27 January, 2015

one year... can it be?

It has been a whole year from this life changing day (and one week —thanks to my delay in posting this!). In one years time a great deal has happened and the journey has been filled with so many celebrations and a lot of hard things. Ian and Jovie are amazing children who have their own little opinions, personalities and a whole history before us that we don't even know about. It has been incredible getting to know these little people that I call my own. We have introduced them to so many new thing, celebrated family traditions, holidays, vacations, and had many firsts together.

This day a year ago Ian and Jovie were terrified, heartbroken and we were strangers. On this day, I don't just celebrate the day that we got our son and our daughter; this day that I had waited and dreamed of... I celebrate the distance we've come. I know that Ian and Jovie have lived more time away from us, than with us. We are bonded, we are whole-heartedly one family, and today Ian and Jovie know what family means. They have received a year of our unshakable, unbreakable, constant love. In a year, we have seen them transform. We have seen them come to trust and have confidence, learn to rely on us, and grow to have a deep attachment with each other, and a strong affection towards us. I'd like to say we've moved mountains in a year...

In March last year, I wrote about Mae's famiversary and the tradition we wanted to do for our children. We want to celebrate who they are and how they add to our family. Adoption is not WHO they are... and this day is not like a birthday, but is a milestone nonetheless. It is a day that is special and a day to look back on... much like Cody and mine's wedding anniversary.  But I want to be careful in our talk about adoption that it isn't an identifier for them. God created Cody and I to be together, but being beautifully and uniquely made by him is a separate thing. Mae, Ian and Jovie will have a story that is different from their classmates and friends, and when their friends meet their mom and dad for the first time they might be surprised we aren't Chinese too. I hope that these precious babies will understand the importance of WHO they are, the incredibly amazing children created by a loving father. We all have a story. We are his, all adopted by him.  And that maybe they aren't so different.

So, back to the tradition for their "famiversary" or "gotcha day"... back in March, I made a list for Mae, of characteristics of her personality. I wanted to do this because I believe so much of who we are as a child remains the same into adulthood. And won't it be neat to see how they stay the same, and what might change? This is the list for Ian and Jovie. It made me so incredibly happy just doing this exercise, and I encourage you do this for your children.

10 Characteristics of Jovie Ming

10 Characteristics of Ian You 

 We went out to eat authentic Chinese food (absolutely delicious!) and afterward we lit two lanterns to send off for Ian and Jovie.  A sky lantern is essentially a small hot air balloon made of paper with an opening at the bottom where a small fire is suspended. A long time ago the lanterns were used as signals during wars.  Now they are commonly used for Chinese festivals, for good luck and to send wishes skyward. I love doing this because it is bold and beautiful. As we watch the fire float away in the sky it is a magical. It will fly up to one mile high, and travel for miles in whatever direction the wind decides.  Watching it light up the night sky and float away is breath-taking. This time we made sure to emphasis we were sending it off and saying good-bye to the lantern. Mae was so upset last time that she didn't get it back agian.

And as the lanterns float away, I pray for their hearts... and will continue to. Almost every week we are stopped in the store by a stranger that tells me how lucky they are, and every time I respond with "we are the lucky ones". I don't think they will feel like they won the lottery, like people seem to think. At the moment they found this family their pasts weren't erased, one adoption decree didn't solve everything. Yes, they have a family (a quite good one, actually), they have parents that would fly to ends of the earth for them, and they live in America.

But the truth is, they will grow up without ever knowing their birth family, who they look like, and even their medical history. They are Chinese but have already forgotten their first language. Just a year ago they had a whole life without us: a routine, friendships, and people that were daily in their lives that we know very little about. They will undeniably have questions about who they are and why they were given up... and we will do everything in our power to help them find the answers, if that is what they want. I pray that the missing pieces would be filled with the Holy Spirit. That the one thing that they would cling to is that there was One with them from the moment they took their first breathe. One that created the fabric of who they are, that knows every hair on their head and can wipe every tear.

What a powerful thing that is for a mom to fully understand. Their hearts are precious, to me, and I know to God even more so. I can try to shield them from hurt, I can grow them up surrounded with love and acceptance, have discernment to know what to say to them, and teach them to guard their hearts... but in the end the most important thing I can possibly do is to introduce them to their Maker.

Isaiah 41:10  fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

The truth is adoption is a wonderful, but tragic thing. It is not without heartache... and I don't believe luck has anything at all to do with it. 

15 January, 2015

Gumball Method

Every parent knows they will have to eventually endure the pains of potty training;  I think God adds jewels to moms (and dad's) crowns in heaven for this... not biblical, so don't quote me.  I decided to bite the bullet and finally go all in with potty training Ian. "All in" means no more diapers, so an "accident" is noticeable to say the least... and since we're potty training a puppy at the same time, I thought I better wait on Jovie... and hope she's taking notes! 

Every child has accidents...  but with Ian I didn't even know how much control he had.  Could he even be potty trained? I've agonized so much over this. I felt like we'd never know as long as he had his diapers, and at least I could get him to teetee on the potty. He had his surgery in November to help improve his muscles down there and at first we were very disappointed because outwardly the surgery did not change him... but it must have changed something on the inside! My boy is most certainly doing way better than I anticipated!! HUGE answer to prayer!!! You can not know the huge sigh of relief this is...  I've wanted him to be able to go to school in big boy underpants just like the rest of his classmates. I don't want my sweet boy to be singled out for being the only one in diapers in his class... and it looks like that is not going to be an issue for him.

