My FFF - Christmas Photos 2007

Daddy and Sam Christmas morning - our house.

Great big thanks to my Aunt Mary who made Sam a birthday cake. A shout out to my Aunt Polly for the idea, too! Here is a photo of Sam and I with several of the great-grandkids (Allie, Corbin, Jaelyn, Morgan, Mary, Me & Sam, Sydney -there are >25 great grandkids now!). Christmas Eve - my grandma's house.
Sam's first set of wheels -from Grandma and Grandpa - Christmas Day

Grandma reading Sam a new book - Christmas Day. We ate fondue and Grandma and Grandpa read the Christmas story to us from the Bible. We enjoyed the time with them, Darrin Shannon and Dryce.

My nieces and nephew, Blake Morgan and Cole cheesing over their big present on Christmas morning. It was a vacuum cleaner - the reaction was to die for. All 3 of them hooped and hollared like they had gotton a Playstation or Wii! They have a canister vacuum now that they hate! They had it plugged in a running with in 30 minutes!

Sam's early present opened Christmas Eve, Eve.


I wish you enough...

Today I am lonesome for Baby Joe. I told myself to get through the holidays...
Well, New Years isn't even here yet and I am wishing to hold my little baby. Each day that I spend with Sam is such a treasure. I learn something new about him everyday. I long for that with Joe, now. In some ways, this wait is not a trying because I have Sam to fill my time. In others, though, it is harder because I know that each moment that escapes is a moment I will not get back with him. I pray for him, that he has safety and loving care each moment until we are there for him forever. And I wish Baby Joe enough...Mama

I received this email from our friend Tommy yesterday. Read on...

Recently I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments together at the airport. They had announced the departure.. Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the mother said, "I love you and I wish you enough". The daughter replied, "Mom, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Mom".

They kissed and the daughter left. The mother walked over to the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see she wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on her privacy but she welcomed me in by asking, "Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?". Yes, I have," I replied. "Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?". "I am old and she lives so far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is - the next trip back will be for my funeral," she said. "When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, 'I wish you enough'. May I ask what that means?". She began to smile. "That's a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone". She paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail and she smiled even more. "When we said , 'I wish you enough', we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them". Then turning toward me, she shared the following as if she were reciting it from memory.

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.

I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.

She then began to cry and walked away.

They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them but then an entire life to forget them.


2 years old

My little man, my Christmas day baby, is 2 years old. I almost cannot get my mind around that!
Sam, everyday with you is a new and fun adventure. I think that each stage with you is better than the last. Right now you are so curious about things are starting to figure things out. Of course, I think you are very smart and of course are hands down the most handsome boy on the block (Joe's block is in Guatemala, so that is fair!)
At 2:
-You can tell mama the colors in the Mo Monkey book
-Say your ABC's with the leap frog magnet toy
-Say please (peassss)
-Do wooden puzzles
-Love trains and blocks
-Love junk food and cartoons and pop!!!
-Tease mama about your age (I say 2, you say 1)
-Pull the kitchen chair over to help mama with the dishes
-Help pick up the toys
-Love the Christmas lights - oh, ma, pretty, wow are things you say
-Read books to yourself
-Turn TV, radio, etc off
-Throw things in the trash (I have found a few things here!!!!)
-Bring me your bathtub (still bathing on the kitchen counter, only a shower at Poplar St)
-Fall asleep on your own after a bedtime book and prayers
-Give the best hugs and kisses
-Still melt my heart with just one look!
We will celebrate Sam's birthday with a big bash after we get moved into our new home! Happy Birthday, Baby


Missing a piece of Christmas in Guatemala...

Baby Joe, we send you all of our love and prayers for a wonderful Christmas Day with your foster family. We cannot wait to unite with you again to kiss your sweet cheeks and see your sparkly eyes. We love you, baby!
Dad, Mama, & Sam
Merry Christmas from our little home to yours!
The Grabers


December 22

Happy Anniversary, Grandpa and Grandma.


