Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Chapman Mckensie 
Seven months ago, we officially began our journey to this beautiful baby girl! 
We will have her in our arms forever on Monday, August 29, 2016.
The seven months leading up to our departure have been nothing short of amazing.  The paperwork kinks, the process kinks, the fundraising, the story telling, the gifts.....we are so thankful for each of the precious friends who love this little girl from afar.  We have felt each and every prayer.  We have cried upon receiving each and every monetary donation. These gifts meant the world to us knowing that we could not bring her home without them.  
We are leaving on a jet plane tomorrow at noon and will return Thursday, September 8 with our newest little Drafts!
Now, with the journey almost over, let her story begin.....

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

 Mason-Kate was just too cool for pictures this year so a group shot was the way to go for her!  Fourth grade and counting.....
 My little Maddox Ren
First grade and she was so excited!  She kept telling me the night before school that she wished it was the first day of school....she couldn't wait to enter those halls!
 Her sweet friend, Madi, lives across the street and they are in this school thing together!  They adore one another and we are thankful for their friendship.
 Maddox adores her teacher, Mrs. Robertson.  
 And the obligatory picture of her at her desk.  Thankfully, she was willing to let me take pictures!
 And then there is this guy....Junior this year! He is taking two classes at his high school and three classes at the local university - to say he is a happy camper is an understatement....he LOVES the flexibility and not being cooped up at school
(he always waits until he gets in the car to put his shoes on.....yes, maybe once or twice, he has gotten to school without his shoes on!)
 And then there is this little one....she has a love/hate relationship with school.  Bless. So goes the PreK3 life! 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Summer 2016 Round Up

I literally blinked my eyes, and summer is ending before me!  
So many great things occurred this summer.  While we did enjoy our beach vacations and our trip to the mountains to visit Gran and Pop, our day to day life at home was a blessing too.  
First up, Veronica.  We LOVE Veronica and we were so excited to have the opportunity to have her in our home for two weeks.  
We first met Veronica in 2011 during our trip to bring Maddox home.  Veronica was the best guide ever!  There were tears on all sides when we left China that year.  Since then, Veronica has taken some time off of work to have a baby boy and is now working with the agency we used to bring our three girls home.  She is the facilitator between the agency and the orphanages and the adoption affairs office in China.  And she is amazing!  She taught us how to cook Chinese, she put us in contact with Maddox's foster family, she was just a joy to have and we were all sad to see her go!
We continue to have our adoption group gatherings and the little ones are now right in the middle of it all!  When the girls are overruling, some must just choose to go with the flow....pretty sure this pic will be ver valuable in David's later years:)
These sweet girls....they did a fashion show and a singing show....they were all about the shows on this particular evening!
Colin and Pryce had the opportunity to do a mission trip in Conyers, Georgia with our church.  For one week, the boys spent time sharing the love of Christ by doing vacation Bible school.  The loved every moment of their time there and the stories they shared with us once they were home were amazing!  So thankful for this time for them and for their hearts that willingly went to serve others!
