Saturday, December 20, 2008

3 months with Ellie

Shortly after Ellie was given to me on Gotcha Day in Kunming on September 16, 2008.

The following pictures were taken over the last 6 weeks or so. . .

It is really hard to believe that Ellie has been with us now for 3 months (and 4 days). I wanted to do this post on Dec. 16 which was our 3 month Gotcha anniversary, but I just couldn't find the time. In some ways it seems like she just got here, but in other ways, it seems as though she has been here with us for much longer. Hard to put into words, I suppose. Ellie Jean as I sometimes call her after my late grandfather who departed this life one year ago on Dec. 5, is doing remarkably well. She is a quiet and easy going child- most of the time. She can, on the other hand, be quite loud when she starts talking. She will just babble and babble in the car and the other kids get frustrated as they are trying to hear their favorite Christian song playing on the radio. Ellie Jean loves books, music, swinging outside, playing with the play kitchen set and cooking and serving everyone. She also gets mad occassionally and crosses her arms and pouts those lips. She did that from the get go (after the "honeymoon" phase) so she learned that in China- if that is even learned. It is quite cute although we try not to let her know that because it won't be so cute when she is older. I could go on and on, but 2 little girls are waiting outside with big sister Katie for Mama to come swing them. We are all delighted (except for Lilly who might disagree depending on the day :) ) to have Ellie with us as our daughter and sister, and we thank God for bringing us together as a family! How good our God is. Praising Him for all of our many blessings! Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I've Been Tagged

I have been tagged twice now, but the first one I have never done. (Sorry, Becky) I have been so busy lately with our 6 children, homeschooling, and Christmas preparations that I seldom even check e-mail. This explains the almost month that has lapsed since my last blog update. Monday is our last day of school and then we have almost 3 weeks off- YEAH! I hope to do an Ellie update soon so check back!
Back to being tagged- The second one was quite a bit simpler and involved less time so here goes:

Trina, who I met during my wait for Ellie as her son is also from Yunnan( tagged me and here are the rules:

1. Grab the nearest book

2. Turn to page 56

3. Find the 5th sentence

4. Post the text of the sentence on your blog along with these instructions

5. Don't search for your favorite book or the "coolest" book- just grab the closest

Ok, I'll admit, our computer is in David's office and I grabbed a book he is reading and the sentence made no sense out of context. The next closest was the Bible, but the particular sentence was " 'Jacob,' " he answered." Well, what can I say about that so I cheated a little and grabbed the closest book that I have been reading. The title is Your Girl - Raising a Godly Daughter in an Ungodly World- by Vicki Courtney. It is a great book about protecting our girls and raising them to be Godly in this most ungodly world that we find ourselves living in. It speaks alot about very pertinent topics like modesty, limiting exposure to wordly TV programs (that would include almost every program), movies (again the majority to say the least), and magazines, as well as the dangers of what the world calls "dating".

The 5th sentence on the 56th page is:
When I told her no, she responded with, "Mom, it's not like I'm going to start cussing and doing bad stuff if I see one little movie."

Vicki continues discussing the fact that as we allow ourselves and our children to be exposed to ungodly influences, we quickly do become desensitized to the evils of this world.

Again, this is a wonderful book and a must read for every mother. There is also a companion to this book for mothers who have sons. Check out Vicki's web sites for other info: and

Now for the tagging:
Kim @
Sharon @
Rebecca @

I doubt that I'll accept another tag as this took longer than I expected, but I hope and pray that someone out there will read this book and be encouraged to be more purposeful and intentional in raising their daughters to be Godly.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Another Reunion and Ellie's Recovery

The Barbees came to visit us for the first time since we travelled together to adopt Lilly and Lainie back in May of 2007. Jen had asked me to pick up a few things for Lainie while we were in China adopting Ellie. I told her I'd be happy to do that, but that I would hold all her "loot" hostage until she came to visit us! It worked! They came down last Sat. and spent the night. We all had a blast- the children had fun while Jen and I had a little time to chat and catch up with each other.

Lilly kept saying "Lainie is my best friend" and "I love Lainie" It was so beautiful to see these two girls together again. They began their lives together in an orphanage in China and now are members of loving families who cherish them. Adoption is so miraculous!

Although Lainie is 4 months younger than Lilly, it appears that she is an inch or so taller.

The whole gang- that's 10 kids in all, and they are all smiling and looking at the camera! WOW!

Before and After:

Ellie's bilateral cleft palate before surgery

Ellie's palate 3 1/2 weeks after surgery.

