Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Birthdays, Graduations, Recitals, Oh My!

I am the first one to bound into spring joyously, but I must admit that as time goes by, entering the month of May gets increasingly more frightening. There are birthdays, weddings, Emily's recital, anniversaries, Mother's Day, proms, graduations, knees get knocky just thinking about the itinerary. On the flip side, it is a happy month filled with celebrations and happy faces.

Before we enter the storm, I figured I'd post some pictures of some mellow moments with the girls this past week. After our court hearing, we had a wonderful lunch in the village where Rob and I were married. We were a bit nostalgic about all the events that have brought us to this place in our lives - we never dreamed seven years ago all that would occur!

A preview of things to come...

Our little wanderer, picking dandilions and making wishes...

Oh those sweet toesies!

Reach for the stars! (or bubbles:)

Happy girl

Sisters, chillin'

We visited Rob at work on Friday afternoon (he is working at my mom and dad's) and I got some playtime with the ladybugs by the ponds. Hannah was in search of some ducks - we found a goose (and I had to warn the girls because the geese bite and spit, ewwww). We didn't get too close but we had a great afternoon:)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

SO Official!

It has been a while, so this is a long post filled with lots of goodies - make sure to scroll to the very end:)

Well, it has been a big week in our home. Our re-adoption and finalization hearing took place on Wednesday. Just one day before our reunion two weeks ago, we received a phone call from the attorney's office advising that they had an opening April 23 and would we like it? I needed no time to respond - YES!!

Emily had an in-service from school that day (perfect) and my dad would just be between business trips (perfect)and Rob was just starting a job at my parents' home, so no heavy explaining to the customers why he'd be taking a day off (perfect).

Tuesday, Hannah seemed a bit out of sorts and as the day progressed, her little cheeks flushed more and more. Uh oh. By 1:00, she was raging quite the fever and not feeling well. "Noooo, not the day before the hearing", my mind screamed, but that wasn't going to make her better or relieve my angst. I made an appointment with a favorite nurse practitioner at the pediatrician's office. Hannah loves her, we call her Dr. Barbara. As we waited, in the waiting room, Hannah saw her emerge from one of the exam rooms, clapped her hands and yelled out "Bawbwa! Hi Bawbwa!"

Dr. Barbara confirmed a double ear infection. Poor baby. She also said depending on what kind of night we had, she felt it would be okay to keep our appointment. Yea, Dr. Barbara! Hannah slept pretty well Tuesday night (one wake-up for meds but she was downright pleasant) and so the hearing was a go!

We had our twelve month post placement in the hallway with our social worker and then waited for the judge to call us in. Emily was so excited I thought she was going to explode!

The courtroom was incredibly NOT Law and Order, a dark little room with a long table and no windows. The judge and bailiff sat at the very front and called our attorney in first, for questioning, to which our social worker said, "Oh my, that has never happened before." GREAT! We would learn later, the judge was uncertain how to pronounce Hannah's Chinese name and wanted to be sure he did not offend our family - I thought that was really cool. Then came the total awesomeness of this experience. We got settled, and they advised we would need to be sworn in, to which Emily stood up and placed her little hand on the Bible, as well. (They would be asking her no questions) but these incredible people went right along having her swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and asking each of us to give our name and any spellings...Rob and I both give our information and then they look at Em, "Oh, umm Emily, E-M-I-L-Y and I can spell my last name too." And she did.

The attorney and judge spoke about the father/daughter relationship and the mother/daughter relationship and advised us that we cannot change our minds, she is "now as though born to us" . Yup, okee dokee, uh huh, sure thing, been that way since we saw her sweet face - we were elated. Em was incredibly disappointed the judge had no gavel to conclude, but was soothed by the prospect of taking a picture with him and was awed by his height.

Yes, I know my eyes are closed, but it was the best of the bunch!

This event was, in all reality, a formality. A formality, that I will remember all the days of my life. This day, I remember a whole other family who loved Hannah and gave us the blessing of raising her and loving her. And remarkably, she loves us right back, that excites me to no end! Hannah did beautifully, even feeling punky and certainly not herself, she was a trooper.

End of the story???? NOOOO, in fact this part is for all the families waiting. I stayed with Hannah and my mom, while Rob and Emily and the other grandparents walked the distance to go get the cars. On their way, Emily spotted a grouping of dandilions and could not resist the urge to get one. And can you imagine what was on the botoom of the lovely flower she picked????
Look closely...

A sweet little ladybug reminding us of all the babies in China - I used to tell Emily that everytime we spotted a ladybug, Hannah was thinking of us in China - Emily set the cutie-pie free so that others families would know their babies were thinking of them

See? I knew it was the perfect day! (More pictures and fun to come, stay tuned:)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I think it is SPRING!

