Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Lily Grace's Adoption Journey Video

Well, it's no professional production.  But we finally have our families journey to Lily Grace's documented on video.  There is a lot more I wanted to do with it but to be honest our free trial was about to expire and it didn't want to loose the whole thing! ;)  

Many of these songs have so much meaning for us.  The first one is a song that our kids sang in Sunday School at church.  It was one of Taylor's favorite songs to sing.  We heard it so much during the beginning stages of our journey to Lily Grace and I love the words of "following our Leader through the Glorious unknown".  Boy did we ever!  Taylor would have us play the song in our house and we would have dance parties in the kitchen with "Saddle Up Your Horses" playing.  Another song was from Casting Crowns, a fav Christian band of ours.  But I hadn't heard the song until a friend from High School told me about it and as I listened to it for the first time early in our process I had tears streaming down my face and knew it would one day be in this video.  

And I did allow Matt one pick!  And I will say it was a good one!  He did have visions of "Walking in Memphis" to be playing with video of us coming down the escalator at the airport to our family with Lily Grace. ;)  But I'll be honest, I flat out refused!  And he sang that dang song about 50 times while we were in flight going to China and coming home.  We did not get the video at the airport that would have made that classic entry down happen anyway.  Half our family was one place and the other half another as we didn't have our phones on to communicate the "plan".  So as we were coming down, they were coming up, etc.  We could hear the girls calling our names as we went down the escalator but we couldn't turn around in time to get to them.  So we all circled around for a bit until we finally found each other.  See. . . it wasn't meant to be! 

I also only gave him one selection, as I had been planning this in my head for over a year and he just wanted to swoop in at the end and make selections.  That sounds terrible now that I'm typing it out but I literally dreamed and thought about our child for so long-as did Matt in his own way.  But one of the ways I processed things was through listening to music.  I would hear these, and other songs, and just cry and cry in the car, the shower, the house, wherever.  Not sad tears.  Just processing tears.  Sometimes happy, sometimes anxious, sometimes worried, sometimes wondering.  It's amazing what music can do for a person.  One of the songs came on when I was at a conference with my sister and some of my best friends last year, and the second it came on- instant tears.  I would play them in the car and Matt would look over at me like "Really?!?!" because he knew I would have tears shortly thereafter.  I don't know, maybe I'm crazy or something.  And maybe he just didn't want to hear my "singing" which he says (and I fully believe) is not even in the same octave. But the Lord would speak to me through music so many times and if I heard one of these songs or a few others I would just come undone.  But I wanted to come undone because it was for our child-one who we didn't even know yet, but we now know as Lily Grace YaXuan Wallace.  Our sweet, beautiful, feisty, third beautiful baby girl!

This is nothing fancy. But neither are we.  Just five little broken people, allowing the Lord to work His beauty in our lives.  He has started such a fantastic journey that we are on and looking back I just love to see His fingerprints all along the way.  One day (soon before I forget too many) I am going write down all the specific ways we saw (and continue to see) Him work through this journey.  And the most amazing thing is He was working in so many more ways than we even knew.  But I am so thankful that He gave us the glimpses to help build our Faith.  If you are even remotely thinking of adoption, we would love to talk to you about it! It is a beautiful, hard, emotional, faith-building, worth-every-single-moment-of-stress, life changing process!

Hope you enjoy our video!  We can't thank you enough for helping us make this possible!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Two months (and two days) in our arms. . .

Chillin' with daddy before bed!
So here it goes.  The honest truth.  This.month.has.been.hard.  Like really hard.  We have had a doozy of a month.  Don't let the cute pictures (and they are CUTE if I do say so myself) fool you into thinking all is stress free and easy peasy here in the Wallace household.  But I will also say that we have had many beautiful moments as well! The Lord is continuing to knit Lily Grace more tightly and perfectly into our family and the girls and Matt and I are growing stronger and stronger together as a family of five.  But growing comes with growing pains.  And adoption adds another element of unknown territory.  And then there is life.  Life has it's way of throwing you crazy curve balls and bringing you to your knees at times.  But when we are on our knees, we see the Lord work in the most amazing ways.  And that is what He is doing.  Waiting for the Lord to work things out takes time, something that we are learning more and more to persevere through.  I wake up nearly every morning and say to myself "His mercies are new every morning.".  Such a true and simple truth to be reminded of.

