Thursday, May 29, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend

This Memorial Day weekend was extra special because it marks the one year anniversary of our arrival home from Vietnam with Sophie Le! We had a fun packed weekend. We visited the zoo, cooked out, shopped for flowers, played outside and went to the lake.

Click on the picture of Sophie Le below for more picture of our weekend!


Sophie Le enjoying her little boat!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Please take a moment to make a difference!

The children of Vietnam need our help! It only takes a few minutes for you to express your support of "A Child's Right Campaign for Vietnam." You could be saving a life!!
A Child’s Right Campaign for Vietnam

How You Can Help

1. Today, please read A Child’s Right Campaign for Vietnam at www.jcics.org.
2. Send an email in support of A Child’s Right Campaign for Vietnam to advocate@jcics.org.

a. Send your email no later than May 30th.
Your email will be included in a petition to Congress.

3. On June 2nd, 3rd, or 4th, please contact your Congressional Representatives and Senators and ask them to support A Child’s Right Campaign for Vietnam.

a. Call both of your U.S. Senators and your representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.

• You can find your Senators’ phone numbers and email address at www.senate.gov
• You can find your Representatives’ phone numbers and email address at www.house.gov

b. Include the following in your calls and emails.

• "I/we urge the Senator/Congressperson to join the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Co-Chairs and sign their letter to Secretary Condoleezza Rice in support of the recommendations found in Joint Council’s A Child’s Right Campaign for Vietnam."

• If they have not heard about the Campaign, ask them to contact the Congressional Coalition for Adoption Institute at 202-544-8500 or Joint Council on International Children’s Services at 703-535-8045.

c. Send an email to everyone you called.
• The email is important, but the phone call should be placed first.

Three Year Old Progress Report...

This morning we met with Hillary Ashton's teachers for the end of the year parent conference. We received one of the nicest compliments we have ever gotten about her this morning. Her teacher, who has taught at the school for many, many years, said that Hillary Ashton was the happiest child she has ever known. There is nothing that makes this mommy's heart warm than to hear from another person that has spent a significant amount of time with my child that she is happy :o) She is usually always happy and sweet in my company, but you never know what happens when you walk out the door. I am so thankful to God that my little girl is so full of life, laughter and the confidence to be herself. Second only to knowing God at an early age, my prayer is for her to live a happy, content life. Here is what her teachers wrote on her report:

"Hillary Ashton has such a cute, bubbly personality. She is always smiling and happy. She loves creative play and gets along well with others. Hillary Ashton has been such a joy to teach this year! She is doing strong work academically and her fine motor skills have really grown. She is a sweet, darling girl and we have truly enjoyed having her in our class!"

And since I have passed all boundaries of mommy bragging, they also expressed they were impressed that she could already write her name. Me too :o)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Fun in the Sun

Here are some pics of the girls splashing around in the baby pool last week.

The girl LOVES splashing in the water
Fun in the Sun
This one loves the water too!
Sweet Sophie Le
Beautiful baby
I would love to know what was going through her mind

Bye, Bye PK3

It seems like yesterday we walked Hillary Ashton to her first day of PK3. Today was her last day. This year has gone by way to fast. I can just imagine that each year going forward will pass just as quickly. She has made lots of friends and memories over the last year. Her teachers have been wonderful. They made each day a fun learning experience. I have loved picking her up from school and hearing about the stories they read, the Spanish they learned or new songs they sang that day. Her vocabulary, personality and empathy have grown so much since the beginning of the year. It seems like we took a baby to school last August and picked up a little girl today. Today as I unpacked her backpack, I found the ziplock bag of clothes we sent in case of emergency. The clothes were size 3T, the clothes I bought her last week for the summer are 5T. My little girl is growing up!

Her class had an end of the year party last Thursday at River City Gymnastics and a water party today at school...in case you are wondering why she wore a swimsuit to school :o)

Here she is her first day of PK3:
DSC03215
And This morning before school:
DSC04723
DSC04713
Here she is at the end of the year party with her teacher (the sweet girl cannot keep her eyes open if I use the flash)
DSC04527
And her other teacher:
DSC04525
And her "best friends" from school. I remember during her first few weeks of school she told me these particular girls were her best friends...luckily after a year they are still best friends :o)
DSC04423

Monday, May 26, 2008

One year ago today...

