Sunday, December 30, 2012

Matchy-Matchy and DejaVu {Again}

In case anyone had any doubts, I am publicly proclaiming my love of having the kiddos color coordinated or, gasp, even matchy-matchy (especially on Sundays).  And, while I'm at it I'm going to further admit my love of dressing Nora in Lydia's outgrown outfits and then finding photos of Lydia in the same outfit.  For the record, I did this with Samuel wearing Jack's outgrown clothes as well.  In fact, I still do it at times considering that 99% of Samuel's wardrobe is hand-me-downs from Jack.  

So, for fun, a few recent and not so recent photos of my little blessings as evidence of my obsession with fondness of matchy-matchy and hand-me-downs.
Matchy-Matchy Dresses from China
I love Nora's plea for assistance as Lydia is so lovingly positioning her, ha!
Matchy-Matchy Outfits Under their Coordinated Coats
And, even better, Nora is wearing the coat that Lydia wore for two winters.
Lydia rockin' the coat at nearly 12 months (December 2010)
More of Lydia rockin' the coat in December 2010
And, as a bonus, the boys all matchy-matchy!  Some of you may recognize this as the photo from our 2010 Christmas cards.
Oh man, how I love this little one! 
And, I love how she pulls off the ruffle pants! 
Kinda like her big sis!  Here, Nora is nearly 18 months.  And, I'm happy to say that her hair is coming in nicely (it had been shaved in the orphanage) and for that I am thankful as I'm getting a little annoyed with people mistaking her for a boy!  In addition, she's taking a few more steps here and there and can now get to standing from sitting all by herself!
Ha!  And, here is Lydia at nearly 12 months (December 2010) in the same ruffle pants and top.
In other news, we had a lovely Christmas and were quite thankful that Nora was "hands free" for her first Christmas home.  She seemed to enjoy opening gifts playing with the tissue paper and wrapping paper from gifts. 
Nora's "hands free" status is quickly dwindling as her surgery nears (scheduled for Friday).  I continue to struggle with her upcoming surgery and understanding what God's intention is.  He purposefully and beautifully created Nora with her cleft.  Did He really intend that surgeons would change His creation?  Of course, we will move on with surgery as we know that without surgery Nora would not be able to "normally" (what really is "normal"?) function in society (speech, eating, etc.).  It is still hard to imagine that, on Friday, our little one's smile is going to be forever changed.  I know that I've talked a lot about Ashley on here, heir little one is also having her lip repair surgery on Friday (Ashley posts about this a few times, most recently intermingled in this post here).  And, one of the little ones from the same orphanage as Nora, Dana's sweet Anna, will be having her palate repair on the following Monday.  And, Angie just posted about it being one year since her Emery had her lip repair.  Angie seems to struggle with many of my same "concerns" that I have.  Once again, I am in awe of God's timing and how I feel so connected to these amazing women that I have yet to meet in person.  Hopefully one day!  Until then, I'm thankful for technology.
And, I'm thankful for matchy-matchy and hand-me-downs!  {Big Grin}

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Coveting a Sewing Machine {Lydia's Wings}

I don't have a sewing machine.  I think I might want one.  Since having Lydia I have often commented "if only I could sew" ... imagine the cute little ruffle pants, peasant tops, apron knot dresses, hairbands, etc. I could just whip up.  But, I can't sew, and I don't have a sewing machine (hence my slight obsession with Etsy for special occasion outfits for the girls). 

I love the cleft adoption community I have found online.  I have "met" some amazing moms of cleft kiddos.  And, I love that they are all super creative and crafty.  That said, when I saw these wings on Ashley's blog, I felt like I had to make these for Lydia for her birthday.  I love that Ashley describes her cutting and sewing as "wonky" ... love that.  As I was cutting and sewing I often found myself chuckling at my wonkiness as well. 

