Friday, November 23, 2012

Another peek...

Again I am amazed at how time has flown and how long it has been since I've been able to sit and create a blog post. I will say that it has been in part, due to computer issues, and in part due to the fact that life NEVER SLOWS DOWN here!

The school year is nearly half over, and there have been many battles to fight this year as far as school has gone. Unfortunately, we have a new principal at Nathan's school who is more concerned about her image of authority than her student's welfare, so we've had to get an advocate for Nathan in order to have him removed from a verbally and mentally abusive teacher's room. This has taken much time, and much energy, and many, many tears, and is still not over. His grades have suffered this semester as has his attitude and morale, and as a parent, that has been excruciating. We are continuing to do everything we can to help him, and are praying for a resolution to that situation soon. Andy and Alex have had stellar years this year, and that is due to the fact that they have some pretty excellent teachers. They will be moving into the Elementary school system next year, where Nathan is now, and already I am concerned about how that will affect them. Hopefully this will just be one blip on the radar, and next year will usher in great teachers, and great grades, and attitudes about school and learning! Prayers for Nathan and for the situation he is in are soooo appreciated!

Annabella has also had much going on these past few months. We had our first set of tubes put in her ears, and found that she had a VERY adverse reaction to the anesthesia or to simply waking up without anyone she knew. She screamed and was completely inconsolable until we finally left the surgery center, and she immediately quit, and perked right up. We soon found out the tubes were clogged and wound up having to get a second set within 6 weeks time after several methods and medications were used to clear them unsuccessfully. We had the second set of tubes placed at the Children's hospital in Birmingham, where she had her first Palate revision surgery just a little over a week ago. She has done fantastically since that surgery, and we are looking forward to our post op visit on December 6th with her amazing surgeon, Dr. Grant. We ask here for prayers for her continued improvement and healing after this major surgery!

We also had Annabella tested with speech, physical, and occupational therapists here, and were all set to begin feeding, speech, and physical therapy back in August, but unfortunately the rehab place has yet to find a way to fit her into the schedule. So We have gone another route and have applied for and been accepted into the Children's Medical program here in the state of Mississippi. They are working to find the therapists we need so that we can begin therapy ASAP. I do believe that she no longer needs the feeding or the physical therapy though, so we will get a re-evaluation before beginning those.

One of the biggest issues we've had since we came home with Annabella was her eating habit. She would only eat rice and cous cous for the first several months, and just within the past three weeks has begun to eat other things. She began with eating french fries one day at Steak and Shake. The next new food was some chicken and dumplings my Mom made. She moved on to bacon, and oatmeal soon after, and the day before her palate revision surgery ate Thai chicken pizza, shrimp, and white corn guacamole! Since her surgery, she's been strictly on soft foods, and she has eaten chicken casserole, English peas, black eyed peas, turnip greens, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, grilled salmon, carrots, boiled potatoes, baked potatoes, butterbeans, ham, scrambled eggs, and pinto beans. We are praying that this eating habit will continue and that she will continue to eat a variety of foods when she has her arm splints taken off and is able to feed herself again.

Annabella had another first....her first VACATION! With the help of my parents, we were able to get a cabin in Pigeon Forge, TN and spent 4 days there. It was so fantastic to just get away from everything for a few days. The weather was absolutely beautiful, and we all had a really nice time. We even got to see a bear pretty close up at Cade's Cove. And the kids all enjoyed walking around there and seeing the old buildings. We had a pool table in our cabin and the boys and my Dad spent countless hours challenging each other to games! We also visited the aquarium in Gatlinburg and the kids had a blast seeing all of the creatures there. It is a very nice aquarium, and is really geared towards the kids, with many hands on exhibits.

