Happy Halloween!

I have a feeling that every "holiday" from now on will be more magical and fun as Carter gets older and learns the traditions and meanings of each occasion. This is the first Halloween that he understood the whole idea of dressing up in a costume and going trick-or-treating. And both he and Grace loved every minute of it.
We started off on Friday night with a costume party. Grace was a bumblebee and I was a flower. Carter was a monkey. And not just any ole monkey. He was Curious George. Scott played (and looked) the part of the Man with Yellow Hat perfectly. I wish I had a full length shot of him in the costume!
Tonight, we headed over to my cousin Ashley's house and took pics of Grace and Carter with her two youngest kiddos, Cece and Graham.
Here is Carter with Mary Katherine (my cousin Leigh Ann's daughter). Carter has a huge crush on MK, and I have a feeling she a big reason that he is so excited about gaining a big sister. :)
Carter loved the fog machine. And he kept sticking his tongue out as if he could taste it. I admit...it does smell like roasted marshmallows.
Grace discovered Cece's Disney princess CD player...
and wouldn't put it down the whole night. Hmm...we do have a birthday AND Christmas coming up.
Will is still have the same effect when it's hers?
Carter got into his role as a monkey and began climbing trees.
And appropriately, he rolled around in the monkey grass.
I love the wonder in his eyes!
If today was any indication, the next few months of holiday festivities are going to be really fun.
Happy Halloween from the Brown Family!


Calling All Single Men...

I admit... I am far-removed from the dating scene. But after a close friend shared that her latest suitors have been communicating and planning almost solely by texting, our group of girlfriends knew this social faux pas had to be addressed. I say the following statements with the utmost respect for the male sex and in hopes that men following this cultural trend will discover what a huge turn-off it is and adjust their tactics accordingly.

Men, here's where I need your attention.

We know it's tempting, but texting is absolutely NOT ACCEPTABLE for:
  • asking women out
  • DTR talks (is that still a current acronym??)
  • or breaking off a relationship
Yes, we recognize that it can be nerve-wracking and humbling to ask a girl out on a date. In fact, many of us women don't think we could do it! But think of this: men have been asking women out for centuries without the aid of an electronic device to protect their egos. A phone call, or even better yet... an invitation face-to-face...goes a long way in our books. Please don't let courage, chivalry, and respect die with the times. These qualities are some of the reasons why we love you.

As a sidenote, texting IS okay (and appreciated) for flirting, sweet compliments you know we'll want to read and reread, and other such words of encouragement or humour.

Will the real men please step forward?

We believe in you! :)

Sincerely and warmly yours,


A Year Ago Today...

...we saw Virginia Grace's face for the very first time!!
And we knew she was ours.
Happy Referral Day, Grace!!


Pumpkin Crazy

Last weekend, we spent the morning at Old Baker Farm with good friends of ours.
You know you live in the south when you can play in a truck full of cotton for entertainment. :)
This was the first pumpkin patch we've been to that is actually a patch and not just a field with pumpkins placed and lined up. The disadvantage was the millions of vines, stumps, and roots that continually tripped up the kiddos. I finally left them with Scott in the middle of the field and went off on my own to select our pumpkins.
Carter's favorite is the white one.
Britton looking at the cows
Grace checking out the chickens
...and even getting to touch one!
Lia Kate at the entrance of the hay bale maze
Grace and Daddy
Grace and Carter
Could the sky have been any bluer?? It was beautiful!
My two boys
Happy Pumpkin Picking!


Brother/Sister Cuteness

It seems impossible these days to capture a picture of Carter and Grace with both of them looking AND smiling at the camera. But some of the following poses, expressions, and interactions are just as cute.


Brown Family News....

See this beautiful face? This is the face that captured my heart over a month ago. This is the face of an amazing 11-year-old girl who will become our daughter and join our family in 2011! We are heading back to China to adopt again.

Shocked?? Yes, I know...we are too. This was an unexpected development in our lives, and we are still awed that God has led us in this direction.

Here's a summary of how things developed...

August 30th: After our 5th miscarriage, I pray that God would change my heart if I am not supposed to have another baby. Or at least another baby in the near future.

September 2nd: I unexpectedly have a complete change of heart. I no longer desire to have a baby. I am puzzled and shocked because I don't necessarily fear another miscarriage, and for over two years, I've desperately wanted to carry a baby. I can only figure that God has changed my desires. It is a little unnerving, but I feel completely content with my two toddlers and our stage in life.

September 3rd: On the drive to the lake for Labor Day weekend, my friend Emily and I talk about the PBS adoption special that recently aired. I confess that I still long to adopt an older girl at some point. "Some point" meaning at least a few years from now. (You may remember the older girl I fell for last year before we were matched with Grace.) In fact, I had been staying away from adoption and advocacy sites so I won't fall in love with any children.

Later that afternoon: I receive a mass email from our adoption agency, Lifeline. They have been given the priviledge of advocating for a group of children ranging in age and special needs. I see an 11-year old girl's beautiful face and realize her need is one that our extended family is very familiar with. On impulse, I respond that I would like to request her file. My dear husband laughs and groans when he hears what I have done. :) We both know we are in no position to adopt again, especially so soon. The timing is just way off.

September 7th: After a holiday weekend, I finally hear back from Lifeline that this girl's file is already being reviewed by a family. In fact, there are a few families ahead of us. Would we like to be added to the waiting list? I respond that we do. I'm not sure why. I know the chances are slim that we'll ever see her file. I feel unexpectedly bummed that we won't have the chance to consider adopting her.

