Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Black and White Wednesday "Beach"

I am going with a few more beach pictures (big surprise right?). I took many pictures, but I really wanted to take a lot more. I think I need more little models, don't you?

I love catching them holding hands, getting ready to face the waves together.

Oh how I love the beautiful white pillers and buildings as backdrops for pictures!


Sometimes she still looks so little!  I treasure these times because usually I am blown away by how fast she is growing.


You can't spend a few days at the beach without enjoying crab legs as you watch the sun set!


And I am including these last two because, well... they just make me smile!

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Snapshot {Family Time}

Three years and four months ago, we brought Rylee home from China.  Just after receiving our travel approval, my husband lost his job.  It was a stressful time, but nothing was going to stand in our way of bringing our daughter home.

He took the first job offer...  it was several states away, so we packed up and left for China.  We came home as a new family, to a new home, in a new state - where we knew no one.  It was hard, it was stressful, it was lonely, it was scary... we made it through.

Four months later my husband was offered a job back in the same area we had just moved from.  We went back.  It was another move, more stress and more change for Rylee.  But we made it through.

One year later, my husband lost his job again...  It was hard, it was stressful and it was time to give up on the auto industry.  We did not want to move again.  I started working two jobs and I was fortunate to be able to do both from home.  We also started our own business and one or both of us have worked 6 to 7 days a week for the past two years.  We made it through.

And we have thrived as a family.

These past few days, we have finally made it to the point where we can take our first non-working - the four of us only - family trip!

The place was beautiful...

The weather was perfect!

The sunsets were amazing!

The children were fun and smiling and beautiful!

The beach was breathtaking!

The trip was perfect!

And I am so thankful!

Ni Hao Yall

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Black and White Wednesday

I thought I would add a few more zoo trip pictures.  I really like how dramatic the animal shots are when they have been converted to black and white.

And since Hanna has agreed that I can post about her on my blog again, I decided to add one of her in a pose that we see all too often these days.  In fact, this is how all the kids at the bus stop look every morning - either texting, playing games on their iPod's or listening to music.  They even text each other, and yet they are all standing there in a group together (I seem to be the only one there that finds humor in this)!

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday Snapshot {Zoo Trip}

Have you ever had one of those days, when things just didn't come together for extraordinary pictures?

The weather was beautiful, the setting was fun and the girls were playful.

Maybe a little too playful to pause long enough for Mom to take pictures.

And finally you just have to "throw in the towel"...

And join in the laughter!

I hope you all had a great weekend!

Ni Hao Yall

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Navigating Tweenville

For the first time ever, Hanna told me that she "saw a cute boy in the cafeteria" at school.  This is the first time that she indicated that she found someone "cute" and my heart may have just stopped for a few seconds.

Not that she hasn't had a rush of boys wanting her to be their girlfriend, and one or two of them have even caused her to shed a tear or two.  But for her to mention that she found someone attractive - well this is just moving into a whole new place that I seriously don't think I am ready for.

But, I am curious so I ask her what he looks like.  She stammers a little "um... well... he has brown hair and kind of tall, that's about it".  Well that describes about 1/2 of the boys in her school.  So really wanting to find out what she thinks is "cute" I name several boys that we know and ask her which ones she thinks are the cutest.  She starts giggling and turns a light shade of pink.

So I think I should help her out a little and I tell her which ones I think are the cutest.  She says "But that doesn't count because you're just a mom!"  WHOA!!!  "What???  Just because I am a mom doesn't mean that I don't know who is cute!"  She stares at me for a minute and then doubled over with laughter.

I ask her what is so funny, which just causes more hysterical laughter.

Seriously - she can't even stand up she is laughing that hard.

I am at a loss, so I turn to leave.  "Wait Mom don't leave!"  But as soon as I turn back towards her, she doubles over with laughter again.

I look at this girl-child, that is now almost as tall as me and I see a glimpse of the stunning young women that she is becoming.  I want to hold on to her tight, not let her grow up...  I mean yesterday I was awesome, today I am just funny I guess...

