Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas Y'all

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Tissues Please...

Last year as we waited patiently (not really) to get our dossier to China, I came across this song. I listened to it over and over with tears in my eyes longing for the day when I would have Mylee in my arms. From the moment I saw her picture, I knew she was my daughter. She was the daughter I had longed for for so many years. I immediately formed an attachment to her. Seeing her picture that very first time was like having each one of my biological children placed in my arms for the very first time. I don't know how to explain it any other way. So, last year at this time I felt like a piece of me was missing. This year, my heart is so full. I have been Blessed with an amazing husband, 4 amazing kids, and amazing family and friends. Each one of them has helped in some way to make this my best Christmas ever. THANK YOU. Last year I cried through the beginning of the song, this year I am smiling from ear to ear as I focus on the ending.

"It's Christmas time again and now you're home,
Your family is here so you will never be alone.
So tonight before you go to sleep, I'll hold you in my arms
And tell you from my heart, I wish you Merry Christmas."

Make sure you turn off the music at the right before hitting play on the video.

"Merry Christmas" by Third Day


Mylee is home with her family this year for Christmas. She is warm, safe, loved, and happy. Bot more importantly, she has a HOME for Christmas, a FAMILY, and JESUS! Because without him, none of us would be here today. He gave his life for us and our sins, and it was HIM to walked silently beside Matt and I this last year. It was because our FAITH in HIM, that Mylee is HOME.

This year as sit around you Christmas trees and enjoy watching your kids, please say a prayer for ALL the orphans around the world who may never know what it is like to be safe, warm, happy, loved, or to know Jesus. There are millions of orphans around the world that need homes. Adoption is not for everyone, just as parenting is not for everyone. But, if you do feel adoption tugging on your hear, I urge you to PRAY, because HE hears everyone of our prayers.

I don't know how much I will be able to post over the next few days, so Merry Christmas to you all.

Christmas Blessings...

Last Thursday our Nanjing playgroup got together. As always, everyone had a great time. The kids had a great time playing with each other, and us moms had a great time talking. We ordered pizza, ate Christmas cookies, and enjoyed watching our girls play together. Unfortunately, Miss Millie did not make it this time, but we are all hoping she will make it next month.
These girls are such Blessing to each one of us. Christmas this year is definitely going to be different than last year for each one of our families. As much as I enjoyed being with family, and watching the kids open gifts, at the same time, I was crying on the inside for my daughter that was not here. I remember trying so hard not to think about her and enjoy the moment. My heart ached for Mylee last Christmas. I kept telling myself that next year was going to be so different. Well, next year is FINALLY here, and I simply cannot wait to see all FOUR of my children bounce down the stairs on Christmas morning. I love seeing their faces the moment they see that Santa came and left presents under the tree. I love hearing their excitement as they unwrap gifts. But this year, more than anything I am going to love seeing 4 kids around the tree. I am really looking forward to seeing Christmas through Mylee's eyes.

Below are a few pictures taken when the girls were here last week. Enjoy!


Mylee, Ava, Elsa, and Clara
Our attempt at a picture of 4 of the 5 girls.
On a cooler note, this is what we awakened to Friday morning. As cold and slick as it was, it was beautiful outside. I could not resist taking some pictures. I think this is the first time I have ever seen anything like this. I was in awe. The kids were especially excited. Because of the ice storm, their Christmas break started a day early.




Friday, December 19, 2008

Merry Christmas

Before you click play, remember to turn the music off at the right.

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I'm Back

WOW, it seems like forever since I last blogged. December is such a busy month for us. We have had Christmas parties and get togethers every weekend and they will continue through New Years. It's really nice to spend time with family and friends especially those we don't see very often. But, I am looking forward to a weekend of having nothing planned.