Of course it's that time of year again, and Christmas preparations are in full swing! We have completed most of our shopping, and I even have almost everything wrapped and under the tree! This is the first year in many that I haven't been able to go shopping on Black Friday, and I can honestly say that as much as I love it, I didn't really miss it this year. Since we already had most of our shopping done, I didn't feel the pressure of trying to find deals and stuff just to have it. I've really had some revelations this year as well. One is that I don't need 9/10ths of the "stuff" I thought I needed. I am constantly overwhelmed by the clutter in our lives. Toys, kitchen, laundry, junk mail, junk period! I am just sick of it!!! We gave in and hired some weekly help and that has been remarkable. I've been paring things down, a little at a time, including kitchen items, toys, clothes, and household decor items. I still have a long way to go, but at least we are making progress! Unfortunately, our help has gotten a full time job and is no longer going to be cleaning house after this month, so the search is on for another inexpensive, trustworthy, reliable person to help out with the deep cleaning, laundry, dishes, and decluttering! Although it may sound shallow, prayers are appreciated as this is no easy feat and this is something that has been such a relief and help to us!

Well, I guess that's all I have for this post. Since it's been soooooo long, I wanted to share loads of pictures with you of what we've been doing the past few months, but when I tried to upload them I got a message that my Picassa album was full and that I would need to pay a monthly hosting fee to upload more. Until I can figure this out I will be unable to share pictures with you. If anyone knows a way to solve this, I'd love to hear from you! Until then I have created a new blog and will use it to post pictures. I will still be writing the posts here, or at the very least posting a link to the other blog each time I post new photos. Thanks for your continued interest in our lives! You can click here to go to the photo blog!

Friday, August 31, 2012


In the past two weeks we have...
1. Battled through more than an hours worth of homework with a 2nd grader multiple times,
2. Grilled steaks (a rarity!)
3. Weathered a hurricane...OK, we didn't get much of it, but still, this was another first for our daughter ;)
4. Seen a blue moon
Blue Moon...Isaac's clouds wreaked havoc on my picture
5. Annabella slept in her crib in her own room almost all night one night (We made it til 5:15 A.M. when I gave up and brought her to the pack and play so I could sleep for one straight hour!)
6. FINALLY successfully delivered a stool sample for testing...we've been trying to get one to Southaven during regular biz hours on the same day as the sample for 4 straight weeks.
7. Been able to sit outside and enjoy the porch without having a heat stroke in the evening
8. Had someone try to break into our home one night with just the kids and I home
9. Installed two new motion lights on the back of the house (Just in case whomever tried to break in to our house a couple of weeks ever decides to come back!)
10. Watched Hummingbirds on my parent's porch
Look at the tiny feathers! I love the detail of this shot
11. Annabella has really mastered using a spoon
12. Seen all three boys make 100's on work in school
13. Found out what the twin's IQ's are
14. Welcomed Andy into Discovery  (our gifted classes)
15. Been to Memphis or Southaven three times
16. Cleaned the fish tank...and didn't kill the fish!
17. Had Annabella's ears pierced
18. Been swimming in 20 mile bottom countless times
19. Killed multiple wasp nests and wasps equaling the size of two five gallon bucket openings
20. Greg has been stung twice, Nathan once, Dad once
21. Found three of the cats playing with attempting to kill/eat a lizard INSIDE our house.
The lizard after we put him outside...not sure if he survived, but we did try!
22. I've gone back to being a redhead
23. Annabella has learned to say "Up! Up!"
24. Installed four baby gates
25. Alex has read almost through the entire Diary of A Wimpy Kid book all by himself
26. Painted Annabella's nails for the first time
27. Given all the cats nails a trim...except Prissy who is declawed :)
Sadie after the toenail clipping
28. Had our first "post adoption" home visit from our social worker
29. Been able to begin serving at church again
30. Initiated the "re-adoption" process to satisfy the State of Mississippi so we can have a birth certificate issued for Annabella
31. Shaved Stonewall's underside. Yes. We shave our cat. No. We are not crazy. He's pretty tame about it actually.
32. Said goodbye to a beloved family member.
33. Annabella has learned to stack up to 8 blocks, and put Duplo legos together
34. Introduced Annabella to the sandbox, and had many fun days playing in it since
Playing in the sandbox
35. Cleaned Silly Putty from underwear, new school shirts, crib sheets, bunk beds, and numerous pillows and stuffed animals. Some survived, some did not. We had to shave one fuzzy pillow, then cut a section and had to sew it back together again. The things we do for our kids!

