Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Six years and counting

It's been a long time between posting and so many milestones have been met.  It's hard to believe that it's only been six years since we traveled to meet our youngest children.  Marin and Tristan have grown so much and in so many ways over the past number of years.

Marin, still that ball of light and excitement, is now 8 years old.  She's preparing to enter the 3rd grade and is excited and nervous at the same time.  She is adventurous, playful, kind and generous and still has a smile that lights up a room.  She is  a caretaker and comedian rolled into one petite package. 

In 2015 she blew through her tibia lengthening like a champ and worked her way through a couple of different prosthesis.  In 2016 she needed hip reconstruction and in usual Marin fare, came through with flying colors.  She's been happy and relived to not need any surgeries since her hip but will require a significant one, where both her tibia and femur will need to be lengthened simultaneously in 2019.

This little lady has given dance, baseball and soccer a go.  She loves to travel with the family and especially loves Disney (like the rest of her clan).  You can find her outside most days, running around the yard with her siblings and neighborhood buddies. 

Tristan is still that quiet and reserved little man who recently celebrated his 9th birthday.  When it comes to mom, he's still game for a lot of snuggling and kisses, which I happily take in.  He'll be moving into the 4th grade this year and his first chance at switching classes during the day.  He's a little nervous about getting to the right place at the right time, but once he gets his routine down, he'll be a pro!  He really enjoys school and the structure it provides him.  He loves to learn and has a penchant toward math. 

He played travel soccer, is a Cub Scout and is on the same baseball team as his brother and sister.  He's a gamer and will use his screen time to take in a game or two or watch videos of pets.  He's a definite lover of all creatures, big and small, and hopes to be a veterinarian when he's grown. 

They have brought so much joy, excitement and love to our family.  They were the missing pieces, we didn't know we needed to round out family of 8.  We enjoy watching them grown, learn and thrive and the gift it is to be witness to all that. 

Until the next time...

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Three years!   Three wonderful, exhausting and exciting years!  Our littlest ones have officially been Clark's longer then not with this passing of time.  My, how they have grown, the challenges they have faced, things they have learned and what they have accomplished - they are amazing little beings.

One school years has been completed and another recently begun.  Marin is now in "big girl school" and officially in Kindergarten and Tristan now a first grade student.

They have blossomed into outgoing, friendly and good friends to their classmates.  They very much enjoy the overall school experience, from the excitement of morning line up with their friends to afternoon pick-up so they can share their day with us.

We are keeping our school district busy (or should I say we are being kept busy) with students in each school building, with kids now in High, Middle and Elementary school classes.  Each of them has (so far) enjoyed their new grade and the differences from the previous years term. 

Activities have always been a big part of our family and the past year is no different.  Marin and Tristan joined William and Griffin as baseball players and Marin now pirouettes along with her older sisters in dance.  This fall we have one football player, five soccer players and more cleats and sports bags than we can shake a stick at lined up and ready for the next practice or game.

We've been blessed with quality family time (but it's never enough).  We've been on our yearly trek to Disney, had a wonderful visit with some of our adoption friends and spent a week this summer relaxing, frolicking in the waves and sand and taking on the amusement rides at the shore.  It's nothing for us to grab a football or soccer ball and head outside to pass it around or for the kids to hop on their bikes and zoom up and down the sidewalk.

Marin is due for another surgery, this time for a reconstruction of her hip and the removal of a plate currently used to realign her knee.  Unlike past surgeries, this one in October will leave her immobile and confined to her wheelchair while she heals.  Resilient doesn't begin to describe this child!  She amazes us not only with how she handles the constant need for medical intervention but her indomitable spirit and smile that lights up a room, regardless of circumstance.  Marin and Jocelyn are roomies and you can hear their hysterical bed time conversations about school, what their brothers did that maybe they shouldn't have and what adventures they will take their "babies" on the next day.

Tristan - our quiet little man who can come up with a witty zinger, smile wryly and then walk away while giggling to himself for getting one over on you.  He's gone from a boy who had no language to a child who can communicate and hold a conversation with you.  He works hard, has come a long way and continues happily to work to improve his speech articulation and to grow his vocabulary.  He loves his mom dearly and playfully taunts his dad, adores his two older brothers, is good buddies to his same age sisters and will happily go for a walk with his older sister, Elena (especially if there is a possibility of a stop at the candy store).  This is a guy who likes to chill and take things easy, but doesn't hesitate to get in the fray if there is a playful wrestling match about to happen or if you want to play Power Rangers.

We are looking forward to what this new year brings, to see their continued growth, to celebrate holidays and milestones and of course a Spring trip to the Happiest Place on Earth to make even more Clark memories to hold for the years to come.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Two Years...

Two wonderful, extraordinary, exhausting years!