Sam & Joe


For Kia

Sam (2) & his friend MonteLee (4).
We went out for pizza with ML's parents and her brother. Every year we get together to celebrate the holiday and our friendship. They mean a lot to us!

Much to my dismay, Aunt Kia got Sam a life sized SpongeBob for Christmas. Now, mind you, we have had this for several weeks beacause Kia cannot keep a secret. Sam would have nothing to do with it, it is as tall as he is! Recently, though, he has begun to pay attention to it. SpongeBob must have told Sam that he was hungry. Sam held his hand and fed him crackers and juice...


Christmas Cookies

Sister in Law, Jill and my nephew Drew.
My niece Morgan and Sam

Sam has been so fortunate to decorate cookies 2 times this year. Not so fortuate for me, I haven't been there for either one. Thanks to my cousin Jessie for sending me some of the action through photos.

Yesterday he decorated cookies at his daycare. We talked about it on the way to the sitter and he was so excited - he calls them coo, coos. He was proud of the cookie he brought home last night.

On Sunday, he decorated them with my family. At my grandma's house they put up the tree and decorated cookies. I had to work, but Sam went with my SIL, Christine. He loved it - he decorated 3 cookies and took a bite of each. I am glad he got to spend some time with my aunts. Enjoy the photos.


It is a match!!!

We got Joseph's DNA results in the mail today! Dan was home and called me at work and told me they were a match! This ensures that the correct mother has given up Joe for adoption. We also received a precious photo of Joe with his birthmother. She is a pretty girl, and even has pleasant look on her face in the photo. I will save it for Joe for when he is older. Now come on Family Court approval. We are ready for the dreaded PGN...

The peanut (k)napper

So I found Sam this way the other day! He stole my peanuts and then fell asleep. I knew he was too quiet for too long....


Getting the perfect picture..

So really mom, enough already - stop!!!!
Here's the one - 2 sweet boys

Joe is getting really sleepy!

What handsome men!

The much needed intermission, this camera stuff is hard work!

I think Joe looks like a little sumo man!

OK, mom, Sam says are you really going to use these without our shirts on anyway?????

Christmas kisses.....

Thought I would give you an idea of the # of pics that we took to get just one good one for our Christmas card. Dan and I laughed so hard. Joe got so tired in the middle that we had to rock him to sleep and then Sam fell asleep, too. We made memories I won't soon forget. Next year, I might just send out one of the crazy ones! Joe's hat is the one his foster mother brought him to us in, it has little reindeer and says Old Navy! Thanks to Hanna S. for Joe's cute sweater. He was so precious wearing it! Merry Christmas all...


DNA is tested and BM interview done!

That's right, folks! Joe has been a busy little man this past week in Guatemala. He has attended some important appointments! It is a good thing that good friend Hanna sent Joe a fabulous white sweater for all these important events! Last Friday Joe had his DNA tested along with his birthmother to ensure that there is a match. This will be repeated one more time at the end of the process to ensure there is no baby switching- like I wouldn't know my own baby - yeah, right!!!!!!!!!!!!!! These results are processed in the US, we will have the results in 2 weeks or so - that would be real nice in my Christmas stocking!

Joe's birthmother also had and interview done with a social worker in Guatemala's Family Court to ensure that she was not coursed into his relinqusment, etc. I pray for her at this time, as I am sure every step is a painful reminder for her. I also pray that God can provide her with a peace that her birth child is entering a loving home.

I have a treasured photo of Sam with his birthmother taken during DNA testing. The image is graven in my mind. I am anxiously awaiting this treasured photo of Joe and his birthmom. I will show these to my boys one day and tell them of the ultimate sacrafice their birthmothers endured.


The best shopping day...

