Saturday, August 31, 2013

(Sunday Snapshot) 10 Years Ago

10 years Grace-2
"You don't choose your family, they are God's gift to you, as you are to them."
~ Desmond Tutu
10 years Storyboard "There is only one happiness in life - to love and be loved."
~ George Sand
10 years Grace-4
 "You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the
universe is unfolding as it should."

~ Desiderata

10 years Grace
"And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name
welcomes me."
~ Matthew 18:5

10 years Storyboard 2

My first glimpse of her in a referral photo was 10 years ago in early July of 2003.
She looked a little forlorn and sad, and I loved her instantly.

All those little details of how we first met are still with me and
it's a moment I will never forget as long as I live.
Dan and I were nervously waiting in our room in the Gloria Plaza Hotel in Nanchang.
It was a Sunday evening around 7:30 pm and there was a knock at the door.
The orphanage director, our social worker, and a nanny holding our baby girl
named 'Fu Lan Li' entered the room.
It was absolutely silent until I softly spoke to Lanli (Grace).
Though quite shy, she smiled at me and came easily into my arms.
In an instant the hole in my heart that had been there for years
was healed.
I was holding an angel, sent straight from heaven.
The rest of that evening really was somewhat of a glorious blur, but
I do remember playing with Grace, feeding her, holding and loving her.
All of our lives have changed profoundly since that late Summer evening
in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province.
Grace (Fu Lan Li) is so much more than we could have possibly ever
hoped for or dreamed.

10 years later Grace is now an eleven year old
and you can clearly see the lovely young lady that she has become.
She is happy, healthy, thoughtful and kind, a good friend to all and deeply loved
by those who know her.

Recently, I was told that Dan and I have had remarkable lives.
I have to admit I've never thought of it that way...
remarkable, yes(maybe) but if it has been that, it's because of our profound
experiences with adopting both Grace and William
and our lives with them.
For me it was also my last trip to China in 2012
with An Orphan's Wish that helped me to understand a little bit better
both of my youngest childrens' stories before they came to live with us,
and even see for my eyes what it's like to be an orphan.
I say listen to that little voice that is your heart
and follow it.
An orphan child's dream for a family can come true.

10 years ago we were forever changed for the better.
To our dearest Grace,
we cannot possibly imagine our lives without you.


10 years Grace-3

I felt I had to do something very special
to quietly observe Grace's 10th forever family day
and did that by taking this series of photos for her.

Choosing a location out of my regular comfort zone of fields and countryside,
I took these at the Monona Terrace, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright
in 1938 but wasn't constructed on Lake Monona in Madison until the mid 1990's.
I loved the lines and curves and beautiful light.
It all suited my subject quite well. ;)
Ni Hao Yall

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Nearing the End

Cherry Picking_
When summer gathers up her robes of glory,
And, like a dream, glides away.
- Sarah Helen Whitman

Cherry Picking_-2

It doesn't seem possible but our Summer break is almost over.
In Wisconsin our Summers are surely not taken for granted,
after our long Winters.

Cherry Picking Storyboard Aug 2013

School starts next week.
Supplies have been purchased and still need to be labeled.
New school clothes and shoes are ready to be worn.
I do love the routine that the school year brings to our family
but a part of me will miss having them home
during the day.
We've had a fun Summer!

Cherry Picking_-3

Taken a few weeks ago towards the end of our vacation in Door County.
We've had several Summer trips up to the peninsula over the years, and this is the first
time the cherries were ready to be picked.
So cherry picking we went...
Will found what he called
'a magical sword'
and was a knight for
a little while in the middle of the orchard. ;)


Sunday, August 18, 2013

(Sunday Snapshot) Summer Vacation

Door County-22
"Happiness is a Summer breeze, sand between your toes, and your best friend right beside you."
~ unknown

Door County

"For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), It's always our self we find in the sea."
~e.e. cummings
Door County Storyboard 2

I call it beach therapy, for us also known
as our Summer vacation.
And the beach can be at the ocean, a lake or a bay.
I've had a love affair with being near water for most of my life,
so naturally my children would love water too.

Door County-5

These were taken two weeks ago while we were in Door County
enjoying some time together in the town of Ephraim.
I had great plans for taking even more photos that
would eventually be used for our Christmas
card but that didn't happen.
We came home a little bit early as our oldest son
was ill, thankfully
he's well now.

Door County-3

 I have found that my favorite photos are the ones where I just sit back and observe what's going on.
So I'll let the rest of the images speak for themselves.

Door County-2

Door County Storyboard 1

(Grace created this woven wreath herself with things she found
on the beach,
a twisty vine and leaves made a beautiful headpiece).
Door County-4

Please link up with Stefanie's
Sunday Snapshot.

Ni Hao Yall

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

She is Eleven

Grace is 11 WM

And then my soul saw you and kind of went,
"Oh there you are. I've been looking for you."
~ Iain Thomas

Grace is 11 Storyboard 1

I sometimes wonder if I'm supposed to love her as much as I do.
She is my muse, my inspiration (many times) with
photography, my heart and my daughter.
I will protect her fiercely until the day I die.

We know nothing about the circumstances of her birth or her birth parents.
But maybe we do know some about them through Grace.
Most likely they are soft spoken, kind hearted, sensitive,
artistic and striking in appearance.

Grace is 11 WM-3

What we do know is that the names she has been given fit her.
In China, she was named Fu Lan Li which means 'beautiful orchid' -
and then we named her Grace which couldn't be a more perfect name for her.
Orchids are sturdy flowers that need the right environment to grow and thrive.
When she came to us, she was just 12 mos. old - not talking or walking yet.
Now 10 years later at age 11, she has blossomed into a young lady who carries
herself with grace.

Grace is 11 WM-2

Yes she is beautiful but it goes much much deeper than the surface.
Grace is a kind and thoughtful person.
She is loving, creative and turns simple things into
works of art and beauty.
Recently on our vacation I found three long scraggly roots on
the beach and braided them to make a rope.
Grace turned it into a beautiful crown decorated with flowers and leaves.
She didn't say a word about it.
She just made it, put it on her head and acted like it
was supposed to be that way.

Grace is 11 Storyboard 2

Every day she makes us smile.
Laughter comes easily and often to her and it puts a smile on my heart.
Her hugs and kisses warm my soul.
I can't imagine our lives without her or how diminished the world would
be if her light didn't shine.
Thank you God for the delightful gift you have given us.
We are blessed beyond our dreams.

May all your hopes and dreams come true,
Happy Birthday, Grace!

Grace is 11 WM-4

Taken about two weeks ago before sunset
in the beautiful fields of Southern Wisconsin.

© Aging with Grace and strong Will
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