Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Fun!

We had a great Christmas. I know I'm behind all my other blogging buddies in putting up Christmas pictures. But, here they are! We had a great time. Christmas Eve was quiet and low key. We did make it to our Christmas Eve service at church. Bedtime was NOT so low key and quiet. Hannah was very over excited and didn't fall asleep until after 11:00! That didn't stop her from waking me and Sadie up at 6:15 on Christmas Day though! Sadie was not ready to get up and did not want to go downstairs. Not really understanding why Hannah was jumping up and down excited and yelling "don't you want to go downstairs and see what Santa brought?? don't you..don't you??!", Sadie just kept saying "no" and rolling over. Finally, I got her up and we all headed downstairs. Once she saw what was waiting for her, Sadie perked up and had a great time. They both were thrilled with their presents. Their big gift was a set of puppets and a doorway puppet theatre to share. Later, my parents and grandfather came over for lunch and we exchanged more gifts. The girls had a blast playing with with everyone. The following morning, we headed over to Beth and Wayne's (nana and granddaddy) house where all their cousins were that day and exchanged gifts again! Hannah stayed to play with Elizabeth since we don't get to see them very often. And those girls have always had a bond that's neat to see. They are two years apart, but very much alike and they get along very well. I took Sadie home however for a nap and some quiet time with mommy. With all the excitement of the holidays, following doctor's orders to limit her activity level was about impossible anytime she was around other kids. But Christmas was good at our house. It was good to see them so excited and loving every minute. And you want to know a secret? It was so special watching Sadie in her first Christmas home. And great watching Hannah be so excited. But, it's also fun that Hannah is old enough now that we are slowing moving out of those toddlerish / preschool toys for her. Not completely..she still loves the ones she has and she still plays with her dolls and stuffed animals and princess stuff. She loved the tinkerbell play set she got from her grandfather and was thrilled with the princess leapster game she got. But, she also got some stuff that *I've* had fun with!! ha! craft kits, interesting books that I enjoy reading to her, and a game that's actually fun to play! (Honest confesssion - I'll play the preschool games, but I just don't actually enjoy Candyland). Anyway, Happy New Year!!

(Does this face not just scream "excited!" She was jumping up and down too!)

Sadie checking out her stocking stash (with piece of chocolate already in her mouth! That girl loves some candy!)

Puppet show time! We've all three had fun with this one!

Wearing gradma's glasses

The girls hanging out with papa (my grandfather)

Tinkerbell flies off on her new hippity hop!

Enjoying a ride on grandpa's shoulders

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sadie's Surgery Update

We are home and Sadie is doing well. We started our trip to Atlanta a little earlier than planned. Our dr. office called on Thursday morning to tell me that our time had changed and we needed to be at the hospital at 6:30 the next morning. You know, that's 5:30 in our time zone. That would mean leaving my house at 2:30 in the morning! yikes! So, I made some quick changes, left school early, and was able to get things together to leave that evening instead. It turned out great because I actually left my house right about Sadie's normal bedtime. She slept most of the way there. Friday morning, Sadie was in a good mood and all smiles for everyone. I love this picture of her in her hospital gown and the hat! That was actually my hat I had to wear to accompany her into the OR. But while we were waiting Sadie had some fun with it.

When it was time, I was allowed to accompany her to the OR and stay with her until she was asleep. I just sat beside her and was rubbing her arm talking to her while she breathed in the mask and fell asleep. It was so gentle, easy, and non-traumatic. Then, I was escorted out of the OR and to a post-op room to wait. Her surgery only took a little over an hour, and during that time I was able to go downstairs to fill her prescriptions. Her surgeon came to talk to me when they were finished and said she did great! He gave me some instructions and then I just had to wait until she came out of recovery. When they brought her to me a few minutes later, she was just barely awake, but not really. She would open her eyes and look at me, I'd ask her if she was ready to sit up, she'd say "no" and close her eyes again. She slept on and off like this for close to an hour. Finally, she sat up, drank some juice, and asked for her shoes. Amazing!

When we got back to the hotel room, she was very sleepy and a bit nauseous for the first couple hours. But after a good nap, we were even able to go out for a little while and get something to eat, though she didn't eat but a few bites of anything. We stopped at Family Dollar and Sadie, who NEVER begs for toys, latched on to a toy cash register and wasn't letting go. What was I suppossed to do when she chose to insist on a toy for the first time on the same day she had surgery and had both arms bandaged up? I intended to buy her one there anyway, but I was thinking of the $1-$2 toys. Nope - she picks the $10 one (that wasn't worth $10). I guess she figured I wouldn't say no to her on that day. She was right - she came back to the hotel with the cash register. :-)

Sadie slept well through the night, only waking once for pain medicine. When she woke up this morning she was hungry and anxious to go home. We ate some breakfast (yummy banana bread thanks to one of my students!!), packed up, and were home before lunchtime. We have taken it easy and relaxed today. That's the plan for a while. We return to Atlanta on the 29th for a post-op visit and to have Sadie's bandages removed. At that time, I will learn how to clean the fixator and adjust it each day. Until then, it's to be left alone. Except, her surgeon told me I needed to find something to cover the pins sticking out. He said I'd just have to get creative because they had not come up with a good solution yet. I tried a couple things at home - and this is what I came up with - sponges covered with disney princess medical tape. So far, so good. The blue bandage on her right hand (where her thumb was removed) can be taken off tomorrow night. She doesn't seem to be affected by that hand at all - she just does everything with it like she was before.

