Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Few More Photos from Yesterday

She was fascinated by the reflector to her right, so I just snapped her looking at it and thought her expression was sweet.

This was the one that I loved, but this was as good as I could repair the botched exposure. It was like a white ghost photo to begin with...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Pictures in the Snow

Today we awoke to a beautiful blanket of snow, which of course made me think... PICTURES!! Yes, I am slightly obsessed with photographing my children, but it is just because they are so darn cute. I have been experimenting with some different types of shots lately in my quest to become a decent photographer and today was no different. Unfortunately, my favorite shot of the kids expressions didn't turn out so well, but these were a few that I am fairly happy with. You know what they say, practice makes perfect. I guess I will just need a bit more practice.

Thankfully, Ellie is always up for letting Mommy get in a little practice, so we took a few more once we got home. Our dog Cooper joined in before too long. She loves that little beast!


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Well, I guess it is time to come out of hiding. For reasons I don't care to express here, October and November 2008 will not go down in my records as the best of times, but as the fog seems to be lifting, I figured I would post. I am sitting at the computer with my little peanut in my lap smelling the smells of thanksgiving bubbling away in the kitchen. It is very quiet... something I have grown accustomed to not having at home very often. All of my boys are off playing flag football with a sister church of ours in Parker. And, for I believe only the second time in our 15 years of marriage, and I believe the first time since having had children, we will be spending Thanksgiving just us. I guess it is a good time to just stop and be thankful for just that... our little family. God has been good to us through all of life's difficulties and has continued to knit our hearts together. While we are not where we want to be yet, Ellie has come such a long way in her attachment since last Thanksgiving. I am so thankful for that. I am also thankful for three healthy and growing children with incredible individual gifts and personalities. They are a blessing that I still cannot truly believe that I we have been given. I am also so very thankful for my husband, Milan. He is a good man, an amazing father, such a hard worker, and has such a big heart- far bigger than many people know or appreciate. I am lucky to be his partner. While we will not be together today, I am also so thankful for our extended families and for the never ending support and love that they give us. We are blessed beyond measure. Friends like the Gritters, the Finleys, the Gesses and others are also precious beyond measure to us and we again thank God for their friendship.
I hope that today finds you all thankful for those in your life that love you, extend grace to you, and hold you up through the good and bad. We all have much to be thankful for regardless of our circumstances. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I Loved This...

I am hoping to get the kids to the Palin rally tomorrow in Colorado Springs... should be a great educational experience for them. I must admit, I wish she were on the top of the ticket. Anyway, I loved this video from SNL on Saturday.

Reformation Day Party

Last night was the Reformation Day Party for our church. Stefany Gess planned and basically implemented nearly all of it herself. She is amazing and did a fantastic job. The kids had a great time. Elijah's comment was that it was the most fun he has had in his entire life. The kids looked great in their costumes (I am sure glad to be done sewing for a while) and they learned about the reformers and what happened at the time of the Reformation through games and characters. I have loaded some pictures in the album below. Milan was Martin Luther and I was his later wife, Katharina Von Bora.

Reformation Day Party

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Trick or Treating

We went trick or treating with the kids last night. Ellie was a lady bug, Elijah decided last minute on Darth Vader and Noah went in his Reformation Day costume. We will have our Reformation Day party tonight which they will all dress up for in period costumes. They sure look cute.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Big Day

Friday was a big day this week. It began with Elijah getting his cast off... after 6 weeks, I was more than ready for that. Note to self: ALWAYS get a waterproof cast in future- call ahead to be sure.
All looked good, but we were told that he needed to take it easy for another two weeks- even given the choice of casting for another two weeks. We opted for take it easy. Pray that my energetic little boy understands that concept.
The afternoon started with Eliana's final hearing for validation of her adoption. All went well and she is officially in the eyes of both China, the US and Colorado our little girl. We will actually get a birth cirtificate with our names as her parents on it... pretty cool.

Waiting for the hearing to begin... Ellie played peek-a-boo to pass the time.

Being questioned by the judge

Almost done...

