they ended up with...

Abby went colonial, Lizzie went '50s, Isaac was a superhero, Lily was a brunette Alice in Wonderland, and Farmer Abe went along too!

The best part of the evening was definitely watching Abe. At the first house, he just sorta followed the kids up the sidewalk, having no idea why. But by house two, he had the concept of the game. He ran behind them calling for "canny" Needless to say, it was one tradition that was a hit with him!

Pumpkin project

Lily is in Kindergarten this year, and I decided early on that I was going to be sure we included some typical Kindergarten activities. Because she is the youngest of the 4 school age kiddos, it would be very easy to just do a daily math and phonics lesson, and call it a day. But, that's sorta what I did with Isaac, and I've often regretted it.

The year he was in K, we were just starting our Tapestry co-op, and so he just sort of got dragged along with whatever the girls did. For the most part, that was fine. Especially since we started off with pyramids and mummies, which any 5 year old boy would love. But, I missed all of the holiday and seasonal projects that I equate with Kindergarten.

So, I came up with a plan that would allow me a little time to fit in the traditional topics I wanted to tackle, while keeping our basic skills on the front burner. At first, I thought I would just include Lily, but then it became obvious that Isaac would both enjoy and benefit from our "unit time" as we now call it. Last week, we did pumpkin math during our unit time. Currently, our unit theme is pumpkins. We've studied their life cycle, memorized a pumpkin poem, made pumpkin tarts, and had a morning of pumpkin math. But on math day, everyone got involved. Here are some photos of what we did:
Isaac and Lily began by measuring their pumpkin and estimating how many seeds we'd find inside. Then, we cut it open and began cleaning it out.
It wasn't long before everyone came to participate in the mess.
Lizzy liked the pumpkin slime!

We counted the seeds- there were 448! After we counted them, we roasted them.
I wasn't sure that anyone would eat the seeds, but I was WRONG! They ate all 448 in about 3 hours. Needless to say, they were a big hit.