the emotional toll of the past week has been more extensive than i would have ever imagined. the physical aspect seems to be the minor issue we are facing right now. emery's pain tolerance is either really high, or the oxycodone is working a miracle :) the inside of her mouth looks like a sewing machine went haywire with the zig zag stitch. it's pretty horrible to see. but after day 3, her pain level seems to be controlled really well by the oxy. the emotional regression is much more painful. at times, it's confusing to know how to handle it.

maybe the past 2 months have been like a mirage. other than a few really challenging weeks in the beginning, our time with emery has been so smooth and she found such a groove of peace and trust within her family. but this week of pain and being poked and prodded and held down and arms pinned straight with no-no's, it shook my baby girl back in time.
most of our day, she plays and laughs and snuggles. she ate a LOT today and seems to be unfazed by her mouth. she even finds ways to play with and climb and crawl with her no-no's.

but when it's time for meds (every 4 hours for oxy and tylenol, every 6 for antibiotics, and every 12 for ear drops) she panics. she screams and flails and fights and as if we are torturing her. i'm sure it makes no sense why the people she trusts most are forcing things in her mouth and ears. she looks at me with horror no matter how sweet and calm i sound. she knows whats coming, and she hates it.
at bedtime tonight, i realized just how deep she is hurting. i gave her all of the her meds and drops before we went up for bed. by the time i was trying to put her pjs on, she was so frantic and irate, i knew it was a pivotal night. she wears double no-no's at night (because she can get her hands in her mouth with just one pair) so her arms are like casts. thankfully, the no-no's keep her from clawing her face and head (which she started doing again this week).
her screams reminded me so much of china. but this time, as she flailed and scratched and cried with all her might, her eyes stayed with me. they were begging me not to leave her. her fragile emotional state wanted to push me away. she kicked and screamed and punched me over and over with her crazy arm no-no's. i knew she didn't want to be held, but she also didn't want me to leave. it's such a strange duo that i've never experienced before. but now i recognize it...the pattern of her wanting me to let her feel and deal with pain in her own way, but wanting the security of knowing i'm there for her.

so i held her loosely, and i let her scream and flail. i didn't hold her down, but i held her enough for her to know she was safe. i could put her in her crib and see if she calmed by herself, or go with my gut and stick it out with her. i felt so deeply that she needed me to stay. i tried a few things, but no matter what i did, it made things worse, so we sat. she screamed. i waited.
45 minutes.
and all of the sudden she stopped. she looked up at me like it never happened. she signed bottle and drank for a few moments. she fell asleep instantly on my shoulder. i layed her down in her crib and she snuggled up and went back to sleep.
what was all that about??
regression. she went back to the only thing she knows from her deep past of pain. she knows how to panic. she's slowly learning that i'll be there with her as she heals through it.
it's not easy for either of us.

this adoption thing isn't for the faint at heart. we are parenting broken and fragile warriors. children who have deep rooted pain and fear of abandonment at every stressful turn.

emery and i have so much in common. we want and need help, but we hate asking for it. i would have never survived this week without friends and family jumping in and caring for my kids, bringing meals, visiting us in the hospital, and sending so many messages of love and kindness. so many people i don't even know encouraged me beyond measure this week.

i am truly dreading her next surgery...for fear that we have to step back to where we are right now. what she must endure in the next few months can only be conquered because God has invested more strength in her than i even realize. she was created in a powerful way and all i can do is trust that God will bring us through each of these difficult times in our growth as a family.



what a difference home makes!!!

we got home from the hospital around 1 pm yesterday. I opened the door and miss emery had the biggest smile on her face! they kids were all so happy to see each other! you'd think we had been gone for a month! they were, and still are, so filled with compassion for their sisters mouth and the pain she might be in. they follow her around and dote on her every move. it's adorable.
although we've still had some thrashing, emery slept surprisingly well last night. she was up for pain meds and it took us a bit to get her back to sleep but that was the only time she woke up! incredible!!
she gets frustrated about eating and not being able to feed herself, but otherwise you'd never know she just had major surgery!! really and truly her recovery after day 4 is so much better than I ever thought possible.
I'm hopeful that with each passing day it will get better!


the best moment of my life.

we are headed home in the morning, Lord willing. girl is eating better (housed an entire potato earlier this evening) and is drinking a bit. not a lot, but hopefully enough.