My dear husband and I had the best shopping day ever! Now mind you, we rarely shop together, so this was a treat. We had several stops to make. Usually we do a few and then eat a nice lunch, then a few more. After lunch, DH is usually done with shopping and asks if we can go home. Not today, he hung in there until the end! I am not totally done, I have a few gifts to buy, but I know what I am after, pfew! Now, there is that one gift that i have left, my brother Scott, he is the most content person, which makes him the hardest person to buy for! Maybe a light will go off and I will come up with something?!?

Sam had a great day, too. He stayed with Grandpa and Grandma and then went with Dryce for awhile tonight.

I've been thinking a lot about little man Joe tonight. I miss him so much and I see so many things that I would love for him to have for Christmas, especially when I see other familes buying for their infants! But, most of all, I want him to know that we love him and long for him to be here with us. We pray for you everyday, Baby Joe -- many times a day that is!
PS - random pic, realized I don't own a photo of the 2 of us since Sam came home! LOL....


Fav. Photo Friday

Been awhile since I participated! Since I lost some of my recent prized photos, I will post from Chritmas time last year. I cannot believe Sam's second Christmas (and birthday) is coming up soon!


Kicking myself

pretty hard this time! I need some loving from sister in law Shannon if she is reading. I obviously hit the wrong button and deleted a bunch of photos from my camera by accident.
I had taken some sweet pics of nephew Dryce last night as he sang on stage for the 1st time at the Christmas theatre. I deleted them along with the rest of last nights pics, making a gingerbread house with Grandma, seeing Santa, my Christmas party, decorating the tree, Thanksgiving, some fall pics I hadn't downloaded. Uugghhh... I am nearly sick about it.
I called #1 friend Nakia to tell her, ML was in the seeing Santa pics, and she said ...everything happens for a reason. I said oh really, so why would this happen, she said - because you are a dweeb! What, was that supposed to make me feel better. I know that N is reading....what's your comment?

Christmas Dinner Theatre

This year our church decided to combine our Christmas program and dinner. We had a dinner theatre. It was a trial set in Jesus day and had a very good message about truth. Dan starred as the judge in the play, he did a good job with banging his gavel (a lot). He also thought it was funny to make everyone rise when he entered! The only time someone will bow down to him, I guess, LOL. It also featured singing by a few groups and individuals.
Grandma and Grandpa came to the show, too. Dan and I are on the social commitee that planned to dinner and Sam's Aunt Shannon and Uncle Darrin are on the Christmas Program committee. It was the biggest turnout we had for a Christmas dinner ever, about 230 people! A good time was had by all!


Sam's awesome foster family

So I told you I wanted to post about the visit with Sam's foster family while we were in Guatemala... Grab some popcorn this is long, but I don't want to forget.

I was incredible. I did go into with a few expectations. I know that Maritza (FM) and family would be excited to see Sam, but I wasn't sure if he would take to them. We arrived in Guatemala on Thurs and got settled in with baby Joe. I called their house on Fri mid morning and Israel (FB) answered. He translates for us because he speaks spanish and english very well. He said that they would like to see us Saturday and Sunday! We were excited that they would spend so much time with us.

Saturday, they drove to the hotel around dinner time. The hotel was a furry of activity with wedding receptions and 16th birthday parties and catholic confirmation parties - all of which are very important formal events in Guatemala. They came in the front door and couldn't get to us fast enough. Maritza bent down to offer Sam some of the treats she had brought. He went to her right away. We all hugged and enjoyed a few moments catching up. Then we decided to eat together. Sam walked hand in hand with Armando(FF) They picked American food so we had Champions. We sat in a booth + chairs and table. Sam sat between Marcos and Maritza for all of dinner. They played together and drew pictures. We gave Maritza some pics, some Christmas towels, and a picture Sam drew (she loved that!). It was a wonderful dinner. It was so comfortable and felt like family.

