Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Year Ago Today...Closer to Home

One of my favorite first photos of Hannah

On this day one year ago, the girls made their trip to Guangzhou to complete their adoptions in China. Hannah was less than pleased with this trip, and I believe Daddy had even less kind words to say about this particular event.

An excerpt from our journal...

"A smiling golden buddha/ In a golden temple stands / With a tiny golden baby / In his gentle golden hands." -- From Chinese Mother Goose Rhymes

I must admit, I have begun to lose track of the days. Not much to report today, except that I will be happy when I can see Hannah's pretty smile up close and personal. I want to whisper in her ear and hear Emily laugh with her. From what I am told, Hannah is a pretty spirited child. Good, she will be a good match for her big sister!

Hannah had her visa picture taken, and she had her medical exam in Guangzhou. Our travelling friends describe the capital city as being Vegas-like and the hotel as being like a resort. Excellent! Rob has taken four tapes worth of video since arriving in Beijing--movie night will have a whole new meaning! That will provide a keepsake of Hannah's heritage and homeland. We would love to visit again as a family, when the girls are older.

The medical exams went well. Hannah passed. However, Rob confirmed his suspicion that Hannah has a respiratory infection. Thank goodness for Western medicine; he had a jump start on the antibiotic. It seems most of the babies are requiring medical attention of some sort. We are praying for each and every family. After Emily's respiratory infection morphed into pneumonia, under the best of circumstances and on an antibiotic, in January, Rob is being pretty conservative about her care. (He is thinking those 14 hours on a plane, folks!)

Tonight, Emily thought it would be a great idea to put on a play of the Easter story...guess who got to be the donkey? At any rate, Hosanna!

...Night, night Hannah. We love you.

After a looonnng day of travel, Hannah was in better spirits

Any residual ill feelings they all shared that day were gone when Hannah put on the show of a lifetime, laughing, pulling the covers over her head and snuggling

Nan, Emily and I took a trip out to Emmy's favorite zoo to while the time away:)

The Red Couch Picture occurred during these 36 hours and this is one of my favorite images of Hannah

The Gang is All Here! (They look thrilled don't they?)

Hannah & Kate having dinner at a favorite Americanized eatery (I think it was Lucy's??)

This stuff is for the birds, I need a steak and a baked potato (consequently, when Hannah came to us, she could not self feed and still ate purely from the bottle, it did not take long, once home, well and settled for her to find the joy in finger foods:)

Finally, Jim captured this shot early one morning and it is the picture we used for Hannah's Adoption Announcements - only fitting as it was BIG NEWS!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Having just passed the Easter holiday, I am humbled by the magnitude of what Jesus did for us. So, this Thankful Thursday, I will begin with that thought.

I am also thankful for progress for friends listed in a recent prayer post. Ray (the little boy with Autism auffering from a belly ailment) is doing better. They have identified the bacteria in the infection, inserted a drain and put him on the correct combination of antibiotics. Hopefully, he will be coming home soon. On an additionally gracious note, Ray's illness has afforded me the opportunity to be home more and though I would never want that to happen this way, I am grateful for the extra time with my family.

Leanna, who fell while visiting relatioves many miles away, had her hip surgery. She is very sore and had some tough days, but she has been released from the hospital and is resting at her family's home and receiving therapy. We hope she will be well enough to fly back home shortly.

I am beyond thankful that spring is on the horizon. Though it has been a mild, rather mellow winter, it feels long and the birds chirping and budding flowers are welcome niceties to otherwise dreary days.

I am thankful to have plans tonight to see my wonderful friend, Mary. We do not get nearly enough time together anymore and I am excited to catch up with her.

I am thankful God chose to have me, literally, run into an old friend. We needed to see one another and spend the time together that we did. It was a time of healing and clarity.

I realized this morning that I had never posted pictures from Easter, so I will throw some of them in today:) My nephew graduates from high school in June, so I appreciate any time we get to spend with him, knowing that life will change for their whole family this August.

Palm Sunday Dinner

My nephew and his girlfriend

Looking for Easter Eggs

Easter Morning (the girls follow a trail of eggs to their baskets)

Emily and Horton Easter Morning

Hannah's new buddy

Images of Easter Day

Our Grown Up Girl!

Have a happy weekend!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

One Year Ago Today...

It is a long one, so sorry!

