Thursday, December 19, 2013

And So 1 Year and 10 Days Ago Today

And so, 1 year and 10 days ago today, we met our beautiful daughter in person for the first time.  It has been fun reminiscing about that day and it's been interesting how each of us has held on to different memories.  Knowing Annie like we do now, I know that she was so scared-poor thing.  We have come so far in this year-I don't remember what it was like to not have her here and part of our family.  Tonight when I laid her down, she was giggling and she said, "I love you,  Mama".  There's just something about those words that I appreciate so much more than I have over the years.  They tend to make my heart swell nowadays.  What a blessing she is.  Oh, she can be a stinker when it comes to not getting candy or anything with sugar when she wants it (I am sure all our New Day South family can attest to this), but she is a sweetie most of the time.  

Some things about Annie:

You can find her in a blue, hand-me-down, two sizes too big Cinderella dress every day, all day.  The other princess dresses are "too scratchy" she says.  I have had to set the timer recently since both girls want to wear it.  Maybe Santa will help take some pressure off…...

She loves, loves to play with Mei Mei and waits patiently until she finishes school.  They love to play baby and go on pretend trips together.  She will tell Mei Mei that she is her best friend-it's so sweet!

There is not a day that goes by that she doesn't color.

She loves to help me cook.

The girl is soooo flexible.  She loves when Daddy teaches her gymnastics!

She loves to go outside-no matter the temp!

She loves Cinderella-the movie and dancing to the music.

She loves to hold hands when we pray at dinner and is the one who initiates it.

She just memorized her prayer, "Now I lay me down to sleep……" and likes to say it "By herself" now.

She likes to bless me at night while making the sign of the cross on my head.

She is a prayer warrior and remembers to pray for people when I forget.

She just learned "O Come, O come Emmanuel" this Advent and loves to belt it out sing it.

She loves to see all her family at New Day on Facebook or skyping.  She often prays for them!

She has red, shiny shoes that she loves to wear.

She loves to put on "Chopstick"-Lipstick.

She loves her "sunbrella"-umbrella.

She loves to chomp her gum!

Last year


When I think back to all the fears that we had during this adoption journey, I am so glad that we did not let them paralyze us.  What we would have missed!!!!  If you are thinking about adoption, make that first step!  Just trust God…..His plans are so much more and so much better than we could ever, ever think of or plan on our own!!  Not always easy, but fuller and more joyful in so many ways!  We have been blessed!!

Press on!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

1 Year Ago

Hard to believe that 1 year ago today, we were heading to the airport on our way to China.  

Nan and Pops had arrived, 3 kids and a dog relying on them for 18 days. 

 Schedules made out.  

Rides coordinated. 
Groceries in the house.

Meals made.  

House in order. 

Tree decorated. 

Santa visited. 

Presents all wrapped.  

Thinking about all that went in to flying half way around the world overwhelms and humbles me today.  

How did we do it all?  

Only 1 answer:  God's amazing Grace.
My procrastinating-fighting self could never accomplish it on my own- only with God's help.  Anyone who knows me well, knows that this was a modern day miracle!! 

I hate leaving my kids even for a weekend-how did we leave for almost 3 weeks?  And at Christmas time? God's Grace. 

 I can't imagine the joy in Heaven when we care for the fatherless as God asks us to in His Holy Word!  He helps us accomplish the seemingly impossible-truly a miracle!!!

 Leaving for the airport 1 year ago, so hard to say goodbye...…

 Probably about the time we realized Ethan forgot his coat.  Ummmm, it's winter in Beijing, Ethan!!!

 Do we look scared to death? We were!  
What if she doesn't want to be with us?  She didn't.  At first.  
What if our whole life changes?  It did.  For the better.  
What if we aren't equipped?  We weren't.  But God helps us.  
So blessed to journey through life with my amazing husband!!

 Saw this in the airport…..Frances Joy-Yin ("Annie" since no one liked Frannie in our family) we were on our way!!

Our great travel partners-they both said this morning that they wish they were on their way to China again!!  I agree.  

