Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Happy Gotcha Day Ella Grace!

Ella Grace, 2 years ago!
Ella Grace!

Two years ago, after a L.O.N.G. two days of traveling, we finally arrived in Nan Chang, with the thought that we had ONE more night to catch up on sleep and get ourselves ready to meet our girl!  When we got to the airport and were met by our guide, we were told we would be meeting Ella Grace in just a couple of short hours!  Boy were we shocked, but soooo excited and ready!  We got to the hotel and had about an hour to get our room ready, and when the knock on the door came, with our hearts pounding, we opened up that door to be greeted by a tiny, quiet little girl, who wasn't quite sure what was going on in her world.  We couldn't wait to get her out of that stroller and hold her in our arms.  We were so suprised, and admittedly scared at how very small and fragile she was, but the LOVE was already there!  It didn't take her long to give us some of her beautiful smiles, and once she did, we knew everything was going to be okay, and it truly was!  We are so grateful to call this spunky, energetic, beautiful, smart girl our daughter!  We had no idea the blessings that would abound because she was a part of our family!  Happy Gotcha Day, Ella Grace!  WE LOVE YOU!!!

My husband put together a video of pictures from her life in China to one of my favorite songs that I sing to her alot....and I always wondered if anyone told her how truly beautiful she was/is.  We tell her quite often how beautiful she is!  Over time, we have learned of some wonderful, wonderful women who indeed, DID tell her how beautiful she was!  She was blessed to be loved by so many before she came home, and it's our priveledge to remind her every day how beautiful she is!  God made her to be such a treasure!

Click on the link below!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

January in Review

We started off the new year, with our annual get together with my sister and her family.... I don't remember if I have mentioned it here, or not, but my sis and her family live 4 doors down from us.  After living clear across the country for 17 years, it has been a blast to live so close!  We never know how long this season will last, so we try to get together as much as we can.... which, these days, isn't as often as we'd like!

Yes, we are crazy, and allowed all of our kids to stay up to ring in the New year... Ella Grace was pretty much begging us to go to bed, but she pushed through and made it until 12:01 am!  ha ha!  We watched the fireworks on tv and took a few pictures, then all headed to bed to get some sleep!  I snapped some pictures of the tv screen of the fireworks show in Seattle... its always been a dream to go down there to see the fireworks, but I'm so NOT a crowd and traffic person, so this is the best view I'm gonna get!

Earlier in the day on New Years Eve, I had a wonderful surprise show up on my doorstep... I call her my "sister" friend, Esun.  She lived here our first couple of years here, and when we met, we just instantly became close.  They moved to Japan and have been there for 3 years, but are PCS'ing back to the US, so they flew to Seattle to begin their long  journey to their next duty station, and I had no idea they were coming through!  I was sooo excited to see her, and her precious family, and they agreed to come over for dinner on the next evening!  We got to spend several hours catching up, and sharing what the Lord has done in each of our lives.  I was thrilled to be able to spend some time with her and meet her newest little boy, who turned two, and she had not had the chance to meet Ella Grace, so it was sweet all the way around!

Allyson and Abigail spent lots of time together when they were 3 years younger, and one time got into some "trouble" with red nail polish.... they had helped themselves and gotten red nailpolish all over our bathroom carpet, so when they asked to do Pedicures, we couldn't resist letting them do it... supervised this time!  They were so cute with each other and picked up right where they left off, just like Esun and I did!

Our families together, minus Ella Grace, who had already gone to bed, exhausted from her late New Year's Eve the night before.  I wish I had thought to take the group picture before she had gone to bed.... :(

The boys, and their cousin enjoying some time outside.... the kids didn't go back to school until January 7th, so they had a lot of time to hang out! 

For Christmas, Brad got Allyson and I tickets to go see the Wizard of Oz at the Children's Theatre in Seattle.... we had a blast, and the play was so wonderful!  Every time we have gone, they out-do the previous play, and we LOVE going, but rarely get up there to go!  Brad took the other three kiddo's to the Seattle Aquarium, and hung out at Pike's Place Market, while they waited for us to finish at the play, but he didn't have a camera with him to document their time, but they had a great time!  Afterwards, we went to shop for my brother's upcoming wedding shower, and then went out to eat, as our last outing for Christmas break...... the kids were NOT ready to head back to school (with the exception of Ella Grace, who LOVES to go), but have settled back into the routine, and all is going well!

