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 ...

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Pure Exhaustion (And A Few More Airport Photos)

When we started our adoption journey, I knew there were going to be times of pure bliss and times of just plain 'ole hard stuff.  We really have been so blessed this far in our journey, but today, my friends, was a hard day.  Today has followed multiple nights of very little sleep as little miss' internal clock, I believe, is still on China time.  Who can blame the girl, she has been in that same time zone for 15 months.  When she is up half the night; however, she is restless and fussy.  And, after a day of travel Tuesday and Wednesday and three nights home with little sleep, there have been some meltdowns, myself included!  Just keeping it real!

Of course, I would not change a thing, and I know this will pass.  And, ending the day with smiles and sisterly love almost makes me forget about the exhaustion ... almost ...
And, some more airport photos ...
The kids with their cousins and the beautiful sign that they all made together at Jon & Rita's
Daddy and His First Little Girl

Friday, November 2, 2012


A little someone is warming up ...

 And, a certain big sister adores her little sister ...

So blessed ...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Place Where We Belong {Home, 10.31.2012}

We arrived home yesterday early evening and were so blessed to be welcomed at the airport by family and then welcomed home with many surprises (and a clean house!). 
It was an emotional homecoming, Jason and I were already tearing up during the last flight of our journey.  It was so, so good to hug the kids.  At this point, we were all crying.  Poor Lydia was a bit overwhelmed (and said today that she was sad because Jason and I were crying, bless her heart).  It is amazing the changes in the children in just two weeks.  It seems their independence has grown so much (and, kudos to the Grandmas and Rita for pretty much having Lydia potty-trained!).
Me and My Girls
Nora was a great traveler (thank you to everyone that was praying for this specifically).  But, once we got home and were welcomed by our family at the airport (thank you family and sweet friends), Nora was done and she screamed ... and screamed ... and screamed some more.  Once we got in the car though, she was out and slept through the car ride home and then for a few more hours. 
Me and My Boys
So, how did our first night / day at home go?  Well, after the kids got past yesterday's screaming episode, they are attaching nicely to Nora.  Lydia definitely has the advantage right now and is often holding Nora's hand or right in her face with something to tell her or give her.  Nora doesn't seem to mind.  The boys, however, have had a bit more of a challenge with breaking Nora's shell.  I can only imagine how overwhelming it might be for her (and for them).  The boys are trying hard and have made some progress tonight.  Praying that the bonding continues!

Thank you, Amy, for so graciously sharing in this journey with us and loving on us ... for being my "ghost" blog poster since I couldn't break the China Wall (ha ha) and for taking homecoming photos.  And, thank you again to the Grandmas, Jon & Rita and Jennie who were our primary caregivers while we were gone.  The children had many stories of their adventures with all of you, it is clear that they were loved on.  And, for everyone uplifting us in prayer and loving on us from afar and upon our return, thank you.  We feel incredibly blessed and humbled by your love and encouragement.

More photos to come ...