Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas day was just as spectacular as Christmas eve; lots of family and food, love and laughter.  Gabe was so not into presents this year or into listening to the story of Jesus' birth read from the Bible.  The magical Christmas morning of reading from the Bible and Gabe excitedly unwrapping presents did not happen like I had imagined.  Alas, I think that that is just life with a toddler.  And I will certainly take it! 

Gabe was so not interested in opening a single present but he did play with his new Veggie tale ball!  And once his cousins came, a whole day of chasing after the big boys was all he wanted.  Especially Sammy, or "my Sammy" as he calls him.
Gabe on Christmas morning!

There is a Veggie Tales ball in the bag -
the only thing Gabe was interested in all morning!

Gabe spent the majority of Christmas chasing after Sammy.
Gabriel believes that Sammy is alive to be his playmate and nothing else!
Gabe had zero interest in opening present but thoroughly
enjoyed Uncle Matt reading him a new Veggie Tales book.

A little bit of unwrapping chaos

Obligatory cousins photo in front of the tree!

You would think that the older they get the easier
the picture taking would become.  Wrong!

Of course for the 'fun' picture, every one looked.
After a day of filled with yummy food, lovely family and lots of fun, we traveled across town to Matt's grandparents house for more family fun!

And every good family function ends with some wrestling!
This time Uncle Chris was Gabe's victim.

It was a very busy, very blessed Christmas.  And hopefully, maybe... there will be an additional little one next Christmas (wishing and hoping!) 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve festivities started early with a visit with some good friends.  Gabe was in heaven with little people to play with and I'm certain the adults had just as much fun talking!  I must say it was almost a miracle to get a picture of all 4 kids looking at the camera at once.

Gabe and his friends Aleksander, Landon and Elizabeth

After a beautiful Christmas Eve service, we headed over to Matt's Uncle Jim and Aunt Julie's house. They host Christmas Eve dinner every year and we always have the best time. Good food, great company and for Gabe, the dogs Jack and Coco are the stars of Christmas Eve.

Our family on Christmas Eve

Uncle Jud, Gabe, Daddy, Grandma, Uncle Tony and Uncle Chris

The LaGorga boys!

Gabe loved Aunt Julie's dog Jack!

And I'm fairly certain there is nothing cuter than a little boy in a sweater vest and tweed pants. 

A church service filled with a quiet Gabriel and candle light and a family dinner filled with love, laughter and of course, doggies made for a beautiful Christmas Eve. 

December Numbers

Christmas Eve we received the Christmas surprise of getting our December numbers and this month, unlike last month, we went the proper way on the waiting list...down in numbers, not up! Here's where we stand:
  • boys list: 89 (down 3)
  • girls list: 113 (down 4)
  • siblings list: 38 (down 3)
We still have such a long way to go but any lower numbers is much better than last months movement. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Pre-Christmas Festivities

Thursday night a new Christmas tradition began: decorating my parents Christmas tree!  Hopefully this tradition carries on until we make our way back to Ohio and can go back to cutting our Christmas tree down at the farm! 

Me and Gabe before the fun begins!

Gabe hanging an ornament!

J, S and E hanging ornaments!  Or posing next to ornaments.

And the angel goes on top, compliments of Ethan
Gabe gettting some love from Auntie Annie
Gabe giving some love to Uncle Matt
Then Friday night, Matt and I snuck out to see A Christmas Carol in downtown Cleveland.  The Great Lakes Theater Group put on a fabulous show and it was so nice for Matt and I to be able to have a night out.  Just the two of us.  The lady that took the picture of us said it was cute, I think it just screams awkward!  It was so nice to be out together that we actually went to the mall afterwards because it was open until 11:00pm and we had some time to kill.  Surprisingly, at least to us, there were a ton of people there!  
Christmas tree at the entrance.  I love the ribbon dangling down, may need to try that next year!
View from our front row seats.

Awkward, right?!
It is so great to be home and celebrating with our family and friends!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given:
and the government shall be upon His shoulder:
and His Name shall be called
Wonderful Counsellor, The Mighty God,
The Everlasting Father,
The Prince Of Peace."
Isaiah 9:6-7
From my family to yours, we wish you a very happy and blessed Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Well, it's not quite beginning to look like Christmas down here in Houston. But shortly, we shall leave short sleeves, flip flops and rolled-down windows for the land of hats and boots, furnaces being on and hopefully SNOW!
Lots and lots of snow!

This year, more than any other year, "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas just like the ones I used to know"

Monday, December 19, 2011

Did you know?

That one of my 'bucket list' aspirations is to be in a flash mob. Since I lack the gene that allows your body to find rhythm and I'm also not very vocally inclined, the chances of me being included in a flash mob are slim to none.

