We close on our new home in just two days. It is much smaller and far less grand than the parsonage we have called home for the last six years prior to coming here, but it is ours and we are thrilled to have a home again! Anyway, dear hubs did the final walk through this morning with a kind, kind man from our church who is volunteering to do all of the electrical work we need done prior to moving in. This kind man is a grandpa type and he carefully inspected each room looking over the electric, but the thing that made me giddy and has kept me smiling all day is that he checked the bookcases and stair railing. He checked their sturdiness, without any prompting from Sean, because he knows our Jillian. He knows that she is a climber as he cared for her one day in our church nursery and even let her climb the cabinets up to the ceiling under his care. It makes me smile so so much because I worried about coming to serve a new body. I worried because my sweet four year old is not easy. She has many, many challenges and loving her can be hard. She needs a lot of support and, as her mother, it is a privilege for us to care for her. Still, I worried about bringing her into a new church because I didn't know how she would be received by others and if she would have those here who love her as much as we do. Well, she does, in fact, have a village of those who love and care about her in our new body and it just makes me smile. It makes me smile that this man thought of her safety in our new home. God is faithful and He continues to provide the village that we need to support her. We are truly blessed to be in this body and I should have never doubted.
Our Anna Mei is my BIG helper. Our dining room and kitchen in the rental are very closed off and that makes for lots of carrying to the dinner table. Anna Mei is quick to help carry Jilly's (Anna's pet name for Jillian) tray to the table. The other night she had been playing dress up. Don't you always set the table in princess heels and butterfly wings? Is she not adorable? This life, with this sweet, spunky, sassy one is just too too good. I love the way she runs to the living room each night screaming "JILLY TIME TO EAT"! I had to try to capture it. She is a hoot this one and a blessing-a tremendously fun blessing!
of just how moved people are when they hear my Jillian's story.
We LOVE the local library. It is new and they have amazing, great programs there that are all free to those of us that live in this great community. We visit there often and in the entrance of the children's department, there are "lava tiles" which my Jillian has always been drawn to. In fact, they make her laugh and jump with glee. She draws some attention when she interacts so joyously with these tiles at the library. So on several occasions, I have had a conversation started up with me about my special girl by the friendly and wonderful library staff while Jill laughs and runs from tile to tile. I asked just what these tiles were on one occasion thinking that Jillian would really enjoy having one at home if they weren't too expensive. The staff put me in contact with the architect that designed the library, and put said tiles into place, so that I could get more information about these magnificent and visually stimulating carpet inserts. Well, these tiles cost lots of money and so I just resigned to enjoy them at the library (which we do), but apparently the architect was so moved by my girl's story, as it was shared by the library staff, that she worked to get a tile donated for her. Imagine my surprise when I found a message in my inbox saying they had one for our Jillian completely free of charge. I picked it up while she was in school and placed it in the living room next to her sensory tent so she could see it when she got home. Boy did she ever see it! She didn't even take her coat off! She started voicing and laughing as she jumped up and down on the beautiful red "lava" inside this tile. She was one happy, happy girl! There are not many things that make my baby girl so very genuinely happy so I was pretty happy too. Thank you so very much Mindy for working to get this for my girl! She sure loves it!
Miraculous! Jillian ate cake! I have never been able to get her to eat cake. NEVER! I have never even gotten it close to her mouth. I don't think she loved it because she didn't ask for more, but she ate it! She ate it! She even blew out candles and she sat at the table the entire time we celebrated Anna Mei's birthday! Each time Daddy would light the candles on Anna's cake, Jillian would have them blown out laughing hysterically before Anna could even blink. We finally all were laughing so hard that we couldn't even stop ourselves. Now, I will be even more thrilled if, on March 9, she can participate in her birthday just as fully as she has Anna Mei's. This kid is amazing! She continues to defy all of us and we are stinking blessed that she is ours.
We had to wait until Em got home from practice to have her "party". It killed her. The waiting was treacherous, but so well worth it to share it with big sis. This sweet, sweet girl just loved every part of her day, every gift, every song, and every ounce of love she received. I have to say that today was one of the happiest days of my momma life as I watched this wonderful little treasure understand and accept being cherished by her family. BEAUTIFUL!
She has been sitting next to this cake ALL. DAY. LONG. Waiting until this evening was brutal.
As we were eating our Chinese take out, she said thank you momma. Melt my heart baby girl! Melt my heart!
I am three years old..she says. We have been practicing all day.
Finally with about ten minutes left to wait, she started digging in with her fingers. There were several chunks missing by the time Em and Daddy arrived home.
The happy birthday girl being sung to by her adoring family.
She didn't even wait for a slice to be cut. She dug right in.
Daddy joined in.
Her three small gifts made her so very happy. She had one from each of her sisters and was so very excited to open them. Happy Third Birthday Precious Anna Mei! We love you!
