Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A-Day Pictures!


Cale looks so little here.


If a picture says a thousand words, what does this say about our family?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

His A-Day!

In the midst of our broken hearts, and sadness, God knew we needed some joy, sunshine.

There is no doubt that He planned our latest Adoption Day to be right in the middle of my Granddaddy's death and funeral services.

What I'm trying to tell you is... as of Tuesday December 3rd, we've finalized another adoption.


I have lots of catching up to do.

But first I want to introduce you to our newest son, Caleb Norris.

(Same judge as Roly Poly)

When God sent Caleb to us, He knew what He was doing. 

Caleb is full of joy... and is such a happy kid.

In fact, the "symbol" I have assigned to him to represent him is: sunshine.  (That's another post for another day.)

We are so thrilled to have him officially join our home, and to give him our last name.  He has been so excited to change his last name.  In fact, he asked if he could change his first name to Chuck and be Chuck Norris.  :) 

We said if that's what he wanted he could... but thankfully decided he liked Caleb better than Chuck.

He's a funny kid.

We had a very special day planned for him... as we do with all of our kids, but it was cut a little short considering the death of my Granddaddy.  We had receiving friends the night of his adoption day.  But we told him we would make it up to him.

He has been begging to go eat a local restaurant that serves wild game.  But they didn't open until 5 pm.  And it wasn't possible... but we're going in the next week or so.  And I can't wait to take him.

Early Tuesday morning we had our "A-Day" Pictures taken.  We didn't have to be at court until 3:15 (our latest one yet) so it was different having "I'm adopted" pictures taken before the adoption was finalized.  But we were trying to squeeze everything in.

After pictures, we ate an extremely healthy breakfast at Cracker Barrel.  

Caleb chose the Pecan Sticky Bun French Toast.  :)  

Hey... it's a celebration!

After breakfast, it was still early, so we did some Christmas shopping in the Cracker Barrel store.  They have the cutest stuff.  

Then we headed to the movies.  

Caleb loves to read and has read The Hunger Games series several times.  We bought the series for Christmas last year, after he had already read it once... and he has read it several times this past year.  So when Catching Fire came out, we knew exactly what to do on his A-Day!

*Disclaimer:  I have never heard or seen any of The Hunger Games books or the movies before this.  And I never thought I would have a kid that was into "popular" books and movies.  (I tried really hard to not fit-in in school.)  And I wasn't sure if I wanted to support this movie... I had heard some things that I didn't think I would "agree" with.  But turns out, it wasn't so bad.

Caleb had to catch me up on the History of the first Hunger Games movie before Catching Fire started.  And I was a little lost.  But I think the movie stood alone pretty well.  I understood most of it.

It was really hard to watch the movie while dealing with the fresh death of my Granddaddy.  I cried several times during the movie.  And the President of The Capitol reminded me of my Granddaddy.  It was hard to watch, in that sense.  But I did enjoy the movie.  I might have to go back and read the books.  

The movie "started" at 11:55 supposedly.  But, after previews, it didn't actually start until 12:25.  Wow!  So we knew we would cutting it close making it to court on time.  We whispered to Caleb, "when the movie is over... run to the car!"  I was worried that we would have to leave before it was over.  But it ended just in time.

And we actually made it to court, found a parking spot, parked, and went inside with 7 minutes to spare.  (We always plan to get there 15 minutes early, just in case.  So we had plenty of time.)

Court was running 15 minutes late.  Imagine that.  :)

December 3rd was declared "Adoption Day" by the state... meaning most of the cases on the docket for that day were adoptions.  The judges like to schedule Adoption Days right before Christmas to grant many of the families Christmas wishes.  We were so blessed to be put on this date.  Originally, we were supposed to adopt Caleb in November, but something fell through.  We were so upset.  But thankfully, it was only moved back a couple of weeks, instead of months.

Check out that huge smile.  
He is such a happy little guy.  
This is while we were waiting to be called into the courtroom.
"No, close-ups, mom!"

Suddenly, our Guardian ad Litem rounded the corner and told us the judge was ready for us.  

Deep breath.

Here we go.

Every adoption has been different so far.  We had this judge when we adopted Roly Poly... and he does things completely different than the judge who did Cindy's.  

Once inside the courtroom, TJ was sworn in and asked questions about how long Caleb had lived with us, how many children we currently have in our home, if he had any special needs, or any Native American descent.  

