Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

It is hard to believe that 4 years ago exactly we began our adoption journey. So much has changed along the way and it certainly did not end in any way that we could have expected. We began our adoption journey in Russia and after two losses, finally received our daughter in China just over one year ago! Our lives have completely changed in the past four years, we now live hundreds of miles away from our families, have had a couple of job changes, have lost from our lives people that we loved, have suffered hurts and betrayals and surly have caused unintentional and sometimes unknown hurt to others, we have gained new friends, new family members and hopefully more wisdom. The last four years have been a journey of faith and has been fueled by the belief in something far greater and far better than we can even imagine or can ever be on our own. Today I am thankful for a God that loves me and forgives me, even when I have been unlovable and unforgivable to others. I am thankful to live in a country where I can freely practice my own religious beliefs. I am grateful for a husband that has brought unexpected journeys, love and joy to my life. I am so very thankful for my Mom, who has always loved me and I treasure the relationship we have today as adults as well as for our extended family. I am thankful for my in-laws that have embraced the love of their grandchildren and have travelled several times to see them. I am especially thankful for our children, ours and his, and for our grandchildren who all bring their own unique light to our lives. I am also so grateful for friendships passing and lasting that we have been so fortunate to experience.

For the first time, we spent the entire day at home alone with the girls and cooked a traditional Thanksgiving feast and celebrated our thankfulness quietly at home. We hope you all have enjoyed your holiday however you are spending it!

Sunday and the Memphis Zoo

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Memphis has a really wonderful zoo and after breakfast and a little playtime, we headed out to see the animals. You can click on the photo collage to enlarge the photos.

Memphis has an amazing display for the polar bears and we had so much fun watching the bears play with the girls. We almost had the whole zoo to ourselves and all the animals were so active. It really was a wonderful day!

Saturday & Memphis Children's Museum

This is my first attempt at making a movie and I have the wrong date on here. I couldn't figure out how to get back in and change it, so it's staying as is. This video has a few highlights of the girls first day together on Saturday (Nov. 22nd).

This kids all had fun at the museum and such a great time playing together. The last photo in the video is the kids playing "rock". If you ever need your kids to be quiet, this game works great! The winner is the one that can stay still and quiet the longest. The older kids did much better than the younger ones!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Xinyu Sisters!

From Collages

This weekend was priceless for us! Rylee got to see one of her best friends from the orphanage. While they are different in so many ways, they are also so much alike. They have the same squeal, the same energy and so many of the same facial expressions and attitudes. They played together like they have never been apart and far better than I have seen Rylee play with anyone else.

They are both very loud and with four kids there I was amazed that we only got one noise complaint! I am so glad that we were able to get these girls back together. It was wonderful to see them together and know that they each have someone that has always known them!

This picture pretty much sums up the entire weekend...

Rylee and I...

had a little time to ourselves on Thursday night to pack for our weekend in Memphis. How lucky am I that my girl loves to pose so I can practice with my camera!!!

Now, I have so much to post about our weekend that I am going to do it in a few different posts. We were packing to head to Memphis to meet up with one of Rylee's best friends from her orphanage. I couldn't help but wonder if they would remember each other. Rylee has been asking every day for the past two weeks, if today was the day to go see her friend. The next post will be about their reunion.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Finally catching up...

On all these posts - I was getting so far behind!

This is a victory pose and let me just tell you why!

We attended a school fundraiser called the "Turkey Trot". It was a mile run/walk to promote family fitness etc... So we decided we would give it a try. Hanna and a friend pretty much ran the entire way, but I had serious doubts about Rylee being able to make it. I considered bringing a stroller, but we have been really working on her muscle tone and stamina for gymnastics so I decided against bringing it.

We started out with Rylee pretty much trotting along trying to keep up with her friends, but it wasn't long before she started to lag behind. At the half mile mark there was a water stop. We grabbed a cup and encouraged her to keep going. She was really starting to drag and try to hang by our hands, but I just kept telling her "come on Rylee, you can do it, you can make it - let's go all the way Rylee - come on!". She complained, whined, said she couldn't do it - but I had my eye on the finish line. I was the major cheerleader - Come on baby lets go!!!! Just when I thought she wouldn't make it, a teeny tiny puppy caught up to us - well passed us. At this point out of a few hundered people we were almost dead last! She took off RUNNING after the puppy. It was just the incentive that she needed to keep going!