As you can see, we've been quite busy, and these are just a few of the things we've been up to! Life here is busy, busy, busy, and I wouldn't have it any other way! Here are a few more pictures to go with these verbal snapshots of our life these past few weeks.

Stonewall before the shaving

20 Mile Bottom

6:18 A.M. one hour after I gave in and put her into the pack and play in our room, this was 15 minutes before I had to wake her up to take the boys to school

Alex and Annabella

Annabella and Alex playing in the sandbox

The remnants of Hurricane Isaac blowing Annabella's hair, look closely and you can see her new earrings!

Andy making silly faces for Annabella so she would laugh

Landing zone

Hummingbirds at Mom and Dad's

Getting a drink

Male and Female

I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you. John 14:18

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


This past week I read a post on adoption. It was titled "The truth about adoption 1 year later.."  I love that some people have the courage to write about the real side of adoption. In this post, which you can read here,  Jan writes about her experience with adopting two older, unrelated children from Ethiopia. There are many truths that she writes about that we've already experienced, and it made me wonder if we will see more of her story unfold in our own. You see, I decided that though I've touched on this with my blog before, I would write our truth about adoption, 1 month later. So here are some truths about our journey.

1. Adoption is not for the faint of heart.

When we first began the process, I was absolutely flabbergasted with all the paperwork involved. Granted, I'm asking for a stranger from another country to hand me a child, but I mean, we had to turn our lives inside out from birth to present. After the initial decisions of what country we would adopt from, and what agency to use, the real paper chase began. We had to fill out medical checklists deciding what medical conditions we could handle if we were matched with a child who had them, as well as an age range. We then had to obtain police clearance reports from every county and state we'd lived or worked in. Birth and marriage certificates. Have a physical. Get vaccinations. Be interviewed and fingerprinted by the local sheriff's department, AND homeland security. We had to write up asset and debt documents, and once we obtained all that, we had to have it notarized locally, then mailed off to the state the document originated in to have the notary verified, then we had to mail it to Washington to have the verification authenticated, and then it had to go to the Chinese consulate to have it sealed. FOR EVERY PIECE OF PAPERWORK! The last two steps required a courier as they had to be walked in to the Washington offices of the Secretary of State, and the Embassy. And that was just the beginning!

2. The wait does NOT get matter how close to the end you think you are. And the paperwork does NOT end, even after the adoption is final.

With each piece of paperwork, we received, we would mail it off to the next place and wait. When the dossier was complete, there was the wait to be matched with a child. When we were matched with a child there was MORE waiting for MORE paperwork. When we finally got to China, there was even MORE waiting, both for Annabella, AND for MORE paperwork. It took 3 weeks to get home, and it was all about the paperwork. Can you see how the word "paperwork" became, and still is, a very nasty word in our vocabulary?

3. Even when you finally get your child, the process is still not a long shot.

So we finally got Annabella and of course we were elated. She was petrified, but has really begun to blossom. Each day she changes more and more into the child she truly is, the one who is hidden behind the mask of obedience and insecurity. She is finally beginning to fully see that we are her family and that we will always be here to meet her needs, to feed, her, change her, and love her. She is exploring more, and vocalizing her opinions more. She is feeling more confident, and more vulnerable at the same time. By opening up more, she is showing that she is learning to trust and even love us.

Some things are still very hard for her. She doesn't trust men AT ALL. This includes my Dad, who she sees almost daily. It is extremely hard for me to see her turn from him in fear, and to see the look of pain behind his eyes that he tries so hard to hide from me. He wants her to trust him so badly, and so do I. I don't know what it will take, but I do know that one day she will learn that he is an o.k. guy, and when that day comes, I believe she will become completely, without doubt or reason, whole heartedly SPOILED beyond belief by him. Until then, I pray God grants us both peace and patience to get through this process.