Anyhow, I got it in my head that I needed to make these for Lydia's birthday.  Never mind that I don't have a sewing machine!  So, first step, find someone to borrow me a sewing machine.  Checked with the family and unfortunately everyone that has one has one that is not portable.  So, what is one to do?  We are blessed with lovely friends that happen to be neighbors.  I put out a note to borrow not a cup of flour, nor an egg or two, but a sewing machine.  I love the responses I got!  And, I love that one of the ladies did have one I could borrow.  Awesome!  (Thanks, Julie!)

I pretty much did follow Ashley's directions and did use the original instructions in Erin's blog as well.  I was excited to finish the wings, after many late nights of wonky cutting and sewing, in time for Lydia's birthday.  The boys were just as excited as I was to give her the wings.  And, I just had to laugh, so as not to cry, as the girl was NOT nuts over them.  In fact, she didn't even want to try them on.  Samuel did though (no surprises there). So, Samuel modeled them which did peak Lydia's interest.  She decided she did want to try them on, and she entertained me long enough to get some photos.  For now, the wings are tucked in her closet, ready for her to take flight ... when she's ready. 

Here is my "little" project in photos.
Here she is ... ah, bliss! 
This little machine made me feel like I was in home ec class again! 
Love it!  And, it worked so great! 
And, I think this is so spectacular, this is the user's guide for the machine I borrowed.  Seriously feeding the home ec memories!
While I tried a bit to find some vintage sheets at thrift stores, I ended up purchasing fabric at a local fabric store.  And, taking Ashley's advice, I purchased the felt from Benzie on Etsy.  Oh my, I will never think of felt the same again.  This stuff was amazing!
Love this little stinker and love her in her wings!  Hoping that one day she will love her wings as much as I do.  While this was a labor of love, it was one that I really, really enjoyed!  So, perhaps one day I will invest in a sewing machine, no matter how wonky my sewing!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas {2012}

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Two Months Later

Two months ago we were meeting and holding Nora for the first time.  Two months already!  And now, we are reflecting on all God has so graciously given us.  So thankful ...
Photo by Amy from our November "Photo Shoot" ... Now that our Christmas cards are out you will notice that I am slowly revealing some of my favorite photos from that day!  I love how sweet Jack is holding Nora, how serious she is and how Samuel and Lydia look like they are up to no good (which is likely the case).  Since this photo was taken we are getting to know our daughter even more ... next year I am positive she will be revealing her mischievous smirk as she is a "little stinker" for sure!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Birthday Girl {Lydia, 3 Years}

I recognize that today is a blogging day of silence as respect is paid to lives lost and as the nation mourns, what a tragedy ... so thankful that we have a sovereign God.  On this day, I am also thankful for the little ones God has entrusted us with ... for now.  And, I am so thankful that we can celebrate Lydia.

Little Miss Lydia turns three today and as I type that I can hardly even believe it myself.  It seems like just yesterday that Jason was making the calls from the hospital, announcing her arrival.  Ah, one of my favorite memories!  With the exception of Owen, we never found out the sex of our babies as we loved the surprise.  And, during my pregnancy with Lydia, we just assumed it was another boy ... after having three boys, it was a safe assumption, or so we thought.  When we had Lydia, we were AMAZED that we had a girl.  So back to that sweet day and memory of Jason making the calls, he very deliberty gave all of the necessary baby details (time, weight, length), saving an important detail for the end ~ I can still hear him "... and we named HER Lydia ..." after that, I distinctly remember hearing many shrieks from the recipients of the news.  Such a sweet memory.
And, such a sweet little girl we have been blessed with.  Lydia cracks us up with her silly faces and the funny things that she says.  Lydia is a little mommy in the making, she love, love, loves her baby dolls.  She also loves to be doing what her big brothers are doing which entails playing games on ipods (sadly, I think the girl knows more about my phone than I do).
We celebrated Samuel and Lydia's birthdays together earlier this month (so thankful that both Samuel and Lydia are happy to share their party with one another).  We are so blessed!
 What a gift you are, Sweet Baby Girl! 
Happy Birthday!  We love you! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Surgery Postponed

