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!

Friday, October 10, 2008

2 Weeks Home with Ellie

It is hard to believe that we have already been home for 2 weeks with our Ellie. She is doing so well that I can say that this has really been very easy - so far. Her personality is much calmer than Lilly's which is a very good thing. She is a sweet, easy-going child until she doesn't get her way. Then the head starts shaking "no" and the hands start pushing you away. However, those "fits" are decreasing in frequency and duration. She loves to eat, is a deep sleeper, and is a smart little girl. She is catching on to things very quickly. Ellie is trying to say lots of words and already can point to her basic body parts in English- eyes, ears, nose, etc. She has learned to do some simple puzzles and loves to have a book read. She already tries to "read" because she will talk the whole time I read although I'm trying to teach her to listen to the story. The other children all adore her except little Lilly. She lost her baby spot so naturally she is having the most difficult time, but there are really sweet moments shared by her and Ellie. There just aren't very many of them yet, but I know it will get better each and every day.

We have been to see Ellie's cardiologist and the Cleft Clinic. Her VSD/ASD heart repair was done well in China, and she does not have to go back to the heart doctor until 2010- praise God! The cleft clinic visit also went well. Ellie is scheduled for her palate repair on 10/28 at 7:30 AM. She will also get ear tubes at that time. I've never asked for advice here before, but if there are any cleft moms out there reading, please share the most important thing we should know before her surgery. Any tips on the 2 week liquid diet would be appreciated too. The speech therapist said Ellie could have applesauce and pudding, but the doctor said "liquid". I guess I'll know more when we are preparing for discharge. All in all, we are doing well and praising God for bringing this sweet little girl into our lives.

This is my very favorite picture of Ellie thus far. She is such a cutie and has a beautiful smile- when she chooses to show it to the camera! Much better than the next picture.

I tried to get some cute pictures of Ellie and of Ellie and Lilly. Ellie isn't real cooperative with picture- taking yet as she is always looking around. I guess she still has so many new things to see that she is easily distracted. This was the best one. I'll keep trying. I'm taking her tonight to Olan Mills for her 2 year old picture. I hope that she will sit and not be afraid, but if she is we will just try again later.

At first Ellie was terrified of the swing as Lilly was last summer. It only took Ellie a few days and then she was ready to give it a try and now she loves swinging.

Ellie really having fun with Lilly in the Cozy Coupe. The little girls are starting to get along more often although Lilly is still adjusting to having to share everything and more importantly, everybody with Ellie.

Everybody having fun in the sandbox. Well, actually, I should say that they were just posing for a cute picture! Shelby and Katie didn't stay there long! We have had this turtle box since Shelby was 18 months old.

Ellie has learned quickly how to put the shapes in the shape sorter bucket, but of course, her favorite part is using the bucket for a hat.

This was on Saturday, Ellie's very first day at home. She thought the Cozy Coupe was fun, and Lilly loved holding the balloons until she accidentally let them go- oopps!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

2 Unrelated Events from our Last Night in China

If you have followed our blog on this trip, you know that Nikki is a special friend whom we met when we adopted Lilly. I had shared with Nikki about our beliefs as Christians first when we spent hours together at Lilly's bedside and then we continued our discussions via e-mail once I returned home. David and I decided to take a Bible to Nikki on this adoption trip to get Ellie. I was a little unsure as to what her reaction would be. I was afraid she might be offended and think we were being too pushy. I prayed throughout our time in Guangzhou that God would allow a time where we could talk openly about our Christian faith to Nikki and prayed for her heart to be accepting of our words. God provided the perfect time on the last evening before we left. Nikki came to our hotel room and spent over an hour with us. She loved the Bible. She said it was the first Bible she had ever had, and she was absolutely thrilled to have it. She said she couldn't wait to read it. She asked lots of questions, and God gave me just the right words to say. Please pray for Nikki as she begins to read her Bible and that God's word would speak to her heart.

Nikki reading the letters that Shelby and Katie sent. She was so happy that they took the time to write her.

Event # 2: (completely unrelated to the above!)

Can you guess by the picture below?
In the Holiday Inn on our last morning in China, we saw the unwelcomed visitor that we suspected had been visiting our kitchen area in the wee hours of the morning. The day before we left, I had accidentally left a bag of bread open on the counter. I noticed that morning that chunks were gone; not small bits say from a roach. The bread was tossed, and we knew it was likely a mouse. We only had 1 day and night left so we just wrapped and sealed everything well and moved most food items out of the kitchen. The next morning, the day of departure, we were up much earlier than normal. I went in the kitchen area and noticed the chunk missing from the pear, and then I quickly left. David soon went in the kitchen area to fix our instant coffee. He said "I heard something!" I was busy packing and didn't pay much attention. Then a few minutes later, he yelled "It's a rat!" David actually saw it crawl over the fridge and above the vent of the oven. He said it was much bigger than the country mice we see our dogs and cats bring home from our woods. We were so glad to be checking out that morning. We did report it to the hotel staff on our way out. By the way, we were on the 13th floor!

The kitchen area where the rat came to visit each night while we slept. YUCK! YUCK!