The two "alone travelin'" daddies climbing the wall

The Gang

After a weekend of sightseeing and pretty laid back travel (insert laughter, travel is never laid back for poor Rob), Rob and Jim became
Two Men and a Baby.

To this day, in Em's school ,which is also Jim and Gerry's church, others see us and say, "Hey, you are two men and a baby!" Yep, that is true. Without all the prayers of so many loving people and the teamwork of Rob and Jim, receiving Hannah would have been so much more difficult.

I think of Jim so fondly, especially today, because Jim recorded precious first moments with Hannah, for which we will always be grateful. He was a calming factor for not only my dear husband, but for other families receiving their daughters. He rocked babies, grabbed bottles, fished diapers out of diaper bags. In the moments when Rob was too emotional to speak, Jim graciously took the phone and spoke to me calmly about our daughter. He took pictures and paid attention to details. He helped my husband change scared, fragile, sick Hannah on the men's room floor of Wal-Mart after a particularly toxic explosion. Now, friends that is what I call kindness. Jim is now enjoying his grandson as often as he can, and for this we could not be more overjoyed. Thanks, Jim for being such a special part of Hanniversary:)

I also think with great gratitude of Terilyn and Steve (pictured above on Forever Family Day 4/4/07 with Lyla), who handed over their International Cell so that dear Kim and I could hear every bit of our husbands' first minutes with Kate and Hannah.

I am combining two days excerpts from our original website because Hannah was placed in her loving daddy's arms just before 11:00 PM 3/25/07 for us and just before 11:00 AM 3/26/07 for those in China.

From 3/25
Rob said the hotel is beautiful - he has taken video both at the Beijing Hotel and now at the Jingfeng. He indicated that it was pretty surreal walking into the room and being greeted with Hannah's crib. Though he is nervous about the unknown of what comes next, he is excited and surely emotional.

As I write this, I am ultimately aware that in just two and half hours, Hannah Leigh Xiaowei will be united for the first time with her daddy. She will leave the care of nannies that have loved her and taken care of her for nine months. Her world will be different, our world will be different and I can't think of a greater blessing in this life. I will be able to hear the activity via cell phone when Rob receives Hannah and of course, the group will be snapping pictures like crazy as each family becomes a forever family in the Civil Affairs building in a bustling town in China. Patience is everything... and we have made it this far, just a few more days and Emily and I will meet the daughter and sister destined to be ours. We pray for her nannies, for her friends she will be leaving, for Rob and all of the families who share this forever day with us and especially for Hannah as she readies to be part of a family for the first time in her young life.

From 3/26
Thanks to Steve and Terilyn (and their international phone), Rob called me minutes (10:27) before he was handed Hannah! I had the priviledge of hearing the whole thing albeit slightly muffled and much of it in a language I cannot understand), I was with him at that moment (10:39 PM USA). Hannah has a cold and is running a very high fever, but they said she is alert and very content. Her nanny took her to the doctor before bringing her to meet her family. Rob fed her a bottle at 11:02 and he left the phone to do so - I could hear him telling everyone not to hang up on me -- I was anxious for them to get me off the line so they could phone Kim, so she could hear the whole experience, when her husband received Kate Emerson. The energy from that room was overwhelming - it sounded like chaos. Rob said she is dressed all in pink and he had the guide, Vanessa help translate a series of predetermined questions to be answered by Hannah's nannies. One of her three nannies was there and Rob said she kept coming back to get her, the nanny was crying and he felt she was having a hard time releasing her.

Her fingernails and toenails were painted bright red and she had a gold silk scarf around her little neck. She had brand new shoes on and the nanny gave Rob a scrapbook, a pendant for her wedding day (Rob could not even put these things into words, he was crying too much) and all of the items that were sent in her care package. Rob said she was immaculately clean and cared for (Praise God!).

Hannah with Her Nanny, meeting Vanessa (the guide) - Rob is talking to me:)

She is checking out Daddy!

Uh oh, we do not look happy!

Getting better...

First Bath!
This last picture embodies Rob's true spirit. He is a nurturing father. I remember seeing this picture and crying, believing Hannah was truly our daughter. Shortly after this picture was taken, Rob and I talked and he said that it was, as he expected, love at first sight. Sick and needing the cautious care of an over protective Daddy, Rob rose to the occasion. His fear was overpowered by his desire to protect his baby. Thank you Rob and Jim for leaping head first into the biggest adventure we will ever know.

