Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday in GZ

We started off our morning with another yummy breakfast at our hotel.  Seriously, nothing beats the breakfast here!  The biggest buffet of really excellent food!  Ella Grace always starts off her day with a ham, onion and mushroom omelet (she eats the entire thing), a side of tofu (she loves it!), and maybe some yogurt if she's still hungry, and a bottle of soy milk.  She's usually pretty happy at breakfast time!

When we got her dressed this morning, Brad pulled out her green shirt and hairbow, and she seemed really happy about the green.  She studied the shirt and kept laughing with excitement over her shirt for today!  It was so cute to see her show some preference!  She still pulls her hairbow out like crazy, but this Momma is persistant, and keeps putting it back in!  ha!

Ella Grace in her favorite shirt!

After breakfast, we had our TB test read, and all was well with that!  We then got to go over to a really fun shopping area out onShamian Island!  We were able to buy most of our souveniers out there, and Ella Grace is now the proud owner of some adorable squeaky shoes!  The area out there is VERY adoptive family friendly, and the shopkeepers are used to seeing many families, because there is a huge hotel that has serviced adoptive families for several years.  After being out there today, we would have much rather stayed out there than where we are, even though the hotel is older.  There were SO many families all over the place, and a cute little park to walk through.  We plan to go back tomorrow to enjoy some more time over there, and take Ella Grace's picture on the famous "red couch" at the White Swan Hotel.  We also want to eat at Lucy's, too!

 Family Picture in the Park

Statue outside of Lucy's

We came back to the hotel and ventured out a few minutes to get a few more souveniers for family, then came back to the hotel for a while.  Tonight, we met a family from our travel group, and went out to eat at a fast food Chinese restaraunt.  We had to ask for a menu in English, and we did pretty good in ordering, considering there were no pictures to look at on the menu.  I ordered a safe fried rice dish and Brad ordered a fried noodle dish.  Both were very good.  We then walked back to the hotel.  We figured that we walked at least a mile today, and my muscles are screaming at this point, but it was so much fun to get out!  My leg is feeling so much better

 Dinner out with the Walton Family

Tomorrow is a BIG day for Ella Grace!  We have our consulate appointment, which makes Ella Grace an official US citizen!  Our official business in China is officially over in China tomorrow!  Her visa will be ready on Wednesday, and we will be free to leave China!  4 more nights and then we begin our journey home!  Can't wait!!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday in Guangzhou

Today was a city tour of Guangzhou.  Brad and Ella Grace met the group in the lobby and off they went!  Their first stop was to a concert hall, that was very familiar to Brad.... it's where the Singing Churchmen of Oklahoma sang about 15 years ago, when we came to China the first time!  Brad was really excited to see the place again and to get to stand on the stage again!  Wonderful memories for him!

Brad and Ella Grace on the stage

Concert Hall

 Travel Group in front of Concert Hall

Next they were off to the Mountain of the Goats.  Brad enjoyed the time spent with the travel group, and after they returned to the hotel, we all went to lunch together.  We are blessed to have a Chinese speaking Dad in our group, so they took us to a close by Chinese restaraunt, where we had Dim Sum.  The food was amazing, and it was so nice to have someone ordering for us who knew what everything was.   I never would have tried the foods we ate, just from the looks, but because I knew what it was, I ate it and loved what I ate.  I did NOT try the pig ears, but all the men ate them.  No pictures of lunch, as our camera battery had died by that time, but hopefully we will go back with them, and we'll get pictures next time.  We are thoroughly enjoying the fellowship with the two other families who are with us.  We feel so blessed to be with such a wonderful group of people!  We wandered around a small shopping area, but I wore out really quickly.  It's such a bummer being on these crutches here, when I want to get out with the group so badly! 

Tomorrow, Ella Grace has her TB test read, and from what we can tell, her test is negative, so all should be fine there.  We also have a nurse in our travel group, so she's looked at the kids' arms and so far, they look great!  After TB test reading, we may try to do a little shopping on Shamian Island.  We hear that is where the good shopping is, and we are still looking for some shoes that will fit Ella Grace... hoping to find the famous "squeaky shoes" tomorrow, and a traditional Chinese dress for Ella Grace.

