Reflections on a Year- Part 1

Yesterday marks one year since we stepped on a plane to China to meet our son for the first time. As this anniversary approached, I’ve been reflecting on last year and even went back and read the blog posts from the day we left until now. I honestly thought I would be writing more after we were home, but after the initial adjustment period, I realized we’re just an ordinary family doing ordinary things.

Looking back at the trip last year, it seems crazy that the period of James’ rejection of me seemed so much longer. I wonder if people reading about it on this side of the ocean felt as though I were overreacting to something that didn’t really last all that long. All I can say is that having your love thrown back in your face is never easy, and though the time was short, it felt like an eternity to me. Even with all the progress he’s made, James still attaches to men he meets before the women. We visited some extended family last week, and James still gravitated towards the uncles before the aunts. That is a painful reminder to me that underneath all his adorable smiles, there’s still a little boy who has known more heartbreak and pain than a 5-year-old should have. There’s still a part of him that knows that sometimes family isn’t forever and that sometimes love isn’t enough. There are pieces of his heart that we’ll probably never touch because they belong to the first mothers he loved and lost.

But there are signs of healing, and they bring me so much joy. It has taken almost a year, but James has finally begun to show empathy to his sister and brother when they’re sad. When Brenna and Evan cry, he will now come up to them with a big hug and a chastising look for me and Joel if we are the cause of their tears. He also has really started to notice that his “owies” can be a source of sympathy from us. He will point them out to us long after they are painful until they’re almost completely healed just so that we acknowledge them. I’m glad he knows he can share his pain.

Reading last year’s posts also made me realize how much gentler he’s gotten since the day we met him. I had forgotten that aggression was ever an issue because he no longer lashes out at us. Now we get crocodile tears and a sad face that will break your heart. He does occasionally show aggression to animals, but we’re working on teaching him to be gentle with them as well. I try to remind myself that he probably didn’t have much exposure to pets in his early life.

The process of bringing James home was difficult in many ways, but I think adoption is a lot like childbirth in that you forget how painful it was at the time. God softens our memories of the hardships and struggles so that we mostly remember the joy and the amazing gift we brought home. I was so scared and nervous when we hopped on that plane to China and when we walked in to meet James for the first time, but all of those fears were unfounded. I’m not saying life with him is always easy, but he is light and joy in our lives every day. But I’ll write more about that in part 2. 😉





Year-End Update on James’ Medical Issues

Nice fancy title, huh? I’m really just calling it that to make it sound as though I intended to wait this long to do an update. In truth I’ve been meaning to do an update for a few weeks once I realized that I kind of left people hanging in regards to a few of James’ more potentially serious medical issues. Oops!

Joel and I took James in to Seattle Children’s on October 31st to see the endocrinologist. This is the same day that the kids and I hopped in the car to make the move to Eastern WA, so I hope that at least partially explains the lapse in updates (and Brenna fractured her arm the next day, but that’s a story for another time). It was nice to be able to take James in together since most of the appointments have been just me and James, and it’s helpful to have another adult there to remember all the medical jargon later on. For this visit I decided to take Children’s up on their offer of a free interpreter for James since we don’t know exactly how much he understands of what we’re saying, and I thought he might enjoy hearing his native language. Wrong! He kept his distance from the interpreter and refused to interact with her at all. He pretty much stayed on my lap as much as possible during the visit. I hope the interpreter wasn’t too offended, but I do know that she enjoyed the appointment despite James’ behavior because she has an uncle with Down syndrome and appreciated hearing the doctor’s explanations regarding DS and thyroid function. Anyway, on to the actual results of the appointment. The doctor, who looked younger than me, said that since his blood test results were only slightly elevated in the one area, she wanted to do another blood test that day, and if the results were still a little high, then we would take him in again in 4-6 months to check the hormone levels again. She called the next week to let us know that his results were now actually within the “normal” range, so she wanted him tested in 2 months, which would be now I guess. (I should get him back in there…) When she said this, I was really confused because I’m not sure why he would need to be tested again sooner for normal results than he would have for abnormal results, but I didn’t say a peep about that because my brain is slow to process things when I’m on the phone. I just sat there with a perplexed look on my face that she, of course, couldn’t see. So the good news is that he may still be within normal ranges, but we’ll have to wait for the next test for confirmation.