there are 2 things that have been really shocking to me in our 3 days here. 1st: the physical stamina required, and how much my body feels like it's been hit by a semi.  i'm not sure of the percentage of time that i have walked and rocked and carried her in the past 3 days, but i know it's more than i thought humanly possible. for example, i carried emery for 10 straight hours this afternoon into evening. we had times when she was happy...smiling and waving at nurses and laughing at my funny faces...you wouldn't even know she had major surgery a few days ago. she isn't swollen and can smile really well, even with all those stitches.

but, we also had large amounts of time when she was so upset and frustrated today...maybe more so than yesterday. it's totally understandable. she's experienced something so awful and painful, and she isn't allowed on the ground to play, and she's in a strange and oddly noisy place. (oh and the neighbors watch Judge Judy all day long...my brain is melting).

which brings me to the 2nd shocker: something clicked on tuesday, and instead of feeling comforted when i hold her, she has reverted back to china. when she feels pain or hunger or exhaustion, she arches her back and flails backwards and doesn't stop. over and over and over she arches backwards with such force that each and every time i have to hold her with all my might just so she doesn't plummet to the floor. it's horrible. it's soooo very horrible. to see her reverting back and acting like the past 2 months never happened. it's my worst fear coming true. i am praying and praying and praying we will find our way back to where we left off before surgery.

today, she didn't want to be put down...in fact, she didn't want to be held either. she thrashed and screamed for what seemed to be hours. every time i wanted to punk out and put my sweet sobbing girl down to ease my own tortured arms, i remembered what she is going through, and i kept going. 5 more minuets. 20 more. 1 more hour. and so on. if i'm honest, i was (and still am) in so much back pain, i think i might put in for a reconstructive surgery of my own. oh and maybe a left arm transplant :) my body was shaking so badly by the end of the night, i was afraid it would give out. i wish i had kept up with my yoga or lifted some weights in preparation.

ok, enough of my whining. but i needed the back story to get to the good part.

in the middle of my 10 hour stretch of holding (somewhere around 5pm) i was crying because she was crying so much. my heart was breaking at her sorrow and i just didn't think i could take another moment. i asked the nurse to give her meds a little early in hopes that it would help. but it was too early. 1 hour too early. so i tried other things. formula? no. didn't want that. toys? no. didn't want that. diaper change? no. didn't like that one bit.
so i laid her on the crib, my arms shaking. i kissed her forehead as she was kicking me and trying to find a way out of her no-no casts. she flailed and clawed at her feet and my neck and face. my tears dripped on her as i tried to speak softly in chinese over my own sobbs.
suddenly, she calmed a bit. she looked up at me, with those amazing eyes...tears streaming in those sweet asian browns...and she spoke. for the first time.

she said the one word i have been longing to hear since i laid eyes on her. the moment i have dreamed of.

she said "mama".
yes, you heard me. "mama"
i was stunned.
so i said "mama?? did you say MAMA?????!!!!"

slowly, carefully, as if to choose her word with precision, she said it again "ma ma"  "ma ma"  "ma ma"

then she smiled. so very proud of herself.

if i was crying before, now i was really crying...pure sobbs of amazing gut wrenching joy.

"mama" i repeated with a giant beaming smile
"ma ma" she replied carefully, followed by a beaming smile of her own
"ma ma"

over and over.


as if she knew i needed her. she's supposed to be the one needing me, but in that moment...in my desperation...my pleads...my need for her to find peace, she gave peace to me. what a gift from the Almighty, this one. she speaks and it's like an angel singing to my soul.

in post op recovery. about 2 hours after surgery.

the sweet post op recovery nurse who fought for emery to go to the pediatric intensive care unit. i think she just might be an angel. she wanted to make sure emery was ok, and advocated to the doctors on emery's behalf. what a blessing! she came by today to check on our girl :) and got a sweet smile from the little lady.

my mom came for a few hours the first night and i am SO thankful she did! what a blessing to have her there...she even helped as my stand in for emery's chest xray (they wouldn't let me in the xray without taking a preg test to prove i'm not pregnant :) and there was no time)

in the picu (pediatric intensive care)

daddy came to visit for a few hours. he's been working hard taking care of the boys and traveling for work. we've missed him so much, but i know it's torture for him not to be here.

