Thursday, January 31, 2008

Eating Solids and Sitting up!

So here she is- a big girl of 6 months old now! She is so strong- she can even "tripod" sit for a minute or two. You know what I mean- you position them with their legs open and put their hands on the floor in front of them- then you stay right there, because you know that they can only hold it for a minute before they topple over! She has begun solids as well. I was nervous about this step, because she had such a tongue thrust reaction while we were in Kyrgyzstan every time we tried to feed her...and she would get so mad! My brave husband was actually the first to try it, while I was at church. He said she polished off the whole bowl of rice cereal, and I haven't had any trouble with her either. She really likes it! Today, she had her first taste of sweet potatoes. She made an awful face with the first spoonful, but then seemed to enjoy it after that. And the little chub still wants a bottle after her cereal at night before she will sleep- and dont think you can get away with water, either...she has to keep those chubby cheeks up!

Mmmm...that's good stuff!

Her baby fat actually wasn't on her side the other day. We have a lab order from her doc to get blood drawn...since we have very little medical history, they just want to run a few tests and see if they can learn any more. So we went to the lab, and they searched and searched for a vein. They could not find one in that chubby little arm. Finally, they decided to stick her and just hope for the best. Well, needless to say, they had no luck...even after 3 attempts. Awful! You can bet we wont be doing that again for awhile! My poor girl- I felt terrible, and she really did hold a little grudge for a bit I think. Mean mommy.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sharing some cuteness

At Monkey Joe's with Rachel (PAP from Tokmok) and her Russian cutie A...we decided Z and A have the same hair!

Just hanging out with her bro!

Her third Sunday at church- and I finally got a pretty good group shot!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sanctity of Life

This week marks the 35th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortions in the United States. Thirty five years, and almost 50 million lives have been lost! Not sure where any of you may stand on this issue, but I am not going to dance around it…I find that to be a really breaks my heart. At church today, I kept finding myself thinking of Z’s birth mother. I did a little research…almost one third of Kyrgyz women of reproductive age have had an abortion…60% of those have had more than one. Imagine how easy it would have been for her to go that route! She was so young. I really don’t know too much about her or her situation, but I can make some generalizations based on what I do know about the country. It is predominately Muslim, so having a child out of wedlock is shameful for the mother and her entire family. And the country is one of the poorest regions of the former USSR…we saw so much poverty while we were there. So I imagine her young, and disgraced, completely alone with no way to provide for this child…in a place where 1 in 3 women have had an abortion. Yet she chose life. And I am so grateful! I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been for her…carrying the baby to term was such a selfless act of love… And now, our family will be forever connected to this unknown stranger that we will probably never meet, but will pray for daily!

People keep saying all these very nice things to us since we brought her home. “Oh, what a wonderful thing you did!” “What a lucky little girl!”…if you are one who has paid us one of those compliments, please don’t take this the wrong way…we didn’t do anything amazing. We listened to God’s call, and we followed Him…we have done our best to be obedient servants. The blessings we have received in return have by far outweighed any sacrifices we might have made- we really are the ones benefiting from this deal! What a gift this child is. Do you have any idea the lessons she has taught me already? Our journey to bring her home has brought me so much closer to my Father. It taught me how to step out in faith; it taught me how to let go, and give him control; it taught me how to be still and listen to his whisper in my heart. One of the most amazing lessons it has brought has been about his love for us, his adopted children. I have often wondered how he could love me…why he would even care about my life. I am so sinful, so disobedient, so ungrateful…he could never love me the way he loves Jesus- his one and only, perfect son! But here is the amazing thing…he loves us just as much! Adoption is an earthly mirror…a reflection of his perfect plan for us. From the beginning, he planned on adopting us as his children…in Ephesians 1:3-5, it says, “How we praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we belong to Christ. Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure.” I have had some people tell me they just don’t know if they could love an adopted child like they love a biological child. Let me tell you, it isn’t will give you great pleasure! They moment they placed her in my arms, she had my heart. She went from being lost and abandoned, completely alone in the world, to being a precious, cherished child in just an instant. Sound a little like us? Did she do anything at all to earn that love? No…not really. Do I have any guarantees that she won’t ever give me any trouble…never disobey, never cause me any heartache? Certainly not! Does that make me love her any less? NO! And it is the same for us. God accepts us just as we are, he expects nothing in return, and he will make us heirs to his kingdom, if we will only let him in. The love I feel for my children pales in comparison to his love for us. And that is the greatest thing Z has done for me…she has really shown me that, she has really made it real. She has helped me better understand my Father’s love! Thanks, baby girl!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Two whole weeks!

Z has been home for two weeks now. It's been amazing. Some moments I feel like it has been so much longer, and other moments I realize we still hardly know each other. About 80% of the time she is sooo content. She smiles when you talk to her, she eats up our kisses and hugs, she plays with her toys, and when she is feeling really good, she will talk to us- I love it when she talks to us. Then in a moment, she gets hungry or's like a switch, there is no middle ground. Then she is mad. Really really mad. She cries so hard she doesn't realize the bottle is in her mouth, and she cannot settle down enough to take it. She breaks my heart then. Most of the time I feel pretty confident with her- she seems to be getting to know us and recognize us- I do think she is starting to bond. But in those moments her cry is so desperate...I feel like she is telling me that I am doing it all wrong. I am convinced at this point it is still so strange to her- we sound different, we look different, we smell different- everything around her has got to be so foreign to her. But really, most of the time she seems to be enjoying it. She is so observant- she cannot stand to miss anything. If you are holding her and she hears a sound behind her, she will twist her body until she is hanging upside down so she can see what is going on. It's like she is trying to learn as much as she can about this crazy place as quickly as possible. She must think we are crazy- we are constantly cooing at her, bouncing her up and down, shaking toys in her face...anything to get one of those elusive smiles. They are coming much more freely these days, but they are still very fleeting. We have yet to achieve a good belly laugh. It will come. She has changed so much already- she is learning that her whimpers can be a pretty powerful tool to get that Mommy lady to jump right to her feet. Yeah, she'll be just as rotten as the other two in no time at all! And she should be.

