Saturday, December 29, 2007


What a fun Christmas Season! While I completely enjoyed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I think I loved the whole month of December as much as anything. I really tried to celebrate advent and not rush through it. It was probably the least busy December I've had in some ways, and yet full of so much fun! I did most of my shopping early and online, and avoided stores as much as possible (though I couldn't avoid it completely). We used an advent wreath this year and lit it each night before dinner and read part of the Christmas story each night. It was really neat how much Hannah enjoyed this time. And she'd get so excited each Sunday because we'd light another candle. And it's neat to me because she can basically recite the whole Christmas story fairly accurately. (Although sometimes she takes poetic license a day she acted it out with the nativity set and added a "HIIIYAA!" kick from the angel to the shepherd!). She can also point to all the candles and tell you what they represent. And she definately knows Christmas is Jesus' birthday. She was heard very often throughout the season singing "Happy Birday to Jesus". She also learned all the words to Away in a Manger and Jingle Bells. Besides that, she sings the whole tune of Joy to the World, but doesn't quite get the words. (pretty funny actually!). And she sings the first line of "One Small Child in a land of a Thousand" over and over. :-)

We also tried something new for me that I read about on another blog. I created 25 envelopes (one for each day Dec. 1 - Dec. 25) and numbered them. Inside each envelope was one of the gift tags that fold like a card. I wrote a fun activity on each card. Each morning, Hannah opened a new envelope and I read her our activity for the day. She then hung the card on the tree. I included things I knew we had planned anyway such as Polar Express night at church, Christmas Eve service, sing in children's program, local Christmas parade etc. And then I filled in the rest with other things. It was SO fun and really simple. I made sure to make our "through the week" activities easy - some as simple as "color a Christmas picture" or "play with red and green playdoh". Weekends were reserved for more time-consuming things "go buy grandma and granpa's present and wrap them", "Go see Nutcracker", or "Make cookies", etc. Some of our activites had nothinig to do with Christmas, just fun things such as "paint fingernails" or "go out for lunch at a Chinese restaurant". Hannah loved the activites, but as much as anything she loved opening the envelope each day and hanging the card on the tree. What I enjoyed was that all of the activites were things that I did with Hannah. Even if it was just coloring a Christmas picture, I sat at the table and colored with her, even if only for 15 minutes before dinner. I think it's definately a tradition we liked and will try to continue! This first picture is what happens when the activity of the day is "Go out for lunch at a Chinese restaurant" and I tell my 4 year old "please go get dressed and put on something that matches". HA!

Two days before Christmas, we went to Beth and Wayne's house (Nana and Grandaddy). We had a good time with them. They gave Hannah this cool "ready bed" / inflatable mattress. Hannah loved it!

Hanging out with Nana and Granddaddy

For Christmas Eve, we went to a special service at a nearby nursing home with a group from my church. Hannah sang with the other kids. I know this is a bad picture, but it was so cute to see her up there singing. She's a performer anyway. She was the youngest singer, but she had been there all the Wed. nights they rehearsed and really wanted to go sing. So we tried it and it went great! Hannah's in the front on the end and you almost can't see her. Oh well.

We then went home and enjoyed a fairly quiet and normal evening. At bedtime, Hannah left a piece of candy, an orange, and a diet dr. pepper out for Santa. (I convinced her that Santa got milk at a lot of houses and really would enjoy something different..liked diet dr. pepper!). Christmas morning Hannah had a blast. She giggled and giggled that Santa ate her stuff and drank the diet. dr. pepper. She told everyone who would listen about that! Her favorite Santa gift was her tinkerbell suitcase, but she completely enjoyed the calendar too. She played "school" and made me count and do the days of the week with her. She also enjoyed her doctor's kit and her poor baby doll got SO many shots and ear drops put in that day!

(Great way to get your living room clean on Christmas day - just give your kid a suitcase and she'll pack all her other presents in it!)

New fairy pajamas. Wow that Santa is cool - he gave me fairy pajamas, a fairy blanket, and princess t-shirts to go in my tinkerbell suitcase. How does he know I like princesses and fairies??

