Friday, February 5, 2016

Making it one day at a time!

This week Journey had her annual eye exam and Avery had her initial exam. I remembered to snap a few photos!

Journey's eyes had changed just enough to require new glasses. The good news the change was less than her last exam!

Avery is somewhat of a clown and once she realized the photos were being taken she had to pose!

Poor Dr. Izer, nothing worse than a mom snapping photos during an exam and the patient wiggling!

The good news, Avery has perfect vision and will not need an exam for a couple of years!

On Tuesday, our social worker came for Avery's six month post adoption visit! The older girls love Sherry and watch for her arrival. Journey usually greets her at her car and walks her out! I failed to take photos, maybe next time I will think to get one of Sherry and all the girls. We will be seeing her again soon for Journey and Kendall's 4 year post visit and then in a few months after that for Eden and Mackinley's 3 year visit! Plus before the year is out she will be back for one last visit for Avery!

On Wednesday it was time for my hair appointment. My sister told me that my color was too dark! I had highlights put in, and the girls had told me it was too short so I left the length! So many to please! Anyway I snapped a selfie to send to my sister to show her the highlights.

I hate selfies and I really don't like having my photo taken at all, nonetheless you can see the new lighter color. I plan to keep my hair about this length for now in attempt to keep everyone happy!

Today, Friday, I was able to take an unplanned day off! We stayed up late last night and slept in this morning! The joy of homeschooling, our schedule is flexible!

While things are better here yet they are still far from perfect! Avery is loud and demands to be the center of attention! She is unkind to her sisters and believes that she doesn't have to follow the house rules when I'm not home. So you see, we still have a ways to go. 

The good news she eats and sleeps well. She is buckling her seatbelt without being told every time we get in the car! Progress! It seems she was in a very lenient foster home as she is happiest when she is doing what she wants to do! Aren't we all like that? Happiest when we are doing our own will rather than that of the Father's?

I called Lifeline yesterday when some of my concerns about our lack of progress in certain areas. I really didn't feel the advice given during this call was particularly helpful/useful. Don't get me wrong she was kind and listened well! I doubt I'll call again but I certainly won't rule that option out if I feel they have something more to offer in the way of advice.

This weekend we will celebrate the Chinese New Year with lunch at Mr. Chen's after church on Sunday! I failed to get us signed up for any of the Chinese dinner celebrations within the community.

Until next time . . .

Monday, February 1, 2016

Anniversary, coffee club, and visits

My parents celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary this weekend! I know that I am blessed beyond measure to have both of my parents at this point (age) in my life! My dad brought my mother roses and they exchanged gifts Sunday morning before I arrived to pick up the girls.

I brought breakfast for the family Sunday morning and we enjoyed a short time together before our trip home. My sister, Shery, was there to celebrate with us! In fact, Saturday morning we had "coffee club" with all five girls plus mom and dad! The original family of seven reunited once again doing life together.

At coffee club we celebrated the birth of a new grandchild/great grand child, a new job for a granddaughter/niece, a new love for a grandson/nephew. Photos were shared and congratulations exchanged! 

This week, Avery has her first eye exam since coming home. Journey has her yearly exam as well. We will also receive a visit from our social worker for Avery's six month post-adoption visit. While I like Sherry, our social worker, I find these visit annoying! I often wonder what China would do if I refused to cooperate? I can understand the first year but 2-5 years after the fact is ridiculous! I could see a follow-up after the first year if there were problems with possible child abuse/neglect but otherwise it is a waste of time.

Avery made my parents a beautiful origami anniversary card! I wish I had thought to take a photo! Eden also made a beautiful uniquely designed card. Eden loves making cards for special occasions! I'll try and take photos of their cards next week when I see my parents!

Yesterday, I visited my wonderful neighbor, Margaret! It had been way to long and I had missed her! She is such a sweet heart and I love her like family! She loves us too! I am blessed to have her in my life!

Until next time . . .

Monday, January 25, 2016

Appointments and care

Last week, Avery had her first dentist appointment since coming home! She has already been to the orthodontist and will need braces at some point. The good news, no cavities! She has beautiful teeth.

Avery has a small chip on her front tooth that is going to be repaired. We are also going to put sealants on her six year molars. You may have noticed from her photos that her front lateral teeth are very narrow. These are called, "peg laterals," and at some point we will built up these teeth to look more "normal"! I have to check with the orthodontist to see if he wants us to go ahead or wait until after her braces come off.