One the 9th of this month we will have had our two littlest home with us, as a family of 8 for two years  It seems a lifetime ago, like Tristan and Marin have always been in our home and hearts.  Two  happy, excitable, sweet,  ornery kids. 

So much has happened over the past year and so much is yet to come. 

Fall 2013 -

The Fall was a wonderful time for the kids.  The start of school together again.  They love school, their teachers and friends.  They made great strides this year and I only expect they will continue to learn and grow as we head into this upcoming school year.  Because of birth months, Tristan will move up to Kindergarten and Marin will remain in pre-school.  This will be a big change for both but will allow them to foster their individual personalities vs. being the youngest set of Clark "twins".

As always we celebrated many a fall birthday, enjoyed a variety of parties and events surrounding Halloween, and ate until we could no longer move on Thanksgiving.  Marin had her 2nd surgery to remove her fixator and was measured for and received her first prosthetic and hasn't sat still since.

Winter 2013/2014 -

As we moved into the winter months, wow was it cold, extra ordinarily so and with quite a bit of snow, even for NJ standards.  The kids loved to bundle up and run and play in the snow.  They took advantage of every snow day off of school to build forts, have snowball fights and make snow angel after snow angel.

We had art shows, instrumental and vocal concerts, dance recitals, hockey playoffs and so much more to see the wonderful talents and gifts our children have.

Christmas isn't just a day at our house, it's a month long celebration of family gatherings, joy, excitement and gifts of both the physical and spiritual kind to share with each other.  It is always the perfect time to rap up yet another wonderful year for our family

Spring/Summer 2014 -

Ah, spring!  After this past winter we were all more than ready for some warmer weather and the ability to head out without an anorak.   We looked forward to working in the yard and for the kids to plant some veggies to tend, watch grow and enjoy the fruits of their labor.  Tomatoes and peppers are growing well and they are still excitedly awaiting their cantaloupes to bear sweet fruit.

Spring also means baseball and lots of it.  The two older boys played again and the rest of us rooted them on game after game, thru championships and all-star selections.  Outside is where everyone loves to be the most.  Hunting bugs (Tristan will carry around the biggest, ugliest bug on the planet, but whatever you do don't show him a lady bug or he's in a panic), digging in the dirt, playing on the swings and riding bikes.

Day trips to the shore to put our toes in the water and take on the rides on the boardwalk, to National Parks and even a day spent down in Washington, DC to see the sights (and pick up the oldest girlie from leadership camp).

The end of July Marin had yet another surgery and is currently sporting a new fixator and we have officially begun the leg lengthening process.  She is now two weeks post op and doing extraordinarily well by everyone's standards.  She is walking unassisted already and can walk up the stairs while holding on to daddy's hand.  Her Drs. and physical therapists are amazed at her progress already, but we aren't even remotely surprised by her pluck.  She will remain in her fixator for an estimated 6 six months while trying to gain between 5-6 centimeters of length on her tibia.  We are hopeful we will be successful with this goal.

And here we are another year older, perhaps a little wiser but for certain a whole lot happier with everyone of our children to love on and be loved by.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Mid Year Madness

June.  Already.  Wow!

What's happened in the last six months, A LOT. 

January had us settling down from the holidays, parties and get togethers.  It also was a big change for the littles as they started pre-school.  Mom was worried about their transition, but it was all for nothing.  They kissed me goodbye, walked into school and that was that.  They have loved attending and ask every day if "I go to school today" each morning, even Saturday and Sundays.  William was so amazed by his sisters dancing in lesson that he too joined dance and is taking tap and ballet with Jocelyn.  This kids in his dance class don't notice his cute little arm, but in June when they have their concert and he is on the stage for all to see I hope the audience is as kind.

February we did a mini road trip and spent a long weekend in Williamsburg, VA with all six of the kids on our first official vacation since Marin and Tristan have been home.  We had a good time, the kids loved the night time ghost hunt in Colonial Williamsburg and of course eating at all the restaurants.  This littles did well with the travel and the first time away from the house since being home from China.

March had a big change at the house, we renovated the old (and I mean O-L-D) kitchen which made life a little rough  during construction but we muddled through and the kids got to help knock down a wall so that was exciting to say the least.  Marin and Tristan had their last appointment with CHoPAdopt and now we just need to see their various specialists as necessary.   

April means baseball starts and in our house that's big news.  Griffin began his season with Team Friedrich and the clan was there to support him (whether or not he wanted it).  William also started his Challenger League team and loves is mentor/buddy Anthony.  Tristan and Marin see William play and they both ask if they can too.  Yes, next year, anyway.  The kids on Will's team are amazing.  It is comprised of kids with any type of medical need from limb differences like William to kids with CP, stokes and Autism.

