Saturday, October 31, 2009

Jade's 3rd Birthday

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 12:7

On Thursday, October 22, 2009, some friends and family members gathered at my home to celebrate a wonderous day. It was the day the Lord chose for my little baobei to be born on 3 years ago in Tianjin, China. He knew what plans He had for her life. He knew what she would endure before she would be joined with me. I'm just glad that He didn't wait any longer to put us together. Thank you Lord for that blessing!

I started the day by leaving my house while she was still asleep. I found myself arriving at work holding back tears. I had waited for the past 5 years for the day I would celebrate my daughter's birth and I wasn't there. I wasn't the one that got to wake her up. I wasn't the first one that got to wish her Happy Birthday on the day she was born. Birthdays have always been extremely special to me...I'm not sure why. To not be able to start her first one here together was really hard for me. Fortunately, a good friend came in and said "Call home!" I did and it made such a difference. It didn't give me those "firsts" that I wanted but I was able to be the first to sing to her in Chinese and she understood. No one can take that one from me!

Jade and her mama wearing their "scarves"

When I got home from work, I was "blessed" with the challenge of not only finishing up dinner for 14 people, finishing her cake(messed up the frosting recipe 3 times!), stopping her from melting down because I was not following our regular "routine" but I had to also deal with a backed up, smelly sink! I called my Mr. Fixit friend and insisted that he didn't need to come out and fix it. Why do I do those things? Who was I kidding? I didn't have the foggiest clue of what I was doing. I had run a snake down the pipe and that is the best I could do. I thought I was going to go underneath, take off the trap and really fix it? Needless to say, Mr. Fixit had to come out at 9 pm because the blockage was down in the basement. I need to stop relying on him to come and rescue me everytime I have a house issue but I am so blessed that he has come and rescued me more than once since I have been back in the states.

Jade applauding the singing with Hunter (her cousin) and Gloria

Jade loved having everyone there. She loved all the attention and getting to play with Hunter and Gloria. She wasn't too keen on eating the cake. She is not a big sweet eater. She tried her hardest to blow out the candles. Thank goodness for help from Hunter and Gloria on that one!

My little princess

My daughter is in need of nothing yet she was blessed again with so many gifts. As she unwrapped one of them, she kept taking out the tissue paper and would lay it out flat as if that was the cherished gift! One of her gifts was a Cinderella dress and crown. Every princess must have a crown! She's not too sure of the dress yet but knowing how much she likes to put on jewelery and towels as scarves, I expect that dress up is right around the corner.

Jade enjoying one of her presents

She was too cute when she got a stroller for the dolls. She thought is was for her and tried to sit in it! She may be light but not THAT light! My mom took her and her doll out for a walk yesterday with it! The first time out was Jade's turn to ride in her stroller so Laolao (grandma) could get her exercise. The second time was so Jade could walk her doll. Wish I was there to see that!

Jade with her Uncle Brian

I was so blessed that my brother was able to come out for this. His schedule is often full and my nephew is supposed to spend Thursdays with his mom. They came anyways! What a gift for me and for Jade. Hunter so loves his cousin. He is so good with little children.

It is hard to believe that within the first month of having her home, I was able to celebrate a milestone with her. Our first birthday celebration together. I can't wait to share each upcoming event with her. Everything is new to her. Everything she sees, does, experiences is brand new and she loves every little thing (well, not yet the car seat!) and can't wait once she gets past the initial "What is this?". I just want to be the one to show her more of it. Unfortunately, I can't. I have to work and others get to have those moments. I have mine though and no one can take those. Last night was one of those. She was very upset. She is starting to get fussy when I tell her it is almost time to go to bed or take a bath. She knows she will have to stop playing. She ened up crying through out her bath. As I layed her down to bed, she was still crying. We prayed and I asked Jesus to comfort her and to help her calm down so she would sleep well. Immediately after praying, she took a deep breath and was done crying. AMEN! We praised Jesus for helping her! May she see continue to see the power of prayer when you call on the one I know as my Lord and Savior! Thank you Lord for all those little gifts. Every good and perfect gift DOES come from above! What other gift could I want? I have her.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Growing more and more