We learned that Maritza (FM) is still fostering and loving it. Since Sam there has only been 2 days that there was not a baby in the home! Right now she has a 5mo (boy) and 1 mo (girl)old. She also runs the little market at the front of their house. Armando (FF) has a good job where he travels all over Guatemala and is gone most of the week - he is enjoying the new car (1st family car) that they bought after Sam came home. Isreal(FB) is nearing the end of the studying part of medical school. He will have 4 years residency- then he will be a doctor! We asked him about a girlfriend and he said not one right now?!?! Oscar (FB) is in the Guatemalan service and wants to be a pilot. Marcos (FB) is in the 2nd grade and is a good student.

Then they invited us to come to their house for lunch on Sunday. Armando came to get us and we drove back through the city center (goverment) area of town. There were a lot of people there. They meet here on weekends to see other from their "state" who work in the capital, Guatemala City. We also saw and drove down the middle of what we would call black markets. They had everything you could buy at Walmart. From bikes, to CD's, to clothes (even underwear) all brand name knockoffs. It was pretty wild! Isreal said that they likely would not sell to Americans because many of the items would not be considered legal (early release on Movies,etc.) It was so busy. They come here every once in a while if they need a few clothes, shoes, etc.

We got to their home and again they were excited. We met 2 other of Sam's other caretakers while there as well. Maritza and they had set a table and they went into their store to get us a Sprite. We settled in then we walked to get tortillas for dinner. We went out on the street in front of a little corner cantina (restaurant) and Maritza said "Samuel is here". Many came out to see him and made over how very big he was! We got to the tortilla shop and these ladies we overjoyed to see Sam. They made tortillas for us over an open fire. Yummy. We paid them about .75 for a whole basket of tortillas!

We came back at ate a wonderful stew with chicken, rice, potaotes, and vegetables. We were very full, but then we had dessert, too! Sam played for a while and we took a few photos. We were sad to leave, but oh so glad to see them again.

On the way home, we stopped at a park that had a topographical map of Guatemala. It was really neat and we liked seeing the regions our son's were born in. Sam is from a flat dry region closer to the ocean. Joe is from a region with more mountains/volcanos.

Sam loved our visit and he certainly remembered them, I have no doubt. He went to them, took their hands and interacted with them like they had never been apart. He never once worried about keeping track of mama and dad when they were around. He sensed a comfort that only comes naturally.

We will always hold these people so close to our heart. They gave our son a gift that we can never repay. They loved him from the day he was placed in their home, and still that loves extends today. They are family, simply put.

I'm in love with a handsome little man.

We got new update photos of Joseph. He is absolutely adorable. I love his perfect skin and big brown eyes. This is one of the outfits we left for Norma, I am glad she is using them. Don't you just want to kiss his cheeks!
It is hard to believe that God could make such perfect children for Dan and I. I was snuggled on the couch this am watching Bob the Builder with Sam (trying to pry the guy away from Bunge Bob), and Dan came to kiss us goodbye. I asked if he could believe that Sam was ours. I still pinch myself sometime.


Thanks for the Divine nudge....

God must have known we needed a little ray of hope for baby Joe! We have been submitted to family court. Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This part ususally takes anywhere from 6-12 weeks. We don't have DNA auth, yet and that could end up delaying us. The good news is that we had some sort of movement. Today, I am on one of those roller coaster high hills! So, thanks God, for the little Divine nudge from above! I'll just warn, ya, I may ask for a few more along the way.

Little bummed...

I checked, My FTIA - our site that tells us of exciting updates with Joe's adoption, but no new news. I am pretty heartbroken. I am now wishing that even have DNA authorization prior to Christmas, but no real indication either way.

To digress, I was really hoping to be past this stage by now and moving onward to something like Family Court so that we could enter the dreaded PGN in the dreaded winter months. Anyway, I do trust God's timing, and understand that Joe will come home in his timeline. I just think our attorney in Guatemala needs a little Divine nudge from above. Can I pray for that?


One more post...

Pfewww...the thanksgiving holiday is wrapping up! We had lunch at Dan's parents today to celebrate with the Stoll family. It is a big bunch and it was only the ones from this area. We had a yummy lunch that centered around the ham that Grandma Jean fought for at the store (funny story). We took Dan's famous chocolate dessert and spinach and herb dip, must have been good, they are gone!