I forgot that before this appointment Joel had taken James in for his audiology exam. Once again he got inconclusive results, so we have to take him back in the next couple months. He passed in one ear but not the other. James either really likes living on the edge all the time, or he loves to visit the doctor.

Okay, on to the biggie… the heart! I was absolutely thrilled to discover that there is a Children’s clinic over here in Richland that offers cardiology services. I was expecting to have to drive a little over 3 hours for his heart appointments, but we got to drive 15 minutes instead. The visit at our regional Heart Center confirmed what the first echo showed. He does have heart defects, but his heart is functioning well enough that surgery is not required at this time. Praise the Lord that this little boy’s heart partially healed itself! James will be having an echo annually to ensure that it still functions well as he grows. I asked about any precautions we need to take with him regarding his heart defects, and there were none besides watching him to make sure he isn’t overexerting himself physically and making sure we are diligent with his dental hygiene.

Thanks to all of you who have kept this sweet little boy in your prayers! I apologize for not updating sooner since I know there are people that don’t know us “in real life” who have prayed for us and continued to follow James’ progress after the adoption process was over. I will write again soon with updates on life on this side of the mountains as well as James’ first Christmas and first trip to Disneyland. That may actually take a couple of posts because there’s a lot swirling around in my brain about all of that. We hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas and bring in the new year with joy!



A Big Change

Many of you know that our family has been contemplating a change in the past 18 months or so. Joel was ready to move on to a new job that might have more possibilities for growth, so we’ve been praying and praying and praying some more. And several of you have been joining us in prayer as we tried to figure out where God was leading us. Well, we’ve finally made a decision! Joel’s last day with his employer of 14 years was last Friday, and he starts a new job on Monday. I am very excited for him and this new opportunity, and this job allows us to do something we haven’t done in the 8.5 years that we’ve been married… We’re moving!

At the end of this month, our family will be relocating to Richland, WA (Tri-Cities). When I asked my friends to pray for direction for us, I had no idea so many would be praying for us to leave! 😉 A lot of you predicted this when my sis and her family moved out that way a few months ago, but I was not planning this at all! I am more surprised than anyone I think. But we went out for a visit and found that we can actually afford a 4-bedroom home in the Tri-Cities, and that’s what we’ve really been wanting. I didn’t think that the boys sharing a room would be a big deal, but it has been. All of us have gotten less sleep since James came home in April. We’re tired!

Once we decided to make the move, things really fell into place. We’re going to start out by renting, and we found a place that we really like that we will also be able to purchase if we decide we like it there. Besides having 4 bedrooms, I am most excited about having a kitchen that is larger and better laid out than the shoebox I cook in now. After we move, I’m just going to hang out in the new kitchen for a few weeks. You’re welcome to drive over and visit me there! We will also be renting out our house here for a while, so we will still have a home in North Bend if we really don’t want to stay in Richland (PS- Our rent for this home that is twice the size of our house here will only be $200 more than what our NB house is renting for… Crazy!). I think Joel will be perfectly content because he’s been trying for years to get me to move to places with obscene amounts of sunshine, but I’m going to miss the climate and the gorgeous scenery on this side of the mountains. We’re going from a place with about 60″ of annual precipitation to a place with about 8″ of annual precipitation! Joel has assured me that we can come back often to visit the rain (and our friends and family).

I am excited for a new adventure, but I am also sad to be leaving this place that I love and our friends and family. The drive from NB is a little less than 3 hours, so I’m hoping we’ll have lots of visitors. (Hint, hint!) Thank you to everyone that has supported us and loved us here! Seriously, come visit us…

Richland House

Our new home!