I know that in seeing all I've seen, especially in China, that a piece of my heart has been ripped out, and it stayed in China. I mean that to sound just as brutal as it does, because that is the feeling that I get each time I see my daughter's face, and each time I think of the faces that we left behind. That a piece of me was RIPPED out of my body.

We were blessed to be led to an adoption agency like CCAI who gave us so much information about adoption, what to expect, and helped prepare us for a worst case scenario. In some of the documentation we received prior to leaving for China, we received a short article about PADS - post adoption depression syndrome. Having suffered from post partum depression, a sister to PADS, after the birth of the twins, I wonder sometimes if maybe some of the sadness and hurt I feel is due in part to a touch of PADS. Or maybe it is simply God's calling. Maybe this is His way of stirring MY heart for another adoption...or twenty! You see, though I'd ALWAYS wanted to adopt, my whole life, I honestly thought our family was complete with the three boys. When God stirred Greg's heart to adopt, I followed  with complete blind faith, but I never really completely gave myself over to it. I was never 100% excited about adding another child. I admit it. It may sound harsh, but that's just the truth of my story in our adoption journey. GREG felt the call, not me. I was excited, but also a bit, well, irritated. I really didn't want to start again with a toddler. I selfishly like to go back to bed after putting the boys on the bus, and sleep as late as I want. I like being able to hop in the car and go where I want, when I want during the day. I like that the boys can fend for themselves if I am sick, and that I can be sick in peace. You see the common thread here is that I was only thinking about ME.

I know now that my life was never about me, nor will it ever be. That much God has already shown me, and helped me to understand. I can't imagine life without Annabella in it. And maybe having finally stopped focusing on the ME of me, I have opened my heart to accept God's calling for more children. Or maybe it is just wishful thinking. Or maybe, possibly it is just ME again. Me wanting to feel the exhilaration of bonding between Mother and child again. I don't know. These are the thoughts that trouble me. These thoughts that occupy my head at night. And the faces of those we left behind. I simply can't get them out of my head. I've finally gone back and looked at the pictures we took in the orphanage. I've yet to go back and read those posts from that time, but just going back and looking at the photos we uploaded that day were almost more than I could handle. It brought tears to my eyes, and a sickness to the pit of my stomach that no medicine can cure.

Perhaps what has caused me to start and stop writing this post multiple times over the past 2 weeks is simply the rawness of bearing my dark parts for all to read. I've erased and rewritten this post, and have finally decided to just be honest. Though all adoption stories are different, and ours is certainly far from over, there is a darker side that not many people talk about, and that is the desperate longing that so many people feel after they get home. The longing to adopt again, to save the orphaned children who were left behind, the longing to be able to financially, and physically do more. The feelings of complete and total inadequacy to cope with the loss of the precious children who still waste away, who've never felt the love of a family, and who may never even be told of the love of Christ. And though I may smile, and even be joyful, I still have that piece inside that rots away with longing and desire.

So tonight I leave this post with this request. Please pray for me, and for all the adoptive parents who feel the same way. Pray that we will all be led by Christ to understand where He will have us go, and that we will all find peace with His decision, no matter what it is. That we will have our eyes opened to His path for us, and that we will all be able to accept, with complete faith His choices for our lives. If another adoption is part of His plan, then so be it. If not, then that's fine too. It's the not knowing that drives me mad. Perhaps it is all just God's way of teaching me more patience, or strengthening my faith. I just know that right now I feel weak. And vulnerable. And sad. And I also know that I'm not alone, that there are others who feel the exact same way. So thank you, all of our faithful friends, and readers. Thank you for continuing to be part of our lives, and thank you for continuing to lift us and others up in prayer. Thank you for all the things we may never even know you've prayed for along our journey for our family. And thank you for sticking with us and continuing to follow along on our walk of faith!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It's a new post!