Not only did Avery visit the dentist, Gavin, Kendall and Journey also had appointments that day! Gavin and Kendall had good reports, in fact they all did! Journey needs sealants on her 12 year molars and we will have that done the same day Avery goes for her sealants and chip repair.

Eden is four weeks out from her surgery and she is doing well! When we visited the orthodontist they were a little concerned and are watching her ability to fully open her mouth. She seems to have lost ground in this area. Eden continues to eat soft foods and is very bored with her current diet! Thankfully, she likes Boost and is getting her calories and protein in via this drink.

Several of the girls are beginning to ask to be baptized. I waited for them to be ready and wanted them to understand the importance of this decision as the next step in their faith journey. Their love for God and faith amazes me! 

Last week I had a doctor say he didn't know how I took care of 5 children! Really? The girls have the love of God, the love of family, a warm house, food, and clothes! They are receiving and education and even have "fun" outings from time to time. All the basic needs are being handled! 

They do not have special lessons, electronic gadgets or cellphones. I would love to provide music lessons at some point but right now, it is not in the budget! If I compare what others do for their children then I could say I'm failing. God does not call us to compare! We are to be content with where we are and what we have! For a single mom with five girls, I think we are doing well!

Life is not about things it is about relationships! The "things" are the extra! I am thankful for my relationship with each of the girls and I am especially happy that each of them are developing their own relationship with God our father! In light of eternity that is what is most important!

That's all our news!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

School projects and CNY decorations!

In science the girls had to use star stickers to come up with their own constellations! Two of the three followed the directions and used dark paper for their project!

They were excited to show me their creations and each truly reflects the creator in one way or another!

Tea Cup or Hat

Princess Gown


Mackinley, my teacher in training, posted some Homeschool Rules for Avery to follow and just to be sure she understands these rules she also translated them into Mandarin!

This afternoon we finally took the Christmas decorations down! I know, it is late but sometimes you have to put things on the back burner for that which is more important!

We also decorated for the Chinese New Year!

I bought the red lanterns on my first trip to China and this is the first year I have used them! The girls were so excited and said it reminded them of their homes in China!

It was Eden's turn for a mother/daughter date! We ran a couple of errands and then went to Starbucks for a "hot" drink! Her eyes twinkled at she talked with me! I just love this time with the girls. 

We have settled into a more peaceful place and each girl is getting more comfortable with our new normal. There are still a few kinks here and there, yet the difference is like night and day! Thank you for your prayers.

Until next time . . .

Monday, January 11, 2016

Last week at a glance!

The highlight of our week was meeting another adoptive mom for lunch in Birmingham after Eden's doctor's appointment. 

Lauren met her daughter one week after I met Avery! Yes, I had Lauren's permission to share this photo! Lauren and I met via email when Eden had her first major surgery. She had friends that worked at UAB Highlands and reassured me that I would be happy with that facility and she was right! I would highly recommend UAB Highlands and their staff!

Lauren's daughter, Hallie Grace is precious. It was such a treat to visit before and during lunch. We shared about our adoption process and how we knew our girl/girls were meant to be ours! Lauren is a wonderful mother!

Eden's appointment went very well! Dr. Waite was pleased with her oral care, a biggie after this surgery! She has been cleared to return to the orthodontist. The before and after x-rays of Eden's profile were amazing. I wish I had thought to take a photo of them side by side.

I asked Eden today if she is getting used to her new look and she said, "a little." You can now see her top teeth when she smiles, what a difference! She has had some discomfort but not so much that she has required heavy duty pain medications.

Our adjustment/bonding is a work in progress! Tuesday, during lunch one of the older girls became very quiet and withdrawn. When asked, she said she wanted things to go back to the way they were. I don't know what happened to bring on these feelings as Avery was sitting at the opposite end of the table.

For the most part I would say that things are slowly improving and that each child is coming to terms with  their new normal. Avery has her ups and downs as would be expected! 

Avery is strong willed and wants to do things her way! Sadly, her way is not always the best, yet she is making progress! School has been a challenge, Avery doesn't like listening to the DVDs. I know that the language is part of the issue, the second issue is she feels that the work is to "easy." 

I truly believe that Avery may have some attention deficit issues that need to be addressed! Several of the other families that traveled with me in China shared that they thought she had this problem. I tend to agree with them at this point. Now, to get her an appointment to see what we can do to help her focus more on her studies. She is a bright child that will do well once she can channel some of that energy!

