Sunday, February 26, 2012

We've Been Busy. . .

enjoying firsts with Leiney Grace, homeschooling, various medical appointments, and celebrating Hudson's 4th birthday!

Loves driving the Power Wheel vehicles

Was not afraid of the horses

Happy 4th Birthday, Hudson!

Those trick candles again.  Hudson actually became afraid and wouldn't try to blow them out after 2 failed attempts!  The rest of had a good laugh - Hudson not so much!

One of my biggest fears in adopting an older child was the academic issues.  God had this taken care of too - oh ye of little faith.  I plan to homeschool Leiney Grace through our local school district in order for her to receive English as a second language instruction by a specialized instructor.  I am still waiting on our paperwork, submitted before I left for China, to be approved so that she can begin to receive these classses.  Leiney  Grace is such an eager learner that we started homeschooling the Monday after we returned home from China.  Thus far she has learned: the alphabet, writing numbers to 100, the sounds of A, M, S, Z, K, and D, and how to spell and write her name.  She loves puzzles and playing the many educational games I have acquired through my many years of homeschooling.  She knows and is fine tuning the adding 1 facts.   I am working with Leiney Grace at the same time as Ellie - one on my left and one on my right. 

After a spirit night fundraiser for Katie's school where balloons were made into works of art -  Leiney Grace experienced another 1st and was amazed watching a normal balloon be transformed into all sorts of creatures.

A  cat, a shark, a butterfly, and a monkey

My sister, Michelle, came to help her husband, Dr. Gee, work on Leiney Grace's teeth. 

Leiney Grace and I spent 3 hours at Uncle Nic's dental office on Friday.  Nic was amazing and was so caring and concerned for Leiney Grace's comfort.  He spent about 90 minutes actually cleaning and scraping tartar off her teeth.  Leiney Grace was a trooper! Dr. Gee took some x-rays and said her mouth is not as bad as I originally thought.  We go back next Friday when Uncle Nic/Dr. Gee will be filling 2 teeth.  That will leave a possible 3rd filling and 1 extraction for another day.  The abcessed tooth has to come out before her heart surgery.

The above pictures are of a dental clinic in Guangzhou, China.  These were taken with Uncle Nic in mind!

In addition to a dental visit, Leiney Grace and I have had several other appointments.  We have seen our pediatric cardiologist who did an ECHO - no surprises - straight forward tetralogy of Fallot.  Yeah!  We consulted with our local health department concerning Leiney Grace's positive TB skin test.  They are recommending 9 months of INH treatment.  I am only willing to put Leiney Grace through that if it is absolutely necessary.  Our pediatrician is consulting with an infectious disesase specialist, and then she and I will further discuss what is best for Leiney Grace.  We went Thursday for a CT angiogram of Leiney Grace's heart and lungs.  Again, good news - Tetralogy of Fallot with minimal collateral circulation in the left lung.  Now we wait to hear of her surgery date.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Post From Home - At Last!

The original title to this post was "10 Days Home".  As I started uploading pictures, I quickly realized there was no way I could post about our trip home, arrival, and the first 10 days. . .so here is a brief glance at our trip home, arrival, and the 1st 24 hours!  The rest will hopefully not be far behind.
In our hotel lobby at the Skycity Marriott in Hong Kong - well rested and ready for the long trip home.

This was after 13 hours of flying - not looking too bad all things considered!  Leiney Grace did amazingly well.  She did get sick over her breakfast (literally) when we were an hour or so away from Chicago.  This vomitting persisted off and on for the first 36 hours home.  Not sure the cause, but after a call to our favorite pediatrician and a Zofran, Leiney Grace seemed to be over what ever it was .

Our newest American citizen. . .in her wheelchair at O'Hare.  I requested a wheelchair upon arrival in the US before I ever left
for China.  I am so glad I did - a personal attendant pushed Leiney Grace while Aunt Lulu and I managed our bags, customs, and security.  It was such a blessing!

The wheelchair was no where to be seen in our hometown airport, but being that it is a whole lot smaller, we managed very easily with the stroller.  Here Leiney Grace is greeted by her new siblings who were SO excited to finally meet her.

Our dear friend Kathy, who helped us tremendously when we were adopting Lilly, is fluent in Chinese so here she is conversing with Leiney Grace.  Since coming home, we have made 1 call to Kathy, 1 call to Lilly's Chinese teacher, and several calls to my friend's daughter, Kelly, who is almost 15 and adopted last March.  They each had to help get us through times where Leiney Grace was upset, and we needed help in communicating. Thank you all!

Several friends from Lilly and Ethan's school came including 2 of their teachers. Thank you Jennifer and Kendall - AKA Mrs. Mitchell and Ms. Salley.  Here in the middle with Lilly is Lilly's "BFF", Abby, who contributed some of her own money to help bring Leiney Grace home.

Leiney Grace, with her beautiful smile, handled all of the new faces extremely well.

Here is proof that David did survive 2 weeks with 7 children and NO WIFE! : )

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."  Lilly, Ethan, Brinley, and Bailey along with some fabulous teachers helped make this wonderful welcome home sign for us! 

Our 1st photo as a family of 10!

Our last photo with Aunt Lulu for a while.  She survived the journey and was a wonderful travel companion.  I am so grateful for her willingness to accompany me on this trip.  She has returned home to her husband and Barney, her beloved cat who missed her terribly, and has recovered - I think.  We had so much fun travelling together that we hope to head to England in the next few years.  We have both always wanted to visit that country and as she says "I'm not getting any younger so we better go soon."  Her husband and daughter do not fly so I may be her only hope to get there.  Think David will believe that?   