Hannah Leigh, this day will always be special to us. We love you and can't wait to celebrate Forever Family Day on April 4th.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter!

THE TOMB (courtesy of Emily)


The angel spoke to the woman: "There is nothing to fear here. I know you are looking for Jesus, the one they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised, just as he said. Come and look at the place where he was placed. Now get on your way quickly and tell the disciples,'He is risen from the dead and will go ahead of you in Galilee. You will see him there - that is the message.' (Matthew 28:5-7 TM)

Jesus undeterred went out and gave this charge: "God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone, baptizing them in the holy name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
(Matthew 28:18-20)

One Year Ago Today...Leaving on a Jet Plane

I get so excited when I read the blogs of other families about to embark on the trip of a lifetime. I remember well that day in the airport bidding farewell to my husband. It was the first time since we'd been married that we were separated. Our choice to have Rob travel and me stay home was difficult in some ways, but it was the most logical choice for our family. Emily becomes antsy after several days at the shore and her picky eating patterns did not bode well for international travel. Additionally, when the choice was made for us to divide and conquer, we anticipated travel almost a year earlier making Emily three, and just not ready.

Originally, a good family friend, John had made the committment to travel with Rob. We were so grateful for such a generous offer. Unforeseen business committments cropped up a very short time before we were scheduled for travel and John alerted us travel would be difficult. Uh oh. My dear friend Gerry had said to me several times that her husband, Jim would be more than happy to make the trip. A fire chief in a major metropolis, Jim would need to take two weeks vacation - I was certain it was just not enough time to prepare. BUT, I made that phone call and Jim answered the phone assuring us that he was up for the challenge. It turns out the timing in which they would be away was already scheduled vacation for Jim. God is so good!

In order to minimize melodrama, Emily said goodbye to daddy at home and had a full docket of plans with Nan while my dad drove Rob, Jim and I to the airport. It was a rainy day, but our hearts saw only sunshine knowing what the end of this trip would bring.

Below is an excerpt from our adoption journal (our original website was set up with Adoption Voyages)

I am drawn back to the evening Emily was born. I had been in labor for 20 hours (no pain, not progressing, frustrating but serene). In a last ditch attempt to progress the delivery before concluding a C-section would occur, I was given yet another high dose of pitocin and an epidural in hopes it would relax my system. It worked like a charm, and like every other surprise Rob and I have had in life, we were rather thrown into the moment, when we were beginning to expect a different outcome. There she was, a beautiful, wonderful addition to a life we were pretty happy with...and I mentioned I would do it again, in a heartbeat, a thousand times over (okay, maybe not a thousand, but I said that!). Rob and I were all alone (there was an emergency in another delivery room), and he told me I'd done was sweet, and then he said something I will never forget, it was a prophesy of sorts. He said, "I promise honey, next time I'll take care of it." Of course we laughed--never in a million years would we guess what life had in store for us.

Today we kissed each other goodbye for a time, so that Rob could go "take care of bringing home our baby girl." Thank you Rob, for keeping your promise.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

One Year Ago Today...

These next two weeks mark our Hanniversary! I will be trying to post some reflections of that time, as we celebrate the union of Hannah Leigh into our family. Without further ado

T'was the night before China
And all through the house
Everything was stirring
Especially my spouse

His bags, they were packed
Ready to send
Knowing our wait for sweet Hannah
Was just about to end

We were both a bit nervous
And sad to be apart
but knew our decision
was right in our hearts

And Knight in bright armour
That is our Jim
Packing his bags
And jumping right in

So off to the airport
Look out big Beijing
Our Hannah waits for us
And that's everything!

Easter is Upon Us!

This is the year for cleaning out and cleaning up. I vowed this to myself as the year began and so far, I have kept my word. As I cleaned out my hope chest recently, I discovered a lifetime of memories tucked neatly in what I consider the prettiest piece of furniture I have ever owned. It was fun to leaf through each and every precious card and note, picture and book, that mean so much and tell the story of my life. In that hope chest was my choir folder. I sang with the church choir from age 4 until age 18. My folder was number 8 (my favorite number)and though I cannot recall what I may have sung as a child, all of the songs I sang as a teen were securely packed in my blue music holder.

During my cleaning spree, I found a favorite song, Easter Morn. The tune is so pretty and the words ring with truth and joy.

