Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

 Christmas Eve we always start the day with breakfast out with Mark's family. We were excited this year that his brother and family made it in from Texas! The kids always get one gift from us on Christmas Eve, new jammies! They were thrilled with footies this year! Ok, they were all thrilled besides ONE. :-) We then head to church for candlelight service. 

 We then head back to our house for family fun! It is always fun to be able to skype with my brother all the way in China! We miss him being with us so it is a great way to still include him in our parties. Not to mention it is his birthday on the 24th so everyone had a chance to sing Happy Birthday to him! 

Last Christmas as a  family of 7 and we can't wait to add MORE! We had our yearly live nativity, this year the older ones wrapped. Can't believe I don't have pictures of it !
It was a great week of celebrating the birth of Jesus, being with family and having fun. 
 But it is hard too. Celebrating while you are in the process of adoption is just tough. On us mama's anyways. The guilt you feel over your child sitting in an orphanage while you have fun, it is a hard balance. We did send the orphanage a Christmas party and were happy to see they at least had a bit of fun. Next year life will be so different and oh so good! 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

LOA for Syler!

On 12/24 we officially had in our hand Syler's Letter of Approval (LOA) from China! We waited 62 days to finally hear China say YES he is a Laxton! I don't think we could have asked for a better day for it to come. 
There are many more steps to go, but we know we are heading in the right direction! Hopefully spring travel is still what wil happen. 

I have had so many thoughts lately of our sweet boy. We know that he knows and received our package. They said he is so happy & excited to be with our family and that he shared his candy with his friends. 

Every night I go to bed praying and wondering how he is. He is the last thought on my mind and the first when I wake up. I am constantly looking at the clock to figure out what time it is and what he might be doing. Everything we do I think about how it will be when he is home. 

I hate the waiting. I do not do well with the unknown. I don't like that he is there and I have no idea what is going on with him. If he is sick or scared or worried, what does he do? 

I remind myself often that 6 months ago I was with him and in less than that amount of time I will be with him again! If I can look back at how fast the last 6 months have flown by, it gives me a tiny bit of comfort. This time next year, our family will be complete. At the very most, in 6 months our family will be complete! 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

December Fun

 December was busy as always but full of fun! We had our traditional Breakfast with Santa at Eckerts. The older kids have a love/hate relationship with this. They love to eat but think they are just "to cool" of course! But I am pretty sure the silly Elf made it all worth it. He was the best ever! 

 Lots of baking, baking and more baking! 
 And one of our favorites is our traditional family candlelight dinner. We can't wait to have this table even more full next year! At our Thanksgiving candle light dinner the kids draw a siblings name. We secretly shop picking out a gift. And then after dinner they exchange. They LOVE it and I hope someday they will look back on this with fond memories. (and not remember the crazed mama that happens most of the time!!) 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

And his name is......

Names are HARD.

Naming your 6th child is REALLY hard.

ESPECIALLY when you have created a name pattern that you are stuck in.

With Makenna, we just loved the name, that happened to start with M, like Mark. 

Sawyer, we just loved the name. That happened to start with S, like me. 

But then we realized that we were 2 S and 2 M names so when it came to Malaine it felt like she was being left out if we did not use the same letters.

And so it went, we followed the pattern for every child. Though Sage and Mavery got a bit confusing and out of order because Mavery is older than Sage but up for the M letter.

Mark, Shannon, Makenna, Sawyer, Malaine, Sage & Mavery

So we knew this boy of ours was going to be S and would then put our names back in order.

Mark, Shannon, Makenna, Sawyer, Malaine, S name, Mavery & Sage.

But there was a struggle. When I first met our son over a year ago while working at the orphanage, my girls on the team nicknamed him Taylor.

Because they said he looked like Taylor Lautner. He actually kind of does, doesn't he?? :-) 

So that has stuck. We have prayed for Taylor for the last year, we have loved him, and known him as Taylor.

He does not go by this, we just give the kids American names for us to keep track. Chinese names are just not as easy.

Getting past Taylor is difficult, but we knew it was an S name. Saylor was suggested, but I have always loved that for a girl.

We asked for suggestions, we  I looked on every name site out there, we prayed, we tried a few and one has finally settled.

It is still hard. But we hope by sharing with everyone else it will help it settle even more.

