Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Next Time...

Last weekend we got to see Alison, our second oldest daughter, at 36 weeks pregnant.

The next time Alison and her daddy see each other, she will be a mother.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Happy Birthday, Anna!

Before I post any photos, I want to share the thought that runs through my mind over and over this time of year. I thank God for our Anna's birthmother. When she found herself pregnant, she was a young, vulnerable woman. She lived in a culture screaming at her to abort the "inconvenience." Instead of doing that, she had the courage and selflessness to choose to give up much in order to give the child she was carrying life. Thank you, dear woman, for giving us the chance to parent your beautiful and precious baby. There are no words that could ever express our gratitude. You are a hero to us! We love you!


Twenty-four years ago today a daughter was born to a single girl several states away from us. In an act of great love, that young, hurting mother placed her child in our arms and made the baby girl our baby girl. That child has brought us unspeakable joy.

Anna has now been married for 3-1/2 years and lives several states away from us. I visit her and her family as often as possible ~ not just to see our grandchildren ~ but also to see Anna. She is one of my dearest friends!

Not long before I visited Anna this summer, I had done a maternity photo shoot of her sister, Alison. The two of us had a blast! As Alison and I were laughing together during her shoot, I knew that I wanted to share similar fun with Anna by doing a shoot with her on my next visit.

As I contemplated the idea I came upon the perfect inspiration, a stunning post by Sarah Bradshaw of Sarah Bradshaw Photography. After seeing the artwork of this Washington D.C. photographer, I was on a hunt for the right tools, so to speak, to attempt to capture something somewhat similar. I stumbled upon a lace dress at a vintage store in Lawrence, Kansas and felt like I'd found treasure. I called Anna from the shop to see if she was willing to don "play clothes" again like she did as a little girl, and she said she was game.

On Anna's birthday, I want to share these photos with the world and proclaim how good our God is. He took a severely infertile couple and made us parents through her adoption. Happy birthday, my beloved daughter!

Here is the story of our shoot:

While Anna's sister, Christina, babysat Anna's little girls, we left the house just after sunrise. We started our photography adventure at the grocery store. There we purchased a bouquet of flowers. I knew I just had to incorporate flowers. Anyone who knows Anna well knows that she adores them. We then went to a local park for our first attempt at a mother-daughter photo shoot.

After we'd played around a bit with our first "prop", the flowers, we moved on to a second one ~ a deep purple silk scarf that I had picked up at the same vintage shop where I found Anna's black dress for this shoot.

Anna immediately wrapped the beautiful fabric around herself. As she did, I couldn't help noticing how the early morning light played up her rich brown eyes.

I then asked Anna to play with the scarf in the light breeze.

As the light, luscious fabric wafted in the wind, Anna was inspired to pull it in front of her face like a veil.

We were both tickled with the result.

We then moved to another part of the park which has a stone arch. 

Next I moved my daughter to a short stone wall. We pulled one flower out of the bouquet for the last few photos. The gerber daisy is Anna's favorite type of flower.

Our mother-daughter photo shoot was a great success in my mind. Anna and I laughed together and enjoyed every minute of our special morning.

I'll finish this post with a close-up of Anna Mackenzie that makes this mother's heart sing.

Happy 24th, my beloved Anna! You are a gift from God!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Every Good Thing Comes from Above ~ Family Reunion!

Much missed and sadly missing from this photo is our beloved daughter, Kirsten (19), who was unable to get away from her internship
(from the left) The Nix family ~ Our oldest daughter, Anna, with husband, Aaron, and daughters, Brielle (2) and Evelyn (1); Denise and Jim; John (22), Sarah (20); Nathaniel (15), Christina (16), Faith (14), Hope (12), Zhenya (21) Eliana (10), Matthew (19); and the Moores family ~ Alison, Eric and Baby Boy

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Bubble "Babies"

One evening recently the weather was just right for some outdoor play. I took our youngest daughters out for some fun. Because Hope (12) and Eliana (10) are our eleventh and twelfth children, we try to go out of our way to make sure they don't miss out on some of the experiences our older children had when they were younger. For me this evening was to have the added bonus of time alone with my youngest princesses.

