Our First Christmas

christmas cardwhisperingWe had the best Christmas ever this year!  The kids started asking about Christmas just after Thanksgiving.  We started our celebration off by decorating the Christmas tree and the house for Christmas.  The kids were wonderful helpers and enjoyed every minute of it!  Daddy helped with as much as he could before he was off to work on Tibador’s Station.  The kids and I had fun getting everything ready before Daddy came home that day and surprising him!

lightsWe put up our wonderful 7 foot tree and decorated it with the ornaments that we collected over the years.  We had some beautiful new ornaments to add from our time in Hungary and from our first family vacation in Georgia.  Then we put up small trees in each of the kids rooms.

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Tibi chose blue and green and gold to decorate his tree.  Dorina chose pink and purple and silver.  Before we left for Hungary, we had cleaned out a storage unit of Daddy’s old things and had found some wonderful ornaments and tree skirts to put on the kids trees.  We listened to Christmas music and decorated!  Then we got pizza and watched a Christmas movie!  I had so much fun watching my favorite Christmas movies with the kids!  Daddy joined us for as many as he could.  The Santa Clause 1,2,3 and Santa Clause is Coming to Town were the kids favorites!

reading night before christmas

We read Christmas stories and of course spent most of the time talking about Baby Jesus and his mother Mary and his adopted father Joseph.  The kids love that story.  On December 6th, we celebrated the Hungarian Mikulas Day – it is the Hungarian version of St Nickolas or Santa Clause.  The children put their boots by the window and the boots are filled with candy.  We didn’t put boots out by the window, but Mikulas found the kids and left them a little bag of treats and a note.  The kids were so excited and still talk about their Mikulas gift.

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We have tried to incorporate all of our heritages into our family.  Tony is Italian, Cary is German, and the kids  are Hungarian.  We made waffles and white sauce over the holidays – a German breakfast treat.  We also made peppernuts or Pfeffernusse, a German Christmas cookie.  We made American Christmas sugar cookies too.  Then for New Years, we made Hungarian Honey Cookies!  The kids had so much fun baking and working with Mommy in the kitchen.  Daddy was at Tibador’s during most of the baking – but he was home to enjoy eating the treats with us 🙂

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We had so much fun shopping for the kids for Christmas.  We kept it simple but wonderful!  The kids each made a list of three things that they wanted for Christmas and we chose one of those items to give them as their big gift.  We also picked up some wonderful small things and some things to fill their stockings.

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Dorina got a beautiful pink star necklace and Tibi got a Tow Mater remote control truck.  They also got books and their very own readable Bibles!  They loved every minute of it and so did we!

dorina reading bibleEach day was a special moment and memory.  God gave us three wonderful gifts – His son Jesus and our precious children – to celebrate this Christmas of 2013!  This has been the best year ever!

Let the Summer Fun Begin…

first photo of kidsOne year ago today, we started this blog to chronicle our journey to be “A Forever Family.” God has blessed us beyond our dreams. This is the first photo that we saw of our kids back in the fall of last year. Last year was a flurry of activity to get ready to meet our children and bring them home. What a wonderful journey it has been!

We just talking about it today, how much the children have grown and how much they know since January 14 of this year! They have such amazing vocabulary already and have conversations with adults who would never guess that our the kids’ first language was Hungarian and not English. They have learned so much in such a short time! We are so proud of them! Daddy has been a very good teacher at home school! The children are able to write their numbers to 50 with some help. This week they have been reading rhyming words by sounding them out. I have always been a firm believer in Phonics, but I have seen it proved true in my own children! They read the book “Andy” by Tomi De Paola. I helped them a little, but they read the rhyming words by themselves!!!! They are able to spell words if we make the sounds for them. They are on the verge of spelling.

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This week, we went to church conference in Mobile. While Daddy went to his meetings, the kids and I hung out at the pool. Tibi, by the way, sounded out “pool” all by himself and read his first word that first day. Anyway, back to the pool. Tibi was very timid when he first stepped foot in the pool. We got them both arm floaties, so we let them walk in by themselves. Dorina walked right in but Tibi was still afraid of the water. The first day, they didn’t put their heads under the water, but their confidence grew as they realized they could go all over the pool with their floaties and still be safe. We played with a beach ball, played tag, and swam all around. The second day, they both were much braver. Dorina even put her head under the water and started jumping in to me. Then she asked to take her floaties off. I kept her in the 3 foot area, but she did wonderful! She even jumped in and swam to Daddy and Mommy with her face in the water! Tibi kept his floaties on but he did do some jumping in and he put his face under the water at least once! We had such a wonderful time swimming together and playing! The kids didn’t want to get out of the water! We have water babies now!!!
Our children have learned so much English and we are so proud! It is still cute when they make little errors in their speech. Here are some of our newest sayings…..Tibi was talking about our family and he said, “I like aus.” He meant I like all of us!

