A bit about the Himsels

In July 2011, we were drawn to a posting by our adoption agency of a little girl that was soon to "age out" of the orphanage in China, and they were hoping to find her family before her birthday in February, when she would no longer be eligible for adoption. After reviewing the information, giving it alot of thought and prayers, we knew she was to be our daughter. So we started the paperwork chase to bring her home. But God had a bigger plan in mind for the Himsels. Along the way, we decided to pursue adopting a little boy, and that journey actually led us to two little boys, who are 18 months and 14 months old. All three children are located in the Guizhou province. We are excited to be so close to bringing home Ella (Jinglan), William, and Ethan, and we hope you follow along with our journey.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Holiday World Fun

Our adoption agency had their annual reunion event recently at Holiday World. The older kids really enjoyed the amusement park and water park. We took the opportunity to go down to Patoka Lake a few days earlier, and shared a cabin with a couple of other families attending the reunion. We had a wonderful time despite the heat and the huge crowds at Holiday World. I think the older kids enjoyed the cabin almost as much as the water park. We had three full bedrooms for the adults, and a large loft with 5 beds in it for the older kids and they had a ball - It was a big slumber party!
We rented a pontoon boat for the day and Ella was very excited
Andrew enjoying the ride
Ella got her chance to drive the boat - although she enjoyed herself, Mama and Dad are pretty sure it will be quite awhile before she's ready to drive a car!
Andrew could barely wait for his turn at the wheel
After our boat ride, we spent the evening with Chris' Great Aunt Ruby.  She was very excited to meet the kids.
Ella's very first amusement park ride.  Since she tends to get car sick, we were a bit worried. But she came off the ride all smiles and gave us the thumbs up!
Another great ride!
Andrew exiting the Raging Rapids ride excited to have gotten so wet!
Ethan's water park fun
Since William is so quick to play in the toilet water every chance he gets (including the time he took Mama's iPhone for a swim), it came as no surprise that he would have the most fun at the water park!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Trying to stay cool

This weather in Indiana is most unusual right now. We're on our 4th day of 100+ degree temps, and the past two weeks have found most days quite close to 100. There has been little rain and our yards look more like Arizona terrain than Indiana grasslands. All of the kiddos have been stir crazy, especially the little guys. They want to play outside so badly, but when it's still 99 degrees at 7:30 pm, it's just too hot for them. Unless of course you throw a little water play in the mix. Our kiddos love playing in the sprinkler, and even though today was unbearably hot, they all seemed to love cooling off. William, my little guy who was so afraid of water when he got his first bath in China, has come so far. He's the first one to run through the sprinkler, and makes sure he gets the wettest.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

William's Big Day!

It is so hard to believe that it has already been 4 months since we have all been together.  But then again, it's hard to remember how things were before these three blessing from China joined our family.  Each day brings so many new adventures for all the kids.  For Memorial Day weekend, I took all the kids on a mini trip for a family reunion, with my mom joining us.  Chris stayed back so he could attend the race, so it was quite the adventure for us all. Surprisingly, all the kids did pretty well - it was nearly a five hour drive, and we were all a bit tired of being in the car, but we got there without incident.  And they all did great at the family reunion, and of course Andrew and Ella were very excited that our hotel had a big pool.  They both spent many hours swimming, giggling and watching videos together. Each day, I continue to be amazed at how well the two of them are getting along.  Don't get me wrong - we have our moments - Andrew is pretty quick to speak up if he thinks things are being handled fairly, and he is always wanting to make sure they both get to do things, but given all the issues we could be having right now, Chris and I sit back with delight when we see them together.  After our trip, Andrew and Ella went off to MawMaw Ruth's house for a few days - she was very excited to have them all to herself for a few days.
All of us at the family reunion