The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Psalm 92:12

She amazes me how much she grows. It is daily...not in height but in knowledge. Now that I think about it...she is physically growing too. The doctor says she gained 2.5 lbs since she has been home and to keep feeding her when she is hungry. Ok doc, you know what is best. The awesome thing is that she loves fruit and vegetables and he was surprised to see that her tests showed that her enzymes are good and so is her iron level. Now if I can only get my iron and B12 levels up I would be doing as well as she is. :)

I had told you that while we were in China, she was laying in bed and counted up to 50. This is not typical for a child who was not yet 3 years old. Well, the other night, she was pulling out my cooling racks from the cupboard and she wanted me to count with her. We counted each of the lines on the rack. I pointed and she English. She independently went to 16. She amazes me. She is a little sponge.

Jade and our cat "Little" entertain each other

Fortunately, Jade and the two cats get along well. She doesn't like it when they fight. Unfortunately, we have been dealing with alot of that lately. I sat on Little's tail on Sunday and he thought it was Miss Hue. He started hissing at her and she started swatting at him and this is how it has been for 5 days straight. I went away for the weekend so I have no idea how they survived. Anyone want 2 cats? Screaming Piazzolla in the car is enough for me. I don't need two screaming cats in the house too!

Jade with her "scarf" and her favorite accessory, keys

Jade loves to imitate anything that anyone is doing. Her latest thing is whenever I am wearing my favorite scarves from China, she runs and gets the towel out of the bathroom and puts it around her neck. Her other favorite accessory continues to be keys! The challenge is that when we are outside of the house, she is going to ANYONE and trying to get their keys. She pulled out of my hand at church and at a store doing this. It concerns me how freely she will go to strangers and it is something I am keeping an eye on. I is a sign of attachment issues and I need to talk to a few of my friends who have gone through this to see what they think and how they knew. For now, I pray and ask for my Lord's wisdom, guidance and protection.

My little monkey

One of the cutest things she started doing this week was carrying over her new English skills into new situations! As a speech therapist, NOTHING you love more than carryover! Woohoo! As I have told you before, she loves to sing. Well, singing Noah has a great big ark and Old MacDonald has a farm has helped. The other night, I was telling her we were eating chicken. I often tell her in Chinese and in English. After I told her we were eating chicken, she took a bite and then said "buck buck". :) She makes me chuckle all the time! She started making more of the animal sounds. If I start it and then wait, she will finish what I started. My favorite is when she does the monkey! If I haven't told you already, I sooooo love her!

Open my eyes Lord

Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law. Psalm 119:18

This has been a challenging weekend for me. I have wanted to blog all weekend and just couldn't find the time. I love sharing with all of you the joys my daughter brings. I will eventually get to that in a different post, but now, I just need to share about me. I need prayer and therefore, I want to share with you where I am at. This may not make alot of sense. This is just kinda rambling for me so I can sort it all out in my head and with God so be patient as you read this.

Our morning started out with me trying to get a "little guiet time". I was so excited. I woke up and had actually slept through the night without waking. Woohoo! Jade wasnt' awake so I wanted to go downstairs and get a cup of coffee and open my bible. I have been desiring adult time and quiet time this week. Not getting enough of either. Needless to say, I sat on one of my cat's tails which set him off and that set the other cat off, which in turn woke up Jade. Quiet time...gone. The morning continued to snowball. Let's just say, we left the house for church at the time we were supposed to actually ARRIVE there. Not good. As I drove out the driveway, I said, "Why bother going? You're already late. She's not actually understanding anything she is hearing anyways."

Lord, change my heart. Change my thoughts. Change my mood. I found myself Friday night so missing China and SFCV. As this weekend has unfolded, a friend of mine asked me why am I feeling this way. What is it I am looking for that I think I would get from adult time, time to myself, my hair cut/colored? What is it? Lord, open my eyes. I want to see. I want to know.