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“It’s blinking, but I am ok, ” Tibi said. He meant it was bleeding. He also asked us “Do you have a probbob?” He was playing doctor and wanted to know if we had a problem for him to treat.

One day I was talking about someone lying down and Dorina said, “Number 9, Do not lie!” That is number nine of the ten commandments. I had to explain to them that lying down and telling a lie are not the same.

We are so proud of how much the kids love God and how many scriptures they have learned. Today, the kids wrote special love notes to Jesus and put them in a plastic heart that they have. It was so so sweet! They pray every night for all of the people that they know who are in need and especially for children who are being adopted from Hungary (and their families). They pray for Mommy and Daddy and all of their family too. They thank God for so many things and pray about everything! They are great teachers for their Mommy and Daddy about faith! They are learning the 23rd Psalm, I Cor 13 and they already know the 10 commandments and several other verses. They frequently recite their verses throughout the day. They also know so many “Jesus songs” as they call them. They really enjoy the “Bullfrogs and Butterflies” series and the “Psalty Kid’s Praise” series. I have enjoyed teaching them the songs of my childhood. When we hear the children singing their hearts to Jesus in praise and worship, it brings tears of joy to our eyes and smiles to our faces! God has blessed us so much! So many people have said to us that “the kids are so blessed to have you.” But the truth is, we are the ones who are blessed to have them in our lives! They are so full of love and happiness and joy! They have taught us about God’s love!

new familyThank you Father God for our beautiful family! Thank you for blessing us with these beautiful children! Thank you for giving us so much love and joy in our family! We worship you and praise you for all that you have done, all that you are doing, and all that you have in store for us!!!!

First Mother’s Day

Mother's day breakfast

I have waited so many years to celebrate this day! I thank God for the title of Mommy! That morning, the children took me to breakfast 🙂 We had fun. I gave Tibi some money and we went to Hardees. Dorina and Tibi ordered for me and paid for it. They thought it was fun to take Mommy to breakfast! Tibi even remembered to order coffee for Mommy! It was precious.

Mothers day giftThey gave me a beautiful necklace – two actually! Daddy ordered a cross from Lifeline for the kids to give to me and he also ordered a beautiful mother’s necklace! I really wanted one and this one is beautiful!!!! It has a stone for all three of my children on it! There is one for Makayla, Dorina, and Tibi!

Every day is mother’s day when I hear those precious words, “I love you Mommy!”

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The children are learning and growing so much every day! I am amazed at how much they have learned. They know almost all of the phonics cards we have been working on and make almost all of the sounds correctly now. We are working on a few sounds but they know all of the sounds of the alphabet and are starting to work on blends. They can spell simple words when we sound them out and we are working on reading rhyming words. They can count to 100 with a little help (after 30, they need some help on the tens). They use longer sentences and are actually using compound sentences now and pronouns! Dorina has been reading a rhyming book every day.

DSCN4022We have been doing role play to help learn how to act in social situations. They enjoy role play time. Sometimes we act it out and sometimes we use Barbie Dolls. They have learned so much through role play.

DSCN4028Here are some of their newest and cutest sayings – carrot card (credit card) and take off the beep beep beep – the bar code sticker. Tibi likes to use the camya (camera) and Dorina likes to do the puzzool (puzzle). Whenever something seems sad or hard, Tibi says “It’ll be alright.” If you ask them to do something they may say, “Alrighty.” If something happens in the morning, “Dorina did it in the good morning.” And the most frequently heard phrase from Dorina is “all kinds of stuff.”

Here is our goodnight chorus! – I love you. – I love you more. – I love you most. – I love you to the moon and back. – I love you to infinity and beyond!

Playing Games

We have fun playing games, singing, dancing, laughing, and just being together!!!

