Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Holiday Season.....

Wow!! I've been slacking in the blogging department lately!!! My last blog was before Thanksgiving. So this blog entry is going to catch you all up on our family adventures through the entire holiday season (hence the title!!)


I do believe Elise found her favorite holiday! Thanksgiving is all about the food, and well so is Elise!! She is so funny when it comes to food. I think some of her "love" for food is just a natural thing, but sometimes I think it has a little to do with her orphanage stay. While I know she wasn't underfed or malnourished, I'm sure meals were limited, there wasn't an endless supply of food. You ate when it was given to you and when it was gone, it was gone. Now, Elise eats ehen its given to her, but when it's gone, there is more! And believe me, she wants more! She always cleans her plate, and then usually finishes what her sister didn't eat. So, needless to say, Elise was ecstatic over the Thanksgiving spread at our house! We hosted our first major holiday in the new house with all of my extended family. It was so much fun! Tons of food and good times!! We feel incredibly blessed to be in a new, bigger home, have all 4 of our kids under one roof, Tom has a great job and we aren't living in separate states!! None of those things were true last year on Thanksgiving! We have a lot to be thankful for! Thank you Lord for your provisions over my family!
This is the face of one happy girl with a VERY full belly!!


Christmas is is my favorite holiday. I love decorating for Christmas, I love seeing the look on my kids faces on Christmas morning, I love the snow (well only on Christmas), I love the traditions, and most of all I love the reason for the season! Christmas was especially special this year. We have Elise!! The long awaited and anticipated daughter whom we prayed for is finally in our arms this Christmas!! While decorating for Christmas I found a Christmas ornament that I bought in 2006 which said "Baby Girls 1st Christmas". If you know our family, you know I don't have a daughter that was born in 2006, however I thought I was going to. That was the year our paper work was logged into the CCAA. I was sure our baby had already been born, and that was her first Christmas. WOW!! Was I in for a surprise when she didn't come that year, or the next, or the next...... It was a long wait, but she is so worth the wait! I love her to pieces, she fits into this family like a glove!! God definitely knows how to put families together! She was created for us!

We had a lot to get done this Christmas! We took a quick trip to Gatlinburg TN to have a small mountain cabin style Christmas with Tom's family! It was so much fun. It was way to short of a visit, but so worth the time to travel down there! Tom's step-dad had not met Elise yet, and neither had his brother, whom we haven't seen in over 2 years! It was a great time!!

 Making a gingerbread house with Nana
 Nana & Popa with the girls
 Uncle Pete playing guitar while Solomon (his son) Elise & Emmie watch
Family pic on the deck of the cabin

Christmas Eve was filled with cookie baking! We painted cookies for Santa, a tradition that was started by my mom. I painted cookies every year at Christmas, and now, my kids have done it every year too. It was really fun to watch the girls paint cookies! Elise was so excited, she had her tongue sticking out and a big grin on her face the whole time! We also visited Santa, the girls were not impressed! Elise cried and Emmie didn't look happy! The picture is priceless!! Finally we topped off our Christmas Eve by going to the Christmas Eve service at church! It was a short family service, so the girls stayed with us, and so did the boys! My parents came too. It was nice to spend some time worshiping! After all, Jesus is the reason for the season!

Christmas morning was GREAT!! We opened presents, ate candy and went to church! The boys said it was the best Christmas ever! They got dirt bikes for Christmas!! They've been begging for them for a very long time, and Tom has desperately wanted to get them. So, all the boys were happy!! The girls got a power wheels vehicle and their very first American Girl Dolls!! Finally, I got to buy girl things for Christmas! Seeing the girls with their biddy babies made me happy!! It was a great day! We celebrated with my family that evening where the kids got even more gifts!! My mom & dad spoiled them rotten this year! 

All in all it was a great holiday season. It was very busy and went by way too fast, but was wonderful!! We are so blessed to have such great family and friends surrounding us! The last few years have been a struggle for us. Emmie's heart issues, trying to get Elise home from China, Tom taking a job 4 states away, living separate for a year, not knowing where we would end up, what state we were moving to.... It has been trying to say the least. But, God pulled us through. We are now settled (we think) and couldn't be happier with the way everything has turned out. God has a plan for our lives.... One thing I've learned, is to step away from the drivers seat, and let God do the driving!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Orphan Sunday

Today is Orphan Sunday. I would encourage anyone reading this to pray for orphans of the world. Pray they find a forever family. Pray that someone will enter their lives to show them love and compassion. I was asked to talk about our adoption journey at church. So today, I stood there (very nervous) and talked about our personal journey to adopt an orphan. It was an emotional journey, a long journey & an expensive journey. But, it was worth all of it and more. I'm so blessed to be the mother of Elise. I thank God everyday for her!