Grandma, Grandpa, and papa (my grandfather) came over so there were more fun gifts to open and lunch. Hannah loved this train from my papa. Grandpa is the one in the floor playing with her. Hannah didn't let him do much else during the visit. Everytime he'd pause or start to get up, you'd hear "Grandpa, play with me!".

Christmas continued more 2 days later (but no pictures!) when we went back to Nana and Granddaddy's house. Their daughter Melisa was there with her two children and all the kids exchanged gifts. We ate dinner, and then...Hannah spent the night there. She had been invited to so we packed her new suitcase and took her "ready bed". It didn't hurt that Elizabeth was spending the night too and had a matching "ready bed" AND that Elizabeth brought Hannah pajamas that matched hers. I wasn't 100% sure she'd stay, but she did. And she was very excited about it. In fact, after supper she told me "you go to my home now. I stay here!"

The next morning I called to check on her (and Beth had said she'd call me if she got upset and she didn't) and Beth said she did fine. She didn't sleep much, but that was because she and Elizabeth stayed up playing too late. She woke up several times, but it was just a quick wake up and go back to sleep and she never got upset or scared. So, I ran a few errands and went to pick her up. She was tired and grumpy from lack of sleep, but she fell asleep in the car on the way home, had a great nap at home, and woke up in a great mood. I'm so proud of her!! She has come so far. In China and for several weeks after returning home, she fell asleep holding my finger. Then, she slept in my room for a year. Once she started sleeping through the night regularly (took a whole year with nighttime terrors for a good bit of it!), I moved her to her room and she did great. And now, she's secure enough to spend the night somewhere else. It was cute because on the way there she said "I sleep at Nana's house, you go home. You come get me in the morning". I do think there was some anxiety since she kept waking up, but it wasn't dramatic or traumatic at all. It's a relief too because in March she will be staying with my parents for 2, maybe 3 nights. That was part of the reason we tried this - so she could have a 1 night practice when it would be easy for me to come get her if needed.

NOW..we're on to the new year..and a new daughter..and a new sister!
Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

It was going to happen sooner or later!

You know, there are just some rites of passages that kids go through. They learn to walk, they learn to talk, they learn to ride a bike, they cut their hair. Yep..that's right. Hannah cut her hair today. I really did know it was going to happen eventually. Mother's instict? maybe. Or maybe it is just that as a preschool teacher, I've seen it happen to so many others. It's usually before some big event..picture day usually. Hannah's was 2 days before Christmas. It's really not bad at all. I had her hair up today and she cut just the very front "wisps" while she was supposed to be taking a nap this afternoon. I found the hair in the floor and asked her what happened. Of course, I knew exactly what happened. The funny thing is that she was more upset than I was. As soon as I said "what happened?"..and held up the hair, she teared up and started to walk out of the room. I told her to come back and she said "I go sit in time-out". I told her no, I wanted to talk to her. I managed to tell her she couldn't cut her hair and she couldn't have scissors in her room either (which she wasn't supposed to have in there in the first place). So I removed the scissors. And then I let it drop. No lecture, no time out. Because I'm a sweet, kind, sensitive mother? No, actually because I couldn't fuss at her. I was trying too hard not to laugh. One more milestone completed in her life. :-)

I took this bottom picture to convince myself it's really not noticeable when you're not using the zoom lens on the camera. And she's actually not asleep..just pretending to be. Oh, and she does own a bed. But she got this new sleeping bag/air mattress from nana and granddaddy tonight for Christmas. So she really wanted to try it out. :-)

On a different note, THANK YOU for your sweet comments on the blog and your supportive e-mails these last few days. Your encouragement, support, and prayers make a difference! Here's one more picture of sweet Sadie.

Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Well friends,

FIRST - thanks for the blog name suggestions. Keep them coming!! But, I have big things to share now! LOTS of DETAILS included..if you just want the main announcement, scroll to the end!! Many of you were a part of my journey a couple years ago to adopt Hannah from China. Hannah has now been home 19 months. Many of you know her now. Others of you have kept up with her through this blog.
Hannah has adjusted amazingly well and is doing great. She is a joy to me each day. She's beautiful, smart, sensitive, sweet, and funny all rolled into one. She also is spirited, stubborn, bossy and sometimes a bit sassy. And while we sometimes "disagree" on where the appropriate boundaries are for those traits to manifest themselves, I actually love that spirited side of her. She loves school, loves church, loves dance, loves her friends, loves her family, loves people in general, and loves God.