 feeling better this morning after eating a little bit...

 very determined little lady

keeping us overnight for observation. i'm bummed, but better to be sure she's ready and able to maintain. been holding her for 6 straight hours. will need back transplant before the night is out :)

i have coolest story to share. will write later tonight when girl (hopefully) sleeps.

still hoping to be discharged and go home, but it's been a rough morning. emery is very agitated and has been screaming and flailing so much I can't hold her. she finally screamed herself to sleep. uhg. what a hard, exhausting morning for my girl. praying rest will help and we can go home soon. I need a shower so bad...my grease-ball hair could coat a pie pan at this point :)

best news of all... we both slept for 3 hours. oh sleep. I (heart) you :)

just drank formula from a syringe!! breakthrough!!


staying in picu tonight...sweet girl doing really well...higher pain med doses have helped and she's been smiling and happy for the last hour, Praise God!! clint just got here and we are so happy to see him! she's been giggling and laughing with him. hoping for both em and I to get some sleep tonight after clint goes home.

thank you for praying dear friends! I'm so thankful to be here with this brave girl and to see God answering so many prayers! what a difficult, yet amazing experience. she's too cute for words :)

finally got some clothes on this chick!

on our way out of intensive care!! moving em to a regular room...she's doing well! still in pain and won't eat, but wow...what a rockstar! we finally got her out of her skivvies! :)  and even got to walk the halls for a few minuets...she was so happy and just layer on my shoulder...a good distraction.
my baby girl may be in a lot of pain, but there is home on the horizon... maybe today, maybe tomorrow... many others on this floor have a much longer road. as I walked, my heart rejoicing that my girl was calm for a few moments, but I ached for the moms in the rooms we passed by. they, too, long for calm and healing. 

more updates soon.

doing a bit better this morning. she finally slept for a full hour. docs are stopping morphine so we can try to get her to drink. unsure if we will go home today or spend another night. heart rate is finally normal when she is resting. she is so sweet and is content when I am with her...the nurses all stay out of her eye line because she cries if she sees anyone but me :) I'm so grateful that she feels comfort when I am with her. i can literally feel her getting stronger. she was awake and calm for a 1/2 hour this morning. even smiled a bit. oh she's just so amazing! what a fighter!

moments of rest mixed with sobbing. baby girl has slept on and off, but even with morphine the pain is still so strong. praising God for each moment of sleep she can have.

thank you for praying. it means so much to me!!


resting. pray it continues

my warrior

we are in the picu (pediatric intensive care unit) right now. sweet girl has done so well!!! palate repair was perfect and the doc was very pleased. she's hardly swollen and looks so good for having major cranial facial surgery!! the nurses have been so amazed by her resilience! 

 when I first saw her in recovery, she was just waking up... she was thrashing a bunch so I picked her up and she was so upset about the iv taped to her foot that she ripped it out... instantly blood shot all over me, the nurses, the walls, everywhere. new iv. giant boot over iv. really really mad emery. she went in and out of sleep... waking up very upset and then calming down. but her heart rate was really high and skyrocketed when she was upset. her oxygen was very low as well. our wonderful nurse wouldn't rest until she made sure emery was ok. after 4 hours of the crying and sleeping and high heart rate, exrays and blood draws and more tubes and wires than I've ever seen, they decided she wasn't stable enough to be admitted to a regular hospital room and put her in the picu to have close observation through the night.
 I haven't put her down yet. at the moment she is resting after a dose of morphine...but every few minuets she wakes up so sad and upset. it's so hard to watch but I'm thankful for each moment under our belt...each moment closer to being healed. closer to smiles and popping avocado slices like candy. I won't be sleeping tonight, but I will be holding and snuggling the most beautiful girl I know. I count it my greatest honor to be able to comfort her through something so traumatic. praise God for his protection over our sweet girl. we truly feel covered in prayer today! 

high heart rate...in way to exray and picu

in surgery

baby girl went into surgery about 15 min ago. oh my heart is surging. I can't stop my hands from shaking. I have so much to say, but for now....I'm so very thankful for so many people praying and loving my girl! oh it's been a long day for her already, but I'm hopeful that God can provide her with the strength she needs.
I'm so grateful for each of you lifting our girl up today! praise God for the tiny little warrior He gave us!!

