Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My big 4 year old!

Max woke up this morning and said, "Yay, now I'm a full grown donkey boy!" I have no idea what this means, but he's a funny kid, with a great smile and sense of humor to match. He's still small, but seems to have sprouted the last month or so, requiring all new pants to wear. I love that he has nicknames for everyone: Myles is Foo Foo, Maddie is Sissy, Dan is Dan Dickens. Too cute. LOUD, but very sweet and endearing. He still carries all his blankies around, and his favorite color - PINK! He is newly obsessed with Buzz Lightyear, hence the birthday costume. He was so thrilled, and kept on saying, "I'm an autobot!" I think he's confusing his characters :)
Seriously, this kid just lights up the room. He is so smart, funny, and loving. This time of year, with all of the Gotcha Days, Birthdays, and Holidays, my thoughts always turn to my boys' birthfamilies. Max is very aware of his birth mother, and wants so badly to meet her. When I look at him, I can't help but think of what she might look like. I always think of her as a petite woman with birght eyes and a stunning smile. I hope that she smiles often, and has some level of knowledge that her son is happy, amazing, and loves her from afar. I hope that someday I can be there when they meet.

Professional pics

This summer we had professional pictures taken of the family. We had never done it before. We'll do it again, but will NOT use the same person. Not what we expected. But here are the results. . .
note: it was 105 degrees, she was early so no one was ready, we expected much more creative stuff.
Papa Winnie and the gang.
The 8 grandkids. All 7 and under.

Best Friends and Cousins. Maddie and Auri

Maddie looks so grown up. Terrifying.

Myles. I love this boys smile.

The 4 Labonte kids.

I adore this picture of Mason.

Poor little Max had a fever. Still so adorable.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Three years, vivid memories.

Gotcha Day: November 27, 2007
Walking in the Woods - Rocking his signature Mohawk

Apple Picking with his cheesy grin!

Three years ago, on Thanksgiving Day (because flights were WAY cheaper), we took off for India. We planned the trip in less than 24 hours. We were terrified, NOT world travelers, and had so many questions about the little guy that was going to be our son. I had crazy worries like what if he smelled weird, how long would it take before he felt like mine, and not theirs, and what will we do with him on the 18 hour flight home?!!

We flew to New Delhi to complete the embassy paperwork, then on to Kolkata to actually receive our son. I was uncharacteristically calm through most of the trip, but Gotcha Day rattled me. I was so emotional, and had a tough experience on the way to Matri Sneha. Our tour of the special needs portion of the facility gave me a chance to pull it together, and also set our course for adoption #2.

Every family thinks about what that moment will be like. That first moment when you meet your child. Every family hopes for that ideal meeting, but doesn't dare to expect it. We fear that the child will be afraid, cry, grieve horribly. We pray that things will fall into place, and there will be an immediate connection.

With Max Rup, we got that dream. His Ayah brought him into Ms. Roy's office, placed him in my arms, he looked at me, smiled, and then layed his head on my chest, stuck his index and middle finger in his mouth, and started his "goygoygoy" sound that we are now so familiar with. It was like we had always been together. He just fit. And, he smelled really nice :)

It's been three years today, and we still can't believe how easy our first transition was. I cannot imagine our family without Max's humor, huge grin, and one volume setting - LOUD! His Mohawk haircut fits his spunky personality. He's a great mix of sweet and devilish. He is his Daddy's shadow, and adores his big sister. He's perfect for us.

I love you, Max Rup. Happy Gotcha Day!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Our newest addition is Charlie, the standard poodle. A friend of ours had a surprise litter of 16!! 15 of them made it, and now Livermore has a bunch of these cute little fluff balls. Our neighbor has two, a good friend has another two. We're excited to train these pups together. Charlie is a laid back pup. The kids all adore him, and he adores Copper. Copper is warming up to him. He tolerates Charlie following him everywhere. The funniest thing is watching Charlie and Petri (the cat). They love each other, and Charlie has taken to giving Petri big kisses every chance he gets.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It's been a whole year? / It's only been a year?

