Yep, we're doing it again...

So we haven't been updating the blog quite as much as we would like.  We started the new year out with quite a bit of sickness, ER visits, a surgery and such, so we have been a little busy.  But everyone is all patched up and we are hoping they stay that way for a long, long time.

In the midst of all of that, we felt like the Lord was telling us it is a good time to think about expanding our family again!  After much thought and prayer, we have decided to pursue an infant, domestic adoption.  We are currently on the wait list for an amazing organization Catholic Charities for an infant within the state of Florida.  Our hope in pursuing a domestic adoption this time around is that we can provide a family for a child whose mother has chosen life for that child but for many reasons is unable to parent the child.  We feel grateful that we get to partner with a birth family in this way.  We don't know much about time frame and we won't  know gender, but we are waiting with expectant hearts for the child the God has for us.  We would appreciate your prayers for our birth mother and us as we prepare to welcome a new little one into our family.

We wanted to leave you with some pictures of our family from the last few months.  Enjoy!

Isn't she beautiful!

We mustache you a question...

Aaarrrr!  It is the fierce pirate Josh

Happy Easter!

Daddy can always make her smile

Mommy and Joshie snuggles

First time getting her toes painted - PINK!

Josh participating in the Young Athletes program

Li Rose working hard with her volunteer.

Josh worked so hard to do all the obstacles

Love this shot of her working so hard.

Sack race at our first Families with Children from China (FCC) event

Josh thought the sack race was fun too!


We're Back!!

So after taking a little over a year off, we are back to the blogging world.  At least we hope to be blogging more often about what is going on in our lives and keeping you more up to date.  We are finally ready to talk about some of the reasons we stopped blogging and how much we have seen God at work in our lives this last year.

So why did we stop blogging?  There were a number of reasons, some of which we will go into here and some that are too personal for a blog.  But suffice it to say, that we were in the midst of life after the airport, dealing with some complicated medical issues, adjusting to life as a family of 4, dealing with sleep deprivation, having some pretty awesome "firsts" for our little family, experienced great joy, and learning lots about ourselves and our God.   We have had moments of great joy and moments of despair, but in it all, we can see the hand of God at work in our lives and we wouldn't change a minute of it.  Often we want to be different people but don't want to go through the turmoil of change to get there.  We are thankful for the changes in ourselves, that we have learned to love deeper, enjoy the little moments more, be spontaneous and silly, snuggle more and to love others more in this time.

December 12th, 2012, was the one year anniversary of our gotcha day for Li Rose.  We are so thankful that God brought such a beautiful little girl into our lives and we couldn't image our lives without her.  She has made huge progress with her development this last year and still has more work to do.  She loves us with a fierce love, just as we love her.  She is dainty, gentle, and has quiet spirit.  She is an explorer and loves to study everything she finds.  She is an amazing eater... now if we could just get to feed herself. ;-)  She is an extrovert but prefers to interact with people individually. Some of her favorite things to do are being outside, sandboxes, swings and water play. She loves as good snuggle and time just rocking with Mommy or Daddy. She also loves to follow her  brother around and do what he is doing.

Love this smile!

Exploring - she does a bunny hop crawl

Snuggles with Grammie - such a beautiful girl!

spending time "chatting" with Mimi

Love this picture of Li Rose and Granddaddy - shows her sweet nature

Carving pumpkins with Josh and Daddy - she really enjoyed this!

Josh celebrated his 3rd birthday in November.  Hard to believe he started out so small and now is ahead of the curve developmentally.  He is quite intelligent and loves learning new things.  We are amazed every day with the information he picks up in conversations and through informal learning. He has quite the sense of direction and places - he can tell you whose house we are going to by the surroundings we pass.  He is very observant of both his environment and sensitive to people and their feelings. We see such a heart of compassion in him and a giving spirit already.  He loves to be read to and to "read".  He loves Li Rose and always wants her to be included in whatever he is doing.  He loves to sit in laps or lean on you when you are close by - we love his touchiness and hope it lasts a while longer.  He loves to help with chores around the house, play outside, water play, and loves hats!

Helping Daddy bring in the trash - while playing in the rain

Such a handsome boy!

Enjoying Touch-a-Truck while wearing his bike helmet

Reading with Granddaddy

Last day of swim lessons in his pirate hat

Sweeping a ball during our church's fall festival 

Philip and I are enjoying our two "turkeys".  We love getting to parent them and watch them grow. Even though the toddler phase of life can be a challenging one, we have found it to be a good one as well.  We are so thankful for each other, our family, and our friends.  We are very blessed to be surrounded by so many people who encourage us, love on us, and help us when we need it.

We hope to begin to share with you on a more frequent basis now... please feel free to remind us if we have gone too long between updates.



So we have been home for three weeks tomorrow.  This post is a bit over due, but it is here now.

The last few weeks have been both hard and good.  Jet lag was quite the issue for a little over a week and getting 2-4 hours of sleep a night was not making for very sane parents.  But we survived that and were able to get both kids mostly on the same schedule, although sleep continues to be an struggle.  Both kids continue to struggle with sleep issues that make for some tired parents.

