Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Eve and Day

On Christmas Eve, the girls opened their new jammies and put them right on!

Then Nana read their new Christmas book to them ("How the Grinch Stole Christmas"). Don't you love Nana's Grinch face?
On Christmas morning, Rachel couldn't put down her new Curious George Treasury!

What a happy face!

I gave Al a Boggle game for Christmas, and we played on Christmas night after the girls went to bed.

Around the house at Christmas

All our gifts piled up in the living room, waiting...

Our stockings hang on the fireplace in the TV room. Don't know if you can make them out, but there are three panda stocking holders for the girls! (I got the fan at the White Swan on Abbie's adoption trip.)

My mom and dad bought this plastic light-up Santa when they first got married. I tell the girls that it's older than I am. They are impressed.

This year's China tree!

All I Want For Christmas...

How fun that Hannah lost her two front teeth in time for Christmas! She enjoyed singing the song for us!

Getting Ready For Christmas!

Things were busy, busy, busy around our house during the last few days before Christmas!
Abbie helped Nana write out a few Christmas cards.

Nana helped the girls wrap a few gifts.

We think the best part of baking is licking the beaters!

Nana and the girls made a gingerbread house!

Mmmmm... the finished product!

Rachel's worn out from all the preparations!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Rachel's Latest Performance

"How'd you like to spend Christmas
on Christmas Island?
How'd you like to hang your stocking
on a great big coconut tree?"
Last weekend, Rachel's new ballet school presented their Holiday Recital. Rachel's class did the cutest little hula ballet to the music of "Christmas Island" by Leon Redbone (I can't get that crazy song out of my head!). In contrast to last May's recital, when Rachel was apprehensive, and really wanted nothing to do with performing, this time she ate it up! She was excited to dance on stage, and even stayed still (relatively) while I did her hair and makeup. What a difference six months makes! She really enjoyed herself, and Al and I got so much joy from watching her have so much fun!

Practicing in the studio.

Dress rehearsal on stage.

All the little hula girls.

Flowers (yellow, of course) for our prima ballerina!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Photo Update

We celebrated Abbie's two-year Gotcha Day in November with a family tradition. For each of the girls' Gotcha Days, we have dinner at our favorite Chinese Restaurant, and have a family photo taken while there. I bought a photo album in China, and it holds all these photos, including a photo of each of the girls' actual "Gotchas" in China. As you look through the photos, you can see our girls, and our family, growing!

My mom joined us for Thanksgiving, and roasted a beautiful turkey (worthy of a Norman Rockwell painting)!

Just a couple of days after Thanksgiving, Hannah finally lost her first tooth! The Tooth Fairy left her a little cash and some cute pencils with her name on them! But Hannah did not leave her tooth under her pillow for the Tooth Fairy to take. She is going to donate her teeth to the college down the road "so the students can study them!"

We had our first snow storm and Snow Day a couple of weeks ago (the snow's all gone now, boo-hoo!). We baked cookies, played games, made homemade play-doh, and, of course, played outside! Fun day!

It took me over 30 tries to get a good Christmas photo this year. Here is one of the outtakes!

Hannah had fun performing in her class Holiday Program. Here she is with her classroom Christmas tree...

...and with her teacher, Miss Michael.

Al and I had the privilege of singing and playing for our church's presentation of Handel's Messiah. Rachel and Abbie enjoyed play time in the play room, but Hannah got to attend the concert like a big girl! Here they are posing with their Daddy as he prepared to play oboe.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Little Peace - Works For Me!

This is my first entry for Works For Me Wednesday, hosted by Rocks In My Dryer (

As an only child, my creativity has had to stretch a little when dealing with my girls' sibling "stuff". When Hannah was our only child, and even after Rachel first joined our family (but was still a baby), she got to do everything important to a kid - choose the video we watched, choose the music we played in the car, choose a bedtime story, get in the car first (for some reason, this is extremely important), push the buttons to turn things on and off (TV, dishwasher, etc). But once Rachel started to have her own choices about TV and music and books and could push buttons herself, there were terrible fights over whose turn it was. And my Mommy Brain just couldn't remember who did what the last time! So each girl got a Day. We just rotated every other day, and when it's your Day, you got to do everything, or at least do it first. And if there's an argument over which show to watch or what music to hear, the sister of the Day gets to choose first. There's very little arguing when I just say, "Well, whose Day is it?" It's even more helpful now that there are three of them, each with strong opinions! Abbie caught on very quickly, and was assigned her Days before she was even two! But I have to mark whose Day it is on the calendar at the beginning of each month, because I simply can't remember, and Heaven help me if we leave the house and I haven't checked whose Day it is...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

All About Christmas

Saw this on Lisa's blog (, and had to chime in...