Ellie on the way home

This has been a wild few weeks even by Norgauer standards, and it was nice to end this week on that note. There are still a few dips and turns on the radar so we are bracing for those. In the immediate future, we are looking forward to a nice time this afternoon celebrating the graduation of our dear friends the Gesses. They have both worked so hard to finish their degrees with such busy schedules. I think they even put us to shame.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Nana's Little Chefs

The kids got a package from Nana today that was lots of fun. She made them chef hats and aprons and sent a Cooking with Grandma cookbook for kids. She always has a way of making things special with the kids. They looked really cute and can't wait to cook something fun!
Thanks Nana!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fall Colors

We love to drive up into the local mountains and see the beautiful fall colors each year. Colorado is such a beautiful place to live. I sometimes can't believe that we have such easy access to these kinds of views. It was a great little break after a bit of a stressful week.
Fall Colors

One of this weeks new stresses has to do with Eliana's possible exposure to that Chinese tainted milk you may have heard about in the news. She seems perfectly healthy, so I am not too panicked, more angry. Some children who have been fed the tainted milk and are otherwise asymptomatic, have been found to still have kidney stones. The kidney stones are actually made of melamine- you know like your old cheap college furniture. I just can't believe that people would knowingly put such a dangerous chemical into milk for human consumption just to make a buck. Unfortunately, the formula brand that Ellie was fed in China is among the tainted brands. While it has been confirmed to be happening in 2008, it is now suspected to have gone back as far as 2006. That is where we come in. So, at this point, we have an appointment with Ellie's doctor and we will discuss where to proceed from there. For those of you that faithfully pray for her and our family, please add this issue to the list. We pray that all will be normal, but of course dread the possibility that she may have yet another obstacle to overcome.
A new development on the more positive side of things is that we finally had our last appointment with our social worker and are therefore finished with sending reports back to China. We also have Ellie's final court date here in Colorado to validate her adoption on next Friday. The end of the nearly four years of paper chasing is almost over. YEAH!! She will be officially and every way ours in the eyes of China, the U.S. and the state of Colorado- it will even say so on her birth certificate. How cool is that?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Eliana is Two!

Today is Eliana's second birthday and we spent the day celebrating her young life. She awoke without a clue as to what this "Happy Birthday!" thing was all about, but shortly got into the swing of things as she was showered with attention and gifts. I don't think she ever dreamed of something as exciting as blowing out candles, let me tell you.
We ended the evening with a few close friends coming over to share Ellie's Elmo cake. It was really nice to have them join us as they have all been so important in supporting us through this past challenging year.

It is hard to believe that she is actually two. She is more and more the tiny little peanut every day. It cracks me up that she was called "pang pang" or "chubby baby" in the orphanage just a bit over a year ago. We really do feed her, she just chooses not to eat a whole lot. Her personality is growing all the time and we are holding onto new hope that her attachment issues are starting to improve. Her physical therapist is great and seems to be helping on that front as well. It has been a busy second year of life, but I trust a good one for her in many ways. I also hope and pray that Ellie's third birthday puts a great deal more distance between us and these struggles. God has been good- then again, He is always good. Perhaps I should say, we have seen His goodness and trust that He will continue to sustain us and to walk this path with us.
Finally, as I reflected today on Eliana and her first years, I couldn't help but wonder if her birthparents were thinking of her today as well. My heart goes out to them. Even though I don't know the specific circumstances that led to her abandonment, I can't imagine it was an easy choice. I appreciate knowing that they took on the risk of leaving her in front of the orphanage where she was sure to be found- it is the most loving choice they could have made if they knew that they could not keep her. Also this "chubby" baby (as the reports say) had obviously been cared for not only before birth, but in those first two weeks of life spent with her birthfamily. So, my conclusion is that they are thinking and wondering today, and I pray that somehow they will be comforted and that they will know that she is safe and loved and being celebrated somewhere out in the world today. While I never would have wished abandonment on this or any precious little girl, I am thankful that she found her way into our family.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Cheeks!
New Album 9/23/08 10:35 PM

Friday, September 19, 2008

Knock On Wood

Okay, I haven't posted this past week for fear that saying it out loud might somehow spoil it. We had the best week we have ever had with Ellie. We have a long way to go still, I realize, but she was markedly better with Milan. She actually went to him to kiss a boo boo instead of me- UNHEARD OF! She also has been asking about him more often, wanting to go and model her morning outfits for him and even allowed quite a few non-crying pick-her-ups. Now there were still moments of UGH, but it was so great to see some potential cracks in our proverbial ceiling. For those of you praying, don't quit! We need them, but I thought I had better pass on that there has been some truly great moments this week. I have had the mantra of "baby steps", but this felt like a real step in the right direction this week. Now if we can just avoid the 2 steps back.