In a land so far away, on a hillside there
Jesus died upon the cross, all our sins to bear
Born a child of lowly birth, in a manger stall
Lived a Life of peace and love, died to save us all

Jesus healed the sick at heart, Jesus healed the lame
Walking on from town to town, preaching in God's name
He had a destiny, not to be denied
So for all the sins of man, He was crucified

There is a bit of a story that goes with the song. The choir director, Mr. Nelson, a very funny man, was usually all full of jokes, but one particular rehearsal, he was tired and not in the mood for our usual antics. He would prompt us at the chorus, however, we always sang the words incorrectly...what should have been

But, He rose on Easter morn, the battle He had won,
Angels rolled the stone away, His work on Earth was done
Sing the glory of Christ on high
In Heaven He shall reign, until the day He comes to Earth again.


Buddy rose on Easter morn, the bad doll he had won

We consistently slurred the words in a way only youth can do and after several times of stopping and starting, Mr. Nelson lost it. He yelled and ranted, and we, certainly not thwarted by his little tantrum continued to talk with one another and giggle despite his disgust with us. Then, the choir clown, Kenny spoke, "Actually, Mr. Nelson it's not really wrong, He is our buddy. I mean that is what He wants from us, right? A solid relationship - to be our buddy, our go-to guy." There was silence. To this day, I am unsure of whether it was because we thought Kenny was about to be asked to leave or because we all recognized the value in his observation.

Jesus is most definitely my "go-to-guy". I think Kenny was onto something. Webster defines "buddy" as companion, partner and friend. Yes, Kenny, you definitely understood.

Happy Easter Week!

Dying Easter eggs

On a Serious Note

I love Easter, some of my future posts will reflect how much I love Easter. But, this week my heart is sad, for three very important prayer requests. Please indulge me and pray for three important people in our lives.

First, there is Ray. Ray is the child I have provided home therapuetic services for since he was six years old. He is now eleven. Ray is a child affected by Autism. On a normal day, life is never normal for Ray or his family. When you spend as much time in someone's home as I have spent in their home, you discover that somewhere along the road, you have become family with this family. Ray is sick and has been hospitalized since last week. I was hoping that this post would not come to pass because I hoped he'd be home by now, but he is not. The key words are abdominal abscess and no desire to eat, which if you knew Ray, you'd know this is very serious. Pray for healing for Ray, for wisdom for his doctors and nurses and truly for peace and rest for his family. His mother and father are taking shifts, but because of some of Ray's individualized needs this is tiresome at best and outright exhausting for the most part.

Then, there is Leanna. She is a dear friend, prayer warrior and genuinely amazing woman who delights in serving others. She was visiting family in another state and almost on a plane to come home. She fell, broke her hip and has now been operated on in a strange hospital, far from home. She is not feeling well and just plain needs prayer. I spoke with her yesterday and though she sounded good, her frustration is apparent. I am certain her greatest heartache is missing time with her immediate family at home. So, she could use prayer for quick healing and much less pain. We are praying for her husband, who is by her side and also for all the medical personnel caring for her.

Finally, you can visit Lori here to offer up some love. Apparently in Hague related issue, there may be some tentativeness in their adoption. They are a waiting family and having been in their shoes, waiting and waiting, I have seen the joy that is the other side of that wait. I pray for them the same outcome and my heart is heavy for any and every family waiting, hoping, dreaming of their children from China, experiencing bumps in the road and uncertainty. I am sure of God's plan for our families, but know firsthand the desperate moments that can pop into our lives when waiting for something so precious, so desired and loved.

In this season of newness and spring, I pray for newness in the lives of those I've highlighted and hope for them joy.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Posts are Piling Up

To the tune of When the Saints Go Marching In...

Oh when the posts start piling up,
Oh when the posts start piling up
How I'd love to get them published
When the posts start piling up

Oh when the wash is a mile high
And dinner needs to be on the table
And the kids clothes won't iron themselves
I can only do what I am able

And I can't hide,
Oh just can't hide
Those chores will just have to get done
And the posts will pile up
Til the rise of the new day sun

So I'll be back
Oh yes, be back
Just a few things more left to get done
Oh how I miss my bloggy blogging
Stay tuned for ladybug fun....