Then, the important part... "do you understand that once this adoption is finalized this child will be considered legally yours and the state will not be able to tell any difference than if this child was biologically yours?"

(I always get so emotional during this part.)

TJ:  "Yes."

Lawyer:  "How do you feel about this child?"

TJ:  "We love him."

Lawyer:  "How does he feel about you?"

TJ:  "Well, we think he loves us too."


TJ was then dismissed from the stand, and I was called up.

Thankfully, I just have to say I agree with everything TJ said.  (shew)  I do not do well speaking in front of people.  

Lawyer to me:  "Do you understand that once this adoption is finalized this child will be considered legally yours and the state will not be able to tell any difference than if this child was biologically yours?"


Me:  "Yes."

Lawyer:  "How do you feel about this child?"

Me:  "We love him."

Lawyer:  "How does he feel about you?"

Me (laughing):  "We think he loves us too."

Then, the judge called Caleb up in front of the courtroom.

He asked Caleb, "Do you good in school?"

(He does... he had all A's and 1 B on his last report card.)

Judge:  "What do you call them?"  (Pointing to us...)

Caleb (laughing):  "Mom and Dad."  (I guess he thought that was a silly question.)

(Everyone in the courtroom proceeded with an "awwwww.")

Judge:  "Do you like living with them?"

Caleb:  "Yes sir."

(I was so nervous that he would forget to say sir.  We practice it... but it takes a lot of reminding... and he was nervous.  And I was nervous that he would forget.)

Judge:  "Do you love them?"  (Pointing to us...)

Caleb:  "Yes sir."

Judge:  "What is your favorite subject in school?"

Caleb:  "Language Arts."

Judge:  "Oh so you like to write?"

Caleb:  "Well, not write, but read."

Judge:  "Oh, well reading is good.  You can go anywhere in the world by reading.  You can be here in Greenville, and in China at the same time, just by reading.  I want you to promise me something.  After you graduate middle school, high school, and then college, I want you to come back and visit me.  Can you promise me that?"

Caleb was so excited, he looked back at us for approval to say yes.  And then shook his head yes to the judge.

Then the judge asked Caleb the most difficult question of all, "son, do you like suckers?"

Caleb (shrugging shoulders):  "Ummm, I guess."

And the judge gave him one.  (I remember this from Roly Poly's too.)

I thought it was funny that Caleb said "I guess" because any other time he would have been all over that sucker.  :)

He ordered Caleb to sit back down with us.  Then he granted Caleb his new last name, and slammed the gavel into his podium.

With that, everyone in the courtroom started clapping and cheering.  And then we rushed to take a picture with the judge, and back out into the waiting room.  Just like that, we were official parents to our son.

There is nothing like hearing a judge declare your child "legally yours forever!"


This picture is blurry, if you look closely.  I tried really hard to fix it.  
I had my camera on Auto focus, so I really don't know how it turned out blurry.  
We actually took 3... and they're all blurry.  
But it's our tradition to take a picture out in the waiting area 
while waiting on our paperwork to be stamped.  
So here is this blurry photo... bleck.

Since December 3rd was declared "Adoption Day" by the state, a local church and the Foster Care Review Board hosted a reception for kids and families that were just adopted... right up Caleb's alley.

They had coffee, water, cake and cookies!

Then Caleb spotted the goodie bags.  (He can never be surprised... he always ruins it.)  "Are those for us?"  A lady who helped set up ran over and said, "oh yes, I forgot to give you one."

...Don't worry, my kid would NOT have rested until he got his goodie bag.  :)

Snack in one hand, bag in another.

 $10 in Chick-fil-A gift cards.

 A coffee cup that says, "A Home for Me."
He loved it!

Happy Adoption Day, Caleb!  We are so happy to finally call you a Norris.  
(Caleb kept saying, "I'm finnnnnnallllllyyyy getting adopted!)

Forgot to mention... our family song was playing before the movie started in the theater!  
How cool is God?

"We're gonna make this place your home..."

Monday, December 2, 2013

That's the truth with my hand up.

It is with a heavy heart, and tear filled eyes that I write this post.

My sweet, loving, wonderful Granddaddy, Marion, has passed away.

To say that my whole family is heartbroken, is an understatement.

On Thanksgiving, he was celebrating 2 years since his heart attack.  I wrote a post about him then.

He has completely recovered and was getting around better than any other 83 year old I know.

And a heart attack is the very thing that sent him to heaven.