The first video above was taken a couple of days after we met mason. We were still in India. The "Ah" he repeats throughout the video was pretty much his only verbalization at that point. He was so tippy up on his knees like that, and could not sit at all without just folding in half, or tipping over completely.

The second video is Mason now. He narrates our days, and asks soo many questions, always wanting to know exactly what's going on, what everyone is doing, and most importantly, what car everyone took to get here.

We took a leap of faith in pursuing this little guy. Our trusted social worker thought he would do really well in a family. We were nervous, but found his smile, his engaging charisma too much to resist. After having him home a year, I cannot imagine it turning out any other way. He is my son. I love him with all of my heart. I see him as absolutely perfect, and a true gift from God.

I love that Mason struggles to do so much that other children do so easily, but he struggles with a big old grin on his face. He'll try anything for anyone, and then say "thank you" (or "keanu" in Masonese) for the opportunity.

I love that my other children have not been hindered by him, they have grown and become more compassionate because of him.

As we celebrate a year together, I am so grateful for so many things. . . I am grateful that Mason's birthparents made a plan for him that gave him a chance to get the care he needed. I am grateful that the Ayahs at Matri Sneha gave him love and care for he first 2.5 years of his life. I am grateful that Tami sent that email, just in case anyone on our forum may have been interested. I am grateful that despite the questions, and concerns of many among us that we took that leap of faith, and that those questioning us are now his biggest supporters.

Adoption is miraculous. Waiting children need an opportunity to blossom. I'm so glad he's no waiting anymore, and that he has helped our family to blossom as much as we have helped him.

Happy Gotcha Day, Mason!!


It's been way too long, and SO much has happened. I'll catch up on it eventually, but for now, Halloween pics. I have no idea why here are no pics of Madeline. Perhaps because I'm a bad mom, or perhaps because she and Auri spent way too much time in the bathroom :)

Maddie was a vampire, Myles he Devil, Max Rup was Darth Vader, but told everyone he was "Star Wars," and Mason was a Ninja.

I just like the pic of the two little boys in their Thomas jammies :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Feeling SO Blessed

We're done. It's over. He's officially ours. Mason's adoption was finalized in court today. Many of you remember that this part didn't go so well for us last time around. I've been dreading this ever since we started the process with Mason. One of the reasons we started the process with a different agency this time, was to avoid this judge, but God stepped in and brought us back to Dillon, and to our amazing little guy.

Leave it to God to also place someone at court to day to give me some perspective on our situation. I was a wreck going into court, until I saw an old friend who was in a much more unsure, contested, HARD situation. Immediately all of my anxiety went away and my thoughts were with her, praying the judge would see the situation clearly and do what was best for the children she cares for. I'm happy to say that the day went well for both of us.

Our county is the only county in our state that requires two different hearings to finalize an adoption. Both times we've been able to wave the second hearing (although I'm pretty sure the judge wasn't thrilled to do it either time). The second hearing is supposed to be "festive" according to the judge, but we don't care to be festive in that venue, with him.

We were plenty festive last night. I was completely overwhelmed at the number of people that showed up to help us celebrate. If I have an accurate count, there were 38 people at the Chuck Wagon. God bless our waitress, who was prepared for 20-25!

When we started this journey I know there were lots of folks that questioned what we were doing; that were unsure what a child with special needs would do to our family, our other kids. I'm pretty sure that no one in that room last night can imagine our family without this special little boy. What he's done FOR our family has been amazing. I'm so thankful for everything we have been given, so thankful that somehow, over thousands and thousands of miles, we were connected with two little boys that fit perfectly into our family, and completed us.

"You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them." -Desmond Tutu

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Had a wonderful trip to StoryLand with Nana, Papa, MooMoo, Auri, Austin, Aisla, and Molly. It was VERY hot, but the kids had a blast. All of them were able to go on rides, and Mason would get off of one, and then yell, "More Ride!"

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Photogenic Madeline

Madeline and I were at Aunt Ang's picking blueberries, when Maddie spotted her lovely perennials. We just had to do a photo shoot! I love my nature girl!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July 4th Fun

Baby Fin. He's gone from colicky to hilarious! Love this little boy.