But a Christmas flash mob... oh that would be just a dream come true. Combining my love of Christmas with a flash mob, I'd surely pass out in anticipation! One can only hope to be so lucky to take part in such a fest!

Now for your viewing pleasure... because there's no way I could just pick one!

This one just makes me smile...

I especially like the meaning behind this one:

This one is definitely not my favorite but I love that a church got together to do this one! Jessie.. if you read this, next year at Christmas... you and me, we're going to do this in Ohio!

I'm thinking next Christmas, Target parking lot.... because who the heck's heard of schnucks?

Hope these brought a little smile to your face!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Offerings

Three years ago (or so) I picked up the CD Christmas Offerings from Third Day at the local christian bookstore. Little did I know that in just a few short days, my hopes in this world would succumb and I would cling to track 13 like a man lost in the desert thirsts for water.

Little did I know that God was already knitting Gabriel together in his birth mothers womb. What I did know was that God had a plan for me that was good (Jeremiah 29:11) but I was anxious for it. I so longed to wrap my arms around a baby that was mine. And I had to keep faith that he or she was out there somewhere.

So I listened to the song Merry Christmas continually. Honestly, I'm surprised that the track still plays [smile]. Because this year, I listen to this song as long as Gabe will relinquish his rights to veggie tales in the car.

Because now, 3 years later, we're waiting again. Waiting for a child, that because of this broken world needs to find his family with us. Whether it be violence, poverty or sickness; our little one will find his way half-way around the world to know the love of a family, the strength of a father, the gentleness of a mother and the fun of a big brother.

And just like that desperate Christmas of 2008, I'm finding hope in this song. . Hope in the lyrics that one Christmas our little one will be home. Because in God's time, our little one will come home. Whether he's entered this world or not, we're waiting for him... praying for him... and loving him already.

Realistically next Christmas we'll still be a family of 3 but I'm hoping and praying that God's timing, as perfect as it always is and always will be, is sooner than later.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Give This Christmas Away

I love Christmas music, like absolutely love it. Christmas music usually starts November first and then it is the only music I listen to until after December 25.

And that was my tradition since as long as I've been able to drive. Until this year. You have to understand, 99.9% of the time I'm driving, I'm driving with Gabe in the car. And that means we're listening to Veggie Tales. I realize that I'm the mom and could easily put on whatever I want to listen too but hearing Gabe ask "Larry, please" is just too hard to deny. Especially since he's 2 and learning about boundaries and control... and let's be honest, he doesn't have a lot of control of his life right now. So I let him listen to Veggie Tales and to be completely honest, it brings a smile to my face listening to Veggie Tales and watching Gabe bob his head along in the rear view mirror.

But I am grateful for Veggie Tales The Little Drummer Boy Soundtrack. Gabe still hears Bob, Larry and Junior and I'm able to hear some Christmas tunes.

Fortunately, there are some really good, non-veggie-tale-voiced songs as well. One of the songs that I adore is Give This Christmas Away by Matthew West and sung with Amy Grant. I like that, although Gabe may not understand it this year, giving Christmas away is what we want Gabe to learn about Christmas; that it's about giving and that true joy comes not from receiving gifts but giving love.

My favorite verses are: It's feeding the hungry, serving the poor, it's telling the orphan you're not forgotten anymore. It's doing what loved does even when no ones watching" and "For God so loved the world, that He gave us all His son so we could be his hands, his feet, his love."

Those verses just speak to me. I love the reference to Matthew 6:3 in the first verse (But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing) and it's obvious why I love the first verse. Serving at the salvation army is one of my favorite activities to do and well, you all know how I feel about orphans.

I truly love this song; and even more importantly, I pray the words of this song are working their way into Gabriel's sweet, little heart and that as he grows he'll be as generous with his love as he is now with giving out cuddles and kisses.

And in case you were wondering, Give This Christmas Away is in the movie Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

12 Days of Giving: Continued!

Looking for organizations to donate too was so much fun!

Reading their information, checking them out on charity navigator, contacting certain organizations for more information.... it gave me a purpose the first few days of December. A purpose to spread the love, share the wealth... give back.

Besides the ones I shared, I found a lot more organizations that provide life, hope or an opportunity for a better life.

Heifer International: To end hunger and poverty by giving families a hand-up with gifts of livestock and training. Check out their gift catalog here and change some ones life.

Compassion International: Through their gift catalog you can purchase medical supplies, pay school fees, provide clean water or so much more for someone in need.

The Heart of Haiti: a line of beautiful handcrafts produced by artisans from Haiti. Fairwinds Trading and BrandAid have teamed up with Macy's and the artisans receive half the whole sale price of every item in the collection.

Roma Boots: Sort of like TOMS, this is a one for one company that distributes boots to children living in poverty. Their moto is "Selling boots to the fortunate. Giving boots to the less fortunate."