Finally Posting the New Goods

Here is a picture of our little soccer stud sporting his new goods. Unfortunately red with flames turned out not to be an option. There is always next time.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Break a Leg, Boys... or Perhaps an Arm

Today marked the official beginning to soccer season with the first games for both of our boys. They played their hearts out. Noah had a goal in the first half and make 7 saves as goalie in the second half. Bravo! Elijah was tearing up the field when he took a bump from behind and (to borrow from the early Batman series) KABLAMO! He was down for the count. He had landed on his hand/wrist and we weren't sure exactly how bad it was. Of course, after about 5 minutes of crying, he wanted to go back in. He lasted about 30 seconds before he completed melted into tears. After our little trip to the urgent care, we found he had indeed broken his arm just above the wrist. Ouch! Thankfully, this shouldn't even warm up the broken foot episode of last year, but it is painful all the same. I will post pictures once he has his new cool cast- he is planning on red. How appropriate. Perhaps they have them with flames going up the sides as well.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Little Red Smiling Good

This is just a recent photo of Ellie before church. She still loves her hats. She wore this dress for her 1 year old pictures... it still fits. Let's just say she isn't going to be a large woman. It looks even better now that she has hair.

Gotcha Day

Eliana, August 2007 in China

Eliana, August 2008 in Chelan, WA

We celebrated Eliana's Gotcha Day, August 19, at Lake Chelan with my family. I am finally getting a few shots from that day up. It is hard to believe she is the same child. One year later, we have a long way to go, but I know more each day that she is our little girl and that one day we will look back on these difficult months and not be able to imagine not having persevered through them.
I remember the day we got that pathetic picture above and how it tore my heart up inside of me. I often try to think back to that day when we are having a particularly difficult time with attachment, and I remember knowing that we had to bring her home. It broke my heart to imagine that sweet child alone in that hard empty crib with no Mommy to rock her to sleep and no Daddy to give her kisses. She was then and is now our little Ellie and we are thankful that God chose her for our family.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

All Good Things Come to an End

We have enjoyed 10 great days here at my parents home in Chelan, WA and tomorrow we go home. It is always so nice to get out of the normal go, go , go of life with homeschooling, church commitments, parenting, maintaining our home, work, etc. I really needed a rest. Unfortunately, I am not convinced that I don't still need a rest, but I am still hopeful that I will be winning the Publisher's Clearing House $5000 per week for the rest of my life. Then, I will hire a housekeeper, hire a personal trainer, hire the perfect headmaster to begin an amazing Classical Christian Academy in our home town, and of course hire a personal assistant to keep me from losing my head. Just a few more months and I should be rolling in the dough so that I can not only do all of that, but have tons leftover to support all of the amazing non-profits that get me so jazzed. How cool would that be?
Ok, back to reality. I will be heading home and hitting the ground running. We get back to school, music academy, soccer and enrichment classes in the next 10 days. Gulp. We have had a great time here though. There has been lots of fun on the boat, tubing, fishing, swimming, bowling, miniature golf, water slides, hanging out with cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, and eating far too many yummy treats. It really stinks that we live so far from family, but I guess it makes time together more precious.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Koldes

Here we are enjoying time with the whole Kolde family (my maiden name) at my parents place in Chelan, WA. It is really a beautiful place. We had plans to take pix out in nature somewhere, but the fact that it has been in the high 90s and 100s makes it a bit difficult to be out in the sun when you aren't on the boat. I will load more pix from our trip soon, but this sums up my side pretty well.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Douglas County Foster Care Backpacks

Well, we have had a great morning today. Our project to assemble backpacks full of basic necessities to the Douglas County Child Welfare division culminated in its first delivery of 32 backpacks this morning. Children removed from their homes in emergency situations, particularly when their is meth use in the home, are not able to take anything with them upon removal. This is done for their safety, but it makes for a difficult and potentially humiliating experience for the child as they are placed with their temporary caregivers in foster care. Our orphan care and adoption ministry at church (Cornerstone Presbyterian Church) wanted to do something to help these kids in such a difficult circumstance. These backpacks will give them a little something to call their own and provide basic necessities (underwear, pajamas, school supplies, toiletries, etc.) and a little something extra like a toy or stuffed animal. I was so grateful to be able to deliver them this morning and the child welfare office was so gracious and appreciative. They work so hard with so few resources and we hope this gives them a little boost as well. We hope to continue the project as the backpacks are depleted and would love to see other churches get involved similarly in their own communities. Thanks so much to everyone who participated in this and I pray God will use it to reach out to these kids and their families.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Project 1:27 Table Sponsorship

