If you stopped by today…

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If you stopped by today you would find:

  1. Food on the floor…in addition to cheerios strewn about!
  2. A layer of dust on most of our furniture.
  3. A pile of clothes that either needed to be washed or folded & put away.
  4. A pile of c.r.a.p. (McKayla we don’t say that word!) in my bedroom that still needs to be unpacked from our trip to China, South Texas and Michigan.
  5. Dirty dishes in the sink.
  6. That our Christmas trees are still up, because when you don’t put your Christmas stuff out until Dec 22nd, you don’t feel like putting it away at the first of the year.
  7. A kleenex trail throughout the house from the strep throat and viruses that have been running through our family!
  8. That the bags under my eyes now have bags of their own!
  9. One tired mama, one tired dada and one slightly irritated big sis.
  10. That despite 1-9….we are all as happy as can be!

Sorry it has been so long…we’ve been a little busy!  I also apologize for length of this post and the fact that it is mostly lists!

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow will mark 7 weeks that Amelia Joy has been in our arms.  7 weeks!  And that we have been home for 5 weeks!!  Much of the last month seems like a blur.  I am so behind in returning emails, phone calls and texts…I promise to get back to each of you at some point!

Amelia continues to amaze us with her confidence and independence, she is such a joy!   We had our Social Worker here two weeks ago for our first Post Adoption Report – she was amazed at how well Amelia was doing…she said “Amelia acts like she has been with y’all since birth”, which brought me to tears instantly, because she does!

In the last 5 weeks she has:

  • Gained a pound
  • Had 5 teeth come in (2 in the roof of her mouth poor baby!)
  • Got 5 vaccinations
  • Learned to say – My Dada, Kayla, Papa, Night Night, Hi, Bye bye, Up, Down, Pleee (please), Tata (thank you), No, Shoes, Uh oh
  • Reduced her nap from 3 hours to 1!  (thats partly why mama’s productivity has decreased significantly!)
  • Continued to sleep 12 hours a night (although she still wakes up at 3am, fusses for a few minutes and then goes back to sleep)
  • Mastered irritating her big sister by being her shadow.
  • Learned to hop…which she loves to do!

We went to see Santa at Katy Mills Mall, when we were next in line but still waiting for our turn, Santa turned to us and said “If I say Big Blue House would you know what I am talking about?”  I smiled and said “Yes sir…Show Hope” and he chuckled and said “Your daughter is beautiful!”  With tears in my eyes I went on to tell him how we had only been home from China 2.5 weeks.  He then asked if he could print a copy of our picture for his scrapbook at home.  When we finally got a picture with all of us looking, Santa asked to pray over us and our family.  As he prayed, I sat there with tears streaming down my face and snot running out of my nose, we are so blessed by the people God has put on our path!

McKayla…there is no one in this world that makes a better big sister than McMot.  She is SO good with Amelia!  They are really two peas in a pod.  Don’t get me wrong, its not all bliss, they both do their part to irritate one another, but thats what siblings are supposed to do…right?  She truly loves her sister and looks after her and loves playing with her.  She has done incredibly well with the adjustment, Jay and I have done our best to give M one on one time so she doesn’t feel neglected.  Although we don’t always get it right, McKayla knows that we are doing the best that we can, that we are all trying to find a balance and establish a new normal for our family of four.

PRAISE REPORT:

As you might recall, we had a rather lengthy list of prayer requests, when I look back over them, I am blown away to see how each of them was answered.  Thank you really isn’t enough to each of you that prayed over us!

                           McKayla’s List  
      • Safe flight – CHECK
      • That we get Amelia okay and china says okay - CHECK
      • Safe trip coming home. No accidents on the airplane - CHECK
      • Keep our house safe - CHECK
      • Help Ashok, Chamila and new baby  (this was our housekeeper in Dubai) - CHECK
      • To help Amelia’s heart to love and trust us and me, McKayla - CHECK
      • Safety while in china - CHECK