I know it's been ages, (and for those of you who were reading the daily posts from China, it probably seems like EONS,) since I last posted, but we've just needed to be a bit "unplugged" for awhile to get settled in here as a family of six. I've written about a dozen or more blog posts in my head, and now I find it boggling to the mind to try to write just one from all that's has happened since we've been back. So, I guess let's start this one off with a bit of housekeeping!

Our friend Krissy came over to clean the house for us last week and Annabella took up with her IMMEDIATELY which is something she rarely does! She either got carried by or followed Krissy the whole time she was here! This is her toting the broom and dust pan around.

O.K. Seriously, lol! Annabella went week before last for her check up at the pediatrician. It went very well, and we had some follow up labs work to go back for. That we did last week. We needed to get blood work and a stool sample for testing for everything from HIV and Hepatitis to parasites and simple infections. We got three vials of blood drawn in two separate sticks in her arms, and spent 8 full hours waiting on her to produce the stool sample. She did NOT cooperate so we will have to go back to Southaven again either later this week or next week to get that test taken care of. Most likely it will be next week. We have to go on Wednesday of next week for her evaluation with the ENT to see if she will need further surgery at this time for her cleft lip and pallate.

Next week we will also have our first, of many, post adoption visits from our social worker. This visit will basically cover how we are all adjusting and bonding, and will have a home check to make sure we are keeping her safe. This week we have been working on installing baby gates, and placing outlet covers into all of the available outlets. We still need one more gate that we've purchased installed, and we still need to purchase one more gate to go across the boys bathroom entrance. We will also need to purchase a few specialty things like a cover for a power strip and we have the aquarium plugged into the wall outlet, and will need a safety cover that fits over a wall plug. We have got to purchase and install all the drawer and single cabinet door locks, but we have all the double doors secured in the kitchen.

This past Sunday we went to church and checked Annabella into her Sunday school room for second service. It went so well, that we decided to stay for third service and she did just fine with the transition in rooms and caregivers, so Greg and I have decided that we will both go back to working with the tech team for at least two services a weekend. Greg will work 2 every week, and I will work 2 one week and three the next. Hopefully this will work, and Annabella will always be there for the same two services this way. The boys are happy because they don't have to get up as early as they used to, and they still get to go to their favorite service times.

I was even able to get to go to small group Sunday night, and that was SUCH a wonderful time! I knew that I'd missed that time of fellowship and Bible study, but I didn't realize just how much of a difference it makes to be able to physically see and feel the support from our group and the difference that small time studying God's word meant, until I got to sit down again Sunday and do it! I doubt we will both get the opportunity to go together and since Greg only gets to go every other week anyway, we may take turns and each only get to go once a month, but even with that I am still so thankful for that time, and for our friends there.

As far as the boys, they all seem to be doing really, really well with the transition. They started school last Tuesday, and they all seem to really like their teachers. I am THRILLED at who they all have this year, as all seem to be great teachers who really care about the kids, and what they teach them. The twins were both tested for Discovery (gifted,) class, and we should have results from that testing this week. Please be in prayer for that. Both want to be in Discovery sooooooo much, and I can not imagine having to tell one or both of them that they did not score high enough to make it! This is a very sincere request as this means a great deal to them, and has been a concern for us all summer, we sincerely appreciate any prayers for them, and also for us, in being able to adequately explain to one or both of them if they do not make the cut.

Life here has been strange....Annabella really had NO adjustment period. She simply walked in as if she'd been here forever, and that's just what it seems like. That is why I say weird. It is just as if she has always been here, and I guess in a sense she has been. God had our family all picked out before any of us knew it. I believe in her heart, and in all five of our hearts, He already planted the love, and bonding that He knew we would need, and when we all finally met and became one family, all we needed was already there. In our small group discussion, a question was posed, "Do you believe that what you do for God will gain you more wealth, health, or power?" My answer was yes and no. I know that nothing we do on earth will have God grant us more earthly pleasures, but I also know this as fact. We blindly accepted the calling to adopt. We were not prepared financially, emotionally, or physically to care for another child, and especially for the rigors and financial aspect of the International trip. But we knew that this was His plan, and so we knew that He would carry us. It was not always easy to remember that when the bills would come due, or when our health became an issue. But We kept reminding each other to have faith in God and His plan and that in the end we would be ok. I know that financially we are NOT wealthier than when we began this journey of faith. But I know that spiritually, and emotionally we've been blessed with greater faith, and joy than we've ever known. We physically have Annabella, which is truly a blessing, and spiritually and emotionally, the wealth we have received through the process and long road of this adoption journey far out weighs where we were just over a year ago. SO Yes. I believe that because we were faithful to God's calling, He did bless us abundantly more than we deserved in so many ways.