girl is so calm... been snuggling her for an hour in pre-op...what a blessing! just saw doc...should be giving meds and taking her to surgery in the next 1/2 hour


in preop... surgery scheduled for 1 pm



we need it right now. really tough morning already. baby girl is so hungry and upset. getting more and more frantic. leaving now for hospital. please pray she can sleep.

thank you dear friends!


the surgery lowdown

- we arrive at chop at 11:30am tomorrow, surgery to start around 12:30/1pm
- emery and i will stay at chop for 1-3 nights depending on her pain level and ability to drink a bottle. it will take 3-4 weeks for her mouth to heal.
- this surgical procedure is intense, and quite possibly the worst she will experience, as it involves closing the roof (palate) of her mouth. without this palate repair, she would never be able to speak properly. her lip will be repaired approx 6 weeks from now.
- she cannot eat at all tomorrow before surgery and can only have pedialite before 9am. please pray we can survive until surgery without her totally melting down. she becomes frantic and quickly irate when she is overly hungry. i'm sure it has a lot to do with her previous malnutrition.

please join me in praying for...
- a well rested and focused surgical team that will make excellent choices as they are working on such a delicate area.
- no complications from the surgery
- the blessing of kind and compassionate after-care nurses
- powerful pain meds (maybe a few for me too :)
- strength for our little warrior girl as she endures a level of pain most of us will never experience in our lifetime
- emery to allow me to hold and comfort her and share in her pain
- her to feel a supernatural presence
- foster and rowan as they are very worried about their sister
- fast healing. lightening fast :)

we rejoice knowing we are not alone...what would we ever do without such a powerful community of friends and family!

love, ang


the plight of the ugly pants {with a side of internet comatose}

i'm on week 3 with no internet. i'm not sure i will survive another day. if you find a nearly comatose lady curled up in a pathetic ball of twitching nonsense, just pass on by.  i've been shocked to learn how much i miss it...and therefore find it necessary to feel the void so i can overcome it. on the other hand, can i really live without it? who can in this day and age?  important stuff like online banking and googling things and ordering photo prints, and, well, blogging. they all go by the wayside. phone internet just isn't the same. my blogging brain is all clogged. when i fail to blog, i fail to remember anything. if it doesn't make the blog, my brain has no memory. as if i've been zapped by the men in black. is it this phase of life? have i lost brain cells in the past few years? i digress.  what was I talking about? i forget. :)

em (as her brothers call her) has palate surgery on monday. we will be in the hospital at least 2 days. i'm more and more nervous each day. when i look at her, i want to cry knowing what is coming, and the pain she will experience.

she's been so much more and more relaxed as each day passes. she scootches around and plays so happily. her number one goal is to catch up with her brothers and try to swipe any nearby toys. she's pretty darn effective at the toy swiping. the climbing. the standing and reaching. in fact i turned around earlier today and found her sitting on a box. on the TOP of the box. she climbed her way up there somehow. i pulled her down, and in an instant she was back up. she's crafty, this one.

i'm praying and praying for the next few days and weeks. praying God will use me to comfort her when she is in pain. please join me in praying for this sweet little gal on monday. her surgery will start around noon or so. please pray for fast healing,  and for her sweet little spirit...that we won't backslide in our bonding...that no complications will arise.

we are also rather stupidly making craft show items for next weeks' show. everyday we ask each other if we should cancel. at this point, i've spent so many hours, i just can't cancel. i'm one all nighter away from being totally done...that way i can spend all next week with emery instead of worrying about finishing crafty things. i've even been able to sew in small increments throughout the day when the kids are playing....something i used to do all the time before emery...and its been a pleasant surprise to see i can have 20 min here and there to stitch a few things.

the boys love to help me sew. wait, let me rephrase...they love to "drive" the sewing machine. i always wonder how long it will take for me to get my finger sewn to a piece of fabric because they get a little trigger happy.

from time to time, they like to think of things to make and then see what we can come up with. today it was scrap fabric pants. after we made makeshift (horribly ugly) pants, one little boy decided he really didn't care that much about them afterall, and another little boy decide he didn't want to ever take the ugly pants off. he is still wearing them at this moment. they are hilariously horrible.