Sadie is still on some pain medicine, but there's only been a couple times she seemed to be hurting. On the way home today, she got a bit restless in the car and started whining and fussing. I asked her "does it hurt?". She said "yes". So I asked "your arm hurts?", to which she replied "NO. leg. leg hurt". Then, it was "tummy hurt". Then "ear hurt", "foot hurt", "nose hurt", and on and on. It was too funny. All of a sudden everything hurt EXCEPT the part of her body that had surgery. I think she was just ready to be home because as soon as we got home, she seemed to feel good. The biggest challenge I think is going to be following her dr. orders to limit activity level for two weeks. She's clearly feeling so much better now that we're home and has been enjoying playing with Hannah. Thanks so much for all the prayers!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Prayer Request and Christmas Pictures

What a busy time we had this past weekend! Friday, Sadie and I trekked to Atlanta for her pre-op appointment. She's having surgery there on Friday. Sadie will be having her right "floppy thumb" removed and a fixator placed on her left hand / wrist that will stretch some of her muscles out before her next surgery in a couple months. Altogether we are looking at probably 3 surgeries in the next 6-12 months, but then we should be done. I'd appreciate your prayers for my sweet baby girl Friday and for her recovery after surgery. The actual surgery is outpatient, and we will be staying in Atlanta for one night before coming home Saturday morning. You can also pray for traffic conditions going into Atlanta Friday morning - yikes!

Saturday morning, we headed to my school for their annual Pancake Breakfast / visit with Santa / auction / fundraiser. Kindergarten was singing that morning which meant Hannah was singing. She was beyond excited. Hannah was great - very dramatic with her motions to the song and she sang every word. She is such a performer. Look for her on a stage near you one day!! (Hannah in white shirt / red pants)

We saw Santa there at the school. Yeah! Picture with Santa - check off the list! Now I don't have to go to the mall (although he IS my favorite, but we're going to make do with this friendly Santa this year). Sadie looked like she might cry for about 5 seconds and then glanced at Hannah. When she saw Hannah liked Santa, she decided she'd like him too! Ah - sibling peer pressure at it's best! (sorry, no pic. of the girls with Santa either right now)

This picture was suppossed to be of the two little girls. The little one in blue is Ella, Sadie's friend from her babysitter. They LOVE each other. Can't you tell from this picture? ha! They really do love each other, and at least mine loves to have her picture taken. But we had just walked through a huge crowd (100's of kindergarteners who just finished performing and their parents) and Sadie was a little freaked by it. Then we saw Ella. You know how it's kind of weird when you see someone you know from one setting in a completely different setting and it kind of makes you step back and go "wait!" (or is that just me?). I think that's what Ella and Sadie were feeling. They wouldn't even smile when we got the two big sisters to come join them. oh well.

Saturday night, I took Hannah and her friend Joy on a special "big girls" outing to see the Nutcracker. It was long, but lots of fun. They both sat on the edge of their seats for the entire two and a half hours. Well, except for intermission when they were both dancing in the hallway trying to imitate the dancers from the ballet. I hope next year Sadie can join us. This is the second year I've taken Hannah and she loves it. But Sadie was still a little young and it would have crushed Hannah to have to leave early because Sadie got restless. So - she enjoyed a fun "little kids" evening with Nana and her favorite 2 year old cousin Bill.
Here's some Christmas pictures I took last weekend with the girls before church.

*I love how Sadie is looking at Hannah for her cue on what kind of face to make! Silly Face picture!

*"okay - let's look sweet and do a good job in this one. Mom won't let us leave here you know until she gets a photo worthy of a Christmas card. Trust me, I've done this for the last two years." (just for the record, I'm not doing Christmas cards this year, at least not before Christmas. I'm aiming for a New Year's card though...it's a goal, not a promise!)

*I let Hannah take this picture, just for fun. I thought she did a good job!

There were many more pictures I intended for this post...maybe they'll get added later. Maybe. :-)

In the meantime, I hope you are all enjoying this Christmas season!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving. We spent a couple days at my parents and enjoyed that. Here's the girls with their great-grandfather the day after Thanksgiving.

While we were there, we visited the mall and saw this bungee-jump thing set up. Hannah wanted to try it so I let her. And then Sadie wanted to try it, so she went too. They had a blast!

Seems like there's been so much to update on lately and now that I've actually sat down at the computer to do it, I'm having a hard time thinking what exactly to update on! But once I start writing I usually go with it, so here goes....

