"Tell your children of Him, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation." Joel 1:3

Monday, February 28, 2011

Today's small miracle

In the midst of getting our bedroom clean, I was clearing off my dresser....that I rarely see the top of....and turned the scripture calendar to the correct date (It was on June 26th, which means that's probably the last time I cleared off my dresser.....but anyhoo...)
I decided to see what tomorrow, when we leave for China to get our little Olivia, says. Here is what it said.....word for word.

"Waiting is not easy, especially when you're waiting for something as monumental as the birth of a child. Even if you're waiting on God to perform a miracle in some other area of your life, it's tough. You wonder if God is still working on your behalf. But rest assured, He is! When you are finally able to embrace whatever it is you're believing God for, it will be more than worth the wait!"

I love when God throws all subtlety out the window.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sunday Snapshot: Livi's book

I had a book made on Shutterfly to bring to China on Tuesday. It is a book we can show her so that she starts to see some of the family and her home before we leave China. I'm hoping it will help give her a glimpse of recognition when she sees everything. Especially the pictures of the boys, of our home, and of her room. Who knows if it will make a difference at all, but I think it will be fun to try and show her.

This is Livi Ming. And this is the story of her family.

This is Livi's family. She has a mom and a dad and 5 big brothers. Their names are Tyler, Timmy, Trae, Tony, and Tanner.

Little Livi's mom and dad planned for her for a long time.
And prayed that Jesus would send them a special little girl.

All the boys wanted a sister very badly.....
and they prayed for her too.

Livi's family had tons of fun together. They went to baseball games and movies together.
All the while thinking about the little girl that would soon join their family. What did she look like? What is her favorite toy?

Mom, dad, and the 5 boys weren't the only ones hoping and praying for little Livi.
She already had so many other people thinking about her too. Grandma Rita and Grandpa Jim. Grandma Cindy and Aunt Erin.

What little Livi Ming would soon find out is that she already had a whole group of cousins that are so excited to meet her.
The cousins are good friends and Livi is going to love playing with them.

Uncle Mike and Aunt Kristin love little Livi. They are so anxious to meet her.
Livi will soon meet Alex, Sam, Molly, and Josh. I'm pretty sure Molly will have fun showing off all her toys and dolls they can play with together.

Aunt Mindy loves Livi Ming.
She and Kaylee are so excited to have another sweet little girl in the family and play with and squeeze.

Uncle Pat and Aunt Lindsey love sweet little Livi.
Baby Benny thinks it's extra special that Livi is coming to our family. He was adopted and wanted so much, just like her. They will have a lot to share together.

Uncle Dan and Aunt Amy love little Livi.
Adam and Christopher are silly little boys that Livi will have lots of fun with.

Livi sure is a lucky girl with all these people who love her and think she's so special.
When LIvi gets to her new home, she will see lots of snow there. Her brothers can show her how to make a snow angel and go sledding.

There's a brand new room waiting for her.
It's got lots of pink and was made with so much love.....especially for her arrival.

Tyler, Timmy, Trae, Tony, and Tanner can't wait for little Livi to be home....right where she belongs.
Because after all this time thinking about her, and praying for her, and planning for her......

.....we're all just ready to start loving her.
Livi, you are a child of God. He has held you since the day you were conceived. His plans for your life and great. You were wanted, even before you were born, by God, and by us. We thank God that He made you for our family. You are loved.

Ni Hao Yall

Getting packed

I've actually had a lot of fun getting Olivia's bag packed. There's something really sweet about doing something for her even before we meet her. Each thing I packed, I found myself thinking of her actually using it, playing with it, or wearing it.....and I can't wait.

The boys were 'helping'.

This is the other thing I just finished in her room. It's a ribbon with all sorts of pictures of us for her to see every night when she's in bed.

Friday, February 25, 2011

My growing "to do" list

This past week, it seems like for every one thing I check off my 'to do' list, I add 2 more things. This doesn't exactly get it any smaller. I have 4 pages in my little China notebook of things I have to do. There is only about a half page left but one of the things is clean house. That could be it's own 4 pages all by itself. I'm getting there though. Slowly but surely...getting all the details worked out for us to leave in 4 days. Ahhhh.....FOUR days. I can't even believe that. We've been waiting and working for this for so long that I can't believe it's finally here.
Tomorrow evening we are going to a hotel for the night with the boys. We really wanted a chance to spend some time with them before we go. They don't know anything about it and it's Trae's birthday on Tues. (the day we leave) so this is a surprise for him.....and the others. We'll have a cake and presents there and play games and go swimming in the pool. I'm really looking forward to it. It's been so crazy around here that it will be nice to just hang out and sit in a hottub for a while. Our friend Helen is coming with her family too which will be great and make it seem like it's more of a party for Trae. Should be a good time.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Update on Livi!

