Black & White Wednesday: One year

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

For Madeline's Gotcha Day Anniversay, we were at a loss as to how we would actually celebrate it.

For Caleb's Gotcha celebrations, we head over to Disney World. Why? Because it's in November....awesome weather and no crowds. Now, Disney in July? Um.....NOT. No way.

So we decided to head to Chuck E. Cheese, since a new one opened up in town recently. Caleb and Madeline had a blast! It was non-stop fun.

The kids collected a bunch of tickets that they traded in for some goodies. Madeline picked out a pack of Smarties and a ring. Caleb also picked out Smarties and a top.

While Chuck E. Cheese was fun for the kids, we have already made our plans for next year. We have decided that we want to rent a bouncy water slide "thing" for the backyard. The kids had a blast going down one at a neighbor's birthday party recently. So we know it will be a big hit next summer.

Well, I snapped these photos before we headed out to Chuck E. Cheese last week. I think Madeline has such a beautiful smile.

And such a silly side, too. I just love it when she goes to open her mouth with her fingers and tries to stick out her tongue. She ends up looking like she's eating her arm. It's hilarious.

For more Black and White Wednesday photos, check out Lisa's blog.

the long road

The Miracle of Life

Monday, July 25, 2011

This post has been in my heart and on mind for a long, long time. In fact, I have been not so patiently waiting for the opportunity to write it since last year. Because of the sensitive and unpredictable nature of a private, domestic adoption, I chose not to even discuss it here on the blog. However, the love of our Heavenly Father was poured out upon my sister, Deb, and brother-in-law, Andy recently. And now we all can shout it from the mountaintops.

With joy in their hearts and great thanksgiving to the Lord, Deb and Andy would like to introduce you to their precious, new son, Joshua Lee.

He was born weighing 7 lb. 12 oz. Joshua's birthmom chose Deb and Andy to parent him waaaaaaaaay back in November of last year. For prospective adoptive parents, it was like an eternity to wait that long. Although he has been in their hearts since that time, he has finally arrived and in their arms. They couldn't be happier. Birthmom, forever mom and baby are all doing wonderfully. We are so thrilled for them and their growing family and consider it a privledge to call this little munchkin our nephew.

Congratulations, Deb and Andy, and big sister, Leah!!!!! Welcome to the family, Joshua!!!!!

Bustin' at the seams

Sunday, July 24, 2011

...with pride, that is.

Yep. These kiddos of ours have been up to much lately. I'll start with Caleb.

This past Friday, I had his homeschool portfolio reviewed for his annual requirement. A dear, homeschooling friend hooked us up with a very gracious teacher from our church to review Caleb's portfolio. Since this was his first review, I gave her some background.

I shared with her how he was adopted from China at 34 months and how he came to us with speech and language delays. His separation anxiety was the determining factor in beginning to school him two years ago. I decided to begin K with him early, at 4 1/2, and just took it from there. He did quite well.

We continued on with 1st grade this year. And he handled it like a champ. His math skills soared. I had a hard time keeping up with him, as he's working several grade levels ahead. His reading dramatically improved. His sentence writing is amazing (thanks to the classical approach) ; you'd be hard pressed to know he's getting services through the school. In fact, I believe all the hard work during our structured language arts time is going help him "graduate" from services sooner. :) I work with him every day. So I know how he performs. But it was really nice to sit down with an unbiased observer and hear her echo these same sentiments. He's performing above grade level in every area. *insert heart leap* 'Tis music to my ears. Patrick and I are just so so proud of our precious boy.

And for Madeline....well...

As you all know, she's had a busy summer swimming. Whereas Caleb simply needed to incorporate floating into his swimming, Madeline didn't know how to do a thing. Last summer was spent preparing for and adopting this precious munchkin. So when we arrived home last August, we never considered swimming lessons for her; we knew we would wait until this summer to begin them.

Lessons began five weeks ago. The first two weeks were spent crying while learning to float. That's all Carmen could work on with her because she refused to open her eyes under water, a necessity in learning to swim safely. Carmen finally decided to let her use goggles as a crutch simply because she needed to learn the next skills. It worked. She put her head under water and would swim. Here's a video of Madeline finally swimming without her goggles. Yay!

Next up was the task of combining her swimming and floating into her swim-float-swim sequence. As I mentioned earlier, Madeline did this successfully this past week. Depending on the skills Carmen was working on with Madeline, she would give me instructions on what we could and couldn't do in the pool at home. So needless to say, I was thrilled when she asked me to get in the water this past Friday during the lesson in order to learn some hand signals to give Madeline. This meant we could swim and float all we wanted this weekend. And that we did. She swam in the pool these last three days for 1-2 hours each day. *insert jaw drop*

Here's just one little video we got of her jumping in, finding her float, and then swimming to the wall.