Anyway, this past weekend we got together with Matt's side of the family. Every year we get together. We have a potluck dinner, visit, and Santa even comes with gifts for the kids. Every year I enjoy going there, but this year was a bit more exciting we were able to share our newest addition with everyone. This was also Mylee's first experience with Santa. She was a bit skeptical at first. She watched patiently as the other kids sat on his lap and opened their presents. But once she realized that Santa was giving our candy canes, her patients began to wear a little thin. Mylee LOVES candy, any kind, and will do just about anything to get some. Once she realized candy was involved, she was all about sitting on his lap. Not only was this her first time to sit on Santa's lap, but this was her first gift to unwrap as well. The whole time she was on Santa's lap, she kept peeking into his bag of candy canes. She was so cute. Blake, Emma, and Gabe sat on Santa's lap as well, and you can see from the pictures below, Blake was the most excited about it. Because of the age difference in him and Mylee, Matt and I told him that he will have to sit on Santa's lap every year until Mylee doesn't believe anymore. It took him a minute, but he realized that he would be about 16 and still sitting on Santa's lap. Let's just say that he wasn't all that enthused. He's a pretty good sport about things like that though. I wonder what the chances of getting him to wear festive colors next year???

This whole week I have been studying for my finals. I had my last final today, and it is the one I am most worried about. MATH. I am not a huge fan of math, in fact, I am completely math illiterate. I cannot wait until next semester is over and I have taken my last college math test. I think I may throw a party. Anyway, I have no idea how I did on it, but am looking forward to see what my grades are this semester. And I am definetly looking forward the the next 3 weeks of NO SCHOOL (for me that is)!

Enjoy the pictures, and hopefully I will be able to update more frequently now that I don't have my nose in math and psych books.




















Wordless Wednesday


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Catching Up

So, it's been awhile since I updated the blog, sorry to those who follow. This past couple of weeks have been super busy. The weekend before Thanksgiving we decided to put up our tree and outside lights since it was going to be so nice. Mylee was mesmerized by the tree. Once it was up, she stood beneath it looking up in amazement. We immediately told her not to touch, so now whenever she or someone else goes near it, she says "don't touch." Blake, Emma, and Gabe had fun decorating the tree as always. Emma and Gabe especially get so excited to hang their ornaments. Each year we buy the kids a new Hallmark ornament, so there are several ornaments on our tree that have specific meaning to each child. As much as I would love to have a "mall tree," I love the fact that every ornament on our tree has specific meaning. We have some from Korea, Hawaii, Disney World, and lots that the kids have made themselves. Someday I may get my "perfect"tree, but for now, I love listening to the kids hang their ornaments and telling the story of each one, and where they came from.


Mylee's first glimpse of the tree


The kids hanging their ornaments


Thanksgiving was full of family this year. Matt and I have been married for 13 1/2 years, and for the very first time I got to spend Thanksgiving with his maternal grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. His grandparents usually went to Texas during the winter, but for the first time this year, they have decided to stay in Indiana. We were very excited and thankful to be with them this year. We also spent the evening with Matt's paternal grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. We spent the evening cyphering through the "Black Friday" ads making our lists of the places we were going to go to.

So yes, I was one of the crazy people that got up in the middle of the night (3:00 a.m.) to venture out for a bargain. My mother in law picked me up at 3:30 a.m. and we were off. We met my sister in law around 4, and we shopped, shopped, and shopped until almost 7:00 p.m. Needless to say, we were exhausted, and still are. I am still trying to catch up on sleep. Regardless of the lack of sleep, we had a great time. Sorry, no time to take pictures of the lines and lines of shoppers, we may have missed something.

On Saturday, Emma's dance class performed in the Festival of Trees again this year. She was in two dances this year. The dance was tap and it was to "Frosty The Snowman." The second was ballet and it was to "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies." She did such a great job and they all looked so cute in their costumes (I made them so I am a bit bias).




Enjoy the update and pictures, I am hoping to update more frequently once this semester is over (December 12). I have finals next week, so I don't know how much I will be posting.