We have had our share of illnesses around here lately, but it looks like everyone is finally on the mend!  Lily Grace had her second trip to the Pediatrician which included her first round of immunizations to get caught up.  She was not a fan.  :(  I think the immunizations mixed with all sorts of new germs, curtesy of the US of A got her a little under the weather.  She was sick with fever for 6 days straight and so puny!  I usually don't bat an eye when my girls have fever but something about this one had me feeling uneasy.  I think a few of my friends and sister nailed it when they speculated my uneasiness was likely related to us not knowing anything about her past and how she usually responds to illness or other potential underlying things that may or may not be going on.  After another trip to the Pediatrician for reassurance (and a CBC), she was starting to perk up and finally feel better.

Fishy kisses :)

And then there is the sleeping issue. . . I may have spoken too soon speaking of the fabulous sleeper that she is.  ;)  Well she is a fabulous sleeper when she actually gets to sleep.  She ended her peaceful run of letting me rock her to sleep and gently lay her in bed.  Now we have had nights (thankfully not too many) that she is up for hours upset and crying.  Almost inconsolable crying.  One night (around the time she was sick) I literally got dressed with plans to take her to the ER after hours of crying and then she just snapped out of it and started playing happily on our bed as if nothing had ever happened.  IT WAS LIKE 2AM.  Holy moly Lily Grace!  Give your parents a heart attack!  We had another issue like that recently.  I think if her schedule gets the least bit off she loses all ability to cope and can't unwind until hours later.  We try EVERYTHING.  It is so hard.  But the Lord is right there with us every step of the way.  Matt tells her, "Its ok, we know it's hard.  But we are never leaving you ever.  We love you so much."  It is so sweet to hear him console her while he leans into her and kisses her sweet face.  It's so hard to know if there is something hurting her or if it is adjustment issues or what.  But then there are nights when she goes to sleep beautifully.  So we will keep pushing through and reading what we can and learning our sweet girl and helping her to learn us and that we are here and safe and not ever leaving.

Lily Grace isn't so sure about these crazies!

Celebrating Buddy and Ty's birthdays!

Lily Grace was loving it and Madelyn was on the look out for that scary Chucky Cheese mouse!

And now the medical appointments have kicked into gear.  We have had and will have at least two appointments for Lily Grace a week for the next several weeks.  All I can say is, "Thank you Lord for maternity leave!".  Adoption from China is almost completely for children who have some sort medical need(s).  For Lily Grace, the two "medical diagnoses" listed on her file at this point are either non-existent or not concerning.  Saying that, there could very well be something unknown (see above concerns) that has yet to present itself or we have not discovered.  But so far, her records show a healthy girl- Praise God!  I do have a few concerns about her GI system that we are looking into and between that and delays/issues related to life in an orphanage for 14 months our "pretty healthy girl" is going to be quite busy for the next few months.  We met with the craniofacial team to evaluate her head (likely from laying on one side too much early in life), had her evaluated by early intervention, and still have GI, speech, audiology, ophthalmology, and follow up pediatrician appointments.  We are thankful to have her in a place where we have access to so many amazing services to help her thrive! It's an odd thing to list "unknown" for so many questions when filling out medical history.  I have read so many adoptive parents talk about the issue but to be the one writing it on my daughters forms was very surreal.

Zoo day!

Lily Grace is walking all over the place.  She has learned to say "night night" and "banana" and Pepaw says she says "Pepaw" ;)  She loves to say "bye bye" and wave.  She is still a carb fan and loves bananas, casseroles, cheerios, cheetos and pancakes.  She loved her trips to the swimming pool, but always wanted to be close to daddy in the water.  She loves playing with coozies and climbing in the cabinets in the kitchen.  She loves to go in the pantry and pull out all the bags of food!  She plays so well with her sisters now (even though not according to their rules at times) and smiles so big when they greet her in the morning.  Taylor and Madelyn LOVE to go get her when she wakes up.  She doesn't mind her carseat now which is a win!  Not a fan of ice-cream which hurts this momma's iceream lovin' heart! ;)

She's excited, not angry here! :)

Spectating is so much better with snacks!

Two months.  Two months of growing and learning and laughing and crying and climbing and hugging and kissing and playing and so much more.  I will take all the tough times we have had for this sweet girl again and again.  The Lord is writing such a beautiful story for her life.  He is teaching us all to love more deeply and to be grateful for everything.  To be patient in affliction.  To bear each others burdens.  To hold tight to the ones you love.  To love well.  To find joy in the simple moments.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Learning how to LOVE (and be loved)

It's amazing what love can do.  Lily Grace has been with us for a month and a half, and home with the family for a month and she is truly continuing to blossom in our family.  Matt and I have been talking about how she seems to really be starting to feel comfortable with us and finding her place in our family.  When we first came home, people would ask me how her sisters felt about her and how she felt about her sisters.  I would respond "Her sisters absolutely LOVE her and she seems to like them too."  It was a little overwhelming to her at times for them to be in her face all the time, first thing in the morning and  But now when they run into her room in the morning and flip the light on, you see her face light up with a huge grin!  It makes my heart so happy!  She really does love them and enjoy their company!