There are no words. I am not often speechless, but this kid..OMW..this kid is thrilled to be having a birthday. She is something so very, very special and her day so far has been absolutely delightful. She is counting down the hours until Em is home from school so we can have her official party with the Elmo cake we made. My heart is happy..overflowing in fact..to have this sweet, treasured daughter with us on her "first" birthday! There is nothing like it! There is not one picture from today that she isn't just positively glowing!!
We were able to find her the most adorable little kitchen and laundry center. Another family had outgrown it at just the perfect time for Anna who was thrilled to see it this morning.
She immediately began to iron and do laundry just like momma does.
She even loved waiting for her birthday breakfast!
Look at her excitement as she sees the candles on the pancakes and hears us singing happy birthday!
Smiles. Priceless. (Without many of you, this simply wouldn't be. She wouldn't be here and for that I am forever grateful to you! Thank you for giving so that she could be home.)
Dear friends this is the face of a treasured and loved little one on her very first birthday!
Blowing out candles.
She was more than ready to enjoy her very first birthday in a family! We love her immeasurably and are so very happy to have this day with her.
It is difficult to engage Jillian and Anna Mei in play at the same
time. Engaging Jillian is hard work because of her autism and Anna Mei,
at two, just doesn't have the patience and understanding to hold out
or wait long enough to make their play last any amount of time. As a
result, playing purposefully together for any amount of time is
something that this momma treasures in her heart. One morning last
week, it happened. Anna Mei and I were in the corner of the dining
room, because that is were we happened to land, with the toys she had
gotten out. We began by setting up some bowling pins and crashing a
ball into them. This pulled our Jillian in so naturally. Initially,
Anna Mei screamed (she is two people) refusing to share momma or her
toys with Jillian, but after some prompting she relented and Jillian was
still interested in playing so we took turns setting up the pins and
knocking them over. It lasted for a good seven minutes. Jillian and
Anna Mei took turns, shared laughs, and enjoyed playing! Then, after
growing tired of bowling, Anna created a new game using the animal puppets and blocks in the tubs near us. (Y'all I will never take for granted how easily this playing thing and childhood in general come for most kiddos, like my Anna, again after watching my Jillian struggle through so much!) We still had Jillian hooked, and despite her anxiety over those pesky puppets, she participated fully in Anna's game for a good ten minutes. Anna would wear the puppet and Jillian would "feed" it a block. Jillian would wear the puppet (miraculous truly) and Anna would feed it a block. Then it was momma's turn. Jillian thought my silly animal voices were hilarious. It was wonderful to sit in the corner and enjoy a good fifteen minutes playing with my girls. There was no fighting (unheard of as Anna can a bit difficult when it comes to sharing) and we laughed so much! I am grateful for every moment I have with these beauties, but this moment was wonderful! Jillian continues to just amaze me. I miss our organized play therapy so much, but am so lucky to have seen Miss Amy, our amazing play therapist, playing with my Jill for well over a year. In that year, I got pretty good at playing myself and I really, really enjoy it! It is my prayer that I remember just how important is to stop all my business and take time to just play with my treasures! These moments are the stuff that life is made of. I know these toys, that now take up about 90% of our home, will be gone all too soon. Enjoy today!
Sweet baby girl still has some pretty intense rages. Usually, she is most upset when she wakes from her nap. These episodes can be pretty ugly and last a good long while. In the last two weeks, we have had some beautiful positive changes with our treasure and we are so hopeful that we are gaining ground in her heart. She is pushing me away less and letting me comfort her more even in the midst of her anger. Today, she woke and I knew she would ultimately end up melting down. She did, in fact, scream, kick, and flail for a good while, but as she was collecting herself she came to me for rocking. Then she said PRAY. I did not understand her at first as she was still sobbing heavily so she repeated PRAY. You see, I pray for my sweet girl as I sit next to her working through her grief during these times. I pray aloud so she knows exactly what I am saying as I converse with my God on her behalf. I give thanks for her life (even though I am often frustrated and afraid as I watch her), pray peace over her, and most often spend lots of time praying for God's healing where her little heart is concerned. Today, today was the first day that my baby girl asked me to pray for her. She wanted me to talk with God on her behalf. There are so many things that are down right hard about parenting my beautiful treasures from China, but at the same time there are moments like this..that bring you to your knees because my baby girl at two knows where this momma's coming from. She knows that ultimate healing and peace can only come through a relationship with a living God. It is my prayer that I model that for her and that ultimately she grows to love Him as much as I do. I believe He has never left her and that He knows every step she has taken. He understands the pain in her heart and He has placed her right here and chosen me to help her heal. Though I am broken and weak myself, God continues to give me wisdom and strength as I parent these girls and I am forever grateful for the privilege.
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.