The Importance of a Battle Plan

October 3, 2017

 No matter how great their smile is...

Sky and Soccer

October 1, 2017

Sky has a mixed relationship with soccer.  She played a few seasons when we lived on Kwaj but wasn't really into it when she played "real soccer".  I was skeptical when she asked to play this season but since her best friends are playing and their dad is the coach, she's doing great so far.
 The best part of soccer- snacks after the game!

Water's Family Day

September 29, 2017

Water's Family Day fell on a Monday this year and we kept things quiet and low key.  We spent the morning at the park with friends and then had an easy afternoon at home.  Water request noodles for his special dinner so we ramen (Thai shrimp soup for D and I) and had ice cream and brownies for desert.  Nice and simple, nothing like his first family day: racing through the rain to make it to his court date and then worrying about all the rest of the things that needed to happen just right. Although I prayed hard and did everything I could to make it happen, I was terrified that something would go wrong.  In the end, everything went smoothly so that I cried with relief in the Seattle passport office.
  I can't say often enough how this boy is a light to our family.  He has a sweet and tender heart and loves so big.  We needed this boy in our family and are so blessed to have him.

D and Water, 2017

Weekending

September 25, 2017

We do love our weekends here in America!  They've been quiet over the last month while we adjust to our new regular schedule but this weekend, we got back into it.
Friday morning started with a run

School Pictures 2017

September 21, 2017

  It's school picture time again!  My favorite things about these annual photos is the chance to look back at last year's photo and see how much the kids have grown. 

Sky
 2011 (21 months)

Earth is 2!

September 18, 2017

Happy Birthday, Earth!  Our unexpected, and unexpectedly male, last child is rambunctiously, energetically, terribly, joyfully two years old.
  Earth started the day early- this picture was taken at 5:30am, hence D's bleary eyes.  He helped D walk the dog and then we got all got ready for church

Decorating for Fall

September 15, 2017

 Just like last year, maybe if I decorate for fall, it'll start feeling like fall?  It may have worked because it looks like we're done with 100 degree days for the year.  I'm sure 95 doesn't sound that cool to you but those five degrees make a big difference here and pretty soon, it'll be cool enough that we can open up the house at night.  It's almost my favorite time of year here and I can't wait!
  I added some decorations out front this year; not much just a sweet door sign and some sunflowers but I think it cheers things up a bit

Just a Regular Day

September 13, 2017

Wow, it's been a long time since I've done a "regular day" post!  I think this was my last one and that was in May of last year.  Things have definitely changed since then so here's what a regular day looks like now:

Sky and Fire put on their uniforms for school and we did the usual morning stuff before heading out to the bus stop

We Have a Reader!

September 11, 2017

   I couldn't find Sky on the playground after school yesterday and when I did, my heart just about burst with happiness
It was just like seeing myself 30 years ago: hiding away on a playground and lost in a book

Super in 2nd Grade and Rocky in Kindergarten

September 7, 2017

We're about six weeks into the school year so I figured it's about time for an update.  Really, the blog title says it all: Sky is doing fabulous and Fire is doing not-so-fabulous.

A Little Me Time

September 4, 2017

  My friends, this summer started to get a little long at the end.  While it was a great one overall and while we made the most of it, towards the end my patience was running out and my temper was frayed.  I felt like I was always tired,   that I was yelling all the time,  and like nothing was fun anymore.  When I found out that a friend was going to be in Iowa for a short time, I looked into tickets and found a great deal with my airline miles.  A few text messages later and my trip was planned:  I was flying to Iowa for the weekend to see my friend, stay with my mom, and just be away for a bit.
Can you tell we're in Iowa?!

Violin Lessons

September 1, 2017

Towards the end of the summer, Sky started asking to learn to play the violin.  While she's always loved to listen to music, she's never expressed a desire to play an instrument herself and because of that, we held off on lessons until we were sure it was something she really wanted to do.  She asked several times and even said she still wanted to do it after I told her how much she would have to practice every week.
  Since she was so persistent about it, D found a teacher and rented her a violin
She takes lessons every Sunday afternoon and is slowly learning how to play.  Lesson time has become her one-on-one time with D which is hard to come by in a family the size of ours, so it's pretty special.