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? While I enjoy a nice cup of hot chocolate with the girls, nothing says Christmas like egg nog! Don't forget the dollop of Cool Whip and a sprinkle of nutmeg!
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Santa sets them under the tree unwrapped. Gifts from Mama and Daddy are wrapped.
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? Our big living room tree has about 2,000 tiny white lights and a few hundred big white bulbs (one could perform surgery with the light from that tree!). Our China tree in the TV room has red and gold lights (colors of good luck in China). The little tree in the girls' room has "blinky rainbow lights". So everyone's happy!
4. Do you hang mistletoe? No, as a matter of fact, we don't (but then, Al and I don't need an excuse to smooch...).
5. When do you put your decorations up? I start Thanksgiving weekend, but it seems to take forever (probably because of all the lights).
6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? My mom's candied yams! Yummo!
7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child: The Christmas I was 9, I wanted a doll house more than anything in the world. My dear dad, probably one of the least "handy" men I know (but really good about reading instructions), obtained plans and built me one from scratch with his own two loving hands.
I also remember how much I loved to turn off all the lights in the living room except for the tree lights, and just lie under the tree and dream (the beginning of my light obsession...).
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I think maybe at about 8 years old. I probably suspected before then, but didn't want to let go of the magic!
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? The girls open their Christmas jammies and Christmas book on Christmas Eve.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? The living room tree (with all the lights) displays all the ornaments we've collected over the years (some from when I was really little). The TV room tree is our China tree with Chinese-themed ornaments, many purchased on our adoption trips. The little tree in the girls' room is for the ornaments they make in school and Sunday School.
11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? I just love it, love it, love it!
12. Can you ice skate? Nope. I am the most un-athletic person I know.
13. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Keeping the focus on Jesus.
14. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? I make a mean chocolate peppermint cake!
15. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Playing for, singing for, or at the very least, attending a performance of Handel's Messiah. Also, our China tree.
16. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Giving, without a doubt.
17. What's your favorite Christmas Song? The Holly and the Ivy (I know, pretty obscure...)
18. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? Yummmmm!

C'mon, play along! Leave me a comment to let me know if you do...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Cookies With Santa

Last Sunday, we took the girls to visit Santa at Sunny Ridge (our adoption agency). What a wonderful experience they (and we) had! Far better than any mall! There were no long lines to wait in, and they got lots of individual attention from Santa, with plenty of opportunity for photos. He gave them each a small gift (with a little assistance from Mom and Dad), and the girls ate lots of cookies. At one point, there was a lull in the activity, and the girls went back up to have a little personal chat with Santa, asking him questions. He told them about the elves and about Mrs. Claus. It's sweet to see that all three girls believe with their whole hearts in this wonderful man who loves both Jesus and children so much, that he honors our Savior's birthday by giving gifts to children. It really brought tears to my eyes to see their innocence and joy (OK, I had to leave the room before I started blubbering!)!

By the way, I got this great idea from a friend a couple of years ago... The little ones can leave food for Santa's reindeer to get a little extra energy for their trip. You put the contents of a couple of packets of instant oatmeal in a zip lock bag, add a bunch of glitter (that's the magic ingredient to help them fly), and they can take turns shaking the bag to mix it all up. Then scatter it outside, on the deck, porch, whatever. Ever since we started doing this, the girls race downstairs and run to the sliding glass door to see if the reindeer ate their food before they even look for their gifts!

Love is in the air...

Rachel and Josh at the pumpkin farm, September 2006

It appears that I witnessed an engagement proposal yesterday! Rachel and I arrived at preschool the same time her friend Josh got there. A couple of weeks ago they had an awesome play date together and have been great friends ever since. While we were taking off coats and boots and mittens, Rachel announced to Josh, "I'm going to marry you someday! Because you are so handsome! And because you are so nice! And we will hug and kiss!" (Wonder where she got the hug and kiss stuff from! "wink!") Josh seemed perfectly content with this arrangement and not at all intimidated by my very forward daughter, and the two of them held hands all the way down the hall to their classroom. Al and I are quite pleased with this arrangement as Josh comes from a good family, and they even have a baby from China (Abbie is in love with Baby Gigi, and I'm sure would be thrilled if they were sisters-in-law!)

It's clear that Josh is working out some of the details. His mom told me that that evening, as she was telling Josh's dad about the impending nuptials, Josh said, “I can’t do it this year, I have too much work to do. Do I go to school tomorrow? No, then I can marry her tomorrow. By then I will be done with my work!”

Better call First Baptist Church and check to see which Saturdays in June 2026 are available...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Rachel's Turkey Recipe

I have found many delicious recipes on other blogs, and I thought I'd share this recipe for Thanksgiving turkey that our Rachel gave me!

My Turkey Recipe
from the kitchen of Rachel
tomato stawberry
lettuce apple
potato peach
turkey chicken
add ham
Bake it. I think I would like to get a pie in there, and a grape.
Cooking time: 10 hours
Oven temperature: 8 degrees
If you try it, let me know how it turns out!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thank You, God...