Here's a little bit of what I said today in church.....

In July of 2010, we got an email from our agency saying we were “on the deck”. I thought WHAT???? No way are we about to get this baby, but sure enough, that is exactly what was about to happen. Again, I had doubts. Really? God, is this really your plan for us? Is this really good timing? No way is this whats best for us. Tom is 4 states away, Emmie is recovering from 2 heart surgeries & renal failure, we barely have to pennies to rub together, and you're asking me to go to China and get a baby??? However, after much prayer, and even considering stopping the adoption, Tom and I decided that this must be God’s plan and we kept the process rolling.

On September 29th 2010, we got the call!! The long awaited, 6 years in the making, REFERRAL call! We learned all about Bo JiaQun, the baby God had picked for our family.

Adopting a baby is an amazing journey. Elise has brought the biggest blessings to our family. She made our family complete. But, the most awesome part about it was to watch God’s hand at work throughout the entire experience. In many ways, I became closer in my walk with God. I learned to trust in his plan for my life, rather than my own. I learned that God’s timing is always perfect! Six years ago wasn’t the perfect time to bring home a baby from China, even though that would have been my choice. God had way more planned for me. He knew things that I didn’t know, and he knew that the baby he prepared for me wasn’t ready yet!

We faced an uphill battle during most of this process. A battle with finances, illnesses, job losses and changes, but no battle is too big for my God. He called us into this journey, and he carried us through to the end. Adoption is a mission field, it’s the mission field that God called Tom & I to enter, and anytime you are on a mission of God’s work, there will be hardships. Satan was at work to stop us and God was there to protect us. We are so blessed to be called to adopt Elise and I am amazed everyday that I get to be her mom!

Gotcha video is coming!!!! Will be posted in the next day or two!!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

September 29, 2010-September 29, 2011

Wow!!! One year ago today, we got the LONG awaited phone call from our adoption agency.... the REFERRAL CALL!! Yes, that's right one year ago today, I heard all about this precious baby named Bo Jia Qun. This baby that was hand picked by God to be a part of our family. I was waiting in the car line to pick up Brandon from middle school when my cell phone rang. When I saw the number, I knew what it meant!! I knew the number was my adoption agency, and I knew they were expecting referrals, and that we should be in that batch of referrals. I'm pretty sure my heart skipped a beat, maybe more than one!! LOL!! I learned as much info as possible over the phone from our sweet family coordinator named Leah. She told me her age, 7 months (almost 8 months), her province was Jiangxi, her orphanage was Poyang SWI, her birthdate was 2-4-10, and that she had hair! I called Tom right away! Next to know was Brandon, he got in the car as I was screaming with joy!!

The next step was to wait for the email with a picture atttached! We didn't have to wait that long, just a few hours, but man did it seem like an eternity!!  Tom saw her face first, then he called me in tears to say the email had arrived. He said, "Trac, she's beautiful!!" I went to Lori's house to see the picture. It was too far to drive home and I had just dropped Brandon off for a football game, then go back to watch the game, plus get Blake from taekwondo. It was a crazy day, but I dropped everything to see this beautiful baby. Scott was with me when I opened the email. I think the first words out of my mouth was, "There she is!!" with tears in my eyes, I couldn't believe she was finally here. We waited sooo long to see this baby, and there she was!
This was our first picture of beautiful Elise!! This is what I saw when I opened the email.

It seems like a whirlwind of emotions over the next 24 hours. We waited on the FedEx package to be delivered the next day, which contained more pictures and all of the info we desperately wanted to know about our baby. This package also contained the acceptance letter, which had to me signed and returned to our agency.

Today marks the day that Elise truely joined our family! This is the day she became a Brooks, at least in our hearts, minds and soul, she was our daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, great niece. Sooo much love for this baby that lived halfway around the world! This was the day we put a face and a name to the baby we had prayed for.

These were the other two referral photos we recieved.

There have been a lot of changes in Bo Jia Qun's life over the last year. Her name changed to Elise Jia Brooks. She gained a mommy, daddy, 2 brothers and a sister. She gained A LOT of extended family members as well: grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, cousins. There are soo many people who love her and care about her. She has been blessed with love and care, she is thriving in her new home!

We couldn't have asked for a better baby! She is a perfect fit in our family. She is loud at times, she is stubborn at times, she loves to cuddle, she loves to give hugs and kisses, she is everything we ever wanted and more, she is everything we dreamed of. We are so thankful to be blessed by the miracle of adoption!! 

