Sunday, December 21, 2008


We always like to celebrate Claire's Gotcha Day by going to P. F. Ch*ng's for a special dinner. She gets to open a little something to mark the day. This year she got two books and a bracelet that we had gotten in her province, Guizhou. It is hand-made sterling silver. Since Claire's most favorite dessert is always chocolate anything, we always order her the Great Wall of Chocolate Cake. This year we had them add two candles to celebrate her two years home. (I got that idea from our travel-mates who did this with their sweet AnnaClaire.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Two Years Today!

Two years ago today at 8:00 am, the most amazing little girl was placed in our arms. She didn't cry at all, but she she studied us very intently. Her SWI director kept telling her we were her Mama and Baba and she would look at the correct one each time the director said that. We adopted Ling Ling the same day. We were told her name translated to mean "a unique clever girl" and she certainly is that. We called her Ling Ling for several days and added Claire to the end some. Eventually we called her Ling Ling Claire and when she was ready, just Claire. We decided to keep Ling as part of her name and she is now known as Claire Reagan Ling.

I can't describe to you adequately how much this wonderful child has enriched our lives. She makes us all smile and laugh every day. She is a constant source of joy and she has blessed us beyond measure. She is God's gift for our family.

The pictures above are from the first moments we got her and the one with the ball is after we got back in our hotel room. They were all taken on our Gotcha Day.

Here is our very short Gotcha Day video.

The picture below is from today. Two years later. Claire is 4 years old.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Princesses Trick-or-Treat

This collage is a "Then and Now". Last year, Laura was Mulan and Claire was Snow White. This year, Claire was Mulan and Laura was Cinderella. It is amazing how much Claire has changed in 12 months!


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Pumpkin Decorating

The kids carved their pumpkins a few nights before Halloween. Claire drew the face she wanted on her pumpkin and James carved it for her. Chase designed his own after a favorite video game and Laura did her own with a pattern. Unfortunately, Connor had strep and didn't feel like participating and then he had school activities that kept him from doing one the next couple of nights. I did include a picture of Connor with Claire. We had decorated pumpkin shaped brownies and cupcakes last week and Claire decorated one for her Connor.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Claire's 4th Birthday Party!

Claire had a wonderful gymnastics party. She loves being 4 and she keeps telling me so! She got lots of great toys and had tons of fun playing with her friends. The first picture with her friend is Kendall and the second one is her friend Jiali. The last picture of Claire with a little girl is of course her sister, Laura! We got her a kitchen and after spending hours putting it together last night, we have been treated to some delicious meals.

More Birthday Pictures!

Claire had a Tinkerbell cake and she was super-excited about blowing out the candles. The cake was chocolate, of course! In the second-from-last picture, Claire is demonstrating the importance of sticking a landing!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Our Birthday Girl!

I can't believe Claire is 4 years old today. She is growing up so fast. She is so mature for her age and she uses words that stop me in my tracks most days. Her vocabulary is so vast! The other day we were driving in the rain and she saw some cows in the fields we were passing and she commented that they were getting wet. I told her that it wasn't raining that hard and the cows probably didn't mind the rain very much or they would go into their barn. She said, "People don't like to get wet in the rain. We wear raincoats and use umbrellas for protection." Huh? Where did she learn the word protection and how did she know to use it in that context?
Her party isn't until Sunday, but I didn't want to wait until then to post and wish our "baby" a "Very Happy Birthday!" She has truly brought so much joy and laughter into our home. She is the most perfect fit that God could have ever engineered for our family. She is truly sent from Heaven.
Here are two pictures of our girl that I took today. In the second one she is showing us how old she is!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Claire Gets Political

James was watching Nickelodeon with Claire (Max and Ruby, her favorite), and their "Kids Pick the President" came on. They first have Obama say a few words and then McCain. When Obama came on Claire said, "That's the one I like. Barack Obama. I don't like John Cain." James and I looked at each other quite shocked at our little political crusader and said "Why, don't you like John McCain, Claire?" She said, "Because he is a BAD man!" (At this point I am wondering what Nick has shown when we aren't watching?!?) James said, "Claire, John McCain isn't a bad man. That isn't a nice thing to say. Why are you saying that?" She said, "He is too a bad man. He killed his brother with a rock!"

Anybody heard of Cain and Able? I heard the campaign was getting nasty, but having 3 year olds stumping with these tales is a little over the top for me!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

We Will Never Forget

A tribute to the heroes and the ones who lost their loved ones. Also, to the ones who are still fighting to keep us safe.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Two Years Ago...