it poured rain today. cool, refreshing, make-all-my-wipe-off-markers-smear, rain. we spent a lot of time gazing outside. wishing it was sunny. going so stir crazy that i almost wanted to run far far away...and after i decided it's better to stay stateside, i threw those wild boys in a long shower with lots of cars and trucks to wash...they laughed for 45 min. it was the perfect rain cure. now if only i can find time to take a shower of my own. :)



is anyone else cold? {sunday climate}

it's september. i usually love september. but i'm laying under a blanket, fully dressed in my daytime clothes, because its south of 50 degrees and much too chilly to even think of re-donning attire. oh and I'm lazy. perhaps that is the truer fact.

i awoke this morning, still dressed from yesterday, making it easier than ever to pop out of bed and start the morning routine including breakfast and pillow hopping on couches and bananas thrown all over the floor I just scrubbed. oh and me leaving my coffee on the floor (where I was sitting with emery when a certain little boy fell off of a couch doing a certain pillow jump and needed assistance). it was after i got distracted after the pillow injury, and after i headed into the kitchen to warm up my coffee, that I realized I had no idea where my coffee was. oh but emery knew. boy did she ever. floor meet coffee. coffee meet floor. i'm sure you two will be very happy together. or at least matchmaker emery seems to think so as she dips and splatters, dips and splatters with her very effective hand dip maneuver.

and my son foster says to me, as he rips off his flanel spider man pj shirt, while throwing a ball that nearly takes out a local lampshade, "mom it's so hot in here, my underpits are sweating!!"
underpits. perhaps my new favorite saying.

i'm shivering and his underpits are sweating. clearly we live in different climate zones. isn't that so true of life sometimes? different climate zones, same continent. one big happy family.

one big happy Sunday morning family. evening church = leisurely morning. kids squealing giggles while daddy does his sleeping spider impression with boys sneaking up for ambush. they never make it. 'sleeping' spider always attacks. they always attempt ambush. it repeats and never gets old. clint makes the best coffee. it tastes better than when i make it. he refills my cup when i'm not looking. somehow Sunday mornings never feel rushed the way midweek does. the way Friday seems to fly by. Sunday feels slow. gloriously slow. delightful and perfect. it makes me wish for a world of Sunday. even if i'm shivering and foster has sweaty underpits. Sunday puts us all on the same continent and we're stuck there. and we love it.


ikea {socks on the windows} and lunch on a silver platter.

on the way home from CHOP on wednesday, we stopped at a really boring place. small. uninspiring. horrible. ok, actually it’s the opposite. it’s the best place on earth. cheap food, fun couches for the kids to test out (jump on) and ever endless amounts of things that seem to put themselves into everyones side-rolling cart.

the boys wanted to try out the kids playland. jing liu was exhausted and slept in the mai tai. so this mama had 30 min to wander around ikea without any children grabbing or whining or doing power slides in the kitchen wares section. i gotta say, my afternoon of leisure at ikea was divine. even if by "afternoon," i mean a half hour.

(ps. those are stuffed "rats" and "mice"?? seriously. that's just weird. but of course, my stuffed animal loving kids loved them.)