Here are a few pics from our day, September 29th, 2011. I dreamed of and prayed for days like this for 5 years!  So happy to be posting about our days with Elise rather than counting down to getting her!!
Waiting on the doctor, would you believe poor little Leisy (our pet name for Elise) has Bronciolitis? It's been a rough week for her with eye surgery and now bronciolitis, but you'd never know form the smile she has!

Still waiting.... passing the time with books

This is the face Elise makes when I tell her to "say cheese"

Sweet baby girl!! (I think she knows she's cute!!)

Thanks again to everyone who helped bring this beautiful baby home!! Your prayers and help continue to be much appreciated!!

Saturday, September 10, 2011


So, most of you know that we have 2 boys and 2 girls. My boys are now 13 (14 in a few days, but I'm still holding onto 13!!) and 11. Most of you also know that I like to be "girly". I love girly things like getting my nails done, getting a pedicure, wearing makeup, fixing my hair, jewelry, accessorizing, and decorating. So, for me having 2 little girls is truely an amazing blessing. It's not that I don't love my boys. I loved raising to boys! ( Who are not completely raised yet!!) Together they were a handful and continue to be!! I did the "mom of boys" thing by playing in dirt, buying Star Wars, GI Joe's and Nerf guns. They've had sleep overs with camo gear, face's painted black, and nighttime nerf wars in the backyard. They've rode 4-wheelers through the mud, and so did I!! I wiped the mud off my face so I could see where I was going while driving a 4-wheeler, and I did it all for the joyful screams and laughter from my two boys! I have sat through soccer, football, basketball, golf and taekwondo practices and games and tests, and I've cheered them on loudly and silently. I have cared for them, wiped away their tears, cleaned up their cuts and sent them back out to do it all over again, because that's what boys do!! I love boys, God blessed me with two of the best. I couldn't have asked for better, but they are getting to the age where they'd rather hang with their dad, or mostly friends, than hanging with their mom.

They went from sweet inocent babies to......

to camo lovin' gun packin' wild boys!!

That's why I'm even more excited to have my girls!! Now I get to do what I've waited almost 14 years for.... THE GIRLY STUFF!!!! I get to paint their nails (and belive me, I have!!), dress them in cute dresses, put big bows in their hair, accessorize, and use lots and lots of PINK!!! It's so much fun to be a girl. Girls can be a tom boy and play in the mud, and then they can put on a dress and get girly! I am definitely having fun with my girls!

Most of all I hope to instill in them a love for God. I want them to grow up to serve the Lord, and to do everything for the glory of God. I want them to remember that all things are possible when you put your faith in God. They are after all, HIS children first, and they were given to me by him. They are all blessings from God and I am so thankful to have each and every one of them! I am reminded of this everytime I walk into my daughters' room. They are Princesses.... Daughter's of a Heavenly King!!.... and it's my job to raise them to be just that!!

So, since I'm very excited to be getting so much use out of the color pink, thought I'd show you the room I've decorated for the girls!! Very Pinkalicious!!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Where Did Summer Go??????

So, the last blog I posted was in July!! Where did August go???? We had an amazing summer, but it blew by too quickly! August was another month with a lot of "firsts" in it for the whole family!

On August 1st, I officailly resigned from my position as an English as a Second Language teacher. I am staying home with my girls & LOVING it!! I am still working as an aerobics intructor and personal trainer. I love being able to work my schedule into what works for my girls! Tom & I celebrated 17 years of marriage!! Wow, can't believe we are old enough to be married that long! LOL!

Brandon started 8th grade this year!! He will be 14 in a few weeks! Wow!! I still can't believe how big he is, literally!! He grew 4 inches & gained 23lbs in one year! He is playing football again this year and still loves it! I do believe it's his passion! He's playing quarterback (which he has never done before) and doing quite well at it! One of my FAVORITE things to do, is watch him play ball! I become this very proud momma when I see him succeed in the thing he is most passionate about.... now if only I could get him to be that passionate about homework!! LOL!

Blake started 6th grade this year! I can't believe he is old enough to be in 6th grade, but he is! He is growing up way too fast! Blake is now a red belt in taekwondo. He is well on his way to a black belt! I'm very proud of him for sticking with it and working hard to get this far. Blake has been little for his age most of his life, but he is finally starting to grow! He's almost as tall as me (which if any of you know me, you know that's not saying a whole lot) but we are excited to see him get a little bit of height!