I'm super excited....today we received an update on Olivia from her orphanage. The liaison for our agency was able to get in contact with the director and have a ton of questions about her answered.
Here are some of the highlights
~Height: 83cm, Weight: 12.5kg, Head circumference: 46cm, chest: 48.5, teeth: 16, foot length: 14cm.
This makes her about 27.5 pounds and about 32 inches tall.
~Both physical and mental development are very good. She could walk on her own now, very alert and swift. She likes to imitate others. She likes to smile, to talk and likes busy and noisy places. She could understand simple sentences. She knows her name and say Auntie and a few of her friends name.
Guess she'll be right at home in our crazy house.
~She eats two meals with conjee, each time about two small bowls. Three meals of formula with rice cereal, about 300ml each time. She likes to eat snack such as candy, cracker and steamed buns. Sounds like there is not much variety in her menu.
I wonder how long it will take for her to learn the English word for french fries.
~She seldom cries and in case she does, play with her for a while, she will be fine.
~We call her Ming Juan.
I was able to let them know if there was anything specific I wanted to ask....beyond the obvious stuff I knew they'd already be saying. I had asked if they say her full name or shorten it to Ming.
~She uses a bottle.
Uh oh....we'll have to work on that. I never had a bottle drinker once the boys turned one. We won't be in a hurry though.....small steps.
~She is outgoing and has good appetite.
Oh yah...she'll fit right in.
~We still uses diaper for her.
Kinda figured this....already bought some to pack.
And the most important and really most surprising...
~She has third degree of cleft lip and palate. Never had a surgery yet.
Ah....little sweetie.

Monday, February 14, 2011


I took Tyler to his first orthodontics appointment today. It was just a consult to see what we should get started on for his teeth and braces. It's been long overdue, but the cost has kept us waiting on it. Looks like he'll have to have 4 teeth pulled in order to make room, then braces for 2 years. The Dental school we went to is definitely cheaper, but it's still a ton of money. Not sure how we're gonna cover it especially since Timmy will be close behind him, but I guess we'll figure it out.
These kids get more expensive the older they get....sheesh.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A gift

Look at what I got in the mail yesterday.

It is from my good friend, Jill, who I refer to as "one of my military wife girlfriends".
She is one of about 15 women who I "met" online 8 years ago (this month, to be exact) while Jason was overseas. I happened to find a forum for military wives and fell in love with it. It was a great source of strength during that terribly hard time. After a few years, it was obvious that there was a smaller group inside that mass of thousands who were more connected than the others. One of those girls created a forum just for us. We used that for the next few years until facebook came along, and now that is the way we keep in touch with each other and our lives.
I've personally met about 5 of the girls, and a lot of them have met each other too....but for the most part, we just are close because of the circumstances that first brought us together and that initial common thread that set us apart from most.
In the past 8 years, we've seen each other get married, get divorced, have countless babies and say goodbye to our husbands as they deploy again, we've lost weight together and gained weight together, we've exchanged secret Santa gifts, had some fights and made up, a few of us even have matching tattoos...now how's that for commitment. We've cried as our resident 'mom' went through the heartache of having a house fire and we've consoled each other when a loved one has been lost, while thankfully not one of us ever had to bear the terrible news of losing a spouse in the war, we have laughed with each other (remember walking like an Egyptian) and we have prayed a million prayers for one another. I honestly feel like I know them all so well and we've never even met....most of us.
I have this dream someday of having a get together with all of us there so we can finally give some overdue hugs. God bless you guys....and thank you.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Livi's room

I have been so excited to do this post. I was waiting until I had the final piece in place and that package came yesterday. So, here it is. I LOVE LOVE her room.
I had seen that wall tree about a year ago and totally fell in love with it. I saved it to my faves on the computer and finally ordered it last month. Mindy helped me put on every individual flower and it turned out so pretty.