What does she NOT love? Not much actually. Umm..she doesn't like garlic?? ANd she she doesn't like (in her words) "somebody bossin' me!" Oh, and most of the time, she's not really fond of being quiet or of walking (skipping or running while singing or talking is MUCH more her style!) But really, she has such an enthusiasm for life that's completely contagious. When God put her in my life, He truly did MORE than I could ask or image! Some of you may remember that was kind of my whole theme for Hannah's adoption. Through the entire process, I saw him open his hand and provide much more than I could ask or imagine to bring Hannah home. I have been humbled by His love and grace poured out on us and so incredibly thankful. And I have been content. After all God has done, do I dare ask for more?

WELL....ACTUALLY...YES! Many of you know that last December I started the adoption process for a 2nd time. I logged in my paperwork on April 20, 2007 under China's "non-special needs" program. All along, I've felt like I would probably switch over to the special needs program at some point, simply because that's where my heart has been from the very beginning. But I was also open to waiting for a non-special needs referral if that was the direction God was leading (wait is currently at about 2 years and plenty of time to prepare!). But in the Special needs program, once you've been matched with a specific child, you need to be ready to travel in just a few short months (3-4 months currently). Lately I've thought (read "planned") that I'd wait until about this time next year and then I'd call Karla, my social worker, and tell her I wanted to switch to special needs. I'd be matched with a child sometime after that, and probably travel late spring or summer of 2009. Hannah would be finishing kindergarten, be a bit older, and I'd have had one year of "free school" (not preschool where I pay tuition) to save some extra money towards the adoption before I added a second child (and had to pay daycare or preschool costs). That would also work well because I transferred schools this fall and I wouldn't have to take time off of work my first year at a new job. I also started a program called "Take One" that is fairly time-consuming and I work on one section of my national boards this year. My "plan" was that I'd complete that this year, and then finish my national boards NEXT school year..ending just in time to travel to China for child #2. I'd come back with child number two to receive my scores in the mail and HOPEFULLY be nationally certified. (And as a bonus, this would give me a significant yearly bonus that I figured would come in handy in raising two children as oppossed to one). Let's see, what else did I plan? Oh yeah - I scheduled Hannah's cleft lip / nose revision surgery for the beginning of June so that it would be done before kindergarten and before I adopted a second child..WELL..when God is involved, our plans take a backseat to his far better plans.

My agency, Lifeline, has a list of children from China with special needs that comes out about every 3-4 months. I always "look" at the list, but I have not been "LOOKING" at the list, if you know what I mean. I look at the precious children and hope and pray for them to find their families. I root for them and cheer them on. When I see that wonderful word "matched" next to their picture, I am happy for them that they have found their families. In a few cases, when that "matched" never appears, I feel sad for them. On one list, there was a little girl who stole my heart..and she sat there week after week with no family. I prayed for that little girl for months and then one day celebrated when she was matched with a family. But I had no desire, no impulse, no "nudge", whatever you want to call it to act on ANY of those children. Remember, MY PLAN was that this time NEXT year, I'd call my social worker and she would match me with one of these precious children.

