We spent the day at a local pumpkin patch and farm with some new church friends. I was really scoping it out as I am taking Jillian there with her PK class next week and I wanted to know what I was in for. My was it a wonderfully fun place. Anna thoroughly enjoyed every. single. moment.
There was a huge jumping pillow. Anna couldn't get enough of it. We visited it several times during our visit. It made her so happy.
There was a HUGE crib of corn. (Can I just say I can not wait for Jillian to see this!) It was so much fun!
Is there anything cuter than little bare toes?
Happy, happy day! This little sweetie was all smiles today!
She kept pointing and saying pumpkin again and again! She had no idea what these huge orange things were before we saw one in the store last week.
She loved the horsey swing, duck races, goats, hay rack ride, giant slide, hay maze, homemade fudge, jumping pillow, ride on tractors, sandboxes..I could go on and on! We even had most of the place to ourselves which was fabulous!
We ended this amazing day in the giant rocker for a photo. Today, I am feeling so lucky that I can call this little one mine! I love her! I love her! I love her! What a tremendous blessing to have the day with her playing and having so much fun! If you gave so that this little one could come home, I thought of you today and thanked God for your sharing what you had with us because just look at her..an orphan no more because of you! THANK YOU dear, sweet friends!
Some of my favorite faces from this week..
Anna loves the headphones that came with Jillian's new therapy. Jillian detests them and wishes to have nothing to do with them so Anna Mei is happy to have this new accessory!
She was super quiet after returning from the library on Thursday. I found her on the couch
sprawled out reading the new books we just selected. She is one happy girl!
She was folding her baby's hands to pray before "feeding" her lunch this week. How sweet is that?
She did in deed put poo in the potty people! She is making great progress in the potty area and was thrilled to call Daddy with the good news!
I wish that I could put into words how it feels to hold my sweet Jillian down for a medical procedure for the third time in three weeks. I wish that I could express how I feel seeing her so afraid, how I feel watching her overcome, or what it means to me to have her strongly attached to me communicating to go home or signing bye-bye as we are in the office. Extraordinary is this baby girl and it is a privilege to be her mother. A privilege to live out the adoption of her as mine each day in my life. She is one of the greatest blessings of my life and I love her fiercely. I never want to get over the miracle that she is. I never want to forget that though she was born a half a world away, God made her mine just like that because He wanted her to know the love of a momma. And I hope I never get over the fact that He chose me to be that for her. This wonderful amazing little girl is my daughter. It is a true, true miracle that it is my arms holding her down while her teeth are cleaned. It is truly a miracle that I am the one wrestling her when her ear wax is being dug out. It is truly a miracle when she smiles at me and signs "momma i love you". A miracle for so many reasons. I thank God today and always that I didn't miss this. I thank God that He has allowed me to experience so many miracles in the last two years as I have watched Jillian's life story unfold. I only wish that I could communicate more clearly the impact that she has had on my life. Oh that God has allowed this child to be mine is so much more than I ever imagined for myself. I am deeply, deeply saddened by the thought that millions more children are living without a momma right now. How is it that we can stand by and let that be? We have more room in our vans, empty chairs at our dinner tables, and a God who is abundantly more than we could ever imagine! He continues to fill my heart to overflowing as I love my treasures. As I bawled my eyes out on all the way home because Jillian actually was able to go to the dentist, I praised Him and prayed that He might see fit to give me more to care for.
I was am a teacher everyday as I read to my sweet treasures.
Our new library in CR is amazing! The girls and I love to visit there. All the books are new and it smells heavenly walking among so many new little board books. Last week, we came across this great book and, while it may not be a literary classic, it cracks my little ladies up! Anna is already "reading" books too. She is retelling stories we have read over and over in her toddler language anyway and it is adorable. Check her out..
Jillian thinks it is pretty hilarious too!
There are few things that make me happier than reading with my girls. Somehow, Emily wasn't near as interested in the plot of this story as my littles were. She does love the library too though. There is a coffee shop inside after all.
Five months ago, this little sweetie had no concept of Jesus. She had no idea what worship was, no clue what it meant to have the love of an earthly father, or to be rocked in the arms of a momma. Her eyes were empty and her heart was too. Tonight she sat in our dining room, at our table, as our daughter, singing and dancing while giving all the praise she has to Jesus. My God is so good to allow me just a small part of this plan that He has for her.
She continues to just amaze me! I know that God will use her in mighty, mighty ways. I pray that He will continue to give us the wisdom (and mental strength) to shape her strong will for His purposes.