I dont want to minimize my happiness at all here, but there have been some other unexpected feelings. I guess not completely unexpected. I still feel incomplete, like there is still more that needs to be done. Our family is good- our cup is overflowing. I am not saying there might not be a someday, maybe there...but for now, our hearts are overflowing with three precious gifts from God. The heartache lies somewhere else. I have this deep rooted feeling that God has more plans. I have a few regrets, too. I wish we could have taken more aid with us to the orphanage. I wish we could have spent more time there, interacted with some of the other children and met more of the caregivers. But now, my heart is still breaking for all of the lost little children that are still out there. I know I cannot bring them all home...I do. But there has to be something more we can do. I am not sure what it could be at this point. We cant afford to send some generous donation to anyone right now- sponsoring a child is probably even out of the question. But those precious children! So many, and so forgotten! I am really not sure where God is leading next...I just plan on listen closely and trust Him. Honestly, I really never thought bringing Z home would ever be an actual possibility- a far fetched dream perhaps, but a reality? My mind couldn't imagine how it could come to be. But He knew. And his timing was perfect. Why did we start the process when we did? I still dont know...but his nudging was unmistakable. We made those first few step with much hesitation, but he was there to reassure us that it was his will. And his provision! His promises are so Prov 3:6 it says "In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight" Oh, how he kept that promise for us! It felt like a roller coaster while we were in process, but when I look back, I can see that he walked right beside us...his touch was everywhere! So, I am so thankful to my father, and I trust that this aching in my heart is for a reason that he will reveal to me when the time is right- I just have to listen to His voice. How could I do anything else, after I have seen the miracles he can perform?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Sharing some smiles

Going through pictures to post made me realize it is impossible to get a nice shot of 3 small children. I will keep working on it :)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

A few pictures

So maybe I am biased...but she gets cuter everyday! I am kicking myself b/c I didnt get a picture of her today when she was all dressed up for church!

So, I also have to throw this one in. This is A at about the same age. They arent exactly twins, but were these girls destined to be sisters or what!? I cannot get over the similarities is crazy!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

I promise more pictures later! It's kinda late, I should be sleeping, but I thought I would post a quick update. We are all adjusting pretty well. I was sick yesterday, but Nana bailed be out and took the kids. Baby Z is getting adjusted to the time difference...she has even begun sleeping for 8 or more hours at night now, which is really nice. She is cutting her first tooth...and her big sister just lost the same one! Poor M, he checks his mouth for loose teeth every day. We celebrated Christmas with Shaun's family today...good fun! It's back to the routine tomorrow...we get to show her off at church in the morning, and Awana is back tomorrow night (my first official night as commander...wish me luck). Then school again for A on Monday (and loads of doctor appointments this week!) So, I promise more pics and a longer post later....just wanted to check in and say thanks for all your kind thoughts. It is greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Well, we are finally home again! A little jet-lagged, but doing really well. Baby Z did so well on the plane...she slept almost the entire flight. When we arrived at the airport, she was all smiles for her sister and brother, Grandma and Grandpa, and Nana and Papa. She got to meet her Tia and some of her cousins at Grandma's for dinner later....and more family for New Year's (Thanks Tia, we had fun!)...and hopefully she will meet more cousins this weekend...we are hoping to have Christmas together on Sat. We are also waiting on news of her newest cousin, as my sister in IN is expecting her third daughter any time now.

A and M are crazy about their sister so far. They have been playful and helpful, and haven't seemed jealous at all. I also got glowing reports on their behavior while we were away, so that made me happy. So far, 3 is pretty fun. Shaun goes back to work tomorrow, so we will see how I do on my own! :) Hopefully, we can settle back into a routine here soon.

So, I tried to post as much as I could while we were gone, but I missed a lot. We got to meet Ivy and Bill (they were in trip one to meet their little boy...such a cutie!) while we were in Bishkek...we had a really nice dinner with them. Thanks guys- it was good to meet you! Hope the next month just flies by for you! I also lost half my post about our city tour....lucky for you probably. Bishkek is nice- I posted some pics from that day already. Our last day in Kaz went fine. We had no trouble with the visa, and we got to spend a little time with Galia (our in country facilitator) before we left (she is really great...she does an amazing job, and so much more goes into the process on her part than we realized- we will always be grateful to her). Our night in London was awesome (once we got past passport control- who knew Z was supposed to have a visa for England?). We took a shuttle from the airport to our hotel, which was right in Piccadilly circus. Along the way, we saw Harrod's, a little of the palace, and lots of double decker buses. We explored the streets around our hotel while Baby Z slept in our arms. I really wish we had more time there, I would love to go back- it was so beautiful and full of life and character. On the ride to the airport the next day, we saw Big Ben and Westminster Abby, and the Millennium wheel. So really, I guess I hit all the high points of the trip. It was all pretty amazing....but it's good to be warm again!

Mostly, I am still amazed that she is finally home. We have dreamed of her for so long, and to finally hold her in our arms is such a wonderful feeling.