I'd do it all again 100 times to have this girl home with us!!!!

Press On!!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Summer Catch Up

Yes, I am awful at blogging.  I really want this journal for our family to chronicle these years but I just don't always have the energy.  I'm going to try my best to get caught up, though!!

We soaked in summer as much as we could.  The weather was nice and hot which made for endless hours for the little girls to be in the pool!  Annie was a fish by the end of summer with head under and all!  Mei was her biggest cheerleader.  Mei Mei was so happy to have someone closer to her age to play with this summer.  They were worn out by the end of the day which left all of the rest of us with late nights of cards and dominoes.  It was a great summer.

I guess if I had to summarize summer, I would say that I did my best to hang on to every moment  and cherish the little things.  With Cole leaving in August for college, I knew it would never be the same again.  We were able to spend so much time together because he had several morning bagpiping jobs which left him free for the rest of the day.  I am grateful for that.  There was so much that we felt like we wanted to impart before he left (like we hadn't been doing that for 18 years already) and so many conversations that Jeff and I wanted to have with him.  

Cole and I even got to go to college orientation together while Jeff and Ethan took care of the little girls (the big girls were gone to camp).  In the middle of one of the parent talks, I got a text from Jeff.  He said that he only left them alone for a minute and he sent me a picture of Annie's painted toenails.     Cole had his final outings with siblings and we made list after list until we knew there wasn't a thing left to do except to go.  Nan and Pops came to stay with everyone so Jeff and I could make this journey together......our first of its kind.  I prefer bringing them home from the hospital (or from China)over this one, I must was tough to say goodbye and to feel the miles increase between us.  But, so proud of him and happy for him to have this opportunity and I really wouldn't want it any other way!!  We all miss him like crazy but are so thankful for technology!!

Mary Claire and Ethan had a relaxing summer with little on their schedule outside of a camp for each.  It has been so fun watching the 2 of them grow up and mature but still have fun!  You could usually find E building something or taking something apart and MC with our neighbor friends.

We celebrated Mei's 6th birthday at the cabin.  She has grown up so much!  We had a very tough summer together.  Mei Mei began having seizures about a year after we brought her home.  Thank goodness they are only fade out ones and aren't as scary as many other kinds.  But, she had a medication increase at the beginning of summer and it really affected her.  Her judgement and behavior was hugely impacted but we couldn't figure out if it was the medication or just behavioral issues arising with everyone home and my attention split in so many ways.  Finally, we called the neurologist and she suggested starting her on vitamin B6.  One week later, we had our girl back-it was miraculous!  I am so thankful that she is doing really well.

And sweet Annie…..she is just doing great!  Hard to believe that in one week she will be home for a year now!  I am just so thankful that we stepped out in faith and that we cast all those doubts and fears aside!!  So glad that God allowed us to be her family!  She had a great summer and loved to swim and catch frogs every day she could!  She loves being outside!  And even though she's a southern girl like her Mama, she even braves the cold!  

Blessed Advent to all of you!!
Press On!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ambulance Ride

Where to begin???  The whirlwind of summer left me reeling and I feel like I am just getting my feet back on the ground in its wake.  So much has happened since June!!!  Since I am so far behind, I will have to update in parts.

After a wonderful vacation, we returned to the reality of summer break and 6 kids who hadn't been together full time since December.......always a challenge for a couple of weeks until we get used to each other again.  I was excited for it though.  No biggie.  We could do this.  I finally had all our vacation clothes washed and folded and just waiting to be put away, suitcases in the basement, and my "to do" list in perfect order.  I was even going to head to the grocery early so we'd have food in the house.  Yes, I was making progress, finally!

Then I got a phone call--the kind you don't want to receive.  Hadley was babysitting and they think she has dislocated her hip; they want to know if they should call an ambulance.  I quickly size up my ignorance in this situation as I grab my keys and head over to check her out.  I ask E to google "dislocated hip" and call me.  He yells out the door and all I hear are the words "shock" and "nerve damage".