She laughs and loves like nobody's business which is a miracle given her beginnings. She and I made these yummy banana chocolate chip muffins while Jillian was in school. This sweet girl was proud as peaches to show her daddy what she had done when he came home for lunch because this girl is over the moon, head over heels for her daddy.
Tonight, I even took her to the Cat in the Hat production here in CR and the girl sat mesmerized for the entire play. Magical. It is magical to sit next to her watching her take in everything with such wonder.
I am crazy for her. She was made by God to be mine as I can't imagine my life without her in it. (She is rocking this sweet hand-me-down dress from Abigail! Thanks for sharing with us Abigail. We miss you and your mommy too!)
I'm listening to Jillian laugh and it brings tears to my eyes and praise to my heart. This little four year old of mine is so much more than just a child..she is God's heart, our love, a miracle, and watching her thrive in this place is just sometimes so emotional for me that it actually leaves me without words. In the last five months, this amazing little girl, who was literally left for dead two years ago, has gained a new little sister, gone two solid weeks without her momma while I was in China, moved to a new state, started school, and she has come ahead through it all. Truly, I am overcome with love for this little who continues to change me so much more than I could ever change her. How I love her and am blessed that God chose me to be her mother. I sat rocking her against my chest last night before bed and I just wished that I could hold on to her forever because this child does something to me. This child shepherds me into the presence of the Lord unlike anything that I have ever experienced. He is written all over her. His goodness, His mercy, His compassion, His love, His plan, His design..is threaded throughout her very being and, while this is true of every human being, it is just so easy for me to see it in her because of how she has changed me. Today, and everyday, I am grateful to God for choosing me to do this. I am so blessed to be the momma of this clan and to watch God write my children's stories intertwining me in their lives as I walk out life next to them.
It has been nearly a week since I first dropped this little treasure off at K Elementary. Nearly a week since I began to entrust her to the three wonderful teachers and countless therapists there. She is doing amazingly well! She loves to ride in the wagon each morning to school, loves wearing her backpack, and is growing pretty comfortable in the classroom. She has demonstrated understanding of the work and then break doing a preferred activity already. She participates in circle time and does all the finger plays. She especially liked the row, row your boat game. She can touch and drag her picture on the smart-board and is proud as peaches about it as she was the only one who could. She didn't really like shaving cream or finger painting, but did participate for a few minutes. Her teacher recognized it stressed her out considerably and so she didn't push her too much. Then Jillian signed to be rocked and her dear teacher dropped everything, took her to the chair, and rocked my baby. God bless her! I am thrilled that this little one is signing so much at school and that they understand her. She is picking up so many new signs at home that it is hard for Daddy to keep up with the new ones I have taught her. Each day I pick her up on the playground before lunch time and she is running like the wind playing care freely among the other PK classes! This momma's heart is full. I never dreamed that she would do so well as I thought she would be so unhappy and full of anxiety right away, but so far she has held it together so well. I know that the hard days will come, as they always do with my angel, but for now I am proud of all that she is accomplishing. I tell you parenting this baby is like walking on Holy Ground as there are so many miracles all around us where she is concerned. I am blessed beyond measure that God has entrusted her to me.
As for this little sweetie, she LOVES having momma all to herself and the many adventures we go on, but she wants to go to school too. Each morning she goes into Jillian's classroom and parks at the table expecting that she will be given work to do too. Today, we enjoyed an indoor playground at the mall and then visited a popcorn shop with 200+ varieties. They give free samples so we had our fill then purchased the cheddar bacon flavor. YUMMY. We are making precious memories and I am so thankful to have this time with her.
I was walking them to school the other morning and glanced back to see them. Anna Mei was reading a book and Jillian was staring into her mirror. I was overcome with God's goodness and thought about how at thirty-seven (did I just reveal my age?) I never dreamed I would be walking a wagon to preschool with my littles inside, but here I am. I am so thankful that God's plans are so much bigger than I ever let myself dream and that I get to enjoy the beauty of mothering these two littles. Truly, I am grateful for my children and understand what a treasure each one is.
Last week, we made the six hour round trip back to Pekin to complete Anna Mei's re-adoption so that our three girls' birth certificates would be in the same county. Driving six hours in one day with our littlest beauties was no fun and I am beyond thankful to just hang around the house for the next rest of forever. Seriously, it was rough being in the car, but worth it to have our sweet Anna Mei's name on an American birth certificate listing us as her parents. Praise be to God for the gift of this sweet, sweet baby! In court, the judge didn't know how to pronounce her name (she is going to hate me when she is a teenager) and Sean was shaky about when her birth date was, but they granted us the birth certificate. I think they took pity on us as they could see we had been through the ringer during the trip there. It is only a formality of course, because the adoption was finalized in China. We just complete this step so she has a traditional birth certificate at the courthouse. If we chose to not complete this step, we would have to rely on China for paperwork to prove our adoption if we ever needed it. We enjoyed our time at our favorite park in our old home, visited with one of our teens that we dearly miss, and then headed back here to our new home all in the same day. Typing that brings back horrible memories of trying to keep a 2 and 4 year old happy in the car. Glad it's over and that we have one more piece of paper proclaiming Anna Mei Elyse is our forever treasure!
