Tuesday, January 30, 2018

6 months in our arms!

6 months, half a year. Kind of crazy.  Kind of seems like just yesterday we were in Fuzhou, China walking into our hotel at the.same.time our brand new daughter was.  Meeting our daughter and checking into our hotel room at the same time.  What a story.  And then it seems like she's been here so much longer.

We are just a regular ole family.  All sorts of girls.  All sorts of drama ;)  It's such a weird thing, this adoption.  I am fully aware that Lily Grace is adopted.  We talk about China frequently.  I think about many things related to her life prior to us, or birth family, or culture, etc.  But then at the same time, when I go to a doctors appointment and see Race: Asian, it seems like the craziest thing to me.  Because I see her and she feels absolutely no differently to me than our other girls.  I don't know, it's hard to explain.  I have heard other friends who have adopted previously say that they sometimes forget their children are adopted.  I never used to understand that.  But now I totally get it.  I just pray that Lily Grace always feels as comfortable and accepted as she grows.  I also want her to feel free to ask questions and explore her heritage and life in China too.

Anywho. . . this last month has been a lot quieter than the prior month.  We got a little winter weather and had a chance to play in the snow.  Our girls are certainly Southerners and lasted about 15 minutes.  We had just enough time for some pictures and a partially built snowman (which momma finished on her own while to girls were inside eating popcorn and drinking hot coccoa by the fire).

We also had her dedication at church.  It was important to us that we do this for her too, so she would have the same experiences as her sisters.  That we could commit to her and our church family to raise her in a loving Christian home and teach her about Jesus and what He did for her.  It was a great day!

Lily Grace continues with medical appointments.  She had a test to evaluate for reflux.  It showed no evidence of severe reflux so we are happy about that!  She will have PE tubes placed in a couple weeks and at the same time have a scope to evaluate for some swallowing difficulties she has had since we got her in China.  She may have to stay overnight in the hospital depending on what they find.  We also had follow up appointments with various other specialists.  She continues weekly visits with developmental therapy and we are waiting to get her into speech therapy as well.  We are so greatly for any additional help she can get to help her reach her maximum potential!

Lily Grace has really increased her vocabulary this last month.  She repeats many things we say!  She definitely has spunk to her and likes to hold up her finger, wave it back and forth, and say "No! No! No! No!"  She will say "I want it!" She loves pointing to her nose.  She can point to other body parts too but her nose is her favorite.  She says "I love you", "cold", "miiiillllk", "booo" for book, and "cooka" for cookie.

She is loving her books-we read each night before bed.  She LOVES her blanket now and is super attached to it.  She likes to watch the iPad with her sisters.  She likes to ride on her giraffe riding stick.  She loves giving kisses.  She continues to climb on everything and really does have no fear.  She will just free fall off of the couch or ottoman. . . that's gonna hurt one day. ;) She is still into electronics-my phone mainly.  I recently had to get my apple watch completely reset because she locked it out by pressing too many buttons and "incorrect passwords".  She is still loving her carbs. .  . current favs are Nutrigran bars, oatmeal, pancakes.  When she branches out we can manage bananas, some chicken nuggets, and yogurt.  No veggies and barley any other fruits.  There's a toddler for ya!

Our family had the chance last weekend to meet with other families who have adopted from China for an early Chinese New Year celebration.  It was fun and we were able to learn some things about Chinese New Year and the culture.  We had silks (or China dresses as the girls call them) we bought while we were in China, and the girls were able to wear them.  We had a great time!  We plan to continue to celebrate this event and look forward to learning more and including our family and friends!  Hopefully one day I will learn to cook some good Chinese food.  I so miss the delicious food in China and crave it all the time!

So we are just trucking along.  Back in the grove again after Christmas.  Lily Grace is just rolling with it.  She is loving life.  She is so fun and happy and joyful.  I wonder if she remembers anything about her life back in China.  We will certainly tell her about it.  This is an amazing journey, this life the Lord has us on.  We are grateful to be a long for the ride!  Happy 6 months home baby girl!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

5 months in our arms. . .

Five months ago yesterday we met our Lily Grace.  She is such a joy and we have loved this little addition the Lord has added to our family. We had a whole bunch of fun this month and really enjoyed and took in all the special blessings that come along with the Christmas season.  Having Lily Grace with us for Christmas this year, helped us to focus on our blessings even more.  We also had a month full of illness.  bleh.  Thankfully we seem to be recovering for the most part (aside from daddy who until today has amazingly escaped all the illness. . . I guess we spoke too soon).  We have had flu x2 (despite flu shots), sinus infections, GI bugs, ruptured eardrums and general colds.  I am ready for it to be gone for sure!  However, I am grateful that that was all our illness were and know that it could have been much worse.