The sweet daughter that is sleeping all snuggled in her quilt her Aunt Jackie gave her, with the doll and frog her Grandmommy and Grandma gave her, with her cloth diaper stuffed firmly into her mouth, this precious little blessing is what makes everything we've been through this past year worth it. My world turns because of my four children. These kids are all so unique, and each one comes with a story from before they were even born. Each one is a precious jewel and I can not imagine my life without any one of them in it! I cherish all the time I get to spend with them, and I can't wait to see what each new day brings in the life of our "little" family! I'm looking forward to posting more frequently as we continue to settle into our new life together!

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1 NIV

And since I couldn't finish this post without adding a few more are some more, from the fun time we've had at the creek this past week!



Daddy and the boys, getting ready to make a "tow line" from one side of the creek to the other

Andy and Alex swimming to the falls


Nathan securing the second half of the tow line

Andy with his shovel playing in the sand

Alex smiling from the other side of the creek

tasting the creek water...ewwww!


laughing at getting splashed by her brothers

more laughing

waiting for the next splash

sweet giggles

more sweet giggles

I love this melts my heart!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Settling In...

Friday's appointment went very well. Annabella got a great check up, and was a true champ when it came time to get her three shots. We will go back this week for blood work, and stool sample testing for a variety of things as a precautionary measure, and we will also need to have our meeting with the cleft palette team to see if she is going to need further surgery at this time on her palette. Andy was referred for another x-ray to ascertain if he still had the penny, or if he'd finally made change. After the appointment we had dinner at Red Robin, and then headed to Target to get school shoes, and then home.

We had a hard time driving home again as the jet lag was really kicking in, but we made it safely and crashed into bed soon there after! Greg slept most of Saturday as he had to go back to work that night, and the kids and I just played around the house. Another adoptive family whom we've recently become friends with brought us dinner that night, and just before they were set to arrive, Nathan fell off the top of Annabella's Cozy Coupe car and hurt his knee. So after 45 minutes we had to make a call and opted to head to the Urgent care clinic before they closed for an x-ray. Since we had orders for Andy's as well, he went too.

Thankfully Andy's x-ray showed that the penny had finally passed so no surgery was needed. Nathan did not break anything, just a sprained knee, and so off we went to the gas station before heading home. We filled up with gas and when I went to turn on the car, the battery was dead. So we sat there at the gas pump, called Greg and Daddy, and finally our friend Tim. Tim lives pretty close by and he was willing to come help us out so after several failed attempts to jump the car, he pushed it into a parking space in an adjacent lot, and we waited on Mom to come pick us up. When she arrived, Tim tried her set of cables that was a bit newer to see if we could get enough of a jump to start the car. Just as we were giving up, the thing roared to life!

So off we went followed by Mom to the house! She had actually gone to town to pick up a few groceries for us since we'd not planned on leaving the house that day, and I was sooo thankful that she was able to come by and we were able to get the car started. We made it home about 30 minutes before Greg had to leave for work, so we all ate and I gave Annabella a bath and then it was bed for all of us.