We set out early this morning to pick some apples at the local orchard.
Jillian found some dead grass at the bottom of the bell "tower" and could have played in there for hours. She was happy to find a giant sensory bin for her enjoyment. She did not want to pick the apples or walk among them, but she did enjoy playing inside the "tower" and swinging on the porch swing.
Anna Mei was thrilled with the morning activity in every sense of the word! She loved picking the apples and carried the heavy baskets as we filled them up though she would say "heavy, heavy" the entire time she was lugging it around.
She has so much precious toddler left in her face, but I know that all too soon that will be gone and she will be grown up like my Jillian.
I just love how everything brings her great wonder. She loved examining each apple and counting them as we put them in.
After picking, we found Daddy and Jillian enjoying the swing. Jill is signing momma here because she wanted me to sit down too.
Anna Mei couldn't wait to get home to enjoy her bounty. She bit into one of the red frees we picked on the way home. Yummy!
I decided to start my four year old treasure in a public school special education program. I have never had a peace about having my sweet girl with autism away from me. I have never visited a program, met with a team, and had the feeling I did last week when I met with this team of ladies. Truly, this place has much, much to offer her. Still, this morning when I drove by her new school during drop off to get a feel for the traffic pattern and what will work best to get my precious treasure in with as much ease as possible...I just wanted to keep driving as far away from there as I could. With everything in me, I just want to keep this baby girl safe, protected, and with me at all times. I cried big, ugly tears as I sped away from that place and I have no idea how in the world I will leave her there tomorrow without the supernatural strength of the Lord who gave me this baby and knows His plans for her. I trust Him with her and I know that she belongs to Him, but with her history and everything she has been through I have an intense LOVE for her. She is hard-very hard-to care for and requires so much patience and unconditional love that I have been hesitant to trust anyone else with her, but I am at a place that I really feel like it is time to give it a try. So, with much prayer and a big dose of HOPE I am sending her off in the morning. YIKES! Typing that makes me want to run away with her as fast as I can. :)
Literally my heart could burst because today I walked this lady out
the door and into her preschool classroom. I left her there today. We
have visited together, met with the team, had the team over to our
house, written social stories, taken pictures, made lists, filled out
paperwork, and today was the day that she walked through the doors of a HUGE school as a
PK kiddo. I never dreamed I would have the peace that I do, but this
program in our new city has much to offer our angel and so I am giving
it a shot. She is precious to me beyond words and I am blessed that
God has intrusted this special beauty to me, but I am also thankful to
now live in a community that has so much to offer her. We are now living in a
huge city and so there is so much more for her. You can see God's hand in placing us here in every aspect of our lives. I even told Sean that I
am sad that we haven't had her here all along because there is so much
here that we can access. It may be too much for her to be in school,
but I am trying it. I will pick her up before lunch though she could
stay all day. ALL day is too long for this little treasure right now,
but I am thankful that they are so willing to work with us to find the
best balance for her. Truly they are so willing to individualize just
for her and I love that they are willing to do that. Anna Mei just kept following Jillian around saying Anna Mei go school. Truly this littlest beauty can't wait to be in school like her two big sisters. As for momma, I am going to use the time to work on bonding with her and trying to enjoy all these little moments that are gone way to soon as my babies grow older.
loves everything I give her to do especially if it involves her receiving my undivided attention. She loves to color, draw, paint, take puzzles apart, craft, cook.. She loves it all.
She is a ham. Notice she is wearing Daddy's black socks, sunglasses, and pajamas. With her strong will strongly intact, you never know what you might find her in or out of. You have to pick your battles with this one.
She can be so loving. Look at those little lips. She sits outside the shower the whole time I am in there and opens the curtain frequently for a kiss all puckered up just like this. Who can resist her?
I am a Christ follower, wife of 20 years to my best friend, and a stay at home momma to five amazing daughters. I am currently waiting for one precious special needs treasure to come home from China. I am passionate about the orphan and special needs adoption. I love to teach God's word, am involved in youth ministry alongside my dh, and love,love, love cooking. Above all, I desire to serve God and surrender my life to His call.