...for my wonderful husband, who is really my best friend, and the only person in the whole world who truly "gets" me.
...for my Hannah, my creative dreamer, artist, musician, who gives awesome "squeeze hugs".
...for my Rachel, my busy, active little ballerina, everyone's best friend, my "sunflower" and ray of sunshine.
...for my Abigail, my little princess who loves her family and all babies, my little magpie, dancer, snuggler.
...for our extended family - Al's and my moms, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles - all loving reminders of who we are and where we come from.
...for our warm, comfortable home surrounded by corn fields and prairie preserve and a creek, the horses in the pasture, and a kitchen I actually enjoy cooking in now.
...for my cupboards, pantry, two refigerators and Big Freezer full of delicious and (mostly) nutritious food.
...for my faith, and the fact that I can worship, read the Bible, pray, and teach my children with complete freedom, without fear of persecution.
...for my music, and that I have had many new opportunities in the last few months to play and sing, especially for the Lord.
...for my friends, both old and new, with whom I share so many aspects of my life - China adoption, education, music, children.
There's so much more - I'll keep adding, I'm sure...
Happy Thanksgiving to all! Tell me what you're thankful for!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Christmas Traditions

Mary at is looking for Christmas traditions. Here's ours...

Our family has the traditional Christmas tree in our living room. It's decorated with all our traditional ornaments, including a few that go back to when I was a child. But in our TV room, we have our China Tree. When we traveled to China to adopt Hannah, we purchased two cloisonne ornaments - one for her (to take with her when she has her own home someday), and one for us. When we returned to China to adopt Rachel, we not only got two more cloisonne ornaments, but also bought a few more. On our most recent trip to adopt Abbie, we again bought two more cloisonne ornaments, and about 20 others! All these ornaments are hung on our special China Tree. We use red and gold beads and lights (good luck colors in China), and I found a beautiful Chinese angel for the top. I'm always on the lookout for Chinese-themed ornaments to add to our tree - last year, Hobby Lobby had a beautiful collection. We've got pandas, fans, tea pots, lanterns. But, of course, our favorites are the ones we brought home from our trips. I'm going to need an extra suitcase for ornaments the next time we travel! And a bigger tree!

Our beautiful China Tree, and the angel who adorns the top.

"Good luck" boy and girl, and our girls' Chinese zodiac animals - I bought all these at a shop on Shamian Island in Guangzhou on Abbie's trip.

We also have an annual tradition that I started for Hannah's first Christmas with us. On Christmas Eve, we give the girls new Christmas jammies and a Christmas-themed book. They put on their new jammies and we read the book to them before bed. Last year, we read Max Lucado's The Crippled Lamb (the lamb's best friend is a cow named Abigail - Abbie loved that!)

Christmas jammies, 2005

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Two Years Already!

Happy Gotcha Day, Abbie! You have been such a blessing to our family!

Our first family photo, taken with Mrs. Qiu, the Yangxi Social Welfare Institute director. She described Li Huan (Abbie) as a "gentle baby".

We took several photos of Abbie as soon as we got back to the hotel room. She was brought to us wearing this Carter's sleeper!

Abbie slept soundly that first night! Little did we know...

The next morning, we signed the official adoption papers at the Civil Affairs office in Guangzhou.

Our little pink princess is officially a Cormier!

Family portrait at Yun Tai Gardens in Guangzhou.

Our sweet Abigail Lihuan!

Our Abbie (and her sisters) today!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Overheard in the back seat of the mini van...

Rachel and Hannah were discussing an event that took place when Rachel was a baby...

Rachel: "That happened when I was a baby, back in the Olden Days."
Hannah: "No, Rachel, the Olden Days are a long, long time ago, like when Mama was younger. Like The Eighties."


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Please excuse me for a moment while I brag about my child...

This evening, Abbie put together this 24-piece jigsaw puzzle. All. By. Herself.

She is two-and-a-half years old.


The Trappings of a Big Family

According to one of the blogs I read frequently (, if you have three or more children, you are considered to have a "larger family". Since we are now waiting for our fourth child, we officially have a Larger Family (hooray!). And so, today, Al went to Best Buy and bought us a Big Freezer. To hold all the pizzas and chicken nuggets and soups and stews and spaghetti sauces that we need in the course of a couple of weeks. And all the other stuff that I have been stocking up on so I don't have to go to each of three different stores twice a week. Definitely a new way of doing things for this Only Child! Our beautiful new appliance sits in the new laundry/mud room for easy access. It was a floor model with a little ding toward the back, so Al got them to take $100 off the price and throw in a $40 gift card (to use for Christmas)! My hero! So drop on by for dinner any time - I'll be prepared!