Well, I finally broke down and gently put away the Easter things(the bunnies are happily resting and the chicks nesting until next year:) So, I am in the process of planting gardens, which is truly one of my favorite things to do.

After cheerleading today, Emily and I set out for garden materials and we chose a color scheme. I have always chosen brilliant vivids for our beds because our home is very colonial with a touch of victorian and it is decorated in the darker shades of the palette. This year, Emily chose pinks, purples and whites - I have to say I love the change and when it is all done, you will see more of it. For now, my dirty fingernails need a bath and my allergies are crying out for some relief.

Just a few reminders of the day - it was a long, sunny, glorious day outside. Doesn't get much better than that!

All they need is some sweet tea and a fan:)

Look, Mommy, we found a frog - Daddy put him in a box (ooohhh, yeahhh - NOT!)

No, Emmy, I booowww dem me Hannah (No, Emily, I will blow the bubbles myself!)

Catching those bubbles is hard work!

Oh, Emmy, you funny...

Such a sad, sad child (HAH!)

What choooo doing?

Giggle, snort, snort...

"Hannah, can Mommy take more pictures?" Mmmm, guess not - point well taken, my little fussy-face!

Hope you have had a marvelous weekend!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Thankful Thursday

"Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty." ~ Doris Day

UPDATED with some extra photos from Reunion Weekend:)

I. Am. So. Behind.

Simply stated, I am behind in reading blogs and certainly behind in posting, so this one will be comprehensive:) I am not sure when we got so busy, but these past two weeks have been crazy! Even amidst the chaos, there is much to take stock in...

I am thankful for Emily's interest in cheerleading. It makes my heart sing to know that everything that happens at her school is covered in prayer and to the glory of God. It is a fun activity an it affords her time with good friends and the ability to make some new friends. I had promised pictures from her most recent game, so here are a few. There are more games to come and the weather looks to be much more springlike moving forward - yippee!

Emily and Cahsia - longtime friends

Emily and Gabrielle - sweet, sweet friends

Prayer Circle

Our crazy girl!

I am thankful for the great news we received Friday, that Hannah's readoption hearing is scheduled for next Wednesday! We are so excited.

We are all so thankful for the wonderful weekend our travel group just shared. Kudos to Terry and Dale, who planned and organized a time for us to get together. Great job and many, many thanks. I snapped some pictures over the weekend myself, but blogger is being persnicketty, so I will post them at a later time:)

Kim kindly permitted use of the video she made for us to share, so I am posting it here. (Thank you Kim, it is wonderful) Our little girls have a history, a heritage to share. They are sisters, in a manner of speaking, and I feel so blessed to share that bond with such amazing families. I never would have guessed the world that would open up to us through adoption.

Jiangxi Sisters unite!!

The cutie-pie kids!

Beautiful Lyla!

Kate & Em definitely have a love-love relationship:)

Whew! I guess I have to clean up after these party animals:)(Hannah, you are your mommy's daughter!)

Night Night Hannah Leigh!

My list of thanksgivings could go on and on this week. In the interest of time and humility, I will stop here.

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thankful Thursday

"The Lord is good and His love is eternal; His faithfulness endures through all generations." ~ Psalm 100:5

Today the sun was shining and for the first time in a long time, the temperatures soared high enough to play on the porch and pick buttercups in the yard. I am thankful for the first breath of spring and the joy it brings. Everyone smiles just a bit more when the world looks so lovely.

I am thankful today for Hannah. I have found myself saying "how far she has come" in this past year, but truthfully, I was pretty impressed with the little person she was from the get-go. I am proud of her achievements and courage. Obviously, she has grown in every way imaginable this year, especially emotionally, and for this we are most grateful. I love it when she looks out the window and talks to the birdies or better yet, when she runs full force down the driveway certain she can catch one. I love that she wants to be just like her big sister. I love her laugh. I used to say how serious she is and some days, she still is. Overall, though, she is very funny and incredibly curious! I celebrate her. Her eyes, her nose, the crazy way she dances and the way she hugs my neck, holds my hand and kisses my face, all the while crooning "Awwwww, Mommy!"

Today, I am thankful for the home where I live, the food that I eat, the family I have been blessed with and the prayer that sustains me daily. I don't often get the chance to watch television, but last evening, while ironing, I watched American Idol Gives Back and followed that with Diane Sawyer's interview with Randy Pausch. AI Gives Back was mindboggling to me. The state of the world is a scary one and I pray my children will grow to have servant's hearts and that they will serve their neighbors. Billy Ray and Miley Cyrus went back to Billy Ray's hometown, which just happens to be the very first county I was priviledged to serve in. As I wiped away my tears, they panned pictures of a broken, needy community that looked very similar to how it looked fifteen years ago when I was there. I vowed I would never forget what I witnessed and how I felt during those years of missionwork - that reminder last evening was necessary.