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Thankful Thursday

It is because we are different that each of us is special. ~ Brian Dyson

Growing up, my mother often remarked about how much she enjoyed the differences between my brother and myself. And we are very different! It would be cumbersome to list all of the ways we are different, but there are some ways we are very much the same. We share the same parents, parts of the same childhood and we'd lay down our lives for one another. All the differences fade in comparison to the depth of love in our soul for one another. And so, it warms my heart when I see our daughters sharing their childhood and growing in that relationship. I'm thankful for those simple moments when I am trying to get dinner on the table and a box of crayons and plain paper provide fifteen minutes of conversation and screechless interaction. (Crayola really does deserve a thank you note from our family:)

Bubbly from the beginning, Emily gathers up life and relishes each moment in her own finesse-filled way. People often ask, "Does she ever have a bad day?" And, of course, the answer is , "YES!". Emily is Petunia Picky-pants when it comes to nourishment. Hannah approaches things differently, breathing in each moment with a variety of responses, constantly surprising us and forever revealing answered prayer. Hannah has this very cute habit of "Oooooohing and Aaaaaaaahing" as soon as food is placed in her sight. She will eat pretty much everything and particularly likes vegetables. She loves to shop for clothes and accessories, Emily could not be more bored with anything than to be forced to try on clothes. I must say, I agree with my wise Mama, I enjoy the differences.

I am thankful that Emily asked for carrot sticks for snack this week and ate them! She also ate yogurt covered raisins and LOVED them. It may seem a small milestone to some, but for me, it was paramount.

I am thankful for Hannah's persistence. Though trying at times, at the delicate age of 21 months, her perserverance will help her in life and hopefully propel her to do well in the things she loves.

I am thankful for my mother and dad. They are encouraging parents and grandparents. My dad has been particularly helpful these past few weeks, with my most cranky computer. Between business trips and volunteer meetings, he has made time to help me and I appreciate that.

For all of us eighties and nineties girls, Dirty Dancing and Ghost are rites of passage, icons of our past...I plan to pray for Patrick Swayze and am not ashamed to admit my never-ending fascination with his movies. I'm thankful our friend Sam, also being treated for Pancreatic cancer is doing so well.

Finally, I am thankful for friends and family who take the time to remind us how special we are. In the daily grind, it is easy to look outside your own circumstance and assume everyone else is doing it better. I think it is a natural symptom of being a mom. This quote that I stumbled over this week has particular meaning,

"I guess what I have really discovered is the humanizing effect of children in my life, stretching me, humbling me. Maybe my thighs aren't as thin as they used to be, maybe my getaways are not as glamorous. Still, I like the woman that motherhood has helped me to become." ~ Susan Lapinski

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Time Well Spent

May you live all the days of your life. ~ Jonathan Swift

I looked around. The floor needed to be mopped, the house needed straightening, there was a pile composed of three days' mail that needed sorting and there was an assortment of laundry that needed to be folded and ironed. (I am completely sure the laundry holds staff meetings after we all go to sleep deciding how it can look more daunting the next day than it does this day - does it fluff itself into those piles or what?) I had an extra day this week due to a student's vacation, but I was battling a sinus infection/flu thing and there was lots to be done at home. And then I glanced into the family room, both girls were gathered at the window staring at a bird that was dangling itself precariously close to the house. It was a gorgeous day, cold, very cold, but no wind and the sun was as bright as I have seen in a while. Emily was muttering something about springtime.

And so, without as much as a second thought to all the things that should have been done, I knew what needed to be done. Emily has a favorite park, people bring their dogs there to walk and it has a fun playground. I quickly gathered hats and coats, stood in the doorway and announced we'd be going for a ride to the park. The entire sentence had not left my lips and Emily had her boots in hand. I had even picked her up early from school that day in hopes of some fun girltime that afternoon while Hannah napped, but I realized in the nick of time that we'd have more fun in the fresh air, all three of us, than staring at the same four walls.

The playground was covered with snow, so we agreed on a long walk through the horse trails. We met four dogs (and their people), fed six ducks, said "hi" to anyone and everyone who passed our way and even caught a glimpse of an experienced rider on her horse way out in a meadow, it was beautiful.

Some of my to-do list still waits to be done. It's okay; someday they will be off doing their own thing and not have time for afternoons in the park. Emily continues to talk about "Ace the dog" who licked her hand and Hannah challenges her zeal with a very loud, "Ewwwww, yuck." They high five one another and giggle, giggle, giggle. My love affair with the washing machine, mop and vacuum doesn't stand a chance:)


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