Another Medical Update

This is an update on some of James’ medical stuff, but I’ll just let you know now that the ending is To Be Continued…

I mentioned last time that James had one abnormality in his thyroid test, so the pediatrician requested that we bring him back in after 6 weeks for another blood test. The results came back with his TSH still slightly elevated (this time 2 points high instead of 1), but all other thyroid tests were normal and antibody levels were normal. This means that he has mild or subclinical hypothyroidism. My online research shows that there is some disagreement among doctors about how, or if, this should be treated, but we’ve been referred to the endocrinology department at Children’s in Seattle so that the experts can take a look at him and his results. So we’ll let you know how that goes, but I’m still waiting on a call.

Now my friends on fb got to see some adorable photos of James today as he visited pediatric cardiology for an echocardiogram and EKG, so I wanted to let everyone know how that went. You may guess that the results weren’t perfect because I wouldn’t need to bother with a post for it if everything had been fine. We’ve had absolutely no indication that he has any heart issues, so I was very surprised to hear that he does, in fact, have a few heart defects. Before I go further, I want to make sure no one is panicking. The doc said that his heart seems to be working pretty well despite the defects. I was going to try and describe the defects, but I’ve learned today that Google is no replacement for a medical degree. 😉 He has a couple valves that aren’t formed properly, so they let a little blood go the wrong direction. Another reason that I can’t describe this well to you is that even the cardiologist was having a hard time describing it. There are two reasons for this: 1. The echo wasn’t clear enough in some areas. 2. His heart seems to have tried to heal itself. Do we need any more proof that James is an amazing little guy? He has a little miracle heart! There was an area that she said seems to have had a hole, but one of his valves moved down somehow and blocked the hole and keeps blood from leaking into the wrong chamber. The doc was pretty impressed. So we’ve been referred to Children’s again to get an echo on a machine meant for little hearts and also maybe a tech that works with children every day. I’m sure the tech today was great, but James’ chest wall is shaped a little strangely and made her job harder. Plus, we all know that the staff at Children’s are just rockstars at their jobs since children are their specialty. So for now the doc said not to worry (easier said than done) because it looks as though the issues are things that will just require him to be monitored annually to make sure the leaks don’t get bigger. She just needs to see a better echo to make sure that hole really is blocked completely and that the leaks aren’t worse than she thinks, so we would appreciate prayers about those things because it would obviously be wonderful to avoid heart surgery. I know I didn’t really use the correct medical jargon here, but you know how none of that really sticks in your head when you get news that is a little overwhelming. I didn’t freak out or anything, but we did have comfort food for dinner that did not require use of my brain (pizza).

James is also having his evaluations this week to find out if he qualifies for pediatric therapy with the school district, but I’ll go over that another time. I think we’ve all got enough info swimming around our brains for now. 🙂

And I’ll go ahead and share the adorable photos from today for those that aren’t on fb. They’re just too cute!



He was all smiles after the echo. The techs are always impressed by how well he handles these procedures.


During the EKG. I don’t even know what this face was about, but it was pretty cute.


He got to watch Winnie the Pooh during the echo. He got a little restless toward the end, but his version of restless looks quite calm compared to most 4 year olds.

