Can't wait to show you the pix below. But, I first wanted to share a great link. The second Monday of each month finds us at the Wilmore Adoption Support group. It's such a nice resource to be able to talk with other like-minded parents about so many different parenting issues - challenges, joys, and adoption related information. Last night we talked about challenges in school. How do children who were adopted later in life than infancy deal with "bring your baby picture to school" and create a timeline of your life? (When you grow up in a thatch hut in rural Africa it's a little difficult to capture memories with a camera.) Our kids' birth stories are often vastly different than the 'average' American child. And, dealing with these things head-on and EARLY is so important for a child's self-esteem. It also helps other children to understand, learn empathy and to stand up for their friends throughout life together in the school system. We spoke about science classes and heredity and genes. One dad (before his kids were a twinkle in his eye!) was a teacher just out of college and was teaching this very topic to young people. As a particular student was figuring out her gene pool ~ dominant and recessive genes for eye color ~ she called him over to explain why her eyes were one color while none of her family members represented that particular color! It's humorous...but, also tragic! Talking about adoption early, while also not making it our #1 focus is a fine line. But, one that must be walked. Here is a link that is still developing. On it you will find much-needed resources like sensory therapists, counselors and occupational therapists. And, much more. Bluegrass Adoption Support Network, bringing to Kentucky a more aware and proactive group of parents this 2012!
Our Christmas on the farm was a joy this past 2011. We had family from Illinois, Indiana and Georgia.
We ate well, played games, watched movies, watched the kids play, decorated gingerbread houses and even worked upstairs to install a shower. Wha? Yes, you read that correctly.
It can't be a get-together with the Neal side without a little home renovation.
We want to stop here. We cannot thank you enough, family and friends, for all of your encouragement, prayer and support of us as we begin the New Year in Taiwan. Our plans are not always God's plans and you believe that right along with us...you have come beside us to rally and support His plans for our family to serve at the Home of God's Love in Lo-Dung, Taiwan. We are SO very thankful to the Lord for each of you and what you bring to our lives. The Frederickson's will be taking care of our dog, Farris. The Heckman's will be caring for our two cats, Sherpa and Binx. When we began this process back in April, the Lord brought buyers for our goats, guardian livestock dog, 60+ laying hens, etc. One of the buyers is a beautiful family ~ the Maple's. They have been some of our biggest advocates - they are our employers too.
Aunt Kim in Maryland, Uncle Dick and Aunt Josie in Iowa, Uncle Jerry in Arizona, the Petersons in Colorado, the Wells in Georgia, the Angels in Georgia and so many of our close friends and family Here in the Bluegrass...each of you is so dear to us. Thank you for the blessing you are in are in our lives. We fly on January 31st from Chicago to Hong Kong. Then, on to Taipei, Taiwan. We don't know how long the Lord will allow us to stay - we'll keep you updated with prayers and blog posts and a newsletter or two. We are furiously tying up loose ends, applying for visas and packing, packing and packing some more. Bless each of you this New 2012 Year. We pray God's Biggest Blessings for you!
The cousins ~ early Christmas morning.
Books and a panda from Great Aunt Cis and Uncle Norman
Sweet baby B. 2, almost 3 months!
Gaga and Papa Wells with their gingerbread house!
Thanks to Uncle Josh and Aunt Rachelle, each family got to decorate our own. Fun tradition!
These two monkeys had fun times together. John was sick and went to bed early the night his cousins arrived just before Christmas Eve. But, what kept K. going during the drive down to KY from IN? Seeing her cousin John! So, just as he was laying his head on the pillow ~ in came his family and everyone had to give lots of hugs and kisses before bed! It didn't always look this picturesque at the table.
But, aren't they sweet!?
The Brothers Neal
Last month we traveled to IN for our new niece's baby dedication.
Below is a great pic of the Neal grandparents with their grandchildren. Wonderful, isn't it!?
And, most importantly...Charley read the Christmas Story from Luke.