It's a crazy thing, this bonding and attachment thing.  You can learn and read about it, but to see it actually happening is truly amazing!  I took for granted simple things with my other girls that I am relishing in with Lily Grace.  When we first came home with her, she wouldn't let us rock her and now she will let me rock her to sleep many nights.  This has been one of my most favorite things to do with all my girls.  The simple act of cradling her in our arms had to be learned for her.  She had to learn to trust us and feel comfortable enough to allow us to lay her back and cradle her.  She has also started to crawl over and sit in my lap on her own when we are on the floor playing.  This is something new in the past week or two.  For her to find comfort in my lap brings me joy in such a simple little act.  And last night for the first time, she laid her sweet little head on my should while I was holding her.  Y'all, I about lost it.  That sweet little head nestled on my shoulder just about did me in.  She is learning to feel safe and comfortable with her momma and daddy.  Our other girls knew this from the beginning.  It was just something they always knew.  They felt safe and secure with us always.  Lily Grace has and will have to continue to learn this.

What an unbelievable privilege to be her parents and teach her what safety and security and love feels like.  Family.  That's what we are.  She didn't have this for the first 14 months of her life.  She did have loving caretakers, don't get me wrong.  I am so very grateful for the care she received.  I don't doubt that the nannies cared for her.  But when you are caring for many many babies you just don't have the time to snuggle and rock and just be.  It was busy and task oriented and yes, they did fun things I'm sure, but it was always on a schedule.  I am so grateful for time to just rock and sit and play and hug and snuggle and tickle and laugh.  I give her so many kisses all day!  I try to make up for the months of kisses she missed.  We love kissing the little flat bridge of her nose.  It's just the sweetest.  And when she leans over to give us those little fishy kisses back. There is just nothing better.  And to see our big girls loving her is just the best.

So we are all learning together.  Learning how to love each other better and journey through this attachment and bonding process.  It isn't always easy or simple.  But it is so worth it.  And I am realizing that I am also having to learn how to be loved by God.  Our love for Lily Grace and Taylor and Madelyn, while it is a great love, pales in comparison to God's love for me and you.  I can't fathom it.  I realize as I'm watching Lily Grace learn how to trust us and let us love and care for her that I am having to learn the same thing.  I need to learn how to trust God's love and perfect plan for my life.  How to learn to lean into Him and feel the security of His love.  The things the Lord continues to teach me through our journey with Lily Grace are amazing.  I am so grateful for His patience and love for each of us.  What a phenomenal journey it has been and I can't wait to see where it continues to go from here.  This little girl has taught me to enjoy the little things in life.  To appreciate every little act of togetherness.  We are learning more and more about this togetherness and family thing day by day and I'm blessed to be along for the ride!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

One month in our arms. . .

Happy one month Gotcha Day Anniversary, Lily Grace!  One month ago today (well the 30th, but I'm not officially in bed yet ;) ) you were placed in our arms forever!  Wow, you are the perfect addition to our family.  It feels so right and beautifully designed by our loving Father for you to be with us and we love you so!

We have felt so loved by our little tribe of family and friends.  We had the sweetest reunion with our family at the airport!  We were so happy to be home after a complete 24 hours of traveling.  Lily Grace did decently on the flight from China.  The flight was 15 hours and 40 min and we had a bonus 1 hour delay on the runway before we even took off.  The flight was full.  We all had colds.  The first 4-5 hours were pretty dicey but after that she did pretty great!  Then we arrived in Newark and we had to go through customs.  The customs officer towards the end was pretty rude (maybe not as rude as I'm remembering bc I was so tired and ready to be home) and basically told us (incorrectly) that Lily Grace was not a US citizen upon arriving on US soil.  I argued and nicely (ha!) explained that we were told at the consulate that some people would incorrectly tell us this information and he continued to argue.  Long story short I cried after we left him and Matt called the manager and he later apologized for the officers actions.  Definitely happy to have that trip behind us.  

When we arrived home our house was full of groceries from our family.  We had all the supplies we needed.  We also had the sweetest welcome home sign from our neighbors with matching PJs for the girls!  Our Sunday School class at church threw us a diaper and wipes shower so we are stocked up on those for the next few months which is amazing!  We have had so many people praying for us and checking in as we transition.  We are just incredible grateful for the love we have been shown.

