Friday, there was a free orchestra concert at the library. We spend every Friday morning at the library so this concert was a great start! They played twinkle, twinkle little star while my sweet girl sang and did the motions.
She loved the stringed instruments. She was pretty happy to be experiencing it with all the other children!
Then, we moved to the computer area. This is a favorite of hers. She LOVES to play the games.
She can maneuver the touch screen and match all the baby animals to their mommas because she is a brilliant two year old.
Then, we participate in a play group right there in the library community room. It is an amazing group called Play and Learn. They bring in toys and set up about six centers each week.
I love exploring all the centers with her and doing the crafts in the craft area. Our library is AMAZING! All of this is free and Anna really, really enjoys it.
This is the large, open letter O that is among the giant letters on the wall going into the children's section of the library. It is a tunnel and she loves crawling through it each week to get to the book section. We are blessed to have such an incredible library program here! We even attend a free music class at another branch of the CR library on Thursdays. Anna loves it all! I love it too because it is a perfect way to fill our mornings while Jillian is learning at school.
We must have played ring around the rosy in the leaves 100 times at the park yesterday! It was so simple and so fun. We enjoyed playing in those leaves so much that we are excited that the sky is sunny and the weather isn't too cold today so we can go back at it again this afternoon! It was a wonderful day yesterday and I pray we are rounding another corner.
This week with Miss Anna has been hard and I am reminded that attachment and bonding is a marathon not a sprint. It isn't something magical that happens at one month home or even at six months home. It is a long and painful process for all involved most of the time. It is something that requires much work, more prayer, and a lot of patience, but the payoffs in the end are so worth every painstaking investment made in a healthy parent/child relationship. This week our Anna has been so defiant and so demanding of my time. Honestly, it was like it was our first week home again and so I had to get the ergo carrier back out. She nestled right in it and sat in there for the last two hours. I spoon fed her lunch and took her way back to where I had her those first few weeks in China, but our lunch was so much better than our day has been. Where did this come from? The only thing I can think is that Jillian had a meltdown on Sunday which required my solo attention be on her and Daddy wasn't home so Emily stepped in to help with Anna. Needless to say, the jealousy and exclusive rights to momma have been brutal this week following Sunday night's episode with Mei, Mei even though she really doesn't want much to do with me when she can have my attention. It only seems to be when her sister needs me that she is so upset and that isn't even mentioning the tantrums, fits, and shouting NO at nearly every request that is made of her this week. Frustrating week is an understatement, but I got a kiss just now. It is the first unsolicited kiss given this week by her and I am thankful to be making a step in the right direction after a few hard days. This journey to attachment and unconditional love is not for the faint of heart. I could never go it alone and am grateful for the ever present love and strength of my God who walked me down this road and who never, never leaves me. Here is to the end of a hard week and hope for a better one about to begin!
Little Miss Jillian still cannot chew. She has no clue how to use her jaw to move those chompers up and down to chew anything. She doesn't bite. She doesn't chew on toys, or anything, because literally she has no idea how to chew. She mashes food with her tongue in a sort of sucking motion and swallows most things whole. She eats only soft foods like rice/pasta and cooked fruit because she couldn't even use her tongue to spit food out that was too big to swallow until recently. She swallowed everything she put in even if it choked her. She is a big applesauce and yogurt fan as they have a puree texture and are easiest for her to eat..no mashing required because mashing all your food with your tongue is a workout. We have been in feeding therapy for almost two years now trying to figure out those teeth, introduce her to new food textures, and get her chewing. We have tried many, many different things. We have worked a long, long time and she has made great progress (thank you Easter Seals therapists), but she still won't put most foods in her mouth probably because she can't just swallow them and has no idea how in the world to chew. So at snack each day at school, Jillian eats what I pack her. I pack her comfort foods, her favorite spoons, and her therapy cup for her each day. While she eats her special snack packed lovingly by momma, the other kiddos in her class munch on graham crackers all around her. Well, she has been watching them and yesterday she took a small bit of cracker from Miss Nina and put it in her mouth. She is even making a biting sort of motion when I give her a piece at home. This is huge and exciting. One of the main ways we were trying to bring awareness of her teeth to her was by placing these crunchy textures in small bits on her teeth, but she wouldn't even let us hand feed these to her. I have been hand feeding her little bits too after her interaction with the cracker at school yesterday and she is letting me get them in! She is still trying to "suck" bits in mostly and not opening up, but just taking them from me is a huge step in the right direction. Miss Kelsey, our feeding therapist back home, would be so proud! Funny I just said to Sean two days ago that she may never chew, but I am so thankful she can eat some foods and is gaining weight and healthy. Then, we get this breakthrough! WAAAHOOO!!!