Two years ago today, I saw this face for the first time. I had gotten on the A Helping Hand website to pay our home study update fee when I just happened to check on the "Special Delivery" link. We were clients of America World with AHH doing our home study. We were on the NSN route, but 3 months prior we had filled out a check-list for SN. When I saw Claire's face I instantly knew that she was our daughter. I recognized her for a lack of a better term. I immediately called James and told him to look at the website and to pray about her and to please not let her SN scare him away. Claire had been diagnosed at less than 5 months with a tumor in her mediastinal cavity. He called me back in just a few minutes and said let's go get her! It was too late to call AHH and I couldn't sleep that night worrying about her! I called first thing the next morning and got the ball rolling on us being able to be considered to adopt her. The committee at AHH allowed us to submit our LOI and we were one of the last families that China allowed to have two agencies work together to bring our child home. When we got home with Claire, we saw her doctor one week later. They did a chest x-ray and we waited in the office while her doctor was on the phone with the pediatric radiologist. She was talking to the radiologist and smiling and giving us the "thumbs up" sign. Claire's x-ray was 100% clear and she is 100% healthy. We have been blessed beyond measure!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Professional Pictures*Updated*

We had professional pictures made on July 2 by a wonderful photographer named
Robin Allen. She has been taking pictures of our kids for 15 months now and this was the first time James and I joined in. We went to James' parents lovely farm and it was the perfect location. There are a lot of pictures so make sure you scroll all the way down and check out all of them. If you are anywhere near, I can't recommend Robin highly enough. She is super-patient with kids and she has a great eye for getting the right shot. You can click on the pictures to see them in a larger size.
*Robin is going out on her own and has a new website. I have linked that website and you can see it when you click on her name. Also, if you scroll down you can see some new picutures of the boys.*

The Whole Crew!

Claire and her "Peacock Dress"

From the moment we first met Claire, she has been a "fashion queen". I had read everything about adoption and attachment that I could get my hands on before we went to China and I felt as prepared as possible for what lay ahead. I had read not to rush into changing your child's clothing too soon as they may feel attached to the clothing that they had been put in by their nanny or their foster mother. So, I was doing exactly that. After we had been in the room for awhile, I opened Claire's suitcase to get another toy out and Claire saw the suitcase full of clothes and she sat straight up and started looking in and then she started taking off her clothes and pointing to the clothes in the suitcase! She was so excited that she couldn't wait to try on the new clothes. Everyday in China she was thrilled to put on a new outfit and every night she was just as excited to put on a new pair of pajamas. We had a ritual of going and looking in the mirror at whatever new thing she was wearing and admiring how pretty she was. Once we got back home, Claire turned into a shopper. She would walk into a store at age 2 and start moving the clothes on the rack and looking at everything she could see. She had definite ideas about what she liked and I will admit that she had very good taste! Well, that was a long story to get to the point about this dress. We were at Gap and Claire saw this dress and she actually gasped out loud. She said, "Oh Mommy! I just have to have that dress. That dress will look so gorgeous on me!" (Did I mention she has great self-esteem?) She went on and on until I just had to buy it. She talked about the dress the entire 45 minute drive home. She said, "My Daddy won't believe how beautiful I am going to look in that dress." Well, when we got home she immediately had to put it on and she does this little run-way walk (I'm not joking), and she shows her Daddy the dress and she tells us, "I am so gorgeous in this dress. I am going to call this dress my Peacock Dress because it looks just like a peacock." So, that is why we have pictures of Claire in this dress, because Robin says that any dress that a child has given a name has to be photographed! I think it photographed beautifully.


Our Laura is turning 9 this week. It is so hard to believe. It seems like only a couple of years ago that I was in the hospital holding her for the first time. I know everybody says it, but it is just so true.

Our Boys *updated*

Here are the boys! They are reluctant subjects at best when it comes to photography sessions. I'm sure it is the age and the gender. It's a good thing that Robin is so good at what she does. Connor who is in the top picture is 13 and Chase, below, is 15.

The Creek

We took the girls to the creek for some more pictures and it was so hard to just pick a few. We love how in the second picture of Claire, her dress had gotten in the water and she immediately reached down and wrung it out. Laura is looking more grown-up all the time and this picture of her really shows it.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Day at the Lake!

We spent a day at the lake with James' parents and his brother Joe and his brother's wife Laura. Claire actually calls her 2Laura because she had to differentiate between her sister Laura and her Aunt Laura and since James also has an Aunt Laura, Claire came up with 2Laura. It is a pretty effective way of keeping the 3 Laura's straight! We had a lot of fun and the kids (and adults) loved being pulled around on this floating thing called "Mable". I somehow ended up without a picture of James, his Dad or 2Laura. I'll get everybody next time.