BUT...God's ways are higher than my ways!! Perhaps that's my new "theme". Perhaps that's the message God is trying to get through to me. Last Thursday evening, I received an e-mail from Lifeline (group e-mail) reminding people there were still a few waiting children left and also announcing that one child was BACK on the list who earlier had a family. This child had been on the previous list and had been matched. But, the family that was matched with her were unable to complete the adoption due to their personal circumstances that had changed. I clicked on the picture to "look" but most certainly NOT to "LOOK!" And I can't really describe what happened inside me at that point. I just was drawn to this child in a way that was different. I thought about her all evening and had a hard time sleeping. I checked Lifeline's website several times the next day. I just KNEW that the word "matched" was going to appear next to her name. She was too precious for it not to. I honestly thought there would be lots of people calling and asking about her. I thought by 8:30 at the latest, she would have had a family. And then something hit me..I realized that this time, if "matched" appeared next to her name, I would not really be so happy. Was God calling me to act now? Was He saying "THIS is your child"? But wait, God! That's not my plan. I have another year. You know, I have a lot to do this year, and a new job, and Hannah's still in preschool for crying out loud! I was thinking end of kindergarten, but she has to at least be out of preschool first!!! And I've been saving for the fees like crazy, but I'm nowhere close and can't be close in a few short months!! AND, And, AND!
I finally said "okay. If she doesn't get matched today (Friday), I'll call Karla Monday and ask about her". But I couldn't stand it! I finally called her office early Friday afternoon. She was in a meeting, so I sent her an e-mail and asked if this little girl was still available. ("Matched" had not appeared by her name, but I reasoned that the staff at lifeline was busy and just hadn't had time to update the website!) She e-mailed me back and said yes, she was still available. We exchanged e-mails a couple more times that day while Karla answered some of my questions, and then I spoke with her after school and officially placed her on "hold". "Hold" means I have 2 weeks to review her file, ask any questions, get any medical opinions I'd like, and make a decision. No one else can put her on hold or be matched with her during this time. I did do those things during my time "on hold", but it was really a formality and as you can tell by now, I didn't take the 2 weeks. I did them because I felt like I had to be responsible and really look into everything clearly before I committed to this child. But in reality, I made the decision in my heart the moment I e-mailed and asked if she was still available. I don't regret taking the time though to do a little more 'research' before making it official, and if I had it to do over, I would do the same thing. Adoptive parents should go into things with eyes wide open. This time, I was even more convinced of that because I knew that my decision affected not only my life and this little girl's life, but also Hannah's. But, I really used the time to pray for "my issues" more than this child's needs. Any hesitation on my part was based on my own insecurities rather than what needs this little one had. After all, this didn't fit in MY PLAN! But, God has reminded me of ALL HE did to bring Hannah home. And you know what the cool thing is? He's told me "I can do it again!". I really don't feel "worthy" of receiving a 2nd miracle! I mean, isn't one miracle enough! And yet, God's plans are not my plans. His ways are not my ways. His ways are higher than my ways actually. My reminder of this came from my amazing 4 year old. Saturday night, as I was putting Hannah to bed, she hugged me tight and whispered "do not be afraid. With God, all things are possible". I'm not making this up! My 4 year old said those words to me. I know where she got it. We've been reading her Toddler Bible at dinner each night during advent. We light our advent candles, read a part of the Christmas story from her Bible, and then pray and blow the candles out. The first week, we read the part where the angel comes to Mary and says "do not be afraid" and tells her she is going to have a baby and Mary asks "How can this be?". In toddler Bible language "The angel said 'with God, all things are possible'. By the end of the week, I would read "and the angel said.." and Hannah would fill in the blank, the first time with "do not be afraid" and the second time "with God, all things are possible". So yeah, I know where she got it. ANd I'm thrilled that she is learning and remembering things from God's word. But I also believe God is speaking to my heart through that. "DeEtte, I can do this. Do not be afraid. WIth God, all thigns are possible." Did you catch it? Not just "anything is possible". That is GREAT. But, there's more. ALL things are possible. ALL. Not just one. He can do more than I ask or imagine MULTIPLE times. He can work through ALL the seeming obstacles. Wow! Well, this is getting long, so let me get to the part you want to hear.

I HAVE A DAUGHTER - AGAIN! I have named her Sadie and she is in an orphanage in Taizhou, China. She turned two years old in October. Her special need is her hands. Her left hand is turned inwards (called "radial club hand") and she is missing her left thumb. Her right hand has a deformed thumb, but the other fingers are normal. This is actually not a big deal special need. Surgery might be an option, or might not depending on how functional she is with her hands and the exact bone structure once I get her home. There are some unknowns with the exact nature of her bones. She is otherwise developing normally in all areas according to her chinese reports. Her report says she likes to swing her body to music and make the caretakers laugh. She can feed herself a cracker by holding the cracker between her index finger and middle finger. She likes being around people and she "makes happy sounds" (this report was written when she was about 14 months old, so it's a bit dated) Her favorite toy is a doll. I am attaching pictures and will let you know more information about her as I find out more. According to current wait, it looks like I might travel in April or May (of this year!). But, that all depends on China at this point and is out of my hands. But it's in God's hands. As I told Karla, there are a million reasons why this is not a good time. But God did such a perfect job the first time around. He can do it again! All those obstacles and reasons to wait don't stack up when I look at the beautiful face and realize I am looking into the face of my daughter.