Adoption costs a lot. When you are fully funded (praise God) and have a new little one home, the costs do not stop. In fact, when you adopt a child with special needs, there are often additional costs that come along with the treasure you have welcomed home. The cost of therapy, transportation, and adaptive equipment add up quickly, but what I want to post today is that God provides..never has He left us. God didn't just provide the $30,000 we needed to bring our girls home and leave us on our own. He has continued to provide every step of the way. In the last two years, as we have faced many hurdles in caring for Jillian, whose special needs are so much more than we planned for, God has continued to provide for us in all things. It happened again in a big way recently. About two months ago, a family who we now are blessed to know because God has moved us here, showed up at our door with an ipad for Jillian..a free gift for us. Jillian is nonverbal, meaning she cannot speak words though she has a desire to communicate with us, and so we had been saving for an ipad for her for almost a year. The ipad technology has augmentative communication software and sign language software that is invaluable for her as she tries to tell us what she wants and needs. We had almost set aside enough after a year of saving to purchase one and mentioned to this family one day while having lunch with them that we would be in the market for one soon as the money was almost saved. Then, later the next day, they showed up with a package wrapped for our special little miracle-her very own ipad! AMAZING! I continue to stand in awe of how supportive God's people are and how they allow themselves to be used to help us care for our little treasure. She loves her ipad and I love our snuggle/work sessions when Anna Mei is napping. She is making great strides here in our new home and I feel so completely blessed to watch her blossoming.
Not only did this miraculous provision help us, it allowed us to use the money we had saved to help another family in need. Because we didn't need the money for the ipad anymore, we were able to give it to a very special someone at just the time they needed it! I love how God cares for us. I love to watch Him work and am grateful beyond measure to be able to know Him as my Savior!
Dearest Anna Mei,
Six months ago you woke up in a crib in an orphanage in China for the last time. You rode in a van nearly an hour and were given to me. You dear, sweet, baby, are an incredible gift from the Lord. You fill my days with joy and laughter. You are smart, saucy, bossy, and compassionate. Your smile lights up our home. You love to be rocked and held. You love to play pretend, carry your baby dolls, and cook with momma. You can't get enough of Elmo and love your big sister Emily best.
You still pick up your bowl and drink your oatmeal in the morning. You love to eat everything, but pizza makes you pat your belly and say "YUM Good!". You are a grazer and prefer to eat from your snack bowl all day long when momma lets you. You also insist on having yogurt and applesauce on your plate, even though you don't like them, just because Jillian has them on her plate. You want everything to be even and square.
When you smile, your eyes disappear. You are all about hair bows these days, but don't like to leave them in long after they are placed for the day. You love to sing, dance, and be the center of the attention in our family. You are talking up a storm and are never, never quiet except when we are in big crowds. You are most comfortable at home or in groups of people you know well. I love you with everything I am and am grateful for every moment in the last six months as you continue to become mine. You are a precious gift. I know the Lord has big plans for your life sweet girl and I pray for your salvation daily. I love that you already play your little instruments and have me sing our praise God in the morning song! May all the days of your life be spent praising Him who brought you to us and loves you more than you could ever imagine.
I love to craft and there is nothing more fun than doing it with my girls.
Jillian is getting so much better at tolerating my little projects and sometimes she even enjoys them.
Anna loves any and everything that I set up for her.
She especially loves painting!
She is learning to recognize her name so we label all her art with her name. We have been displaying the girls art on the refrigerator, but it is so full of Jillian's school work that we have to move most of our home projects to the playroom wall. I am so happy to have these sweet little faces to craft with and thankful that they are so willing to participate.