This weekend, I started thinking about how life was so much simpler in China. I could see and hear God so much clearer. There were less distractions of everyday life there to pull you away from Him. I didn't really get "adult time" and conversation except on Sundays as I rode in an hour with the Bakers to church, for lunch and the ride home. Even though I longed for it, it was part of life there so I just dealt with it. I couldn't easily get to church more than once a week like I can here. If I wanted to be "fed", I had to do it myself. I couldn't easily get to a store to purchase things and I couldn't really shop as it wasn't in my budget and most things didn't fit me.

When I first returned to the states, I wanted to keep my life simlified. I lived with so little there and still had so much more than most of my friends there. I find myself wanting things here. Why? I don't need them. while in china, I didn't cut or highlight my hair. I was afraid of a bad haircut (flashbacks of teenage years) and couldn't justify spending a week's salary to go to Beijing and color my hair. I don't know if it was I just didn't feel pretty or feeling like a mom or flashbacks of my oldest friend telling me I was looking frumpy but I went and got my hair cut and low lighted. I love it but why did I feel like I NEEDED it.

Sometimes my head is a very scary place to spend time in. That is why I only want to hear from my Lord. I want peace back. I want to be focused on what He wants me to focus on in my life. If there is something He wants me to change, I am willing. If there is something He wants me to do or stop doing, I am willing. I want Him to be my center, like it was in China. I need Him there. He was my husband in China. To some of you, calling Him "my husband" doesn't make any sense but He was my confidant. He comforted me. He corrected me. He calmed me down. He refocused me. These are all the traits that many of you turn to your own husband for and I want Him like that for me here too. I haven't put Him there in the last few weeks and I want Him back there. There are so many decisions I have to make and I hate trusting myself to make good ones. I know there is no greater wisdom, understanding or discernment than I can get from my Lord and Savior. Just pray that I can find what I had with Him while I was in China back here in the states as a mother. There is nothing greater than this. I don't need all the rest. If He opens my eyes and shows me something, AMEN to that! If not, I am ok with that, as long as I can put Him in the center of my life again.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

No more tears...well, sorta

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. Psalm 126:5

Jade has done super this week. The greatest accomplishment this week was the fact that she stopped crying going from home to daycare and then from daycare to home! Of course, it wasn't by her own will...there was the infamous dangling carrot of fruit snacks as an incentive! Hey, it got me peace for 1.5 miles! I'll take it! I will just let you know though that when you try to travel further with her...the effect only lasts for up to 15 minutes. And in those 15 minutes, do you know how many animals got onto Noah's ark? She kept asking for rat-a-tat-tat and I kept singing. At least half the ride was scream free!

She amazes me how fast she picks up the language. I know this happens with all the children that are adopted so young but when you have worked in Special Education for 21 years, you sometimes lose a grip on what is "normal" development. It seems like every day she is learning a new English word, following more directions without me speaking Chinese and using new Chinese phrases that I haven't heard before. Her newest one is keys. She LOVES people's keys and their cell phones. A friend of mine says he feels like he should be getting arrested as she pats him down looking for his phone in his pockets when he walks in the door. One of the men in our church has a huge ring of keys and those are her all time favorite. She likes to flip through them and gingle a few at a time together and then alter combinations to hear the different sounds they make. My mom comes out on Wednesday nights and watches her for two days a week. As "Laolao" walks in the door, Jade is already asking for keys. Mom is willing to trade them for a little loving. Jade decided that Laolao's keys may also make some really interesting jewelry.

Jade wearing her newest "necklace"

I have been floored by the outpouring of donations I have received for Jade. Families are going through their toys, books and clothes and passing onto us what they no longer need or have an abundance of. I love how our Lord supplies all our needs. I walk into her playroom and realize that other than books, there is not much here that I have purchased. It was all donated or given as gifts.

