Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Not quite into routine.

Last week, the couple who met us in Seattle to start the video documentary, came to our house.  Let's just say this...I could never have a TLC show for all those of you that suggest it.  Now I know, I know, it also comes with like $20,000 a show so maybe I'd rethink it but ... I'm not sure. :)

These people are wonderful, don't get me wrong. It's just having a camera in our faces non stop...? No. Thanks.

They came Thursday. Thursday night we stayed up til almost 2am filming interview style. Then Friday, Saturday, Sunday and they left Monday afternoon.


The kids are pros at ignoring the camera, except ZhenAi :) Every shot of her is her posing I have no doubt, she just kept staring at the camera and it was pretty difficult to explain how to ignore it, so we just let it be.

We had Easter at our friends' house and they were so very kind to cook for our not-quite-so-small-crew.  Love them.

ZhenAi is doing really well. The fits have started again but more in response to being told what to do. Hmmmm. :) She wrote with pen all over the brand new bench in Tirzah's room which was really sad. I'll work hard at getting it out, it was literally 5 days old.  We aren't sure it's going to work right now with her down in Tirzah's room, it's hard to say.  She loves to go in the room and lock the door and have us all panicking and banging until she opens it.  She locked herself in the bathroom the other day and put nail polish all over her toes and fingers (yes, toes and fingers, not nails) and Tirzah's bathroom counter.  Ahhh.

She does pull herself out of the fits a lot faster and the intensity has dropped significantly. Though if you saw me pretty much carrying her up the stairs the other day, you might disagree :) I assure you however, they are pretty mild in comparison. And...we can handle it. Totally.

The boys playing football with Joey, our videographer right there.

Really. So adorable. Swinging at Miss Loralee's! 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Our update may be delayed but don't think it is because it's negative.

On the's amazing.

ZhenAi is doing incredible.  Like...really.

Today is day three without a fit and I thought the day that everything went crazy was likely a breakthrough day.  It proved to be so.

Don't worry, it's not my 'first rodeo' and I'm well aware grieving isn't over and I don't even want it to be.  But we have definitely turned a corner.

A beautiful corner.

She is really lovely.  ZhenAi adores Tirzah. I mean...she lights up like a child on Christmas morning when she sees her.  Which is pretty awesome in itself. I'm glad she's really drawn to her and is going to learn from someone with such a big patient, heart.

Saturday Tirzah wanted to take me on a date. I asked her if ZhenAi could come and she immediately responded with "oh of course!". So Tirzah took us to Five Guys for burgers and fries.

ZhenAi literally skipped up the stairs to get her shoes and skipped all the way to the van!  I thought it was super sweet that Tirzah sat in the back with her instead of the front seat.  Every time I looked back at her she was beaming. Both of them.

After lunch we went to Marshall's to look for some things for Tirzah's room. Our thoughts since gotcha day were that ZhenAi needed to be upstairs closer to us.  However, Tirzah brought her down to her room and ZhenAi lit up at the idea of sleeping down there. Their mattresses are still on the floor but beds are on the way.  So we said we could absolutely try it.

The first morning (Sunday), ZhenAi and Tirzah come up for breakfast and ZhenAi is dressed for church with her hair done! Tirzah said "oh she knew exactly what she wanted to wear and let me do her hair!"  Cutest ever.

 Honestly, Tirzah has done amazing.  She took the news that ZhenAi seems to be quite a bit developmentally a champ. She didn't really bat an eye. There was no sign of disappointment or anything about 'her' desire to have a sister that was a peer.  When we told her ZhenAi doesn't appear to speak, even in Mandarin, she didn't bat an eye there either.  She adores her.

ZhenAi copies Tirzah's every move. If Tirzah sits up straighter, ZhenAi copies.  If Tirzah says "Thank You" extra loud, so does ZhenAi.

It's now been a few nights and it's going great.  It's interesting that my last  blog post journalled the last hurrah of temper fits.  She comes for a hug every night, even if she seems to lack the concept, she leans in.

If only you could see just how calm and wonderful life really is in our house.  It is.  And our hearts are so thankful.

After dinner in our house is reading time.  It's amazing how silent this house can be! :)

Before dinner is a little louder :) Toys are all put away for the day and kids are helping in the kitchen....(you know how much easier it is to do it on my own, right? :) )

(Like Zion's tattoo...?)