The same thing goes for the bed. I had been at Ikea over a year ago and just loved it. I never forgot about it and in December, Jay and I went to get it.

The little table, I found online and loved how it matched the lines in the woodwork of the bed. Makes it look like it was bought at the same place.

The trunk under the window was actually found used. I was just looking around and came across it. Again, it had the same lined wood like the bed and now the table so it just seemed perfect.

I got this shelf used too. It was a dark brown, but I painted it white to match. The last piece of the room I was waiting for were the baskets. I had originally had different ones picked out, but they were expensive so I started looking around again. I ended up finding these for half the cost and I think I actually like them better.

This is an idea I got last year at Tanner's preschool. It's a ribbon hanging (I got these cool oversized clothes pins to hold it) and then you use mini clothes pins to clip pictures up the whole thing. I'm gonna put a bunch of family pics on it and it's in a spot of her room where she will be looking right at it when she's in bed.

And finally....I had to pull out a few of my favorite things from her closet.

Tanner's foot

A few days ago, Tanner started complaining about something on the bottom of his foot. I took a look and was pretty surprised at what I found. He has this wart thing on the bottom of his foot that looks like a mound of skin with yellow cottage cheese underneath.....paints a pretty picture, huh.....I wasn't sure though what it was so I took him to our doctor to be sure. He said it is just a certain type of wart and that we could try and treat it with something over the counter. We got this thing at the store that sort of freezes it. It looked weird and sort of stung, but we'll see if it works.
The pictures don't really do it justice. It's pretty big and very strange looking and it's very sensitive to touch which stinks when you're trying to walk.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Meeting the doctors

On Tuesday, Jason and I spent a couple hours at Gillettes Children's' Craniofacial Unit. We had a consult appointment with 4 different specialists that will be part of Livi's care for her lip and palate.
We met with the orthodontist, plastic and orthodontic surgeon, speech pathologist, and a nurse practitioner. We learned a lot of really useful information about what to expect for the next several years. It was, no doubt though, just a glimpse of what we will really be doing. There was a simple outline of care that took us all the way up to preteen and possibly beyond. I think it's safe to say we'll become very familiar with this place.
The orthodontist talked about what her teeth and jaw might entail.
~ kids with her condition tend to have bad teeth as well so she will probably come home needing some general dental work.
~ Pretty much a sure thing she'll have braces as some point.
~ Kids with CL/P will see their upper jaw grow at a slower pace than the lower. If this becomes significant, she could need certain dental mechanics like retainers, bars, or headgear.
~ She may have extra teeth in there, permanently missing teeth, or just the right number. We won't know until she grows. She may not ever get her 2 missing front teeth, it just depends.
Then we saw the speech pathologist who talked to us about her speech and learning English.
~ She suggested we wait until her palate is repaired because it wouldn't make sense to begin before that.
~ If we ever have any questions about her learning English, we can call and get help with that as well.
Then the doctor who would do her surgeries talked to us. There was a lot of info from him. This is all under the assumption that she hasn't had anything done yet.
~ Upon seeing her picture, he started off by saying he could tell her palate was severe. :(
~ She will need a minimum of 3; probably 4 surgeries. First, her lip will be repaired. It is a one hour surgery with one overnight in the hospital. After about 6 mos. of healing, she will have her palate surgery which is also a one hour surgery with a one overnight stay. The third is not for sure, but because she didn't have any repairs done until she was older there is about an 80% chance of her having this one. It is done when the palate doesn't quite repair itself correctly after surgery. It doesn't allow for full closure or proper speech so it needs to be repaired. This is a half hour surgery with a night in the hospital. And fourth would be one at the age of 8-11 where she would have bone from her hip taken and put in her upper gum line to create an anchor for her adult teeth to grab onto and secure. They used to do this on the kids at about 3 yrs. old, but found that the bone in the gums would dissolve back into the body and be useless, so now they wait.
~ He said that he sees probably 1 child a week that is adopted from another country.....that's a lot....so I asked him what he felt about whether or not she's probably had any repairs done. His guess was that she's possibly had her lip fixed, but not her palate (which is what Jay and I have been thinking too). He said they used to not ever do anything, but that it became almost a pride thing for other countries to do the lip so that the child didn't reflect poorly on them. He said he rarely sees the palate done though. He also said that he would prefer at this point that it hasn't been done so she can have it here. We'll see soon enough.
The one I was most anxious to talk to was the nurse practitioner. She was there to answer all of our every day questions about her and caring for her. I had lots.
~ I don't need to be as concerned about what I feed her as I thought. She told me I can feed her the same way I would feed any of my other boys as toddlers. Just cutting up her food small and nothing to hard to eat/chew. Sandwiches, cheerios, bananas, mac n' cheese.....just all those things you would normally feed a 2 yr. old.
~ She said that Livi would probably surprise us how fast she eats and adjusts to her missing palate.
~ Because she's had this her whole life, she has learned how to adapt to her lip and palate. She told us about one little girl she met that actually would put her 4 fingers in her mouth against the top of her mouth to create a palate every time she would eat something. That sounded so smart and interesting to me. I guess when you've had that your whole life, you don't know any different.
~ The best type of sippy cup is a Nuby which is exactly what I bought for her...YAY! Those are the kind that have a top like a bottle. She actually gave me some cups too especially for kids with cleft lip. They look like a regular cup but they are soft so you can squeeze it to an easier shape to drink from and they also have a scooped opening on the rim so you can see their mouth when helping them.
~ I don't have to worry about her choking any more than I would about any other child. She said that even though her mouth and nasal passage are open to each other, the throat and airway are still far enough back and separated that this is not an issue. Mostly what we'll see is food coming out of her nose when she coughs or sneezes or something. Well, that's happened with all the boys too. :)

