Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas!

These next few weeks are going to be filled with all kinds of wonderful events.  The two most important, the birth of Jesus, as well as Lucy's birthday, will certainly be very special for us.  We head to Brian's parents for Christmas.  How fun for Lucy to see Grandma and Grandpa, as well as all her cousins, aunts and uncles!   And we are very excited to celebrate Lucy's 2nd birthday.  It is hard to believe it has been a year since we were celebrating this special day for the first time with our girl. These attached pictures are of Lucy with an early gift from Grammy and Papa.  As you can see, she had such fun in her new sled with all her "friends."  So just a quick post from Lucy, Brian and I, wishing each of you a wonderful, blessed Christmas. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

'Tis the Season

We have been busy enjoying the season.  Brian commented the other night that it seems as though we are appreciating this time more than we ever have before. He is right.  It is so fun to be parents to our sweet girl during this time of the year.   These first pictures are from our adventure at the Christmas tree farm.  It was our first time cutting down the tree with Lucy, so we made the most of it.  We got an 8 footer and it is a beauty!  Lucy really enjoyed riding around in the "sled" that you transport the tree with.  As you can see, we had beautiful, snowy weather.  We couldn't have asked for a more perfect day.

These next few pictures are of Lucy at the bakery, celebrating our special Family Day with a Santa cookie.  I think she had more fun playing with her sweet treat than she did eating it!

Lucy loves to "ride" on Dada's back.  Here she is having fun in her new Christmas outfit (Thanks, Aunt Lisa).
She also loves exploring the Christmas tree.  Almost daily I see her wondering around it, taking off ornaments and looking at them, touching the lights, feeling it's prickly needles.   It is so fun to watch her fascination with this new addition in our house  She has reminded me of the importance of paying attention to the little things.

These last pictures are of our visit to the mall to see Santa.  I must thank my friend Mary for offering to go with us so that she could be our official photographer.  This was so helpful, since the trip went just as I thought it would.... Lucy had no interest in being anywhere near Santa.  Mary suggested having Santa stand discreetly behind us, without Lucy having knowledge of him being there.  It was a great suggestion, and the proof is in the third picture below!

Enjoy the Season!!!!   


Monday, December 6, 2010

Forever Family 永遠家庭

Just moments before we met Lucy for the first time.
I have been contemplating the arrival of this day for sometime, as it marks a very important and special day for us.  As most families celebrate the birth of their child, today marks a different type of  'birth' for us.  It was one year ago today that God brought Lucy to us and she was placed in our arms for the very first time.  Sometimes it seems like it was just yesterday, and at other moments it seems like Lucy has always been with us.  I thought that I might post video of that day, as it captures the moment much better than I could ever describe.  If you need some comic relief while watching this potential tear-jerker,  just ask yourself  why is it that Brian and I decided we were both going to dress like jail house escapees on this, notably one of the most important days of our lives?  (My pre-video answer:  our minds were someplace else--imagine that!--while getting dressed that morning.)  At any rate, here we are, holding Lucy for the first time...December 6th, 2009:
I am not sure if others viewing this have the same reaction as me, and maybe it will sound a bit odd, but watching this breaks my heart.  Our little girl is scared to death.  The only way that I can try to understand how Lucy must have been feeling is to think about what it would be like if I was abducted by aliens.  And I don't say this in jest. We were nothing of what our girl had known up to that point in her 11 months of life.  We looked and sounded different.  The entire scene (as you could probably sense and hear) was chaotic.  Here we were in our hotel lobby, other crying babies surrounding us, all kinds of things being handed to us, our guide directing us in what we needed to do next... And all that was probably going through little Lucy's head and heart was: where is my world?  what is happening?  who are these strange people?  At one point in the video you can see Lucy looking at Brian, and it is evident this is what she is thinking/feeling.
Hello, sweet girl....
When I watch this, I realize one thing:  how much I have fallen in love with my daughter.  It is not that I didn't love her then.  But I now realize that my love was only capable of reaching a certain level since I did not know her yet.  I have to imagine that this is a similar experience that parent's have when their child is in utero verses when their child first enters this world and they come to know them. Now that Lucy has been in my life, and I have come to know her loving, affectionate, sensitive, social, curious personality, there are really no words to describe the love that fills my heart. I have no doubt that Brian would say the same thing.  How blessed we are.
Asleep at last... Lucy's first night with us.
And now, my post-video explanation for why Brian and I both wore stripes that day.   Did you notice how Lucy had stripes on too?  The orphanage brought all the girls dressed  in these tiger suits in honor of the upcoming Year of the Tiger in China.  Now obviously, we didn't know Lucy was going to be sporting stripes like her Mama and Dada.  But now it all makes sense, doesn't it?  It was divine intervention, you see.

Happy Forever Family Day to you, sweet Lucy.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Note of Thanks

As Thanksgiving approaches, more than ever before, I have been acutely aware of this virtue of gratitude. There is so much that I have to be thankful for.  It is true, a child changes everything. Maybe this is why I have been more contemplative.  Maybe it is because our one year anniversary of becoming a family is quickly approaching.  Whatever the reason, my heart swells in appreciation for the abundance of gifts and blessings that I have been given.