On Thursday, he wasn't feeling well.  He was having pains in his left elbow.  He visited his doctor who said he was fine, but gave him a prescription just in case.  And told him that if he started to feel bad, to give him a call.

On Sunday morning, he woke up and said he was feeling 200% better... and then he basically collapsed immediately after that.

My mom just happened to be on the phone with my grandmother at that exact moment.  911 was called, my uncle and my dad performed CPR until EMS got there.  And CPR was performed until his pulse was found.

He was rushed to the emergency room and a stent was inserted during surgery.  But heaven was calling him home... and his blood pressure only decreased until it no longer registered.

My Granddaddy wouldn't want it any other way, though.  "I feel 200% better," and then just like that... he entered heaven.  Now he really does feel 200% better.

He has left a lasting legacy on everyone he ever met... and was part of the village that helped raise me.  His fingerprints are all over my entire life, and the town that he grew up in.

Here are a few things about my Granddaddy.

  1.  He wrote a weekly article in the city newspaper called, "That's the truth with my hand up."  And everyone in the town read it.
  2.  He called my Grandmother the "Joy of his life" because her name is Joy.

  3.  He had 5 kids, 9 grandkids, and 11 great grands (6 of them are mine).  He loved his family very much.
  4.  He was born in 1930.
  5.  He LOVED Southern Gospel music and sang bass in "The Golden Chords" with his family, along with many other quartets he formed throughout the years.  They traveled all over singing.  And he is quite famous in the Southern Gospel community.
  6.  He served in the Korean War and also started a Gospel Quartet over there.
  7.  He was an avid golf player... and was pretty good!
  8.  He was a sign painter; and still painted everything by hand... and still WORKED!  Many of the signs around our small town were painted by him.
  9.  He was the music minister at his church, that he and his family started in 1975.
10.  He was ALWAYS happy, joyful, and had a smile on his face.
11.  He had the BEST outlook on life.
12.  He really loved Jesus and it showed.
13.  The first time he ever met TJ, was at one of my brother's football games.  He bet TJ that he could beat him in a foot race around the football field, and even though Granddaddy was over 75, it would have been close.
14.  He would ask everyone at church on Sunday mornings if they wanted to do the "special music" that morning.  He always said, "you'll never know if you don't ask."
15.  He made the loudest spit noise EVER when brushing his teeth.  And we always made fun of him for it.
16.  He loved to rub lotion all over our faces.  And we all hated it.  And always wanted his hands in our hair, or on our face.  And he always stuck his fingers in our mouths when we yawned.
17.  He liked to check vending machines for loose change.  And would use that money to buy our family Christmas presents every year.
18.  I get my coffee drinking from him.  He drinks it while walking through town, during summer... and I do too.  He always said, "if you're hot, drink coffee.  It will cool you off."
19.  Anytime anyone ended their sentence with the word at, he would respond, "it's behind the at."  It didn't matter if he didn't even know you.  He was big on grammar.

Famous quote from him, "The worst invention ever is: air conditioning; if we didn't have it, we wouldn't know we were hot."

This is at his 82nd birthday last year... he said it was the first birthday party he's ever had.

Please pray for my Grandmother.  Pray for peace and comfort for her.  They have been married for over 60 years; and she has never spent a night alone.

She is no stranger to death, as most of her siblings have passed away.  She even had a son that passed away when he was 12.  But a huge piece of her heart... and ours is now missing.  And it's going to take long time to start healing.

So please, please, please keep her in your prayers.  She is such a precious lady.

And that's the truth with my hand up!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I love you BUT...

I love Dr. Phil.

I watch his show basically everyday.

I don't agree with everything he has to say (who does?) but I do think he has a lot of great advice, and is always looking out for children's best interests.

He had a mother and daughter as guests during a show he recorded (a really long time ago).

The daughter was struggling through her teenage years, and the mom couldn't figure out why.

The mother would say things like, "I think you're a smart kid, but I think you're making really bad choices."

Or, "You are beautiful, but you wear too much make up."

And Dr. Phil let this type of conversation go on for a few more sentences.

The daughter was crying, and the mother felt as if she was only trying to help her daughter, and couldn't figure out why she wasn't getting through to her.

Dr. Phil then said, "when you say, 'but' you negate everything you said before it."

A few months ago, I realize I had fallen into the "I love you, BUT..." mom category.

"I love you, BUT you need to clean your room."