Even though this time is hard, we are so thankful for the support of our friends and family. From phone calls to see how we are doing, to meals, to last minute babysitting, to inviting us over to hang out....we are very blessed. We knew when we started the process to adopt that there would be struggles and we had prepared ourselves mentally for that.  What we weren't/aren't prepared for is how much of a blessing this whole process has been - even now when we are so sleep deprived  (I do things like leave my keys on the window ledge when we go for a walk), we are very blessed.  Blessed far more than we though possible a year ago when we started this process.  Thank you to those who have been and are continuing to support us as we muddle our way through this time.

Philip started back to work this week, so we have been working through that transition.  I don't think any of us were quite ready for Philip to go back to work but he had projects coming up that he needed to start working on, so the timing couldn't be helped. I wouldn't say it has been easy on any of us, but we are making it through and today was better than yesterday.  We are using skype to keep Philip in contact with the kids during the day and Li Rose seemed to enjoy "having lunch" with Daddy today.

Li Rose continues to do well.  We feel like she is bonding well with us and we are seeing bits of her personality more and more everyday.  She seems to be a pretty joyful child, enjoying smiling and laughing a lot.  She is in love with her brother and likes it when he snuggles with her or gives her kisses.  It is amazing to see the light that has come into her eyes over the last month - it is amazing what a difference a month can make.

Li Rose saw the neurologist last Wednesday and we honestly don't know anything new.  She had some blood work done last week and is scheduled to get and EEG done soon.  We are hoping all this testing with give us a good idea of where things stand health wise for her and if we need to continue her seizure medications.   We are waiting for PT and OT consults to go through so we can get started on those.  She is already making progress though, even without those services yet.  Thanks to two weeks of Daddy boot camp, she is now off the Chinese rice-formula mix and on half formula, half milk mix.  We are going to keep working on getting her fully on milk, but we feel pretty good with this progress.

Josh continues to do well with his transition to a big brother.  He is constantly concerned about Li Rose wanting to make sure she isn't left out of anything.  He likes to save her a spot in the grocery cart or make sure people know who and where she is when they come to visit.  He was really made to be a big brother! We are working on some gentleness issues, but that happens when you aren't used to babies or girls.

So that is the brief version of where we are right now.  We would definitely appreciate your prayers as we continue to deal with sleep issues.  Sorry there are not pictures tonight, I can't figure out how to upload them on this laptop. I promise to post some soon.


Coming Home!

We are doing the last of our packing and about to head to bed before a day and a half full of traveling.  For those of you interested in seeing us at the airport, we will be arriving in Jacksonville on Delta Flight 1273 out of Atlanta at 10:08pm.  Please do not feel like you have to come by and see us, but if you are in the area and would like to see us when we arrive, those are the details.

Please be praying for our tired little family as we make our way home. Pray that we can get Li Rose's bottle through security without any problem and we are all able to sleep well on the plane.  Pray also for Li Rose and Josh as they adjust to American culture and time changes.  Pray we are able to find things that Li Rose will eat both on the plane and when we arrive home.  Finally, pray that Chrissy and I are able to adjust to the time change and have lots of patients with our little ones.

Thank you for seeing us through this part of the journey. We look forward to keeping you updated on the next stages.  See you soon!


Consulate Appointment

So we had Li Rose's consulate appointment this morning, where her documents are reviewed by the US government to make sure everything is in order before she is issued her visa and immigration paperwork.  We had to swear an oath that all the information we provide is correct and then do a quick paperwork review.  Our wonderful guide Aron will pick up her passport and visa tomorrow and we are ready to come home!!  When the plane touches down in Atlanta, Li Rose will become an American citizen!  We are super excited to have finished up this last step in her adoption process.

We spent this afternoon doing some shopping at a wholesale market in Guangzhou.  We were pretty pleased with the things we were able to get, including some dresses for Li Rose to wear both now and later on.  We are planning on finishing up our shopping and doing some sightseeing on "The Island" tomorrow.  I am hoping to be able to find some Chinese music and books for Li Rose.  We are hoping to meet up with some other families we have met while we are here and just enjoy walking around.

Yesterday morning we went to tour Yuntai Garden, which was just beautiful!  I am not sure even pictures will do it justice, it was one of the prettiest botanical gardens I have ever seen.  As we were leaving the garden, we had an older Chinese woman come up to our guide and tell Aron that she could see how much we love our children - it was the same as she loves her son.  We felt blessed to hear that from this woman and glad we were able to convey through our actions how much we love our daughter. 

In the afternoon we got to take a great trip to New Day South foster home with our good friends Scott and Haley and meet Doug and Janice, who I have been emailing with for the last few months.  This is the foster home where Asa is living (yes he is real and even cuter in real life!).  It was such a blessing to get to see the foster home in action - they are doing a great job with these kids!  After just a few minutes, you could tell that the children are well loved and well cared for.  We spent the afternoon playing with children and talking to the staff.  We also got to deliver medical supplies we had collected and I (Chrissy) got to teach them how to use them.  What a blessing to be able to help out a such a great ministry and to use my nursing skills too!

