It's Summertime

We've had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. It's very hot and sunny, feeling so much like summer. The kids are loving the outdoors and we are spending lots of time with family and friends. I love this time of year.
Carter kicking off the summer with the classic watermelon and hot dog combo.
Anna sporting her sister's shades, hence the enormous grin. Her sister's face was not near as happy!
A friend of our built this in our backyard this weekend. I'm hoping it adds to the outdoor things to do at home this summer. The kids had a great time and mom will work on not freaking out about sand coming in the house.

And because I wasn't ready to be with the crowds this weekend at the pool, we got out the blow up pool. Again, happy kids!

Anna, Carter and our friend Ella.


Somewhere over the rainbow.....

Dreams really do come true.
The night my mom got out of the CCU and moved to a regular room, we had a brief thunderstorm followed by sunny skies. As I was taking Anna up to bed, I saw this out the window. We rarely see rainbows here. I even woke Callie up and let her get out of bed to come see. The kids were so excited to see this huge, beautiful rainbow. I can't help but think that this glorious beauty was God's little sign to us that my mom was going to be just fine.


Last days of school

I always get emotional this time of year. It marks the end of yet another school year gone by which somehow makes me think my kids are just getting older at an alarmingly fast rate. Everyone had wonderful last days of school and we are excited for the summer months where we typically live at the pool.
Callie finished preschool and will move on to Kindergarten next year. This was such a big year for her in terms of maturing and going from a preschool girl to one that is ready for elementary school. She is the type of kid that will hit the ground running and I can't wait to see how this spitfire continues to grow.

Callie with her teachers- at the best preschool in the world!!!

Callie and her best friend Ava. Sadly she is not going to the same school next year but luckily she is right down the street so the girls can play anytime.

Callie and her friends at an end of year picnic.

And then there is Jack. How is it possible that I have a kiddo who will be going into 3rd grade???I think he was a little excited about today.
Jack and his teacher. He loved her and this was such a great year for him. On a side note, his teacher and the class followed our blog for our trip to China each day we were there. The class was so excited and he received so much attention and support the entire time. When we came home everyone was waiting to meet Anna. It was amazing to see an entire class of kids fascinated by her and following her on the playground. She was a star and had a whole school waiting to meet her. I love Jack's school and they were all such a wonderful support for us. The kids, parents and staff couldn't be any better.
Jack and his best friend Grace.

So another school year passes and summer begins. Bring on the festivities!


Giving Praise and Thanks

My mom was taken off the ventilator yesterday and remains stable. I truly believe it is a miracle she survived. When I was calling my friend last night on my way home giving her the good news, she said "half the world is praying for her." Between family and friends, asking their family and friends, and so on and so on, so many people have had my mom in their prayers. The outpouring of love and support and prayer for this woman brings me to tears and sometime down the road when we are past this, my mom will know how much love and prayer were given. It's been an incredibly emotional journey but I am so happy to just sit in a heap and cry tears of joy, and relief. She is going to recover with time and I can BREATHE.
Thank you to all who have offered prayer and support. I appreciate all the blog comments and every ounce and word of support has really been so kind and taken to heart.
When things like this happen, you get the opportunity to reflect on so much. I know this sounds strange but this time away from Anna has actually helped me work on our relationship more and have more patience with all of my kids. Anna has had a lot of daddy time so she is slowly starting to trust him and feel comfortable with him. So while it has been so hard for me to be away from the kids and hard for the kids to be away from me, everyone is fine and we are all seeing how the time we have together is precious.
I'm off to the hospital for the day. Again thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the prayer and support. ALLELUIA!



When I got home from China, I felt nearly to tears from the outpouring of support we received from so many people while we were gone and the first few weeks we were home. I said again and again how blessed we were to have such wonderful friends and family, so many people who so graciously helped in every way. And just weeks later, these same people are at it again, offering so much help and support so I can be at the hospital as much as possible with my mom. My best friend has had my children for days. My cousin has had my children. Friends are bringing food and grocery shopping for us. Friends are taking our kids to all of their activities and back. Everyone being sure Anna has all her needs met and giving lots of love. We are so blessed. Everyone praying for my mom, I am eternally grateful.
My mom was taken off her heart machine and is stable. She is still on the ventilator and sedated and I'm told making baby steps. She was taken by helicoptor to another hospital two days ago for more critical care and is holding on. I NEED this woman. She is my everything. Thank you to all my angels for taking care of me and my family. KEEP Praying- God is listening.