                           Jay’s List

      • Keep us all healthy while in China - CHECK
      • The paperwork would go smoothly and bless the whole process - CHECK
      • Heather would be able to have a sense of peace and not to stress or worry about anything - CHECK
      • Prepare us for the unknown - CHECK
      • Safe and trouble free travel - CHECK
                          Heather’s List
      • Sleep – We are a family of sleepers…we LOVE our sleep and we NEED our sleep.  Pray that we get over jet lag quickly, so that we will be alert and coherent when we get Amelia…we don’t want to miss anything on her Gotcha Day.  Also pray that Amelia is comfortable enough to sleep soundly from the time we get her - CHECK
      • Food – Being married to the worlds pickiest eater can make trips like this one stressful, pray that we find foods that Jay (and my mom) will be comfortable  eating…otherwise pray that the oatmeal and peanut butter crackers I packed will sustain them!  Pray that I don’t eat too many daring things…things I might regret later in the day.  ;-)  Also, pray for Amelia’s wee tummy, we won’t know exactly what she ate on a daily basis, so pray that her tummy won’t get too messed up - CHECK
      • Patience – As I explained to McMot, “Mommy and Daddy are going to be emotional over the next couple of weeks, and with lots of emotion comes lots of stress, and with lots of stress comes lack of patience, I just need you to show us a little grace and just know that we are doing the best we can”.  Pray that we have patience for each other and patience with the process of finalizing everything - CHECK
      • Health – We will be exposed to SO many new germs, pray that our immune systems stay strong and are able to fight off any sickness.  (especially with M feeling like she needs to touch everything and crawl on the hotel floor…pretty sure Jay just bathed her in antibacterial gel…geesh!) - CHECK
      • Connie – My Mom joined us on this trip to help us look after and love on McKayla…not many mama’s could do this, but she is.  Pray for her health, patience and energy - CHECK
      • McKayla – We are SO blessed that we could bring McKayla with us…a trip she will never forget!  Pray that God will use this time to draw us together as a family of four - CHECK
      • Jay – What a mighty man I married!  Pray that this man will continue to be so strong for his crazy girls…all three of us - CHECK
      • Amelia – Oh sweet angel…I have dreamed of you for 10 years, and now you will soon be in my arms!  Pray for my littlest daughter, that God would heal her heart of the grief and pain she is about to go through as she loses everyone and everything she has ever known.  Pray that she is able to begin attaching to Jay and I, and also to her sweet sister that is not going to be able to help but smother her in smooches!  Pray that she is patient with us as we try to feed her, change her and love her - CHECK

A few pics since we have been home!

Amelia is content with always riding shotgun, she will just sit in the jeep waiting for Big Sis to take her for a ride.

Amelia is content with always riding shotgun, she will just sit in the jeep waiting for Big Sis to take her for a ride.

We have loved all of our visits with family and friends.

We have been blessed by all of our visits with family and friends in the last 5 weeks!

Be sure to ask Jay about the incident with Amelia's face and his helicopter.

Be sure to ask Jay about the incident with Amelia’s face and his helicopter.

Baby girl has been showered with gifts since we got home...apparently this was the first dressy dress I had put Amelia in because she wouldn't stop twirling with this one on!

Baby girl has been showered with gifts since we got home…apparently this was the first dressy dress I had put Amelia in because she wouldn’t stop twirling with this one on!

Until this picture, McKayla honestly believed that if you wanted to see snow you just went to the mall...thanks to Ski Dubai!  We got to go see our Dubai Family in Michigan for New Years!

Until this picture, McKayla honestly believed that if you wanted to see snow you just went to the mall…thanks to Ski Dubai! We got to go see our Dubai Family in Michigan for New Years!

Sledding with Daddy!

Sledding with Daddy!

After the emotional roller coaster of the last 2 months it was good to hug Denise's neck!

After the emotional roller coaster of the last 2 months it was good to hug Denise’s neck!

They LOVE riding around the yard in this jeep!

They LOVE riding around the yard in this jeep!

Our little Aggie helped to cheer the team on Friday night!  (and yes I chopped my hair off...11 inches for Wigs for Kids!)

Our little Aggie helped to cheer the team on Friday night! (and yes I chopped my hair off…11 inches for Wigs for Kids!)

I still have bracelets for sale…let me know if you want one, although we already made our donation to Amelia’s orphanage, JMot opened a savings account for us today to put the bracelet money in…it seems he feels like we aren’t quite done with China either!  (Pray for us!)

Much love,

H

First Outing

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In an effort to combat jet-lag, we are getting out of the house (our eyelids were getting too heavy).

Our first outing as a family of four! Amelia isn’t so sure about the carseat…but she’ll get use to it! We are headed to Katy Mills so McKayla can bungee jump (euro style) and then dinner with our small group!