although this time i had to obey the budget (which is minimal at best) i did score some cheap curtains for the upstairs…the neighbors have been getting quite a show for the past 2 weeks since there wasn’t a curtain in sight when we moved in.
i also needed 7 curtain rods. uhg. who wants to spend money on those? but in the land of ikea, it’s not unusual to find $1.99 curtain rods with hardware. yes, $1.99 each. cha-ching. ikea, i love you all the more.
but before ikea, before playland and my leisurely afternoon, i had a philosophical breakthrough. breakdown? through? i don't know. nonetheless, at our meeting with the anesthesiologist (which, by the way, i am SO nervous out about jing liu having to be put under) i realized how much the past matters. in my own life, i never pay much attention to family history. it's always there. when i answer checklists for health insurance or a checkup at the doctor, i don't think about it. i just know. birthplace. sweet grandpa who died of colin cancer. cousin with diabetes. high cholesterol on my mom's side. etc. but in the past 6 weeks with emery, i've been asked so many questions that i will never have answers to...and it's made me perk up and realize what a sensitive issue "family history" must be to adoptive individuals later in life. case in point. the anesthesiologist had a LONG list of questions regarding emery's past and current health status. she asked me at least 30 questions, none of which i had the answers to. after the first 5, i said, "you could save yourself some time and just check "unknown" for all of these because I have no idea about anything before we met her." and the doctor replied "we have to ask you anyway, even if you don't know the answers." my brain was ready to explode by the time we were finished. i said "i don't know" a million times. all of the sudden, the unknowns are important. has she been under anesthesia? had surgery? allergic reactions? family history of diabetes? vaccinations? been exposed to communicable diseases? been subjected to abuse? has anyone in her family been diagnosed with cancer? has she ever been hospitalized? has she broken any bones? was she born premature? what was her birthweight? 
i'm praying already for her healing as she deals with her unknowns for the rest of her life. i pray for her later in life, when she fills out a random form that asks about family history. when someone asks her how much she weighed when she was born. it's one of those parts that i have no idea how to transverse. my love can't bridge this void for her. i guess we will take it as it comes...and trust that God will heal the areas of her heart and mind when she feels the pangs of the unknown.
until then, i'm filling her up with the things that we do know. like at our early intervention evaluation yesterday, we learned it's officially not just us who see "it". her something incredible. the sparkle. the way she discovers and learns life that is oh-so-fascinating. it's not just us who marvel at her. not just her brothers who clap with irate enthusiasm when she pulls to stand on her own. i no longer have to wonder if the incredible change over the past month is truly as amazing as we think it is, or if she is still lightyears behind her peers. yesterday proved we're not imagining it. it's fair to say she's incredible and not be overstating it. she is no longer a 15 month old with the abilities of a 6 month old...this chick scored as a 13 month old in 2 out of 3 of her evals today. 4 professionals sat on our living room floor, filled with a wealth of knowledge and love, and played and cheered and laughed and interacted with my girl for 3 hours. one of those ladies, sarah, met emery a few weeks ago when she came and did our did our initial consult. at that time, emery couldn't sit without falling over. she was still flailing and clawing when she got upset...the night terrors were at their peak...i was literally feeding her all.day.long...and i struggled to feel like we could communicate at all. when sarah walked in the door yesterday, emery was busy scootching across the floor chasing a ball. she flashed me the sign for "bottle" when she was hungry, and i beamed with delight as she showed me just how much she has changed. the clear theme of our 3 hour evaluation was "wow, that's amazing!! did you see what she just did? wow. that's all I can say is wow." her lowest evaluation came in at 10 months for gross motor skills, mostly because her arms are so weak and she is still wobbly on her legs. basically, she's incredible. plain and simple.
ok i'll stop bragging now. you get it. i'm nutso proud of her.
i stepped up my efforts to occupy the boys while we needed quiet, destractionless time with emery during these long evaluations and video taped university of delaware studies (UofD was here today. we've had a marathon week. uhg. too many meetings. i'm exhausted). i prepped an array of fancy lunch and snack items, set up movies on my laptop in their room, and earlier in the day we transformed their room into fort central.
it's as close to a tea party as we get in these parts.  apparently pb&j's taste much better when eaten off of a silver platter under a tent. when i came up to check on them (because it was eerily quiet), i found their clothes strung up on the tent chords and socks suction cupped to the windows. i love seeing what they find to include in their play. such imagination. geeze, i love these kids!

so that brings us to today. it's been a long one. one of those days that seems to be going well...we had moments that worked out great...like actually making time to do schoolwork with foster...but it was a day that even a small bit of disappointing news sends me into a tailspin because i don't even realize that i'm just barely hanging on. i'm ready for 2 days with clint around. he's so generous in giving me the time that i need to run errands, or work on projects, etc...but he is even more understanding of when i need rest, even if i rarely take his advice. and he's always right. so tonight, i'm working on craft show prep, against his better judgment. i'm sure he's right. i'm sure i'll wake up feeling horrible in the morning because i haven't rested in days...weeks...months. in fact, when have any of us rested in recent memory? i'd love to know the secret of getting everything done and still allowing for rest. both of those things elude me at all times. but maybe if i were well rested, i wouldn't care so much that i didn't get everything done :)

canvas ladies

i've been seeing these canvases popping up all over the place. and although i think they are lovely, i wasn’t convinced i wanted to spend the money on one. (see previous coupon insanity involving picture people circa 2008). my innate “get a good deal” savvyness perked up when i got an email giving me the opportunity to test drive a picture to canvas of my own. let me think about it YESOFCOUSE i will. where do i sign?  i've since become a believer.
at the time of the test drive email, we were 2 weeks away from meeting emery and my brain was in ultra spin mode.  so i waited. and when we got home, i had grand plans of using some of the professional shots we have of our family. but as i started looking through photos, i remembered how many i have from china and i want to have them as mementos throughout our home. i came across this one…the last photo i have of her and i together in china…and i knew it was perfect.