From a medical perspective, Lily Grace seems to be doing very well from a swallowing perspective with the thickener we are adding to her liquids.  She has had a few episodes of throwing up while eating but much improved overall.  She saw the ENT due to her two failed hearing tests and he wants to place PE tubes in Feb.  He believes the hearing issues are highly likely r/t fluid build up in her ears, however since she has no history of a normal newborn screen hearing test (as these aren't performed in orphanages) we want to rule out other issues.  And even though she didn't have history of ear infections with us (ha! wait a few sentences for the irony) she very likely had them in China.  As he said, orphanages are like daycares on steroids.  To further complicate the situation, her ears are impacted with very hard wax that occludes her ear drums from being seen.  So even if she did have an infection, it would be impossible for anyone to visualize.  He was able to take some of the wax out but only enough to see a small amount of one eardrum.  So fast forward LITERALLY four days later. Matt picks her up from our sitters and notices some yellowish/white discharged from her ear.  He sends me a pictures asking me what I think it is.  Y'all, she had an ear infection so bad it RUPTURED her eardrum! No fever, no pulling on her ear, not acting super crabby.  The poor thing!  She is so tough.  I can't imagine how bad it hurt.  So after a round of antibiotics and a few days of draining, she seems to be hearing better! ;) Not exactly the way it should have occurred but she definitely must be feeling better!  And we do feel like she is perkier.  Even though she wasn't grumpy, looking back she had lost some of her spunk-but not enough to realize as the time- and I'm sure it's because she wasn't feeling well. We look forward to figuring out the plan with tubes to see how she can fully hear with the fluid off both ears.  We already feel like she is repeating more after this fiasco.  Prior to being sedated for the tubes we want to evaluate for reflux.  There are some additional things the ENT can do to evaluate and treat if she is refluxing.

Socially she continues to blossom in our family.  She is just one of the girls.  They all get along so well.  The big girls love their little sister and their little sister loves them.  I find myself forgetting at times that Lily Grace is adopted.  I know that sounds crazy.  I am well aware she is, but she is such a perfect fit and is no different than either of my other girls.  The other day I even thought, "I wonder if she will have my nose." And then I remembered she doesn't have my DNA. . . oh yeah, that's right.  :)  She might as well, she feels like she does!  At the same time, I also feel like a piece of my heart is in China too.  It's the weirdest thing and I don't know how to explain it.  Matt doesn't even get it I don't think.  Maybe it's a momma thing, or maybe I'm just weird.  I was in the International Food Market the other day buying these Egg Cookies Lily Grace LOVED in China.  I tried to find them on Amazon shortly after we returned with no luck.  Then a friend found them at the market and I was so excited!  I planned to pop in, grab some for Lily Grace's stocking, and run out to the car where Matt and the girls were waiting.  I was so not prepared for the emotions that filled my heart when I walked in.  Seeing the people, the smells, the food, the products, it made me so happy.  It made me miss China, it made me feel a little like I was in China.  I loved seeing the Asian people in that setting.  I don't know, it was all so overwhelming.  I could feel the tears coming.  I looked around and saw so many familiar things from our two weeks there.  While I never lived there, I feel like since Lily Grace did and she is a piece of me, that a piece of me did live there.  My sister called me on the phone and that was it.  I stood in the China snack aisle, amongst all the egg cookies, just a giant puddle of tears.  I couldn't even pull it together.  Ashley said "I'm just gonna call Matt and warn him for when you get to the car. . . "  ;) And while I managed to pull the tears together for checkout, the minute I saw Matt, they spilled out of my eyes all over again and I sobbed as I tried to explain my emotions to him.  He was sweet and caring but I'm pretty sure he thought I was a little crazy too!  (But he's lived with me long enough to know that it goes with the territory.)  I'm happy to say that Christmas morning Lily Grace was delighted with her Egg Cookie stocking stuffer and has already eaten a bag!  So we have more (hopefully less emotional) trips to the International Food Market in our future!

Lily Grace loved her first Christmas celebration!  We started the month with a trip to the Alpine Village at a local church and then the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN.  We had an amazing time together and loved seeing all the lights and participating in the fun activities together.  We were even able to see one of my dearest friends and her fiancĂ©!  Despite Maddie and I returning home with the flu and Lily Grace with the GI bug, we made some sweet memories together!

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with our families was wonderful.  We had fun watching the magic of Christmas through the eyes of the kids.  We read the story of the first Christmas and talked about the greatest gift given to us through Jesus.  We even relaxed (a little).  It was the perfect combination of fun, family, rest, and realizing that the birth of Jesus is the most amazing gift that we have been given.

One night on Christmas Day or the day after, I sat in Lily Grace's room rocking her to sleep.  I thought about the precious gift that she is.  How she was given to us and adopted into our family.  And how because of Jesus' birthday we were celebrating we had and have the ability to be adopted into the family of God and have eternal life.  I pray that we are able to teach each of our children about this precious gift we have all been given.  I am so grateful for the opportunity for Lily Grace to be given this gift as well.  I also pray that her life (and the lives of Taylor and Madelyn) are used to bring much Glory to the Lord for many years to come!