I have been asked how I home school and work. The answer, I have a grown son that works opposite of me and he is at home with the girls and his son when I am at work. We use the best curriculum, a distance learning program, each subject has a daily DVD lesson taught by a real teacher! The teacher instructs the girls and once I'm home I check their daily school work, administer test, answer questions, read with them.

The girls are very disciplined! They usually start their next day's lessons in the evening before going to bed. Each morning when they get up they start right back to work and will stop long enough for breakfast and a shower at various times throughout the morning. Mackinley wrote to one of her teachers and received the nicest note in return.

I have been working on this post for days! Things have been very busy here . . . a good busy! 

Until next time . . .

Monday, January 4, 2016

2016 first day of work and school!

Today, I returned to work! It was a good day, not to busy which is always nice, especially after my long break! I am thankful for a good job and dear work friends.

This was the girl's first day back in school for the new year! I made a list for Avery so that she would know what to do and she accomplished everything! I am proud of her and told her over and over again what a good job she did!

Journey and I slipped out for a little mother/daughter time! We went to the local Starbucks for a hot drink! She tried the white chocolate mocha and after a few sips decided she didn't really like it!

Each of the girls had to come up with one goal for the year and measurable ways they could reach their goal. Journey shared her goal with me while we were having our mother daughter time.

Proverbs 29:18
Where there is no vision,
the people perish:
but he that keepeth the law,
happy is he.

I have also added an additional reading requirement, one book a week with a written report. The book has to be approved by me. They must earn their iPad time by reading first! 

Tomorrow we head back to Birmingham for Eden's post-op appointment. She is doing well, the change in her mouth has been something that she has had to get used to, she does look different! Different in a good way, when she smiles you can see her upper teeth which you could not do before! 

I had planned to take down the Christmas tree before heading back to work but I procrastinated! I'm really good at procrastination, especially when it comes to taking down the Christmas tree! I think the girls and I will tackle it tomorrow once Eden and I return from her appointment.

Taking one step at a time and working hard to make 2016 a year of encouragement and progress! 

Until next time . . .

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Out with the old and in with the new!

Today, I return to work! I knew this day was coming and successfully fought a dread that attempted to steal my joy some days ago! It is here, time to face the reality of real life!

I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed the time off with the girls! While it was a struggle in many ways as we fought jet lag, sickness, bonding issues, grief, and acceptance.  We are on the other side of many of these issues and life has settled into a happier and healthier state for all!

I can only praise God for your prayers and the work that HE is doing in my heart and the hearts of each of the girls as we learn our new normal. Much of what we faced was a heart issue, mine!

Real change did not begin until God dealt with me! As long as I left "rehoming" on the table, I was NEVER going to bond with Avery. As long as I saw "rehoming" as a way out I could not open up my heart to her. This was not her fault, it was entirely mine!

The girls at home were never going to learn to accept Avery as long as they thought she would be leaving! They wanted her gone, it was the easy way to return things back to the normal they felt so comfortable with!

God doesn't call us to be comfortable, he grows and stretches us! This has been a time of growth and stretching for all of us. Poor Avery, nothing like making a difficult situation more difficult! The good news, during all our times of questioning and doubt, God kept reminding me of Avery's good qualities, the things that make her so special.

I had not prepared myself for this adoption like I did the others. I wavered back and forth about really wanting to adopt and doing what I felt God calling me to do! 

James 1:6
But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. 
For he that wavereth is like a wave
 of the sea 
driven with the wind and tossed!

Yes, I was that wave being tossed about and trust me, that is not a good place to be. I'm sure some of you can relate, perhaps not with an adoption issue but some other area of your own life.

I believe another factor that made this adoption so hard was pride! After all, I had done this 4 times before and had been successful. I knew what to expect! Knowing what to expect and preparing are two different things! I didn't equip myself as I should have!
Proverbs 16:18
Pride goes before destruction, 
            And a haughty spirit before stumbling.

I know better than to go into an adoption with preconceived ideas, yet that is exactly what I did! I had listened to all those that had met Avery and came away with an idea of what she was like! When I met Avery she was loud, wanted the attention of our guide and looked to another teen being adopted for support. Talk about being unprepared and being sick didn't help my ability to step up and be the mom Avery needed from day one!

Even with seeing all of Avery's good traits I focused on those things that I thought were deal breakers! I wrestled with these things to the point of not wanting to bring Avery home. I was wrong! God does not call us to adoption or anything for that matter without being there each step of the way. 