the great thing about this canvas is somehow it made my so-so photo composition look even better! i‘m in love with this photo because of what it means to me…i‘d love for her to be looking at the camera, or smiling, or for the exposure and white balance to be better…but it captures exactly who we were at that moment. i look at it and remember how that day felt. it felt beautiful.

i still don’t have the right spot to hang it. we are somewhere in between moved-in and still-needing-to-paint, so the kids rooms are still in limbo. emery's room is going to be a light grey (my new favorite wall color). hopefully after my craft show prep mayhem is over, i’ll have time to paint. well maybe after the craft show and after palate surgery. ok, after craft, palate, lip. then i’ll have time. i’ll be able to run circles around bystanders with all of my free time. then i’ll paint and perfect and actually do pinterest ideas.

until then, this gem is hanging out on a stray nail from the previous tenants (thank you whoever you are) and looking quite adorable.


the post in which i over post leggings {because i just can't help myself}

this post has nothing to do with leggings. but i haven't had time to unload photos from the big camera. mostly because it's a pain to transfer them to my husbands computer (which i am on now) and then even more mostly because i love this chick in leggings and i will forever post leggings photos excessively.
the disclaimer portion is now over.
good. i can get on with it.

wait, first things first...

now that my first in a slew of limber stripes is out of the way, good gracious there is a lot to say. i'll never get it all out. especially with the piles upon piles of unfolded laundry.
(seriously, if your laundry is all folded, i will ever applaud you. you are my hero. piece de resistance. i tip my ever un-folded hat to you.)
life feels too exhausting right now. but sometimes that's when i come up with the best stuff.
as of today, i've entered insanity. i started plotting my craft show creations.

12 bundles of yarn and 12 straw wreathes later, i'm realizing some lady needs to carve out time to wrap those babies and then make some outstanding accoutrement flowers to accompany them...and that lady is me. i'm literally giddy with excitement to have a reason to stay up into the wee hours that doesn't involve packing or unpacking or cooking. (at the last minuet on friday i decided to enter the realm of OAMC. i nearly collapsed by the end of the weekend after cooking all night for 2 nights, but on this side of things, i have nearly enough meals for 1.5 months if we plan carefully and eat our leftovers. oh the joy of forgetting how agonizing it was. i might just do it again :)

have i mentioned my 3 year old mr rowan has been all out of sorts since we came home with emery? other than a few sleep issues and irate crying during the first 2 weeks, little lady has adapted so well, it's scary. mr 5 year old foster has also adapted amazingly well. it's as if the change brought out the best in his skill set. he's crazy amazing with her. so patient. so loving. he even giggles when she slobber kisses him on the mouth. now that is love, folks. 'cause her slobber kisses taste like boogers :)

but rowie, oh dear. although i know he loves her, kisses her feet constantly, and plays the most adorable games with her, he has not been in love with his mommy being unavailable throughout the day.
in fact, he has thrown every tantrum/floor-punching/throw-down-knock-out/terror-ridden/ear-piercing scream in his arsenal. at me. at everyone. at life. for nearly a month and a half. i'm out of ways to deal with it. totally out of ideas. loosing my mind to think of ways to move it in a more positive direction. at times, i'm quite sure it will never end.  i never known him to be so unhappy for such long periods throughout the day. sometimes it feels like all day. or maybe it feels like all day because it is. as if someone captured my sweet buddy and returned a monster instead. as if his screaming/tantruming is AT me. directly at me. so i know just how much he dislikes the change.

and then yesterday happened. i thought for sure it was a fluke. a mirage. an accident. our day was pleasant. he was pleasant. when he started to freak out, with a quiet word, he calmed. he changed his attitude and the tantrum was over before it started. it was like we went back in time. a cool breeze floated through the house and coaxed us all into wonderment.  i decided to consider it an anomaly.