Sadie -
She is doing great! Talking more and more each day. She's happy and easy going for the most part. She's sleeping great. Having two children is more work than one in many ways. But I know I've had more energy these last six months than I had the first six months Hannah was home. So, in that sense it's easier. Um, possibly because Hannah didn't sleep through the night for a year. But both my girls are regularly sleeping through the night and except for a day here and there (usually when one doesn't feel well), they have been the last 6 months. Ah..they sleep through the night = I sleep through the night = we all are happier and more pleasant (at least some times!). But back to Sadie, she's simply amazing at how she's just gone with the flow with everything. Medically, she's been tougher though. I think we've seen most of the specialists at Children's Hospital. Not really, but it seems that way. Everything is good..no major problems. It's just taken a lot of time and visits to get it all sorted out that everything is good. I heard from the genetics clinic right before Thanksgiving. All Sadie's genetic testing came back normal. She does not have any syndromes or chromosone abmormalities. So, that was a relief and a praise.
I keep thinking we're going to wind up all these dr. appointments soon, but we're really not. We're just starting "phase 2"! I can't complain though because we have gotten good reports at every single one. Sadie goes back to the international adoption clinic in a couple weeks for a follow up appointment. We also have a pre-op appointment next week in Atlanta. Then, Sadie is having her first surgery in Atlanta on December 19th. It's outpatient, but we will spend one night in Atlanta just to be close to the hospital / surgeon should any issues come up. In some ways, I don't like that it's right before Christmas, her first Christmas home. But, the good thing is that it gives me two full weeks off with her afterwards before I go back to school. Oh, and the other thing about Sadie is that I spoke with the nurse who works with her nephrologist (kidney dr.) this week. I explained my slight concern about the kidney issues associated with melamine (see earlier post) in China. She assured me that if there was anything going on, they would have caught it since they did such a thourough work-up on her kidneys already. But, she also pulled up Sadie's ultrasound and lab results on the computer just to double-check for me. Everything was great. Yeah! So many things to thank God for these days!!
Hannah -
Also doing well. Still loving kindergarten. Still spunky. And sweet. And my, the conversations we've had in the car lately. After I drop Sadie off at her babysitter in the mornings, the rest of the ride to work / school is full of Hannah's questions. Lately, about God. I think I need to go to seminary and get some training just to answer her questions!! Well, actually, I think she'd stump them too. Lately we've had:

1. Why did God make sharks so that they would bite people?

2. If Jesus is in your heart, how come you can't feel his feet in your heart?
(my answer that Jesus' spirit was in your heart not his body didn't satisfy. Hannah insists that He needs feet to walk and she can't feel his feet!)
3. If Jesus is our King, why doesn't he have a throne? I thought this one was easy and said He did have a throne, in heaven. Then she came back with "don't you think He needs to leave his throne and come down here and help people?"

4. Statement instead of a question: "I will see Jesus in heaven one day. Not today, but ONE day. I'm not old enough yet. But you are old enough" (Thanks a lot!)

5. Speaking of Christmas being Jesus' birthday "How old is he? Are we going to have a birthday cake? (yes), How is Jesus going to blow the candles off his cake (all 2008 of them!!)? I told Hannah we would do just a couple candles since we couldn't put enough candles on the cake for how old Jesus was. And that I was sure Jesus wouldn't mind if we blew the candles out for him. Her answer? "No. I will just pray to Jesus. I will talk to him and tell him will you please come off your throne and come to your birthday party and blow your candles off your cake!"

I'm telling y'all - I'm mentally exhausted by 7:30 in the mornings! But I also LOVE that she's that interested and pray that she always asks the questions of faith!

If you asked Hannah what the most important thing that's happened lately for her, it would be that she got new shoes. And it was a big deal because it was her first pair of "tie shoes". See, I'm lazy when it comes to tying my kids shoes. I tie little boys' and girls' shoes all day long at work. And it's okay. I really don't mind. But by the time I come home, I am done tying shoes. That, and I'm sympathetic to my girls' teachers and how many shoes they tie each day too. So I do my part and make it one less for them. The rule in our house is you can have tie shoes when you learn to tie them. Until then, it's VELCRO all the way! Hannah's been practicing, and so when it was decided she really needed new tennis shoes, I handed her mine first and told her to tie them. When she did it successfully, I announced she could pick out "tie shoes". She is SO proud of herself, and rightly so. She worked hard! Since getting them, she can even double-tie now. Do you think when she's grown I'll look back and wish I had the memory of tying her shoes over and over when she was little?? Naa..me either. Instead I'll remember her practicing to tie shoes by herself over and over and the huge smile on her face when she got it.

Me -
I have some job things going on. Good things, not bad. But things that are keeping me busy. As if I wasn't busy already! I got my score back on the first part of my National Boards that I completed last spring. I had a good score and I can "bank" it and not have to repeat that part of the boards! Big relief!! I also received a grant from the state to complete the rest of my National Boards. So, my portfolio for that is due March 31st. I'm giving myself December off worrying too much about it. There's so much going on already with Hannah's class, my class, Sadie's surgery, church, etc. and I want to enjoy this Christmas season with my kids. But, come January, I will be spending some serious time studying and working on my portfolio entries.