I put Annabella in her crib in her room for the first time, since Greg had gotten the video monitor hooked up and she didn't even whimper. She slept in her room only waking up and crying once. All I had to do was go in, pick her up and kiss her head and she was back out  like a light! I had a rough night though because the monitor is 10 years old, and we've had it stored since the twins were little. It had a static to it that would just pop through in the night. I didn't have batteries for the sound monitors our friends lent us so I had no choice but to endure the static on the monitor. Between her whimpering a few times, the one waking incident, and the static I barely slept. Of course I've been dead all day, and here it is finally quiet and peaceful, and I'm wide awake. This jet lag is terrible!!! Tonight she is back in the pack and play in our room, because I simply can't stand another night like last night. Hopefully we can sit down and try to get batteries in the other monitors and maybe even tweak these tomorrow too.

Tomorrow we will go to meet Alex's teacher, and see Andy's...he has our friend from church, so I can't really say "meet" her, lol! We haven't gotten a call from Nathan's school or teacher, so we will drop by to see if he can see his new class rooms and hopefully meet his Discovery teacher as well. I hope we can drop off all of their school supplies so they won't have to deal with them on the bus, but we will see. At this point I know it sounds awful, but I can't even remember where I put their stuff I bought before we left for China!

Today we got up and went to church. Greg actually went straight from work and he ran a camera for 1st and the worship part of 2nd service. I got there just as 1st was letting out and Annabella was a big hit! We got the boys checked in to their rooms and Annabella and I sat in front and watched the band through the worship part of the service. Greg then took her home and I stayed for the rest of the service. It was so good to be back today and see all of our church family. NorthStar is so much a part of our lives, it really was a bit like FINALLY being home to be able to go to a service. One of our friends asked if she could bring us dinner and set up a few people to bring food, and we were so grateful for that!

We believe that Annabella has Giardia and that I also have gotten it. I have been having severe stomach cramps and problems since about a week to 10 days after we got her. Nothing I've taken has been able to settle it down, and even being home has not made a dent. Add to that the total lack of sleep and jet lag, and you can probably understand just how rough I'm feeling. I hope that we can get everything diagnosed and get whatever meds we need this week to get better, and that by this time next week I will be my old self again!

I must admit that I took the camera to Memphis with us, but failed to take it in to the doctor's office, and I also failed to take a picture of Annabella's first time at church. Shame on me, I'm such a bad blogger! I do have one new picture I'll try to upload for you though. Until I'm feeling better, the blog posts may be a little few and far between, or skimpy at best. Please hang with me, I do promise that I will get better about it just as quickly as I can. I hear that several of you have somewhat enjoyed my posts, and that brings me joy, as I have really enjoyed the process of writing them. I used to write all the time, and after I had the boys, I just never found the time. Writing for me is very soothing. Putting words onto paper...or in this case cyberspace, is just a way for me to organize the billion thoughts that go through my head at once. I look forward to continuing this journey of blogging, and especially about my four favorite children.

"There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;  for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his." Hebrews 4:9-10 (How appropriate was this verse from my quiet time today for this post, and my state of mind?)

Sleeping Beauty

Friday, August 3, 2012

Home Again, Home Again, Jigity jig

Well, we wound up finally leaving Hong Kong after being delayed close to an hour on the tarmac due to being OVERLOADED and having to wait for 6 people to volunteer to deboard and take later flights. And this was with multiple seats already empty on the flight home. We also got a downgraded plane, and so we didn't have the individual tv/gaming consoles we'd had on the flight over, and that kinda stank! Instead we watched an overhead tv mounted in the aisles and whatever was playing at the moment. They played some movie I don't know the name of with Zac Efron first. He was a Marine and he followed this picture he found on the battlefields to a girl in the states. Then we watched The Three Stooges, then Salmon Fishing in Yemen, and finally Wrath of the Titans, which we slept through. We'd seen it on the way over already. They also played some tv episodes, 30 Rock, Big Bang Theory, CSI some city, and a few true documentary type things. We watched one on finding Atlantis and one on animals in the wild, and one about amazing crashes.

Annabella was a true champ the whole plane ride. She wanted to sit in our laps pretty much the whole time, but she only cried a total of MAYBE 2 minutes the whole 14 hour ride. She melted down in Chicago because she wanted to be held, and we had too many bags to haul through all the security and immigration checkpoints to hold her, but once we finally got to our gate and let her out of the stroller, she laughed and ran around and played until boarding time.

