Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

The last 7 weeks have been especially sad and difficult for our family due to my grandfather's terminal cancer diagnosis and then death 3 1/2 weeks later. I thought it might be beneficial for the children and me to find the funniest photos from the past year and then post them here for you to enjoy as well. Happy New Year! Here is the entire Bryant Bunch (for now anyway!) attempting to take our first picture as a family of 7. It definitely could have been worse. But as you may know, I am a pretty uptight mom and way too serious, so this is funny to me!

Shelby took the time to fix Lilly's hair, and it was SO cute. However, she only had enough hair in the back to put ponytails in so in order to see it, this is the pose that worked best. (You may recall that her poor head was shaved numerous times during her hospital stays in China!)

"My family homeschools, and this is my mom' s idea of an experiment for a toddler like me." (Note the magnifying glass in the bowl of teddy grahams.) Actually I had nothing to do with this. Lilly can thank her siblings for this one!

After the Christmas play at church, our little Ethan, a Wise Man, had decided he didn't want to be wise anymore. He prefers silly over wise on most days!

This was on Lilly's 2nd birthday. Can you tell that she was excited about Tickle Me Elmo?

We homeschool and had been studying about the nomads in world history. Shelby and Katie decided to dress the part and have fun pretending to roam (around the yard!). It was really cute, and I am so thankful that they use their imaginations and still have fun pretending.

This was the day of Lilly's baptism and we had taken LOTS of pictures. I guess this was her way of saying "Enough is enough!"

"Hey, Dad, I think I might need a bath now!"

This is Shelby in her swim cap that she purchased in China. Here she is obviously being very silly with her brother Fulton. (She just said "Mom, do NOT put that picture on there!" Sorry, too late. But my idea is working- we have been laughing SO hard!

This is shortly after her heart surgery. Lilly was SO tired that she fell asleep sitting up in her highchair at lunch! I just had to take a picture- t00 cute!

"This is the best sucker ever! Hey Dad, I think I might need another bath after this one!"

This isn't the normal way to eat a sucker, but both boys just thought this was funny I guess!!

"Hey Ethan, I thought I was the one who was suppossed to play with the doll!" I think Ethan was determined to take whatever it was that Lilly wanted. This was in the first month or so at home. Sibling rivalry was still at an all time high!

Last but not least in this year's funniest Bryant family photos:

This would be me on the way to China. I was determined to sleep and even took 2 Benadryl. My dear husband decided to be cute and snap this darling photograph!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

In Loving Memory

This blog is dedicated to our loving grandfather and great-grandfather who died of cancer on December 5, 2007.

The above photo is of Granddaddy or GG on Father's Day of this year. He was an avid Gamecock fan and always wore a hat.

Thanksgiving Day- Lilly loving on GG who was so tired. He always had his glasses and a pen in his shirt pocket. Lilly always loved to get in his lap to play with them.

My grandparents had just celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary on November 14, 2007. That was 5 days after he was diagnosed with cancer that had spread to the liver. This picture was taken Thanksgiving Day- his last holiday with us.

November 18, 2007- Granddady with his only grandchild, his "Jannie -girl". I had almost forgotten that he used to call me that because he hadn't called me that nickname in years. I'm so thankful that he called me that just recently during his illness.
GG was always known as Granddaddy to me when I was a little girl. When his first great- granddaughter, Shelby could talk, she named him GG. He was such a special man and a wonderful grandfather. He would do anything for me and he always did it from his heart. When I lived with him and my grandmother during high school, he would have my car warmed up for me on cold winter mornings. He would bring me lunch to school and give our football team police escorts to the big rival game every year. He would always tell me not to speed- he was a police officer for 36 years! I could go on and on! He was simply all a grandfather could possibly be and yet so much more. I miss him so much already.