Thanks for following along on our journey, and thanks to my friend, Sally for keeping this blog updated!  I get to read all of your comments in my email, so it's fun to hear from all of you!  It will be so nice to have this entire trip journaled through this blog!  Every day done here, is another day closer to HOME, and we can't wait!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

We made it to GZ!

After a short flight yesterday, we made it to our final week!  Can I just admit to you that I'm beyond ready to be home?  We are beginning to feel like we've been here a month instead of just a week!  Ella Grace was a crazy woman on our short flight!  The only way I can describe it is to say that she is definitely in the "busy toddler" stage!  She was standing up, sitting down, pulling down the tray table, putting it back up, sitting on the tray table and fighting the seatbelt when it was required to have it on!  We are going to have to work on a serious bag of tricks for the long ride home.  We have discovered that she loves books, so we are going to load up on a few, as well as some new toys to keep her attention.  She was pretty happy for the most part, other than the seatbelt.

Reading airplane safety manual

Ella Grace eating while sitting on the tray table

Today, we woke up, at an incredible breakfast at our hotel (okay, so I will miss that every day) and met with two other WACAP families to go get the kids' medical exams done.  It was such an incredible sight to see all the parents who showed up with their children to the clininc.  God is moving and bringing babies home to their forever families, and seeing so many families packed into that little clinic was my favorite part of the day!  We met families from all over the US.  Little Miss sure wasn't impressed with the doctors or nurses, but seeing her reach for her Daddy for comfort was also a wonderful thing.  She knows he's safe and will protect her.  After having her height, weight, ears, nose, throat, and overall checkup done, she had her TB test done.  I will admit that I teared up and left the room while they stuck my baby.  I know she'll go through alot more than that when she gets home, but it was painful to watch. 

Ella Grace and Daddy in clinic

After our medical exam, us and one other family decided to go to lunch.  Since the restaraunts are a little bit of a walk away, we decided to borrow the hotel wheelchair.  This sweet family in our group went to lunch with us, and then we decided to be brave and they wheeled me all over the place.  We went up two flights of stairs, with Brad and Don pushing me up a middle section ramp.  Can I just tell you, we were quite the sight to behold.  We wandered all over the place, carrying crutches, pushing me, and we never found the store we were looking for!  What a sweet family, to want me to be a part of wandering around.  We enjoyed our time together, and are enjoying having other families in this city to do things with. The Waltons  (who went on the escapade with us this afternoon) are right next door to us in our hotel, and our other family are on another floor, but we plan to go eat with them tomorrow.  Everyone has been so sweet and so accomodating to my sill leg, and we feel privileged to be part of such a caring group!  I'll try to get a picture of us with the other families tomorrow.

We came back to the hotel room, and Ella Grace was thrilled to be out of the carrier and was ready to play.  I can't say enough, how much joy and sweetness she brings to our lives already!  I can't wait to share that with her brother's and sister and all the wonderful people who have prayed for her and loved her before she ever came home!  She is a true gift!

Silly Ella Grace!

Brad and the group are heading out tomorow for a city tour.  I'm going to sit this one out, trying to not slow the group down too much!  

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Last Day in Nanchang!!!

We are coming to the close of our first week of this journey!  While we will remember this city forever as the city that we received Ella Grace, this city doesn't really have significance to her and the path she has been on since she was born.  She was born about 2 hours from here, and has spent the last 3 years of her life in Beijing, in a wonderful facility, where she was loved and cherished by the workers as well as many people around the world.  We had no idea, until we got here, that she was not in the orphanage that she had been turned over to at the time of her abandonment.  For some reason, the orphanage never shared this information with our agency, and the reason we never got any substantial updates, is because she wasn't AT the orphanage!  She was in an American run facility who takes care of children with special needs and funds surgeries for them, which was the case for our Ella Grace.    She received SOOOO much love there and was prayed over for the past 3 years.  Just further proof that God has had His hand on her throughout her whole life, which we knew already, but being able to see it for ourselves has been such a blessing! 

