December 7, 2009

Talk about a year!

I think I am a terrible blogger. No, I know that I am a terrible blogger! There are women (and men) that have multiple children that blog almost everyday! I am so very impressed with those people and strive to be better at this whole thing.

Over Thanksgiving, my sweet niece (Zoe), asked me to update my blog. I think she was the only one that actually read it and I'm not sure if she still does read it :)

But, here goes...

In May, we made the sudden decision to move to Florida for the summer. It was the greatest 3 months of our lives. Craig went down there to work for a man that had the contract with the FBI. They worked on their benefit and financial planning. It was quite interesting and nothing like we had expected but it was good for us. There were many bumps and bruises along the way but the summer grew us all. We met some incredible new friends that will be in our lives forever! We were able to see my brother, Michael, his wife Cristi, and their new little one, Sydney. It was great to be only 2 hours from Key West!!!

We were able to go to Disney World a couple of times and get to see some of our dear friends that live in Orlando. Disney was incredible! Molly had mixed feelings. She was excited at times and fearful at others. She wasn't a big fan of Peter Pan (which I love) but loved the Haunted Mansion - go figure! Madeline, on the other hand, was a trooper and loved every minute of it! She fits well into our family. She can go, and go, and go! She did great in the double stroller and I don't remember her fussing much at all. Her sister, now that is a different story!

When I came home, I had to make some decisions in my life. My children were growing up right before my eyes and I was missing it. If Florida taught me anything, it was that I was way too busy. I was trying to run a dance studio, run an adoption ministry, homeschool Molly, run a household, and many other things I sign myself up for on a daily basis! I was exhausted when I left for Florida and the time there allowed for much rest. I enjoyed the simplicity of life and wanted that when I returned to Texas. So, I made one of the hardest decisions of my life - I closed Corum Deo Dance Academy. It was my dream to own my own dance studio and I loved every minute of it. I do miss my little ballerinas and pray that their lives were touched in the short time that I had them in my life. I needed to cut some things out of my life and that just had to be one of them. I had a friend ask me what my passion was in life, ballet or reaching orphans? I had to be honest with myself and I knew in my heart that my passion was raising awareness of the 143 million orphans worldwide! So, I have decided to focus on my orphan care and adoption ministry.

Saying that comes with a disclaimer! My Lord comes first. My family second. And, then my ministry. I have to check myself daily on where my priorities lie. Its a hard struggle but I can't allow myself to get so busy that I miss out on my ministry to my family.

Speaking of family, I am homeschooling Molly and LOVE IT! We have such a great time and she is learning. She was recently diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder. Its been a struggle for months to try to figure out what was wrong. We weren't sure if it was something we could "fix" or if it was a product of her orphan life. We were thankful that there is hope! Little Giant Steps is the program we are using and its a long road but one that offers a light at the end of the tunnel!

Madeline is growing up so much! She is talking more and more each day. She can say "Mama, Dada, Momo, Cat, Paci, Bed, Book, Light, Eat, Ride, Night Night, Bye bye, I wanna go, Milk, Wawa (water), Pop, Papa, Gigi, baby, ball and my favorite "Down!" for touchdown! She is my football buddy! She loves it and we love our New Orleans Saints! They are 12-0!!! She is also a daredevil! We joke that she is my brother's child! She knows NO FEAR! She learned to swim this summer after she kept jumping in the pool!!! The lifeguard suggested we do the Infant Survival Swim Class and she was swimming on her own by the 2nd lesson!

Its Christmastime here in the Hill house! We are gearing up for a very exciting Christmas! We will be hosting two very special girls, Tatiana and Liza, from Ukraine. They are 14 and 9 and we met them this summer. Tatiana actually flew to Florida and spent three weeks with us. We even had the chance to take her to Disney! She loved it! Now we get to host them and we are so very excited! We actually have 17 orphans coming for Christmas to stay with 11 families in the New Braunfels area. I can't believe that we are at this point in our ministry and it excites me every time I think of it! God is good! He is calling His people into action to care for the orphan and they are being obedient. I never in a million years thought that I would part of something so huge! Thank you, Lord, for using me. I could never do this on my own strength.

Well, I need to get to bed. No wonder I don't do this often! Its 11:40 at night and I need to be sleeping :)

Merry Christmas to all!
The Hills

June 3, 2009

Our Journey is never boring!