September 21st: I randomly check in with my contact at Lifeline. I really just want to make sure this sweet girl is being adopted. I am told that there are still a couple of families in front of us to review her file. I am assured by my contact that she has seen it work out, time and again, with the family the Lord has chosen for each child. Again, I feel bummed that we're not that family.

September 22nd: Lifeline contacts me...the families have declined to adopt her at this time and we are next in line. Would we like to see her file? I feel guilty even asking for it now because I know there's no chance we'll adopt her. Yet I pray and feel God telling me that it's okay to say yes.

September 22-25th: After reading this girl's file, I fall in love with her personality and story. She is smart, talented, thoughtful, beautiful, and so deserving of a family. But each day, I think through all the reasons why we can't adopt an 11-year-old. After all, we've just recently reached a place of normalcy and routine. We're not in a rush to expand our family. In fact, nothing about the timing of this makes sense. Scott says he'll pray through it, but he does not foresee us deciding to adopt her.

I'm head over heels for this girl, but I want to decline the referral as well because it seems to be the easiest thing to do. However, at the end of each day, I have this feeling that we'll bring her home. In fact, I will forever remember the moment in my kitchen when I prayed, "Lord, what in the world do you want us to do?" And His answer was so clear that I got chill bumps over my entire body. I heard, "Bring her home." And I argued, "What about Scott?" He replied, "It's in my hands."

I realize that many of my concerns and fears are more about cramping my style, leaving my comfort zone, and altering our lifestyle. The valid and legitimate challenges and issues that come with adopting and raising an older child... I'm not afraid to face and walk through them if God is calling us to.

Realizing the potential impact of adopting out of birth order, I ask Carter if he'd like a baby brother/sister or a big sister, like my cousins' kids. (They're in the same age range.) After thinking, he replies, "I'd like a big sister!" Over the next few days, he says things like "Let's go to China now and bring Liyun home!" When I ask what he would say to her first upon meeting her, he thinks for a second and replies with a big smile, "Me your BROTHER!!!" Although I know Carter may not fully grasp the implications of adopting another child, I still melt at the sweet spirit and accepting heart that my son has!

God begins to confirm His plan in a number of ways. After wishing that we could meet a Chinese family to help translate and facilitate this girl's transition into our culture, I meet a Chinese family at the Hoover Library the very next day! They speak Mandarin. They live five minutes from our house. And we have an instant connection.

After wondering who else in their right mind has adopted again so quickly, I get connected with an amazing Christian woman. They adopted their daughter at 16 months, just like Grace. Just a few months later, she unintentionally fell in love with a child, just like me. She requested the file before asking her husband. Just like me. :) The file was for a 12-year-old girl. And her husband came around in his decision. They knew the timing was off, but God made it clear to them that this was His plan. Seeing a family who had the same circumstances and timeline helps us realize that God's timing and plans override ours, no matter how crazy it all looks from a worldly perspective.

The list actually goes on with others signs of confirmation from God. On Thursday night, September 30th, Scott sits me down and says he believes God is leading us to adopt this beautiful girl. My jaw drops to the ground. You see, I can't talk my husband into something "just because." While I'm the dreamer, he's the practical one. And he'll only step forward if he knows God is calling us to. With such a dramatic change of mind, I know God has placed this conviction in his heart. We pray, sleep on it, and awake the next day to find that we're both still unified in our decision and feel led to move forward.

We are both a little scared. We know this will be a big change in our family. We joke that it's our "surprise pregnancy." We also realize people won't understand our decision at all. Some people may think we're absolutely crazy. We certainly never imagined our family would grow this way, but we know that God is calling us to bring home Liyun. And crazy or not, we can't imagine not walking the path God has laid out for us. We're just striving to live out His will for our lives and for our family. And as the confirmations continue to come, we feel stronger every day that God wants this specific child in our lives, and us in hers.

Our timeline is unknown at this point. We're in the process of updating our homestudy, so it could be anywhere from 5-10 months before we travel to bring Liyun (her Chinese name) home.
There's so much more to share, and questions to answer, but it'll come in time! Just wanted to share our news!

An Update in Pictures

Carter had his 1st day of school in early September...he loves his two teachers!!
For the first day, he had to complete this "About Me" page, and he seemed so grown up as he figured out what he wanted to put on the page to describe himself. The things that come out of his mouth these days just astound (and humour) me. Such a fun stage!
Grace started Mom's Day Out on Fridays, and she seems to have a lot of fun. She cries a bit when I drop her off, but she stops about 30 seconds later. And she's quite the social butterfly. She calls out "HI!!!!" to anyone and everyone....everywhere! I think every employee and shopper at the grocery store got a greeting yesterday. :)
The kids have been all about family hugs lately, which we love. And Grace now likes to wrap her arms tightly around our necks and squeeze!
Here are a few pictures from Labor Day weekend... watching college football and cheering for Auburn are two of our favorite Fall activities!
Grace and Carter are playing so well together these days. And they're just funny. They came into the kitchen wearing these sunglasses (which ironically matched their outfits), and Grace managed to sneak those Tostitos out of the pantry while I was grabbing my camera.

The girl still loves to munch!
Both kids are doing a "Mom and Me" gymnastics class on Thursdays. And it's one of the highlights of their week. Carter likes to jump off of anything he can and fall onto the plush mats, and Grace is a little gymnast in the making.
They are both into books and were thrilled to have GrandMary read to them when she came to visit.
Scott and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary on September 24th. How quickly time flies! Scott's parents kindly kept both kids for us at their house so we could enjoy a nice dinner together.
And this was our attempt to get a family picture. :)
More updates to come soon. Thanks for checking in on us!