2010 Wrap-up

Happy New Year! The Brown family is preparing for an exciting 2011, and the events of this first month have had us busier than ever before. (Hence why I have not updated this blog in a month.)

To begin, we sold our house! And this big step set a ton of changes in motion. Initially, we were looking to rent for about 8 months while we built a new house on a lot we purchased two years ago. But after prayer and much consideration (and I admit, tears cried over our house plans), we decided to hold off on this endeavor for a few more years and to buy a house in the same school system as our lot so Caroline won't have to change schools at any point. Thank goodness I did most of our Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving because the weeks leading up to Christmas were filled with showings, negotiations, and all the details and tasks that come along with selling and buying a house.

Everything has happened VERY fast. We close on both houses this Wednesday, and then we move into a pool house for 9 days. Yes, you read that right. Because we can't get possession of our new house for another week, we had to find a place to stay. A family from our church is generously allowing us to live in their guesthouse by their pool during this time. So, I'm boxing up most of our house while also packing for "vacation" in our little home away from home.

Okay, so now that you know what we've been up to, here's what you're really waiting so patiently for....
Carter and Grace bundled up on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to search out a Christmas tree.
Every year, we head to the Birmingham Zoo where some guys have trucked in beautiful trees from North Carolina.
Grace's favorite part of the experience was tasting her first candy cane.
Our family of four
We celebrated Christmas with my family the weekend of the 18th. Pics to come, as they're all on my mom's camera. We spent Christmas Eve with Scott's family (who live in town). Here is Grace narrowing her eyes at me because she doesn't want her picture taken. And there's Gram Me trying to coax a smile out of our little diva.
Mind you, the princess is quite fond of posing. She's the prissiest little thing you've ever seen, and loves to show off her outfits or shoes by popping her foot and saying "look at me!"
Carter with Aunt JuJu
Carter loves to be funny and silly with Sam. He has also been really thoughtful and sweet toward his little sister lately. And as we all know, kids can say the darndest things. One evening, he was wrapping himself up in some paper left on the floor, and he said, "Daddy, help wrap me like a gift." Scott asked, "Who are you a gift to?" And Carter said, "To Jesus."

Another day, we were playing with his Little People nativity set. He asked me what the three wise men were carrying in their gold-colored chests. I suggested that one carried jewels, another carried gold and silver coins, and another had treasure. Carter thought for a moment and then suggested that one carried crackers, the next carried juice boxes, and the third man had toys. That made much more sense to him. :)
Carter and Grace both enjoyed learning Christmas carols. Grace's version of "Jingle Bells" goes like this: "Jiggy bell, jiggy bell...HEY! Jiggy bell, jiggy bell...HEY!" Carter knew the lyrics to a lot of songs, but he was most preoccupied with counting the days until Jesus' birthday. (Mainly because he knew that HIS birthday comes soon after Jesus'.) :)
On Christmas morning at our house, the kids ran down to see the gifts left by Santa. Both of them had wanted sleeping bags. Grace immediately climbed into hers and lay there for a while.
Carter wanted to roll his up, put his backpack on, and go camping. Speaking of his backpack, he takes it everywhere! The other day, we ventured into Lowe's with Carter wearing his jacket, a snow hat, gloves that were way too big, binoculars hanging around his neck, and his backpack on his back. We got quite a few curious looks. :)
Grace has so much energy and spunk. Her language and vocabulary have come so far in the last eight months. She jabbers alot in her "own" language (and I don't mean Mandarin), but she also blurts out sentences with 5-8 words. She is incredibly verbal, and her facial expressions are hilarious, even when you have no idea what she's saying.
She is very into her baby dolls and anything maternal.
She is also obsessed with watching "Ni Hao Kai-Lan." She loves to repeat the Chinese words that are taught in each episode. And because of this show, she has suddenly begun thanking me in Chinese. For weeks, she has been so consistent in saying "Thank you, Mommy" for anything I give her or do for her. In the last week, she has started saying, "Xie xie, Mommy." It is adorable!
Carter chillin' in his sleeping bag on Christmas Day.
This is how we found Grace during her naptime. We had no idea the sunglasses were even in bed with her!
Grace and Carter loved naming each person whom a stocking on the mantle belonged to. We had stocking up for Caroline, and it warmed my heart every time I heard her name on the lips of my toddlers. We are currently waiting our USCIS approval, and then we can send our dossier to China. From there, we will most likely have a 4-5 month wait before traveling.
One of the highlights of the holidays was our White Christmas!! On the 26th, the kids headed outside for some snowball action.
I mean, just look at the grin on this kid's face.
We're not sure that Grace had ever seen snow before. (Kunming is nicknamed the City of Eternal Spring for its year-round mild weather.)
She liked stomping in it but not touching it with her hands.
Carter wanted to make snowballs...
and explore the winter wonderland. (Note the backpack on his back.)
Scott, Carter, & Grace
2010 was an unforgettable year, particularly with the addition of this beautiful girl who has captured my heart in its entirety. We've watched our toddler, Carter, grow into a little boy who is developing thoughts, opinions, and ideas of his own. As we launch 2011 (with all the chaos of a big move!), we look forward to making a new home, bringing 12-year-old Caroline into our family, and learning what other crazy plans the Lord has in store for us. :)

May this new year bring optimism, faith, fresh starts, and hope for everyone!


Melody Lietzau said...

loved this post and all the adorable pics. Look forward to following your journey as you welcome Caroline into your family.

Michelle said...

Kelly, your kids are so adorable! Love all of Grace's fancy outfits!

Kim said...

Precious post with adorable pictures of your children. I am so excited to follow your journey to Caroline and would love to hear more about how you "found" her? Waiting list? Agency? Etc?
Our dear friends at "Party Of Seven" blogspot brought home Gemma (9 year old daughter) from China this year. We got to meet her (and her family) on their travels thru in Hong Kong before returning to the States.
I am still convinced we have a daughter waiting for us in China and praying faithfully that God will soften my husband's heart for adoption (again).
Happy New Years from Hong Kong,
P.S. Grace's hat and coat are beyond cute!

Lindsey said...

Looks like y'all had a wonderful Christmas!

Kristy said...

Love this! Where in the world did you get Grace's adorable coat and hat? Can't wait til you get settled.

Design A-Peele said...

wow!! lots and lots going on with y'all! how much longer until Caroline comes home?

The Hamiltons said...

Congrats! Great way to ring in the new year. Just love Grace's adorable hat and coat.

Happy 2011 :)

B-Mama said...

Kelly, this is all so beautiful--your words, thoughts, the kids, your family. I have loved following your adventures in 2010 and look forward to more in 2011! I will echo other comments that little Grace is dressed so adorably! I would love to know where you find such cute pieces (also love the hat and coat!) We're working on girl gear over here and I'm always open to suggestions! :) Blessings to you all and continued prayers.

Ericka B. Jackson said...

Love this post!! Sounds like things have been SO exciting! The kids are precious - every outfit Grace wears is just BEAUTIFUL on her but her little ruffled Christmas pajama's were just too sweet!

We can't wait to meet Caroline!!!