Christmas -
In the midst of all the business, I'm trying to stay centered and calm and remember what this season is all about. I'm really all about simple this year. Simple and meaningful Christmas celebrations. I have some fun things planned for us, and I'm letting go of some of the normal obligation-type things that don't hold real meaning for us. I'm trying to not overschedule our holidays, but provide plenty of down time to enjoy time as a family. Putting up the tree was fun this year, and for the first time, Hannah was actually a big help. Sadie - not so much, but hey, she's 3!

I also started doing advent devotionals with the girls right before bed. My good friend Becky led a workshop on advent traditions at our church a couple weeks ago, and last year she had actually introduced me to the way her family does a Jesse tree. So, we are trying it this year. The girls each have a small paper ornament with a symbol on it to color while I do the reading / devotional. Then we talk about it briefly. Then, they hang them on our Jesse tree (which is a small 3 foot artificial tree). The whole thing takes less than 10 minutes. Usually about 5. So far it's been great. Hannah has suprised me with how well she's been able to answer some of the questions and some of her ideas about the devotional. Sadie's just happy to be coloring a picture and hanging it on the tree. But that's why I like it - because it is 3-year old appropriate and 5-year old appropriate. (And appropriate for me as well!)

Today, we went to our local Christmas parade. It was fun and I hoped to get pictures, but the camera battery died. The girls racked up on the candy with huge bags full. Hannah, because she would run grab it when they threw it. Sadie..well, she had the act down. She would smile really cute and a little shyly at everyone going by. They thought she was too little and so they would actually leave the floats and run directly to her with huge handfuls of candy for her bag. It was too funny! Later that afternoon, we hit our friend Morgan's birthday party. It was a Webkinz party, so Hannah has now been introduced to the little critters. It was cute and the girls had a blast.

Well..is that enough rambling for one night? I think so. Good night and thanks for checking in on us!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cleft Clinic Time Again

While Sadie has had numerous doctor appointments in the last 6 months, Hannah has mostly had a break from all that. But today, it was her turn. Hannah and I spent some time this morning at the cleft clinic. This was our 8th visit there (counting pre-op and post-op visits), so pretty routine by now. Today's visit was great - good news and very quick. We were in and out in about an hour and 15 minutes. Typically it's about 3 hours. ENT / Audiology was good. She didn't have a formal hearing test this time because her last 3 were normal. But they did check her tubes and check for fluid in her ears. All was good there. Her speech evaluation was good too. The evaluator said pretty much what we already knew - her resonance (voice quality - often a problem for kids with clefts) was great, she had just a couple of articulation errors but they didn't seem cleft-related, and she seemed to still have a few language delays. Yep - that's what her therapists at school and the university clinic she goes to also say. And it's also what I still notice at home. Our visit with Dr. Grant was quick too. He's happy with her and said she looked and sounded great. He said to just keep putting sunscreen on her lip for outside activities and to "enjoy the lull". He said were in a time period now for her to just enjoy being a kid. (She does that anyway!) He still wants to see her once a year to check up on her, but doesn't intend to do anything else with her for a long time. He does want us to come back this summer, just before she turns six to see the oral surgeon who will do her bone graft. You may remember that she still has a hole in her gumline that will be repaired with a bone graft to give her permanent teeth somewhere to anchor to when they come in. He thinks she has a while before that, but likes to send kids to have x-rays done by about age 6. He said often it's still too early to do anything at 6, but at least you know and some kids need some minor orthodontic work prior to that surgery so it gives you time for that if necessary.

While not as busy as it been in the past, there were a few other kids we saw in passing and in the waiting area at the clinic. Hannah commented a couple times "his (or her) lip looks like mine!" or "She's from China, like me!" (We saw two other children adopted from China at the clinic this morning). It's neat to see her identify and form connections. We got to meet sweet little Madi (also adopted from China) who was at her 3 week post-op visit. I had hoped we might get a little more time to visit, but our appointment was moved up an hour earlier than originally, so we only slightly overlapped times. But Hannah's description of Madi was right on: "Aww, she's SO cute!".

We were out of there so much quicker than I anticipated and since I had already taken the whole day off of school, Hannah and I decided to do some fun things. We shopped a little, ate lunch in Subway, and played at the park together. Hannah kept grinning and saying "this is a FUN day". It was so sweet and I enjoyed getting to spend a little time with my big girl. Then, we went to suprise Sadie and pick her up early and headed outside to play some more. Now, as Hannah says, "it's back to normal!".