Medical Update

Some of you with spectacular memories may remember a post way back in May when I mentioned that James’ pediatrician had a minor concern about his health at his first appointment with her. So I finally got him back to Bellevue to have some testing done (2.5 months later… ahem, bad mama moment). At the first appointment his doctor noted that his fontanel (soft spot) isn’t completely closed, and she said this can be in indication of a thyroid issue. This is one of many health concerns that is very common in children with Down syndrome. There have also been a few other indications that he may have a problem with his thyroid, such as sweating all the time and eating insane amounts of food without gaining any weight. Anyway, he had his blood drawn, and the results did come back a tad high on one of the thyroid tests. Since it was only 1 point high, the doctor said we won’t worry about it too much for now. I’ll take him back in 6 weeks (for real) to have his blood tested again and to have him weighed and measured to make sure he’s growing. They’re also going to test his antibodies, and I’ll save you a trip to Google since I already looked it up to find out that they’re doing this to see if his body is making antibodies against his own thyroid tissue. And on a side note, James did really well during the blood draw. He didn’t make a peep or move a muscle when they put the needle in. The phlebotomist said that she wished her kids were that quiet. Hmmm, maybe she needs some kids that don’t speak English…

We also visited the ophthalmologist to have his eyes checked out since kids with Down syndrome are prone to various issues with their eyes. This visit didn’t actually go very well. People often ask me how much James understands when we talk to him, and I think I was overestimating his comprehension. He seems to know what we want, but maybe he’s just very good at reading our hand signals and body language. When we were sitting in the chair to have his eyes checked, it became very clear that he had no idea what they were asking him to do. They wanted him to match the images they were showing on the wall to the paper in our hands, but he didn’t get it. He would copy me and the nurse when we did it, but he would never do it on his own. I think his wonderful ability to imitate has also been fooling me as to how much he really gets what I’m saying. They decided to just do the test they use for infants because that one didn’t rely him on following directions. They held up these big gray rectangular cards with a square on one end with black and white stripes. Your eyes automatically go to the square if you can see it, and the stripes get smaller and smaller as they flip through the cards. James eyes stopped recognizing the squares before mine did, but they said the test isn’t as accurate as the other. The doctor came in and did some tests, and she thinks he may have slight astigmatism (saving you another trip to Google… that means at least one of his eyes is not completely round). I’m sure that I looked ridiculous as I was holding James in my lap. You know how you open your mouth really wide when you’re feeding a baby? I was doing the same thing with my eyes behind James every time she told him to open his eyes. He couldn’t even see me, and I was sitting there with my eyes as wide as they’d go. She said there’s a good chance that he’ll need glasses since about 50% of kids with Down syndrome need glasses, but that’s okay because I think he’ll look adorable in glasses, don’t you? She gave us 2 copies of the images that they use to flash on the wall, so we’re going to practice at home so that he can go back in 6 months and try that test again. Since the issue doesn’t seem to be major, she’s not concerned about him going another 6 months without glasses.

The pediatrician also wants us to get him in to get his ears checked and a cardiac exam as well since, once again, kids with Down syndrome are prone to those medical issues. It’s actually estimated that 50-60% of kids with DS have some sort of hearing loss. After calling the audiology department, I’ve decided to wait on that test for a bit I think because they said he does need to be able to follow their directions, and it seems as though he’s not quite ready for that. As for the cardiac visit, the pediatrician didn’t hear anything wrong with his heart, but since 40-60% of kids with DS have heart defects, she just thought it would be a good idea to get him checked out.

As for his general well-being, James is still doing really well. The thing we’re working on now is his over-the-top possessiveness. Of course it’s not okay for the kids to take toys away from each other, but he often won’t even give the toys to me and Joel when we ask (and just for the record, we’re not taking the toys away just for fun. It’s usually because we’re going out or it’s bedtime or something like that). He cries so hard anytime we have to take something away from him. The tears just roll down his face like we’ve broken his little heart. It’s so sad, but of course he needs to learn that he needs to listen to us when we ask him to let go. Okay, I do occasionally take a toy away just because I’m about to lose my mind (he gravitates toward toys that play obnoxious tunes over and over and over again), but when that happens, I do replace it with another (silent) toy. Oh, and he has started saying “mommy” and “daddy.” That was pretty exciting for us since it’s 2 different syllables and seems like a pretty big step in his language development.