Okay, here is the deal. There is this amazing non-profit organization here in Colorado called Project 1:27. Their goal is to empty out Colorado's waiting children into adoptive families. Each year they have a fundraiser to raise awareness and funds for their services. They only charge families $50 for all the training, home studies, support services and assistance through the process (it cost them about $5000 per adoption). So, their next fundraiser is in early October. I would love to be able to get people together to sponsor a table (10 people per table, $500 per table). Obviously, some of you reading this have don't know me personally and wouldn't be interested in that necessarily. Others of you, however, do. So, if anyone is interested in pitching in on a table and/or coming to the event, let me know. It is such a great organization. Either way, if you aren't familiar with Project 1:27, check out their website.
Friday, October 3rd, 2008

Colorado Community Church

3651 S Colorado Blvd.

Englewood, CO 80113

Bad Haircuts and Bad Attitudes

I think that the title sums up my last week. I am having a doozer. Do you ever have one of those weeks where you just feel like you can't quite get out of that crazy woke up on the wrong side of the bed funk? Unfortunately, the funk wasn't stored in the bottom 3-5 inches or so of my hair, otherwise, it would most definitely have been lost a few days ago. My new hair stylist (aka- former new hair stylist/Edward Scissorhands)
was apparently thinking of other things while cutting my hair and decided that lots and lots of short layers would be a nice surprise. So, here is my tip for the day. Under no circumstances whatsoever, consider closing your eyes and relaxing during a haircut. Consider attaching rearview mirrors to the seat and perhaps mark with spray paint or yellow caution tape the "do not go beyond this line" point on your head. You must also take at least 5 photos of the style you want, even if it is just a trim of the same style that you are asking for. Also, you may want to bring along a court appointed advocate to be sure that the hair stylist is truly adhering to the contracted haircut. Videos and powerpoint may be advisable as well. If all else fails, Sally Beauty sells hair extensions, but I will likely have to cut off my remaining hair in order to pay for them. Ahhhh.... well now, I think that I may be feeling just a little bit better.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Photo Courtesy of Logan

Eliana got to meet little Logan and his Daddy snapped this photo of us. Ellie usually doesn't like me to hold other babies- or her own brothers for that matter- but she didn't mind my holding Logan at all. I look forward to them growing up together.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Important Note:

Okay, after a barrage of emails from my long-distance friends and blog readers, it has come to my attention that my last post caused some confusion. No, I did not give birth yesterday. Logan Finley is the precious son of our dear friends, Geoff and Grace. So, while I was blessed to be a part of the day with them, I am looking forward to only the title of Aunt, not Mommy. He is a sweetie and I think I am nearly as excited about his birth as I was about my own kiddos.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Logan Finley Has Arrived!!

Today was the day! After a long hard day for Mommy, Logan David Finley entered the world and brought indescribable joy into the lives of his family. He is a perfect little man at 7 pounds 14 ounces, 21 inches long. We couldn't be more thankful to the Lord for his faithfulness in this journey. We love you Logan

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Sound of Silence

Well, around our house there is never much in the way of silence, but my blog can be a different story. The past few weeks have been pretty rough again with Ellie and her attachment issues. The fact that she is cutting a tooth is always a fun ingredient to add to the mix. But... we are going to meet with our attachment counselor again this week to try to get some new ideas and will most likely be meeting regularly with her for a while. For those of you out there that are praying for our family, let me first say, "Thank You!" and then let me ask you to continue to pray for our entire family. We need encouragement and perseverence. We all need to grow in our bonds with Eliana and we so greatly desire that she would open her heart more to her wonderful Daddy and stop seeing her brothers as a threat to her relationship with me. We are coming up on a year of placement in August and in some ways it feels like 5 years, but we have so much work yet to be done before we settle into a happy normal. Baby steps... more baby steps.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Camping Shmamping

Well, call me a regular old stick in the mud, but I say, "Camping shmamping." We took the kids to Mueller State Park Thursday night for a campout. It is a beautiful park and I would love to spend more time there, BUT next time around, I am up for one of their beautiful cabins. We decided to go last minute, so we had to take our trusty pooch, Cooper, along. Let's just say he isn't exactly the bravest of beasts. He spent much of the night shaking and growling under his breath at the footsteps and noises we heard out and about the campsite. He ended up in my sleeping bag, under my arm, and finally settled down after a few hours of yips and grrrs. We'll call this mistake #1. We decided not to bring the pack and play along for Ellie as well. I mean, it is camping, right? You don't take a crib. Do you? Mistake #2. She wanted nothing to do with going to sleep, but was rolling all over the tent playing around. Milan finally got her to sleep, but then she kept being awakened by Cooper's outbursts. So, she ended up in my sleeping bag under the other arm. Let's just say I didn't get the best night of sleep that I have ever had. The following morning was crisp and beautiful (through my blurred vision) and would have possibly erased the memories of the restless night before, had I not failed to pack any coffee...mistake #3. If you know me very well, you know that the lack of coffee alone can be dangerous for me- and those around me for that matter. So, let's just say that not all of us are meant to be campers; at least, not with children in tow. While I love to spend time with my family, I feel it is safe to say that it will be a while before I venture out for another night of bliss under the stars.

