Saturday, January 12, 2013

UPDATE on our sweet friend IVY JOY

THANK YOU so much to those of you who have been supporting our friends & their sweet baby girl, Ivy Joy via prayer.  Ivy & her Mommy (my friend Mary) did end up having to travel from Arizona to Boston so that Ivy could have yet another open heart surgery (her 5th, I believe, in less than 10 months).  The surgery took place just this morning.  Ivy is already off the bypass machine, which is AMAZING!!!  This baby girl has such fierce strength & tenacity, she blows all of us sitting on the sidelines away again & again.  

I ask that you please continue to keep this beautiful family in your prayers.  There is still a long road ahead.  But my goodness, God has His hand of love and support on this little angel.  She is His, and we are thankful!

A link to Mary's blog and Ivy's story below:

Sunday, January 6, 2013


 Grace's U.S. Readoption November 2012

 "SWEET Kissing Sisters!"  December 2012

 Merry Christmas from our family!  TWO very sweet & one VERY SASSY girl!!

THIS picture captures Grace better than any other we've taken.  Joy, laughter, energy, and sass!  I could not possibly love this child any more than I do!! 

Our family is doing well, very well.  And we are so thankful.  Grace is flourishing.  She's growing, thriving, bonding & attaching so beautifully.  She sleeps mostly well, although we have our ups and downs in this area.  She loves with a vengeance.  She giggles, laughs, runs, plays and takes on new challenges like they are welcome new friends.  Her speech is expanding & she is very verbal.  We are in awe of her.  We are blessed by the love that she and Georgea share so freely. They are sisters at heart.  They love like sisters, play like sisters & squabble over favorite toys-- like sisters!!  It is such a joy for us to see the sweetness between these two.  It is a gift.  The very best kind of gift.

I have a dear friend though, whose first daughter, Lexi is the same age as Georgea & who came home from China just after Georgea did.  And my friend has another daughter, Ivy Joy, who is Grace's age, and came home just a month before Grace.  This family's story, it is different.  This beautiful family has walked a road of medical mystery, trials, errors, hopeful, prayerful healing...and many surgeries, many tests, many hospital visits....a year of struggle.  A year of faith.  A year of joy & pain.  The details are many.  And they are laid out with painstaking detail in my friends blog.  Sweet Ivy Joy is back in the hospital at this time, and it is serious.  I haven't blogged in many months, but I am here now, reaching out.  Hoping that those who are believers in the power of Jesus Christ.  In the power of His healing hand and in the power of prayer will join us in lifting Ivy Joy and her entire family up as they walk this next part of their journey.  The blog link is here, if you feel led to join in, supporting this beautiful family...will you, please?

Loving Life with Lexi & Ivy Joy

Monday, September 17, 2012

6 months with Grace Ning Si Qi

I truly can't believe 6 months have passed, since we first laid eyes on our beautiful Grace.  September 12 was our 6 month anniversary of that day, those first moments together, and so very much has changed.  I'm moving quick these days as a working wife and mother of two, so I'll follow suit with this blog entry.  Just the most important updates.  I've lost track of my blogging mojo over the past year, but I received an email from someone wondering if we were ok.  If Grace had settled in well, and realized that there are some blog followers out there that have supported and encouraged us, that deserve to know that all is well.  Better than ok, and actually pretty amazing!

Our sweet baby girl had her cleft palate repaired just 2 weeks after we returned home from China.  This was a huge blessing.  We expected to wait about 5-6 months, but a cancellation opened up a surgery spot & we grabbed it.  It was a rough couple of weeks, but Grace is tough & she plowed through the liquid diet and sore mouth that follows the surgical procedure.  Her palate was beautifully repaired & she is now eating & drinking everything with ease, as well as progressing verbally- amazing!

Grace learned to crawl and walk quickly.  We worked very hard and she responded.  She walked much sooner than we anticipated and so we still have Grace on a 30 minute per day crawl mat program at home.  This exercise serves to strengthen both her body and her brain, as we are big believers in the physical benefits AND the neuro-developmental benefits of crawling. 

Grace's lead levels have been tested twice (you may remember that lead is a BIG and ongoing- for 10+ years- issue at Grace's orphanage).  Her levels are consistently going down & she is due to be tested again in just a few weeks.  We anticipate the level will have dropped again.  We have seen no evidence of any type of issue related to Grace's "lead poisoning"/elevated lead level in her blood.  Praise God!