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There’s no place like home

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In 3 hours we will be boarding our plane: 2 stops and 21.5 short hours later we will land in Houston!  Please pray that it goes well!  With Amelia being under 2, we opted not to get her a seat…why pay for one if you don’t have to, that was my practical side that made that decision, I could just beat that side of me up right about now.  So we are hoping for a bassinet seat!!  There is nothing Miss Independent could love less than to sit in my lap the entire way.

I just wanted to answer a few questions that I know many of you have:

When do you arrive in Houston?  Can we come to the airport?

We land at Houston Intercontinental at 4:44pm on December 1st, we clear customs in LA, so we should be in baggage claim area by 5pm.  We would love to hug your neck, so yes come see Amelia in person…I’ll do you one better, some of our family built a monstrosity in our backyard last weekend, so if you can’t make the airport scene, join us in our backyard for the big reveal for the girls.  Although, as much as we would love for you to stay for hours while we rehash every detail of our trip, we are going to keep the backyard party to one hour so we can get the girls fed and to bed at a decent hour!  Plus we don’t want to overwhelm Amelia!

 

How is Amelia doing?  Will we get to hold her?

Amelia is doing fabulous!  We have been blown away by how quickly she has taken to us…BUT (you knew there would be a ‘but’…didn’t you?) right now the most important thing for her is to continue with building our bond/attachment with her, so for at least the next 6-8 weeks, only me, Jay and McKayla will be holding, feeding and changing her.  I’m going to be an overprotective Mama Bear, so try not to judge me!   I promise you will get your chance to love on this little angel soon enough!!

 

Can we come over for a visit?

Short answer: Yes, most definitely!

Long answer:  Yes, BUT (there it is again!) only a couple people at a time, no big parties…yet!  Again, we don’t want to overwhelm Amelia with people who all just want to love on her, otherwise she could have come serious confusion issues when it comes to her bonding/attachment to Jay and I.

 

Will she need surgery?

When Amelia was 5 months old, she had her cleft lip repaired.  Her cleft palate will still need to be fixed.  We aren’t sure of how soon or how many surgeries will be required to fully repair her palate.

She is a bundle of joy and we want to share her with each of you, just try to be patient with us!

 

Much Love,

H

 

PS – If you think of any other questions, feel free to send me a message and I will add it to the list!

Documentary: Part 3 and new rendition of “Hey Soul Sister”

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Since we got to Guangzhou, McKayla has been too busy to report in because she has had her friend Karsyn here and they have been having too much fun playing!

Like a glove

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As y’all know, McKayla is very strong-willed and I love her for it!  I remember when she was about 3, and dozens of people over her first 3 years would notice her strong-willingness (not sure that its even a word…but follow me) and comment on it, I, a clueless mother would take it as a compliment.  Until one day it occurred to me that I don’t believe its meant as a compliment!  HA!  So I asked around, and my dear South African friend told me “there is nothing wrong with a strong-willed child as long as that child has a strong-willed parent.”  Hello…have you met me?   Why am I telling you all of this?  Well because, I always thought Jay was a good man to not only put up with a strong-willed wife but also a strong-willed daughter.  BUT, I think he is a GREAT MAN to put up with his strong-willed wife and TWO strong-willed daughters…LORD HELP HIM!  That’s right…Amelia Joy is a feisty one and WE LOVE IT!  Over the last 10 days she has shown us more and more of her sweet personality…and we are just eating it up!   She fits our family so perfectly…surprised, not at all…the Big Man does His job so well, which makes me wonder why I always feel like I need to help Him sort stuff?!?!

Back to Amelia!  She loves the funniest things…baby wipes can end a meltdown so quick you would think I was giving her a tranquilizer.  She loves to sing Itsy, Bitsy Spider, Jay calls it her kryptonite because I tried singing it the other day when she was mad at me for taking something away and she kept shaking her head no and would look away, but then look back with her fingers together for the “itsy, bitsy spider” part.  She is so funny!  And man does she have a thing for Trains Hey Soul Sister – still need to catch her dance on video, its hilarious!  I can’t wait for y’all to meet our little pumpkin!

This hotel has been amazing, they have a little playground on the 4th floor for the kids!  Amelia loves the slide!

This hotel has been amazing, they have a little playground on the 4th floor for the kids! Amelia loves the slide!

An American already!  Geesh, what is it with kids and McDonalds?  With it right next door, who could resist getting her a few fries and nuggets?  She loved every bite!

An American already! Geesh, what is it with kids and McDonalds? With it right next door, who could resist getting her a few fries and nuggets? She loved every bite!