It all starts with God, because without Him, my life as I know it would not be possible.  All the praise and glory goes to Him.
The Summer Palace in China...almost one year ago.
Then there are my two main squeezes....

No explanation needed here. They are my greatest blessings.  I love you Brian and Lucy.

Of course to all my family and friends, too many to mention (which in and of itself is a blessing), thank you for all you bring to my life.  You support me, enrich me, sustain me, challenge me, love me... I am filled with gratitude, and forever better because of you all.

I am thankful that this past week we had our final post placement home study. After five years of social workers coming to our house to be sure we have running water (yep!), a posted fire escape plan (believe it!) and (more to the point) that we will be/are sufficient parents, we are done! Alleluia!

There are so many other gifts that I have been given, so many other things that I have to be grateful for. But family, friends, relationships...these are my greatest blessings and the most important.   So I will stop here.  May each of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, surrounded by those you love.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Ministry of Motherhood

It has been my great fortune to have recently come across this book,  The Ministry of Motherhood.  It has challenged me to understand and embrace my role as a mom in a unique new way.   The author, Sally Clarkson, talks about five different "gifts" we can give our children to help instill God in their lives.  One of these gifts, the Gift of Inspiration, she suggests can be taught by the beauty of what is seen around us;  the presence of God in nature.  I am not sure there could have been a better week than this past one to fully comprehend this concept.  We have been enjoying an incredible Indian Summer here in Southwest Ohio. At one point, while on a walk with Lucy, it felt unreal:  the stillness, warmth and beauty of the day and all that surrounded us.  I paused, pointed out this supernatural grace to Lucy, and thanked God for his wonder.
At the zoo with our new friend, Abby.

Lucy's first haircut!
I love being outside!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fabulous Fall

Ever since I can remember, fall has been my favorite time of the year.  Mostly I think it has to do with the cool mid-western weather and the beautiful changing leaves on the trees.  But maybe a part of it is also because my birthday arrives each October.  My parents always did such a good job of making this day extra special, marked with celebration and family.  Well, this fall has not disappointed.  The greatest blessing: I got to celebrate my birthday for the first time as a mom!  Keeping with family tradition, my parents, sister and niece, as well as my two good friends, Layne and Julia, joined Brian, Lucy and I for a lovely brunch at Ertel Cellars Winery.  The day was fantastic, marked with great company, perfect weather, lovely scenery and amazing food.

Brian and I have been full of excitement waiting for the arrival of our first Halloween with Lucy.  We were fortunate to have Brian's sister, Bridget, in town to commemorate the occasion.  Lucy was our little "angel," and even though it was a bit cold, she had a blast!  By about the tenth house (my best guess) she had the whole "trick or treat" thing down.  She got so excited going up each driveway in her wagon and would fervently yell "chocolate" in anticipating of her next treat.  Who knew it would be this fun!

As a final note, we got our tree!  For those who read my blog post from September 28th, you know that I won this tree at a fund-raiser for a local girl just adopted from China.  Originally, I had won a maple tree.  But when the generous donator from C & M Landscaping (also the little girl's uncle) found out about the connection between our families, he suggested planting a Cherry Blossom tree instead.  This line of tree is abundant in Asian countries like China and Japan.  This past weekend we all graciously watched as they planted this beautiful new addition in our backyard. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Meet the Sitters!

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I decided it still important to share another first for our girl, as Brian and I were rejoicing after this one!  You are looking at Lucy's first "real" babysitters!   This past weekend Brian and I enjoyed our first outing together--minus Lucy.  The occasion:  the University of South Carolina vs. University of Kentucky football game.  As you can imagine, this was a long day, between tailgating, the game, traffic...  All in all we were gone for 8 hours.  Lucy did great!   Eleven year old Lily Kate is our friends' (Johanna and Ross) daughter.  She adores Lucy and did so much to help out. Shannon (our friend's sister) took the reigns and braved the task of being the first person to watch Lucy for that long of a period of time.  Brave soul.  Poor Shannon had to put up with all my neurotics and lists and texts.... bless her.   I question now why I worried so much.  I must continue to remind myself of something I wrote in a prior post:  the amazing resiliency of children and the importance of putting our trust in God... lessons I am obviously still working on. Alas, other than bedtime, Lucy didn't cry a peep.  Alleluia!

So for any of you football lovers, you must know that the game was a real nail biter, with South Carolina losing in the last minute.  Being with my brother (a South Carolina alum)/sister-in-law, and our UK friends Johanna and Ross, posed quite the dilemma for us.  But Brian and I have developed an affinity for South Carolina through my brother, so this was our team.  Needless to say, the loss was a disappointment, but we still had a blast. Thanks to Ray and Jessica, Johanna and Ross for organizing this great get together.  What a blessing to spend a beautiful day with family and friends while Lucy was well cared for.