It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start. -Mother Teresa

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Letter 2016 - JoJo


JoJo is our first child to LOVE, LOVE Legos. She was in heaven when we visited the Lego Store in Disney Springs. Finally, I understand all those things people say about Legos being everywhere and their kids wanting to save every creation. 

Visiting the Science Museum in St. Louis we found this on the wall. That is a silhouette of Mr. Wadlow, the tallest man in the world who was from the St. Louis-area. We had to take this pic and send it to our  tall Auntie Ashley because she is related to him. 
JoJo is now getting old enough to want and have sleepovers! Her favorite sleepover buddies are Lexie and Asher (yeah, we will eventually deal with that one.) 

She lost her first tooth! (And her second, third and forth!) 

At Easter, JoJo decorated cookies with Meme and Nana. She totally thinks it is normal to do things with both her grandmothers. She has no idea how blessed she is! 

Spring Soccer season found JoJo spending more time playing and less time laying on the ground saying her legs don't work, and more time playing. I would say it was about equal parts this season which is a vast improvement. 
This is her coach, Abby. Yes, she is sitting on Abby's lap while they take a water break. Jo may have boundary issues. (And she also may just really love her coach.) 

Final game of the season is poured rain...most people were miserable. Most people aren't these two! JoJo and her buddy, Ian, were in heaven! 

Jo spends most of her days like this: working on a project at our kitchen table in her pajamas. Everyone else gets dressed, combs their hair, and brushes their teeth before coming downstairs to start the day...and there is Jo. We pick our battles. That means this fall Jo started to attend Kindergarten in her pajamas. Thank Goodness, she is homeschooled! 
In May, JoJo completed Preschool! In the craziness of our last year, including her parents being gone much of August and September, we made the choice to send Jo to preschool one more year. It was the best choice! She had one more awesome school year under the amazing Mrs. Kristi and Mrs. Jo. It was the routine and consistency she so desperately needs. (With all the things were were doing with the adoption paperwork and surgery our life was anything but routine this year!) 

After her last day of preschool, we stopped at the World's Most Beautiful Pizza Hut (JoJo's favorite restauant...still) for "Candy Breadsticks" and a little goal setting. She told me she was ready for Kindergarten and these are the things she wanted to learn (So I needed to write them down for her because she hadn't gone to Kindergarten yet.) 

First day warm enough to head to "The Lake". We spent much of our summer across the street at our pond and small beach. 

Jo went straight from soccer to her first season of T-ball. Her Dad was her coach and they both loved it! 

We visited St. Louis a lot this year. One of the times, we met up with our friends, The Ashley's, for lunch at Fitz's. It is one of our favorite St. Louis places: craft sodas (the kids are watching them bottle it here in the middle of the restaurant!) and delicious food! It is cool to see a second generation hang out as friends too!!!
Speaking of hanging out with old friends, JoJo fell absolutely in love with her Auntie Elise. I think the feeling was mutual and I think they invited me to come with the next time they hang out! Elise was giving JoJo a pedicure before we headed to Auntie Alison's wedding!!! 

Jo spent her own money at the Memphis Zoo to buy this Panda on a walking stick. Why on a walking stick? I do not know other than it makes it easier to get it dirty. Since "Kung Fu" joined our family he has rarely been out of her sight and has continued to travel with us. Stacey's favorite animal is the panda and she has passed that love onto JoJo! 

JoJo had a new experience this summer: She was an only child for a whole week while her three older sisters were at camp. We made a point to do some special things just with her such as seeing a movie. She laughed so hard that other people in the theater were laughing at her! She of course also made a list of things she wanted to do you know make jello and do crafts?!? 
This summer we were invited with Papa Bill to attend a Fish Fry and Golf Outing from a Seed Company. This is our type of golf outing!!!! For Real: she can be a perfectionist and isn't great at not doing as well as her sisters at things. Things like minigolf work better when her sisters play ahead and she can't see them! 

Jo has always loved the beach. She was in heaven as our family took its first ever beach vacation. We have been to beaches before, just for a day here and there on other trips. This was the first time we ever went only to go to a beach and stayed on the beach. Did I mention she was in heaven. Here she is flying a kite with her BFF Asher and his brother. 

Most evenings would find Michael and Jo kayaking at the pond. Sometimes they shared a kayak and sometimes she went in her own. But ALWAYS she talked his ears off! They had a routine on where they would go to sit and watch the fish. We really have enjoyed our little beach and pond. It was exactly what Jo needed! 

Fall officially begins in our town with our Annual Broom Corn Festival. For a tiny town, we have a remarkably large parade that is very fun to watch. This year, Jo attended with her Meme, her sisters, and her Nana & Papa! 

This girl lives for weekends because her Dad is home to play with her!!!

Visiting "The Bean" (Cloud Gate Sculpture) in Millennium Park in Chicago. It was only after we were walking around that we realized why Jo was so amazed by everything: She had never been there before! Yes, we are the parents who always leave her at home and have never taken her with us to downtown Chicago. She enjoyed everything and unintentionally made us feel bad for thinking she wasn't up for it. Hopefully this next year we can make a couple of weekend trips into the city so we can ALL enjoy it! 

Fall Soccer Season was a HUGE surprise to all of us! Jo was not just a willing player...she was actually a very competitive player! Our family "rule" is that you get a DQ Blizzard for every goal. Let's just say, she ate A LOT of blizzards this fall. Once again, she completely adored her coach, Mae!

Each day each of Jo's sister reads aloud to her as part of their school. It works out better for everyone when Jo's body can be busy while she listens! 

The girls enjoyed a traditional fall field trip to the Apple Orchard. 

One school, we snuck away to visit the Bounce Barn, an indoor inflatable play area. Jo and her BFF Asher had a great time burning energy!!!! Actually it doesn't matter where these two are long as they are together they are having a great time! 

Mommy/Daughter Date to the Pumpkinfest. Jo loved dressing up as a Cowgirl for Halloween this year! 

She went on her first hayride! (Still dressed as a Cowgirl, of course) 

Last time this cutie was at the Grand Canyon I was carrying her in the hiking backpack carrier. It was so much more fun for the both of us for her to do her own hiking this time! She spent her own money to buy herself a pair of binoculars. 

Another first, Fondue! The Stonick Family  were such gracious (and brave!) hosts. They introduced the girls to fondue. And inspired us to have fondue for Christmas dinner this year! 

Climbing at Joshua Tree. 

Cousins...and Woodstock and Snoopy! These two hung out much of the day at Knott's Berry Farm together. They really are cut from the same cloth! It was neat to hear Stacey and Nadia keep saying, "They really are so much alike!" 

These two: they just have always been close. She has never hidden the fact that Uncle Victor is her favorite. Favorite what???? Everything! They two just adore each other and being together. Laying in bed playing video games...they both were in heaven! 

Jo loved showing Great Grandma Wanda her "twirly" dress!  

This crazy Elf was so hyped up and ready to participate in Buddy's Breakfast Competition at our Elf Party. She didn't win but she and her friends had a bunch of fun! She is a little obsessed with elves now. This morning while we were combing her a hair, she asked, "Do you think my ears are getting bigger? Do you think they are getting pointier? I think they are. I may be an elf after all." 

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