Saturday, December 27, 2008


Christmas was busy, fun, memorable, and a little bit crazy. We were host to both our families this year, and there were a few wrinkles in the plan. First, the night before the Eve, Nathan had a stomach bug -- which, thankfully, no one else caught. We had a great conversation at 1:00 a.m., talking about how Christmas would still come, even if Nathan was sick. Then Nathan said, "Jesus knows exactly how I feel when I'm sick, because he was a boy once too." I loved that he thought of that all by himself.

The second wrinkle was the weather. It has been crazy here, varying between sub-zero temperatures and LOTS of snow. We didn't know when the safest time would be for my sister to make the two-hour drive. She ended up coming early, to do the driving between two snow storms -- hooray! An extra night with Aunt Alicia sleeping over. :o)

Our celebration began with my family on Christmas Eve. We gather in the afternoon while Peter is doing services at our church, then have a traditional turkey dinner. Afterward, we open presents, have dessert, and drink my sister's fabulous homemade rummy egg nog. Then my dad, mom and brother head off to midnight mass at their church.

On Christmas Day, it was our turn to host Peter's side of the family. We crammed 31 people into our house for a fun, loud, joyous celebration. In the evening, we all drove half an hour to his cousin Jason's (and new wife Robin's) house to meet up with more relatives. All the cousins played together so well throughout the day.

Peter, Anya Rashi and I ended up making an unexpected visit to the hospital in Jason's city. Our dear friend Molly's dad had emergency surgery on Christmas night, and since we were already in town we stopped by for a few minutes as they waited during the operation. It really is nothing short of a miracle that he got to the hospital in time and came through the surgery well. We are so grateful that God answered so many prayers and saved his life.

After that very full day, we added what we hope will be a new tradition this year: Peter's brother Dave and his family slept over on Christmas night, and we all had a pancake feast in the morning.

Anya Rashi was so excited about the presents this year -- and not only for herself! She spent all of the gift opening time taking packages from under the tree and handing them out (to anyone at all!). She was delighted with all the people, all the noise, and with her special clothes. It was really a joy to see how different she is this year compared to last year. She reveled in all the excitement, strutting through the house like it was all her idea. She made us smile especially whenever she saw a picture of Santa -- she says "Who, who, who!" instead of "Ho, ho ho!"

The shock, then the relief, of the news about Molly's dad reminded us how much we treasure the people we love. We were also reminded powerfully that the Gospel is still true in every circumstance. No matter what is happening in our lives, Christmas "came just the same," to paraphrase the Grinch. Whatever your circumstances are, we hope you feel God's love in very real ways during this blessed season.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy 2nd Birthday!

Today is Anya Rashi's birthday! It was 6 degrees below zero this morning when we drove the boys to school. Thankfully, it wasn't quite this cold last year when we were bringing Anya Rashi home!
Last year, we celebrated her birthday on our way home from O'Hare. Our drivers, friends Tina and Todd, stopped off at my sister Alicia's house, where her friend Renee had a Strawberry Shortcake birthday cake waiting for us. Peter's parents and brother Bob drove to Milwaukee to meet Anya Rashi, and celebrate with us.

Then, after two more hours in the car, we were home just in the nick of time -- it was just a little before midnight -- so we could always say that she arrived home on her birthday! :o)

This year, we were a lot less tired, and very happy and amazed that a year has gone by. On Sunday afternoon, Anya Rashi's grandparents came over, along with Aunt Alicia and Uncle Matt. The rest of our family will see her in 9 days for Christmas.

She loved every minute of her party! She was fascinated by the Elmo balloon, the red balloons, and her Elmo cupcakes -- and she had fun opening her presents, with a little (okay, a lot!) of help from big brother Nathan. We've never had a birthday so close to Christmas in our family, so everyone agreed that it felt a little bit like an early Christmas celebration.

Today, in honor of her actual birthday, I'm trying a new recipe for Chicken Makhani. If it's any good, I'll post it later. :o) Tonight, we will show her the video footage taken of her at the Matri Sneha baby home, and look at the scrapbook Alicia made of our India trip.

There's a song we've sung to all our kids by folk singer Red Grammer that says everything about our joy today:
On the day that Anya was born
On the day Anya Rashi was born
On the day Anya Rashi was born
The angels sang and they played their horns
And they danced
They danced
Then they smiled and they raised up their hands
On the day
On the day
Anya Rashi was born

Friday, December 12, 2008

The day we met Anya Rashi

December 12 last year was the day we held our little girl for the first time! Peter, my sister Alicia and I went into the little room full of cribs and searched every face for the one that matched those precious photos we'd been clutching for the past seven months.

Part of me was afraid I wouldn't be able to pick her out from the crowd -- but we knew instantly which baby was ours. She seemed afraid, so we went slowly, getting down on her level and talking to her before we tried to lift her from the crib.

It was love at first sight -- for us, at least! Anya Rashi was not as thrilled to meet us as we were to meet her. After some tears, whimpering, and a bottle, she settled in with us a little better. We felt such compassion for her -- she was one smart little cookie, and knew that something momentous was happening.

Then it was our turn to shed tears of joy as we thanked Ms. Roy and the ayahs. They took a moment to say goodbye by laying their hands on Anya Rashi's head and murmuring a few words to her. Then we went down to the taxi, with Anya Rashi clinging to Nancy.

We can't believe it's already been a year. She is vivacious, smart, funny, loud, loving, and beautiful. We are so grateful to God for giving us our daughter, and our thoughts are with her birth parents, who wanted a good life for their baby. We pray so often that we are honoring and fulfilling the trust they placed in us.

Friday, December 5, 2008

One year ago today . . .

. . . we were boarding a plane to meet a baby girl called Rashi! Chicago to Delhi, Delhi to Kolkata, and then magically, blessedly, we became a family of five.

We thought we would share a few of the photos lovingly taken by other traveling families. They were our first glimpses of Anya Rashi, and we cherished each one of them. These pictures and this little girl were on our mind every minute of those flights.
The top photo was our referral photo, and the infant pictures were ones that Dillon found later for us. The bottom two were taken when she was about eight months old.

At the end of all the waiting, and those two long flights, was this little beauty!