Grace's genetic testing results came back NORMAL!  No syndromes associated with her cleft palate!  She was seen by an orthopedist, who said he didn't need to see us again, she's doing great.  Grace was seen by a Physical Therapist who said "She's precious & I'd love to have her, but she does not need organized physical therapy.  Keep doing what you're doing at home."  Her eyesight is good, no need for glasses!  Emotionally she's doing very well.  Her attachment to her Daddy & to me is so good & she loves her big sister.  For this we are most thankful, especially since Grace was 21 months when we brought her home.

She is full of spunk and personality!  Everything Grace thinks and feels is communicated and expressed in a BIG way!  Big happy, big sad, big mad!  Big joy, big giggles, big cries.  So much personality & so many opinions in one tiny little body and she wants to share them all with us.  Again, we are thankful.  She feels safe enough to be sad, safe enough to be mad, safe enough to let us know when she's frustrated.  But our girl is 99% joy!  She is just such a happy baby.  Our house is full of laughs, giggles & silliness.  I am in awe of her energy, her tenacity, her drive, her strength- both emotional & physical.  She is loving & offers us kisses so sweetly with a big dramatic pucker & "muah!" sound.  She hugs and holds.  She pats & caresses.  She wants to do everything her big sister does & this, I'm sure is building into her rapid progress.  

Having two is harder.  It takes more energy, more emotion, more patience.....more TIME.  But the joy of seeing my girls together.  The joy of two giggling girls, two kissing girls, two hugging girls is more than double the joy.  It's really quite indescribable this new life of ours.  I can't believe we're here.  Six months on the other side of our trek to China.  Six months into our bonding, into Grace's new routine, new growth, new everything.  It's amazing what takes place in this first half year home, and it fills my heart in a way I can't put into words.  Words aren't enough.  

I'm closing with a video of our two little loves. One that seems to capture the spirit of joy that keeps us going when we're tired, sleep deprived, running out of juice. This is the good, good stuff...and my husband and I are soaking it all in. I'm not sure when I'll be back here.  Back to this place that used to be my therapy. The place where I poured my heart out.  Every moment seems full right now. And that's all right by me.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

China and Back March 2012

Well, we've been back for almost 2 weeks now. We arrived home in the wee hours of the morning on 3/22. It's been such a whirlwind, we really haven't stopped. I wasn't able to blog in China. Blogger was blocked and honestly, our days were so full, I don't know that I would have made the time, even if I could have logged on. It was eat, sleep and care for two sweet girls. If I'd given a moment to blogging I would have missed something else, and there was nothing else I could part with on that amazing trip....most certainly not my sleep. I have a bazillion beautiful pictures, but haven't been able to organize them. So, tonight I'm loading a few that cover the "Reader's Digest" version of our trip. And so hoping that I can carve out the time to get the remainder of those photos that help preserve the precious memory of our journey to Grace, to beautiful China, organized on on the blog before too much more time passes.

WE MADE IT!! That's how I felt this day. So very happy to be back in China, and to be standing on the Great Wall with James AND Georgea this time. Our travel over was perfect. No issues, easy flights, easy layovers & a perfectly-perfect 3.5 year old traveler.

This is our first day in China. We rose early to go to the great wall, the olympics campus and have a nice lunch with our 8-family travel group. Georgea, the most amazing toddler traveler I've ever known, was her bubbly, happy self, even after the 24 hours of travel & 15 hour time change- amazing!

Beijing tourist whirlwind behind us, and now in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province....3-12-12 was our big day. Our baby girl came to us with resistance, crying...real heart breaks....and explodes with joy simultaneously. The feelings, really there are no words to describe the deep conflict of sadness and joy that are experienced on this day.

Only a few moments after receiving Grace into our arms, she calms and we are here as a family with Grace's nanny joining us (holding another baby from the Children's Welfare Institute where Grace lived for almost 21 months).

With the Director of CWI of Ningdu County.

Grace Ning Si Qi accepts a snack tentatively, from her new big sister. Georgea handled this day with amazing sensitivity and grace. She truly continues to amaze me.

LOVE my first born. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!!

Grace got a little sick on the long (I think about 5 hour) car ride from Ningdu County to Nanchang. Sweet baby girl. I'm sure that was an overwhelming trip. So, we did a little wardrobe change when we returned to the hotel. I peeled about 5 layers of clothing (which is tradition in China). I was really surprised to see what a tiny little angel she was under all those sweaters, tops, jackets, leggings, pants, etc. She was so much smaller that what she appeared in our first photos of her.

Just prior to Grace's first medical exam by our friend Dr. Barbara Rumberger. Dr. Barbara is the U.S. travel doctor that our adoption agency sent to China with our group. She was with us when we traveled to bring Georgea home too. What a gift to have her there!