And for Sara, who hand delivered our special blessing to us, THANK YOU, so much for the love you and your staff have given to our Ella Grace over the past 3 years!  We are so fortunate to have met you, and now to be able to be in contact with you and to help support the wonderful work that you all are doing! 

Gotcha Day with Sara and our family

Little girl started off our day, by refusing to go to sleep until 2 am.... yes, that's right!  She had a late nap yesterday, and slept for about an hour, and we paid the consequences last night!  She wasn't fussy, but was giggling and laughing and ready to play!  Brad finally got her tired by pulling out the hair brush and brushing her hair for about 10 minutes.  He then put her in her crib, where she FINALLY dozed off.  We were worn out!  We all slept until 8:40 this morning.  Thankfully, we didn't have to meet our guide until 10 am.

We spent our last full day here by taking a trip to a porcelain shop.  This region is known for it's fine porcelain.  We found a few things to bring home!  We also then went and found Pizza Hut, where we enjoyed some YUMMY pizza, and got a little taste of home!  We came back and have been waiting on our final documents to arrive from the Notary, as well as our laundry to return from the laundry service who came to pick it up.  Brad just came back from KFC, bringing back our dinner and came in the room all excited.... he was standing outside of KFC, trying to hail a cab for a ride back to the hotel.  He was unsuccessful, so started walking, and a man who had been watching him, who was riding a motorcycle, motioned for Brad to jump on the back, and he gave him a ride back to our hotel!  Missed that photo op, but it made Brad's day! 

Brad & Ella Grace in front of Porcelain

Good night for the last time from Nanchang!  We can't wait to get to Guanghzou, where we will meet up with our travel group and get to know some families from our area!  We've got to repack all of our gear and hopefully get some good sleep.  Ella Grace had a 5 minute nap today!  We are hoping she will be ready for sleep by 8:00.... I know we will be ready!  We have a short hour and a half flight tomorrow, and can't wait to see this next hotel we will be staying at.  The one we have been at here has been awesome, and it looks like the next is going to even out-do this one!  Should be fun!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

From the Guy Who Stole Her Heart (Her Daddy)

I wanted to let Brad share his thoughts from this process.  Didn't figure you wanted to hear about another day spent in the hotel room, from the Mama!  This girl absolutely adores her Daddy, and it makes my heart soar to watch them bond and grow closer! 

Ella Grace laying on Daddy's chest

I don't even know where to start with all of this.  The Lord has been teaching me so much about Himself and His love for me through these last few months.  How can I even begin to articulate what He is doing in me through this time?  I'd sooner be able to dissect a rainbow and describe for you the splendor of the color spectrum as it explodes into all of its glory - to the praise of His glory and grace.  These are the things inside of my heart: a love that is being refined, as the Lord reveals how much He loves me, and as I watch it spill over unto this precious child that is my daughter.

My heart is so full.  I feel like I am singing a song that can only be heard and understood in heaven.  I don't know the words even while my heart is its author in response to all that the Lord is teaching me.  It is beautiful and continues on as an underscore amidst the daily diffculties and irritations.  That didn't begin this week in Nanchang.  That began the day I chose her, well, we chose her, and said this is our daughter.  Actually, it began the day He chose me, and redeemed me, and called me His own, His child, of no merit on my part, just an inexplicable lavishing of His love and grace into my life.  It began the day He made me an heir to the riches of God's glorious grace.  He has just used this event to allow her to be the overflow of God's love in my heart; the overflow of His grace, really.  I can't contain it, nor can I describe it.

Yesterday, I walked with her from our hotel.  She quickly fell asleep and so I kept walking - in a straight line so I could find my way back.  Before long, I was strolling through the memorial park that commemorates the beginning of China's Red Army.  It all started here in Nanchang.  I pondered the irony of this pastor walking through such a place.  I wondered what was being said of me.  It was clear, that I was a spectacle in such a place, this somewhat blonde-headed, blue-eyed man with a Chinese baby strapped to his belly.  I smiled and nodded a lot and continued to stroll along with my arms wrapped around my sleeping beauty.  I wanted to breathe this moment into the depths of my being, so that I will never forget.