But the big event we had this past weekend was celebrating William's 2nd birthday.  We were a bit worried about how William would handle all the attention, the break in our routine, and having so many people here at the house.  We did keep it relatively small - just family.  And we didn't get off to a great start.  William has certainly changed his tune since coming home.  He went from only letting Chris take care of him, to ONLY wanting me to do things for him.  And his response when he doesn't get his way is to scream very loudly.  My worst fear was that his birthday party was going to be alot of screaming, and he started it off that way, when the first people arrived.  But after a little quiet time in the bedroom with me, we were able to get back into the mix of people, and the rest of the day was great.  He LOVED his cake - dug right into it with both hands (and a fork that he managed to convince someone he needed).  It was so cute to see Ethan's reaction too.  He wanted some of that cake so much - he would walk up to William's high chair, and hold his mouth open to beg for a bite - and William tried a few times to feed him.  It was very cute.  After the initial excitement of William's cake, we went ahead and sliced off a piece of the big cake for Ethan so he could have his own. 
My late night attempt at decorating William's cake.
William wanted those animals off the cake immediately - we couldn't even light the candle before he dug right in!
Somehow he convinced someone that he needed a fork. 
Ethan was right there watching everything and anxious for his bite of the birthday cake.

What a cute show of brotherly love - although William's aim wasn't too good - was afraid he might pierce Ethan's nose for him.

Very excited to have gotten his bite of birthday cake!

After cake, we opened presents, and William wasn't too sure about any of that.  After he opened the first one, he just wanted to play with it, and was not interested in anything else.  Ethan on the other hand was right there to help William open up each and every gift - especially since he didn't think William was moving along fast enough.  Ethan was so excited to rip the paper off the boxes.  Christmas is going to be lots of fun this year, but could be a challenge if Ethan doesn't think William is opening his gifts up fast enough.  He might just take over and open up everything. 

And after things started to settle down, then we took the boys outside to see the new sand box we bought William for his birthday.  We wanted something small for the deck that they could play in with their trucks - they both are very much into cars and trucks right now.  Apparently it was a big hit - both boys were covered with sand by the time they were done playing. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Summer Fun!

It's hard to believe that school is almost out for the kids.  Andrew and Ella are very excited about summer break from school but this mama is a bit worried about keeping four kiddos busy all day long.  Ella has done fantastic with school - she is really picking up English - understands more and more each day.  And she and Andrew are getting along very well.  We're hearing her talking more and more with Andrew.

All the kiddos have enjoyed the great weather and being able to play outside.  We've spent some time at our other home in Brownsburg where we have alot more space for the kids to play.  I think all the kids love the opportunity to be outside with so much space to roam and explore. We've been to parks, out to visit Grandpa's and just enjoying the beautiful weather.

Ella trying out the battery operated car - lots of giggles as she was driving around!

Andrew taking Ethan for his first ride. 
Ethan was very interested in all the details - and was watching everything his big brother was doing.

William wasn't too sure he liked sitting in the swing by himself at first - but he soon was enjoying himself.

We spent some time at Grandpa's house where all the kids love playing with the new kittens

The kids had a day off from school (one of those built in snow days that wasn't used) - and we took the opportunity to visit the Indianapolis Children's Museum.  Andrew always loved the museum and we were excited to take all the kids there for their first visit.  Chris had to work that day, so I decided to venture there on my own.  Well, not totally on my own.  A dear friend, and her 4 year old boy met us there, but it was still quite an undertaking to do on my own. Ethan and William were quite overwhelmed by everything, so it took a little bit for them to be comfortable enough to really play with things.  But after they got comfortable, no one wanted to go home - even though we all needed naps before the end of the day.  Not sure I'm ready to venture out to the Children's museum again by myself but we all had a great time. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Another first

Our little Ella has had her fair share of firsts since coming home. First birthday with her new family, first day of school, first time meeting family and friends, first Easter - the list goes on. But none of them have brought about more joy and sense of accomplishment from our little girl than her recent 'first'. On Easter weekend we bought Ella her first bike. We worked with her a bit at first to explain the concept of balancing, keeping the bike moving, etc but she really wanted to work on it by herself. Day after day she would spend a little time trying to get the feel of it as she practiced on our cul-de-sac. And each time she would get better and better at pushing off, coasting a little as she began to get the feel of balancing. She is one determined little girl.

Imagine our delight when Andrew came in this evening and asked if we could come out and see something. My heart was fill with so much pride when we went out and there was our Ella riding her bike with the biggest smile on her face. Yep, another first. And such an accomplishment by one tough little cookie. Way to go Ella!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring Break fun

Ella and Andrew are off this week for spring break, and what kid doesn't enjoy a visit to the dentist on their spring break :)  Actually Andrew has always loved going to the dentist so it was very important that Ella's first trip be pain free and as pleasant as we could make it. I also had my dentist appointment, so we had Ella sit with me and we tried to explain everything that they were doing so she would know before it was her time.  She did great.  We just did xrays and teeth cleaning today.  We know we'll have our fair share of dental appointments in her future, but we wanted to keep this one a happy visit.