Jade and some of her "stuff"

I love watching her play. I expected to have to show her everything and teach her how to play. Yes, I do have to do this but she picks up on it so quickly. She was given the Fisher Price castle and she loves moving the people around. She finds it entertaining to watch mommy make these funny voices as she moves the people around. (At least we are both entertained by one another!) The other day, she picked up the thrones for the king and queen and said "potty". As I looked at them, I agreed. They do kinda look like potty seats for children. I love looking at the world through her eyes. It makes me take time for the little things I have been missing.

My baobei

The other day, we had to go to the store. As we walked through the store, she just wanted me to sing to her. She kept requesting the songs. I don't mind singing to her in public, I just don't know what all the other customers in the grocery store thought about us! :) The best part is she prefers the songs we sing from Children's Ministry. She asks for them in her own special ways and I sing along for her. It's my little evangelist and she is not even 3 yet! She is already getting out His word in non-intimidating ways and she doesn't even know it! She has this way of getting people to do things that God says is good. Hmmm, guess I am going to keep praying that He use her in mighty ways to let people see His glorious ways and bring them to salvation!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Picking apples

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

For the past 6 years, I have belonged to an adoption support group. We meet monthly and the people in our group have grown to be called family by one another. Over the years, we have gone on many field trips. There has always been an abundance of children I could "borrow" for the day and call mine but today, I was able to go on my first field trip as a mama! How sweet it was!

Jade and I on the children's wagon ride

Jade was super! (as long as we don't talk about the lovely ride with her screaming all the way in the car seat) She went on the wagon ride with me after I was able to squish myself in and pry myself back out. I was blessed to have this all documented in pictures. Thanks Gary! She loved it. For those of you who know me, I love to sing and what would a field trip be without a little singing. Yes, we sang as we rode! The young man driving the tractor looked back and laughed at us a few times but my daughter loved it and that is all that matters!

Jade and Carol James

Since I have grown to love so many of these children, it was very hard for me to share my time with them and my daughter. Meaghan was one of these special little girls. Meaghan has been home for 4 years and she is my lovie! Each one of these girls has been waiting for my daughter to come home so they could play with her. May they all grow to be good friends and know that even though I am Jade's mama, I will continue to love them.

Meaghan and I

We took a wagon ride out to the orchard. They gave us bags to fill. I was so excited as I haven't done this since I was a teenager and getting paid to pick fruit. Jade was quite content. She enjoyed walking through the orchard and was all set once her hands got full.

Jade and her two apples

I kept trying to convince her to put her apples in my bag and get more but nope...that was not her plan. So she ate and I picked. We all joked about whether or not they were going to give us an apple breathalizer when we got back to pay for our apples. They were so good. Nothing is better than a crisp apple right from the tree, well, except maybe the apple crisp and apple sauce made from them later in the day. :)

"Ok Mama, my hands are full! I'm ready to go!"

This was not only my first field trip with my daughter but Karen Pickard has also recently brought home her daughter Maya from Ethiopia. This was an exciting moment for both of us and one we have both waited for.

Maya-one of our newest additions to the AWAA family

The Kulps were in China while I was. We were both getting our daughters at the same time. It was such a blessing to be able to see people you knew and watched walk through their journey get their daughter, Danielle.

Danielle-our other newest family addition

I so love our support group. No one is afraid to say they are having challenges. No one pretends to be the perfect parent. Though my best friend has been telling me that all parents make mistakes and we all feel dumb sometimes, it was good to hear other people telling you this too. So many other families have experienced my car seat issues (and it looks like it could be a long ride until she is comfortable in it) as children in other countries often don't use car seats and haven't traveled much.

As we went through the day, we shared stories of our children. I was sharing how Jade has started to sing the chorus of a worship song and raise her hands in praise like mama does (Monkey see...monkey do). Each mom shared a song their son or daughter did the same thing to. Each song was totally different but it totally matched the child's personality. I love how you do this Lord!

After a wonderful day, we journeyed home. Later on, Jade decided that all the plastic containers needed to come out of the cabinet. She decided to create a masterpiece with them. She also realized that they can be used for art AND to make a lovely hat!