Tuesday, November 18, 2008

An Early Birthday

Emma will celebrate her 7th birthday on December 11 and all she wanted was to go to the American Girl store in Chicago. So, Matt, Blake, Emma and I made a day out of it. This was Blake and Emma's first time in Chicago so they were both elated. I dropped Matt and Blake off at the Museum of Science and Industry and Emma and I headed down to Michigan Ave. We parked several blocks away from AG, so as we were walking down Michigan Ave and Emma spotted the store, she was giggling and jumping up and down. She was so excited. Once inside, she knew right away which doll she wanted. I thought she would pick a doll with blonde hair, but she surprised me and picked a doll with way brown hair, blue eyes, and freckles just like her. Emma was in awe of the store. Ag is two stories of dolls, dolls, and more dolls. It has it's own hair salon, doll hospital, photo studio, cafe, and restaurant. We did visit the hair salon so that the doll could get her ears pierced. Yes, you read that right, the doll was taken into a back room so she could get her ears pierced.


Bottom line is Emma had a fantastic time and I am hoping she will always remember going to Chicago to pick out her first AG doll with me. It was alot of fun spending that time alone with Emma, she is such a beautiful, caring, fun little girl.



Matt, Blake, Emma and I met back up at the Lego store before going to dinner at Ed Debevics. Matt and I had eaten there before and really wanted to take Blake. It is a really fun diner where the waiters and waitresses are deliberately rude to the customers. We did not tell the kids that this is what it was, we just wanted to see how long it would take for them to figure it out. Emma figured it out pretty much from the beginning when the waitress threw the straws at her. Blake on the other hand took a little bit longer to figure it out (poor kid). Anyway, they both had quite a bit of fun with our waitress and she even brought Emma a sundae for her birthday.



I also want to add that for lunch Emma and I met up with Melanie and her daughter Olivia. Melanie traveled to China last Thanksgiving to her her beautiful daughter Addison and was kind enough to take pictures of Mylee for us. Melanie and I have communicating with each other for over a year now and I was so excited that she and her daughter were able to meet us for lunch. We talked as if we had known each other for years and Emma and Olivia got along great as well. It was so nice to finally meet Melanie and I cannot wait to meet Addi soon too.


Helping to Spread the Word

Stephanie over at Ni Hao Y'all with the help from some other blogger buddies have created a fabulous site to help educate and advocate for special needs children in China. Stephanie is an adoptive mom to 4, yes 4 special needs children from China. And to top that off, she has 4, yes 4 biological children. With 8 kids I cannot imagine how she found the time to put together such a resourceful site.
Stephanie is an inspiration to me and many other adoptive parents. She is an amazing woman who God has chosen to dedicate a part of herself, a part of her heart to making a difference. Not only is she helping to make a difference in the life of a child, but she is also making a difference in the life of the family that child will enter. Mylee has only been home with us for 6 months, but I cannot imagine our family without her. She is a beautiful, smart, spunky addition to our family that I thank God for every day.
If you have ever thought about, or know someone who has thought about opening their heart to adoption, please check out No Hands But Ours, it is a great site with an abundance of information on different types of SN, letters from adoptive parents, agencies, and much more.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thankful Thursday (A little late)

I fully intended on having this posted first thing this morning, but things got pretty hectic around here (no need for details). Anyway, today I am thankful that God spoke to me years ago by planting the seed that after years of hope, prayers, determination, love, and a huge leap of faith lead up to the beautiful flower we now call Mylee. Today marks the 6 month anniversary of the day that Yan Zhao Lu became Mylee Zhao Lu-Ann. 6 months ago today I sat across from several Chinese officials and answered their questions, "Do you promise to never abandon, abuse, or neglect this child? Are you aware that this child has special needs?" Why do you want to adopt from China?" And several more questions. I answered with a very positive "YES" to each question. The last one was a bit more complicated. "Why did I want to adopt from China?" I simply answered the best way I could, "Adopting from China has been a dream of mine since I was a teenager and with the support of my husband, family, and friends, my dream is finally coming true today." The man that sat across from me smiled, and then said "Thank you for willing to open your home to one of our children. Bless you." That was it, Mylee was officially ours to love, and call our daughter. Unknowingly to her, this was the last day that she would cry a tear without someone there to wipe it away, or the last day she would have to go hungry, or be cold. This was the last day that she would ever be alone again because she was being taken HOME to a daddy, a sister, two brothers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and many other friends who would make sure that she would never have to worry about anything again. In my mind, May 13, 2008 was the first day of the rest of her life. Enjoy the pictures.