I can't believe its summer! Where has the time gone? We love summer around here but our "here" will soon change! We leave on June 13th and will board a flight to Florida. We will be living in the Sunny State for 3 months. Craig has accepted a job down there and we will be "test driving" life in Florida for the summer. We are excited and scared at the same time. Our life here in Texas is wonderful! We belong to an incredible church and have such a great network of friends. But, life changes and we are certainly open to that change. We know that God has had to open many doors and put many things into place for this to happen, so we are completely trusting Him during this move.

We are getting our house ready and that involves lots of cleaning out! We had a garage sale a couple of weeks ago and got rid of alot of things. Molly was so excited to sell her toys and even made $57 from her lemonade and cookie sales. She asked everyone that came up to shop if they would like lemonade! I am trying to teach her the value of a dollar and how important it is to make money before you spend money. I was very proud of her. She sold her Little Pony Castle, a dollhouse and LOTS of little toys!!!

We are renting a duplex in Florida. I have a photo attached to this post. Its amazing and we are truly blessed to be living there for the summer. My brother, his wife, and their new baby are only an hour and a half from us so we are super excited! Pray for us and with us as we start this new journey!!!

On Saturday, June 6th - 15 orphans from Ukraine will land on US soil! We (G.R.A.C.E. Adoption and Orphan Care Ministry - put together our first hosting trip for the summer. We have some AMAZING families that have stepped up to the plate to host these precious children for almost 3 months. The children are 6-14 years of age and all orphans. Their stories would break your heart. These families will get to show them a love that they have never known. We are so excited that these children will get to experience a summer like no other. Pray with us that its a safe and fun summer for all of them.

Molly graduated from Kindergarten this year. Where has the time gone since we brought her home from Ukraine in 2004. Wow - time really does fly! She will start 1st grade next year and we plan on homeschooling. I am still researching curriculum but I am sure we will pick something before the Fall gets here.

Madeline will be 14 months on the 8th of June. I still can't believe that God blessed us with such a precious baby. I have to pinch myself every once in awhile to make sure I am not dreaming! She is walking (well, running) all over the place! Her nickname is "Search and Destroy" because it literally takes her about 2 seconds to destroy anything she touches. Her favorite food is pizza! She follows her sister everywhere and is little Mini-Molly! Its so cute.

We don't talk to her birthmom much and wish that we could see her. She is still living in Vegas and we hope and pray she is doing well. We think of her often and pray for her every night before we go to bed. We still love and care for her so much.

Well, I guess that's all in our little world. My next post will be from Sunny Florida!!!!

The Hills

April 11, 2009

Madeline is One...We are getting a dog...and Mom has a pacemaker!

It has been quite a month! I can't believe our sweet baby girl, Madeline, is a year old! Where in the world did the time go? It just seems like yesterday I was holding that 5 pound baby in my arms for the first time. I remember that day like it was just yesterday. The pure joy I felt when I looked over and saw Craig holding her for the first time still brings tears to my eyes. I was so excited that he got to hold her first and the look on his face was priceless. Though we approached her birth and adoption with caution, we knew the minute that we saw her - she was our daughter. She will always have a "Life Mommy!" We are forever grateful to her Life Mommy for the choice she made to give her life. We are blessed to know "B" and she will be in our lives and our hearts forever.

Madeline had her "First Fiesta" birthday party on the 4th. Mommy ran a 5K and then came home to make enchiladas. They thought it was important to appreciate Madeline's heritage by making it a fun, festive, Fiesta. We had a sombrero cake for the big kids and Madeline had her own "Chili Pepper." My sweet friend, Jamie Rutledge, did a fantastic job at both cakes! They were soooo yummy! If anyone ever needs a cake, let me know - she is the best! We had a jalapeno pinata filled with candy and cascarones to top off the evening. The bigger kids (aka Mommies and Daddies) had margaritas :) I needed it because I was having a really hard time coming to terms that my baby girl was ONE! Is it okay to cry on your daughter's birthday?