Emmie & Elise started a "Children's Morning Out" program. They are loving Tuesday mornings and so am I!! They get to play with kids their own age, and they are in seperate rooms, so they get a break from each other as well! I get to run errands without hauling to little girls with me! We also made a trip to the zoo last weekend, it was the first time Emmie & Elise had been there, and they both loved it!

Emmie is doing very well. Her health is great! Her blood pressure is NORMAL!! for the first time in her young life! We are thanking God big time for the miraculous healing in her little body. She has a check up at Riley in a week. It will be a big one with cardiology and nephrology (heart & kidney). She will have an echo, which I'm a little nervous about. At some point, I know they are going to tell me her stent is too little for her artery, and they will need to go in and expand the stent. I know its coming in the next year or so, just not ready to go through it again! I could cry thinking about it, so I try not to! Emmie continues to be a typical big sister, she's BOSSY!! LOL! She loves to play with Elise, but she also LOVES to tell Elise NO! We are coninually battling over that. Sometimes I feel like the only thing I said all day to her is "You're not the boss, Mommy is the boss!" Elise is picking up on the bossy thing too. It's cute to see her immitate Emmie. You can't understand most of what Elise says, but you know exactly what she is saying by the head movement, pointing finger and the tone in her voice! LOL!

Elise is doing great!! She had an 18 month check up and she was 22.5 lbs & 29 inches. So, she's gained 3 lbs since we were in China, and she's grown 1/4 of an inch. Poor baby is going to be short! She is in the 5th percentile for height, and the 15th percentile for weight. Her jelly rolls are decieving!! She is still very little for her age! We have noticed over the last few months that her left eye keeps turning in, So, we've been seeing an optimologist. We are patching her strong eye every other day and will probably have a simple lazer surgery in a few months. I'll keep you all posted on the progress of that! Elise continues to babble constantly. Most of what she says is unrecognizable, but she has learned the word "stop" quite well, she even puts her hand up when she says it, and its usually directed at her sister! LOL!

Over all the Brooks family has settled into a new normal!! Really??? Normal??? We went so long without a normal, that it feels weird to even say it! LOL! But we are truely blessed beyond our wildest dreams to have our careers set, our new house bought, and finally have the addition of Elise (whom we waited 5 yrs for!!)

Here are some pictures of August.....

Blake right after he earned his red belt!

Blake on the first day of 6th grade

Brandon after a tough game!

Brandon on the first day of 8th grade

Elise & Emmie at the zoo

Emmie going to school with her backpack!

Emmie & Elise were very interested in the penguins!

Love this pic of Elise watching the fish!

Tom & all the kids at the zoo!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Family Visits & Birthday Parties!!

From the moment I realized I wouldn't be able to get Elise home for her first birthday, I knew I wanted to give her a birthday party anyway. We finally succeeded in giving her a party last Saturday. What made it even better was that her Nana from FL, her Aunt Jenny & cousin Solomon from NC were able to be here for the party!

We had a great "All American Girl" party! Red, White and Blue decor, cup cakes, and a small #1 cake for Elise, playing in the pool with everyone, grilling out hamburgers and hot dogs (after all whats more American than a burger or a dog fresh off the grill??) Elise opened lots of presents! I think she was a little overwhelmed with it, she didn't tear into the presents, in fact I opened most of them for her. However, she did not need any one to tell her what the cake was for! LOL! She LOVED the cake! She devoured the little #1, it didn't look like a number when she was done with it!

It was a great night celebrating Elise! Celebrating that God has blessed us with this amazing little girl. He took us down this adoption path, and he gave us the baby he created for us! There is no doubt she was meant to be ours, she was meant to be in this family! I hope her birth mother can somehow have peace in her heart because her daughter is safe, well loved and well taken care of.

We had a great visit with Nana & Aunt Jenny. They got to meet Elise for the first time, and we got to meet baby Sol for the first time. Lots of introductions, and lots of fun watching Emmie, Elise & Solomon!! We did some playing in the pool, the hot tub, some shopping, eating and even squeezed in church! A busy busy weekend, but so glad they came and was able to help us celebrate!

Her are some pics of the weekend....
Elise in her little #1 shirt (of course you can't see the #1 very well)

The first lick.....

I think she liked it!!!

Getting messy!!

Elise & Great Grandma

Present Time!

Her B-Day present from Mommy & Daddy

Emmie getting in on the cake & icing

Cousin Solomon (what a cutie!)

Hangin' in the hot tub!

Cute new suits! (Thanks Aunt Jenny)

Pool fun!!

Very fun weekend!!!