Officially our daughter.


Mother and daughter at last.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

6 Months Ago Today

6 months ago today a little after 9:00 a.m. (China time), I was handed one of the most precious gifts from God. It was on this day that dreams were filled, prayers were answered, and wishes were granted when Mylee was placed in my arms for the very first time. It is so hard to believe that she has only been with us for 6 months, and in some ways, it's like she has been with us since the day she was born.
On May 12, 2008 Yan Zhao Lu was placed in my arms without a single tear (those came later). She was brought to the Civil Affairs Office by her doctor and nurse, and it was evident that they loved her very much and were going to miss her immensely.
She was a happy, curious, spunky little girl who seemed to have such a zest for life. As she toddles around the room I remember thinking that as one journey was ending for her, another was just beginning. She had no idea what awaited her half way around the world.
Today that little girl is know as Mylee Zhao Lu-Ann. We have gone from strangers to her parents, her protectors. When she sees us she greets us with open arms and a wide smile. When she is scared or hurt, it is us she turns to for comfort and safety. When she is proud of herself (for bending her knees), it us us she can't wait to show. Mylee went from a dream She has gone from being a dream, to our daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, and friend in 6 short months.
She is a true delight and a blessing. She is still happy, curious, and spunky. She is extremely smart and is very persistent. She has picked up English much faster than we expected. The sad part is she is losing some of her Chinese. We are hoping to get her enrolled into a local Chinese school soon. She has a need to accomplish anything regardless of how hard she may have to struggle. We are so amazed at how well she "fits" into our family.
I know for some of you it is hard to understand, but she is as much ours as are Blake, Emma, and Gabe. Although she was not born to us in the traditional sense, she was born in our hearts. She is loved just the same as the others.
I believe she was meant for family just as Matt and I were meant to get married and Blake, Emma, and Gabe were meant for us. I truly believe that years ago, (before Matt and I knew each other) she was hand picked for our family and He was waiting for the perfect time to introduce her to us.
Mylee is the missing piece to our puzzle. She has brought so much joy and laughter to our family. She is an amazing little girl who I am blessed to call my daughter.







Thanks Stefanie over at Ni Hao Yall for helping me figure out how to upload my video to blogger. I really appreciate it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Look Who's 4 Today!!!

A year ago today we had some fellow adoptive parents (to be) over with their kids for dinner. After dinner I surprised them with a cake that said "Happy Birthday Ava Lan." One year ago today, Ava turned 3 in Nanjing China without her mom, without her dad, and without her 2 brothers and 2 sisters.






This year was a little different because not only did Ava celebrate with cake and ice cream, and presents, she also celebrated with friends and family. This year, Ava got the greatest gift of all, her "forever family."









Weekend update

Last Friday Mylee's Nanjing "sisters" (along with their moms) came over for a play date. Below are pictures of 4 of the 5 that are home right now. Unfortunately, Elsa was not feeling well so she was not able to make it. We missed you Elsa and Susan. Anyway, I surprised Tara who is Ava's mom by having a little "party" for miss Ava because she turns 4 today. It was alot of fun. The kids played, we ordered pizza, ate cupcakes and Ava opened presents. Below are some pictures taken on Friday.


Millie, Clara, Mylee, Ava



video












On Friday evening we went to Emma's school for their annual Fall Festival. The theme this year was something to do with cowboys and cowgirls so Emma had to wear some sort of Cowgirl getup to school on Friday. Luckily, we had just the thing in our enormous box full of costumes. The kids really enjoyed the carnival, games, candy, balloons, and their friends.
Sunday was my birthday so we went out with some friend's on Saturday night. We ended up at a steak house and then bowling. Unfortunately I will NOT be posting those pictures as they are WAY too embarrassing.



Mylee in the jumping castle



























Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Today I am so very thankful for my father in law because he has been the one taking Mylee to Indy for her checkups. It is really hard for me to get a day off so Steve stepped up and offered to take Mylee. She really looks forward to these trips with Grandpa and can't wait for him to pick her up. This morning we had to have her ready by 6:30 am (her appt. was at 8:30 am) and once she realized she was going to the doctor with Grandpa, she was ready and waiting at the door. So thanks Steve for taking time fron your busy schedule to help us out.