I know the picture is not great, but she has become increasingly less cooperatve about opening her mouth. I guess she has good reason considering what she has been through these last few weeks. However, you can tell that it is now one complete palate- praise God! She had a check-up with her surgeon on Thursday and he was very pleased. She can now eat whatever she wants although I still plan to restrict sharp foods like chips. We also saw her ENT and both tubes are in place and open. Her hearing was tested and it was "superb" despite long-term chronic infection in both ears that was discovered only during surgery. We are so thankful that this step in Ellie's cleft repair was successful and is now behind us. She has already started speech therapy twice a week through Baby Net, our state's Early Intervention Program. She is already making improvements and can say "Bubba" for her brother Fulton, "no", "mama", "baba", and a few other words that are pretty clear. She is so eager and is willing to repeat whatever we ask her. She is puckering her lips well and is starting to bring her lips together more to make sounds like "b" and "m". I feel like she is finally "whole". She was born with 2 holes in her heart, a cleft lip, and cleft palate. Thanks to wonderful surgeons gifted by God, she now is "whole" other than her biltaeral cleft gums. Praise be to God for seeing us all through this surgery and recovery!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Time to Fill Shoe Boxes!

Our family has been participating in Samaritan's Purse Shoe Box Ministry, Operation Christmas Child, for many years. We used to fill only one box but as our family has grown so has the number of boxes we fill. This year we are planning to fill 5 boxes. Each of the older children choose the age and sex of the child that they want their box to go to. I'm filling a box on behalf of Lilly and Ellie for a little girl aged 2-4 years. Throughout the year, we save items that we can use to put in the shoe boxes. The toys from Happy Meals that grandmoms buy (only those worth saving- some go straight in the trash) or other small items the children receive from parties and such that they really don't need. Then we gather together, pull out the items we saved throughout the year, and have fun filling the boxes. We usually make a trip to the Dollar Store to buy extra items like toothbrushes and toothpaste, socks, coloring books, etc. The children talk about where they hope there box might end up- maybe China or a country in Africa. This year Shelby and Katie wrote a note to their child hoping to hear back from them one day. Operation Christmas Child is a great project that families can work on together, it gives Christmas gifts to children who may otherwise receive nothing, and most importantly, Samaritan's Purse also includes literature in the child's native language about the "Good News" of Jesus Christ. Please consider joining us in this project. For further information, go to

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Fall Festival Time!

We are all still surviving here. Last week was rough, but God sustained us and for that we are grateful. Ellie is recovering well. Food has become a battle now because she feels well enough to eat what we are eating, but of course she can't. We are now trying to feed her before everyone else eats and that has helped some. She is sleeping well at nap and night time and only wakes up once or twice. Overall I think she has done very well.

Fulton had another bout of the kidney stone pain yesterday. Thankfully the pain medicine did help, and he was better by bedtime. The doctor (urologist) on Thursday said the stone was at the bottom of the urinary tract and should be in the bladder soon. He has a 92% chance of passing it on his own. The worst of the pain should be over. We are scheduled to see a nephrologist on Tuesday to hopefully identify the cause of the stones so that we can prevent them in the future. Lots of lab work was done a few weeks ago and all the results are back so we are anxious to hear the results. Thanks so much for the comments of concern and offers of prayer. Also, a big thanks to Lita for coming to help on Wed. and to friends who have brought meals. I haven't cooked since we came home Wednesday. Also, a big thank you to Mary Beth who had Ethan for an afternoon last week. What a blessing all of you are to our family. Thank you all!!!

This year we had 3 cheerleaders, 1 football player, Buzz Lightyear, and one hippy. Ellie wanted to be held by Daddy so David squatted in the back w/ Ellie. That's why you can barely see her! Oh well, she did pretty well considering Friday was only 3 days after surgery.

Trunk or Treat at church. Ellie and I stayed in the car to hand out candy while the rest of the bunch collected quite a bit of loot!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

We Are Home!

We are thankful to be home. Ellie is doing well but I don't have time to get into any details. Our Fulton had a battle w/ a kidney stone 2 weeks ago and the pain started again today. We have to go back to the city we just left today to take him to a urologist at 8:40 AM. Another bright and early morning when Ellie and me really need to sleep in! Please pray that we get some answers to what is causing the stones and that he can have them treated so he doesn't suffer again like last time. Also, we will be taking Ellie with us as we don't want to leave her so soon after surgery so please pray that she tolerates the trip well.

Bright and early on Tuesday morning right after we arrived at the hospital oblivious to what was about to happen.

Waiting to be taken back to the OR with "wa-wa" (Chinese word for doll).

Last night about 8 hours after surgery was complete.

This morning playing with a new puzzle that a friend brought to the hospital. Looking much better here!

Coming home 24 hours after the surgery with her "no- no"s on.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ellie Is Having Surgery on 10/28

Our cutie pie, Ellie, trying to sit still as I attempted to get pictures of her in this special outfit. This outfit was Shelby and Katie's, and I have always loved it. It has a "Mary Had a Little Lamb" scene smocked across the front. I put it away in the attic years ago, and unfortunately, I did not find it until this summer as I prepared for Ellie to come home. Lilly didn't get to wear it, but I am so glad that it still fits Ellie. She has done so well and is such a happy, easy-going child. It will be hard to see her in such pain as she recovers from her surgery, but we know that she must have this surgery in order to lead a heathy life. My aunt shared the following verse with me before Lilly's open-heart surgery last year. "For He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways" Psalm 91:11

Ellie is having surgery this Tuesday to repair her palate. She willingly opens her mouth for all to see so I thought some of you might like to see some before and after pictures. We have to arrive at the hospital at 6 AM on Tuesday so we will be up bright and early as the hospital is about an hour away. Dr. Kline is her surgeon so please lift him up in prayer as well as the nurses and others who will be responsible for her care. We were told to expect a 1 to 5 night stay with the later being unlikely and only in the case of complications. I am planning on a 2 night stay and hoping to be surprised with only a one night stay. I have made arrangements for the other children and have stocked up on lots of liquids, soups, and soft foods. For 2 weeks, she can only eat foods that do not have to be chewed. Ellie loves to eat so I am expecting that to be quite difficult for her. We are as ready as one gets I suppose. Please keep Ellie in your prayers.

