Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Year Of MANY Thanks!

I cannot believe what a difference a year makes! In the past week - I have been thinking back over the many events that we have been through in the past year. It has been a whirlwind! I am so very thankful for the wonderful blessings that we have been given... and for the "place" of calm and peace we find ourselves this year.

What a difference a year makes...

A year ago - we didn't even know if Sara would be able to come home. It was a heartbreaking, and very tense time for everyone with children still in Guatemala. On October 3rd of last year, they passed the Ortega Law - which almost halted all adoptions in process. Fortunately - here we are, a year later celebrating our first Thanksgiving with Sara at home. She doesn't really understand it... but it involves family and food - so she is READY. Sara has brought so much joy and enthusiasm to our home! She is a riot... and so much fun. I am so thankful that we opened our hearts once more - because we have been so blessed. God carefully prepared her heart for this change... and I am still in awe of how seamlessly she joined our family. God is so good and so faithful!

A year ago - we also faced some very serious issues with Ali... and looking back, I can see now how at that time, it seemed almost hopeless to me. Now... well, I plan to write SO MUCH MORE about Ali and how amazing she is (her b-day is right around the corner) - but suffice it to say, this child is my whole heart. She has made such strides... she has worked so hard... and she understands how hard we are working together to help her, as she participates in that process. To see her now - she is so happy, so relaxed and loving life. Again... God is so good. We have so much to be thankful for!

A year ago - our office began a huge transition. It has been a little tumultuous along the way. In the end, we have been very fortunate to have a wonderful group of people that have been such a blessing to us. We are also thankful that despite the current tough (economic) times - we have been able to keep everyone working and have stayed relatively busy. God has been very good to us!

Along the way over this past year... Rachel and McCaleb have shown me again how very blessed we are by their easy going and loving dispositions. During a year of so many adjustments and challenges... they have been patient, loving and actually very eager to help in every way possible. They have amazed me time and time again! I can't say this often enough... God has been very good to us.

So, here we are - Thanksgiving 2008. The year is almost over... and while we have had our share of ups and downs... we have weathered the storms together and are stronger because of them. There are more challenges ahead... but if there is one thing that I know for certain... our family is tough! We will make it... and we will make it together. I am so proud of these kids... they are really amazing. On top of that... they are really a barrel of fun! :)

Happy Thanksgiving from the Hanks Gang to you!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Birthday Girl

It hardly seems possible that Rachel can be 6 years old...I remember so well the day we received her referral photo when she was only four days old. Time has flown by... and she has changed right before my eyes.

Rachel's birthday seems to always SNEAK up on me - since it is the day after Halloween. There is always so much activity... and then just when I think it's time to kick back and relax... we are gearing back up the very next day for another big event.

Last year I finally felt like I hit one out of the park for Ali's birthday... so this year I wanted to try and do the same for Rachel. So I put on my thinking cap... and with a little help from her (see Halloween, or this post)... I decided that ballet lessons would be something that she might really enjoy.

She has been so committed to her dancing. I thought that after a while - the novelty would wear off and she would find something else that she would like. Nope... not Rachel. If she could be a ballerina every day of the week - she would be one happy camper.

On her birthday, Mamoo, Papoo, Aunt Jamie, Uncle Chuck and Briana came over to celebrate. We had a really fun time... and Mamoo made an adorable cake! She has really spoiled the kids (and their Mommy) this year with all her cake baking. (Although all my girls insist on baking their OWN cakes, too. Thank you, McCaleb for being content with tractors!)

We finished out the day with way too much food...presents...and cake... and ice cream... did I mention way too much food?

Then on Tuesday afternoon, after going to vote (it was Election Day - and Pop's birthday...) we headed out to Rachel's first ballet class. She was over the moon... almost impossible to be around all day long. I think she will really enjoy her classes, and I am glad that we have found something that she really enjoys. And if things couldn't get any better... on Wednesday a box was waiting on the porch for her from Dolly, Uncle Chad and the boys.

Since Rachel had been patient all week long - we broke out the cake mix and she baked herself a birthday cake. All on her own (except for the putting it in the oven, part) and then she decorated it, too. (Pictures on that another day...)

Life for a six-year-old girl couldn't get any better!