If you are in the middle of doing hard on your adoption journey..if it seems as if you will never bond..if you feel like you can't handle all the special needs that surprisingly came with your newest treasure..if you are weary and wonder how in the world you will ever be able to handle anything more...if you are hopeless and feel as if your child is too broken or their special needs are too disabling.. DON'T LOOSE HOPE because today I spent the entire day with my amazing little treasure whose special needs are so much more than I was prepared for, whose brokeness at times was so overwhelming, and who, some days, I thought would never be able to experience life AND it was one of the happiest days of my life. Watching this child overcome so much in the last two years is so incredible that I feel extremely blessed just being near her. There were, and continue to be, times that are so hard, but this baby is a miracle and I praise God that He chose me to be her mother.
Today, we went on a field trip. Her PK class headed to the local farm that Anna and I visited a few weeks ago. It was just a field trip..an ordinary day experienced by thousands of school children today alone, but for me, a momma watching her special needs child, it was a miracle! Her smiles melt my heart. The fact that she can communicate with me and was signing up a storm is just more than my heart could even dream possible in the months after we brought her home. Now two years later, she is no longer empty and weak. She is full of life, has so much JOY, and I have seen the Lord work miracles in her life! Today is a day that I will treasure in my heart for years to come. I will hold on to these images as I face the impossible knowing for certain that nothing is impossible for Him!
The jumping pillow was a highlight of her day! She would run and fall laughing her head off the entire time.
This is her smile on the hay rack ride. She was so happy to see her friends. She shrieked with delight the entire time!
This is her first jump holding on to momma's hand!
She LOVED the swings.
Just as I thought, she spent an hour in the corn. It was, by far, the highlight of her entire day! It was a huge crib with corn at least three feet deep. A sensory seeking, bean lovin' girl's dream come true!
This farm is one of the richest, sensory filled places I have ever seen! I heart this farm and it is only twenty minutes from us. Now if they just had a frequent visitors club so we could get reduced admission, it would be perfect! Today was truly priceless. If only those officials from her country, who said she would never do anything, could see her now! How I love her and am over the moon giddy about the beautiful day we spent together! I never would have dreamed in the months after coming home that she would change so much!
That chair in the header of the blog isn't empty anymore! Our darling Mei Mei is home! And so we headed to a local park with that chair (and the other two) to shoot some fall pictures last Saturday! I can't wait to get them back and redo the blog because we are waiting no more. Our little treasure is HOME! She is home and these days she is carrying that chair to declare it! Empty no more! Full of a precious, amazing little two year old who is sassy and bossy and fits just perfectly with us! Praise be to God for this amazing gift!
Many, many days, it is hard and complex to process all that my heart is feeling because I have my Ch*nese treasures in my life. Truly, I experience, see, and witness miracles in the making every moment that I am with them. Tonight, I sat rocking them both-Jillian on the right and Anna Mei on the left-in the little white rocking chair beside Jillian's bed in her room. A room with a sweet pink quilt on the white metal bed that is full of toys, clothes, and the beautiful hand painted tea party table that belonged to my oldest daughter. Jillian had bumped her head and was crying. Anna Mei knew Jillian's need for momma time and sat quietly (this is a rarity) on my lap next to Jillian giving her the quiet to process and recover. I sang, as Jillian requested, as I rocked them both. It was then that I began to look at Anna Mei's bare toes. I examined her littlest piggy toe. I really looked for the first time at how stubby and round it is as it protrudes out from her foot a bit. And then I wondered..did she have her birth momma's toe? Somewhere in China was there a woman who gave birth to my baby with a little toe just like this one? Does her heart break thinking about the absence of this child? Then, I started to cry at the injustice in that thought. Suddenly, as I rocked in this sorrow, Anna Mei looked into my eyes and said "I Low You Momma". Oh my heart this baby girl is so a part of me, but at the same time, she is not at all a part of me. It breaks me that there is a momma out there that has been denied the right to have this baby as hers. Yet, it is a deep honor and privilege to be able to care for her as mine. This adoption stuff is hard. Heart breaking. Beautiful. And so much more than I could have ever imagined. Yet truly each and every day the Lord has opened my eyes to so much more than I could have ever seen before because I have these babies. "I Low You Momma" are words my daughter's birth mothers will probably never hear them say as the chances of us finding them are nearly impossible. Still, I pray for them often. I pray that God will give them peace and that He will reveal Himself to them so that they too may find His love that is so available to all of us who believe. I hold out hope that someday we might just get to worship Him together in glory and that we will finally be united together with our maker who intertwined our lives so intimately though we have never met.
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.