With each adoption, the Lord has shown me more about Himself and more about myself.  The former is breath-taking and the latter causes me to dive more deeply into an ocean of self-relinquishment.  Maybe it's just my age (40), but this one, more than the previous three, has so gripped me.  It makes me want to keep going, just so I can see how much more of me I can give away and how much more of Him I can understand.  There's never enough of either of those things in my life.  What a glorious blessing is mine to be sharing this life with Shelly, Caleb, Jacob, Allyson, Ella Grace, & .......(ya never know with us!)

If our story has touched your heart in any way, the greatest way you could respond is to personally do something about the millions of orphaned children on this planet and adopt.  We had thousands of reasons why we couldn't do this (and they all had President's faces on them), but we proceeded in obedience to God's leading in our lives and He has provided through the entire process.  We'd love to talk to you about how to get started.  Chasing the Spirit through the fields of inexplicable is a beautiful thing.

Family pic at restaurant

 SuperGirl being walked by her Daddy

Daddy & Ella Grace Hands

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday in Nanchang

There's not alot to report from Nanchang today!  Today has been a day of resting and hanging out in our hotel room.  Brad has ventured out twice with Ella Grace, first to go to Walmart and KFC and is now out on a walk for a change of scenery for her.  She doesn't seem to mind the boring days and we spend lots of time playing and figuring each other out!  I would say that our bonding process is going well.  She definitely prefers her Daddy over me, and last night after I brushed her teeth, she was so mad at me that she wouldn't even let me console her.  She sat in my lap completely rigid.  It's okay... she's going to learn to take her comfort from me in time, and I'm just loving every second of seeing her bond so well with her Daddy.  When they came back from KFC today, she looked right at me and said "Mama".... which made my heart burst!  She came right to me, so maybe she missed me a little bit!  :o)  I doubt that she has had much contact with men, and I think that makes it easier for her to bond with him.  I am just another female in her life right now!  We introduced signs for eat and drink today, and so far, eat has clicked.  She has signed "more" and "eat" together, so we know she's getting it! I don't think very much was required of her where she was... she was definitely babied, but she is capable of so much more and we can't wait to see her take off in communication!  There are times we feel like we have a 9 month old on our hands (especially in the eating department) and other times we are fully aware that she is a 4 year old little girl.  The blessing in the baby stages of her, is that I feel like the bonding process with be stronger because we are able to meet her most basic needs, and she HAS to rely on us for those.  And, feeding her a bottle is a wonderful time of bonding, as well! 

Don't know if I shared this before, or not, but you remember how I broke my leg?  Well, it was from sliding down the stairs on a box of cheerio's that we had bought for our trip.  Well, we tried some of those cheerios out on Ella Grace and guess what..... she HATED them!  Spit them out immediately!  We have laughed so hard about that... if she only knew how badly I wanted her to love those things.... would have made the fall worth it!  HA!!!

Here are a few pictures from our day!

 Having some serious conversations on her phone!

 Watching the traffic below our hotel!  If you've never been to China... there is absolutely no way to describe the traffic here, you just have to experience it for yourself, but it's amazing to watch (not so fun to ride in, though!)

Sweet hands in her Daddy's hands!  Have I mentioned that she's just adorably tiny? :o)

Ready for another day!

Giving herself kisses!  Can't wait for the day that she's more willing to share those with Mommy and Daddy!

She LOVES to have her hair played with and brushed!  And I love playing with and brushing her hair!  We make a great team!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Monday in Nanchang