Well, Little Miss was not well enough to have surgery today.  While her temperament is great and she seems fine, she is still congested.  The surgeon and anesthesiologist did not want to risk putting her under an anesthetic until her lungs sound more clear and she is not so congested (if we would have went ahead with surgery today it would have risked a longer hospital stay and a compromised palate repair).  So, our new date to anticipate is Friday, January 4th!  Happy New Year, Nora, you're getting a "new" lip and a palate.
While I fought back tears knowing that we would once again have to go through the anticipation of a new date, I was also reminded that God is faithful and His timing is not always our own.  The delay is definitely bittersweet.  I am thankful that we will get to cherish Nora's clefty smile for Christmas this year.
And, I'm sure Nora appreciates that she will not be in arm restraints this Christmas season! 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Surgery Update

I almost called this post "Impending Doom" but decided to take the high road and be a little more optimistic and just keep it simple (haha).

Nora's surgery is scheduled for Monday, to start at approximately 10:00.  We will be over night at least one night and then back on Friday to get her lip sutures removed.  In order to proceed with surgery Nora has to be healthy.  Unfortunately, little Miss has a cold right now and is rather congested, but I'm thankful to say that no more fever like earlier this week.  I really think she is on the mend (and her temperament is great today ... and, she's getting into plenty of trouble ... this girl "explores" way more than any of our other children at this age ... seriously, we are going to actually need to put locks on cupboards!).

Anyhow, back to surgery.  Part of me is a little excited at the thought of postponing surgery, more time with Nora just the way God made her and a Christmas without "no-no's" (arm restraints that she will need to wear after surgery, for two to three weeks, to prevent her from putting her hands and other items in her mouth).  BUT, the other part of me knows that to anticipate a new surgery date and to prepare for it emotionally and psychologically would be draining.  So, we will continue to pray for God's will and will continue to pray that this means surgery on Monday.
Love this girl ... and her fun Daddy

Monday, December 10, 2012

O' Christmas Tree

Not a Christmas season goes by that I don't refer to my husband as Clark Griswold.  This season will be no exception.  This weekend we, perhaps, started a new tradition that I'm quite sure the Griswolds would be proud of.
We do not have any great tradition around getting our Christmas tree every year.  My uncle and cousin are both Christmas tree "farmers" and thus we were pretty loyal in going to their tree lots to buy our tree every year until a few years ago when we started getting a little lazy and started just stopping by Home Depot and buying our tree there (nice trees but not necessarily the photo op tradition that I would love).  Years ago, when it was just Jason, Jack and I, we even tried to go cut down our tree, but I was, let's just say, a little too particular.
This weekend we found ourselves bundling up and heading out for a family walk.  I carried Nora in the carrier and pushed Lydia in the stroller.  The boys scootered, and Jason walked the dog ... and, he pulled an empty wagon.  We live approximately one mile from our small-town grocery store.  At said grocery store, my cousin has a small tree lot.  Yes, we walked to the tree lot, picked a "perfect" tree and headed back home with tree in tow.  Ha!  We got a few honks and lots of smiles. 
Jack, seeing as he is the "coolest" of the bunch had a few comments about being a bit embarrassed, but he was a trooper (and secretly, I think he enjoyed the trek to our tree this year).
This is the one!
 All loaded up and ready to trek home.
Love this new tradition that we may have inadvertently started!
Little Miss slept through most of this adventure.
My sweet vantage point of Nora in the carrier. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Birthday Boy {Samuel, 8 Years}

How can my tow-headed boy be eight?  Our Samuel, how he brings us joy.  Samuel plays his part in our family so well, he is a kind little brother and an oh-so-helpful big brother.  I love that he steps into the roles he's been given so beautifully.  Of course, there is the normal (it's not just our family, right?) bickering that happens between Samuel and his siblings, but when he's on, he's on and the love in his tender heart is so evident.