And the little kids that keep it very...very...lively :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A beautiful story.

My nights have gotten a little bit better and our days definitely have.

I am not napping, I'm just not sleeping.  I finally fell to sleep at 3:30am this morning and was up at 8.

Our days, however, are going wonderfully.

ZhenAi loves to be outside. Yesterday Tirzah took her on a walk and she didn't want to come back in!

This afternoon, I heard a loud whack and then a scream. I ran around the corner to see Izrael standing wide eyed "ZhenAi spanked me!!! Again!!!" I tried not to look at ZhenAi so she didn't think I was coming to talk to her.  In fact, I looked away from her.  Ray has been telling me since China that ZhenAi keeps "spanking" her.  We've never seen it but I've been trying to keep a close eye.  Well...I heard this time!

So as I walked her direction, looking the other way, she RUNS! Like...RUNS across the house.  I'm thinking that was a sign of her knowledge of what she had done.  So I call her to me. Nope, no way.  I finally get near her and motion to her what a whack is (in the air) with Izrael standing nearby.  I then say "no no". Now we say 'sorry Ray'. She started SCREAMING no. I of her lungs screaming.  Yes. This was going to be a battle.

So I had to carry her to her room...she would not budge and was stomping her feet, folding her arms, letting me know she was not going to come to her room as she screamed in the loudest shrill I hope I ever hear. So...I carried her.  Thankful for a friend who has been praying God will give us 'strong backs'!! Boy do I need it! Thankfully...I have one!

There she starts swinging at me. She never came close enough to hit me but kept motioning as if she would. Every time I would push her fist down into her lap and she'd pop it right back up.  Now I'm not smiling. My voice is quiet but stern.  "ZhenAi no.  This is not ok. You do not hit and now you need to say SORRY RAY". I'm motioning everything I'm doing. All I get is head back, mouth open, top of the lungs scream.

This went on for a very long time. Well...maybe it was my dripping sweat as I tried to keep her flailing limbs from hitting me that made the clock slow down. I'm not sure. But this standoff felt like forever.  As we are nearing the end...she leans in (I have no idea if it's on purpose or not) and burps RIGHT in my face.
Come on. Go there with me.   I am sure I bit my lips together, closed my eyes for a very long second and then entered this with new resolve.  When she burps, we have taught her to say "excuse me" and she does upon prompting. This time she laughed and said no.  Five minutes later when she saw I was not going anywhere...she said "Excuse Me" and "sorry Ray" though Ray was no where to be found ... this was wonderful.

Then I lead her to the bathroom where I washed her face and dried her tears and told her we are all done.  She nodded and came out into the kitchen, followed me like a puppy dog and was beaming the whole time.


Yes. These moments.  They are hard. Messy. Yucky, even. Just plain hard.

But you know what's coming next...yes.  This:  I can do hard things.  I don't like it. Not one bit.  It's not fun. Entertaining. Feels like I'm getting no where. All of that. All of it.

But it's a part of the story.  It always amazes me how people walk in on the story years down the road and see our children obeying. Respectful. Kind. And make some comment about how lucky we are.

If you know me you know that really sits well :)  Lucky?

Come here for all the messy moments that led to respect and obedience and kindness.

Whether it's Taizi and "he's not really that hard!" after we endured months of screaming just to get him to eat! To crawl! To walk! Yes, it's fine to walk in now and see how manageable he is but it took 3 years of a lot of (loud) hard work.  As it did with all of our children.

This is her story. Our story. And someday these messy moments will all be a distant memory.

Tonight, 2 of our other children had a conversation about how one had bumped into the others' lego creation and ruined it all. It was an accident but the other child was really upset.  Really upset. Like why should child #2 still get to play with child #1? I mean "I know it was an accident but they ruined my set I don't want to play with them anymore!" and child #2 was crying b/c he felt genuinely bad about it.

So as I'm helping them wade through it...I asked them "do you think I felt like coming out of that battle with ZhenAi today and hugging her, laughing with her as she watched me cook dinner? Do you think I wanted to give her a bubble bath tonight and wash her hair and comb it when it was I who was sweating buckets and needed the bubble bath?" I was met with wide eyes. "No...mommy".  No. I didn't. But what was the RIGHT thing to do?