"I love you, BUT you forgot to sweep after supper."

"I love you, BUT you are driving me crazy."

"I love you, BUT I am really tired."

"I love you, BUT you need to listen."

All my kids were hearing were negative things, "clean your room, listen, obey, you're driving me crazy!" (ouch)!  And they weren't hearing the "I love you" because I was negating it with my own butt but.

And I didn't want to be that mom.

So I started trying to remove my butt but from my conversations with my children.

It was hard.

And it looked something like this,

"I love you, AND you need to clean your room."

"I love you, AND you forgot to sweep after supper."

"I love you, AND you are driving me crazy."

"I love you, AND I am really tired."

"I love you, AND you need to listen."

I know what you're thinking, "all you did is replace the word BUT with the word AND."

You're right.  That's all I did.

I know, I know.  It doesn't seem that much different.  But what makes it different is the fact that I had to make a conscious effort to really think about what I was wanting to say, and changing what I said, before I said it.

Got it?

You are no longer negating the "I love you" with your butt but statement.

After a while, your butt but will be gone from your vocabulary and your life, and you conversations with your children will be a lot more encouraging and loving.

And our children will know we love them because they will be hearing it, instead of having it negated with our big butts, I mean buts.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Quality over quantity.

My words are jumbled.

The keys are hard to press.

My fingers are so very heavy.

He tells me, "quality over quantity."

I assume He means my writing.

My house is messy.

My laundry pile is over-flowing.

My floors are sticky.

He tells me, "quality over quantity."

I assume He means my chores.

My day is busy.

My kids need their mama.

My heart is breaking for more hours in a day... with them.

He tells me, "quality over quantity."

I assume He means my parenting.

We never get alone time.

Husband is working overtime.

We haven't had a date in who remembers when...

He tells me, "quality over quantity."

I assume He means my marriage.

I can't find the time to read my Bible.

I'm just too tired.

I stumble around a few verses.

He tells me, "quality over quantity."

I assume He means my quiet time.

I'm up all night with the baby.

I haven't had a full night's sleep in months.

The alarm goes off too early.

He tells me, "quality over quantity."

I assume He means my sleep.

I'm at a time in my life where it's time to weed out the quantity in my life, and keep the quality.

Quality over quantity.

Are you at a place in your life where you need to weed some things out too?  What do those areas look like for you?

"For everything there is a season,  a time for every activity under heaven."
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


About 2 years ago, I heard about an organization called Holden Uganda.  It was started by a mommy who's baby boy, Holden, was born sleeping.

I first wrote about Holden Uganda here.

Here is what Holden's mommy has to say about the organization:

Holden Uganda was founded in December 2010 to spread the love of Christ with people around the globe. Our mission is to provide clean drinking water, through Artesian wells, to African communities.  

Our initial project was to build nine wells in Uganda, representing the nine months of life Holden lived on earth. The Lord has blessed abundantly, and we have reached that goal as of 1/8/2011. We will continue to build wells for as long as they are funded. In the words of a dear friend, “When you are in God’s will there are NO LIMITS - don’t let it stop with 9!” 
These wells provide HOPE. Between 500 & 2000 Ugandan people are given hope through clean drinking water with each well. Also, each well is dedicated to a baby or child who went to heaven before his/her parents, providing hope to the families.

I added Sadie Mae's name to a list, to build a well in her memory, and forgot about it.

Then, one day while taking my kids shoe shopping, I received an email that was tagged as "important."  I don't get those often.

This is what the email said,

It is with great excitement and joy I am honored to share these photos with you today! Below is the report from Dr. Patrick, and pictures of HUF #135 in honor of Sadie Mae Norris 

Thank you for choosing to partner with HUF. Our prayer is that sharing your story will encourage and show God's love to someone else.  

"He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us." 2 Corinthians 1:4 

It's completed!!!

Just think... they are drinking clean water for the first time in their lives!  And they are seeing Sadie Mae's name when they get water.

She is giving this village hope, by giving them clean water.

If this doesn't bring tears to your eyes, I don't know what will.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

For children only

This is an excerpt from my children's Bible story I read to them as I was putting them to bed last night:

The background of the story comes from Matthew 18, Mark 10, and Luke 18.

The disciples were arguing about who was the most important helper in God's kingdom.

In the midst of their arguing, some little children came up to Jesus.