Every couple should see, read, know about Randy Pausch...battling pancreatic cancer, he has chosen to make a difference before he leaves this earth. Click here to read more and find links to his new book. He does not desire to be an icon or an idol, just an ordinary family man, faced with extraordinary circumstances and sharing his families' experiences so others may be better for it. It makes me stop and think about how I might handle his situation, were it mine.

Finally, Emily, thank you for the lovely flowers you picked for me today. I love them. We have pretty vases, but the flowers were very tiny, so she bolted upstairs, grabbed a dixie cup and cut the top off to make it "short enough" for her pint size bouquet. Just beautiful...

What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Secret Life of Emily

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Our family is made up of pretty private people. I am the most outgoing of the four of us, with Emily skittering in just behind me. Rob and Hannah, not so much. I am always cautious to protect the more private members of our family. We have found this to be true in our journey to Hannah. Rob is not a "put it all out there kind of guy" and would be heartbroken to see some of our most intimate moments posted for all to see, I respect I have chosen posts accordingly and carefully.

Recently, though, Em mugged for several shots that totally show off her fun personality and I felt the need to chronicle these for all time. The first answers the question, "Is her hair always that curly?" Ummmm, no. As she gets older, it gets straighter, so we get more creative (wink, wink)

The second marks her favorite time of the day, bathtime, which is now showertime for her...she goes into the bathroom, starts the water, gets undressed and then usually flys like a wild monkey around the house in a get-up that looks remarkably like this

I am her mother; and so what is funny to me will not necessarily be amusing to others, but there is just something about the way she dons a shower cap, hair all pushed up in there, like Granny Smith, herself and then wraps her little self in her bunny towel skipping around like a madwoman.

Em has an affinity for animals. She has been overheard telling many, many people that she plans to work for Petco because "that is where the pets go", but as of late she has been strutting around in this number writing "patient notes" and reviewing the files of her beloved animals. Perhaps a look into the future...or not, either way her compassion and creativity are really fun.

Emily has begun (gulp) cheerleading and had her first game today - look for pics in a future post. It went well. She is really enjoying it and I think she only asked if the "game was over yet" like 30 times, pretty good for five:)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Thankful Thursday - A Year Ago Today

One year ago today, seven families changed. Seven beautiful Asian born children boarded a plane with their mommies and daddies set out to arrive HOME, in every sense of the word. Our daughter was one of them.

I slept in Hannah's bedroom this night last year. I am not so sure I even slept 20 minutes that night. I was anxious, eager, antsy and overjoyed that the daughter we had dreamed of would finally be home with us. That night, a year ago, her room, it was quiet, painfully so. And tonight as I listen to her humming "Jesus Loves Me" as she drifts off into dreamland, I can't help but think, "Oh yes, Hannah, He certainly does." Nothing else, no one else, nothing could ever design anything so perfect as a family, the way Jesus can.

When Emily was born, she joined our life, our family; I thought perhaps I might just burst with joy. So much so, that we looked forward to when three would be four and maybe even more. When we made the choice to adopt Emily's sister, we talked with her about it. She signed the dossier and her little signature was notarized and embossed. She was as much welcoming our baby into our family as we were. Her only request, that the baby not slobber on her things. The same evening Hannah arrived home, she was playing with a toy and of course, straight to the mouth, to which Emily assured me, "It's okay, Mommy - it's okay." It didn't even take one day. They have evolved over this year, but I assure you, they knew they were sisters, meant to be together.

From the tentative child who slapped my face away at every kiss to the tender, warm child Hannah is today, I am so thankful for the ways God has moved us, challenged us, stood by us and been faithful to our family.

Home just three days, Hannah Easter morning

During the first week

I have no eloquent words or particularly poignant message on this very special day for our family. But, I believe the beauty in any circumstance is the way it is lived every single day. And we live out the love that was intended when we care for each other and rejoice in the family we have been blessed with. It would be so hard to present in one post all the emotions, sights, sensations and feelings that encapsulate one of the greatest days in the history of our family. I do recall the look on my husband's face when he came down the ramp to us. Humble in nature and never proud, Rob beamed. A new confidence, a pride that is not prideful but just plain grateful when mommies and daddies are made. I have never loved him more than I did at that very moment.

Thursday, April 4, 2007...the airport was crowded, noisy, cold. I never noticed any of those things, neither did Emily (though others have told us it's true;). Our baby was home for good, our family was made complete, we were in love and that's all that mattered.


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