May probably should be in capital letters.  One word says it all - Disney and if you ask the kids, their highlight so far for this year would be this trip.  The littles LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it.  Everyone was at such a great age to enjoy a little something different about the trip.  Griffin and Elena had a little bit of freedom and went on a lot of the high velocity rides on their own.  The middles and littles, being so close in age took in all the special rides and we finally after all these years went on Dumbo without a two hour line.  William and Jocelyn were just tall enough to take on Kali River Rapids and Expedition Everest and did so a number of times.  Every character meal was met with squeals, hugs and such happiness that I still get chills thinking about their reactions to the characters.  Mickey, Lightening McQueen and Mike and Sully were big hits with Tristan.  Marin, she was a princess everyday and would pose like a champ for photos with them.  At one point I didn't break out the camera since we already had our photo taken with Mickey at this particular restaurant and she told me to get it out and take her picture, so of course I did.  Since she has to wear two different types of shoes because of her foot/leg difference, she was more than happy to show her little foot's shoe to each and every princess since it had a gold crown on it.

June has been another busy month.  Griff's team won their division and are also playoff champions for this year.  He hit his first home run and it was a monster 20 feet or more over the center field fence.  And what did he do after he hit it, he come out of the dugout to hug his mom and high five his dad.  Mom was weepy needless to say.  Elena, William and Jocelyn will have their dance recitals the end of the month.  We celebrated Tristan's birthday at school this month and school officially ends on the 14th.  We are working on securing all our pre-approvals for Marin's upcoming surgery, the first of many.  I will admit I'm a little nervous about it.  While the difference between her two legs is significant as is her club foot, she gets around like a whirlwind and nothing stops her.  I just hate to see her laid up, in pain and not able to be the Tasmanian Devil she is.  In the end it will all be for the best but mom and dad don't want to see her in pain in the mean time. 

We've already enjoyed some picnic time on the back patio and look forward to many more.  July will be fun as well.  Fourth of July is a big holiday in our town with a big parade and fireworks as well as a neighborhood picnic.  Our friends from our Beijing trip for William's adoption will be coming out our way for our yearly visit and we are excited to see them (we missed them last year as we were in China meeting Marin and Tristan). The end of July lands us in Baltimore for a month for Marin's surgery.

Wishing everyone a fun-filled, fantastic summer.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Where does the time go...

Hard to believe that we have been home almost 6 months with the kids and are meeting with our Social Worker on Friday to submit our next Post-Placement Home Study.  The trip to meet them seems like only yesterday and forever ago all at the same time.  They just fit so well into the chaos at Casa De Clark that it seems they've always been home.

The kids all had a blast with all the fun and activities from the Fall and Winter.  Christmas was a big hit for them and Santa wasn't too bad either (they both sat on his lap multiple times)  I think they liked the fact that each time the big guy in the red suit visited they got a present so he was ok in their book.

We've been thru most of the preliminary medical testing.  Some we need to follow-up on and other have dismissed us from care.  We've had some surprises along the way and are working on figuring out treatment options and testing where necessary but it will all work out, always does.

Their personalities are staring to really shine and boy oh boy are they something.  Marin and Tristan have really taken to each other in a "twin like way" much the same as William and Jocelyn did. 

The Clark Kids

Tristan Christmas 2012

Marin Christmas 2012

The  little ones started pre-school in January and are enjoying it very much.  They ask each day if they can go to school and have fun.   Them liking it makes it much easier to get 6 kids out the door and to their schools each morning.

We can't wait to see what the next couple of months brings with our brood.  They keep us on our toes and we sure do have a lot of fun.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Meet Marin and Tristan...

Yes, I know, I am the worst at posting photos. But I do have a few that I can share (courtesy of my aunt) so everyone can finally "meet" the two newest littles in our clan. So here goes...introducing Marin and Tristan!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Packed and Ready to Go...

Bags are packed and we are getting ready to settle in for the night to catch our bus to the airport just before 7am.  It has been a great trip and the three weeks have gone so fast.  We had wonderful experiences in both Zhejiang and Guangdong Provinces.  The kids couldn't be more wonderful.  They are sweet, ornery, smiley, full of giggles and give the sweetest kisses.

Not sure what the long flight home will bring.  Will they be calm on the entire flight home like William (we can only hope) or will they be the excited little monkeys we've come to know and love.  They are great riding in vans and on a bus so we hope that translate nicely to the many, many, many hours we will be in the air and at airports. 

We will fly straight out of Guangzhou vs. taking the train to Hong Kong.  From Guangzhou we will head for a layover in Narita Airport (Japan) via Nippon Airlines before we catch our long flt. via United into Newark. 

Once we land in Newark and clear immigration, the kids will be US Citizens!!  Here's hoping immigration goes smoothly and we get through in no time so we can make the 1.5 hour drive from the airport.  I'm itching to get my arms around Griffin, Elena, William and Jocelyn.  Missed them sooo much.

Once we get home I will work on getting the photos loaded so you all can see our new beauties and some of the wonderful sights we had the opportunity to see and enjoy.