On this play date, we took out giant bubble wands I'd recently found at Target. For this fun, we borrowed our neighbor's yard. For twelve years now he has kindly allowed us to use his land whenever we'd like. As you'll see in these pictures, his yard has to be one of the most picturesque spots on the planet, especially near sunset.

Before we got out the bubbles, I wanted to snap a quick portrait of Hope and Eliana. As tweens, they are changing physically nearly every day,

Next came the bubble fun!

Hope immediately figured out how to manufacture a multitude of bubbles.

I love the swish of Hope's hair and skirt in opposite directions in this photo. Hope just recently got a shorter "older girl" haircut, and this photo catches the color and movement of her shorter, layered locks perfectly. I thank God that He graciously gave me these photos as mementos of my youngest daughters just on the cusp of their teen years.

Both girls found the activity irresistible!

This photo is very "Eliana". She is remarkably athletic while still being quite girlie. For her, blowing bubbles was as much about trying to catch what she'd created as it was the blowing of the bubbles.

Does this former orphan's heart warm your heart like it does mine? Isn't God so good to have rescued her?

I love how Eliana's long locks catch the sun's diminishing rays in this photo. 

These two are the very best of friends. They are truly a love-knit duo! We thank God routinely for placing two girls who were born hundreds of miles apart in Russia in such close proximity to one another in the same family through adoption.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Evelyn the Adventurer

In June I was blessed to be able to visit our oldest daughter, Anna, and her husband, Aaron. When the Lord gives me the great blessing of one of these trips to see our married girls, I try to take one of our older children who is still living at home with me. That way that kiddo and I get some one-on-one time. This also gives that child the chance for some time alone with his or her oldest sister. While Jim and I are constantly amazed at the many benefits of being a super-sized family, we also realize that one of the dangers of being part of a large family is getting lost in the crowd.

This time it was Christina's turn to travel with mom. Not only did she love getting some sister-time in with Anna, Christina thoroughly enjoyed having her two nieces to herself. Both Brielle and Evelyn (pictured here) seemed to delight in getting some "Auntie Tina" time.

On one of the days during our visit we visited a large local park for a lunch picnic and some playtime on the play ground. Brielle, who had just turned two a couple of weeks earlier, ate her first-ever sub. The very small "children's size" sandwich looked so big in her bitty toddler hands.

After hungrily making quick work of the big lunch, my favorite two-year-old was off to conquer the play equipment. We were surprised to find ourselves alone on a beautiful day, but that meant Brielle could climb to her heart's content.

The photo above has quickly become a favorite of mine. The Lord allowed me to capture my oldest grandchild in all her glorious toddlerness (Yes, I just made up that word!)...chubby hands, rolls around her wrists, tiny feet, wispy-wavy hair, fair skin and pink, chubby cheeks. Ahhhh...our Creator is beyond amazing!


Last summer Brielle was too young to truly understand the magic of a playground, but this summer every ladder and slide is her delight. She slid down slide after slide as her mama and sister watched.

As a younger sister, Evelyn, wasn't content to just watch. Though she was a couple of months from turning one, she wanted to try whatever her sister was doing...and she was fearless.

Evelyn wasn't content just to try out the slides. Even though she wasn't yet walking independently she was determined to make the ascent up the slide. Anna, Christina and I thought this little one would quickly tire and give up. Boy, were we wrong!

The 10-month-old took stock of her goal and started the arduous climb. (The photo above is also now one of my favorites. I just love Evelyn's happy look of determination.)

Although it's hard to see Anna's hand in these photos, Evelyn's mama was keeping very close in case Evelyn's strength flagged.

We were stunned when Evelyn reached her goal.

Evelyn's adventures weren't over, however.

Once she'd climbed the slide, she wanted to do it again...

...and again and again...

...and again. Before she ran out of spunk, Evelyn had made the steep ascent SIX times! Who knew a baby could accomplish such a feat!!!

The little slide-climber was so exhausted she fell asleep sitting up in Auntie Tina's arms while drinking her bottle.

All this time Brielle had also been busy. Both little girls were ready for their much-needed afternoon naps... we headed for home after a magical trip to the park.