Lilly and GG- how grateful I am that they had almost 7 months together. I know that Lilly will not remember GG, but I also know that GG will never forget Lilly. Lilly had learned to say "GG" so well. She had even begun putting 2 words together. One of her first 2 word sentences was "bye-bye GG". He loved her so much, and she adored him as well.
We will always love you GG. We are happy that you are with Jesus and that you are not hurting anymore.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Another Birthday and Halloween

It's Halloween! We had lots of fun. We started out visiting with grandparents which meant the kids' pumpkins were already full of candy. Then we went to our church's Fall Festival and had a great time. End result: Way Too Much Candy!
Oh, who do we have here? Obi Wan Kanobi (spelled wrong I'm sure, but I have learned how to pronounce it. Some guy from Star Wars is all I know!), 2 Chinese Princesses, Hannah Montanna, and Spiderman! What a crew!

Oh, it's Spiderman and a Chinese Princess (AKA Ethan and Lilly) So cute!!!

It's Halloween time. Since we homeschool, we have to have our own Halloween parties. This was a special treat I picked up at the store for my "students". It was so yummy!

October 21- Ethan's Birthday Party: Here Ethan and his best friend David are aiming the new gun Ethan received from his grandmother! They are "Double Trouble"!

Ethan turned 4 on October 22. He had a fun time at his Spiderman party.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Happy Birthday Lilly!

Happy 2nd Birthday Lilly! We started the celebration at breakfast. Lilly loves grits and eggs. I had never put a candle in a chunk of cheese before but it worked! Lilly's trying to blow her candle out, but she had to have a little help!

We had already had cupcakes at playgroup last week. We had an Elmo cake at her birthday party so tonight we simply baked some cookies. Lilly loves to hear everyone sing "Happy Birthday".

One last celebration before bed time. The Bryant bunch had a BLAST all day in honor of Lilly!

Lilly loved playing with Tickle Me Elmo when we visited Lainie and her family back in August. Now she has her very own. She gets so excited watching him fall to the ground laughing! She also likes to cuddle with Elmo when he isn't laughing hysterically. Here she gives him one of her "tisses".

October 13: Lilly's first birthday party. Lilly really enjoyed opening all of her presents. Thank you to everyone for the wonderful gifts.

Brinley, Bailey, and Ethan helped Lilly celebrate too. Here they took a short break from jumping so that I could take a picture. Sharon, Bailey and Brinley's mom, made the dress and the shirts that the girls are wearing. Her web site (My Little Pretty) is in the link section of our blog (at the bottom, I think!)

It's Lilly's birthday party! Shelby and Katie had a great time helping Lilly celebrate her second birthday. The party was in the morning which was such a blessing because after her nap, she woke up with fever and did not feel well at all!

Shelby and Katie had a great time playing "baby" with Lilly. She was a good sport for a while.

Lilly went to visit her great-aunt and cousins in NC back in September. We had to go welcome home our newest cousin, John-Parker Dills. He just arrived home in early September from Guatemala. Congratulations Sheri and Jim!

Celebrating the Autumn Moon Festival at our local Chinese restaurant- We had a great time with our friends, the Millenders. They have 2 cuties adopted from China too. Brinley on the left and Bailey, their newest addition. L to R: Keith, Brinley,Shelby, Lilly, Katie, Fulton, Brice, Bailey, and Ethan in front.

Saying goodbye to our dear friends, the Sylvias. Have you counted the cuties yet? Yes, there are 10 children between our two families. And what a success- all but 1 of them was looking at the camera. Sweet Abigail is only 1 so we will let that slide!! Good luck Sylvias! We miss you lots!

Getting ready for football season. Lilly is a little Gamecock already and her daddy is so proud!