She has simply amazed us. It's hard to believe this is the same girl who wouldn't open her eyes, cried during her lessons and had "crocodile fights" with Carmen in the water. No doubt watching another older boy and her brother perform all these skills has served as motivation for her. Now, she certainly can't be left in the water alone at this point. But I feel totally comfortable being away from her in the water. I am not worried about her falling in the water and freaking out or drowning. In fact, "falling in" has become a bit of game. In the meantime, Carmen will be tweaking some things, like a quieter float and better movement into her swim from her float. But I honestly didn't think she would be doing any of these things this summer. My goal for her was to simply learn to float. Boy, did I underestimate her!

Anyway, I guess that's enough bragging for now. Hey, it's my blog. So I can do that, right? Well, I'm trying to edit a few photos still and have some exciting news to share. So stay tuned.

A Year Ago Today...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

...We finally saw with our own eyes and touched with our own hands the girl we had only seen in photos for 9 months.

To say she was scared would be an understatement. I couldn't even convince her to come play with me in the play area of the civil affairs office. When the orphanage director left her with us, she magically cemented her feet to the floor in a fit of hysteria. She realized quickly that she would have to make this "new normal" work. So there were moments of contemplation and quiet grief. But they were short-lived that evening back in the hotel room. As she sat on my lap and let me feed her congee (Patrick couldn't even get near her), she decided she really didn't like this new normal at all. The blood curdling screams and crying that went on for over three hours was truly heartbreaking, though not unexpected.

As I sit and think about the events of that day, one year ago, it's amazing to see how much she has grown since then. Really. It's mind boggling. Her language skills have exploded. She cracks us up all. the. time. She only knows one volume- LOUD. She plays on all the big kid equipment on the playground. She wants to do everything her big brother does and her fierce determination gets her there. She can light up a room in the blink of an eye. And she lights up our hearts every day.

We are so proud of how far she has come. She freely gives hugs and kisses, unprompted. And she's getting better at obeying her parents. lol. She and Caleb get along so well and have so much fun together, though at times they can both bug each other, too. (What else would you expect from siblings?)

What is quite comical about Madeline's first Gotcha Day Anniversary is also quite telling. We couldn't even give Madeline a bird bath in China for FOUR days because she cried at the sound of running bath water. Well, today during swim lessons, she did her swim-float-swim sequence all the way across the pool, TWICE! All by herself!!!!! It's funny that she achieved such an accomplishment on her Gotcha Day Anniversary. But as I indicated earlier, this girl wears determination on her sleeve. Swimming would be no exception.

Madeline Bei, we love you and adore you and are so blessed to call you our daughter. Happy Gotcha Day, precious girl!

Sunday Snapshot: Better late than never

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Yes, I know I know. I get the "Biggest blog slacker of the year" award. Hands down. Thank you very much. This Sunday Snapshot is not from this would be too predictable. Nope, this should've been last week's Sunday Snapshot. Not bad. A week late. *Sigh* Ah, the hustle and bustle of summer just won't slow down.

Anyway, last Saturday my sister, Deb, BIL Andy, and niece Leah came for some pre-4th of July fun. In typical fashion, we spent some time at the beach. Now, I'm afraid to admit, that although we live a block from the beach, the 4th of July weekend is the only "for sure" time we spend at the beach. Sad. So sad. We are seriously going to do our best to change this trend.

Not missing from the festivities were shovels and pails. Oh no. These kids LOVE to play in the sand. And that they did quite well. {By the way, these are all my sister's photos. I just took the liberty of editing them.}

The jellyfish were out in full force. So we mostly stayed out of the water. That is, everyone but Patrick. Caleb is still somewhat skiddish around the waves. Madeline, on the other hand, couldn't get enough of them.

After hanging out at the beach, we all came back to the house to swim in the pool. Madeline showed off her floating skills, while Caleb amazed his auntie with his swim-float-swim sequence.

Sunday was spent hanging out by the pool again. I love to to just chill and veg with my sis. ;) Then the gang all headed home. A short sweet visit....because they'll be coming back real soon for another one.

Oh, and I just have to share a hilarious Madeline moment from this week. The other day, the kids and I were eating an afternoon snack in our school room (yes, I let them eat dry snacks in there once in a while). I was busy doing work on the computer when I hear Madeline say, "Mommy he-nu up dere," which translated to "Mommy I have a peanut up my nose." Yup, that little stinker shoved a peanut right up her little nose. I tried to pull it out but couldn't. Wanting to capture the moment on camera before using the tweezers to remove it, I searched for my iPhone. Unfortunately, as I was looking for it, Little Miss Adventure gave a big blow, and out that sucker flew. Oh, priceless, I tell ya. Caleb has NEVER stuck anything up his nose. Why, oh, why am I not surprised with this girl? She is always looking for adventure.

Anyway, if you'd like to learn more about Sunday Snapshot, check out Stefanie's blog.

Sunday Snapshot

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About This Blog

This blog is the place where shared our lives while waiting to bring our daughters Madeline and Havi home from China. (Our son Caleb was already home before this blog began.) It is now the place where we continue to share our life experiences, both big and little, as we try to glorify God and raise our 3 dumplings from China.

Feel free to join us as we journey through life, while I try to capture our days...

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