Li Rose is doing amazingly well.  She is a great sleeper (at least so far!), sleeping through the night and napping well during the day.  Today she started "talking" to us more and laughing loudly at things.  It is neat to see the changes in her already and to see how much more she trusts us already.  She is coming out of her shell more and more each day.  It is fun discovering new things about her too.  For instance, we have discovered she doesn't like to hold still for long periods of time, she likes to be moving and seeing new things.  She also loves to be outside and is quite content to just look around.  We think she is a people watcher because she loves to stare out the window and look into cars when we are driving.  She likes to press her face against our's when she is tired and in the front carrier.  The list goes on, we are very blessed to have such a sweet girl in our lives.

Josh continues to do well, although he has been quite tired the last few days.  We think all the travel and perhaps some culture shock is catching up with him.  He continues to love his sister and likes to talk to her.  He is starting to enjoy trying to play with her, but will grab his toys back too when he wants.  He really likes to try to feed her, but we have to watch him because he stuffs the food into her mouth.  We are thankful he seems to be adjusting so well. He is very much the big brother we thought he would be.

We have really enjoyed our time in China but with any long trip, we are also looking forward to being home soon too.  Here are some new pictures, although we are sorry to say we didn't get pictures at the foster home...we were too busy playing with babies.

(2 of the 5 families with us in Guangzhou - this is Yuntai Garden)

(Family picture in the garden's greenhouse)

(Look Mommy fish!!)  

(very excited Li Rose checking out the fish)

(Li Rose trying out the snack holder - she really needed a snack!)

(Sweet girl was laughing and playing on the floor)


(playing together - right before Josh tried to force feed Li Rose)


One Step Close to Home

We apologize to our faithful followers that we have not posted in two days...what can we say, we have been busy. :-)

We are now officially in Guangzhou, China where we are working through the steps to get Li Rose's American visa so we can all come home.  Today we did her medical exam at the international adoption clinic. She passed with flying colors, of course.  We did get new height and weight measurements, but I am not totally sure they were accurate, partially because she was clothed.  Her weight was 24.7lbs and her height was 31.8 inches.  We'll see how this compares to her measurements when we get home. 

As we had mentioned before, we have been struggling some with feeding issues, she is very particular about what she will drink, which is a formula made specifically at her orphanage.  After several days and lots of attempts to replicate it, we now have a solution that works.  Unfortunately that involves cooking rice powder (rice flour) in our room in a little tea pot and then mixing in formula and sugar... but hey she likes it and that is what we care about!  Once we got the bottle thing down, she started doing a much better job with her solid foods.  We are just trying to plan now for how to get home without having to cook formula at the airport. :-)  You can pray that we are able to bring all the formula we need with us through security.

Li Rose seems to be bonding well with us.  She is giving out frequent smiles and cuddles now.  She will only eat from me (Chrissy) most of the time, but we are working on that slowly.  She also only takes food from your right hand... don't ask me why, perhaps it is part of her toddler nature. ;-)  Li Rose has started babbling alot with us and seems to understand when we are giving her praise or teasing her with kisses or hand games.  She really enjoys riding in the front carrier and likes to press her face to mine while we ride in the car.  She has also shown us that no matter how tired she is, she can keep herself awake if she wants to... it is quite an impressive skill to have. 

Josh and Li Rose are bonding quite a bit too.  He has been very loving towards her, liking to lay his head on her tummy and talk to her.  She enjoys cuddling him and when they are in their high chairs, she will lean over to touch him.  Josh also enjoys turning in the stroller and talking to her while we wait at places.  It is really sweet to watch them together.  Josh tries to feed her frequently - bacon to the ear, a bit from his mouth or a bottle on her head - the intention is very sweet. 

In case you were wondering, we spent the two days before this doing some sightseeing and shopping in Kunming, going to Green Lake Park, feeding seagulls and hanging out with some other adoptive families.  We really enjoyed getting to know some of the other families we met on gotcha day.  It is nice to be with families that are going through some of the same things you are.  We are really enjoying that part of being in Guangzhou, there are adoptive parents everywhere!

I guess that is all we have for now, thought we would squeeze in an update while the kids were napping. We have all been missing out on some sleep lately - you can pray for us that we are all able to rest well even when our schedule is busy.  I will try to be better about updating daily from here on out, after all, I know many of you need your picture fixes. :-)

(Sweet girl waiting to go to breakfast)

 (Josh and Li Rose eating bread instead of throwing it to the birds)

(Li Rose with bread crumb face :-)

Josh going for some bread

(Daddy reading some "cat cupcake" with Josh and Li Rose)

(Isn't she too cute when she is tired?  She will rub her eyes like this and then leave her hands there for a bit)

(Story time before bed time.  Li Rose really likes the Elmo book)

(Josh about 2 minutes later - he was so tired he feel asleep on his knees)

(Josh straining to get Roe-Roe's sock on)

(need I say more?)

(the bed the hotel had waiting for Li Rose when we arrive in Guangzhou)

(Li Rose initiated wake up cuddles)

(Waiting to start the medical exam - hi Scott, Haley and Mei)

(an over the shoulder shot of what Josh riding on Daddy's back during the medical exam)

(Haley, Scott and Mei)