I bought a gumball machine and for a reward for going "teetee" or "poopoo" Ian gets a quarter.  (I trained Mae with Skittles and it really didn't work... she still wanted her diaper and to stay a baby WAY more than a candy.)  With the gumball machine it is so much more than the candy... all the kids crowd around to watch as he puts in his coin and turns that dial. It's working so well that Jovie is now taking herself to the potty for her quarter too... it's a grand idea I can not take credit for. My best friend, Tamara came up with this one. I highly recommend the "gumball method".

Let me tell you the sweetest part of it all... Ian earns his jelly beans and shares them with his sisters. HE IS INCREDIBLE!!

06 January, 2015

update from room 2143

Monday morning (yesterday) we woke up early and headed down to Eggleston. We were told to go to the emergency room and tell them our oral surgeon has us as an add-on for surgery.  They were already expecting us and checked us all in. You know how it goes, everyone in the emergency room came to see her, listen to her heart, etc. and then was the dreaded IV. Jovie is upset by anyone coming around in a white coat but having to hold her down while she is screaming and getting poked is especially heart wrenching.
Every time Jovie has any type of trouble, or surgery she will come to Eggleston for it and stay in the step unit on the heart floor. So when they moved us out of the emergency room and into her room she was instantly more comfortable. It is soooo wonderful here. The rooms are really nice, these nurses know and love her and are AMAZING! And there's a playroom so little girl has fun distractions while we wait.

The doctor came in and told me that chances of her having surgery today are slim. What?! Oh no, that means we spend the night, have surgery and stay again for observation. Boooo!! And I have arrangements for the kids (although I knew my parents would happily keep them longer, if we needed them to), our bags are packed for 1 night, my new puppy has care today but not 3 days... My mommy mind started spinning. AND this sweet baby has hurt long enough! Y'all are with me, right? So I was praying something in the OR would open up so they could fit her in... And at 2:30 her nurse came in and said there's an opening and she's going to surgery in 30 minutes. I had been waiting for this but as soon as she said that I got butterflies in my stomach.
They gave her the verset (goofy juice) and wheeled her off and she looked back at me as they left.
That part just doesn't get any easier, no matter how many times we've had to do this now.
I paced the floor until the surgeon was finished and came to tell me her tooth was extracted and he really didn't think it looked as terrible as he thought... Based on her pain and swelling he thought it was going to be even worse.

She came back to me with a big hole in her mouth but feeling sooooo much better and ready to finally get to eat!!! She devoured her dinner and has been in great spirits!

You don't get the greatest sleep in the hospital but our nurse was very stealth and I think Jovie got a lot of sleep.

This morning they came in and did an ECHO to check her heart. They are so thorough with these heart babies. They will compare this ECHO today with her last one and tell us if anything has changed. We should know today what they think.

She had another hardy meal for breakfast... Waaaay more food than she would get at home (:

thank you so much for praying for Jovie Ming! She is just so precious and I'm so happy she's out of pain and seeing her back to herself! We are hanging out until they tell us we can go home... Ready to get back home and back to normal.

04 January, 2015

Jovie Ming's BIRTHDAY

Jovie Ming:

 She is independent as all get out. She shines from the inside out. Strong and brave, and the very definition of joy. Her laugh is the very best. She is the nurturer, always looking for ways to comfort or help her family (or a stranger if she sees there's a need).  She is brilliantly smart and is constantly amazing us with her tenacity. She is tigerbaby.

Happy Birthday Jovie Ming!! My child, my joy. I could not have dreamed of a greater happiness than getting to be your momma.

We went to IHOP, like we always do. She did enjoy her pancake but we know she just isn't feeling herself.

So we planned to have a low-key day at home and let her pick a movie to go home and watch. And that evening we went to a hibachi grill. The kids have never gone before so it was a fun night. Ian did not like the fire the guy made at all...but once food started appearing on his plate he was happy. There was someone there twisting balloons and came and made the kids some fun prizes to take home. We had a very nice night and Mae has already said that this is where she wants to go for her birthday (that's some time away my dear, it's in August).

Tomorrow morning we will be going to Eggeston for Jovie's surgery. PLEASE keep us in your prayers. I know we say that a lot on this blog but I have the best and most wonderful prayer warrior friends AND I DO NOT KNOW WHAT WE WOULD DO WITHOUT YOU! Yes, that was me yelling at YOU! YOU ROCK!!
thank you! thank you for loving these children and our family.

02 January, 2015

in the ER

I called the oral surgeon and she said we had to go the ER. Jovie is just in too much pain and to see her you would cry too. Her cheek is all swollen, she has woken up all through the night for a week and it is only getting worse.

An abscess tooth is bad enough, but tomorrow is a whale of a big day, it is Jovie's third birthday. It is her very first one that she will celebrate with wrapped presents, sprinkles and cupcakes, and with her family. It is a very big deal. We have missed the others, and tonight I struggled with the fact that we may be in the hospital for this one. Most important I want my girl to feel better. They have put her on hydrocodone, (that is what we left the hospital with after her heart surgery). It is strong and it should help us get to Monday. AND be at home celebrating this amazing child. 

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