We know that many do not like our name choices, and that is ok. Yes, we like unique and different.We know everyone has thoughts and opinions, and that is ok too. You adopt, you name your child. We get to name this one. :-) 

And so our new son & brother will be named.....

 His full name will be Syler Blane ChenLang Laxton

Chinese part still being worked on so that is subject to change.

If you are curious, the ones we were choosing between were:

Shepherd (though I was the only one liking this) 

Someone actually suggested Syler to me on Facebook and now I do not know who, but it went on my list and we all kept going back to that.

Actually Sawyer fought hard for Shaw, because he is studying Shaw in literature and said he’s cool.

But Syler just feels right. We can call him Sy for a nickname. Which has actually been on my list for YEARS. WAY before Duck Dynasty. :-) 

Blane is actually after his 2 uncles, Brett Laxton & Shane. We try to combine family names for all of our kids. 

Today we sent off a package we have been working on. Filled with love. We went to Build a Bear recently to build his bear and the lady asked his name. We told her and when she stuffed those hearts in that bear and said, you all are putting lots of love in for Syler, my eyes filled with tears. 

 To hear someone else say your child's name out loud, it just felt so right.

Syler, our son.  

And yes, we stuffed that bear full of love, a heart for each of us along with our voices. (which may or may not just scare him to death!) I hope Syler will feel all the love we have poured into that package and that it will give him hope. He is wanted, he is chosen and he is SO loved. 

 Mark, Shannon, Makenna, Saywer, Malaine, Syler, Mavery & Sage

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sage is 8!!!

My baby is 8! EIGHT! That sounds SO old, and it feels so old. I remember being 8 so I KNOW it is old! Though she continues to tell me, I will ALWAYS be your baby, even when I am so old! 

Sage is our free spirit child. EASY. Quiet. SO easy... Happy. Really this one is hardly ever in a bad mood. She is never bored, she entertains herself like nothing I have ever seen. She is brilliant and I can say that because I did not pass on any of that to her! Her mind and the way she thinks amaze us. She loves her gymnastics and is thrilled to have mastered the running back handspring recently. THREE in a row! (I hold my breath a LOT!) 

This is such a picture of how Sage rolls. This was on our trip to Florida. She never complains, just gets comfy and settles in for the ride! I often wish I could be more like this child. Letting everything roll off my back, if things don't work out, just try a new path. Just stay happy! 

Happy 8th birthday baby girl! Love you to the moon! 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Orlando Vacation 2013!

 We had a magical vacation in November. We had debated going but so glad we did. I know it will be quite some time before we are able to do anything like this. So thankful for my parents who give generously to help make a vacation like this possible. Weather was perfect! Crowds were not bad. And the kids are the BEST ages to do this. No naps needed! It also helps that my littles are tall enough for almost everything. My kids are thrill seekers for sure! 

 Of course getting a group of 9 plus a dog around can be tiring. But overall it was really a great trip. We visited Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure. Sea World and Magic Kingdom. 
Sporting our Team Spirit for our Chenzhou "family"! 
Universal was amazing with Pixie and if you have a service dog along no worries. Disney was NOT so amazing with Pixie and I am still disappointed. Which is fine. Our family really preferred Universal anyways. 

 We are all big Harry Potter fans so that was a huge draw for us. We LOVED everything about it! Malaine was thrilled when chosen for the wand ceremony. Even Sage has read the first 2 books so seeing it all come alive was so much fun! Shopping at Honey Dukes, trying Butterbeer, eating at the Three Broomsticks, and of course flying through the movie! 

In the end we needed a vacation from our vacation but loved every single minute. Our family is going to change SO much in the next year, it was good to take this time to really enjoy each other and just play! 

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Thinking of a brown eyed boy...

I am now officially behind on Makenna, Malaine and Mavery’s birthday posts. I will catch up.

But today I am thinking of a boy.

A boy who is never far from my thoughts.

What will we name him? Where will he sleep? When will we go? Will he be happy to see me? Will he be disappointed when he finds out I am sometimes crabby and get tired and not always as patient as I am with the kids there? Will he go to school? Will he like Chick Filet? Is he going to think our house is crazy? Is he going to give me a hard time about taking showers? (well of course he is, after all he IS a boy!!!)

On and on the questions roll through my mind.

Never doubt, and never fear. When God spoke him into my heart, He breathed a peace into me that erased any worries I had.