They are so sweet and we are so very proud of them! They make each day special and bring so much joy and happiness to our house! Parenthood agrees with us! Daddy dances and laughs and smiles more than I have ever seen! Each day is full of joy and wonderful surprises! We love them so much and they shower us with love every day! “I love you to infinity and beyond!”

Heading Home

DSCN2955We made a chart to count down the days until we would fly in a big airplane and come home.  The kids enjoyed looking at the chart each day and marking off the day that was done.  They counted the days until we would fly and be home.  The children wanted to sing “America the Beautiful” every day and got pretty good at it.

DSCN3002The day before we left, we spent several hours packing – making sure we had everything and making sure our treasured breakables were as secure as they could be.  I spent hours praying over our travel and our suitcases!  We also had once last time of swimming.  Dorina did so good!  She would hold her breath and go down to the bottom and touch it with her toe.  She would dog paddle to Mommy and Daddy for about 1-2 feet.  She would go all the way under on her own and push off the bottom and come right back up!  She is our little fishy!  Tibi loves the water – as long as it does not go in his nose, eyes, ears or over his face!  He loves to dog paddle as long as Mommy or Daddy keep his head above water.  He loves to repeat what Mommy would tell him “Kick those feet.  Move those arms”  We had a great time!

DSCN3012We got up at 3AM on Feb 26 and got ready to leave.  We woke the children and told them to get dressed for America!  They were so excited.  We checked out and ate the breakfast items that the hotel had prepared for us.  The taxi arrived at 4:15 and we headed to the airport.  We flew Lufthansa and they were so helpful with check in!  We headed to our gate and drank some water as the children watched the planes out the window!  They were so excited about everything!

We had a wonderful flight.  Our seats were not booked together but the check in lady fixed that for us.  Daddy sat with the children and Mommy sat across the isle.  During take off, Tibi said “Yes!  Yes!  Yes!”  He loved it.  They enjoyed every minute of the flight!  We met a nice lady and her yo yo champion son on the plane and Mommy had a nice visit!  The flight went by quickly and we were in Frankfort, Germany!

DSCN3014As we were looking for our gate, we had to pass through and show our passports.  The guy was not very helpful.  He asked us a lot of questions and wanted to see our papers on the adoption.  George had told us NOT to open the papers for the US Immigration.  The guy didn’t like that!  After many odd questions, he finally stamped our passports and allowed us to move on through to find out gate.  We found our gate in Frankfort and had a snack of pretzel sandwiches and hot dogs with pretzels.  It was yummy.  Then we watched planes take off and board as we waited for our flight.

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The children enjoyed the big plane!  We sat all in a row across the middle.  This plane was not full and the attendants were wonderful!  It was a long 10 hour flight, but the  children did marvelous!  They sat in their seats so nicely – except for the many trips to the toilet – 🙂  They colored, drew, wrote letters, watched the TVs, played games, and played with the puzzles that one of the attendants gave them.  They were happy and excited about America.  They were tired but happy when we finally landed in Atlanta.  We got through Immigration with some waiting but no problems.  We picked up our bags and headed for the hotel shuttle.  The kids kept asking “America?”  They couldn’t believe we were finally here!

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We checked in to our hotel and ate a nice meal there.  The lady who served us was so great!  She gave us full cups of ice!  I had a long awaited Dr. Pepper!  It was so good to be in America!  We have never loved it as much as we do now!  We are so much more appreciative of everything that we have now than we ever have before.  We thank God for everything – we have so much!

 

More Adventures

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The picture above is from the day Dorina used the Playdough scissors to give Daddy a haircut!

DSCN2689DSCN2646Yesterday we used shaving cream to write letters, shapes, and make pictures.  The kids loved it – even the big kids!  They sat at the table and played in the shaving cream for over an hour!  It was so fun to watch their creativity.  We even discovered that Tibi draws with both hands at the same time to make a mirror image!  Amazing!  Dorina liked writing her name and copying the things that Daddy drew.  We worked on numbers, letters, and our names.  Of course, we also had to draw Mickey Mouse!  It was fun!

