family time in DC

Documenting the "fly-by" summer.
Let's see, where was I?

Oh yes, our long weekend in DC.
(the last weekend in June...where has time gone?)

After our picnic in the park Thursday evening and touring DC with the friends on Friday, we caught a marvelous Thai dinner with Uncle Josh and Bethany and crashed hard for the night.

Saturday was a bit more relaxed with a slow start to the morning (M7 style, complete with pancakes in our pajamas) and some park time for the afternoon.

And, following the theme of this trip, this wasn't just any visit to a park.

This afternoon gave us time to catch up with a long time friend and his beautiful daughters.  Ian and Jim go back so far that I'd heard enough stories by the time I met him early in our relationship to feel as if I already knew him.  Seriously, so many recollections started "Jim & I" that the names blended into "Gemini" in my mind.

As the pace of life frequently goes for parents of young kids, our schedules had prevented us from seeing Jim and family for several at least two kids ago for us.  Thankfully after re-introducing the older kids and first time introducing our younger set, conversation fell back into place as if it had been just last week the guys had been face to face instead of nearly three years.

Once all wiggles had been expended, and enough conversation had been exchanged to cover the past several years, we headed back to Grandpa's house where Uncle Josh and Bethany treated us to a homemade lasagna dinner.

Sunday was filled again with family time...this time in the form of more China family.  We attended church with DQ's sweet friend E and her family.  And what's church if you don't follow it up with lunch afterward?

Dress-up clothes came out and little princesses flitted by as the grown-ups chatted in the kitchen during meal prep.  The boys were engrossed in cars and trains left over from E's big brother's childhood days.  Conversation flowed easily over the dining room table punctuated by the sounds of giggles at the kitchen area table full of children.  We had a delightful afternoon that, as time always does with this sweet family, flew by all too fast.

And then we found ourselves hugging goodbye, promising visits between our families as soon as we could make it happen.

one last hug between China sisters
With commitments back in NC calling, we stopped by to gather our belongings and toss hugs around the necks of the kids' Uncle Josh and Bethany.

We're not sure, but we think we saw them sinking into the couches as we left, wondering exactly what had hit the house for the past 72 hours.  Until next time DC metro area and folks we love...


a morning at the Farmer's Market

Gracious.  Life is passing by at the speed of...well, life.  I have so many pictures and so many stories from the past five months.  Visiting with friends, China family reunions, beach trips and some pretty significant life changes that have been keeping me away from my keyboard currently are all in the queue to be recorded.  For today though, I'll back up three weeks to share a morning I was able to step out of the chaos and enjoy my littlest guy.

D is my fourth kindergartner and therefore the fourth kiddo I've gotten to escort on our elementary school's Five Senses Field Trip Extravaganza.

Daniel and I spent the morning with three of his classmates in a place that provided plenty of space to utilize our senses.  We breathed in deep to savor the different smells.  We felt the different textures of an amazing bounty of produce.

We found fruits and vegetables in every color of the rainbow.

We sampled at least ten varieties of apples, delighted in the savory taste of tomatoes, and treated ourselves to the sweetness of honey sticks.

We listened to the hum of activity surrounding us and talked to some of the farmers about their trade.  I also got to hear praises of my eager little learner from his teachers who clearly adore him.

And while these two aren't in the same class this year, I had to snap a quick photo of them together before they boarded the buses to go back to school.  Daniel and Corrie have been the best of pals since before they turned three and their adorable little friendship continues as most days they come down the hill from school together, engrossed in conversation.

one hand  his best buddy's shoulder, one hand holding an apple.
that's my D.

This field trip is such a fun way to spend a morning during apple season.  Can't believe that I only have one more go at this trip next year...


Wordless Wednesday {the M7 pumpkin patch through the years}

**no 2008, we were in China picking up pumpkin #2**

Ky (far right) at the State Fair with three of her China sisters
And prayers coveted today for sweet Caroline and her family (far left) who began their adventure to go bring home her baby sister, MaryKate


a big girl now

Oh my sweet you turned five.



Little one, much as I don't want to admit it, you have grown so much since your birthday last year.   Of course not all of your growth has been measurable with a ruler...

 While you have gotten nearly four inches taller since this time last year, the most noticeable difference in you is just how much you've come alive.  In the very beginning of your time with us we quickly realized you were a force to be reckoned with.  But at that time it showed mostly when you were upset.  After a brief burst of your vibrant personality immediately upon arrival home, you were most frequently quiet and reserved.  In fact for a little while I wondered if you were ever going to begin to let your guard down and show us your spunky side again.

I need not have worried.

Cause once you crossed that 'language is holding me back' hurdle, there was no turning back.  I even kinda remember the day it happened.  I had taken you to the restroom at church (halfway through the message of course) and while you were in the stall you started jibbering at me in Mandarin.  And you went on and on and when you finally stopped there was a pause as if you expected me to answer.  So I roll in with, "You know sweetie, Mommy doesn't understand you when you speak in Chinese."
Your response?
(giggle) "Oh yeah." (giggle)  "I forgot..."  (giggle, giggle, giggle)

And from then on you rolled in English.  It was amazing.

YOU are amazing!

One thing that is absolutely precious about you is that while you are a spicy lil' bit with lots of pizzaz, you still get tongue tied about being the center of attention.  Your expression when we brought out the cake and all sang to you mirrored the one you gave last year on this day when you received your first ever birthday present...almost as if you couldn't believe so much of a fuss was being made over you.

Believe it or not little one (note that I didn't call you baby girl, now that you are five I have to give up the baby part, but you still are the littlest around here) the fuss and fanfare was all for you.  We stopped what we were doing to focus on you because we all adore you.  You came into this family and filled a spot we hadn't realized was empty until your fullness showed us just how much vitality we had been lacking.

it was a Frozen birthday with you receiving an Elsa dress from us, an Elsa doll from Grandma S, and Elsa shoes from Grandma M.  your little Frozen heart was thrilled!
 May the thrill of chocolate AND strawberry cake always excite you the way it did tonight.

Thank you my dearest Natalie for living life out loud.  You teach me daily that each and every moment 
is one to be savored.  That I am blessed to be your mommy is not lost on me.

With all that I am, I love you!