Before her birthday, we were blessed to go spend time in Ingram, Texas with our sweet friends, the Barrs. They invited us (oh wait, we invited ourselves) to their cabin in the woods. We had a fabulous time! The kids played so hard and even swam in the frigid cold pool! It was so relaxing and much needed. During our time there, I got a call that my mom had been rushed to the ER by ambulance! Her heart rate was around 32 and her blood pressure was low. She could not walk and was extremely weak. Craig, Madeline, and I rushed back to New Braunfels and Molly stayed with her friends. Once we got to the hospital, Mom was looking better but her heartrate was still dangerously low. After a series of tests, they determined she would need a pacemaker. So, a couple of days later, the cardiologist put in her pacemaker and now Mom is feeling a ton better! She will have more energy and I think she is better set for old age :) A friend of mine told me that she was "pre-wired for old age." That made her laugh!!! Anyway, she is doing so well and we have been showered with tons of support from family and friends to make things so wonderful!

Molly is doing fantastic! She turned 6 in January and is growing up so fast! She is our little gymnast and recently was evaluated at a new gym. They told us that she was "very" good and had lots of potential. Must be her Ukrainian blood :) She is a strong Level 2 but almost at Level 3. She may start at the new gym in May or June. We love her current coach and it will be a hard transition. But, she needs to be somewhere that works with her potential alittle more. Several of her friends have already switched to the new gym and are doing fantastic!

Craig is still plugging away at his firm. He wanted to sell his practice and was approached by a large firm in San Antonio. They are talking now about merging and forming a strategic alliance. So, it should be interesting. We are just praying and wanting to do what God wants for his business. He loves his clients and wants more time to develop those relationships.

G.R.A.C.E. Adoption Ministry is doing awesome! We have really been creating awareness of the 143 million orphans worldwide. We have a family that just returned last month from Ukraine with their precious daughter. And, we have another family that is returning tomorrow to pick up their little girl in Ukraine! We have a family waiting to travel soon and we have about 12 Ukrainian orphans scheduled to hit US soil for a hosting trip this summer. God is moving in the hearts of His people and its so cool to be a part of it.

Ballet is wonderful! I have two incredible teachers that help me with two days a week. God continues to bless me through Corum Deo Dance Academy - He is so good and we dance for Him and His Glory!

So, Craig was moved by his 6 year old daughter and we will be welcoming a new puppy into our home in mid-May. His name is Chaco and he is a chocolate Labradoodle. Craig is having a hard time with the name of the breed but is excited that its a BOY. Poor guy, he is so outnumbered!

I guess that is our update. Sorry that I have been a terrible blogger!!!!

Blessings to you all and HAPPY EASTER!!!!!!!!!!

February 20, 2009

One Year Ago Today...

It was rainy and cold day one year ago today as Molly and I loaded up the car and headed to San Antonio. We were on our way to the unexpected. We were on our way to an appointment that could change us forever. We were on our way to meet Briana. As we sat in the kid's part of McDonald's, my heart was beating fast. What would our meeting be like? Would she even want to consider me? Was I just here to give her information about adoption? What exactly was I on my way to do? Did I have my thoughts straight? How could I be objective and just give her the facts about adoption without getting emotionally involved? So, I waited. Then, they came through the door. I noticed her gorgeous blue eyes and then looked down at her belly, she was tiny. How could she be 6 months pregnant? She looked fantastic in her little tiny jeans. She stood there with her son and boyfriend. Her son's hair caught my attention, those precious blonde curls and those big blue eyes! He was absolutely adorable. And, her boyfriend was so attentive to her and to her needs. It was amazing to watch him wait on her hand and foot. She was so blessed to have these two precious men in her lives. Why in the world is she placing her child up for adoption, she was being taken care of so well. But, she told her story and it was so sad. She was a product of her environment. She had grown up in a home that didn't have the best of circumstances. She had done so well being a Mommy to her son but there was no way she could do it. I sympathized with her and wanted to take away her pain right then.
As I sat across the table from her, it became apparent that I was there to give my story. I told her about us, our struggles, and our adoption of Molly. I showed her our adoption scrapbook of our time in Ukraine. I was very open and honest about our family and the rollercoaster ride we had gone on in adoption. She seemed to sympathize with me too. She looked through the scrapbook and smiles came across her face as she turned the pages. After she was finished, she pulled sonogram pictures from her pocket and handed them to me and said "These are yours." I can still remember that I was numb. I took the photos but I bit of guilt came across me that I was taking something away from this precious girl. A relationship formed that day.
For the next 6 weeks, our lives changed. I remember getting in the car that day at McDonald's and not being able to speak. I think Molly must have asked me a million times if she was going to let us adopt her baby but I couldn't answer - I just sat there. I remember calling Craig and telling him that we were going to have a baby. I could barely drive back home that day but I made it. I called all my close friends and family and everyone began praying. I guarded my heart but was so excited I could have jumped out of my skin that day!
So, as I look back on this past year, I have tears rolling down my face as I remember the day I met the girl who would change our life forever. I will forever be grateful to the self sacrifice she made that we may have our arms and hearts filled with a precious baby. Thank you, Briana, I love you and will forever!