Wow! How do I put into words the blessing that Lilly is to our family? She is a little ray of sunshine, a pure joy, a miracle, a sweet spirit, a bundle of energy, a blessing from God. I am amazed each and every time I think about the journey of Lilly's first 18 months in China without us. She has been through so much yet here she is today-healthy and with her loving family celebrating her second birthday. Our God is indeed a God of miracles, mercy, and grace.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lilly's first beach trip

Each summer we go to a nearby beach for a week of fun in the sun. This year was special because we had Lilly and because it was her first time ever to see the ocean. She was a little reluctant at first to even put her feet on the sand. However, it did not take long before she was full speed ahead toward the water. Her favorite part of the trip was watching the pelicans and sea gulls. It was wonderful to watch Lilly experience the sights and sounds of the ocean for the very first time. Enjoy the pictures.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

It's Been 3 Months!

Life is good at the Bryant house! Lilly thinks so at least.
August 12- Lilly's baptism. She was quite a hoot and had the entire congregation laughing! She even raised her right hand after the congregation did. After the pastor put the water on her head, she began to fuss and then made the sign for "more". Well, Lilly does love a bath!

Our girls in their traditional Chinese dresses. Shelby and Katie wanted to celebrate Lilly's heritage with her on this very special day so they wore their Chinese dresses to church too.

August 4-5 - A few pictures from our weekend with the Barbees. Here Lilly and Lainie are "practicing" the piano as they wait to eat lunch at Lainie's grandmom's house. Mrs. Jackie had a wonderful meal prepared which we thoroughly enjoyed. We especially enjoyed our time with the Barbee family. It was such a special time and a blessing to finally meet the many members of the Barbee family who so diligently prayed for Lilly and our family during our struggles in China and during Lilly's heart surgery.

Lilly and Lainie playing together once again. Jennifer and I did manage to find a few quiet moments to talk (which was no small feat while being in a house with 9 children). We both are continually amazed and simply overjoyed at the blessings that Lilly and Lainie have brought into our lives over these last 3 months. How gracious our God is to have given each of our families such a precious gift in Lilly and Lainie and then to have blessed our families with a lasting friendship.

It's hard to believe Lilly has been with us now for 3 months. I just look at her and think how much richer and sweeter our life is now that she is a part of our family. I simply can not imagine our family without Lilly. Her smile melts my heart, her laughter brings me joy, and her touch warms my soul. I am truly blessed beyond measure!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

4 weeks since surgery

Lilly loves her "Cozy Coupe". Her favorite part is getting in and out.
Lilly loves to play peek-a-boo. We were doing that here around the kitchen chair.

A sweet moment between Lilly and Fulton. Fulton said "Mom take a picture of this."

Lilly loves riding in the Barbie jeep. Ethan's getting used to being a big brother. He wants to help Lilly every chance he gets.
Praise the Lord! Lilly had surgery 4 weeks ago today and has had no complications. She is so much more active now than before surgery. She is walking about 3 to 8 steps on her own. She is pushing herself up to standing from the floor without holding on to anything. Of course we all cheer for her, and this really delights her. She just laughs and smiles. She is also learning several new words. She says - ball, baby, mama, dada, Bubba (for Fulton which is what Ethan calls him because he can't say Fulton) and up. When we pray she says "am" for Amen. She is working on saying "mine" and "no". She has also learned to squeal which is not necessarily a good thing. She squeals VERY loudly. So much for taking her into worship. Now we will begin transitioning her to the church nursery.
We are going to see the Barbees next weekend. It will be a reunion for Lilly and Lainie who shared the same room at the orphanage. Due to Lilly's illness in China, we did not get to let them interact much or take many pictures. We are all very excited about seeing them together again. Also we are delighted to have the opportunity to meet Bobby's family and to see his mom, Mrs. Jackie again.
I am so amazed by God's goodness and faithfulness. This journey has been difficult, but it has taught me so much. I have realized the importance of relying on God for all things. I have been reminded that God does indeed supply exactly what we need for each moment. And I know that when I am weak, He is strong! What a mighty God we serve.
As my friend Jennifer said, adoption is truly a miracle! I am thankful that our family was chosen by God to experience this miracle through our adoption of Lilly.
Thank you once again for all of your prayers. I will try to update the blog about once every month.