Several yards from the finish line she stopped and said she couldn't go any further! I grabbed her hand and told her "Let's GO, we can do it Ry!!!!" Her teachers spotted her and were cheering for her along with many other people. At this point I couldn't speak anymore and my eyes were threatening to overflow - you see just one year ago this girl, my sweet baby girl, could not go up one flight of stairs without having jello legs for the rest of the day. This little girl that tired so easily, had really almost no muscle tone in her legs when we met her - had just jogged, trotted, walked and trudged along for the entire mile ALL BY HERSELF!!! Yeah Rylee!!!!!!!

I know it doesn't LOOK like much of a reward - but she asked to - really she did!

I tried to tell her that it was really too windy to pick up leaves, but she insisted on trying. How could I turn her down after she worked so hard to finish that mile? :)

The challenge is...

Getting all four to look at me and look good all at the same time!

The solution: Crop one out!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Beautiful Alabama Fall!

Sometimes you just need to stop and admire the beauty around us to remember what an amazing creation our earth is. Amazing and stunning beauty surrounds us right now as fall colors are in full force. We see so much uncertainty, suffering, desolation and just plain ulginess every day on the streets, in the news and even in our own lives that it can become difficult to remain focused on the things that are really important.

Psalm 118:24 "This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice
and be glad in it."

School Parties and Rylee's First Recognition!!!

We had some fun fall parties at school with both girls. I was a little nervous about Rylee's because she has such a hard time when I leave after seeing her at school and I usually have to peel her off me to leave. It might be harder on me than her, but I sure do feel terrible every time it happens. However, when I got to school she was thrilled to see me and I got to see her interact with her friends, sing a group song and talk with her teacher a bit. Below is a picture of her with her best friend. We are so lucky because she also lives just down the street from us and Rylee yells for her every time we drive by her house. Aren't they just so cute????

In the afternoon it was Hanna's class party and all the kids were very creative with their pumpkin decorating. I enjoyed watching Hanna read a story that she had written to the class. She is growing up and maturing so fast these days. It seems more and more that I feel her slowly pulling away and becoming more independent and while knowing that it has to happen, it still makes me a little sad. It was a real treat for me as I sat in her class and watched the other kids with their parents. Hanna sat on my lap during the party and her teacher gently teased her about being a Mommy's girl. She grinned real big and nodded her head and said "Yes, I am still going to sit on my Mom's lap!" She gave me a great big hug and her teacher laughed and admitted that it is okay to be a Mama's girl because he is still a Mama's boy even at his age! I have to say that I liked him even more after admitting that - being a "tough" retired military guy and all :)

Now about that "Reckondation"! Rylee came running off the bus one day telling me that she had gotten a "Reckon Dation - MAMA I got one!!!" This is a real accomplishment for Rylee as she has struggled so hard with starting school. We have received many notes home from school about things like - excessive talking and interrupting ("But Mama, dis teacher no stop talking - she talka too much - I need talk my friends!"), not listening and staying on task ("this is borin for me Mama!" actually my opinion is that this happens when she has reached her limit on learning new things), not following directions ("Dis school is too much rules Mama!"), and yes even the occasional pushing/throwing things at someone (Why would you do this to your friend Rylee? "Well Mama she was being ANNOY-INK!"). So when she hopped off the bus, bursting with excitement and her eyes dancing with pride, telling me how she is a good girl now, she got reckondation - I picked her up and swung her around, hugged her tight and thanked God that she finally got one! I looked down into that shining face as she asked me "You proud me Mama?" I said "You bet I am proud of you, my good girl!!"

Local FCC Gathering and a "Horse-corn"

Yes, this is a Horsecorn! We attended the local Families With Chinese Children get together and Rylee wanted to go as a princess UNTILL we came across this costume - which Rylee immediately informed us was a Horsecorn!

Rylee had a lot of fun meeting the other girls and playing with them. She also enjoyed her first time roasting marshmallows and making s'mores - which she LOVED!

Most of the girls are close to Rylee's age or younger, but all have been home so much longer than Rylee. I am really glad that we got in contact with this group. Rylee enjoyed playing with the other kids, but still mainly stuck close to her Sist.