He also has a tendency to perform random acts of hugging, but I’m not sure if that’s something we need to work on or not. He will see someone, get really excited (like he knows them), and then run up and throw his arms around their legs in a big hug. The men he’s done that to have actually reacted much better than the women, and I find it a little surprising. The men usually say something like, “Oh, hi, buddy. Nice to see you too!”

And here are photo updates like I promised in my last post; apparently I have a very loose definition of “soon.” 😉 I apologize that most of these are repeats for my fb friends.





Rocking his MOD tattoos! The ladies at the doctor’s office said he should be a model. 🙂


One of my favorite photos from the lake. It just brings me joy to think of James enjoying the outdoors since he came from a big, congested, and smoggy city.


James’ first Father’s Day! His daddy loves him; that’s for sure!


James loves his big cousin, Hunter. And Hunter is sweet enough to carry him everywhere, even though he is not a light kid!


James’ first Independence Day!


This is how we celebrate freedom in America… with sugar!


I love this one. James with my dad, his grandpa.


James started doing his happy dance when he saw Chinese food at the farmer’s market. I just had to get him a bbq pork bun after he got so excited.


Just because there’s nothing much cuter than kids in hooded towels. 🙂 He was actually running around and didn’t want to take the towel off to get dressed.


We weren’t sure how he’d react to his first pony ride, but he was giggling with glee. Definitely a success!


We went to visit Thomas the Train, and James loved it. He wouldn’t even turn around for the photo. (Both boys have Thomas boots.)


First home haircuts! James’ was actually kinda tricky because he has a very interesting hairline. It starts a couple inches above his ears.


Kids with Down syndrome are typically quite flexible. I’ve always failed to get a photo of him chewing on his toes in the car, but I did get one of him sleeping in pretzel form.


The guys whose legs are sticking out in the background was a recipient of one of James’ big hugs. He was really nice about it.


FAQ’s About Life With James

I get asked the same questions on a regular basis, so I thought I’d cover some of those here for those that don’t have the pleasure of living near us. 😉

How’s James doing?

Great! It may sound as though I’m just giving the easy answer when I say this, but he truly is doing so well. We’re starting to see his personality come out even more, and it’s a lot of fun. I think I mentioned that the orphanage called him “the manager,” and we’re definitely seeing those tendencies now. When Evan and Brenna (mostly Evan) aren’t listening, James starts clapping his hands and motioning for them to come over with a very stern look on his face. It’s quite cute. He is really an easy kid. I’ve told several friends that I could easily adopt 20 more if they were just like James (ya know if I also had $600,000).

He also is crying a little more often but not too much. Some of you may be wondering why crying more would be a good thing, and it’s because kids living in orphanages tend to not cry because they learn that no one will come. James was from a “good” orphanage, but I imagine he just knew that his needs would be met on the regular schedule and crying wasn’t going to change that. It occurred to me that we visited the orphanage and stood in a room full of toddlers starting naptime, and we didn’t hear a peep. How many of you with preschoolers or toddlers encounter silent naptimes? I know we don’t here! I’m glad that James knows that we care enough to answer his cries.

We’re also seeing progress in his physical abilities, and I think he’s gaining confidence in what he can do here. I kind of wonder if maybe he just didn’t have a lot of experiences in China that really tested him physically. He will now walk on grass, gravel, and rocks, but he wouldn’t when he first came home. He has learned to climb up into the car and car seat on his own as well as his booster seat at the dinner table. He can do stairs on his own (he fell down the stairs a few times in his first days here). It’s really amazing how much of a difference 10 weeks has made! He even jumped off an ottoman in our home the other day, and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen him jump. It didn’t go very well, but I’m so proud that he tried. There’s a funny video of that one on facebook.

Does he speak English?