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DSCN2730Today we had our last visit from the Social Worker.  They asked how things were going and we showed them the work the kids have done and pictures we have taken.  They asked how things were going and seemed impressed that the children answered them in English and that they use short sentences.  They were impressed that we have taken them to church and connected with another family that has adopted.  They said everything was in order and that on the 21st we would get our final paperwork and the new birth certificates.  Yay!  Only a short time and we will be going home with our new family of four!  God is so great!  We thank Him for making this family complete!  We thank Him for the wonderful moments of love and bonding that we have had here.  And we thank Him that we are going home to America!  We celebrated today by going to our favorite little spot for Pizza and French Fries!  When we ordered, Daddy ordered ice for him and Mommy and Dorina and Tibi piped and said ice for us too!  So cute! Ice is a rare find here!

DSCN2715Today was a nice day, so we spent the afternoon in the park.  They had a blast.  We get tickled at the English phrases that they know.  “Really?!”  “Ta da”  When they see an airplane now they say “Going to America”  They enjoyed drawing in the sand.  Tibi spelled out Rosetta for memory today!  They also like to draw a church.  They got to wear their new sunglasses to the park today too.  They thought they were styling!  We are amazed at how much they have learned since those first days when we met them.  The first time we went to the park they didn’t know how to climb or use the equipment and needed our help on everything.  Today, they climbed and swung, and used all of the equipment without help.  They have learned so much!  We love watching them learn new things and make new experiences!  Their world has grown by leaps and bounds.  Thank you God for all of their new experiences and all of the joy!

Oh – and Daddy has given Mommy two days off from doing laundry in the bathtub – Daddy and Dorina did for Mommy!  Thank you!!!!  A nice rest!

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Church

Cute tibiWhen we were preparing to travel to Hungary, we were able to connect with some families that had already been to Hungary and had adopted.  One of these families, the Hnizdil’s, stayed in the same place that we are staying.  While they were here, they met the Chun’s.  The Chun’s are missionaries here.  Darlena Hnizdil, connected us with Trudy Chun.  Trudy called us and helped us figure out the bus schedule.  Then she and her husband Russel, invited us to church!  Russel and 2 of his children drove here to pick us up and take us with them to church!  It was such a wonderful blessing!!!!

We went to Calvary Chapel.  They had a class for the children.  Tibi and Dorina went right in.  The lady in their class said she would come get us if the children needed us.  Most people there spoke English – it was so good to hear English!  Now we know how the children will feel when they come to America.  They will miss hearing Hungarian.  The people at the church were so nice!

church

We met a couple from Arizona who had just moved here.  We visited until the service started.  Then the service started with worship.  Most of the songs were written on the screen in English and Hungarian.  They sang the songs in both Hungarian and English.  There was a mix of contemporary songs and hymns.   It was beautiful and so refreshing!  God’s presence was there!  We are so thankful!!!

preacher

The sermon was in Hungarian but was translated into English by a translator.  We had communion and then broke up into small groups to pray.  It was such a wonderful experience.

After church, the Chun’s took us to their house for lunch!  Trudy made a Hungarian dish that we all loved!  It was so nice to sit and visit and fellowship.  The children enjoyed playing with the Chun’s children.  They had a blast!  It was nice for all of us to get out and meet people.  The children did a great job of playing nicely.

We thank God for this connection and for the love of the Chun’s and their church!  God revived us and refreshed us through this wonderful experience.  We met some wonderful people and enjoyed fellowship!

zipline dorinaEducation update – The children have learned to recognize several letters.  They are able to sing almost all of the ABC song without help.  They have learned a few colors.  With a little help, they can count to 30.  They are good at saying “Excuse me”  “I’m sorry” “I love you” “Help please” “I’m Hungry” “Thank you” and they love to thank God for things.  Tibi loves to thank God for “Tibi Choci”  There is a chocolate bar here called the Tibi bar – I think it is a company name.  We all like Tibi Choci!

Today we made a trip to Tesco and were able to find a place to buy swimsuits for them.  We will have a pool at the last hotel that we stay at in Budapest.  We have been looking but since it is winter had not found any yet.  They were so excited!  It is an experience to try to figure out sizes in a foreign country, but the sales lady was very helpful and we found two suits successfully   The kids modeled them when we got home.

Meeting Day

January 14, 2013 will be a day we will remember forever.  Today we went to meet our precious children!!!!  We spent many months praying for this day and praying for our sweet children.  God is faithful and gave us the most blessed day!