Samuel is reserved at times and full out crazy at other times.  He has antics that make us burst into laughter.  For instance, he has started making little videos of himself.  Here is a recent one, where Lydia also guest stars.
And, in case you didn't quite catch it, it's "this is for my information, go to samuel(dot)lydia(dot)com, just click on the right side corner and say VIDEO."  Yes, his antics are often sometimes borderline obnoxious, but they certainly have a way of getting our attention.

Samuel's smile is contagious, with his disappearing eyes and slight dimple.  And, his laughter is hard to resist.  As he continues to change and grow in front of us, it is getting harder and harder to let go and not hold him closer.
Happy 8th Birthday, Sammers! 
We thank God for you and the joy you bring us!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Flipping the Calendar

Today we flipped the calendar to December which just seems impossible!  December brings with it a whole lotta busyness.  But good busyness ~ lots of Christmas tradition leading up to the celebration of Jesus' birth, the celebration of two of the LilyKids growing another year older, the start of Jack's basketball games, school concerts and more.  As I was looking at the calendar today it was inevitable to notice that this month also brings doctor and therapist appointments, and, gulp, surgery. 

When we were reviewing Nora's referral in June and even before that, when we knew that our hearts were open to a cleft kiddo, I, admittedly, always thought that this special need was "fixable" and that "all" we would have to do is get surgery scheduled upon return from China, and we would be good to go.  Now that Nora is home I cannot even believe I once thought that ... so naive and so unaware of the complete infatuation I would have with Nora's beautifully lopsided smile.  (And, on a side note, how could I ever describe God's perfect knitting of my daughter as fixable - ugh).

In less than three weeks, Nora will be changed forever and with that comes so many emotions.  Yesterday Ashley posted this, I encourage you to pop over to her amazing blog and read this post.  Ashley has quite eloquently put into words much of what I am feeling as we anticipate all of the change that this month will bring.  An excerpt from Ashley's post is as follows (her sweet Little One will have surgery in January). 

From Ashley's blog"Right now I am celebrating and rejoicing in my daughter. I will soak in every single sweet clefty smile I can get before surgery in January. And when the day comes that I have to kiss her sweet lips one last time before a doctor changes them, I will bawl like a baby. And then I will walk in gratitude that we have the means to provide surgery for our daughter because in my head I know that is best for her. I just wish my heart felt the same. Bittersweet….gloriously made."

Thank you, Ashley, for expressing so beautifully what my heart is feeling.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Painted Piggies

Oddly enough I have been quite hesitant to paint Lydia's toenails (yes, she had her ears pierced at one year, but has not yet had painted toenails).  That is, until last week.

When my niece Ellison had conquered potty training I took her on a little girl's date which included a stop to get our toenails painted. Lydia has nearly conquered potty training so we went on a little date to a nail place.  Totally worth the $5 just to get these sweet photos and to cherish the awe on Lydia's face as she watched the lady do her magic. 

 It is also worth noting that Lydia nearly chose blaze orange before settling on this sparkly deep purple.  Love this girl!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Splish Splash

Look who's in the bath!!!
We have so much to be thankful for, and it has clearly been a time of blessing for us.  In the midst of the every day, we are thankful for a little miss who has just started to sit in the tub and enjoy bathtime!  This is a breakthrough to celebrate! 
One of Nora's fears has been the bath so we have been very quick when giving her baths as she has screamed through them, refusing even to sit down.  Well, this week she discovered the joy of sitting in and splashing in the tub!  Yes, Miss Nora, that's something to clap about!  
 May you find blessings in your every day this Thanksgiving season as well!  And, Happy One Month with your crazy new family, Nora Jane!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Orphan Sunday

November 4th was Orphan Sunday, our first Sunday in the US with Miss Nora.  I'm a little sentimental like that and find it to be quite significant.  Orphan Sunday is a special day set aside by churches to advocate for awareness and action on behalf of orphans worldwide.  And, today is National Adoption Day! 

Our church typically recognizes Orphan Sunday on the 3rd Sunday in November (tomorrow).  Last year we were asked to share a bit about our adoption journey for Orphan Sunday (written sharing ... not great with the public speaking aspect of sharing ... I know, I know, if we can't feel safe in sharing amongst our church family, where can we?).  Anyhow, I wrote more about what we shared last year here.  This year we were again asked to share.  We graciously turned down the public speaking gig (maybe next year?) but agreed on a written update which is below.