Next, we were able to celebrate Allyson's "Gotcha" day... these days are a pretty big deal to our family.... while the birthday is important, the Gotcha day, is our first memories with our children.... basically a time to remember their "birth" into our family!  They are always a bit emotional for me, as I think back to that day of bringing home our babies.... and Allyson's brings back amazing memories of a wonderful trip to Korea, my first time there!  Taking her into my arms at the Agency in Korea was one of the most bittersweet days of my life.  I was thrilled to become her Mommy, but taking her out of her Foster Mother's arms was the most difficult thing I have done.  Allyson was SO loved by her foster family, and we are forever grateful to them for taking such good care of her.  It's hard to believe that she has been home for 6 years.... it still feels like yesterday!

She always chooses Strawberry cupcakes for her treat!
Next, in the lineup came Jacob's first Robotics Meet.  They have been meeting once a week all year at school, getting ready for this one competition!  We had never been to anything like it, but it was really fun to watch.  Jacob had a great time, but was frustrated with their overall performance.  It's hard to get that robot to do what you want it to do, in the 2 minutes alloted!  It was a great experience for him, and he looks forward to doing more of the same!

Jake's face kind of says it all..... :)

We spent MLK Monday doing one of our favorite activites up here.... innertubing!  We only have to drive about an hour and a half away from our house, and this is what we get!  Absolutely stunning views of mountains and snow!  Our friend, Jason, was visiting from Oklahoma, so we took him with us to let him experience a little bit of "winter" weather!  We had a great day!  This was Ella Grace's first trip to the mountain, and she was happy, as long as she was sliding down the mountain, but the in between times weren't very fun for her.... she absolutely HATES being cold, and she also doesn't like to keep her hat and gloves on!  I can't tell you how many times we put them back on, but we finally got smart, and put Brad's HUGE gloves on her and put her coat over the gloves, so she couldn't get them off!  She had huge MAN hands, but at least they were warm!  By the last run, she was crying, begging to be warm, so when we got to the car and got the heater turned on, she perked right back up!


Lastly, we celebrated my hubby's 42nd birthday!  Are we really that OLD???  Doesn't seem possible, but I guess it's really true!  We (Jacob and I) decided it would be fun to actually light all 42 candles!  We went out to eat with family, and enjoyed the day! 
The rest of the month was filled with daily routine, therapies for Ella Grace, and para-subbing at the elementary school some for me!  The last week, I have worked more than I have in a LONG time, and I'm feeling pretty exhausted!  lol!  I don't know how Mom's balance it all with working, keeping up with the house, cooking, and trying to be a great Mom in between it all!  I'm thankful for the extra hours I was able to pick up, but will be happy to have a few days off next week (I hope!). 
Looking forward to February.... celebrating another birthday and Gotcha Day for our sweet Ella Grace, and I'm sure, lots more excitement to come!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

What a difference a YEAR makes.....

Wow!  It's been forever since I have updated this blog, but I decided to give it a go again, now that I have a little more time!  It's a new year, so why not try again, right?  I have no idea if anyone will even read this, but I do love to look back and see where we have been and where God has brought us, so I want to update this at least monthly... maybe I will be even more ambitious and update it more often, but I make no promises!  And NO, we are not adding to our family again, we feel like we have ALL the children that God intended for us to have.  We are beyond blessed and it's a very busy road we are traveling these days! 

Ella Grace is almost 6 years old, and has almost been home for 2 years!  That's just unbelievable for me to think still feels like we went to China just a few months ago!  She's made tremendous progress, and I will try to update as we go along!  For now, I wanted to document that Ella Grace lost her first tooth.... it fell out in her sleep on December 29th sometime in the night.  We never even knew it was loose.  She looks absolutely precious, and she is so proud to show off her missing tooth.... so if you see her and she pushes up her lip to show you, please oooh and ahhh... it makes her day! 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Happy 5th Birthday, Ella Grace!

Whew!  It's been a busy few weeks!  I can't let a few things go without blogging, though, so please pretend like it's February 11th, our sweet girls FIRST birthday since coming home!  Birthday's around here are special, but I wanted this one to be a little bit extra special, since we've missed 4 birthdays with Ella Grace.  She enjoyed her special day, and we loved being able to celebrate with her!  We missed her 4th birthday by a week last year!

 The decorations with a little walk down memory lane of pictures from her previous birthdays while in China.
 Her AMAZING cake made by a friend who does such a great job!  I sent her a picture and she made it even better than the original cake!
Happy girl twirling in her tutu

Favorite picture of the whole day! 

She LOVED having everyone sing Happy Birthday to her... was the sweetest part of the day!