10 Years Together

August 30, 2017


D and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary this year!  While our actual anniversary fell over the Labor Day holiday, we took advantage of Sky and Fire's trip to their grandparents to spend a weekend away.  A friend from church watched Water and Earth for us and we spent two days talking, eating, seeing movies, hiking, talking, sleeping, reading, talking, watching TV, relaxing and talking.  It was so relaxing to spend time with just each other, with no kids to worry about.  To be able to have long lunches or read a book without interruption.  We came home on Sunday refreshed and ready to be parents again.

Catching Up: Summer Fun

August 27, 2017

Just a random collection of photos from the rest of our summer...
   Six kids ages 1 to 8, all waiting for the movie to start. 
Yup, that's the best picture I could get.
We got tickets to the local movie theaters summer movie program and I think we'll do it again next year- it was a nice, cool way to kill a hot desert morning.

Catching Up: Flagstaff Staycation

August 25, 2017

   We had nothing planned for the week before Sky and Fire went to their grandparents house in Kansas so when D told me that he was going to be working overtime, the kids and I decided to head up to Flagstaff a few days early to see the sights and enjoy a little cooler weather.
   Sky thought that we needed a picture of Earth too...

Eclipse Watching With Toddlers

August 23, 2017

The big eclipse was Monday and while we weren't in the totality here in Arizona, I still wanted to try and see a little bit of it.  Monday is our day to meet our adoption group friends at a neighborhood playground and since none of us had the special glasses, we tried using a pin hole camera to view the sun.  I was surprised by how well it worked!  The kids, all under 4, were unimpressed and spent most of the time grabbing the paper from each other and running around the playground.  Well, at least we tried!

  Did you get to see the eclipse?  What did you think of it?

Happy Birthday Water!

August 22, 2017

 This super boy is 3!

Catching Up: Picking Peaches

August 20, 2017

Arizona isn't really known for farming but fruit and nut trees do well here and earlier this summer we drove up to Wilcox to pick peaches. 
  The kids alternated between riding in the wagon and racing ahead to find trees with ripe fruit

Preschool Home School

August 18, 2017

  In an effort to save a little money, D and I decided that I would do preschool with Water at home for now, rather than enrolling him in some place this fall like we'd originally talked about.  This is a big departure for us because although I've a little bit of homeschool with him before and I taught Sky for pre-k when there wasn't a teacher on island, we've always relied on others to teach the kids.  Don't get me wrong, I love my kids and I love spending time with them but homeschooling has never been a good option for us since there's always been adoption/developmental baggage involved in our relationships.  Since Water and I don't have any of that between us, we don't butt heads and working together is working out so far.
  I had originally planned on buying the Alpha and Omega preschool curriculum from a friend but that's on hold for now so I'm using the internet to find learning activities for him and sometimes making them up on my own. Since Water can already recognize most of the letter of the alphabet, his numbers through 10, and knows his shapes and colors, I'm working with him on letter sounds, counting skills, and fine motor skills.
  This week, we're working on the letter K:

Catching Up: Tucson Train Museum

August 16, 2017

  What is it about boys and trains?  Sky loves them too but not the same way that the boys do.  They love everything about them: the noise, the size, the speed.  I've taken them to the toy train museum here in Tucson but one Saturday when Sky was out with D, I decided to take them to see the real thing at the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum.  I didn't get a lot of pictures (Earth is really on the run these days!) but it was the perfect place for little kids who love trains.

The restored engine was open and the boys got to blow the whistle and try all the knobs and levers.

Catching up: 4 Kids, 1 Mom, and the Grand Canyon

August 15, 2017

 We had this week off between camps and VBS.  It was supposed to be a slow one spent here in town and at home but when some good friends from Kwajalein messaged to say they would be passing through the Grand Canyon on their honeymoon road trip and asked if we could meet them there, I looked at that empty calendar and thought, "Why not?!"

Best.Decision.Ever.

Catching Up: A Night at the Fair

August 13, 2017

I love that we're making new traditions here for our family!  It looks like one of them is going to be going to the county fair.  We went last year and had a blast and this year was even more fun.