As part of our update we were asked for a family photo.  In steps Amy, graciously volunteering to take some family photos for us (actually, Amy stepped in even before we knew we were going to be asked to share, she made mention of this gift to us while we were still in China ... so thankful).  Not only did Amy take the photos, she has spent a tremendous amount of time pouring over the photos and helping me design this year's Christmas card. 

For Orphan Sunday we chose one of the simpler photos to include with our adoption journey update.  And, while I'm super tempted to share some of the other photos here, I'm going to refrain because, well, I wouldn't want to ruin the Christmas card surprise when we send them out.  These photos are so special as they capture Nora as part of our family in her first couple of weeks home, and they capture her sweetness before surgery.  These will be our only family photos before Nora's smile changes in December.  So meaningful ...

November 2012 Adoption Journey Update {Orphan Sunday 2012}
On Orphan Sunday 2011, we shared our adoption story with you, our church family.  Today, on Orphan Sunday 2012, it is our joy and privilege to introduce to you Nora Jane, our daughter, orphan no more.

After being on the “wait list” for a China adoption for nearly three years, we got a call on June 21st, a call we had long anticipated.  Our agency had a referral for us to review.  This was our first glimpse of our precious Nora and thus began the final steps to bring our daughter home.  On October 18th we departed for China, and on October 21st, we met and physically held Nora in arms.  What a joy to hold this little one in our arms after holding her in our hearts for so long.  It was an amazing moment, a moment that cannot eloquently or sufficiently be described here.  And, it is with awe that we look into her beautiful eyes, wondering how He could choose us to be the parents of this amazingly strong, brave and beautiful girl. 

Our adoption process has been storybook at times, and it has been “cry out to the Lord on your knees” hard at times.  We know that we could not have made it to this point without the grace of our God (and the many prayers, encouragement and support of family and friends!).   

We are humbled that God would choose us to grow our family through adoption.  The gift that we have been given is truly remarkable, and we are eager to see how His story continues to unfold in our family.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Deja Vu

Lydia - 13 Months

 Nora - 16 Months

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Is It Just Me?

Or, does anyone else get a little giddy when Starbucks rolls out the holiday cups and flavors?
Mmmm ... Caramel Brulee Latte ... thank you, Starbucks for my birthday treat (it's even sweeter when it's free!).

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sixteen Months ... and One Day

Little Miss is 16 Months ... here's what she's up to:

Weighing in at 17 pounds, 8 ounces and at 29 3/4 inches long, she is ...
  • Full throttle crawling, and she is speedy when she wants to be (unless she has a toy in each hand, then it's army crawl time, but she still gets where she wants to go)
  • Standing on her own, long enough that she can clap for herself ... she is a wee bit proud of herself
  • Waving (generally at herself) whenever anyone says "hi" or "ni hao"
  • Giving out more smiles, more easily
  • Loving looking at books but scared of big sister's baby dolls
  • Starting to sleep better at night ... daytime naps are another story
  • Still on formula but trying more baby foods
  • Stealing our hearts more and more each day

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Oral Aversion? I Guess Not!

Disclaimer:  I know that not all of my posts are all that interesting (ha, maybe even none of them!), and I'm really humbled that some others enjoy reading what I have to say.  I started this blog when I was ready to put our story in writing after losing Owen, and I have continued this blog to capture daily family life.  I would love to journal, really journal - pen to paper (pure bliss that would be as I have a great affection for paper, pretty notebooks and pens).  However, I don't journal.  So, this blog, in a sense, is my journal.  I won't be offended if you don't want to read about Nora's eating detailed below, but I do want to capture this stage for us, so as not to forget.