Today we went to the Civil Affairs office and we are officially Ella Grace's parents!  What a blessing!  After a quick trip to the notary (not really sure what that was for, but it seemed official), we made a trip to Walmart to get a few snacks, water and a few things for Ella Grace.  She will not chew anything, so we are having to figure out foods that she can eat.  She will take soft foods and mash them with her tongue to the roof of her mouth, but she won't eat things that we would normally eat or things with much texture. Out of desparation, we bought some baby food, and she loved it!  So, we at least know we can get some veggies in her!  Her chewing is going to take time and therapy, but she will get it eventually!  She also has to be fed, and will NOT take anything from our hands.  It has to be from the spoon/fork, and most of the time it has to be quickly fed, or she lets us know that we aren't doing it fast enough!  ha!  Brad taught her the sign for "more" this morning at breakfast, and she caught onto the idea very quickly!  She was so funny at lunch, because she gets stubborn and sometimes doesn't want to sign more, but we kept encouraging her and by the end of the meal, she would just keep her hands in the sign of "more"!  She's got things figured out!  We have heard her call herself "Ella" today, and when one of us leaves the room, she says "Baba" (Daddy in Chinese) or Mama, looking to see where we went.  She spends alot of time snuggling with us and we just stare at each other.  The more we seem to do that, the more she seems to come out of her shell.  We bought her little cell phone at Walmart today, and she was so cute playing with it this afternoon, talking and laughing up a storm!  She's just so much fun to watch, and we find ourselves just sitting and taking it all in.  We have a down day tomorrow, NO appointments!  We are excited, as we are feeling like we are hitting a wall on our tiredness.  We were both awake at about 3:30 this morning, trying hard to fall back asleep.  By the time we adjust, it will be time to go home and start over! 

She's definitely itty bitty!  We brought some 4T clothes and they are just HUGE on her.  We also brought size 7 shoes, and she needs about a size 3.  I'm glad we decided to mostly pack Allyson's 3T's from last year. 

We got to skype with the kids this morning and introduce them to their new sister. It was absolutely wonderful to see all of their faces!  We miss them so very much and are counting down the days to HOME!!!

Here are  a few pictures from today!  
Official Family Photo taken at the Civil Affairs Office

 In her fancy new hat from her Auntie M

She loves to pull off her hat and laugh and laugh at her accomplishment!

We'll just go with the bow!

We have also seen her, today, pull up on furniture and cruise all around the room.  She is really close to standing up on her own from her sitting position on the floor.  She has amazing strength for such a soft body.  Her limbs are all really soft and VERY flexible.  We thought maybe she had NO muscle tone, but she has shown that she does have some strength  Her favorite thing to play is with the baby doll we brought her.  She undresses the baby and "washes" the baby.  She then covers the baby with the blanket.  She's very sweet to the baby, other than trying to rip it's hair out!  ha!

Also, one more story.  We met another family just down the hall last night, who received their son yesterday, who seems to be around 2 years old.  He and Ella were in the same home for a while, but he recognized her and came running to our table jabbering in Chinese, and the one word we could understand that he kept repeating was "Ella".... he recognized her.  We were so touched!  We are grateful that she was familiar with her name before we got her!  She also goes by "mao mao" (pronounced like cow), which means kitten. When she came to the Childrens Home, she was so tiny, that they started calling her their little kitten.  She answers to Mao Mao more than her name!  Pretty stinkin' cute!

Okay, back to bonding with our girl!  We thought she would take a nap this afternoon, but she's more interested in playing, so we'll just go with it!  I wish you all could see her with her Daddy.  She just really LOVES him!  Who can blame her, though, right? 

Sweet Surprise

This is Sally posting for Shelly as she can not access blogger. What a privilege for me to post as I know how important it was for me to have bloggy friends posting when I couldn't! 

We arrived in Nanchang this morning, after a short hour and 10 minute flight!  When we got in the van, our guide started going over details with us.  She said, okay, we will arrive at the hotel at 3:00pm, and then your baby will arrive at 4:00!  WHAT??? We thought she was coming on Monday, but we thrilled to hear that we were just minutes away from our girl, instead of another night!

She arrived at 4:00pm  on the dot!  Because of the circumstances, they brought her up to our room!  This first picture is of Brad peeking through our peep hole in the door.  Everytime we heard talking in the hall, I would make him go and peek again!