Catching up: Fire's Pre-K Graduation

August 11, 2017

  While I was sorting through my drafts to start on my summer catch-up posts, I found this one on Fire's Pre-K graduation.  I can't believe I never got this posted! 
---------------------------------------------------------------
 I'm so proud of Fire!  We celebrated his graduation from pre-k this week, a graduation we thought he wasn't going to have since he was so far behind academically.  Fire made so much progress during his pre-k year, thanks entirely to his teachers.  They set high expectations for him and he flourished.  I'm so thankful for all their hard work and that Fire was able to make so much progress in such a short amount of time.
 Fire's "formal" graduation picture

Cutting Water's Hair

August 9, 2017

I love Water's hair. It's so soft and he has such beautiful curls.  I've been letting it grow out for almost a year because I wanted to see if how longer hair suited his face (and because I love his curls!).  We'd found a hair routine that worked: co-wash and comb and then deep condition and re-curl at bath time, and then alternating with a leave-in deep conditioner or curl cream for everyday styling.  When I could get him to sit still for it all, his curls looked amazing:

First Day of School!

August 7, 2017

  Summer is officially over.  And, somewhat surprisingly, we survived- no, we did more than survive.  My friends, we killed summer this year!  We did space camp, art camp, soccer camp, went camping at the Grand Canyon, stay-cationed in Flagstaff, spent a week at Grandma and Grandpa's house, lived at the pool, had play dates, and sleepovers.  There was more bickering on the kids' part and more yelling on my part than I would have liked but overall, it was a great summer.  I'll try to get to the catch-up posts soon but in the mean time, here are this year's back to school pictures:
 Just kidding!  This one has two more years at home before he starts Kindergarten.

Camp Week One: Art and Soccer

June 10, 2017

We are two weeks into summer and the big kids just finished their first camp weeks.  Fire attended a soccer camp and Sky went to an art camp and they both loved them. 
   Besides being a camper, we were also a host family!  Two of Fire's coaches stayed with us for the week.  They were great with the kids and it was fun having two new personalities in the house. 

Catching Up: Fire's Fifth Family Day

June 2, 2017

We've had five wonderful years with this sweet boy!  He's come so far in the last year since we moved to Arizona and it's been wonderful to see him grow.   I'm so glad you're in our family, Fire, and I can't wait to see what the next year holds for you!

     Fire's Family Day Pictures 2017  

A Weekend at YMCA Family Camp

May 31, 2017


 We spent our Memorial Day weekend at the Triangle Y Ranch family camp and had an amazing time.  Some good friends recommended it to us and although I was worried that the kids were too young, I thought we would give it a try.  We really had an amazing weekend and we're already talking about going again next year.

Catching Up: Happy Easter!

May 29, 2017

Happy (belated) Easter!
This is the best picture we got of all the kids in their Easter outfits....

Last Day of School!

May 26, 2017

We made it through another school year!  Sky has finished 1st grade and Fire completed Pre-K.  This last month was a busy one and we're all ready for a fun summer break, full of pool time, play time, a summer camps.

Sky's first day of school
 Sky's last day of school

Decorating for Easter

April 7, 2017

I love decorating for the different seasons around the house!  I didn't do it on Kwaj, mainly because I didn't have the storage space for the decorations, and it was something that I was super-excited about doing once we moved back to the States.
  I kept the decorations pretty simple, in part because we want to focus our Easter celebration on Jesus' resurrection rather than a bunny and candy.
Speaking of bunnies and candy, this little guy is on my floating shelves and is currently empty of candy.  Somebody (cough, cough, not naming names) couldn't stop eating all the jelly beans.  I'll refill it again soon but maybe with something healthy since I can't keep my hand out of it.

Hair Battles

April 2, 2017

Sky's hair has always been a bit of a touchy subject between she and I.  When we met her for the first time, her hair was short and pulled into tiny little pony tails.  I was excited to have a daughter and to do her hair but she wouldn't have anything to do with me touching her hair for the first few months.  It wasn't until we returned to Kwajalein and then took a short trip to Roi that we discovered the secret to doing Sky's hair : distraction.