Dr. Barbara with our girls.

Grace cried at first. Then cooperated, then........

...decided she'd cry again. And, in true sympathetic form her big sister decided to join in. I just decided it was best to find the humor in the situation and a few moments later all was well.

Touring Nanchang with a solemn baby girl.

My two beautiful girls. Let the coordinating outfits begin!

Georgea, seeming so grown up all of a sudden.

Somber, solemn, serious. Grace was just taking it all in the first few days.
Georgea expanded her social horizons and made friends from all over the U.S. via the older siblings in our travel group. What a huge blessing!

Nanchang & Jiangxi province are known for porcelain. Here we are visiting some of the porcelain shops near our hotel.

Now in Guangzhou, Guangdong province at the dreaded, but mandatory International Travel Healthcare, adoptive medical exam. It was hot & crowded. Grace was not happy, but she plowed through this process and we were out in a few hours.

"Don't mess with me!!!" Following in Georgea's footsteps. We have very similar photos of Georgea with lots of tears, just less than 3 years ago when we made our first trip to China.

Bouncing back & showing the start of a tiny little grin.

"The big kids!"

At "Lucy's" restaurant in Guangzhou. A favorite from our first trip, mainly because of the outdoor, park-adjacent seating.

Beautiful view of the Pearl River from the park next to Lucy's.

Isaac, Emma, Georgea & Simon became fast friends! Such an awesome group of older siblings.

In the lobby of the Victory Hotel where we stayed in Guangzhou, nearing the end of our trip.

Grace took to Georgea and was very interested in her from the get-go and Georgea immediately wrapped her arms around her little sister. I can't express how proud I am of Georgea's adjustment, truly impressive and such a gift to James and me.

Georgea with her buddies Isaac & Simon. Way too cute!

This evening it was just Georgea, Grace & me in the room while getting Grace ready for bed. Grace decided to let loose a little. She showed us her silly, smiling side. It was our first real glimpse of Grace, beyond her protective "outer shell." It melted my heart and was such a sweet time.


I'm quite sure Georgea wishes she could have taken these guys "her guys" home with her!

Ahhh, the smiles were treasures each time we caught a glimpse.

Our travel group (minus one family), gathered in the lobby of the Garden Hotel in Guangzhou. We had such a wonderful and diverse group and so enjoyed getting to know all the families.

More to come on our travel home & adjustment as soon as time allows......

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tomorrow is the BIG day!!

We head to China tomorrow! I don't even have time for more of a post. We are crazy wrapping up all the last minute details & head to the airport at 4:15 am. We're taking Georgea with us. That is both exciting and exhausting. I feel so consumed with concern for her care. I need for her to be alright. Healthy, happy, ok with all of the travel and upcoming change. And, so far she's been just amazing.

I so hope to be able to post from China......but we shall see.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

ARTICLE 5 APPROVAL (!!) A Move to Foster Care and Life Here in AZ

It's been a crazy, full, busy few weeks around here! First & most exciting we received Article 5 Approval early this exciting! Now we are just awaiting Travel Approval- yay!

A couple of weeks ago we received some concerning information regarding lead levels in Grace's orphanage. After doing quite a bit of research, reaching out to the specific orphanage Yahoo group, I discovered that this is a significant and ongoing (10+ years) issue. Long & short we received updated blood work that confirmed Grace has a rather high lead level. Our agency was very proactive, as was the orphanage & Grace was moved to a foster home. The positive is obvious...she is out of the environment that was causing the build up of lead in her bloodstream. The negative is that her orphanage is the only home she has known for her 20 months of life. I know that move, while positive must have been an emotionally stressful move for our girl. And, she will have another very soon when she is transitioned into our arms. So, we are praying God's protection for her health and her heart/emotional well-being. And we are so very anxious to head to China so that she can begin the big move to being settled, to finding her place with her forever family.

In the meantime, we sent another care package with a few goodies including a snuggly blanket.

And, back here in AZ our sweet Georgea girl is loving life! Thriving, talking up a storm & just filling our world with so many smiles and giggles. She really keeps us on our toes! Last Sunday she thoroughly enjoyed attending her good friend Alexa's birthday party....especially the celebratory cupcake eating!

Sometimes, when you're only 3.5 and the "party girls" are all 7 years old, you need your Mama to join you in the dance party fun! And it was my absolute pleasure, of course.

Showing her independence! She only needed me for about 5 minutes & enjoyed the rest of the dancing and games "on her own." She let me slip out into the hall. I'm amazed daily at how her confidence level continues to grow. She's getting ready to be a super-star big sister!