Leaving Chicago we were again delayed, but only about 20 minutes, and by the time we left the tarmac, she was already sound asleep, and she slept until almost landing. She'd have slept the whole time had a child sitting behind us not started freaking out about putting the try table up when it was time to land. That kid shrieked so loud I thought the glass would break in the window beside us! It just made me all the more thankful for answered prayers, as that could have been us on a 14 hours plane ride...the people with the shrieking child!

We were met at the airport by our parents and boys, and it still seems as if our boys all grew an entire foot and matured incredibly while we were gone. They look like little men instead of little boys now, and it is so strange! You don't realize how fast your kids grow until you are away from them for a length of time... I mean three weeks isn't too long, but WOW, we are still in shock of the difference it made.

Being home is almost a bit bittersweet. I know that sounds strange, but a part of our adoption is now over and that was the part we spent in China, getting to know Annabella's culture, soaking in every bit we could so one day we can spill it all back out to her. I hope I've done an adequate job of describing what I could here. I plan to print out the trip part of this blog to give her one day as well. I know my memory will fail me, and hopefully she will be able to feel some of what we felt those first few weeks.The jet lag is pretty rough. We really didn't have much going over, but coming home has been different. Greg has managed to sleep through the past two nights, as has Annabella, but even after taking an Ambien last night, I'm still having a tough time adjusting to the sleep schedule.

Annabella is doing fantastically! She took right to her grandmothers and to her's taking a bit more time for her to come to her Grandfathers, but she's really fitting right in to life here. She thinks the cats are funny. She was a little afraid of them at first, but once she finally touched one, she has laughed at them from that point on. Her brothers have given her their undivided attention, and she has just LOVED that! Nathan has really been awesome, and has fed her, helped with her bath, and played with her. She loves playing with her wooden blocks and her little kitchen, but her favorite toy is a tiny doll in a tiny stroller that she has to bend over to push. She pushed it all around the house yesterday!

And in true Bennett fashion, we HAD to go to 20 mile bottom yesterday afternoon. We just took 1 four wheeler, so Greg drove, the boys piled across the back, and I sat with Annabella between Greg and I. We thought she might be afraid, but she seemed to love it! She enjoyed being in the creek and laughed and splashed at her brothers. They did all kinds of things to make her laugh, and she just kept rewarding us all with her laughter!

Today we have her first appointment with the pediatrician, so we will be heading to Southaven soon. At the airport when we first put her into the van into her car seat, she screamed and cried and was pitiful. We rode about 30 minutes to Greg's parent's house, and she'd quit by the time we got there. When it was time to leave, she didn't fuss a bit about getting back into it. I'm praying that today goes as well and she will not fuss about the car seat. Andy also has to see the pediatrician about the penny he has yet to pass. They will be doing a repeat x-ray to make sure it's still there, and if so will be making an appointment to have it endoscopically removed. Annabella will get a full physical, some shots, and we will be making a follow up appointment with the cleft palate team. I can't wait to see how much she weighs...I think she's put on 5 pounds since we first got her!

Well, I'd better start uploading these pictures so we can get ready to hit the road. I will continue to update the blog with more stories and pictures as we continue to settle in to being a family of 6! BTW...there are 50 pictures today : )

On the road to Hong Kong, Annabella trying to feed me cheerios

She thought it was sooooo funny when I would turn my head

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At the border

This is where they took our temperature with a ray gun

These were built all into the hillside...we aren't sure what they are

Hong Kong

Driving on the left

She entertained herself the last night untying shoelaces...she was really good at it!

View from our room

At breakfast

Dragon Airlines had cool planes

Asleep on the plane

Above the clouds

Coming down the escalator to meet her family

Meeting her family

Her first night AT HOME

playing with her brothers in her room

These guys took the new baby in stride

What a good big brother!

Happy to be home

Gifts from China