Thank you Erin and Mandie! :)

Our amazing Sunday School class!

We have finally settled into a routine (that is until I get back from maternity leave) as a family of five.  Jet lag is being us, praise the Lord!  That was terrible.  I may be being dramatic but it felt dramatic.  Around 3pm or so Matt and I would get sooo tired and a nap would sound so good.  Just a tiny one, 30 minutes, that's all.  So we would give in, wake up and BAM!  Horrible feeling, terrible hit-by-a-truck, nauseated, headache feeling when you wake up.  Word to the wise. If you are trying to recover from jet leg. . . DON'T LET THE NAPS WOO YOU!!  Luckily after about a week we were good to go.  I say we, as in Matt and I.  Lily Grace and her teething, cold catching self still would be up some nights.  And when I say up, I don't mean newborn up that just lets you hold them and rock them to sleep.  I mean toddler up.  Like I'm gonna cruise around this joint at 1-3am and eat and play.  Yikes!  But I'm happy to report (fingers crossed) we have been in a good streak now and she seems to be following in her sisters' good sleeping footsteps.  The poor girl has had 5 or 6 new teeth (mainly molars) come in since we have been home.  So that doesn't help the sleeping situation. 

Taylor wanted them to all pose with a bow! ;)

She loves bath time!

We have had so many adventures as a family together in the last month.  Many just every day adventures, but adventures none-the-less.  Lily Grace has been to our neighborhood pool, church, Abuelos (for Mexican!), walked to school with us to pick up and drop off Taylor, and had her first few doctor appointments.  I would say she is handling everything very well!

Church with Naly

We traveled to Nashville last Monday for Lily Grace's International Adoption Clinic Appointment at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.  At first we thought it would be cool to be there during the eclipse, but whoa, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into!  Hotels were booked solid and the few that were available were going for $800/night!   Luckily I have friends in the area and my uncle was able to get us a place to stay close by in Franklin (Uncle Richard for the win!).  And by the grace of God, we didn't hit any bad eclipse traffic!  We took all the girls and surprised Taylor with a trip the the American Girl Store.  She was such a huge help taking care of Madelyn while we were in China and we wanted to do something special for her.  She was really excited!  We also got to meet some of my very best friends for dinner!  That was a special treat to see them and introduce Lily Grace to them!  The appointment went well and Lily Grace seems to be right on target for where they would expect her to be.  We have a couple things to follow up (minor) on but all and all we feel incredibly blessed!   The lab draw took some time and we didn't know if we would make it out to see the eclipse or not, but NICU nurse to the rescue and we had about 7 minutes to spare!  I was amazed by God's amazing creation.  I teared up as it grew dark and everyone cheered.  What a sight to witness.  We won't talk about how I was concerned for a couple of days that I might have damaged my vision for looking up for 3 secs during totality.  (All is well by the way!)  

A little Shiaman Island reminising!

Getting ready for the eclipse!

So we are doing well!  Are things perfect? No.  Are we still adjusting? Absolutely.  Matt and I are learning to navigate our time between three kids and still keep each other as priorities and then there are jobs and homework and extracurricular activities and laundry and everything else in life.  So it can be a little nutty at times.  But we are loving our family.  We can see Lily Grace blossoming in our family with each day.  When we first got her and first at home she would hit her head against the wall or the floor as sort of a self soothing, and I realized she hasn't done that in a week or two.  We are still working on a bit of a biting issue ;)  It's hard when all sorts of teeth are coming in.  But that is improving.  She let's me rock her to sleep some/most nights now which she wouldn't even come close to letting us do in the beginning.  And I cherish the times I get to rock my girls.  She is coming so far in such a short period of time!  It is truly amazing what a loving home can do for these little ones! Matt and I think and talk about all the kids we met while we were in China and from families we know all the time.  The have my heart.  These kids amaze me.  They just absolutely undo me.  What a privilege to know and love them.  I don't even know how we are so blessed to be a part of such a story.  The Lord is so good to us.  

Kisses for Maddie!

The girl loves to climb

Here are some of the things she has learned and loves:
-Bye bye! and to wave
-Splashing in the bath
-Giving kisses and blowing kisses
-Climbing on everything (the orphanage staff warned us about this!)
-Walking across the room (started out with 4-5 steps at a time when we got her)
-yogurt (who knew since they told us in China she had to avoid this!)
-All carbs! (That's our girl!)

Tonight we celebrated our 1 month Gotcha Day Anniversary with Muddy's cupcakes!  Happy 1 month in our arms sweet Lily Grace YaXuan Wallace!  Here is to forever in our arms and family!

These big girls just adore their little sister!