He does not say much, but he does seem to understand a lot of what we’re saying. The words he has learned are: no (with a finger wag), hi (with a wave), mom, uh oh, he learned Da and Dad the week before Father’s Day, and he seems to make the same noise every time he would be saying thank you. That may not seem like much, but keep in mind that he only came to us saying, “Ma” and “Mama.” He has made huge strides in 10 weeks! Joel also says that James says, “Let go,” but I haven’t heard that one yet.

How is the sleeping going?

Well, this is the roughest spot for us. We started separating the boys for naps and at bedtime, so James sleeps in our room until we go to bed. His foster mom said that he was a good sleeper, but we haven’t really seen that yet. Either she lied, or her room was far away from his. 😉 He is just a very restless sleeper, and he makes groaning noises as he’s falling asleep and waking up. I left him in our bed for awhile last night because sleeping kids are usually so sweet, but it was like sleeping next to a hurricane with arms and legs. I finally gave up and moved him back to his bed because I didn’t want to wake up with bruises from head to toe (because he kicks as he spins a 360). I’m praying his sleeping will improve some day, but I know that some kids just never sleep very well.

How’s he eating?

Like a linebacker! If we let him, he will eat more than me and Joel combined, and he isn’t picky at all. Okay, he doesn’t seem to like cheeseburgers much, but he’s down with everything else. I had to ask the doctor how to handle meals so that he doesn’t end up weighing 500 pounds, and she said to give him regular preschooler-sized portions of everything and then he can eat fruits and vegetables for as long as he wants.

How are Brenna and Evan doing with their new brother?

They love him. Brenna especially enjoys having another brother. When she sees people, she tells them, “I have a new brother. My mom and dad went and got him.” We saw a photo of a little girl from China, and she asked, “Are you going to go get her too?” I said, “Do you want me to?” She said, “Yes!” Evan loves James too, but also loves to torment him in standard little brother style. He will hold onto James or tackle him and that sort of thing. James is not a fan of that at all. I try not to intervene too much because I want James to learn to just walk away instead of waiting for one of us to fix it.

There  is another question that I get on a regular basis that isn’t necessarily specific to James, but I’ll include it here anyway.

Are you done having kids?

My answer to this is that I have no answer. If you’ve read the early parts of this blog, you may remember that we started out not sure if we’d have kids, then we were going to have one but Joel was done, then we had 2 and were both DEFINITELY done, and then we adopted James. With that as our history, I can’t very well say that we won’t add any more to our family. I’m leaving that up to God at this point because it’s never really been up to us anyway. That being said, Joel’s answer to this question is, “Yes!” I’m not so sure. When God brought the thought of adoption into my life, He did it by breaking my heart for these kids. I can’t say that I’d be content for the rest of my life if I stopped here. I know that I can help in other ways, but there are just so many children that need homes. I’m tearing up right now thinking about it. Anyway, I’m praying about it always, and I hope you will too.

So I guess that’s all for now. I usually post some photo updates, but I’m tired after trying to sleep next to Hurricane James last night and it’s hot in here! I’ll do a photo post soon.

Making Memories

Okay, this post is at least two weeks overdue, but we’ve been busy with some very important stuff. The first thing that I wanted to share with everyone is that we are calling off the cocoon. That’s also the part that is overdue since we decided this a couple of Sundays past. I am very happy to share this will all of you since I know I still have some friends that freeze in fear when they see James coming as they try to recall what they are and are not allowed to do. I officially release you from any restrictions. Yahoo! Actually, let me just say that you shouldn’t pick him up if he doesn’t want you to (unless it’s a safety issue), and please don’t give him food still without asking us first. The reason for the former is that it seems like a good practice to let kids know that they are in control of when and how other adults make contact with them, and that they have a right to say, “No.” As for the latter, we are supposed to be watching his diet right now and need to be aware of what he is eating. You are welcome to give him fruits and vegetables as much as you want, but I’ve noticed that most people offering my kids food aren’t offering veggies. And you know, go ahead and apply these rules to all my kids. 🙂