Mommy and Mason

We have sparklers every year, but for some reason Maddie was terrified of them this year?! Look at that face!

The boys enjoying Austin's gift from Nana and Papa.

Maddie's favorite gift. Aunt Moo Moo knows her girl.

Look how gorgeous it was. The view from the boat. I love this place.

Madeline and Auri - they are fearless!
Maddie got me on the tube and repeatedly told me to let her know if I needed them to stop and she'd fall of on purpose so I wouldn't be embarrassed :)

All pooped out. My boys love their Papa Winnie

My sisters with their babies. They look like Divas don't they?
We love the 4th. This year didn't disappoint. With gorgeous weather and almost the entire family, lobsters, and a double birthday party (Madeline on the 4th and Austin on the 8th)- it was a wonderful day.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


We love summer here. We are so very lucky to live 2 miles from my parents house on a lake. If it's sunny out, that's where we are.

Madeline is a total fish. She would live in the water if we let her. We frequently have to drag her out when it's time to go home. This is about as close as I can get to her without a boat :) She's in the purple, pink and white checked suit.

Myles is happy to troll around the sides of the lake looking for crayfish, and other creatures. He LOVES to fish, especially with Bryce or Uncle Mike.

Max is all over the place! He likes to ride his big wheels down the hill, terrifying his mother, he loves to kayak, and splash around in the shallow water.

Mason loves the pond. We were nervous about how he'd do in the lake since he still has trouble balancing. He loves to sit in a laundry basket placed in the shallow water and splash, and play. We've also found a floatation device that really works well with him, and he loves it. It's the closest thing to walking that he's able to do. I love seeing him in that position - upright :)

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Final Decision

We made the big decisions regarding Mason's services in the fall. Dan and I visited the local option, and liked it enough, the lady was lovely, and it was very informal. We were ok with sending him there. THEN we went to his speech eval at an office 1/2 an hour away. We told her our plans, and she asked if we had seen the preschool downstairs from her office. She very informally suggested we go down, just to see what other options exist. Dan and I walked out of there, and both thought, "This is exactly where he needs to be." We felt so great about that place. We felt they had the staffing, equipment, resources, everything that would help Mason be successful.

Then we needed to develop an IEP for him. This is something that I've been terrified of. I really thought we'd have to scratch and claw to get what we needed for Mason. But it was lovely! We have a terrific case manager, and our provider really knows Mason, and cares about him. Mason will attend the preschool 2 days a week, 3 hours each day. During this time, he will recieve his speech and occupational therapies. We will continue to see our private PT, but there is also an option for a PT to consult with the preschool to suggest modifications, etc. Mason will also have a 1:1 mobility aid. We made it clear that our goal is for him to be as independent as possible, and were assured that this would help with that since his aid will be able to help him get from place to place, help him access the playground equipment, and encourage him to move on his own, instead of being carried everywhere for convenience. They are making sure that there is a swing for him to access. We are very pleased.

The above services will start August 31st, at the beginning of the school year. In the meantime, the OT that will work with him in the fall informed us that she can work with him twice a week over the summer as well - through our insurance instead of the Early Intervention program. We're excited to get this service started for him. We will also try to start speech therapy through the summer as well. It's all in the same building, and they seem very collaborative. He's made so much progress in these areas already, that we can't wait to see what he does with professional help.

Looking forward, the local Special Ed director is willing to speak with me about the possibility of him attending the public 4K program when the time comes. We'll speak about how feasible this is, what needs to be worked on before then, and whether that will be what is best for him (that's my agenda anyway).

We are sad to have finished services with our first contact in "the system." She was a lovely PT that was a huge support for us.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Special Weekend

Gift time with lots of helpers

Superheroes. What more could he have asked for?