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Babies In Need

Sadie is from one of two city orphanages in the city of Taizhou, China. I am very fortunate that she is here and thriving as a healthy and happy three year old! But, her early life in an orphanage was risky for her health. As a member of a group of parents who have adopted from those orphanages, I have learned that the Taizhou orphanages were affected by the milk crisis that came up a couple months ago. If you haven't heard the story, companies in China were putting a chemical substance called Melamine in milk and formula. Melamine is used to make hard plastic. It is not meant for babies to drink! It has nitrogen atoms in it. Protein also has 1 nitrogen atom in it. (I may not have all the details exactly right). But, I do know the purpose of the melamine was to make the milk appear to have more protein than it really did. It was a cost-cutting scheme. So - watered down milk without the good stuff and instead a chemical that makes plastic. (Melamine first made the news several years ago when it ended up in pet food in the U.S. and Canada and caused death and kidney stones in pets!) Several infants in China died from this. Many others were hospitalized. When the story broke, several brands of infant formula were recalled. Orphanages across China began having their children tested for kidney issues. The most common effect seems to be kidney stones. However some children had more serious kidney issues. Adoptive parents also began having their children tested for kidney stones. Some children living here in the U.S. adopted from China have tested positive, a few even without symptoms (though most had some sort of symtom). Some of these kids were adopted as far back as 2005. Neither of my girls have been tested for kidney stones. Hannah has been here 2.5 years (and was off formula for a while before that I'm sure) and has shown no symptoms. Sadie also has shown no symptoms, but I do plan to ask some more questions when we have our appointment at the international adoption clinic in December. I feel like she's fine mainly because she had a complete kidney work-up that should have caught stones or kidney damage if there was any. She got a glowing report from the dr. on her kidneys. However, they weren't *looking* for stones - we were there for other reasons. So, I do want to ask some questions just to be safe. Especially since now we know that her orphanage was using Sanlu milk powder, one that was recalled. But my purpose in posting this tonight is really for the other children left in the orphanages in Taizhou. One of the members of our group found an article on Taizhou orphanages and the milk crisis online. Due to this and some other connections that have been made, we have reason to believe that the orphanages there are having a hard time getting safe formula for the infants in their care. Most of the domestic brands were pulled from the shelves after the melamine news. Especially the cheap ones that the orphanage could afford. That's a good thing..very good. But, the imported ones are more expensive and the orphanages there already manage on very little. I got to visit Sadie's orphanage. My impression was that they did the best they could with what they had. She clearly had been cared for and loved. But there was no "stuff". No toys, no place for the kids to play, no books, very old cribs, nothing for the kids to do. Very minimal surroundings. There is so much they could use. But formula for the infants? That should be a basic right. We have found a way to give back to these orphanages. Children's Hope International is partnering with us by allowing us to direct funds raised through their organization. They will purchase safe formula in China for the Taizhou orphanages. This fundraiser is only going to last through November 21st, so that the formula can get to the orphanages quickly. If you would like to help provide safe formula for these sweet babies (some of whom I got to meet and see personally!), please click on the link at the end of this. It will take you to a Children's Hope website that describes what we're doing and gives you a chance to donate. I just put mine in. I know that it's almost Thanksgiving, and then coming right after is Christmas. I also know that it's a tough time for many economically. In some ways, it's not such a good time to ask people to give something. But, perhaps it's actually the *perfect* time to ask. What a way to begin the season of advent that starts soon. To begin preparing for the Christ child baby by offering a gift that will help other babies in need. I know you only have a few days before the 21st. If you can't donate at this time (and even if you can!), please take a minute to pray for these sweet children all over the world that need us to remember them! Thanks!

Link to donate:

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Halloween , 6 months, and freedom thoughts!

Yes, this is a post that covers a little of everything!!

We had a fun halloween at our house. Hannah was Snow White. Sadie was some kind of princess, but I'm not sure exactly what. Since she didn't exactly have a concept of Halloweeen, it was hard to ask what she wanted to be. So, I pulled our dress up box out Friday afternoon so she could pick what to wear. I think they're both cute! Let's just say - Sadie now DOES have the concept of halloween down. It took her no time to master the "hold your bucket up and smile really cute and people will give you CANDY!" skill.