  Once I get there, I understand the phone call and question-YES!  CALL THE AMBULANCE!!  After they arrive and  numerous painkillers are pumped in, we arrive at the hospital.  That was the strangest feeling to be in the ambulance on a road that you travel numerous times a week.  Experiencing it from that side was surreal.  When we get settled at the hospital, they can not get a good x-ray because of the angle of her leg which cannot be moved so they are not sure if it is broken.  They must prep her for surgery to relocate it and to determine if anything is broken.

Thank goodness we know the Orthopedic Surgeon on call and know that he is a wonderful surgeon and person which gives us much relief!  Of course Dad is out of town and Hadley has been strong up until the point that they are on the phone together....he hops on the next plane towards home thank Goodness!!

They took Hadley and me to surgery prep and the surgeon, anesthesiologist, and nurses came in to talk to us and explain everything and we realize that we have to part very soon which is very scary for both of us.  Jeff and I  have been so very blessed that none of our kids have ever had to have surgery.....I have never left them like this and it was so hard!! I quickly prayed over her and then I asked the Blessed Mother to be with Hadley and wrap her mantle around that moment, the curtain parts and a nurse with a cute Cheetah apron on comes in and leans over Hadley.  She said, "Hi Hadley, I am your surgery nurse.  My name is Mary and I will be taking care of you today."  Hadley and I just smiled......later we talked about it and both laughed that her name tag said "Mary V". (like Virgin Mary)  It gave us both so much peace.

 Very shortly after I went into the waiting area, Dr. T came in to give us the great news that he was able to relocate it and there was no break.  The bad news was that she would be on crutches for about 6 weeks.  All in all, she handled it all pretty well-all things considered.  It really didn't slow her down too much.  She still found the will to go to concerts and be a camp counselor for 2 weeks-- oh, to be young again......

Haddie and a sweet friend and teammate-
all smiles after that hard fought victory!
She was just finally released to play in her first rugby game in October after starting slowly back into practicing and running a couple of weeks prior.  An MRI showed that her hip looked great. Yep- I know....why are we letting her play rugby?  When I asked Dr. T what he thought, he reminded me that she did it running in the back yard while babysitting-who would have thought??  Let's put it this way, I pray A LOT!!!  What more can we do as parents????

We love this girl with the biggest heart ever!! We are so proud of her determination to get out there and play.  And, it paid off.  DSHA won the state championship last Sunday and Hadley even got to play! What an amazing accomplishment!

Hadley was going away for the weekend and 

I caught a tender goodbye between her and Mei

Annie snuggling with her big sis and listening to music while she works on homework

A wet Halloween but a big sister who loves candy!!


She is such a great big sis!!  Not sure who is luckier- the little girls to have her or her to have the little girls!!
Press on!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Beach Fun

There's not many places that I love better than the beach.  There's just something about seeing God's beautiful creation--the blueness of the water, the vastness of the ocean, the softness of the sand--it is all so breathtaking.  

Now that we live in Wisconsin, I can even add that I LOVE the heat and yes, even the humidity!  But living in Wisconsin, we are about a 19 hour drive away from our favorite spot where we've vacationed for about 14 years and that is tough.  But tough can be doable when something good is waiting on the other side!!  I am trying to keep a good attitude about living so far north and I will tell you(and my family would agree) that it has become extremely hard for many reasons.  One example is the fact that it was a high of 52 degrees on the day before we were leaving(in JUNE!!!) and it sure made it hard to imagine 80 degrees!!  

It's a good thing we planned our vacation early in the summer.  Looking at our calendars, we are not finding many open spots this summer to get away as a family.  But, our good planning ended up having consequences.

As Cole's lacrosse season unfolded and they were posting win after win, we realized that their chances of going to the State finals were very real.  So real that we booked him an airline ticket(which actually worked out well since he could fly with his buddy who was joining us for the week, too) to join us the day after we got there.  

Sure enough, they made it to the finals.  We were bummed to miss it (it was the night after we left) but excited that it would be televised and we could stream it on our computer to watch.  Isn't technology amazing?  Of course, we'll look back and read that line and laugh because I am sure it will be nothing compared to what the future holds!  Then, last minute, the lacrosse site posted that they would not be streaming.  We were so bummed not to be there but a kind dad kept us posted with each score and it was a nail biter for sure!  