Mother's Day was doubly special for us this year, since it was also Myles' 5th Birthday. Saturday Myles celebrated with his first "friend" party. Unfortunately the weather was poor, and Mommy vastly underestimated the amount of prizes needed to fill a pinata, but we muddled through. Apparently his classmates were aware of his obsession with superheroes - he's ready for new adventures with Ironman and Spiderman. We don't do fancy cakes, but the kids always bake them with me, and Myles, true to form, chose "chocolate, Mom, everything on it should be chocolate."
It was sooo windy out! The kids had fun attempting to fly kites.
I never want these little homemade gifts to stop. I cherish every one of them. Handprint gifts of any sort are my absolute favorite.

Mother's day was pretty low-key. I wasn't feeling so hot, so Dan let me go back to bed after Church, which I had to drag people to. I actually think what I did was get out of bed, and said, "when I get out of the shower, at least one of my children better be ready to go to Church with me." Yeah, good way to start the morning.

My sister and I took my Mom to pick out a new mother's ring, and out to lunch with some of the assorted children :)

The weekend prior we took Max and Mason to pick out their trees to plant in honor of their birthmoms. Mason was completely uninterested in the process, but Max made sure that both trees had pink blossoms. He was a little overwhelmed at the number of pink options, and had a lot of fun deciding. We had an interesting snake adventure, finding the snake that Myles lost in the truck two days prior while at the greenhouse. We successfully caged in in Myles' superheroes carrier, and released it at Nana and Papa's house.
Wish I had the camera for that adventure!
Mother's day was soooo windy! We couldn't plant the trees at all. We did plant them later in the week, and they are lovely additions to our front yard. Max speaks of his birthmom frequently, and always wonders why we can't just go to India to visit her. He has identified her and one of his cribmates as his "India family." I'm surprised at how much he wants to talk about this already. Guess I'd better prepare quickly for the harder questions that are sure to follow. I wish we had more information to offer him. I wish she had more information on how wonderful he is doing now, and how thankful we are that she made such a difficult decision for her child.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Wonderful Addition

My parents are now up to 8 grandchildren now, with the wonderful and early addition of Aisla last week. Big Brother Austin loves his new baby sister, a pleasant surprise for everyone. Big Sister, Auri, had a rough week. She didn't feel well all week, and we kept on plying it off as nerves, adjustment, etc. Poor girl ended up in the ER the night Aisla came home and apparently it was more than nerves. Everyone is feeling better now, and we are thrilled with this gorgeous new addition to the family! Check out some gorgeous pics of the family here -

Friday, May 7, 2010


My son is officially crawling now. Not commando crawling, actual, on his hands and knees, crawling! We've been working hard on this for 5 months. He has to think very hard about it, and really focus, but he does it. This week his physical therapist commented on how he was progressing in leaps and bounds. You don't notice when you see him day in and day out, but as we talked about all the changes in his body, posture, skills - it's pretty impressive. I'm certainly learning all over again how exciting each milestone can be. I'm a very proud Momma.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Madeline fell asleep last night rubbing my fingernail. This is something she used to do ALL the time when she was little. She'd suck her thumb, and with the other hand rub your fingernail. Odd and cute, and I was glad for the memory. She's such a sweet girl, and growing up way too fast.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Summer is coming. We're ready.

We've had a string of warm days, and couldn't hold the kids back from swimming any longer. Mimi (my sister) was home with her family, and we were thrilled to see Fin again. All three of us sisters took our boys (the girls had school) to the Gray Animal Farm. Everyone had a blast. Max wanted to "see more animals" as quickly as he could. It was windy, but the place was empty, so it was worth it.

Mason has a really hard time with balance, so kayaking with him was tricky, but SO worth it. He loved it. He kept on saying, "here I come" and "it rocks." He waved and yelled hi to everyone we saw. It was a riot and I can't wait to go with him again.

Myles was thrilled to be wearing his Spiderman lifejacket again.

Mason's first turtle. He was less than thrilled.

Max loves to catch anything he can. He was my helper catching above turtle.

The cold water didn't bother Maddie a bit.

Max thought this was comfy. Mason let him know that it was NOT!

Mason's new hat. We're a bit late in getting him one.

I tried to post a video demonstrating Mason's obsession - serious obsession - with driving, trucks, and tractors, but apparently that's not going to happen. Trust me, the obsession is real :)