Yes.  We know. We all know.

The right thing is to swallow your 'me feelings' and do the right thing. the next right thing.

Don't worry about tomorrow. Do the right thing today.  Actually..just do the next right thing right now.

After ZhenAi's bath...I look at the kitchen table to see this moment.

This moment. Unprompted. I wasn't involved one bit.

In fact when I called them to look at me, you can see the surprise on both of their faces!

Izrael (the one ZhenAi hit earlier!) is combing ZhenAi's hair and ZhenAi is looking in the mirror as she does it.

And this is the beginning of a beautiful story.  Please...some day if you visit....don't miss the work it took to get to that amazing place. See beyond.  Just like our marriage. Our new house.  Our business. We aren't lucky. Never have been!  We have very hard.  And we...just like you...have learned along the way...that we can do hard things!  And the result is this beautiful story.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

I don't have a lot to say tonight. I had a hard day.  I'm completely sleep deprived...I cannot sleep. Yes I have essential oils and melatonin and all things helpful to normal people who's brains shut down ... but not for me.

It's now 1:30 am and here I am again. Awake.  I didn't fall asleep last night til almost 5:30am.  And then woke at 10 for the day. So I'm going on very little.  And I feel like sleep is hours away.

Tonight I just fell apart. I cried and cried and cried and cried.  Not about the adoption. About other things.  I just cried.  And cried.

Did I say that I cried...? Well I did.  Then I went for an amazing bubble bath in the most amazing bath tub ever (not the most elaborate but the most amazing  because I dreamt of this one for 2 years and found the best deal...and a gorgeous, fancy (super cheap but don't tell anyone) chandelier hangs over it...and ahh. I digress. Where was I?

Oh my brain is all over the place. Yes...the bath!  I had the most amazing bath ever...something like that. And cried the entire time.

Then I came out and had coffee and Cadbury mini eggs. Because...that's what you do, right?

Ok. It's what I do.

Anyway. I'm here. I'm not crying. Neither am I sleeping. Which with the crying. Though that has it's own reasons.

The day went wonderfully.  ZhenAi is a doll. She really is. She adores Tirzah. She just beams with her and Tirzah treats her so gently.  She's so patient and kind with her.  You wonder what kids with special needs have done to our family? You should come visit.  They have softened our childrens' hearts. Taught them real love.

When ZhenAi tries to say a word as they coach her, it's horrible pronunciation and slurred like crazy and guess what they do? 10 and 11 year old boys and 12 year old girl...? They cheer and clap. It makes my heart go all kinds of crazy.

ZhenAi did melt down several times today just sobbing.  But she lets me help her now. I came to her, rubbed her leg. Told her I was sorry she was sad. Asked if I could get her an apple...a drink...her baby doll to hold. And each time she let me bring her out of it.

She went to bed without any fight and really is doing amazing.  Today in the kitchen I motioned for a hug and she nodded. But I waited. And inch by inch she came towards me until she was standing close enough for my arms to go around her.

So's love.

A house full of love.  I think you may envision chaos and clamor but it's the furthest thing from it here. It's full of laughter. Smiles. Sometimes tears. And always love.

Even if I don't have sleep. I lay here with so much love.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Five years of Izrael Promise

**I updated our trip blogpost with many more photos tonight. If you want to see more, go back starting with day one in Hong Kong**

Time will never cease to amaze me.

How does this happen? I'm blessed to be able to say that I haven't missed a moment of Izrael Promise.  Not a moment.  I'm home full time (running a business) and working around our amazing kids.  Yet...I still don't know how it's been 5 years.  Five years of this little girl.

Remember just before we went to China 3.5 years ago...? Remember the miracle of Izrael? Crazy that she's even still alive!! She had swallowed a penny...for 6-7 months! The ENT said she had never ever seen anything like it! The penny was completely overgrown with blood vessels in her esophagus! That's how long it was there! If it wasn't for my insisting and arguing with the pediatrician that SOMETHING WAS WRONG with my baby...who knows what would have happened. He said she was fine and would 'outgrow it'.  Yet I couldn't rest.  She was wheezing and puking 10 times a day! She puked banana!! He said put her back on baby food. So glad I begged and begged for a swallow study.  It took TWO WEEKS before he ordered it but once they did...oh my word. I collapsed over her in the chair in deep sobs.  How could they miss this? She had a penny in her esophogus! They tried to tell me it happens all the I was sobbing b/c she had these symptoms for at least six months! They insisted there was no way, it was impossible!