then today. a long day. we were in the car a lot, i was holding emery a lot, in and out of stores, dropping foster off and picking him up from school (45 min away from home). to my surprise, it was pleasant. fun, even. he was delightful and helpful and best of all, snuggly. we held hands a lot. he stuck with me all through the house. all through the stores. all through our lunch at the park. after dinner we were all pooped. we watched a movie together, and he snuggled on my shoulder while i fed emery a bottle. if i had to move or adjust, or reach, he did too. he found his niche. it's not exactly the same, but i think he realized we can still be close and snuggle and be near each other...and emery being there is ok too. it feels normal for him. finally. i needed a few good days like my husband needs a tall glass of ice tea. i needed it bad.
praise the Lord for good days. can i get an amen?

praying tomorrow is another day like today. because we are headed to CHOP for a pre-op appointment and the boys are coming with me.
have i mentioned that foster is very upset about jing liu's surgery? so upset he starts tearing up when we talk about it. he keeps asking if she has to have it. he's so sad to think she will change or look different. so we talk about it. we talk through it. it's a normal thing around here to talk about stitches and anesthesia and facial structure and how things bleed and how things heal. i'm hoping that meeting the surgeon and talking with the doctors will help calm his fears.
we've also started talking about pain. how we can help when people around us are hurting. i want them to know they have an imporatant...nay, vital role in their sister's recovery. because it's true. she reacts to them. they make her smile in a way that lights up an entire continent. in the end, the life lessons our family will learn will be ever valuable to life. to our legacy. all because of one little girl and what she brings to her family. we all bring something unique and special. family members change and mold each other. being present to watch the shift occur in our family is something i will always treasure.

we are less than 2 weeks from surgery.

so i confess 2 things.
(1) upon excepting emery's referral (which is a story i should tell one of these days) i had never seen a baby with a cleft lip/palate in person. a year or two ago, i could have never imagined loving a cleft lip. that was last on my list of needs i wanted. sad, but true. OH PRAISE GOD for the way He softened my heart. what on earth would i do without her?? if i had closed my heart to the option. if i had hesitated longer at the "cleft lip/cleft palate" box on the special needs acceptance list. can i just advocate for a moment? can i just say that if you are scared of cleft babies...if they make you uncomfortable (like i was). get over it. have the faith that your heart will melt when you meet one of these precious lipped individuals in person. because i guarantee you will never ever meet a cuter child. never ever.

(2) when i finally met her in person, oh dear lord. every. single. part. of. her. was my favorite part. i could talk endlessly about how beautiful she is. novel worthy. in fact, i'm sure i'll spend the rest of my days gushing about her. but her lip? nothing on earth could be cuter. i kiss her cleft a thousand times a day because it is so breathtaking to me. she is breathtaking.

upon returning home, i expected to be up in arms when we went places with her. i expected to get the "are they all yours??" question. or the "how much did she cost??" or "are you her real mom?" questions. i prepared my forced smile and cheeky (or snide) replys. but much to my pleasant surprise (so far) we've been met with such sweetness. men, women, young, old have approached us when we are at target...restaurants...the park...and made comments about how cute she is. how lovely. how precious. and i beam.

but today at the park, we were sitting in the grass. miss emery was chomping on a banana. mr. rowie was eating yogurt. several little kids walked by. they stopped right in front of us and stared. literally 2 feet in front of where we were sitting. they started right at her. they glanced quickly at me. i smiled and said hi. no response....the gaze went right back to emery. zoned in on her banana eating lips. they couldn't figure her out. the stare lasted longer than it should. i said hi again, but their stares were so intense that they couldn't hear me. it continued so long, we just went on about our bananas and yogurt. we played and talked. serously. it was strange. uncomfortable.

they are just kids. i'm not upset at them. i am upset for her. for that kind of attention. she deserves to be seen as more than a kid with a cleft lip. because she is so much more than that. so from here on out, i'm praising God for her surgeons. i'm looking forward to the change. even if in my heart i'm dreading it.

and that's enough of my cleft soap box.

back to my kitchen overhaul and glass of wine. oh and somewhere in there i'll fold some laundry.
or maybe i'll just go to bed and hope i fold it tomorrow :)


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