Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Families That We LOVE...

I am a homebody. It's really not a BAD thing... I'm just a momma bird that likes to be in her own nest... with all her birds in the nest with her. ;) So when we began to make plans to go and visit Sara back in August... I began to stress over what to do about the kids. McCaleb doesn't have a passport yet, so taking him to Guatemala with us was not an option. Do we take the girls and leave him home... do we take just Ali and leave the younger two children behind... or do they ALL stay home together? It was really a tough decision. But when the reality settled in that I would be leaving all my babies here... I knew exactly where they needed to stay. I called The Whitley's. Mom and Dad came over the first night we were away... and the rest of our trip they spent over at the Whitley's Farm... swimming, eating, playing, chasing goats, swimming more... and all in all having a WONDERFUL time. Leaving my babies is not easy for me... (see previous post) but knowing they were getting tons and tons of love and were keeping so busy they didn't have time to miss us made it easier. Plus they were with people that are so dear to us, and that truly love our children just as much as we do! The Whitleys , Rankins and Stampers are part of our family - and we love them all to pieces! We can't thank them enough for taking care of the things that are most precious to us! I only have a few photos from their visit with the Whitely's... but since virtually all of them involve the pool and bathing suits... and I have not asked permission from Shelby or Katrina to post THOSE... I will post pictures of the Whitley/Rankin/Stamper crews... along with our children at the recent FFA Show and Sale. These folks are our very dearest friends... and we are so honored to be a part of their lives! The FFA Show and Sale was a lot of fun. Rachel was all about the animals... she didn't want to leave. McCaleb just wanted to find Cory... he loves that Cory! And Ali... well... I will let the pictures speak for themselves. We all know what it is that she loves the most...or whom. ;)
(And PS... I didn't even post ALL of the photos!!!)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Our Other Child... Tadiwos Alemu

Back in April, I took my annual pilgrimage to Columbus, Ohio to attend the Women of Faith Conference. I hate leaving my children. I hate it for even a few hours. As much as my life can become hectic and chaotic... I have learned to love the chaos. As a matter of fact - when my children are not home... it's entirely too calm... too quiet... and much too lonely. So leaving them, even for one night, is really hard for me. When I left for Women of Faith - they all promised to be good, promised to miss me, promised to help Daddy... and then said - "Bring us a prize!" Now - they could care less if they got something that was $25... or the hotel lotions and soaps... they just like the THRILL OF THE PRIZE. And every time... I try to find something that will really thrill them, WOW them... and bring to their faces a SMILE.

This year, I started out with PEZ candies. (I found the cutest ones...while shopping for long sleeved shirts and sweat pants at the WalMart next to our hotel. I had packed all my usual Capri Pants and cute shirts... and this year it was 40 - 50 degrees in Columbus for WOF. Brrrrrr!) When I arrived at the Conference... I was not immediately "wowed" by anything. Usually I spend the entire first day trying to decide what I want to get the kids... but this year... I was having a hard time choosing. On DAY TWO... I had a migraine. It started out I did what I usually do when I am getting one of these. I began to eat... and take medicine. The last thing I wanted to do... was MOVE. So during one of their Intermissions... I stayed in the auditorium. They showed a video for WORLD VISION. Every year, I sit there and watch these videos... listen to the stories... and think what a good idea that is. I would look around at all those women and think of how many lives could be changed... how we should all think more globally... and how reaching out is so important. And every year - I walk out after doing NOTHING. This year though, was different. As I walked around with Carolyn, I kept finding myself drawn to the World Vision Table. This year, I stopped. It hit me finally what I could take home to the kids that would mean more to them than a T-Shirt or video. Tim and I have tried to raise children that are aware of the world around them. Not just the "world" of Paris, Kentucky... but the whole world. We also hope that they grow up to be "color-blind" and see people for more than just the clor of their skin. What better way to share that with them than to become a World Vision sponsor? It was a great plan... I only wished I had known how hard it would be to CHOOSE A CHILD. As we approached the table, I told Carolyn my plan. I would select a child - and take that child home to the children as their "prize". It would be our new family project... and something that we could all participate in.