Please Pray

My mom had a heart attack two days ago. Yes, this is my very young mom who traveled to China with me and was absolutely fine. It was sudden. She continues to struggle and is currently on life support. Please keep us all in your prayers. No blogging for a while.


Belated Mother's Day gift

Jack brought home some coupons today for Mother's Day. Apparently he forgot them last week ( and everyday this week until today.) I have to say it was adorable but I noticed an underlying theme. Let's go through the coupon book.

Now we have strict rules about Nintendo DS time- only on weekends and with time restrictions. I love how he says this is the way he can give me a break. Is this a coupon for Mom or Jack?

Anyone else noticing the recurrent theme? I have to give him credit, he is really working it!

What a sweet boy, he will take his plate to the sink. But notice how he conveniently crosses off "I will eat all my vegetables." No way he can leave this clause in, I might make him eat string beans.

But how can I resist the help with Anna and Carter. And I have to say he really means it and is the best at playing with them when I need him to.

This is the true heart of this boy- his favorite thing to do with me is "cutle" or cuddle. I love that he still loves to sit in my lap and snuggle and actually asks for this time with me often. This is the best belated Mother's day gift ever!


One month

One month ago Brian and I were driving on the way to the adoption center to meet Anna. I was amazed at all I saw around me, getting a little sick in the van, and SO anxious about the meeting that was about to take place. It is so hard to describe but it will be a long time before I forget that feeling. And here we are a month later. Anna is totally integrated into our family. I am amazed how much she has learned and how much she understands. Sometimes I catch myself talking to her along with the other kiddos as if she understands everything I am saying. The funny thing is, I think she gets almost all of it. Her English is coming right along as well and she actually sang Happy Birthday, in full, to my brother yesterday. She knows the routine and will let you know when you stray from it. She loves her siblings and literally squeels with delight when she sees of of them after they have been at school or away. Sometimes I feel she has been with us for such a long time and then there are times when I am reminded that she is still so new, to us and our life.
I know people talk about bonding and attachment with us a lot. I really think the bonding process for her is slow. She does not like to be held, or cuddled so one on one time is rare. She almost prefers her siblings over me. She is still leary of Brian (and all men in general) and I keep telling Brian that this is normal and it will take time. She still needs to be at my side in our house and screams if she loses sight of me. But when we are outside she is fine wandering around a playground without knowing where I am. She loves to play with other children. She is doing great with eating. I've noticed that she is starting to be able to leave a small bit if food on her plate. She used to eat every last drop and I was trying to be careful on her portions so she wouldn't eat until she got sick. (She had done this twice!) She is very observant and definately wants things EQUAL between all her siblings. If one gets something, she wants the exact same thing. She has done great sleeping. She takes a short nap and sleeps through the night in her big brother's room so they come paddling in to my room together in the morning.
Anna is full of personality. She is rarely shy and very outgoing. She is such a happy girl. She knows how to throw a good tantrum and be extremely stubborn too. I can't even imagine what another month home will bring. I can't wait to see.

Carter looks pretty pleased with this arrangement.

I love baking and now we have an extra little helper. She was excited about licking batter once she figured out she could stick her little fingers in.

Two pees in a pod, unless they are fighting with each other. It's love/hate. The best is when they are having an argument and Carter is yelling at her in English and she is yelling back in Mandarin. I don't even think they realize they aren't speaking the same language. They are speaking frustrated 2 1/2 year old language which they certainly understand! T-shirts read brother and sister.

Having a little ice cream for dessert. Who doesn't like ice cream!