The game of Twister continues!

The game of Twister continues!

The wonder of the puffs!  I've never met a kid that wouldn't eat a puff!  Amelia got tired of one at a time, so she resorted to pouring them into her mouth!

The wonder of the puffs! I’ve never met a kid that wouldn’t eat a puff! Amelia got tired of one at a time, so she resorted to pouring them into her mouth!

I’ll be your Mother Goose

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Have you seen Kung Fu Panda 2? No…seriously? It’s a pretty sweet movie! For those of you haven’t (you need to!) allow me to catch you up. In the 1st movie, Po the Panda becomes the Kung Fu Warrior in China – which is a big deal and everyone was pretty disappointed that he was chosen, because he is a big, unfit Panda…but by the end he earns everyone’s respect. In the 2nd movie Po is still the Kung Fu Warrior, but this one is all about him and his team defeating the evil Peacock (yes, peacock…that’s not a typo). When Po comes face to face with the Peacock, he has a flashback to his childhood, its then that he realizes that his dad (a goose) was not his birthparent…he was adopted. Through more and more flashbacks he remembers the peacock trying to kill off all of the panda’s in the land and his mom ran away with him while being chased by wolves…she found a turnip box (on Gooses door step) and left baby Po in it, trying to protect him from death. Baby Po cried out to his mama as she ran off.

McKayla and I watched this for the first time last December, I must have been distracted at the time or only half watching the movie with her when this scene of the movie came up because I completely missed the significance…my angel did not. When I looked over at her, she was sobbing. I immediately stopped the movie and asked what was wrong, she said through tears “its just like Amelia, her mama didn’t want to leave her, she had to…to protect her”. “Oh sweet angel, that is exactly right.” We both sat there crying together…then Jay got home and wondered what in the world had happened, when he left we were happily watching Kung Fu Panda 2 and now we were a mess!

This is how we have explained things to McKayla regarding Amelia and her birthparents…that due to various circumstances they could not keep her. And that is how we planned to explain things to Amelia when the time was right, but things have changed, the wording on her paperwork has shaken me to my core, in such a way that I don’t know what we will tell her. It comes down to one word that appears multiple times in her paperwork…abandoned. Just typing it makes me sick to my stomach and brings tears to my eyes. She was abandoned. One day she will read that and I know it will tear her apart, no matter how secure she is in our love for her.

The definition of abandoned is “given up” or “forsaken”. I have repeated those words over and over to myself, not in a ‘dark and twisty’ way, but in a ‘trying to wrap my brain around it’ kind of way. And what I have come up with is nothing…no matter which way I turn it, this beautiful gift from God was never abandoned, it is just not possible. She has been mislabeled, as I assume most of these precious orphans have been.

After spending nearly two weeks here, I am very much aware of how the locals feel, that parenting your child is as much their duty as it is mine. Brings a whole new meaning to “it takes a village”! I have imagined what it must have been like for Amelia’s birthmother, she must have been a proud mama even though Amelia was born with a cleft lip and palate, after all, those things are only skin deep…and a mama’s love is so much deeper! I wonder how much her family weighed in when they saw Amelia’s “facial defects” (often considered a bad omen in this culture) and how many perfect strangers chimed in too. I can’t begin to imagine the pain she must have felt when she left Amelia in a turnip box. No, she wasn’t really left in a turnip box, but in KFP 2, you see the pain in the mama panda’s eyes as she leaves Po, and that’s how I imagine it was for her. She was putting Amelia needs and best interest above her own, and I am immeasurably grateful for her sacrifice.

I still have no clue how we will overcome the word “abandoned”, but I do know that Our Father’s love is SO much bigger, deeper and wider than any label that is placed on us. (Praise God for that!)

And what y’all have all been waiting for…some pics! Enjoy! Love y’all much, H

This was Amelia’s first flight! It was awful…she cried a lot of the time! This is me smiling because her glow seahorse did what the DumDum failed to do!

McKayla is beginning to cope with the fact that Amelia is so independent. They take turns chasing each other with tickle fingers!

Baby girl had her medical exam on Saturday…aside from it being chaos, it went great! Weighing in at 20.9lbs…AMELIA MOTLEY!!

Amelia loves her daddy…most of the time! This is when we were at the 1500 year old Buddhist Temple in Guangzhou.

I love these sweet girls so much!

This girl can eat! Today we found some noodles that she chowed down on!