You may recall me talking all big about putting Nora through a rapid-fire feeding as if she were six months old here.  Well, Amy gently gave me advice that she didn't think I needed to be by the book, and that is essentially exactly what our pediatrician told us this week.  The order of foods was my greatest concern, I wasn't concerned about Nora actually eating.  Until this past weekend ...

This weekend, we tried some baby food.  And, we tried the beloved puffs that our other children loved.  Nora resisted, big time.  And, I did a little research and began to wonder if Nora had an oral aversion, which would not be unusual for a cleft baby.  Jason and I had never seen her put anything in her mouth before either (except her beloved thumb and her bottle).  I was beginning to worry (I know, I know, need to trust and place it at His feet but my Mama's heart was tired) if Nora could possibly be getting what she needs being on just a toddler formula.

On Monday, our pediatrician reassured us that we could continue to try to get Nora acclimated with a spoon and trying baby food, but also confirmed that we should not stress about this.  She advised that Nora can learn to eat foods after her surgery.  Was it the renewed sense of calm or was it just a God-thing (likely the latter)?  We do know that some have specifically been praying for just this (thank you, friends) ...

On Tuesday as Jason, Lydia and I were eating lunch we put Nora in the high chair and decided to let her play with a few puffs and a spoon, and I took a chance and got the baby yogurt out.  Her response was the big 'ole birdy mouth!  Love. It.  The girl made some great faces and tried to feed herself puffs.  She's still not sure about those and will often push them out of her cleft with her tongue (which had us all laughing as we had her show off for the boys at dinner time!). 
When the puffs kept getting stuck to her fingers, Nora found an alternative way to get them in her mouth. 
She is one smart cookie!  Love this girl and the dynamic she has added to our family!

Monday, November 5, 2012

She's On the Charts!

First, thank you for your sweet comments and notes on my last post about pure exhaustion.  A few of you, very gracefully, reminded me that we cannot do anything in and of ourselves, we try, but we fail miserably.  Thank you for that reminder, the reminder to keep looking to Him for strength.  Nora had a much better night last night, now if I could only sleep, ha!

Nora has had a couple of appointments since we have been home.  We have already met with the craniofacial plastic surgeon of the cleft team at a "local" Children's Hospital (about an hour away), and she has been to our pediatrician.  I am happy to report that she is on the charts!  Little Miss is in the 25th percentile for length!  For weight, it is a bit of different story, she is not really on the charts.  But, she will be!  She's a LilyKid! 
So serious ... the eyes will get you every time

Nora got five shots today, a skin test, and had blood drawn for various lab work.  She will need a few more lab tests as well, but this was more than enough for one day!  Poor baby, so hard to hear her cry but we were fairly easily able to comfort her which this Mama loves!  Aside from seeing Nora cry so hard, the hardest thing about this appointment and the appointment with the surgeon is the paperwork, the paperwork that requires me to write out "UNKNOWN" so many times ... history of illness - unknown, family history - unknown, this and that - all unknown.  I know that from October 21st and on, she will have many knowns, but it is still painfully obvious that there are so many things we do not know.
We know that these toes are irresistably adorable

We have to go back to Children's next week for a couple of appointments, but the surgeon is scheduling Nora for surgery in mid-December.  After examining her and considering her age, he has decided to do the lip and the palate repair together, one longer surgery.  I was a little concerned about this as I hadn't seen any of my blog friends experience the same; however, in discussing this with our pediatrician today (who we love and respect), she was pleased to see this - one surgery at this point means one anesthetic, one recovery period.  Per the surgeon and our pediatrician, there is no reason to do them separate at this point, the palate repair should be done sooner than later for speech purposes and waiting on the lip repair doesn't do anything based on Nora's current age (normally a lip repair would be done at a couple of months old and the palate repair would be done at around a year).  Nora's palate is wide so the surgeon is not confident that he will be able to close it completely (from what I understand, however, this is not that unusual and a follow-up surgery may be required in the future).  It is a little bittersweet to think that we only have about six weeks left of Nora's wide, sweet smile. 
Wonder if Nora's future smile will be as cheesy as her big sister's?
So thankful that Nora is home ...