Selecting a child was the most difficult thing I have ever done...I walked to the table and could not make that choice. Every child I selected laid next to 2 dozen others that I would leave laying there... little faces with sad eyes looking back at me. I asked which need was the greatest - male or female...hoping that would help me narrow down my choice. I even asked which ages were most crucial. I was told that the boys around the ages 8 - 10 were at the most risk of being taken to use as Guerrilla fighters. Still - I ended up with a handful of children and tears in my eyes. Finally - seeing the difficulty that I was having, one of the workers came over and took all the pamphlets from my hands. She said - pick a birth date. I chose Tim's birthday - March 16th. She asked me which sex I had selected... and I told her MALE. She went to the box of March birthdays, went to March 16th and came back with the ONLY CHILD with that birthday. Tadiwos Alemu from Ethipoia. He is 10 years old. I fell in love with him the moment I saw his face. He lives in a village called Leini which is about 365 kilometers south of the Capital Addis Ababa. His father is a farmer, his mother a homemaker and he is the oldest of 4 children. They live in a hut built of wood, mud and covered by grass. They get their light from a lamp - and they fetch water from the nearby river. As I read a letter to the children from Tadiwos' father (that was written by his case worker) I was reminded once again of the many blessings that we have - and take for granted each and every day. The kids and I spent a week or more selecting small items to send to Tadiwos - things that might be fun for him and might bring him and his siblings some joy. We are limited to a 6x9 envelope - so we needed to be creative... but the kids really took great care to think of things that he might enjoy. This weekend, we received another update of Tadiwos. It even included a "progress report" of his schoolwork.

I can't tell you how much it has meant to me - and to our family to be World Vision Sponsors. We talk about and pray for Tadiwos each day... especially at bedtime. The kids have asked questions about where Tadiwos lives and what we can learn about him and his family. We have already received so many blessings from Tadiwos...and are so honored at the opportunity to be a part of his life. Sponsoring a child is not for everyone. But if you've ever thought of giving your family a more global vision of the WORLD... I would encourage you to look at World Vision. The cost is about $1 a day. Even with the many expenses that we have been saving for to bring Sara home... we have gladly made the sacrifices to continue sponsoring Tadiwos... a child that might not have the opportunity to hear the message of God's Love, or to know that there are families out there that care about him and his family. I can promise you the BLESSINGS have all been OURS.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Slip Slidin' Away....

I think that one of my friends Sig, posted recently that the end of summer was here - and she was sad. I didn't really think of it at the time... because I always look forward to the leaves changing... and the seasons. But then I began to think of all the fun that we have had this summer... and I did get sad. Where does the time go??? We love being outside... we love to play and get dirty and have fun... WATER PLAY is very big here at the Hanks House. I personally like to be in charge of the water hose...but little McCaleb is quite the sneak... and I have taught him some very bad habits. Here are a few of our recent pictures. I was sad that the digital camera didn't have any of Ali on the slip and slide... she is VERY good at it. She was sick the day Daddy took these photos...but I finally did find the roll of film of her diving off the diving board at Buddy's house... so hopefully I can get those posted soon! The dogs are enjoying the "cooler" weather that we have been having. Does anyone else think they look a little "rounder" than usual? OH! Please note the very distinguished dog in the far background... that would be JD. He turned 15 years old on the 8th fo this month. He is such a sweet dog... we love that fella.

And finally - my kids are the BEST. I have been so sick this past week... and they have been so helpful. Rachel LOVES to wash dishes (and nothing was broken) ...Ali weeded the entire flower bed on one side of the house... and McCaleb scooped up the yard - which is a full time JOB with 10 dogs around. He had help from Ali... but once she showed him the ropes, he could do it all by himself. The great thing about this boy - he loves to work... no matter what the task. Last week we picked up sticks in the yard... and he was carrying out branches that were 6 feet long. (This week we all suffered from the bug bites to prove our efforts, but they were very proud of themselves... and bragged on their hard work to their Daddy.) They helped feed the animals on the nights that Daddy was working late... and helped water and feed the horses. They are precious, sweet children that are easily entertained... and on weeks like this I am reminded how very blessed we are. They are all so sweet and kind.

I am sad to see summer leave. But I look forward to all that fall brings! I have a slew of photos from the Scott County FFA Show and Sale... and I hope to get those posted this weekend. In the meantime - enjoy this little snapshot of our summer fun... and stay tuned for more fun in the Fall!