Anna playing with her cousin Morgan. Morgan was lifting her up over and over and she loved every minute of it.
Anna with her Nana. Once my mom got to China I realized the difficulty with having Anna learn her name and calling my mom Nana. They sound so much alike. Even Carter calls Anna "Nana" although he obviously knows the distinction. My Mom has been a Nana for too long to switch so for now Anna may be confused about the name but that's O.K. We usually use Anna's first and middle name and call her Anna Ting.

Anna and Callie. (Yes I am a sucker for matching outfits. My boys have been matching for years.)

The crew.
We did take Anna for her medical appointment with our pediatrician and we have all labs back and everything looks great. We feel so lucky and blessed to have such a healthy little girl. As I have written about in the past, Anna's special need is that she has a malformation in her brain. We were given the findings from her brain CT and MRI and age 4 months and again at age 2 in her file. I was fully expecting our pediatrician to write the orders for another MRI now that we have her home. Anna seems to be functioning so well on all levels we just don't see an issue with her brain. That obviously doesn't mean there isn't something there. Our pediatrician suggested we wait and get her a little more acclimated because the MRI requires being sedated. While part of me feels the need to know about Anna's brain, I certainly respect her thoughts about it. So for now, we are waiting.


Happy Mother's Day

I am extremely fortunate to be surrounded by incredible women, mothers. We share this title among all aspects of our lives- work, church, school. These women are strong, faithful, kind and giving, dedicated and devoted, tireless, smart, creative...the list could go on and on. They are friends and family. I admire them, learn from them, rely on them, and enjoy my time with them.
Mother's are unique. I love my mom and am so lucky to have such a close relationship with her. She is one of these women. Thank you Mom for everything. I wish I had the words to really explain how grateful I am but words are not my thing.

Now that I am a mother, I am often in thought about how to build such a strong relationship with my daughter, now daughters. How to raise a girl to also be one of these confident and kind women. Teach by example is the best thing I can think of which means I need to work harder to be a better person. Self reflection and self improvement are never ending processes. I want to have daughters that look up to their mother and value how I have raised them.

I also can't not think on this day about a mother on the other side of the world. The mother that gave birth to my daughter. There are just so many questions. Did she hold her baby to her chest after birth and think, I love you? Did she ache when she left her only 3 week old daughter right outside the orphanage? Did she say goodbye and walk away or hide to see if someone would find her? Did she leave her out of choice or necessity? Does her heart ache not knowing what happened to this little girl? We will never know the answers to any of these questions. But I am thankful for her bravery which I know she must have had. I am thankful for the opportunity to be the mother to this little girl. I can only hope that somewhere in her heart she knows this child is safe, and loved.

Happy Mother's Day.
My mom, myself and Anna in China.


Welcome Home Anna party

My best friend and her family threw a wonderful welcome home Anna party for us this past weekend. They rented a pavillion at the park and everyone had the best time. We kept it to family and close friends because I was not sure how Anna would be so soon after being home and it all worked out perfectly. The kids had the playground, the baseball field and Sara brought bubbles and chalk which were a big hit. The weather was perfect and little Anna had a great time. I've said this before but we are truly blessed to have such wonderful friends who have all been such a big support for us. I am humbled by the outpouring of love, support, encouragement and food! that have been given to us by family and friends and we are so grateful and thankful.

Anna's favorite thing to do-eat! I had to cut her off or she would have sat and ate the entire time. Once again, the girl goes for Cheetos. Can't say I blame her, I love them too.

Callie found a frog earlier that day so he had to come to the party too. I don't go near anything without fur but she is fearless and loves to play with all creatures big and small.

I tried to take as many pictures as I could and thanks everyone for allowing me to be in your face.

Anna has no shortage of older girls that are thrilled to play with her and meet her every need. And yes, she was back to the food table.

The guys manning the grill. Those were some yummy burgers!

The kids....

A friend of ours made this great banner with the header from my blog. The kids loved seeing themselves all over it. I did learn that Anna still calls herself Guan Ting. When she was pointing to herself on the banner, she used that name.

Thank you Runge family for an awesome welcome home party! It was the best and we love you.