Shelby and Katie are such great big sisters to both Ellie and Lilly. I realized that I had not really taken many pictures of Ellie with them as most of the pictures seem to be of Lilly and Ellie. We took some today to update picture frames in Shelby and Katie's rooms.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Happy 5th Birthday, Ethan!

Happy Birthday Ethan! It was chocolate chip pancakes for Ethan's birthday breakfast. He loves pancakes and has been asking when we could have them.

Father and son jamming to some guitar tunes. It actually has some classic rock-n-roll tunes that I recognize!

An early morning duet by Ethan and Lilly. They both received these guitars for their birthdays.

Ethan is so proud of his new bike and his new Batman helmet. Batman is his new love!

Ethan learned to ride his bike without training wheels while we were in China adopting Ellie. He learned at David's house (thanks Mary Beth and Frank). Well, ever since he learned how to really ride a bike, he has been asking for a new "big" bike. This was his last gift to open today, and he was SO excited when his Dad rolled out this shiny new bike. He said, "It is perfect and just what I needed!".

David is taking Ethan, his best friend David, and Fulton to ride a real train this weekend so Ethan decided he would like a train cake for his birthday this year. A big thank you to a dear friend from church who made this most beautiful as well as delicious cake. Ethan loved it. Thanks, Stacy!

Ethan (and David) blowing out his candles. If anyone else would have tried to help Ethan blow out his candles, he would have been upset, but Ethan and David are such good buddies that Ethan didn't care one bit!

Ethan and his best friend David had a special seat out on our porch. The entire party would have been outside, but God sent us much needed rain on and off that evening so most of the festivities were inside.

Ethan and Lilly both had great birthdays and a great birthday party. A big thank you to our family and close friends who gave such wonderful gifts. Also thanks to those who sent birthday cards in the mail which is a huge "gift" for a child to actually receive real mail! They have enjoyed it ALL!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lilly is 3!

After a day of celebrating her third birthday, Lilly takes a break with one of her favorite gifts- Pinkie, a Little pony baby. Pinkie crawls and talks. Lilly just adores her while Ellie is very much afraid of Pinkie. At least this is one toy that they won't fight over- for now at least.

Yummy Barney cake, vanilla ice cream, and Sprite - a big treat!

Lilly's cousin Amber helping her blow out her candles. We had a party for Lilly and Ethan because their birthdays are only 5 days apart. I'll post Ethan's pictures next week when he turns 5 on October 22!

Lilly loves Barney so thankfully our favorite cake decorator still had her old Barney pan!

The big surprise from mom and dad, Lilly's very own Barbie jeep! She (and Ellie) LOVE it! Here Lilly is jamming to the music from the real radio. It picks up our favorite Christian radio station so we all love hearing the songs play. The Barbie jeep has really been improved since we purchased one for Shelby 9 years ago. We finally got rid of it a month or so ago. It was beaten up and wouldn't go anymore, but it served all the children well for almost 9 years. We definitely got our money's worth, and we hope Lilly's will last equally as long!

Lilly opening presents from us and her siblings after breakfast. I just looked at all of the children as they gathered around Lilly sharing in her excitement as she opened gifts and I thought, "Large families are such a blessing." It's not easy having 6 children, but moments like this make all the stress worth it! (I'll keep reminding myself of that next week as we begin our first full week of homeschooling since Ellie joned our family!)

Stuffed french toast sticks for a birthday breakfast! Note the placemat: "Jan's Place". It was mine when I was a little girl. My grandmother saved it and lots of other things as well.

First picture on October 17, the day Lilly turned three! Lilly was SO excited about her birthday!

Little Girls Having Fun Together- YES!

Our 2 little princesses! Their great grandmother gave them each a gown for their birthdays. Ellie just got hers last night when we celebrated Ethan and Lilly's birthdays. Of course, they both love the wands that came with the gowns.

What a kiss! We are teaching Ellie how to pucker those lips. She has made progress since this picture because she loves to put on lipstick or chapstick. She has to pucker in order to get it. She is gaining more movement in the top lip which aids in puckering and getting food from a spoon or fork as well as speech.

Lilly loves to take the stool from the bathroom and put it next to the door so that she can look outside. Now Ellie joins her on the lookout for happenings in the garage.

The girls did this all on their own. I'm not sure who led the way into the dog kennel, but they stayed in long enough for us to take some pictures! Too funny!