I will keep this short and sweet, because it's time for bed here in Nanchang, and I don't think she's going to go to sleep until we are all in bed.  She's playing away in her crib right now.  She is very quiet, but seems very comfortable with us.  She is not saying words, but she understands everything being said to her (in Chinese, that is).  She seems happy and very laid back.  We haven't seen any tears at all, just some funny looks every once in a while, like she's thinking, "now who are you, and what exactly are you saying to me".  All in all tonight has been wonderful.  We are absolutely in love with this precious girl and our hearts are so filled with joy that we are finally together!  I will leave you now with pictures!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hong Kong

WE made it safely to Hong Kong, adn are now geting ready to board to Nanchang!  Yesterday was BRUTAL, today should be short and sweet on this flight!  One and half more hours!

Kids, we love you... couldn't get internet in our hotel to call you!  Talk to you soon!

PS  Wheelchair services have allowed us to fly through security everywhere!

Friday, February 18, 2011

AND, we're OFF!!!

Wow!  Our day has finally arrived!  We are just 3 plane rides, and 2 nights from our daughter!  There is so much in my heart, that I don't even know where to begin!

First, of course, we are thankful to our Lord, who has brought us down this path to our sweet Ella Grace.  Our hearts are just bursting with joy and thankfulness!  He has provided through every step of this process, and has shown up again, just the day before we leave, to provide the rest of the funds that we needed.  We can now pay off our tickets and hotel fee's that we had to pay for last month when our Travel Approval came.

After months of searching through the special needs children who are waiting for families in China, God revealed our sweet Ella Grace to us and gave us peace from the very beginning that this was who He had planned for us to bring home as our daughter!  I will never forget that night, when I came upon her picture, and just gasped!  I just loved her instantly!  And when I showed Brad, the next morning, there was NO hesitation!  Our decision doesn't make sense to the world, but our decision made sense to Him, and because of that, we know that she is just perfect for us!  I have that first picture that we ever saw of her sitting beside my bed in a little frame that says "May the Lord's unfailing love surround you."  He has surrounded her the past 4 years, living in an orphanage, and we can't wait to be part of that promise to her!  We already love her so much, and have never met her!

To our friends and family who have lovingly supported us through this process.... there are really no words!  You have become His hands and feet, as you have prayed, given, encouraged, and been so excited to go through this journey with us.  We have been so blessed to have you in our lives!  We love you all so very much!  Our prayer is that God would use our story to somehow impact you!  We would love to see every single one of you bring home an orphaned child, no matter special needs, healthy, international, or domestic.  There are so MANY children out there who need loving families, and we know so many of you would be perfect.  You all know us.... we are not rich!  God is much bigger than the hindrances that we can come up with to not follow through on His command to love these little ones.

Please continue to pray as we fly for many LONG hours!  We are stopping in Japan, then heading on to Hong Kong, where we stay the night, and then fly on to NanChang, where we will meet Ella Grace on Monday, which will be Sunday night here in the states.  We hope to be able to skype home on Sunday night, so the kids can see their new sister!  We are going to miss those 3 like crazy!!

If you're following along, we are going to love hearing from you while we are in China!  You can leave comments below, and I have set it up where you can leave comments anonymously, you don't have to have a blogger account to leave a comment.  Just be sure to sign your name, so we know who left the comment!  We will try to update here as often as we can, but we have a backup plan (SALLY!!) if blogger won't work for us!  There will be at least blurbs on here, and of course, pictures!

Next time you hear from us, we'll be VERY close!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Almost Ready!

While this might look like a mess to most of you, this is the the sign of progress!  We now have two bags packed!!  Brad and Ella Grace are set, now Mom has to figure out what I'm taking.  Flannel jammie pants probably won't cut it for the entire trip, so I guess I'm going to have to figure this out! 

My mom is on her way, as I type, flying over from the other side of the state!  Having her here will help a ton, and we will get it all together once she gets here!  The kids are all excited to see both sets of grandparents while we are gone!  We are so blessed to have so many family and friends who have offered to take care of our sweet kids during this two week time.  The hardest part in this journey is the fact that we have to leave them behind to bring her home.  I've never been one who enjoys leaving her kids for a few hours, let along for two whole weeks!  Please pray that I can enjoy our evening together, instead of crying the whole time!  We want to send them off to school tomorrow without breaking down, we'll see how that goes!

