Sunday, November 18, 2007


No, for those of you who know my brother, he does not have secret children he hasn't told anyone about. Hannah's "cousins" are actually the children of Melissa and Sharon - two friends I've known since college. Their mother Beth is also a good friend and she's the one who travelled to China with me to get Hannah and in doing so, became "nana". She and her husband, along with their girls, have just welcomed us right into their family. So, these kids are nana's other grandchildren. Hannah and Elizabeth have particulalry enjoyed a good connection right from the beginning. We try to get them together whenever they are in town. We celebrated Thanksgiving with Beth and her family this weekend and we will celebrate with my parents later this week. But, here's some pictures of the kids together.
Andrew (almost 3), Hannah (4), Bill (1), Elizabeth (6)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

My Messy House Made Me Smile

When's the last time you looked around at clutter and thanked God for it? Does your mess make you smile? I admit, normally I have to say no. Normally I think "ughh..didn't I just clean this? why is it like this AGAIN?" But tonight was different. Tonight after Hannah went to bed, I was going to clean up a little around the house. Instead, I sat down and watched a movie. I rented the movie "Facing the Giants" this weekend and hadn't watched it yet. It's due back tomorrow, so I put it in. If you haven't watched it, go rent it! It's a great movie. It's about football, and life, and faith. One of the major themes of the movie is "Nothing is Impossible with God". Over and over it's driven home. As the movie was ending, I sat and thought about my own "impossibles" that have become not only possible, but reality. I remember a time not too too long ago when the idea of adopting a child was "impossible". I looked around and in a moment of sentimentalness (is that a word?) saw some very ordinary things become powerful symbols of what God has done. While I normally wouldn't broadcast my somewhat disorganized house right smack-dab in the middle of the week (when it's typically in the MOST disaray), in the spirit of the moment, take a look around at what I saw tonight:

My office / Computer room: Speech folder for a little girl along with some of my schoolwork in the floor.

MY bedroom floor: A pair of little gir's new red shoes to be worn for the first time tomorrow

Kitchen / laundry closet: clean clothes that have yet to be put away

Kitchen: elementary school menu, free ice cream coupon from the public library, preschool art painting of mommy and daughter, and variety of magnets (including one from my wonderful adoption agency - Lifeline!)

The downstairs bathroom: a hair bow that I think I remember asking to be put up yesterday, but just discovered as I was taking this tour tonight.

One of the upstairs bathrooms: Hello Kitty toothbrush and kids' toothpaste with the top left off. hmm, might be suspicious - I wonder who did it?

The Living Room: a little girls' elaborate set-up for movie night 4 nights ago that she has embellished and added to each night. I like how the bathroom stool is serving as a footrest. I have NO idea what the pillow in the floor is for, but earlier in the day I observed it being placed there with great care as if that was THE place it belonged. :-)

Living room: princess pumpkin that's been sitting there since halloween and a very cold strawberry shortcake that was strategically placed next to the pumpkin this evening.

A little girl's bedroom: The culprit of most of the mess (And she can't even blame it on a sibling - YET!) and more importantly, the proof that nothing is impossible with God and He truly does more than we ask or imagine! I am so very blessed in life! And so tonight, as we inch towards Thanksgiving, I am incredibly thankful for the messes in my house, and for the little one who made them! And I am thankful for the ONE who made it all possible!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Catching Up: Halloween, Cleft Clinic, Speech

A couple weeks ago Hannah met her friend Ana Claire and new friend McKenzie at Chick-Fil-A to eat and play. Originally, the plan had been to meet at the park and for the kids to wear their costumes. But, it turned a bit cold that day so we changed plans. Hannah still wanted to wear her costume, so she did. She was tinkerbell (she debated between tinkerbell and spiderman and in the end chose tinkerbell)

Hannah loved trick-or-treating. We went early, right after school in fact. A community nearby has a street where all the businesses let kids tirck-or-treat at their stores in the afternoon. We saw several friends from school there. I loved it because it was early. She wore her costume, trick-or-treated, got lots of candy, had a blast AND we were home by 5:30. We popped popcorn, put a movie in, and handed out candy to those who came to our house.

(Hannah wasn't a bit afraid to reach in to this goulish hand for candy)

The next day was our Fall Festival at school. Hannah had a blast, but unfortunately I was kept too busy with my class to have gotten good pictures of her. Last night, we had "movie night" at our house. Hannah wanted her baby doll and animals to join us for the movie.

A couple weeks ago, we went back to the cleft clinic for Hannah's one year post-surgery check-up. Her palate looked great and Dr. Grant was pleased at her progress in speech as well. Her ears looked great and her hearing tested completely normal. We talked about what's next and we scheduled her next surgery. Hannah will have a revision done of her lip / nose surgery (that was done in China) in early June. Dr. Grant told us that compared to the palate surgery, this one is easy. Keep her out of a pool for about a week and put sunscreen on the scar. That's it. No food restrictions at all - she can eat whatever she wants afterwards. Yeah! He also said there is typically very little pain with this surgery and in fact they usually don't even prescribe pain medicine but just reccomend over-the-counter pain medicine if needed.

Hannah did fabulous for most of the 3 hour appointment. But, our speech evaluation was last and she was starting to get tired and whining by then. The speech lady was courteous and professional, but not overly "nice" or playful. Hannah decided she was finished. She basically shut down and refused to talk. It's a little hard to get a speech evaluation done if the child won't make any sound! ha! When I insisted she had to cooperate (she had to name pictures and repeat back phrases - both of which she can do), she fell apart. She finally did manage to pull it together enough to finish and when she did, she did great. She still has a good number of errors in her articulation, but is making huge progress. Her use of language has actually become more of an issue than the articulation now (somethiing we already knew) but she has fabulous therapists right now that are working hard with her on that. The reccomendation was to keep doing what we're doing with her speech at school and at the university.
Speaking of her speech at the university, let me share a story about that. After we finished with the cleft clinic (with all the drama at the speech evaluation part), we stopped by McDonald's for lunch and went home for a nap. I had to wake Hannah up early from her nap to get her to her speech therapy appointment on time (at the university). I had seriously thought about cancelling for the day because I knew Hannah was tired, cranky, and had had enough professionals for the day. But, because these are students who work with her, they have to get so many hours in for their certification. We had cancelled one appointment already this semester to go to the beach. (She goes twice a week for 7 weeks in this semester). I don't want to cause our therapist to not get her hours in, both for her sake and so that we will be invited to return next semester. The services are very good. So, I got Hannah up and we went. She was saying on the way there "no more speech - I tired". I watched through the observation room to see how she reacted because I really wasn't expecting much effort at all this session because of how tired she was. Well, her therapist went all out! The week before, they had worked on L sounds and Hannah had told her "I do it when I get older" and "I not old enough yet". HA!! So this week, her therapist set up a party. She had balloons and banners on the wall with the words "Congratulations: Happy L Day". She had a cupcake and juice for Hannah and all kids of princess things (rings, crown, fuzzy boa). She told Hannah they were having a party because now she WAS old enough to say the L sound. Hannah's eyes lit up and she ended up having a blast. She still struggles with the L sound and that 45 minutes didn't work miracles for that, but it did work miracles for her willingness to make the effort. Hannah tried so hard the whole time and did it all with a big smile on her face. I teared up watching her, I guess because I was so relieved that for this day, speech was not a struggle. I wish we could keep this therapist, but part of the program is that we change students every semester. Oh well, I haven't heard of anyone with a negative experience so I think they're all good. I'm just thankful that we got the one we did this semester!