We were waiting at the airport in Texas for the last leg of our flight home. We had been traveling for over 24 hours at that point, but my girls still obliged me in an impromptu photo shoot at the gate :o) Here are the first pictures of our little Vietnamese-American!


And her world traveling big sister


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tragic Accident...

Steven Curtis Chapman has been a favorite of mine as long as I can remember. I can't imagine the hurt this precious family is feeling as a result of the death of their youngest, Maria. You can read about it here.
Here is a sweet video of him with his daughter:

And the awesome video and song he wrote about taking time with your kids instead of rushing through life.

My thoughts and prayers are with this wonderful family at this sad, sad time in their life.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Comic relief for those on both sides of the spectrum :o)

I have to admit, one of the many reasons I love election time is the skits on Saturday Night Live. So funny! Here are a couple from last night.



Saturday, May 17, 2008

Loving the weather...

Our family has really been enjoying the nice weather lately. The girls & I went to the Zoo with some friends on Friday. We had a great time, but little Le got so tired! She tested my patience by throwing a FULL blown tantrum during lunch and then melted my heart by falling asleep in the wagon a few minutes after we left the cafe!

Click on the image below for larger pics.
Today we went back to the Zoo with Daddy. Hillary Ashton really enjoyed telling Daddy all about the animals that she saw yesterday. I think visiting the zoo is one of Le's favorite outings. She loves pointing to the different animals and repeating their names. So very sweet! Her verbal "skills" still amaze me. After the zoo, we came back to the house and the girls played in the sprinklers and we cooked out. What a fun day! Today is my daddy's birthday!!! Happy Birthday Pops!! We love you!!!!

Here are some pics from today:

I was actually pretty surprised when Neil easily agreed to impersonate a flamingo for the camera :o) Hope he doesn't mind I blogged it, haha!

Daddy & Hillary Flamingo in front of the real flamingos
Click on the image below for larger pics

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Forever Family Day

On May 15, 2007, Le Thi Phuong Thiet legally became our daughter. Words cannot describe how joyous and special this day will always be to our family. We are so blessed to be little Thiet's forever family! Thanks be to God!

DSC04022

We spent about six hours with Sophie Le before the morning we arrived at the orphanage to take her with us forever. When we walked through the door that beautiful day, she was sitting in a swinging crib. She was as calm, quiet and still as I can remember ever seeing her. Her nanny's had her dressed in a handmade pair of overalls with a white t-shirt. The overalls were red, white and blue with a little embroidered mouse on the front, the straps and bottom had a USA pattern material with stars. She was wearing a diaper for the first time and her two bottle were ready to go. Hillary Ashton walked straight over to her bed, touched her arm and asked her if she was ready to go. That particular moment is burned in my memory. After tearful goodbyes, we traveled to the local justice department. It was so very surreal to have this precious, tiny baby in my arms as we rode through the streets of Ninh Thuan. We had prayed for her for several years, gazed at her pictures for hours on end, and now she was with us...forever. She slept the entire car ride and through most of the Giving and Receiving Ceremony. Although I know she must have been overwhelmed, she seemed so content to be with her family that day...the family she cried upon seeing only two days before. In fact, from the second day we met Sophie Le until she had been home over six months, our girl never once cried while we held her.

Forever Family Day, 2007

Back at the hotel

Forever Family Day, 2008

DSC04006

I couldn' t resist one more!

DSC04015

For those still reading, here are a few more pictures from our G&R day last year (click on the image below for larger pics):

And the video segment from that day:

I cannot describe how blessed and humbled we are to be part of her family.

Happy Forever Family Day, Sophie Le Thiet Arnold!! We LOVE you!

DSC04020

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A private matter?

Okay, this is something I had thought about sharing before, but I decided the subject matter was too sensitive for blog world. However, today Hillary Ashton made it a public matter so I feel it is fair game for the blog.

Hillary Ashton shocked us a few weeks ago by going all night without having an accident. We didn't expect her to have this type of control for at least a year. We quickly rewarded her with an ice cream cone. She continued this positive behavior for about a week until...the ice cream stopped.

Fast forward to this morning. She woke up dry so she was rewarded chocolate ice cream for breakfast. After breakfast, we went to the library for story time. The librarian read a book about different animals and what types of food they like to eat. One the last page, there was a big bowl of ice cream and she asked the kids "who eats ice cream?" Of course, my ever vocal child sitting at the front of the room stands up, turns to face the room full of people and announces, "I ate a big bowl of chocolate ice cream for breakfast this morning because I didn't tee tee in my panties last night." So much for modesty.