I figured I better post again now, as it will be a busy week again. One of these day, my work weeks won't seem so hectic, I will have to figure out the madness. I will leave you with these precious pics of my men dressed for the bitter cold days we are having...


Thanksgiving Day

I am thankful for:
Our love of Jesus and all the blessings he shares with us
The 2 mini loves of my life: Sam and Joe
The big love of my life: Dan
Our supportive family
Our nutty friends
Our health
Our jobs
and even though sometimes shorter than we have plans for... the cherished time we spend with our loved ones ( I miss you mom, dad and baby Joe).


How big is Joseph?

Latest measurements: 11 lbs 2 oz 24.5 in. These were taken at the beginning of November - 3 mo old. A little peanut!

Sweet Autumn Blessings

Already, autumn is coming to an end! It has been a quick fall it seems. I think it was warm late into the year this time and it has made winter roll around ever quicker! Grandma Sam and I had spent the day in Odon on the day these pics were taken. We went to one of my favorite shops -Sparks Country Store. They have great knick nacks. The close quarters make it hard to take Sam anymore-afraid I will have to buy something that is already broken!
We are looking forward to a nice Thanksgiving tomorrow. Both familes are close, but are both eating at noon! We plan to go early to one, leave and make the other as well!


What a difference one week makes!

No wonder my life feels like utter chaos this past week! Would you look at this mess! I am so glad we are doing this prior to moving in! I know, no excuses for not posting, but to be completely honest - it has been chaos. I have all the laundry clean (have since almost 7 days ago) but it is still not folded and put away. Yikes!
On a good note, so much progress was made on our home renovations while we were gone and in the week since we have been home! We are ready for electricians, Dan's cousin, Craig is coming tomorrow. We picked out some fun stuff this weekend. The best of which was our toilets. Who knew they had names. We have a Cadet and a Plebe. I think I will take the Cadet, what is a Plebe????
Sam is back into the swing of things. That little man loves Sponge Bob Square Pants. I am almost to the point that I don't fight it. I do encourage other things - but he loves Bunge Bob.
I hope to post some more pics from our trip for all to see. One week ago today I was holding baby Joe. At times it feels like months ago, other times it seems like yesterday. Either way, it was magical to have both of my boys together.


We are home..

and Sam is making the best of it. First things first, when you have been away awhile. "Bunge Bob, Ma, Bundge Bob. So Sam is watching Sponge Bob and holding the chicken flashlight mom's friend Amanda got him. He is loving life now, very comfortable.
I need to go unpack. Those suitcases seem huge right now, though... I let you know later the verdict.
Mama to Sam & Joe.


Making the most of our last hours together

joe decided that he and mommy neeed some quality time so he is wide awake. he is content in one arm, so any movement there could be bad. i will type with one hand. i love my time here with our family wis it could last forever.....


Precious Smile

Yesterday we had a great day. It is early am on Sunday and daddy is in the room resting while the other 3 are in the adoption lounge. I wanted to post the precious picture of Joe I go while in the baby swing. We met with Maritza and Armando (Sam's foster family) last night and it was incredible. We are also going to their home today. I want to give his visit with them its own blog so I will write later.
We went swimming yesterday. The air is chilly but the water is warm. Does that face from daddy look like any pics from our 1st trip here? Sam loved the water. We are lunch poolside. Both boys loved being outside.
Joe is really paying attention to Sam. Sam is very attentive as well. Right now Joe is in the swing and Sam is giving him "gentle" pushes. I have used that word out this weekend! Be gentle, gentle kisses, etc. Sam is doing great though.
Today we are going to have breakfast buffet and then go to Maritza's for tortilla surprise this afternoon! Loving our time here, each moment is precious.
Oh, for all you mom's of young babies...I saw Joe's heartbeat in his softspot yesterday - that was awesome.