Hannah is excited. She actually has been talking about "her sister" for a couple weeks now. Before I said anything to her. She has said Santa needs to bring her sister a suitcase and a calendar so she'll have it "just like Hannah!" (Yes, Hannah asked for a suitcase and a calendar for Christmas. She asked for that a month ago. ..hmm..did her heart know we'd be traveling this next year?!!) Of course, Hannah also informed me that "I want two sisters!" I'm going to go out on a limb and say that God was NOT speaking to me through her on that one! HA! That was pure Hannah! I told her she was getting ONE sister. And it would be a long time. Not tomorrow. So today, Hannah said "I want my sister, my fried Sadie, but not tomorrow. day after tomorrow!"
Please join me in praying for Sadie and this whole crazy, but wonderful adventure God has called us to. Pray for Hannah as well. She's excited, but it will be an adjustment for her to have to share everything! But, I trust with God, ALL things are possible. He is preparing her heart too. She seems to be a better listener than I am sometimes. One specific prayer request for now: pray for Hannah's passport to arrive in a timely manner. I intend to take her with me to China, but I had not even applied for a US passport for her. (because I had PLENTY of time!). Well, at least as of this past summer, they were taking quite a while to process. We are taking care of applying this week, so should be fine, but we would appreciate prayers that there are no delays with her passport.
Thanks for joining us on the journey..again!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Just for Fun...

Well, it's after 8:00, my princess is in bed, and there's clothes that need to be washed and an office that needs straightening. oh, and I have some things to get ready for school.
But instead, I'm writing this post just for fun. I want to change my blog name and I need some help. Stefanie over at "Sophie Makes Six" (see sidebar) changed her blog not too long ago and asked for help. Which reminds me..she's not "Sophie Makes Six" anymore. She's "Nihao Y'all"! She got great suggestions. So, I thought I'd give it a try. I want a name that's easy to remember and does not include my name. Also one that doesn't include Hannah's name...afterall, there is a sister in her future who I wouldn't want to leave out. So, this will not be a democracy..more like a benovolent dictatorship! ha! You give me suggestions, you can comment on which suggestions you like, I listen to you, but in the end, I decide. :-)
If your suggestion becomes my blog name, you win! What do you win? How about my appreciation and the ego boost that comes from seeing your suggestion at the top every time you check my blog. Okay, so some bloggers would come up with better gifts, but I don't have anything you'd want that I'm also willing to get rid of! Just being honest! Let's play!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Christmas is in the air!

I love Christmas! So does Hannah. We have been having a lot of fun in the first half of the season. These first two pictures are from Thanksgiving weekend at my parents house. I don't have any pics with our tree yet, but I'm sure I'll get some soon.

The first weekend in December, Hannah was in the local Christmas parade with Beth. She enjoyed being able to throw candy at all the onlookers. She tried REALLY hard to throw one to me: "MOMMY! THIS FOR YOU!! CATCH IT!". For the record, I didn't manage to catch any she actually threw, but I pretended I did. "I got it! THANKS!!" (You do what you have to sometimes!)

Today, we visited Santa at the mall. This IS Santa. The line takes FOREVER, but it's because when a child finally gets to him, that child is the only kid in the world as far as he's concerned. He's so patient and really takes his time talking and listening to each one. Last year, she kind of wanted to see him, but was kind of not sure too. She would not sit in his lap and I had to sit with her for a picture. This year, I had to hold her back until Santa's helper said she could go. Soon as I took my hand off her shoulder, she ran and tackled him in a big hug! It was too cute. Too bad I didn't have the camera ready for that.

And since we very rarely hit the mall, when we do we have to visit the carrosel before we leave. What fun!