I liked being awesome!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Black & White Wednesday - A Glimpse Into The Future

Sometimes when I look through my lens...

it feels like I am getting a glimpse into the future...

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Adoption: The Missing Pieces

I knew when we adopted Rylee, I had missed out on a lot of things.  How she looked when she was born, seeing the first time she focused her big beautiful eyes on someone.  The first time she held her head up, the first time she rolled over, the first time she sat up or pulled herself up on the furniture.  You get the picture...

I knew that I missed those things and it makes me sad... but what I wasn't prepared for is how much it hurts my heart that I don't have these experiences to give to Rylee.  I can't tell her what time of day she was born, I'm not even exactly sure if the day we think she was born is really the right day.  I can't tell her how old she was when she took her first step, or about the adorable facial expressions she made as a baby.  I don't have these memories to give her and it makes my heart ache so deeply when she asks for them.

I wish I could tell her how often she kicked, or how long my labor was, or how I fell head over heels in love with her when I smooched her little baby cheeks.

Yes it hurts me that I didn't get to experience these moments with a daughter that I love so incredibly and so deeply.  But it hurts so much more, that I can't give these things to her.  I can't tell her much at all about the first 4.5 years of her life.  There are no baby pictures, no baby stories... so very little to help fill in the pieces of her early life and she wants to know.

Most of her questions come from our recent venture into our home movies.  First we watched all of the videos of her.  I knew that this might be difficult, but she really wanted to see them.  We watched her on video as she joined us in China, and her first days home.  We moved on to weeks 1 through 8.  Then we moved on to more of a monthly video and watched how fast she grew.  She was tiny when we got her and she was baby like in many ways, but she was not a baby.  I am so very thankful for all the "firsts" we were able to catch on video with her.

Then when we were all done, it was time to watch Hanna's baby videos.  I wanted to watch them after Rylee was in bed because I thought it might be hard for her.  But she really wanted to watch them and see Hanna as a baby.  I debated because I wasn't sure that at 7 years old, she really needs to confront this yet.  But on the other hand, we are a family and keeping Hanna's baby memories just between the three of us is excluding Rylee from that part of our family - also not sitting quite right with me.  Can I and should I shield her from her past?  I wasn't completely sure what the right thing to do was.

I settled for trying one video and snuggling close with both girls.  The first video started at my baby shower and boy was I pregnant - whewwww!  Rylee said "Wow!  Mom you gained some pounds there!"  She "Awwwww'ed" her way through the first video completely enthralled by the pregnancy, the labor and the newborn baby.  She decided that someday, she might want to have a baby in her "tummy" AND adopt some too. I was relieved because she seemed to be doing very well with it.  She thought Hanna was adorable and loved every minute of the tiny baby video.

And then the questions started:

"What time was I born Mommy?"

I'm not sure baby...

"Did it hurt when I was born?"

"Yes, I am sure it did." (I am confident that this is a truthful answer)

"Which one is my China Mom again?"

"We don't know who she is." She snuggles in tighter to me.

Each question feels like a knife, straight into my heart.  I want so badly to give her these answers.  I want so badly to have been there for her.  I want her to have these missing pieces.

I can't give them to her.

The next day, she tells me she misses her China Mom.  I hug her and tell her that I know she does.  I tell her that I bet her China Mom misses her too because I know that if she wasn't with me I would miss her so very  much.  She is quiet and thinking for a long time.

Then she tells me "I'm glad I am here Mommy, I love my family and our house and living here.  It is better here for me.  God found the best Mom for me and I am happy."

I hug her but can't really say anything, because there is a big lump in my throat.  I am fully aware that there will be more question.  Questions that I have no answers for.  I want to protect her, to soften things for her, to give her everything she needs.  I hope that she grows up always knowing that she is deeply loved, deeply wanted and treasured beyond all imagination.