But there will always be questions. I am his mother. My kids accuse me all the time of asking to many questions of them.

I just want answers, and they don’t always like that.

With this boy of mine, there are SO many questions and I am not going to get answers. No matter how much I get him to talk.

What did he look like when he was a baby?

What did he look like as a toddler or even as a 5 year old?

I wrestle with that. The earliest picture I will have of my son is at 7 years old.

Today I read an article of a mom sharing some of what her adopted children shared about their past.  It was gut wrenching. What our children survive through, we can’t even fathom.

And as I read, I was reminded of WHY I knew we had to return for him. I have seen firsthand how those kids treat each other.

Survival of the fittest.

Is my son one of the “fittest”?

He is attending school outside the orphanage. This is good! But…

Charlie talked of how when he attended the “normal” school the kids made fun of him.

So, is school good or bad for my son?

Is the orphanage all day better?

It is a HARD place to go to, the unanswered questions can lead to fear.

Not fear of him but certainly fear FOR him. I will admit to that.

So in those moments of fear that want to take hold and paralyze my mama heart that is crying for my son to just be tucked safely in my wings, God whispers.

He is MY son first. I have held him for 8 years of his life. I have led you on a road to meet him, fall in love and now I have matched you together. TRUST ME.

What else can we do?

I trust in the one who has changed a husbands heart time and time again to saying yes we need more children.

I trust in the one who has allowed me to be a part of life inside this orphanage. 

I trust in the one who holds my son closer than I can.

This week we are in Orlando, The Happiest Place on Earth!

We have had this trip planned for well over a year, long before adoption plans. Or knowing when we would get Mavery's service dog! 

This summer we debated going, but felt it was important to have this family time before our lives change again.

Now going KNOWING who our child is, makes things a bit different. We want him going too!

But I will enjoy this time with my 5. Thankful to be able to have this week.

 **If you will, pray that we get our LOA (letter of approval) quickly! The faster it comes, the faster we go!  

Friday, November 01, 2013

Mavery is 8!!!

If anyone had a memorable birthday this year it would be Ms Mavery! 2 weeks before she turned 8 she met her new service dog and friend, Pixie! THEN on her actual birthday we drove for our vacation to Orlando, Florida!  Not sure that will ever be beat! 

Mavery has continued in gymnastics this year, and she is really good! She enjoys school and while routine IS good for her, I am also seeing that being home can be really good too. 

We still see her heart doctor every 6 months and the last report was good. No change in 2 years now, which is a huge praise! We know eventually there will be more surgeries but we are thankful if we can put them off till she is older. (and when technology is even better) 

Mavery continues to keep us on our toes. I know I say it over and over but I know the Lord has given Mavery to us to teach us. She has stretched us and grown us more than we ever knew we needed to grow. Some days I don't care to learn, I never was a very good student. But in those moments when I stop and ENJOY the stretching, I see God's hand so strongly on all of us. 
Mavery loves BIG and I know that God has BIG plans for her life! Happy 8th birthday sweet girl! You are deeply loved. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween 2013

 Our ladybug, Superman, Cupcake and of course Princess Pixie! 

It is the first year in many years that we have not ALL dressed up! It was a rainy night, but the girls still had fun, especially knowing the next day we were driving to Orlando! 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

IT"S A BOY!!!!

After many, many months of paperwork & prayer along with much waiting we are THRILLED to announce that we have a new SON! 

Not just any boy. But a little boy that I already know and love. 

Our new son is waiting at the Chenzhou Orphange, in China. The orphanage that I have visited 4 times in the last 3 years. Where Sage lived for 9 months. My other home...

I have met him 3 of those trips. He was not paper ready the first 2 times we met, but in July they said he would be soon. And something just clicked. But to get to that point, I need to go back...

When we started the process to adopt this time, we of course were all over the board on what age of child we were looking for, what needs, and even a boy or girl. BUT in my heart I kept thinking baby, and was really thinking girl.

Everyone told me we needed a brother for Sawyer. But for years, and I do mean YEARS, I have just felt there was another baby girl. So in my head when we started I assumed it would end up being a very young girl we would add to our family.

We had the homestudy approved for 2 children, not really knowing what that might mean, but to be on the safe side. And in my head again I thought, well we will lock a baby girl first, and then maybe a little bit older child, but not much older.