Tuesday, November 4, 2008

OOPS

Sorry, I forgot to post this picture of Emma.


Catching Up

It seems like forever since I have been on here that is how busy I have been. Obviously we spent Friday evening trick or treating with the kids. They seemed to have had a really nice time and got WAY too much candy. Blake (and a friend) was a Prom King Zombie, Gabe a Storm Trooper, Emma a Butterfly, and Mylee a ladybug. Mylee really got into the whole thing at first, but then she was more interested in eating the candy than getting more (fine by me). She did go to several houses and said "trick or treat" in her sweet little voice. We only trick or treated for about an hour and then the kids went to Grandma and Grandpa's for the night because Matt and I were having our (kid free) Halloween party. This is the first time we have done anything like
this and we had a really nice time with our friends. During the day on Friday I gutted the playroom and decorated it with fun Halloween stuff (I will post some pics later). We also did a little decorating outside and I was really surprised that Matt was getting into it. Now, if I can just get him to get as enthusiastic about hanging the Christmas lights this year. Anyway, Halloween was a lot of fun this year with all 4 kids.













I don't know why, but I LOVE this picture!

On Monday nights Emma has dance class. This year she is taking tap, jazz, and ballet. She really enjoys it and seems to be doing very well this year. Yesterday was watch night (parents can sit in on the class and watch what their children have learned) so we got to see Emma's dances and costumes for the year. Her tap and jazz costume is SOOOO cute (not sure Matt is going to agree with me). It is black with bright pink polka dots. And her ballet outfit is a simple white leotard and white tutu. Anyway, those are just her normal dances. She is also dancing in the Festival of Trees for tap and ballet, so she is learning a total of 5 dances this year! Again, she is doing fantastic. Her song for tap is Frost the Snowman and ballet is the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. I was asked again this year to make their costumes for the Festival of Tress (last year I made them and there were only 3 in her class). So, I ended up making 8 red, white, and green tutus with matching head pieces for ballet, and 6 snowman shirts, skirts, scarves and hats for tap. Yes, that is 14 costumes and I was literally sewing as I was running out the door last night. I still have some headpieces to make and finish the hats, but they all turned out so cute and the girls were really pleased with them as well.
By the way, Mylee finally had her first First Steps therapy session today. She did really well and will continue to have therapy now twice a week with them, and once with a pediatric orthopedic here in town. This Thursday she goes back down to Indy for a check to see how things are going. I am hoping that the doctor continues to see some improvement. I will let everyone know how it goes.
By the way, thanks again Denise for helping me out with the pictures. I really appreciate it.













Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pumpkin Patch Fun

Before I begin I have to explain the Wordless Wednesday picture since I have gotten tons of e-mails about it. Every night before we put Mylee to bed we put on her braces, and then her jammies. The past few nights before I go to bed, I check on all the kids and have Mylee in the process of disrobing, or like you saw in the picture. The other night I could not resist taking a picture of her like this. Apparently after we put her to bed she completely strips down to nothing and then falls asleep. We then have to get her up to get her braces back on a dressed again. Once we get her ready for bed the second time, she usually does not strip down again. But come morning, she cannot wait to get her jammies and braces off.
Last weekend we took the kids to the apple orchard and pumpkin patch. This was our first family trip to the apple orchard and we had a great time. The kids really enjoyed it. At the pumpkin patch they were told they could each pick out their own pumpkin but they had to be able to carry it themselves. Gabe and Emma struggled with theirs, but they were both determined to carry them to the car. Mylee was in love with her pumpkin. I was not sure we were going to get it away from her. Now every time she sees a pumpkin she gets very excited. We are plannin on carving them tonight so I wll post pictures tomorrow from the carving fun.