Yes, Sadie has learned many useful things the last six months! You know, it's hard to believe that six months ago I saw her for the first time. I've experienced God's AMAZING work so many times over the past three years. Well, and really over my life in general. And yet, when I stop the busyness enough and get still for just a few minutes to really think about it, what He did to bring both of my sweet girls home still absolutely takes my breath away. Sadie fits our family so perfectly. I remember when I saw her sweet picture on an e-mail from my agency last December...not even a year ago. I remember just *knowing* that she belonged with me. I wasn't even actively looking. I already had my paperwork in China to adopt a second child, but I thought I had a long wait ahead and thought I had plenty of time. I had a new job, Hannah was still in preschool, and I thought my plate was full enough for the time being. Not to mention I absolutely didn't have the financial resources to think about doing this again so soon. I was content to wait. But, when I saw her picture that day in December, I just knew all that went out the window. I'm sure my wonderful co-workers remember that day well too. You know, since I was absolutely useless that day and they had to pick up the slack for me! (Thanks y'all!) I remember trying to call Karla, my social worker, and she was in a staff meeting. So, I e-mailed her and just expressed an interest, but I was really thinking "she's probably already found a family by now". And then I remember checking my e-mail repeatedly to see if Karla got out of her staff meeting and e-mailed me back...and the butterflies and yet relief to hear that no, she did not have a family yet. I put her file "on hold" that day so I could talk to a doctor about her health report. But the whole time she was "on hold" (only a few days), I knew I'd already decided. Then I remember when I finally talked to the doctor who had reviewed her file. It was the last day of school before Christmas holidays and I'd left her a message and was waiting for her to call me back. I must have checked my cell phone 20 times that day to see if she'd called. Again, useless day at work...lucky to have great co-workers! And for the record, I'm not usually useless at work, only when I'm adding a new child to my family! And I'm done now. :-) Anyway, early that afternoon I did hear back from the doctor. And after I got off the phone with her, I called Karla to say "yes" officially! It was not a good time in my human terms to do another adoption!! And I'm so thankful it happened exactly when it did. God's hand was and is all over it!! And now today, I celebrate having this sweet, funny (oh - she becomes funnier and funnier every day!) three year old as my daughter for six months! I don't know how to word how that makes me feel except to go back to what I said earlier and say that it absolutely takes my breath away to think about that. I thank God for interrupting my comfortable, somewhat settled life twice now to bring about blessings beyond what I could have imagined!

I had an interesting conversation with Hannah this morning on the way to school. Today is of course election day. Well, Hannah was going to have an opportunity to vote for our president in a mock election at school. So, I thought I should kind of prep her a little by explaining what it's all about. She's in kindergarten, remember. The conversation didn't go so well as far as helping her understand what it was all about. It was just way over her head. And she wasn't alone - that was true of most kindergarteners. The democratic process to a kindergartener is more about voting whether to have pizza or ice cream for their class party. After all, that's relevant to their lives! So, I was sitting in the car trying to explain elections, presidents, and the democratic process to my five year old this morning. And I was failing big time, so I finally gave up and told her to just have a good day at school. But when she came to my classroom this afternoon with a smile and a sticker on her shirt that said "I voted for president", something stirred inside me. And it hit me - she gets to vote. Both my girls will have a vote. Not just in the mock school elections they will have over the years. Not just in the real elections they will have the opportunity to make their voices heard in. But in life. They will get to make decisions that effect their lives and that effect others lives as well. They have freedom. Freedom to live their lives the way they choose and freedom to be who they want to be. And for two little girls who began life as orphans in the world and then were adopted, that just seemed like a big deal to me. But, my prayer is that they carry that concept farther to what it's meant to be. That they realize where their true freedom comes from - that they have the freedom to worship the God who created them, that they have the freedom to become not just what they want to be, but who they are meant and called to be. And that seems like a big deal for all of us who are no longer orphans, but adopted by God!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Just Bragging a Little!

Well, you know I like to brag on my girls. This time though, I'm bragging on myself. Yeah - not a humble thing to do, I know. Look at these pictures. They are of Hannah painting Sadie's fingernails and of the girls getting ready for bed. But look at their hair.

They both got haircuts. And guess who cut them? ME! They've both needed cuts desperately, and we haven't really had time to go do it. Hannah especially needed a haircut. And Saturday night I was thinking I really need to take them on Sunday for haircuts. And I thought, well, it would be cheaper and quicker if I just did it myself. So, Sunday morning I put some fun "haircut music" on and plopped Hannah in Sadie's booster seat in the middle of the kitchen. Hannah got a lot cut..which I was nervous about. See, I think I failed cutting in kindergarten! ha! I teach preschoolers every day how to cut, but I can't cut straight across a piece of paper without a line drawn. But I decided that I might as well go for it now while they were young enough that they wouldn't be too embarrassed and they would forgive me if I butchered it too badly. And it's far enough away from Christmas that we could have "repair work" done before then if needed. hehe! So, after I had a pile of hair all over the kitchen (which Hannah thought was the funniest thing ever and told her whole kindergarten class about), I sent Hannah to look in a mirror and started on Sadie. She was easier since she didn't need much done..mostly just bangs. But, I think they turned out pretty cute. Never mind that all day Sunday and Monday, I kept noticing little "twigs" I didn't get on Hannah and saying "hey, hold still..let me get that one!". But still..not bad for a first try. And the important part - they liked their haircuts. And no more hair in their eyes. Mission accomplished!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Sadie!

I can't believe I've gone two weeks again without posting...well, that may be about all you can expect for a while. It's just busy. Not bad busy - just busy around here. Add to that my computer crashed. I was able to hook an old one up - but it's much slower. So, I'm not as motivated to post when it takes a long time. Hopefully I'll have my regular one fixed, especially since I have SO many pictures stored on it. Thankfully, I have both girls' China pictures backed up on discs. And I have Hannah's whole first year home. I also have everything from the time Sadie came home still on my camera. But, that leaves Hannah's 2nd year here - all those pictures are not backed up...so I'm hopeful I can get the computer fixed. And I've learned my lesson - backing up the pictures will be my first task!