I went to Chenzhou in July and God just tugged on me to look at those older kids a little closer. To think of their future and what it would mean to stay there. To imagine that one of them might be MY child that was stuck there. Here are my thoughts on that trip. 

That changed everything. I had met this cutie in 2012 and his toothless grin stole all our hearts. The girls named him Taylor because they thought he looked like Taylor Lautner. :-) He had such a sweet spirit about him, and we found out he had not been there long.

I returned in March and he welcomed me back with open arms. I worried over him because I knew his best friend was going to be adopted and knew that would be hard on him.

I returned in July and was so happy to see he had not lost his sweet spirit. Watching him there, I knew he could not stay. And I called Mark telling him we need to start praying. It seemed perfect. A baby girl AND this amazing boy who I knew would fit right in to our family.

At this point Mark was not sold on the 2 kids idea. He was humoring me getting our homestudy approved, but the approval to him did not mean anything. He knew my heart was longing for a baby girl, and he was fine with that. But a baby girl AND an 8 year old boy? Umm, no..

But God.... And a husband who loves God... After praying through it Mark agreed we could see what happened. So we waited. AND waited.

Our agency watched the lists and on Monday evening there he was! Our new son. They locked him for us Monday night, sending over his file.

On Tuesday I scanned in our letter of intent saying we wanted to adopt him and on Wednesday we already had Pre-approval from China saying we could move forward!

He is 8 years old, exactly 6 months older than Mavery and Sage. He will turn 9 in May and we really hope he is home before his birthday.

So what of that baby girl I was so sure was waiting? We just don't know. Maybe God's plan is simply for our son to come come home and complete our family. Maybe I simply had a desire for a baby, so we would start the process again.

Of all places God spoke to me clearly on this very issue during our time in Kansas getting our service dog for Mavery. I had really hoped that we might get a "non-shedding" dog. I am so over this dog hair we have going on here. A hairy golden was not what I had in mind.

But Pixie is perfect for Mavery! Watching the magic that happened in those dogs being matched God reminded me of this. "Your ways are NOT my ways".

Isn't that the truth??

I felt very strongly last week God speaking that truth to me about our adoption. My ways, my plans, MY anything are not always His.

So I don't know if there is another who will come home with us, but I do know this.

We have a son! He is amazing and I can't believe out of all the mommies in the world it is ME who gets to be his!!!

He knows his ABC's in English, and he caught on quickly to my name.

He is a tease and when Makenna would try to get him to say her name, he would grin at her and say Shannon. :-)

He is a huge help there and they ask him to do so much with the little ones.

His favorite color is green and his favorite animal is an elephant.

His reports described him exactly as I described him to Mark. He is gentle and kind and does not get angry or upset easily. He is happy and smiles at others.

The best part? He is no longer an orphan. He is mine. God has written him on our hearts and he already bears our name in our minds. He is a Laxton, our son, a brother a grandson, a nephew and a cousin.

He is loved already and not a minute goes by that we aren't picturing him here with us.

Am I worried about an older child adoption? I really am not. Of course I know there will be adjustment. The whole language issue, how bad can it be? (that was a joke) Though I hear that really they catch on so quickly. I would think the fact that I have met him 3 times will help. I asked him in July if he wanted a family, and he said yes. I made sure he understood what it means, and of course he does. He has watched his friends leave.

But here is what I know after 2 adoptions. God is a God of mercy and grace. When it is good, He is there. And when it is hard, He is still there. When we are dealing with adjustment and it gets hard, we will lean into God harder. And when it is good, we will rejoice and be glad!

Pray for our sweet boy if you will. He has no idea his world is about to be rocked and won't know for awhile. I hope that they will video him finding out. For that matter I wish I could get a video of my friends at Chenzhou finding out!

Our hope is that we will travel in spring. We THINK we will be taking Malaine with us. Older 2 want to go on mission trips, younger 2 are...not going.  :-) Unless we bring Pixie too and I am just thinking that is a bit much! ha!

Right now we are waiting on our Approval from China. We had PRE approval but now they actually look through all of our paperwork and then give the ok. I am seeing this take anywhere from a month to MANY,many months. Of course we pray it is fast, but I rest in knowing... My ways are not HIS ways...

A boy, can you believe it??

Oh and we are still debating names. To many opinions in this house! It will be an S. We have 2 that we like, but are open to more if you have a unique idea!