(Starting with this post, we will be using all of our family's real names, rather than blog nicknames. We are the Reynolds family, not the Beaver family. The nicknames for my husband and me, "Mr. and Mrs. Beaver" came from the characters in the movie "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.")
For our family, late April holds three milestones: Hope's birthday, followed by the 'famiversary" of Hope and her biological sisters, Christina and Faith on the same day as Eliana's birthday. This year Hope's birthday also coincided with Easter. So many grand reasons to thank the Lord for His overwhelming goodness to our family!
Late Sunday afternoon, we sat the birthday girl in the closest thing to a throne in our great room for gift opening.
When we open gifts, we always go from youngest to oldest. Even at her young age, Eliana has truly embraced the biblical sentiment that it is better to give than to receive. She is a thoughtful gift giver, picking out just the right present for the recipient. She then takes great joy in presenting the gift.
Hope received a wide array of gifts from her family, some toys and some which were more "gown up" and fitting for a girl on the cusp of her teens.
After donning the jewelry she received, she immediately dove into relishing a new set of Legos. She had help from two of her siblings. Nathaniel and Eliana who are on the opposite ends of that long-and-somewhat-strange season ~ now called the tweens by marketers ~ in which you are maturing toward adulthood while there is still much about you that is resonates with that which is of childhood.
While they collaborated on building the Lego set, some serious grilling was going on. John was the appointed grill master for Hope's birthday dinner.
I'm not sure what seasoning secret the chef was sharing here, but he had a captivated audience in his sisters, Sarah (left) and Kirsten (right). We thank God for the close friendships our adult children share!
The girls went back inside, and the men turned to technology.
We finished off the celebration of Hope's twelfth with a beautiful cake make by Faith.
In the build-up to Hope's birthday, we informed her that we had a plan to make a "surprise" cake. The reason for the secrecy was that a couple of months earlier, we stumbled across a recipe that we knew would fit Hope's personality perfectly. Until the first slice, the birthday girl didn't know that the white icing hid layers of vibrant color.
For our family the cake was virtually symbolic of how Hope Alina entered our family nine years ago. When Mr. R. and I went on our "first trip" as part of the adoption procedure, we were permitted to spend 45 minutes with the toddler we were considering adopting (Hope's sisters, Christiana and Faith were in another orphanage for older children.) Our first encounter with the diminutive orphan was in the office of her orphanage's director. Hope was like the cake baked for her this year. Her true colors were completely hidden.
The 2-1/2 year old sat in our laps in a silent orphanage in a small industrial city in far western Russia and didn't make move or utter a sound. Despite how passive and silent Hope was, the two of us were smitten in three-quarters of an hour. Right there on the spot we signed a legal document committing to return and make her our child. However, even as we made the promise, we didn't have the slightest inkling what she would add to our family. This little orphan was still all "white frosting," so to speak. Little did we know that hidden behind her then frozen exterior was a vivacious child brimming with curiosity and individuality. With love and a sense of security, boy, did she blossom! We soon discovered that when the Lord added Hope Alina to our family, He added a veritable rainbow! This month, as we celebrate both her birthday and her famiversary, we again thank God for His good gift of Hope!