Sadie's birthday was last weekend. She turned 3 years old. We had some friends over for dinner and cake and presents. Sadie loved it and it was clear she had watched carefully at Hannah's birthday a couple months ago. She knew exactly what her role was: blow the candles out, eat cake, open presents! It's hard to believe she has already been a part of our family for 5 months. She has come so far in so many ways. I really felt like Sadie had quite a few delays at first. She still has some, but she is moving right along quickly. She is even acting like a 3 year old now...you know, has her own opinion and not afraid to share it, gets a little bossy, says "uh-uh" and "no", and her favorite sentence is "I DO DAT!" (which is equal to Hannah's favorite phrase at three of "by MYSELF!") and her favorite word is "MINE". I love it! Happy Birthday sweet Sadie! I'm so glad you were here at home to celebrate this year and look forward to many more celebrations with you!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Fun at the Beach

Before I get to the beach pictures...I have to share a funny story. It may embarrass me, but it was funny. Today, the firefighters visited kindergarten at my school. As a fireman is showing Hannah's class a smoke detector, he asks "does anyone know what it means when this goes off?" Without missing a beat, Hannah says "mama burned the chicken again"! AAGH!
Well, in my defense..it doesn't usually BURN, but when I coat the chicken with something, it does set off our smoke detector sometimes. I think we just have a sensitive smoke detector! Well, the teachers and firemen got a laugh about it. Hannah's teacher came and told me about it. Hannah said her teachers laughed but the kids didn't. I'm sure they didn't laugh because her answer was logical to them and they didn't find it funny. Doesn't everyone's mama set the smoke detector off when cooking? (humor me, people!) ha!

We were very fortunate to be able to spend this past weekend at the beach with my parents and my brother. It was a short vacation...but nice anyway. Both girls had a great time, and I did too!
Enjoy the pics. These are just a few - I'll post more this weekend.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

We're Still Here...

I know, it's been a long time. I have some things to update soon. And hopefully beach pictures soon too!! Sadie had her genetics appointment this week. I'll probably fill you in on the long version later. The short version is the appointment was long, we waited forever, the actual visit with the dr. was fine, we had blood work done, and we won't know the results for probably months.

I had Hannah's kindergarten conference recently. Her teacher said she was doing great, she had no concerns, and Hannah was "a dream". She showed me some of Hannah's journal, and she's starting to write very simple sentences. I know from her homework and books we read here, that she's recognizing some sight words. She knows all her letter sounds. She scored very well on the state's early literacy assessment. I was actually amazed at how well she's done. What really made me feel good though was that her teacher said she was having no problems socially and that she was in fact very social (and I'm thinking, yeah..that means she likes to talk too much! I know teacher lingo and what you mean when you say "social" ha! But her teacher said, no - definately in a good way). She said she's helpful and kind to other kids. She also said she wasn't bossy. I can't say that's always true at home! Hannah relishes the big sister role and while she's kind about it (usually), she definately thinks Sadie should do whatever she says. Her teacher also said she was always so excited to participate in everything and it was clear that she just loved learning. I have to admit, I was quite proud of my spunky, determined, sweet-hearted girl. She's come SO FAR in two years!

We've been good..just incredibly busy. But, while you wait, here's a fun story from mine and Hannah's conversation today. It started this morning when Hannah was asking about Jesus being in heaven. Then tonight, the conversation went like this.

Hannah: Does Jesus wear a dress?
Me: huh? oh, you mean a ROBE. Well, that's what men wore during the time Jesus was living on the earth.
Hannah: Does Jesus wear a dress in heaven?
Me: um..well, I really don't know what people wear in heaven. What do you think Jesus wears?
Hannah: UNDERWEAR! He's a boy. Not panties like a girl.

There you have it! insight into the mind of a five year old!
Have a great weekend. I promise to have pictures in the next update. Hopefully next week.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Catching Up: MORE doctors, Moon Festival, and More

I can't believe it's been TWO weeks since I updated. Is anyone still reading? Anyone?

I thought August was going to be very busy with school starting, but August actually breezed by pretty well. September...that's a different story. It's been good, but very busy.

Sadie has had two doctor appointments in the last two weeks. First, we went to Atlanta to see a hand surgeon there. You may know my first two experiences with surgeons weren't great. I found this doctor from someone I share a yahoo group with who also had a daughter adopted with radial club hands. I LOVED this doctor! He spent 40 minutes with Sadie and I, explained things very well, answered many questions, and was wonderful. I got some new information on Sadie's hands and specifically her bones. Some of that information is "store away in your brain" kind of info - you might need it one day, but it doesn't affect anything now and doesn't necessarily require treatment for every single thing. But good to know and things neither of our previous doctors found. He's is going to do some surgery on her hands beginning in December. It looks like three surgeries, with the first being very minor and an outpatient surgery. I'll give more details later. I really thought and prayed long and hard whether to do any surgery to her hands other than remove her floating thumb on her right hand. I think she's perfect just the way she is and I know God thinks so too! But, I feel at peace with the decision to go ahead and think this will be best for HER in the long run for several reasons.