We feel okay calling off the cocoon (I can’t wait to be done with this term) because it’s become pretty clear that James is quite bonded to us. The event that made this most obvious to me was a going away party 3 Sundays ago. It was 60 or so people, with kids easily outnumbering adults, and we were mostly crowded in the house due to the rain. It would be an understatement to say that it was a little chaotic, but James did great. He was making the rounds interacting with people, but he would come find me every once in awhile for a hug. He would lift his arms up to me, and after a brief hug, he would be on his way again. That was just a confirmation to me that he understands that he belongs with us. He wasn’t shopping around for new, cooler parents. He just needed to know that I was still there, and then he was content to go play and have fun.

So what have we been so busy doing that I haven’t had time to write? Making sweet memories! I’ve shared this before I think, but I don’t expect everyone else to remember what I’ve written when I can’t even remember most of the time. Part of the reason I wanted to have kids was because I had such a happy childhood, and I really wanted to share that experience with kids of my own. These past couple of weeks I was really trying to think about the best memories and what it was that made my childhood something that I remember with such fondness. I realized that it wasn’t the big moments that stuck in my mind but the small moments that were grounded in love. I thought of camping with my family and fishing with my dad, road trips to Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone (and I apologize, Mom and Dad, if you remember us fighting because I only remember the fun), playing at Grandpa and Grandma’s farm, picking fresh mint at Grandpa and Grandmother’s and watching old Hayley Mills movies, Grandma combing the beaches with us and teaching us how to pick up crabs without getting pinched, and so many other small moments that just showed me how much my family loved me. The happiest times were the ones when we were together as a family doing things that weren’t about spending lots of money. Since we’ve gotten married, Joel and I have done many “big” vacations, but we’ve taken a break from that in the last year as we were saving up for and now still paying off adoption expenses. I realized that our kids will probably never miss those big vacations. They’re going to remember all the fun we’ve had at the local lakes and parks the last few weeks, and I don’t think they’re going to wish we’d gone to Disneyland instead. Most of life is spent in the little moments, and I want to make those count.


Here are a few of the things we’ve done in the past 3 weeks:


Getting his first official haircut as a Smith at Dooz Salon in Bellevue! All of our kids have had their first cuts here, so it’s a family tradition.


Buying poppies to support the veterans. James did a happy dance!


James got to visit daddy’s office for the first time. The smile on his face on the bottom two reminded me how much he likes to be out and about. It was a busy day, but he had a fantastic time!


Visiting the trains and railroad museum in Snoqualmie. Fun, close, and free! My heart melts every time I see my 3 kids holding hands.


James was frightened to cross this huge bridge, so Evan went back to grab his hand and help him across. It was the sweetest moment! (Sorry for the repeat for those that saw it on fb.)


Playing at the park in our neighborhood. Why have we not been here in years? They had so much fun walking around the lake and playing with sticks and rocks. Why do we bother with toys?


I believe these looks roughly translate to, “Stop taking my picture, Mom!!!!”


James meets his Grandpa Smith for the first time!


And he got to meet Auntie Steph, Uncle Darren, and the kids too. He loved Uncle Darren!


And another photo with Grandpa. You may not realize this, but a photo with Grandpa’s face clearly visible is pretty epic.


Aunt DeAnne took us to the children’s museum in Burlington. We were trying to figure out why they charge for adults too. We’re paying money to watch our kids play and follow them around? Well, it was fun anyway!


She took us to the Padilla Bay Interpretive Center too.


And then on to the beach! James got caught in the gross, sticky mud. Yuck.


We went to Gothberg Farms for some goat cheese, and Evan and James fed the goats. Brenna wouldn’t get closer than 5 feet from the fence. Their sign says not to ask to see the goats, so please don’t tell them that we sent you. Aunt DeAnne sure knows how to show us a good time!! James also loved Uncle Denny; he would crawl up in his lap and kiss his forehead.


My super heroes! Evan still doesn’t quite have the peace signs down.