How miraculous that we could return home on the same flight with our dear friends, Sharon and Marty and their supersize family!

Heading home!

4 of my 5 girls!  Leiney Grace had to walk very slow to the car van to help her not get winded - she wanted nothing to do with the stroller.  That explains why Lilly is not in the picture.  SLOW is not in her vocabulary!

Home at Last!
"Baba" carrying Leiney Grace up the stairs to see her room for the first time. 
(Leiney Grace is wearing the dress I smocked for her as her "Coming Home Outfit".  I had a size 8 made, and it is quite large.  At least she can wear it for years to come : ) ) 

She Liked It!!!
(Just noticed that I still had my fanny pack on - oh my, I must have been tired!)

Fulton adores Leiney Grace and offers to carry her up and down the stairs.

Katie did a great job at having her room, now her and Leiney Grace's room, clean and decorated with lots of cute and colorful signs to welcome her new sister and roommate!

It didn't take Leiney Grace long to develop an interest in the piano.  She adores hearing and watching Shelby play.  Shelby is so sweet and lets Leiney Grace "play" with her.  Leiney Grace has already learned the tune and some of the words to Jesus Loves Me and Amazing Grace. Oh, that touches my heart. 

Our 1st meal at home as a family of 10.  We have a table that seats 8.  Thankfully, my Uncle Steve, Aunt Lulu's husband, does wonders with wood and has agreed to make us 2 benches so we can all fit around the table without chairs on the corners.

Talking to Shelby before bedtime.

1st night going to sleep in her new bed, in her new home, with her new family!

1st breakfast at home with her family.  Leiney Grace did not care for the homemade sourdough cinnamon rolls with caramel icing that my mom welcomed us home with.  How could one not like such a treat?  I don't know, but the rest of us certainly devoured them!  Scrumptious!

I loved watching this from my kitchen window.  They all had the best time coloring and doing puzzles outside.

Ethan and Leiney Grace have done well together.  Leiney Grace is older by 6 months ,and I was a little concerned with how Ethan would handle a new sibling so close in age.  He has done better accepting and "liking" her than he did when his 3 younger siblings were adopted.  God had this little detail taken care of as well.

My crew did a great job welcoming us home - signs and a fairly clean and straightened up house!
May God be glorified that there is one less orphan in the world, that there is now one more child being loved by Christian parents, and that there is one more child being taught of His love for her.

"Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so." 

"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me?  I once was lost but now am found.  Was blind but now I see." 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Last 2 Days in China

Posting from Hong Kong with pictures from our last 2 days in China. . .
On our way to the US Consulate on Tuesday for the swearing in ceremony.

Our official adoption certificate from China

This time it's only Mama with Leiney Grace.  Normally we have David with us so this looks a bit strange to me.

Visiting with Nikki, our friend and guide from our time with Lilly back in 2007. 
In 2010 when we were adopting Hudson, we ate with Nikki at a Chinese restaurant on Shaiman Island.  This time we all agreed upon Lucy's - American food!  Leiney Grace still chose a Chinese dish of chicken, veggies, and noodles.  It was very tasty as she and I ate the leftovers for lunch today in our hotel room.  We enjoyed our short visit with Nikki.  She and Leiney Grace had some lengthy conversations which I recorded.  Leiney Grace shared alot about her life in the orphanage.  It was all very sad to hear, but I do think it was therapeutic for Leiney Grace.  I am even more amazed at her precious spirit after learning about the environment in which she has lived for 5 and a half years.  I will share more in a future post.  It is her story though not mine so I will be careful in what I share.

Today - our last day in China. . . last minute shopping and packing!

Leiney Grace's pictures!

Strolling around the island this morning grabbing a few more gifts for my kiddos back home.

Leftovers for lunch as Mom and Aunt Lulu were frantically packing!

At the train station. . .next to Nikki, Elvin is our most favorite guide from all of our trips to China!  We first met Elvin back in 2007 when we were adopting Lilly.  I found out this trip that Elvin is a Christian which made my heart leap for joy!  Elvin obviously enjoys his job very much as he puts his whole heart into caring for the families! 

Elvin talking to Leiney Grace before we boarded the train for Hong Kong - explaining what was going to happen and to be a good girl for her Mama!  Elvin thanked me for giving "the child" a home and a family.  His last words were "God bless you!"

We rode the train to Hong Kong with 3 American families - 2 of whom we knew well from our stay at the Victory hotel these last few days.  Here are Heather, Mei Mei, and Corine who are headed to Hong Kong Disney and then home to Maryland.

Leiney Grace enjoying the train ride to Hong Kong!

Hard to believe our trip is over.  It has been amazing and far beyond what I ever could have hoped or imagined - only God!  Once I process it all, recover from the tiredness and impending jet lag, I hope to share from my heart about my new daughter - her  heartbreaking past and the hope she now has all because we were willing to be a vessel for God.  We are no different than you - not stronger, not richer, not braver, not more patient, not anything. We obeyed the call and are equipped for the task by God the Father.

God does not call the equipped.  He equips those He calls.

This time the orphan has found mercy in us.  Might an orphan find mercy in you?

"No one person can change the world, but you can change the world for one person."
George Hoffman

Now in Hong Kong and departing for the airport at 8 40 AM via shuttle.  Our flight to Chicago leaves at 11 AM.  Please pray for safe and smooth travels!  Thanks for following our journey and for your prayers.  Good night from Hong Kong!