February 10, 2009

10 Months and Crawling!!!!

We finally have a Crawler! Its taken us awhile to get over the fear of falling but she has it! I can't believe our baby is 10 months old - she is growing WAY too fast. It hasn't hit me quite yet that she will be 1 in less than 2 months. Where has the time gone? Here is a video of her crawling for the first time - I am so thankful that I had the camera ready and that it had 2 minutes left before the battery died!!

January 29, 2009

Christmas, Birthday, Loose Tooth and Key West....

Wow, its been quite the two months! Molly turned 6 years old on January 12th! She chose to have a small tea party with a few close girlfriends - it was quite the change from our normal "HUGE, INVITE THE ENTIRE TOWN" parties. Molly has quite the heart and never wants to leave anyone out. So, it was so hard to have her keep her guest list to a minimum. But, I was proud of her even though she has stressed over those that were not able to attend. We had a "Fancy Nancy" party and my friend, Jamie, made the most adorable cake (picture below). It was AMAZING! The girls dressed in their fanciest dresses and we had so many activities for the girls to do that went with the "Fancy Nancy" theme. It was so much fun and Gammy and I even got fancy!
Madeline turned 9 months in January! UNBELIEVABLE! She gets prettier and prettier everyday. She was pretty when she came out and I can't believe how much she has grown. People literally stop us in the store to stare at her! I think she looks more and more like her "lifemom" B. She sits up and goes on all fours but REFUSES to crawl. She loves to hang on our fingers, pull herself up, and then walk with us holding her hands. Its so funny and I think she just might skip crawling all together. Molly did and she is just fine. Madeline still has two teeth. But, I am thinking she is on the brink of a couple of more. Just waiting!
Speaking of teeth, Molly has her first loose tooth. Its been loose for 29 days and counting. Tonight it started bleeding so I think its about to fall out. She is really nervous and I think she thinks she will swallow it in her sleep. We just can't wait for it to fall out so the Tooth Fairy can visit and be done!
Ballet started back the middle of January. After an amazing Christmas performance, I gave the girls and myself a break! During the break, I was seeking treatment for my hip. I have dealt with hip pain for 8 years and have been to many doctors, physical therapists, massage therapists, etc. Nothing seems to be helping but I found a chiropractor that is actually helping for the first time. Its been quite the journey but he advised me to find an alternative to teaching dance. Either I could close the studio and let 60 little girls down or hire teachers. After much prayer, I found the PERFECT teachers! I am so blessed to have Brittany and Elizabeth Docter as my new ballet teachers. They are a huge blessing to my studio and the girls love them! I am keeping teaching to a minimum right now while I am seekig treatment and hope to be back in full force soon. I love teaching and I miss all my little ballerinas but the teachers are taking such good care of them.
The adoption ministry is in full swing! I met with the elders of our church in late December to get the ministry approved to be under the authority of the church. We have not been officially approved but I think its in the works! We just got our Certificate of Formation from the Secretary of State and now we are working on our 501c3. I hear its ALOT of work but I am willing to do whatever it takes to bring awareness of the 143 million orphans in the world!!!
For Christmas, we stayed in New Braunfels. It was pretty low key but Mom joined us along with Craig's parents. It was nice to be quiet and be traveling all over the place. We did board a flight on New Year's Eve headed for Key West! We couldn't wait to get there and see our new addition to the Robinson Family - Sydney Claire! She is absolutely adorable! She loved her Aunt Becca and I loved her too. I got to get in some great snuggling time!!! They are actually in San Antonio for the weekend and we get to see them on Saturday! Can't wait!
Well, I think that is all for now!
Pray for the Bredesens - they just got their referral for a 12 month old little boy in Ethiopia! So exciting! I am praying that they travel soon - hopefully in the next couple of months.
Hope all of you are doing well - let me hear from you!!!