Again, focus was an issue, again mine! When one focuses on only the negative no good thing can come forth! Yes, some of the negative behaviors needed to be addressed, yet the positive needed to be praised far more than what I did. I failed too apply God's command to this situation.

I Thessalonians 5:11
Therefore encourage one another
and build up one another, 
just as you also are doing.

I thank God for the work that he has done in my heart and home! I am nothing without Him! As we prepare for this New Year, it is with a knowledge that we are totally dependent on God.

Isaiah 55:8-9
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts."

I know not what 2016 holds yet I do know the one that holds my future. I trust Him with each new day that awaits my family and me!

Until next time . . . may the name of our Lord and Savior be praised! Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Celebrating Jesus, family and birthdays!

Christmas morning, Matthew had to work until 8:30 am! The kids that normally sleep until 10:00 am were wide awake with excitement at 6:30!

All but one avoided the living room before time to go out as a family! While we waited on Matthew to get home we gathered in the kitchen to put together our traditional Christmas breakfast, sausage squares, and sopapilla cheesecake bars!

This year each of the girls received one nice gift that was tucked in the toe of their stockings, thus we saved the stockings for last! Everyone seemed happy with their special item selected per their request or mom's observation of a need/want.

Avery made cards and put them on the tree for Christmas morning! 

Gavin's stocking over flowed!

Three dogs one stocking equal not enough room for their treats and toys!

The girls decorated the school assignment board!

Waiting to start the morning! As you can see Eden is still quite swollen and not feeling her best!

G-Man way out numbered
 and not really wanting his photo taken!

While in China I had picked up a few things and the girls requested that I save these for Christmas. They were very happy with what they received from their homeland.

I'm so proud of Avery, she did very well and remembered to say thank you! I can't believe how much she is beginning to fit right in after our very rough beginning! Again, thank you for your prayers!

Today was our first time to attend church other than a Christmas program and today went far better than our first visit in so many ways! After church we visited Cracker Barrel for breakfast to celebrate Mackinley's birthday!

You can't have Christmas without brown bear!

Cookies and milk for Santa!
I'll think I'll suggest coffee for "Santa" next year!

This afternoon we had an ice cream cake. McKinley received art supplies for her birthday, drawing pencils, special erasers, pastels, and drawing paper. This list of supplies came from her new Art DVD class! All the girl's like to draw and create and I am amazed at their natural abilities.

Mackinley, age 16

We did a Face Time chat for Nena and Papa so that they could watch the girls open their gifts and for the girls to watch Aunt Bobie open her gifts and card. As you recall, Aunt Bobie kept the girls while I was in China and they all wanted to thank her with gifts and cards! Several of the girls had already given Nena and Papa special cards and notes prior to Christmas.

I was so touched by the girl's notes to "Santa" this year! Journey left him a gift that she had made at Paint and Clay. She wanted him to have a gift and Mackinley told Santa about Jesus in her note. I love their hearts and what their gifts and notes signify! Great girls, I'm blessed to call them mine!

The girls modeling their new Christmas PJ's 
from Jordan and Jimmy!
The photos with the decorative frames are from Kendall's new camera!
Left to Right Avery,14; Journey,14; Eden, 16;
Kendall, 16; and Mackinley,16!

We have played lots of games of Uno and Kings on the Corner, fun family times! Let's us say, some of these girls are good and win frequently, not so with myself!

Jackson was so busy
 it was hard to get a photo with him!

Mackinley wanted an ice cream cake for her birthday and it was pretty good! Our sweet neighbor walked over just in time to sing, "Happy Birthday" with us. She brought over a card tucked inside was every teen girl's favorite, cash! Mackinley also received a necklace and cash from Nena and Papa!

Today was my Mom's birthday as well. We talked with her early this morning before heading to church! We will see her this week when I return to work. 

A few photos with Miss Margaret our dear neighbor and friend! She loves the girls and each year makes them a special Christmas surprise!

I can't believe that my time to go back is approaching so quickly! I have really enjoyed being home with all the girls. I needed the time to recover from the jet lag, sickness and bond! As I have previously shared bonding was hard yet it is occurring for all of us!

Each of the girls received their own personalized stationary, candy and nice warm Christmas socks!

A personalized pen too!

The girls adore Miss Margaret she is truly a love and we feel beyond blessed to call her our neighbor and friend. Actually, we consider her family!

Yes, Christmas 2015 was wonderful and we enjoyed celebrating Jesus, family time and birthdays!

Until next time . . .