"Jesus' [disciples] tried to send them away.  'Jesus doesn't have time for you!' they said.  'He's too tired.'  But they were wrong.  Jesus always had time for children.
'Don't ever send them away!'  Jesus said.  'Bring the little ones to me.'"

"Would you have lined up quietly to see Jesus?  Do you think Jesus would have asked you how good you'd been before he'd give you a hug?  Would you have had to be on your best behavior?  And get dressed up?  And not speak until you're spoken to?  Or... would you have done just what these children did -- run straight up to Jesus and let him pick you up in his arms and swing you and kiss you and hug you and then sit you on his lap and listen to your stories and your chats?  You see, children loved Jesus, and they knew they didn't need to do anything special for Jesus to love them.  All they needed to do was to run into his arms.  And so that's just what they did." 
"Well, after all the laughing and games, Jesus turned to his [disciples] and said, 'No matter how big you grow, never grow up so much that you lose your child's heart: full of trust in God.  Be like these children.  They are the most important in my kingdom.'"

And sometimes, after reading to our children, we cry while tucking them in.  Because even though this story was geared and written for them... the gospel still applies to us.  We are God's children... no matter how big we get.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Let It Go

Today is Sadie Mae's diagnosis day.

It's been 3 years since the day we found out she had no kidneys, and would never live.

These 3 years have flown by; and boy how our lives changed since that day.

I always like to celebrate her diagnosis day.  I want her life to be celebrated.  And even though I look back and see a storm, clouded with many tears following the day of her diagnosis; I can now see the rainbow that God promised too.

I decided last minute to have a mini balloon release tonight, as a family, in her memory.  And to remind our kids (who never got to meet her) that they are here because of her.  And that she is still very much a part of our family.

All the kids released their balloons.  It was now my turn.

So soon?

I just want to keep mine.

Everyone was waiting on me.

And I could feel them waiting.

What would I do?

How would I react?

I didn't feel ready for the balloon release to be over.

It happened so fast.

I just wanted to enjoy it for a little while longer.

But, it was time.

As the balloon string slipped out of my hand, I found myself getting emotional.

It's been a while.

God whispered the words, "Let It Go" to me, just as He did when I had to let her go, over 2 years ago.

I felt  the sting of "forever" as I LET IT GO.

There was no getting the balloon back.

No matter how high I jumped, it was gone.

There was nothing I could do.

I felt myself wanting to turn back time.  I was now hesitant.  I wasn't ready to watch the balloon drift away.

"Come back!"  I felt myself screaming from the inside.

"I'm not ready!"

I want to enjoy your beauty for just a while longer.

I want to hold you, feel you in my hands.

But just like that, I let it go... and it was gone.

The balloon has drifted almost out of sight.

There is no turning back.  There is no getting it back.

Yes, of course, there will always be more balloons.  But not THIS ONE.

This was my balloon.

As I watched the balloon drift into the clouds, probably miles away now, the words "Let It Go" still ran through my head.

I tried to hold back a tear, but instead, I LET IT GO.

Just like I made the decision to LET HER GO.

And just like the balloon, she too was gone... just like that, so fast, so effortlessly, so painless, so beautifully.



Let It Go

Let It Go

Let it Go

Let it Go

Let it go

Let it go

let it go

let it go...








Saturday, June 15, 2013

Newborn Pictures!

Here are Bella Rae's newborn pictures!

A friend of ours, who is trying to establish her photography business volunteered to take them for us. (Such a blessing to t his picture crazy mama!)

I changed her outfit a million times.

Unfortunately, I only received 2 pictures.  :(

I guess I can't complain because I got them for free; and am thankful for the 2 I got, but would have loved to see them all.

Oh well...

Here's my beautiful girl at 1 week old.

And yes... she has blue eyes!!!!  (So did her Great Papa Ray... her namesake.)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Funny stuff from Roly Poly...

I said previously that I never realized how funny Roly Poly actually is, until Bella Rae came along.  I will be sharing some of the funny things she has done and said since Bella Rae came along.  Keep looking for the titles "Funny stuff from Roly Poly."

I don't know if it's because she suddenly grew up, or if I was just blind to it before.  But now I realize, my 3 year old, is hilarious!

You all know how much she goes to the doctor... I really should invest in a quality, toy doctor's kit; because she finds things all over the house to play doctor with.

Like my breast pump...

Apparently it makes a great stethoscope.  She was walking around the house with it, saying, "thump, thump, thump, thump."

Love this kid!

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