Monday, July 7, 2008

And So We Begin Again...

So where have the past 6 weeks gone? I am not exactly sure, but I can tell you how they have gone... TOO QUICKLY! We began our second year of homeschooling today. It went well overall, but it was an adjustment to having two kids with a full day of curriculum rather than just one full day with a kindergartner on the side. Ellie spent part of the morning with Daddy which made it easier for me as well. It is difficult to get my mind back around school, but I know I will be glad we started early when we get to take that week off every month. It is only three days a week until September, but it does man a change of pace around here.
I remember when I was a kid that we celebrated the beginning of each school year and went shopping for school clothes. The boys hate to shop for anything other than toys, so that wouldn't be very fun for them, BUT me on the other hand.... Hmmmm.??? We'll have to see about that idea.School Desk

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth of July, everyone! Today is always a favorite around here. We all love the fireworks and it is great to come out and spend time with neighbors and friends. Our community is pretty great about activities in the parks, so we enjoyed that for a few hours- the kids had balloon swords, hats and belts made. Even Ellie got in on the action there as evidenced in the pictures below.
It was Ellie's first July 4th as a U.S. Citizen and a part of our family. She loved seeing the fireworks tonight, but unfortunately the show was cut short due to the face that the professional display started a brush fire up on the hillside. It is really dry around here and went pretty quickly. I don't know the current status on the fire, but it doesn't seem to be smoky outside, so that is a good sign. I am all for a big finale, but that was a bit ridiculous.
Fourth of July 08

Snakes on a Pane!

Okay, a little too much excitement for me. Unlike my two boys, I am not a snake fan. Last week, on a hike in a nearby canyon, we came home with a snake (2 others had been released soon after capture due to their large size), a turtle (released yesterday) and 2 crayfish (now living in our neighbors pond). Well, last night my dear Noah came up and said those four dreaded words... "The snake is gone." Now, I don't mean gone safely back into the wild, I mean gone... in my basement... in MY house... ready to jump out at my unsuspecting snake-o-phobic self. So, after a lot of searching last night, we yielded nothing. The hours dragged on last night as I was sure to awaken to him perched on my chest slithering and spitting his forked little tongue at me. This morning, a new light has dawned... he has been found!! No doubt trying to get into the sun coming in through the window, Noah spotted him. Elijah pounced and grabbed his tail and I swooped the habitat underneath him. I am hopeful that our little adventure will induce his release back into the wild, but I may be hoping in vain at the moment.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Patriotic Princess

Ellie is getting ready for Friday. She has a few cute little fourth of July dresses that I have picked up along the way... still a little roomy. She is a little peanut of a thing. I figure we'll have our little patriotic princess making her appearances all week. The boys always look forward to Friday because they get to stay up later than any other night of the year.

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Visit from Leah

My dear friend Leah graced us again with a brief, but refreshing visit this week. Ellie enjoyed getting to know Leah a little better and the boys revelled in th extra attention from her. It isn't often that someone plays hide and seek with them while I make dinner. As always, time with Leah is precious to me. I am so thankful for it even when it is only for a day.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

CCAI Carnival

Yesterday we went to the CCAI annual carnival and we were able to visit with two of the other families from our travel group. Lynnae brought little Lydia and Carrie brought little Emilie and her older daughter Sophie. The girls are beautiful and doing well, but we all have had our difficulties in making the adjustment this last year. I sell t-shirts at church for Project 1:27 that say "Adoption's Not for Wimps" and I believe that is one of the truest statements I know. It is also a great blessing to which all of us would also attest. It was great to see everyone and it is always fun to see so many beautiful children from China that have been here for many years. CCAI is a great agency and while I would have appreciated a few things done differently, I would recommend them to anybody.
ccai carnival 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Kolde Clan

It was such a great week having my brother and his family here. Their children are amazing young people and I am just sad that I don't get to be with them more. We enjoyed time together around town and at home. The kids were able to play and get to know each other a little better and I was able to spend time with my incredible sister (we Koldes try to stay away from the term "in-law") and brother. I am so thankful that they took the time to come and stay. We even got to celebrate Elijah's 6th birthday together. What a treat. I have loaded a few of my favorite pictures from the week in the album below.