We arrived to the joyous sounds of children excited.  Dorina reached for my hand immediately   She squeezed it tightly and would not let go.  She took me directly up to her room.  Tibor and Daddy came up shortly.  We sat on Dorina’s bed and took out the Butterfly dolls that we had brought for the children.  They loved them!  We then went into Tibor’s room.  We played with cars and began to read books.  The children would point to a picture and we would make a gesture and/or  a sound to go with the picture (things like ducks, cars, cats, hats, etc).  The children thought it was funny and soon began to try to pronounce a few words and to imitate us.  It was so special.  We spent a few hours playing and then we went outside to see the puppy and play in the snow!  It was amazing!

Dorina took a pic of Anya Dorina takes apa picDorina called us Anya and Apa which means Mom and Dad.  She sat in my lap and took pictures with my camera. The pictures of us above are the pictures that Dorina took today.   Tibor took pictures with Tony’s camera and put his doll on Tony’s shoulder and head.  This mother and father have hearts that are full today!  The children are beautiful and are very smart!  We can’t wait to see them again tomorrow!!!!  God is sooooo good!

Hungary

attilaWe enjoyed exploring the city of Budapest yesterday.  Our favorite spot was Cafe Orchidea – just next to our Mariott Apartments Hotel Room.  We met a wonderful Host there named Attila!  He was so kind and served us great food!  We ate all 3 meals there yesterday and breakfast today!  He gave us valuable information about Hungarian life.  We had such a good time there and thank God that we met Attila.

Today we traveled to the city of Miskolc.  We had lunch and took a brisk walk in the snow to tour the main street.  Most things are closed because it is Sunday.

Tomorrow we go to meet our children!  George says they are looking forward to meeting us!

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God watched over our travels

English: Hungarian Parliament At Night (Budape...

English: Hungarian Parliament At Night (Budapest) Magyar: Parlament-Budapest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We arrived in Hungary yesterday!  God protected us and gave us a very good day.  We were very tired after a 24 hour day of traveling but it was good.  We were able to rest and then eat and go to bed.

Today we enjoyed the city of Budapest.  It was a fresh, cold day and we enjoyed it!  It even snowed today.  We walked along the Danube River and visited different shops.  We have found a great little Cafe that we enjoy eating at right next to the hotel!  We have had a wonderful day.  God has blessed us in so many ways!  We are tired this evening and will go to bed early.  Tomorrow we will travel to a city closer to the children.

Monday, we will travel to meet the children!  Our facilitator has told us that they are excited to meet us.  God is so wonderful!  We thank You Father God for all of your wonderful protection, provision, grace, and blessings!

Miracles of God

family churchThe journey to adopt that we have been on has been a roller coaster of emotions, paper work, information, deadlines, finances, etc.  But every step of the way, God has been faithful!  Not in our time mind you, but always according to His plan and His time.

The last two weeks we have been frantically looking at our finances and knowing that if God did not do something, we would not have the money we needed to go get our kids this month.  We prayed and worried and trusted and prayed and quoted scripture and waited on God.  When God prompted us to move or fill out something or call someone, we did.  As I stated in an earlier post, Pathways for Little Feet was one of our answers to prayer.  Then, last night, we got another email from a group that we had applied to for a grant/loan.  Orphan Advocates in Dothan had prayed and felt led to give us the rest of the money we needed to pay for the adoption!  We were in tears as we rejoiced and praised God for His miraculous provision!  We knew that our children belonged to God and that He would provide a way for them and He did in a marvelous way!  Thank You Father!

Today, at both churches, we were blessed by so many!  We were showered with love and prayers and blessings as we prepare to leave on Thursday to meet our children and bring them home!

Our journey of adoption has been full of many lessons and miracles and blessings.  We have learned even more about God’s unending, overwhelming love for us and for His children everywhere.  God is so full of grace and love.  He longs to bless us and hold us and meet our needs.  When we lean on Him and trust in Him, we see miracles.  They may not be the miracles that we had planned but they turn out to be even better than we could imagine!

trees clap“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways & my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, & do not return to it without watering the earth & making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire & achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy & be led forth in peace; the mountains & hills will burst into song before you, & all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
Isaiah 55:8-12

family shadowSo we set off.  We leave Thursday for Hungary and we will get to meet our children just a few days after we arrive.  A new adventure begins!  The birth of a family!  We thank You Father God for all that You have done, all that You are doing, and all that You have planned!