MK and Chloe visited our local pottery store and painted their very own mugs.  The Mohrs have been with us for a year now and we are so very thankful that they are here!
We have spent many evenings at the is by far our favorite time to visit....low crowds, no sunscreen needed, relaxing....
MK and Chloe spent one week doing horse camp at a local stable.  They had a blast though they were a bit warm during their stay:)
Another surprise!  LiPing, a chaperone for the host children who were visiting in July, needed a home to stay in for the first few nights of her stay in America.  We were more than willing to accommodate her and we are so thankful for this experience.  Veronica spoke very good English.  LiPing spoke no English.  None.  It was hilarious trying to speak with her through Google translate which, by the way, is not always the most reliable source....pretty sure Maddox told her through Google that she was going to eat her!  Oye!  She was super sweet and we were able to do some sight seeing and shopping with her during her stay!
These boys.  It was 80s day at youth group.  And they took it to heart, high socks and all.  
Ryan and I were loving this!  
Weekend at Bernies???
Lake Day
We were able to spend the day on the lake boating and swimming and just relaxing!
This sweet girl wasn't sure what to make of the lake water at first.  However, after a few minutes to warm up, she was sold and was the last one to get out at the end of the day!
Our sweet Noah was in town and we were so glad to have a moment to visit with him! 
In fact, the Gilliams and the Beaudreaus were in town too and we enjoyed our time with them!  They are a fabulous family and we are honored to know them and share the love for orphan care with them!
This little one has had some ongoing tummy issues that we are trying to get to the bottom of.  It was no fun trying to get her to drink the "milkshake" for her test....her thoughts are written all over her face on this matter!
Six Flags Over Georgia
We were gifted with free tickets to visit this theme park for the day.  Upon entry, Maryn spied the characters and immediately asked for a picture but she wasn't about to do it without mommy!  Pretty sure she talked about them all day!
The boys went off on their own adventure to do big boy things, aka roller coasters, while we girls stuck with the small town rides.  We did manage a trip on the smaller edition of a roller coaster and Maryn got off screaming she wanted to do it again and again and again!  
These two had a was so fun to see the reactions and the smiles!
Lazy Days of Summer
MK and all of her bests!  Chloe and the twins.....
This little love has learned to swim this summer.  She is pictured here with her floatie but most of the time she is full speed ahead in the pool without the floatie addition.  She jumps in without fear and swims to the steps.  Repeat.  
Our China Adoption Friends Picnic
So thankful for these friendships.  Each of them has an amazing story!
And on this day, August 1, 2016, we received our Travel Approval from China to go get Miss Chapman McKensie!!!  We were thrilled and surprised and overwhelmed all in one ball of happiness!  Our girl is coming home soon!  We will have her in our arms Monday, August 29 and we can't wait to start life with her!  So thankful for these friends who helped me celebrate at the pool!
Summer is coming to a quick close.  Our daily life in the Drafts household is going to change immensely.  Our oldest will be dual enrolling - part time at high school, part time in college; our second born will be wrapping up his homeschooling days as an 8th grader; our big girls will be going to "real" school; our Maryn will become a big sister for the first time; and our baby will be adjusting to the biggest, saddest, happiest moments of her life.  We are so thankful for this ride!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Happy 4th Birthday Maryn!