We were so excited that they won!!  What a way to end your senior year with a State Championship title!!!

Cell phone shot

The week at the beach was great!  Annie loved the sand and warmed up to the ocean as long as it wasn't "crazy" as she would say.  She and Mei Mei are doing SO GREAT!!!!  So much better than I ever could have hoped for-thank you GOD!!  A good reminder that relationships take time........  We are all so in love with her and I kept thinking all week how grateful I was that she is really here with us this year!!!

   And what troopers these 2 were!  We went to the beach with friends of ours from wayyyyyyyyyy back.  There were 4 adults, 6 teenagers and 7 under the age of 12.  Needless to say we were burning the candle at both ends trying to keep all needs met!!  But after a little sleep, the little ones were ready to go!

It was neat because our friends brought home 2 brothers from Ethiopia this past fall so in addition to the "older" crew, we had the little ones keeping us busy, too! (Cell phone shot--couldn't figure out how to take out the red-eye)

Dad and his little girls.....

Mom and my big girl!

The State Champs!!

Mei Mei's favorite thing at the beach-a lizard!!!  Brings back so many memories of being in Florida with my Dad and Grandpa and begging them to catch one for me!  Hads and Ethan were so so sweet to be so willing to catch lizard after lizard for their little sis!!

At our favorite spot- Frostbites- a nightly tradition for sure!! 

If you look closely, Mei is holding up her lizard for the picture.  P
oor thing-he was MANHANDLED for a long time!!

All my babies......

On our way home......

And this is what we come home to the next week.  It's a good thing I hadn't taken daddy's dry-cleaning in yet as his shirts served as the perfect layer for a chilly summer night.  By the way, putting those 3 words together just doesn't seem right--why do we live here again???????

Press ON!!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Busy, Busy, Busy!!!!

I can't even begin to describe how busy it has been around here!!  The end of the school year always brings it but the end of senior year brings it in a BIG way!  Just for Cole alone we've had:

#1 Senior Prom

#2 Senior Prom

White Dinner

Senior Night for Lacrosse

I finished his quilt of t-shirt memories (a true family project!!)

The weather finally warmed so we could eat outside (Mei was so excited for Annie to join us)

A beautiful Baccalaureate Mass 

And finally, Graduation.....

All my babies.....

And such a blessing that all the Grandparents could come to celebrate!!

And more of our Kentucky clan, too!

And even Aunt K

It was such a special and fun weekend!  I survived......with barely a tear, surprisingly.  I think I got them all out when I sewed all those t-ball shirts into his quilt :)  We are just soaking it all in knowing that he'll be off to college soon and we will miss him so much!

Lacrosse season is still going with only one more game to go before the state playoffs!!
It's been a great season--undefeated so far!!

And, as for the rest of us:

MC celebrated the big 12!!!!!

She just finished her first lacrosse season and is happy it's over.  
Now, if school could just finish up, too, she'd be really happy!

Mei graduated from preschool! What a wonderful year she had with amazing teachers!!

Hadley has been relishing her time with her big brother and is really going to miss him next year!!  She just finished her sophomore year last week and is excited for summer!

E-man is finishing lacrosse season except for one final tourney.  
He, too, is counting the days until school is out! 

And, the little girls--or "DOUBLE TROUBLE" as we so affectionately call them---
well, they find joy in the journey.......

Whether it's running around on the field after a lacrosse game when they should be home in bed

Or stealing some time in the sprinkler on a hot day (yes, we've had 1 or 2)

 Or sharing some chips and laughter with their Pops after a long Graduation ceremony

these two are troopers!!  

It's hard to believe how far they've come in 6 short months!!  You rarely see one without the other.  Their sisterhood has blossomed so beautifully--one minute their best friends and the next minute they've pinched each other and are both telling me.  By the time they are off the steps, they have already planned what they are playing next!  I just love watching them.  Annie is doing great-such a blessing to this family!!!