(PS - and for those of you that know... we have these "free range" chickens that visit each day. I've told the kids... if you catch one, you can keep it. I have YET to get the daily chase on film. IF I DO... I will post it. It is hilarious!!!)

(OH! And one more PS...a very special cousin has a very special birthday this week. HAPPY BIRTHDAY KEITH! It seems like just yesterday we were cruisin' downtown Louisville in the convertible Mustang... and watching you ride the unicycle...swimming at the Cross' house...those were fun times! Where does the time go?)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Bittersweet Birthday...

Today is a special day... Sara turns 8 years old! We wish that we could be there to celebrate with her... but we emailed her a photo this morning to let her know we are thinking about her. We did get to send a package down two weeks ago when Allen and Angie went to bring home sweet Isabella. Thank you Allen and Angie for carrying our sweet Sara a special package for her special day. (I'll link you to Isabella's blog once they get it up and running... hint hint, Angie.)

Our case is back in PGN, so as most of you know... we WAIT. Waiting is truly the hardest part... but we also have preparations here at home that we need to be getting busy with!
So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY SARA...this will be the last one you spend without your family.

(Update on Lucas...his case was sent to the Court of Appeals. This can take up to a month for a decision, so in the meantime we are still praying that they will allow him to remain where he is - and will issue his COA so that he can come home to his forever family. Thank you for all your prayers!)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Shopping for a Van or Truck?????

OK - so here's a shameless plug for our friends Cynthia and Adam. Cynthia (who most of you know) is a stay at home mom... that wants to keep staying home. You know those two precious babies Keegan and Romy - they are such dolls! If you know anyone in the market for a nice 2006 Toyota Van or 2005 Toyota Pickup - please let me know... or you can contact them directly!
859-389-9460 or 859-494-3120.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Brayden's Big Day

OK... so Bounce "U" was on Saturday, August the 18th... and on Sunday the 19th we were invited to Brayden's Big Birthday Bash! He turned 2 years old (on the 22nd)... and is such a little sweetie pie! I love this boy. He has a smile that will melt your heart. Can you believe that this was the first Sunday in weeks that the temperature was not 90 degrees or above? The water in the pool was COLD. Since I was photographer... I obviously had to stay out of the water... ahem. But honestly, our kids had just as much fun playing with the other kids... swinging on the swing set and jumping on the trampoline. Jordan, as you can see, is very shy. :) She is a doll baby - and says that I can have this pink and brown bikini once she outgrows it. Isn't she sweet? And Tia's curls just fascinate me! She is so cute!!! There was another cootie at the party - and that is little Kaleb. He shares a birthday with McCaleb... so we had birthday boys everywhere! It was really fun to see them all together. Try as I might... I could NOT get a picture of Parker G that shows what incredible baby blues she has. She is just the cutest... but my pictures did not do those beautiful eyes justice! It was a wonderful day - we had a complete blast - they sure did put on a spread!

The process of adoption is one that cannot be explained or understood until you actually experience it. There is a bond that forms between families that take this journey together - and that bond is something that I still cannot explain. These families (The Maguires and the Pikes) travelled this path with us before - and they are travelling it with us yet again, each in the process of adopting again. Please continue to remember both families in your prayers. Adoption is such a leap of faith. You truly have to know that God is in control... and turn the rest over to Him. We all experience anxieties, moments of worry or just flat-out times of panic. It's such a blessing to have these great friends (and all those others out there...) to turn to for support, encouragement and just an ear to listen to a good "rant" from time to time. The Hanks Family is so blessed with so many wonderful friends!!!

OK - so when you look at these photos (and yes... I take and post too many - sorry) but check out some of these. First of all, my favorite is the last one. Everyone wanted a group photo. Everyone but Kaleb. He was playing with his balloon and didn't want to stop. He was so sad. Check out my kids... they are looking at him as if they have never seen someone cry. (yeah, RIGHT!) Then look at Jordan and Tia on the tramploine - I caught them in a few good jumps. But I LOVE the ones of Brayden with his cake... he loved playing with the icing. So very cute! And in the pool - the temperature did not phase him in the least. I felt sorry for Michael, that had to be in the pool... bless his heart. The things we do for our babies... ;)