Jade proudly displaying her new "hat" and artistic creation of plastic containers

Saturday, October 3, 2009

First week home

“Blessed be God, Who has not turned away my prayer, Nor His mercy from me! ” Psalm 66:20

This has been a long week for me. It started with a return to work. Ugh! Fortunately, she is doing well at daycare. We spent three days at daycare the week before getting to know the children so I think that helped with the transition on Monday. I think she has handled this because she is used to rotating care takers while living in the orphanage. For me the hardest part is watching her leave my arms and want to go to Jaminett. I am trying not to say "attachment issues" but I am keeping my eye on it. She is very comfortable going to a variety of people and I am trying to sort it all out and decide how I am going to handle this. Is this part of her personality? Is it an attachment issue?

On Tuesday, we headed to see a pediatric opthamologist. I didn't expect to get in so quickly and now I wish we hadn't. After 1.5 hours in the car (screaming, taking off her clothes, trying to get out of the carseat, and a bloody nose from getting so stressed out), she was exhausted. This dr didn't even take the time to ask me any questions about her vision or gain a rapport with a child who was obviously not comfortable (she was hiding under my coat trying to fall asleep when he walked in) before he started evaluating her. After he tried to evaluate her unsuccessfully, he said he would need to put her out to be able to evaluate her. He could tell me what they might find but he couldn't tell me what she was exhibiting on WHY he thought she might have those issues. He didn't even suggest that we try an evaluate her again after she has been home longer and more comfortable. Let's just say, I am in the process of looking for another doctor.

This week at work, I received this special gift. A woman I work with walked up to me and handed me this pink bag. It was from her daughter to my daughter. She had gone home and told her daughter about Jade. She told her how she had come from an orphanage in China and didn't have many if any toys where she had lived. Stephanie immediately wanted to go through her own toys and give some of them to my daughter. Stephanie is only 4 years old. She not only wanted to give her own belongings, she wanted to take her birthday money and go shopping for things Jade needed. Stephanie bought Jade a new pair of pj's, a bear that prayers and some new jewelry. I was so touched as was her mother. If only the adult part of the world could see things like this child has, there would be no one who was hungry, without shelter, without clothing, the world would be a better place.

In all the things that Stephanie had given Jade, there was a wipe box full of necklaces and bracelets. When I gave it to Jade and she opened it up, it took her breath away. She immediately put it down and started putting on all, and I do mean ALL her new jewels. Her arm was so full of bracelets that she couldn't even bend her elbow!

Jade all dressed up and ready to go!

On Thursday and Friday, my mother comes out to my home and watches my daughter at my house. This is good but it was hard to leave this morning as my daughter was still sleeping when I left. Every morning, we pray together before I leave her. It was far too quiet to not hear her little "Amen" at the end of our prayer.

One of my favorite stories this week has to do with worship. Every morning, Jade and I play a cd called "Sing over me". It has a combo of worship and lullabies and I highly recommend it to all mothers. We stand in the kitchen, I hold her and we sway to the music. I always sing the first song "How great is our God" to her. The second song is "Here I am to worship". To my surprise, she started singing the chorus this week with me! How precious to my ears! If it is precious to me, I can only imagine how it sounds to God! I can't wait for the day that she truly understands what she is singing and truly wants Him as her Savior! Today she added a new twist to it. She started raising her hands in praise while she sang!

Parents, I tell you to watch what you are doing or not doing. Your children are watching and listening! She has only been home in the states with me for 11 days. In that time, she is studying me. She hears what I do and imitates it. She watches what I do and imitates it. For those of you who love the Lord, may your children hear you praising Him. May they watch you worshiping Him. May they hear your prayers to Him. It is by our walk, by our actions that they learn how to do these things. If they can't see it or hear it, how will they know? I encourage you to live your life for Christ so your children can see and know this is the way a Christian is. You will be blessed as you watch your children grow as they are given that model for their life.