Brad went and found a carrier to put Ella Grace in.  He was a little nervous about navigating through airports and wherever we need to be, with a stroller, luggage, and a wife who is very clutsy on crutches!  He found this carrier, and it can be worn on the back as well.  Allyson was our tester, and she definitely thought it was wierd to be carried around.  Supposedly, Ella Grace is about 13 pounds lighter than Allyson, which we are still unsure about, but this carrier should work!

And, of course, there were projects for school to be done before we left.  Brad and Jacob got the finishing touches done on the sciene project, which is due while we are gone.  We were very kind to Grandma and got that one done before we left!  ha!  So, it should be smooth sailing for the kids with regular homework/school schedule while we are gone.

Well, I better go figure out what on earth I'm going to wear in China! 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Loves of my Life

I hope everyone had a fun day of celebrating the love that God has brought into each of our lives!  Personally, Valentines Day, is one of my favorite holidays!  We kept things pretty low key this year.  I got back in my kitchen for the first time in two weeks.  I didn't actually cook anything, but was the official supervisor as my husband made baked spaghetti for dinner!   I've had it on the menu for 3 weeks, and had planned to cook it the day I fell, so I was excited to finally have it! 

This man, my hubby of 20 years in June!  What can I say?  He is perfect for me in every way, and has had to live out our wedding vows, in sickness and in health, more in the past two weeks than ever before.  He has stayed home with me and kept this house running and the kids on task.  He's exhausted, and yet keeps serving in love.  I love you, honey, and can't thank you enough for all the love that you give to me and to our kids, who are so blessed to call you Daddy!   
Oh, these three!!!  Absolute love and joy of our life!  We still can't believe that God handpicked the three greatest kids in the universe for us to have the joy of parenting!  And He's blessing us again in one short week with this precious gem.....
.....we just dream about the day that we are scooping her up and never letting her go!  6 short days from now, and our dreams are fulfilled!  Ella Grace, you have no idea how much love is coming your way!  We are so grateful for our Heavenly Father, and how He directed our steps to you!

We decided to take one last picture as a family of five!  I can't wait to see how we look as a family of six!  And because we wanted to remember our reality, we took one like this, too.....

We are extremely thankful for the new boot that I was fitted with on Friday.  The other boot was extremely heavy, and my heel was slipping out of the back everytime I got up, causing alot of pain.  I knew it just wasn't right, and couldn't imagine trying to deal with that in China for two weeks.  It just had to be right.  I finally called and made an appointment for last Friday, and when I got there, she said that the boot "rep" just happened to be there, and he gave me one that they had never used before.  It's an amazing fit, and much lighter than the original boot.  This cast has air pumps, and I can pump or deflate the air as needed.  It's made sleeping and getting out and about more of a reality!  God is definitely in the details of this, and just blew us away with His provision!

Evey day is getting a little better.  Getting out and about is still a little scary, and I would be lying if I still wasn't kind of freaked out about the fact that we are leaving for China in 4 days and I have a broken leg, but I have seen so much progress from day one, so I know that things are going to keep getting better.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!  I will leave you with a couple more pictures, and will update soon about getting ready for our trip.... have I mentioned that we leave on FRIDAY????


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Happy Birthday, Ella Grace!

Today marks our daughter's 4th birthday.  It's the 10th here, but is already February 11th in China.  We know that it is probably just another ordinary day for our girl.  It's a little bittersweet for us, as we would love to be hosting a big party in her honor, but that will have to wait for just a few more weeks!  Every day is bringing us closer to the moment when we finally get to hold her in our arms, and we are so excited!

Happy Birthday, Ella Grace!  Your family is eagerly anticipating the day that you finally come home!  You have some really awesome big brothers who are going to be your protectors, and a big sister who just can't wait for you to get here to share her room with!  Your mommy and daddy are counting down the days until we get to see your sweet smile for ourselves!  God has clearly led us down the path to bring you home, and we are forever grateful to Him for allowing us to be your parents!  Hope you are ready to experience the love of this crazy family! 

This picture was taken exactly one year ago, on Feb. 10, 2010.