Happy Birthday to this sweet girl!  
Four years old has to just about be one of my favorite ages ever!  She is just too sweet, always says thank you and I love you and laughs at the silliest things.  She is full of imagination and ready for every adventure that comes about her way!  To know this little one is to love her!  So very thankful we were chosen to be her family and I love celebrating her life each year!  You are LOVED, Maryn!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

This child is a light in everyone's step that meets her! 
Our old soul.
My hippy baby.
Our "make up the rules as you play the game" kiddo.
Our future physician.
Our picky eater...."I don't care for that" - we hear it way too often:)
This year she learned to read, she learned to ride her bike without training wheels, she began gymnastics and said goodbye to ballet for the time being, she was the fastest six and under backstroke and freestyle swimmer in our league.....she will begin school with her big sister and be in the FIRST GRADE!  Amazing!  
God is so good and I am so thankful for this little one and all that she has brought into our lives!  

Sunday, July 24, 2016

We are weeks away from meeting our sixth child, our fourth daughter from China.  This is simply mind-blowing in many ways.  We began this journey just six short months ago with a peace about us that was perfect in every way, a peace that only God alone could have supplied.  Many close to us shook their heads while many others shouted praises.  We are thankful for the praises!  It is so hard to be around family members who don't even want to try to understand our hearts for adoption.  Yet, we will always, always trudge forward and fight for each orphaned child.  It is our calling.
So, where are we now in the process?  On Thursday, July 28, just one month shy of Chapman's second birthday, we will officially be waiting on our invitation from the Chinese government.  Once this invitation is received, we will be on our way in an estimated three weeks time.  Sounds easier than it really is!  We are in our "9th" month of pregnancy, if you will.  We are at that moment in the process/pregnancy where we are just done and ready to move on with the show.  Best case scenario is that our invitation comes in a matter of days and we are on our way to China by the end of August! A more realistic scenario, according to our agency and mandated Chinese holidays, has us landing in China in mid-October.
My mother told me recently not to worry, she will be here in due time.  And I am not worrying per say but I am anxiously awaiting the next step.  Waiting is ok with me.  It is the unknown that can make me a bit antsy.
And so I continue to go back to my "life" verse Proverbs 19:21 which reads "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but is is the purpose of the Lord that will stand." Amen. and Amen.  This verse applies to so much in my own life and my growth in my walk with the Lord.

For this season, school is in our mix.  This year we will have a Junior doing a dual enrollment stint with his high school and our local university; an 8th grader schooling at home for his last year of homeschool; a fourth grader and a first grader at our local elementary school; and our preschooler attending preschool three mornings each week.  We are so excited about embarking on this new adventure and we look forward to watching them learn new things this year!  Add in cross country, baseball, ballet, gymnastics, swimming, piano, chorus and art club - we will be one busy, happy family this Fall!

I am so thankful for each of my babies.  And my Ryan.  As we were delivering Colin, Ryan said to me that we would do this child thing one kiddo at a time.  This summer has been about our kiddos.  We have set aside a "date night" with a different child each week.  We have enjoyed this time immensely with them!  So much so that we have decided to continue this newest activity through the school year.  It allows for so much - the conversations, the singling them out and making them know just how special they are to us, we all get to slow down and just enjoy the moment where we all are whether it is with our four year old or our sixteen year old.  MK often asks, "Mom, what would you do if you were to go to work?"  And I always respond, "I am doing the job I have always wanted to do - be a mother and have lots of kiddos running around to love on!"  Yes, it is hard and, at times, overwhelming, but I do love each and every moment I am given with them!  The children are so excited to welcome Chapman into our lives.  We talk about her often and wonder aloud what she may be doing.  We have moved furniture around in preparation and her clothes are hung and ready to wear!  All we need is our sweet girl at home!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Hornbuckle Mountain

Pop and Gran Tisdale are living their dream on the top of the mountains of North Carolina....
 they say it is just awful to wake to this every morning and go to bed every evening with one of the most beautiful sunsets one will ever lay eyes on!  
Once upon a time, they were two young honeymooners who likely never dreamt that one day this would all be their reality!
 Our time there is always remarkable.  It is peaceful.  Calm.  A step back from our wild and crazy.
 And Gran always has something crafty up her sleeve for these creative minds.
 And games are always to be played....
 Sorry or cards or whatever!
 Maddox our contortionist - I mean, really???
 In her little Maryn way, she wrapped yet another adult around her sweet little fingers.
 Horseback riding in the mountains was on our "to-do" list for this trip....
 What a fun experience for all!  A creek, a tunnel and trails of peacefulness through the woods....
 thankfully, our horses all behaved....even mine, Rambo.  
 And then we made our way to a waterfall....
 My heart in one picture.....
 and my laughter in one frame....
 I am so thankful for our little crew....each and every one of them!  
 Sweet baby girl....she told me tonight she would be big when her little sister arrives home later this year!  I told her she will always, always be my baby.....
 ATV riding is the best, especially with big brothers....
 More waterfall....
 and MK the explorer....
 and Maddox Ren, the one who insisted she be allowed to explore too!
 Cold mountain water stream....
 Colin met one of his best friends in Uncle Sam....
 And a drive down the mountain brought us upon this little wonder of life....a mother and baby elk.  Amazing.
 Air conditioning vents make the best dress enhancers:)
 And a little quiet time on the porch....
We honestly do not take advantage of this little slice of heaven as much as we should! A huge thanks to my parents for having the boys for an entire week and then hosting our whole family for an extended weekend back to back....we had such a good time and we are so thankful for the many memories that were made together!