Yes it was possible.  The surgeon said had she not known my story she may have thought it was a tumor because it was that concealed in blood vessels and tissue! A penny.  6-7 months in her esophagus.  She said at any point it could have perforated and she would have bled out in her sleep. Without us ever knowing.  Oh my heck.

And here she is.  Five years old.  A sweet, sensitive, tender spirit.  Her shoulders are often hunched. It's hard to express her thought without tears. Don't look at her too intently because the attention will de-nerve her.

I could not be more thankful that we stuck with our gut and took her to China. This child blossomed right in front of us.  We worked hard on expressing with words not tears. She did amazing.  She bonded so much with Nazara whereas at home she spends most of her time with Zihao.  She just came out of her shell and we could see that tonight at her little birthday celebration.

We went into town (we are country folk now...;) ) I took the oldest 7 into Walmart with me. :) ZhenAi's first time! She held my hand (all her initiative) and we got cake, some groceries and then toy shopped.  She had $10 from Auntie Tracey (for her birthday) and I put it in her purse. When she saw the baby dolls she LIT up. She couldn't understand that Tirzah and I were trying to get her to pick one. We would put 3 on the floor and motion for her to choose but she would point to all three. Finally I picked one up and when I handed to her she hugged and hugged it. :) That was the one!

We picked gifts for Izrael while she stayed in the van with Daddy and the younger kids.

We came home, did dinner and got ready for the little party.  We don't do big parties. We have birthdays monthly starting in March-Sept and then again in Nov and Dec. We keep it simple and have an amazing crew here to celebrate each one.

Azahria Peace!

Zion Courage!

The lovely ZhenAi 

ZhenAi with her new baby!

My heart could burst! 


Really burst.


Izrael and Big Piggy. Best friends.

She wanted drums.  :)

A gift from Azlan.

A gift from Azahria

Nana and Papa gave jammies to Big Piggy! :)

They fit perfectly! (Newborn infant clothes fit Big Piggy just right!)

And a bed for Big Piggy from Nana and Papa (though I'm sure he won't last the night and will need to crawl in with Izrael ;)

A pair of jeans, shirt and a new dress from Nana and Papa too!

A gift from Chazano

And from Zion

A gift from Auntie Tanis

And a new art set from Mommy and Daddy (this girl loves to draw and color)

Showing her new glasses from Nana and Papa :)

The night ended with so many teeth being brushed...and just as many bedtime prayers.  One of my favorite parts of the day. Not because it's Because it's so special. It really is.  Prayers and hugs and lights turned out.  Coming back upstairs to help ZhenAi.  Teeth brush, jammies on, new jean overalls in her drawer ready for tomorrow from Nana and Papa. She copied every word of my prayer tonight and instantly popped up for a hug.  As I went out I thought today went just amazing.  Then she started screaming. And screaming. And screaming.  I went back in and tried to settle her. Completely freaking out pointing to the window.  We again thanked her Yunnan Auntie for all she did for her. Blew her kisses (she watched me so intently)...I actually have the Mandarin words for all of this as I remember from our guide doing it.  Stopped crying and just watched me.  Waved to the window and wished her Auntie a great night sleep.  She never moved.  

I then started to rub her back and sing Jesus Loves Me.  Yes...Jesus Loves Me. She was tight...I could feel her almost pulling away from me.  I continued to rub her back and sing.  I must have sang the whole thing 5-6 times. Then I hummed it several more. She was almost asleep. She waved bye to me and as soon as I was out started screaming again.  I opened her door (she insists on it closed) so she could hear me cleaning the kitchen and see the lights.  She nodded.  Then we turned on music for her. I haven't heard a peep since, she's fast asleep.

It's brain is buzzing. Mind as well give it coffee. Caffeine has never affected me in any negative way, so it's not like that would hinder sleep. I have zero patience to just lay and wait for sleep to find me.  I know...I know.  You think I need to rest.  :)

Good night friends.