Our dear friend Betsy watched the two little ones while we went to our appointments, so when we were all finished, had collected our loot from the toy chest and picked up our balloons, we headed to Aunt Betsy's house.  She has the best back yard - a gorgeous view of the lake and a fabulous swing set for the kids to play on. The weather was fabulous, so we spent the rest of the day playing outside.

William finally got over his concern about walking on the grass.  At first he just wasn't sure what that was and wanted to nothing to do with it.  But soon he was crawling and walking all over the place.  Ethan on the other hand wasted no time in walking all over the yard, searching for the best stick.

My favorite picture - my four beautiful children
Ella - love that smile as she enjoyed the swing

William - still not too sure about that grass

Look at that smile - Ethan wins me over every time with that smile

That grass finally was conquered - and he tackled the hill with a little help from his big sister
I can't believe how big Andrew is getting...

...but certainly not too big to try rolling down the hill
We had a great time, and it was the perfect end to the day - made everyone forget that the day actually started at the dentist.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

My big boy turned 8

Well officially, Andrew turned eight in March.  But for as long as he has been with us, his birthday falls on the same weekend that I have to travel for work for an annual meeting.  So he has never been able to have his birthday party near his birthday.  Daddy has a conference usually the next weekend, so we have always had to push his birthday party out a few weeks.  One benefit of course is that he gets to spread out his celebrations for a few weeks - Daddy always tries to make his actual birthday special while Mama is gone, celebrating at school and then of course the big family birthday party.  This year I think it worked to our advantage though, as it gave our new little ones a chance to be better settled before we brought on the crowds.  We had Andrew's big party today, and for some guests it was also the first time to meet our new family members. 

Theme for the party was Angry Birds - Andrew's choice, not mine.  I made my first attempt at cake pops - Angry Bird style. Not too bad - they were a huge hit with all the kids.  And of course the Angry Bird cake - Andrew was so worried when he went to sleep the night before when he saw all the undecorated cake pops and undecorated cake.  He looked at me with these sad eyes and said "Mama, you are never going to get all your work done tonight, are you?"  I assured him that I would have it all done when he woke up - that working on these kinds of things always went faster once everyone goes to sleep.

It's the only picture I got of both the red bird and bomber bird pops before the kiddos gobbled them up

Not too bad for a late night decorating adventure
We rented a bounce house for the day - with having nine bouncing kiddos at the party, plus our two little ones toddling around, I decided to give the big kids a way to bounce outside and get out from under our feet (and hopefully keep the little guys from being run over). And I'm so happy that the weather cooperated - we couldn't have asked for a nicer day.  

Ella & Ethan - we finally got Ethan inside the bounce house without the big kids - he loved it!
William on the other hand wanted nothing to do with it, even with big brother Andrew trying to convince him

Overall it was a big success - the kids had a great time and all of our kiddos seemed to handle the big crowd pretty well - even William.  He's come so far in such a short amount of time.  Was it just two months ago that he couldn't even look at me with out screaming in fear?  Yep, he's made quite the adjustment. I was really proud of them all.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ella's Musical Debut

Our little Ella had a big night on Tuesday. Her class participated in the fine arts night at school and she was up there with all the other kiddos singing her heart out.

How appropriate that the theme for the night was America. I was one proud mama watching my little American singing with the rest of them with a big smile on her face. She even had her own special dance part in one of the songs and her grin was from ear to ear when it was her time to dance.  Way to go Ella!

While at the program, we met a number of parents with children in Ella's class.  Every one of them said something about how excited their child was to have Ella in their class.  The school has been so welcoming to her and really has made her transition so much easier. 

She is really doing well with her English also.  They have provided her with an iPad in class so she can use Google Translate to communicate with the teacher, but she rarely needs to use it herself - they really are only having to use it when they need to give her very specific instructions.  She seems to understand quite a bit when we are talking around the house, and she is starting to say a few phrases in English.

And most of all, she really loves school.  She has a smile on her face each morning before she leaves and gives me a thumbs up when she gets home.  Almost sad that next week is spring break and she'll be stuck home with me during the day.