The Salvation Army: Not only do they accept your old clothes and household items, they provide disaster and emergency relief to your community. They also provide you with the opportunity to give Christmas to others through their Angel Giving Tree.

Your church's Benevolence Fund. In latter days before their were social programs to help the less fortunate, the church was the place needy people went for food, money for bills and encouragement. Today, your church still has a benevolence fund and while their may be more social programs to help people, the church provides aid to many people. After the volunteering we did at our home church and talking to our missions director at our church here in Houston, it is clear that the church is still a sanctuary of help, and hope for people.

P.S. Not that this is why you should give but monetary donations to places like The Salvation Army, churches and Compassion International are tax deductible.

And this is just a sampling of all of the wonderful organizations that make shopping for Christmas a little less me-me-me and a little more about blessing others.

From what we get, we can make a living:
what we give, however, makes a life.
-Arthur Ashe

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

3 Months Waiting

"For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it;
for it will certainly come, it will not delay."
-Habakkuk 2:3

I'm not exactly sure what I expected... that waiting for our turn on the wait list would be sunshine and roses? I certainly didn't think I expected that, but this month, our 3rd month out of only God knows how many just sort of stunk!

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. And hoping. There's always a little hope; for what the future will hold. For the little one or two that will eventually be ours. To love. To guide. And to teach about hope.

So that's where we are: waiting. And hoping.

Monday, December 12, 2011

12 Days of Giving: Day 12

On the 12th day of giving, my blog brings to you....Noonday Collection

when you satisfy the needs of the oppressed, your night will become like the noonday" Isaiah 58:1

From their website:

At Noonday Collection, we believe every child belongs in a family. While the owner is no longer raising money for their Rwandan adoption (though they think more adoptions will come), the vision remains the same. We advocate for the orphan by:

  • Providing jobs that create a pathway out of poverty for women. A stable income means a family is less likely to abandon their child.
  • Help families fund raise for their own adoptions. We give10% of trunk show sales directly to the adoptive family when they host a trunk show.
  • Aside from donating 10% towards qualified adoptive families, Noonday Collection gives net proceeds towards orphan care and prevention. Watch the video to see one of our main beneficiaries.
  • The dream: Take YOU on a trip to visit artisans and visit orphans in their distress.
Noonday Collection started from one families desire to raise funds for their adoption while helping women in Uganda have a sustainable income.

Meet their artisans that make the items while earning a fair wage, learn about the fair trade practices Noonday adheres too and even check out the Noonday blog!

And now for a few of the fabulous items Noonday has to offer:

beautiful note-cards:

Mango Wood Salad Servers:

Gorgeous paper bracelets:

Cute earrings (If I wore earrings, these would be it!):

Arm warmers - one of my favorite item they offer!

Beautiful Scarves:

And remember, all of these items and the rest found at the Noonday Collection are fair trade and made by women world-wide whom, do to the fair trade process are now out of, or working their way out of, living a life of extreme poverty.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Children's Museum Fun: Take One

Thursday, Gabe and I braved the crazy Houston traffic and headed downtown to the Children's Museum. It was our first time going but I documented it as Take One because I am sure we will be going again. Soon. Actually, it was so fantastic I'm contemplating a pass so that we can go as off as we like.

The Children's Museum of Houston was fantastic; and just as they state in the brochure; definitely geared to 2 - 12 year old children. The second we walked in Gabe's face was lit up with excitement from the little planes hanging from the ceiling, the Cree (Christmas Tree) in the entry way and the machines and gears ready to be played with.

We made our way through the are labeled "Mexican city on a hill" and checked out the different stores, house and roads available and then headed upstairs. Upstairs to the Tot Spot. And this was the place to be for Gabe. Available only to children 3 years old and younger, there was so much for Gabe to do and so much fun to be had. From little vehicles to thousands of blocks and balls, Gabe made himself right at home. There were gears to play with, light switches to flick and gross motor areas to explore. Coupled with the sand box outside, library area, ball pits and houses to explore Gabe was in little boy heaven! And I was in mama heaven as I watched him play, explore and learn. Gabe even made a few little friends as he climbed up next to them to play. Gabe sure does love playing with other kids, so he was tickled pink by seeing the masses of toddlers around to play with him.

The Children's Museum is definitely the place to be for Gabe to learn, play and grow! We can't wait to go back!

Gabe checked out the wheels that made the gears turn
and the bubbles and balls that floated in the multi-colored cylinder
Gabe sat in a pretend car (and a real car)
and explored stained glass flowers that spun. He would actually get 3 or 4 to spin at one time. Gabe also liked to look up close and see the world in a different hue.

Gabe crawled through tunnels and climbed up inclines,

played many different musical instruments
and did a lot more climbing!