This past week, we visited the kidney doctor at Children's. I'm glad to say that everything there checked out great. The doctor we met with was very nice, had good information, and said her kidneys worked beautifully. He wants to follow her as she grows (every year or couple of years) just to make sure her kidney that's located in the pelvic region grows as she grows so that by the time she's an adult, it can do the work of an adult kidney. But, he doesn't forsee any difficulties. He said go about our lives and just check in with him from time to time.

What else has been going on? I've been working like a crazy person at school preparing things for the next step of working on my National Board Certification. I joined a Bible Study on Wednesday nights which will be the first group I've had since I adopted Hannah. I'm very excited about that, and I figure if the girls get in bed a little late one night a week it will be okay. They love playing in the nursery there and I have missed being a part of a group at church. I will also say that while my intentions are good to read God's Word, I have realized that I do a lousy job of studying if I don't have a group holding me accountable and some kind of structure to what I'm doing.

On the "just for fun" side of things, tonight we met with several other local families to celebrate the Autumn Moon Festival (A chinese holiday). We met at a local park, had dinner, let the girls play, read a story about the moon festival, tasted chinese desserts (umm..duck yolk? Sadie liked it - I think she was the only one) and then paraded around the park in the dark with glow-necklaces and flashlights. Oh yeah, we glanced at the moon as we passed. At least the adults. I'm not sure any of the girls even looked up as they RAN around the park. They all had so much fun!

And on a different note, some of you may remember when I went to prison in March. Prison Ministry - really! Well, Kairos (the ministry I've been involved with) is holding another ministry weekend at Tutwiler Prison for Women next weekend (September 18-20). I am not directly involved this time, but I will be praying for the team, the women who will experience God's love and grace (some for the first time) and the logistics of the weekend. So actually, I AM directly involved, because that prayer support is important work. Will you please join me in praying for God's power and love to become real to the women that weekend? You can be involved too! Thanks!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Hannah!!

Hannah is now 5! She's been anticipating this day for months and I think it met her expectations. She came running in my room (at 6:30!!!) this morning yelling "It's my birthday, it's my birthday, it's my birthday, I'm 5 today!!" over and over and over.... And she kept saying "today, everyone is going to celebrate ME!" We had a treasure hunt in our house for her to find her present from me. I wish I had it on video - it was priceless! She was a WILD girl..running around the house searching for clues. Then she was a WILD girl playing. I was exhausted by 8:00 a.m.!! And I was thinking that I still needed to finish cleaning a bit, needed to get the rest of the things ready for her party..and she was going CRAZY! Ah..we had a new movie we haven't seen, so it was the perfect day to pull it out. I put in Finding Nemo, and she happily watched the movie and Sadie half watched / half played (but she wasn't WILD so her playing was okay!). Ah, peace. I was able to clean, get things ready, and shower. After a few errands (including picking up her cake which was really late so we had to sit in the car and sing songs and play games while waiting), grandma and granpa arrived and she once again became WILD. She was so excited. We had lunch, then had her party. She had a gymnastics party at Head Over Heels. It was a lot of fun and she completely enjoyed every minute. Sadie loved it too. I was a little concerned that Sadie would have a hard time with Hannah opening presents. She's never been to a birthday party and I was afraid she wouldn't understand...but there was no reason to fear. Sadie was quite content with the cup of candy (party favor) provided and the discarded wrapping paper. You gotta love two year olds! It was so sweet to see all of Hannah's friends with Sadie too. They were so nuturing and caring to her. Of course, Sadie *thinks* she's as big as them and can do whatever they can do. And for the most part, she does. She impressed a couple of the other mamas with her ability to unwrap small tootsie rolls. I wasn't suprised - I knew my sweet-tooth girl would find a way to get into that candy!

Anyway, Hannah had a great day and was exhausted! It took her a total of 4 minutes to fall asleep when she finally got in the bed tonight. I can't believe she's FIVE! That's like - she's a real KID (as oppossed to toddler / preschooler)! As I was saying a thank you prayer tonight for the incredible gift I have in this spunky kid, I had to whisper a prayer for another woman on the other side of the world and wonder if she marks this day too? I know she does. How can she not? And she actually (we think) kept Hannah for four months when she was born. And at that time Hannah was relatively healthy. Even with the cleft lip and palate (which makes feeding in newborns difficult) and most likely extremely limited resources, she found a way to feed and nourish her through those first few months. She gave her life! And for that, I am extremely grateful. I pray she finds a peace in her heart today and that she knows that little baby is now thriving as a five year old. Happy Birthday sweet Hannah!

Here's a few pictures from her party:

Yes, that is a wedding dress. Hannah has been begging for one..and grandma provided one as her birthday present. She was so excited. Now she justs wants a suit for her little friend at school so they can get married! The only thing is, she hasn't let HIM know of the plan yet. details, details..