Matt took Mylee to her therapy appointment yesterday and she seems to be doing very well. Her therapist, Cindy is quite impressed with how things are going. She is showing a great deal of improvement in her right leg. When she walks she is able to bend her right knee and her left a little. She is even starting to bend her knees to pick things up from the floor. The kids have even taught her to march. As we go up the stairs, I follow her up and help her to bend her knees and as we are doing this she says "bend" with every step. She is such a trooper. She continues to amaze us with her willingness and ability to overcome all she has been through. For that, I am very thankful.
As you can see from the pictures, I am having quite a bit of fun creating. Unfortunately, I am spending way too much time doing it and need to get off the computer and get some homework done.

Apple Orchard

As you can see, I am having way too much fun with the picture editing. For now I am making myself get off the computer to get some homework done. Enjoy the picture. This is from our trip to the apple orchard last weekend.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Photo Success

After days of trying to figure out how to "play" with my pictures, I finally broke down and e-mailed a fellow adoptive blogger for help. Thanks so much for helping me figure this out Denise. This was my first attempt and I am pretty impressed with how it turned out. I have several more pictures from out trip to the apple orchard and pumpkin patch. I am hoping to post those tomorrow for all to see. The kids had a great time. As you can see from the pictures, Mylee worked really hard to get that apple there was no way we were going to tell her she had to wait until later to eat it.


Wordless Wednesday


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Football, Shoes, Costumes, and a Haircut

I forgot to post this, this is what Sadie looked like before her haircut.


Blake had his last football game Saturday. This was THE championship game and his team was undefeated. Unfortunately, they lost. Blake was pretty upset about it, this being his last year to play for this league. Next year he will be an official Carroll Middle School Charger. Blake has played for this league for 4 years and has really enjoyed it and learned alot. He has a true passion for football. Although his team lost on Saturday and he was upset, he still had fun and that is what really counts. Matt and I are so proud of him for realizing that it is not always about winning or losing, but having fun.

Blake is #36, he is running right in front of the pole.









This was taken after the game. I felt so bad for these boys, they worked so hard this season. Notice all the bowed heads.

Such disappointment


Dad trying to make it all better. I love this picture.

After Blake's game, Matt's parents took Emma and Gabe to the lake for the night, so we took advantage of having only two kids and went to lunch and did some running around. Mylee had her first therapy appointment last week which went great. Her therapist suggested getting her a pair of tennis shoes so the next visit they can put lifts in them. Right now when she walks or stands she is so used to leaning back and putting all her wait on her heals. They are hoping that by adding lifts to her shoes, she will be able to walk a little better. The therapist also suggested getting her a riding toy that she can sit on and push around with her legs. This will help to stretch and strengthen her leg muscles. So, after the appointment we went to Toys R Us and bought her a riding toy and a little step stool. The riding toy look like a school bus so she thinks she is going to school like Blake and Emma. I am a little surprised by how flexible her knees are becoming. The right knee is bending quite a bit. She has even begun to bend it while walking. The left one is still pretty stiff, but making progress. She goes back to the therapist on Wednesday and First Steps should start next week.

Getting my feet sized for new shoes.


Trying on my new shoes.

Checking out my new kickers. She loves to look at herself.




After getting Mylee's shoes we decided to go to some local Goodwills in search of items for our Halloween costumes. Matt and I are having a party this year and you have to dress us. I am a little excited because I have not dressed up for Halloween since I was a kid. Anyway, we were able to find almost everything we needed for our costumes in one stop (Matt was very excited about this). Sorry, I can't say at this time what we are going to be, but rest assured, I will be posting pictures after the party.
As for the kids, Emma finally decided on a butterfly since Mylee is going to be a ladybug. Gabe wanted to be a Storm Trooper (Star Wars), but unfortunately, we could not find any in his size. BUMMER :). So, he has decided to be a dragon. The nice thing about him being a dragon is I don't have to buy anything because we have a dragon costume in the dress up box.


That sums up football shoes, and costumes, now on to the haircut. We took Sadie to the groomers on Sunday and got her shaved. TOTALLY. For those of you not familiar with Sadie, she is a full grown Old English Sheepdog. So to see her going from a full coat of white and gray hair to literally a buzz cut, it was pretty humorous and sad. She does seem to be happier though and the kids love her shaved. I'm not sure why...

Poor Sadie, that is all I can say.