Did I mention that the story time theme today was "eating healthy"?

Since we have divulged the private matter, here are the pictures from a few weeks ago enjoying her ice cream cone.

DSC03941

DSC03944

Couldn't resist a sleeping baby pic!
DSC03945

DSC03946

PROGRESS!

It turns out that our FBI fingerprints didn't slow us down at all :o) I received the clearance packet about a week after I sent it to the FBI. Today we took all of our dossier documents downtown to the Secretary of State's (SOS) office to be authenticated. Now all we are waiting on is our homestudy and CIS letter. Our caseworker said she received a draft of our hs yesterday and so it won't be long now :o) Here is a picture of the girls during our FIRST visit to the SOS office this afternoon. Yes, we had to make two trips. Hint for those compiling their dossier in Arkansas in the future...Your notary statement must include the words (or similar verbage) "Acknowledged and signed before me this __day of ___, 20__" and not just their seal. And if possible, make sure your notary isn't planning a two week trip to Jamaica before you get your docs authenticated :o)

Hillary Ashton & Sophie Le

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

One year ago today...

We met the sweetest, most precious little Vietnamese baby. Little Sophie Le Thiet has been such a blessing to our family. She is mommy's snuggle bunny, daddy's little angel (he seriously thinks she can do no wrong) and Hillary Ashton's best playmate and friend. I can't imagine life without her. Here is the video of the day we met. Thank goodness she likes us a little more a year later :o)



Here are the thoughts after our first meeting. Before you read it, please be aware that I was going on very little sleep at the time ;O)

Fun at the park

Can I just tell you how much fun it is to be around such sweet, funny kids all day? I have the best gig in the world!

<DSC03877

It is really hard for this mama's to let her baby climb on one of these contraptions!


Time out for a snack
DSC03939

So full of life
So full of joy!

<DSC03907

A rare still moment
DSC03904

<DSC03901

Okay, this one is just ridiculous. I almost can't take the cuteness factor of these two kissing!
DSC03897

Please God, don't let her climb up there too!
DSC03891

One year ago, the little girl on the left was in Vietnam and the little girl on the right was in Korea. Today they are best friends in the USA. God is awesome!
DSC03878

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all of the mama's out there and to the mama's to be!

I feel so honored and blessed to be a mommy to Hillary Ashton and Sophie Le. They make everyday fun, calm, noisy, exciting, loving, challenging, long and WONDERFUL!

Last year on Mother's Day, we were in Vietnam and we met sweet Sophie Le. I will write much more about that in a few days as our first family day/gotcha day/adoption day is quickly approaching (this THURSDAY!!).

Here are a few pics from today. We took the girls for a quick ride on the boat and then to the park to ride their Jeep.

Don't tell the girls, but I think there is a naked, booty baby trying to escape.
I think there is a naked, booty baby trying to escape.

These girls can be a little nutty!
My girls can be a little nutty!

I'm afraid there may be a similiar pic all to soon...Le changing the radio station while Hill speeds down the road!
I think there will be a similiar pic in about 12 years...Le changing the radio and Hill speeding down the road!

Lucky mommy and her angels
Lucky mommy and her angels

My sweet family
My sweet little family!

The little girl that made me a mommy!
Me and the girl that made my a mommy!

Le at church this morning
Sophie Le at church this morning

Hill
Hillary Ashton at church this morning

I am looking forward to having one (or two) more little babes to help us celebrate Mother's Day 2009!

The pig and the princess

Hillary Ashton has an artistic side. She asks to do "arts and crafts" several times a day. I often try to do a craft activity with Hill during Le's nap time. Today she chose to make sock puppets (thanks for the kit, Mimi). Hill always has a definite opinion about what she wants to do (I am not sure where she gets that!). Within a few seconds of sitting down at the table, she had her mind made up...she wanted to make a pig and a princess. After the puppets were complete, she entertained me with a show. What a fun little girl!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Outdoor Fun

We are LOVING the warm weather! The girls (and I) would play outside all day, everyday if possible :o) Here are a few cute shots of them playing at a friend's house.








Click on the image above to see enlarged shots.