Very happy with her gluten-free cupcake!

 Cutting the cake... I made my Mom do it!  I couldn't stand the thought of cutting all of Kristy's hard work!


Pictures with both sets of Grandparents!  Brad's parents were able to come all the way from Texas to help us celebrate!

A little walk down memory lane..... we are really blessed to have over 600 pictures of Ella Grace and her life before she came home!  She went to live in an American run orphanage at about 5 months of age, so they kept wonderful records of her life for us.  This first picture is one of the very earliest pictures we have of her.... this was in July 07, when she was 5 months old.

On her first birthday.... she was very sick with her heart condition, so she was extremely tiny and frail.

Birthday #2... those cheeks were finally filling out!  She had her heart surgery shortly after her second birthday!

Ella Grace's 3rd birthday, with one of her Nanny's from the orphanage.

About 2 weeks after her 4th birthday, and her LAST day in China.  We left for home shortly after this picture was taken!

And our BIG FIVE year old girl now!  I think she's come a long way!  We are honored to be her parents!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Okay, its been forever and a day since my last post.... New Years has come and gone.....

is anyone else addicted to this game.... "Ticket to Ride"?  We can't get enough of this game around here!

Everyone made it to midnight!  Once it hit, we were quickly off to bed!  ha!

OH, and 3 days before New Years, Ella Grace had Tubes put in her ears, and her adnoids removed!!!  Everything went fine, and by the time we got home, she never complained about or had any side effects from the surgery!  And let me tell you, the girl can HEAR!!!  What a huge difference we have seen, and she is so excited!  The first night, when we came home, she got on one of her Christmas toys, that happens to play music when you sit on it.  Her eyes got big and her mouth opened wide, and she gasped as she listened to the music!  Brad and I were both sitting there with her, and it was a joy to see her HEAR things that she hadn't heard before!  She can hear me when I call her name at a normal voice level across the room, and she is already jabbering and beginning to make word sounds like never before!  It has been so exciting for her!  She is now enrolled in private speech therapy, and I'm hoping we are going to start picking up words quickly.  We just met her speech therapist for the first time last week, and she has more energy than anyone I have ever met!  I think she is going to be just the right person to get us further along in our speech progress!  We are just a tad bit over the moon excited!

Ella Grace had a scope done on Jan. 6th, and was officially diagnosed with Celiac Disease.  These were not words we wanted to hear, but we had already been warned by the doctor that he was pretty certain that she was going to test positive.  We are now learning how to feed her foods that are safe, and are praying that we are doing everything right, so that her numbers can come down.  She will meet with the doctor again in March/April, where they will test her blood to see how we are doing on the new diet.  I'm just praying we don't have to worry about "cross-contamination" which is alot to go into, but let me tell you, it's going to be an absolute nightmare if we have to deal with it.  It's been rather shocking to find out the foods that have "gluten" in them..... Ella can't have cottage cheese, but she can have a Coke... now does that even sound right (and don't worry, we don't give her Coke!)?  I'm finding that we just have to stick with veggies and fruits, and I'm very thankful for gluten free pasta's that are out there, since pasta is her favorite food group!  So far, things are going pretty well, it's just a new way of life/thinking for me, since I do all of the cooking, so it's been somewhat of a challenge.  We will get through this, though, and it will soon become our new normal!

Ella Grace is through with procedures for now!  WHEW!!!  Seems like we've been going non-stop for the past 3 months with dr. appointments, but things are finally slowing down!  She now has OT and Speech every Wednesday morning, and they are also fitting her with Orthotic Shoe inserts to help with some problems that she has with her feet.  We have been matched with an awesome group of therapists who are helping us SO very much.  OT is mainly working on chewing therapy, and we are already seeing some progress being made!  It's slow going, and alot of work at meal times, but we are gonna get there! 

Since this post is all about one super sweet, determined little girl, I will leave you with a little cuteness!  Proudly displaying her art work from school! 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Hoping your Christmas was Merry and Bright!

Ours sure was!

We got to travel to my parents house this year to celebrate Jesus' birthday!  We had a great time, enjoying my parents brand new house, and we tried not to mess it up too badly! 

Santa came!

Sister Hugs!

Thrilled with her doggy!

Father/Son bonding time, but it was COLD outside!!

Thankful for our newest gift, and enjoyed every moment of celebrating her first Christmas HOME!!!

Ella Grace is having ear tube's put in and adnoids removed this Wednesday.  Praying all goes smoothly!