All in all, we were very impressed and happy with the whole facility. Everyone was really great and we have a good feeling about it. This was so helpful to be able to find out the answers to all of our questions. I feel so much better about taking care of her when we're in China.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Trae's project

Today is the academic fair that all the 4th and 5th graders participate in. This is our 5th time being part of it. It's actually pretty interesting to see all the different topics the kids come up with. Things like "How does a sewing machine work?" "What Happened at Pearl Harbor" or even "How much water can a Penny hold?"
This is like the Science Fair we all did as a kid, only the topic can be pretty much anything.
Trae did his on Mount Rushmore. They have to do a display board and write a report. He did a good job and used a lot of great pictures from our trip there in 2006. Looking at them for the first time in years made me, and the boys, really want to go back. That was a great vacation!
Here he is.....and he got an A!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

What a week

Things have gone by like a bit of a blur since Wednesday. I really cannot yet wrap my head around the thought of leaving for China in just over 3 weeks....really??

I've been thinking about Livi and wondering what she'll look like and what she'll act like when we see her.

The whole thing gives me some serious butterflies.

I know I want a smile on my face for her when she first sees us.....but I'm not sure I can muster the strength to not be a complete wreck.
I get emotional just thinking about it....what the heck will I be like when I'm actually living it. Good grief.

Today, a woman in front of us at church turned around and counted, then looked at us. "Five boys?"
Then she looked at them and asked "So have you ever wanted a sister"
Definitely. They jumped right into telling her about Livi. They tell it with such excitement that you can't mistake their feelings about it.
They can't wait either.
I told the woman that we will meet her 4 weeks from today (most likely)....and it hit me how soon that was and how fast that time would fly.

This is just so fun.

The whole thing.

All the waiting, all the paperwork, all the changes, all the delays, all the excitement, everything.

It's gonna be so worth it.
I mean...just look at that face and those chubby little legs.
How could it not be.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ever wonder

....how much can change in an hour?

One hour ago
I was still excited about getting our article 5
One hour ago
I was getting everything together to begin applying for our visas
One hour ago
I was thinking we were counting down the days to our TA
One hour ago
I was thinking we had about 3 more weeks before we'd get it

But now?
We have our Travel approval!
We have a tentative date of Feb. 28th to leave for China
And we know that March 6th looks like it could be a very, very good day that we will be celebrating for a very long time.

In place

Everything is just falling nicely into place for us to go get Livi. I'm getting more and more excited as each day goes on. Her room is just about done....I still have to order some baskets for her shelf and then I will post pics of it....I've started a long packing and 'to do' list for our trip, we're applying for our Visa's to go to China, and it's February....which means, only a month on that calendar away from when we will probably get to go meet her and hold her. I simply cannot wait.