My first time putting ponytails in Sky's hair

Life Lately in Pictures

March 30, 2017

I think it's time for a little photo catch-up, don't you?  We haven't been doing much since we returned from Mexico, just settling back into our normal routines.  We're all starting to look forward to the end of the school year and my plans for summer are slowly coming together.
  Scout has moved in and we're getting used to each other.  She is a wonderful dog and is a great addition to our family.  House training is going slower than I wish it was so any tips there would be appreciated.
  Without further ado, here's some slices of our life lately...

A boy and his dog.  These two already adore each other

Teaching Sky to Sit: An SPD Story

March 11, 2017

This is probably one of my favorite pictures since it captures so much of Sky: trying to do what's expected of her (homework) but in her own way.

Happy Birthday to Me!

March 8, 2017

I turned 38 at the end of February and we celebrated by doing nothing... and it was great!

Sky's Sixth Family Day

March 6, 2017

Sky has been home with us for six years!  There aren't enough words to say how wonderful it's been to have her as our daughter.  While it hasn't always been easy, it's always been a blessing. 

A Phoenix/Tucson Stay-cation

February 27, 2017

Some very good friends of D were in Phoenix last weekend so we decided that he should take a few days off and that we'd make it a long weekend stay-cation.

On Wednesday afternoon we loaded up the boys, picked Sky up from school and headed up to Legoland in Phoenix

Planning for Summer

February 21, 2017

  Am I the only one already thinking about how to handle summer break?  Sky and Fire will be done with school at the end of May so I have just over two months to figure out how to fill June and July.  I'm going to have all four kids home with me this summer and I would like us to all still love each other at the end of it.
  For my family, that means staying busy and having a schedule.  I'm already talking to one of our favorite baby sitters about being my mother's helper three days a week.  When he's here, we'll do our school time

In the Seoul Airport

February 19, 2017

I was looking through pictures from our trip to Thailand last year and found this one of Fire watching planes take off. 

Looking at it tickled something in my memory and quick search led me to this picture
I'd taken the same picture, in the same airport, at the same gate, two-and-a-half years later. 
Fire still loves to travel, still loves airplanes, and we still love exploring the world with him!

A Happier Fire

February 17, 2017

  This boy, my friends, has had a rough couple of years.  Remember this post about the issues we were going through just before we moved back to America?  Well, I think we're finally on the upside of things here and it feels so good.

Happy Valentine's Day!

February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day, sweet friends!  My day was a little extra special with flowers from D and cards from the kids.  I hope day was full of love and joy!

Happy Fifth Birthday, Fire!

February 13, 2017

  Birthdays are usually small family celebrations in our house with one exception: the fives.  If you turn five, 10, or 15, we're going to throw you all the party you want.  When Sky turned five, we rented the gym and the biggest bounce house on the island and had about 75 kids at the party.  Sky had a great time and we loved celebrating her in a big way.
 A few months ago, we started thinking about how we were going to celebrate Fire's fifth birthday.  We wanted to throw him the same big party that we had for Sky - we were going to rent the whole Children's Museum (it's Fire's happy place right now) and invite all the kids from his Pre-K class, Sunday school, and soccer team.  When the time came to book the party though, we asked Fire one last time how he wanted to celebrate he said that all he wanted was to have his friends at his house to play.
  We were surprised but more than happy to give him just the party he wanted.  We sent invitations to his best friends, ordered a race car cake, and planned a few games.  Fire spent an afternoon playing with 10 other little kids, eating flaming hot cheetos and cake and was the happiest little birthday boy.

  Happy Birthday Fire, we love you to the moon and back!

   Fire modeling his favorite gifts: a plasma car and a Storm Trooper helmet

Decorating for Valentines Day

February 9, 2017

I love decorating for holidays but kept thing simple for Valentines day: a few table decorations, some things in the window, some fun throw pillows to brighten up the living room.

I found this table runner and candy jar at Target last year.  I didn't feel like having to worry about the kids sneaking candy this year so used some stickers and cloth flowers to turn it into a cheerful vase.
Our Charmed Life. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.