Friday, May 24, 2013

Sister Love

This is what I saw the other day
when the living room got mysteriously quiet.
I'm SO glad I tip-toed in
and peeked around the corner to investigate!

And yesterday, in the car on the way to another round
of testing and studies for Mei Mei,
I had heard her fussing and then quiet reigned.
When I turned around, this is what I saw.

It's taken a bit of time, but I love that we've reached the point where there are more pleasant and loving interactions between these two than there are jealous or unhappy moments. Li'l Empress has had some bouts of insecurity and emotional overload in the process but I think she's settling back in. As expected, the struggles have been mainly on Li'l Empress' side of things, as she's worked through the adjustment of becoming a Big Sister after years of being the baby of the family. The bigger gang members have been awesome at making sure that Li'l Empress knows she is just as loved and cherished as ever. It's been really sweet to see them all working through the adjustment together. And the evidence that Li'l Empress and Mei Mei are falling in love with each other is there for all to see.

Now, when Mei Mei stumbles and falls on the toys in the family room, Li'l Empress is the first to rush and get the boo-boo bear for her baby sister. And when Li'l Empress came in from the yard this week, crying over a perceived offense, Mei Mei would not leave her side and watched the proceedings with great concern. She even tried to hug her and kept patting her arm while Li'l Empress calmed down.

Early on in the "re-entry" process, Li'l Empress came to me in tears and through her hiccuping and sobbing, informed me that she thought we probably brought home "the wrong Mei Mei." Because this one was mean and not sharing her toys at all. And "she hit me with the dolly!"  I tried very hard to take her seriously at that moment, and address her concerns and validate her feelings. I helped her understand that baby behavior wasn't the same as "the wrong Mei Mei" coming home, but was something we'd all have to model and work through with Mei Mei. I reminded Li'l Empress that when she first came home, she hit the kids, too. And she was even known to bite them once in a while. That it was all normal "baby" behavior and her job was to teach Mei Mei how to be part of our family by showing a good and loving example. I got her calmed down and able to pray with me. But man, oh, day, I was cracking up inside. I couldn't believe that she was calling up prayers from LAST YEAR at this time, when we were still asking as a family for the Lord to give us clear leading and direction to the "right Mei Mei;" the one that He had chosen for our family. OMIGOSH - this kid has a memory like NOBODY'S business!

I know there will be seasons, ebbs & flows if you will, of this relationship as it grows and builds, but this week's little vignettes brought such joy to my heart and I've so enjoyed the peace and promise captured in each little picture. I am so confident that the moving forward will continue to be productive and full of sweetness even in the hard moments. I count it an immeasurable gift, that God would grant the blessing of sisterhood to my girls. No matter the age span between them, they have friends for life in each other!

Here's one from last weekend,
in which all three girls were
hamming it up with Daddy's iPhone.
I love this. And can't wait to see
differing versions of it as the years fly by.

(Oh, God. Please don't let the years fly by. Pretty please?!)

Monday, May 20, 2013

CUH-RAZY Connections!

On Sunday morning, I was laying on the couch, with tissues stuffed up my nose to catch the copious dripping. (Yeah, I was finally forced to face the fact that this congestion and achey head was NOT allergies.)

Anyhoo... I was crashing there with my phone, scrolling through F@cebook and stopped to comment on a friend's post. She was sharing a picture of all the stuff her little girl had sold at their neighborhood yard sale and something in the post caught my eye. I commented that it was too bad we lived so far away, or I'd have been happy to purchase that little bookshelf for the girls' room. That I'd been looking for one like it for quite a while, and had come "thiiiiiiis" close to scoring one on my local yard sale sites this winter. This friend then commented that she was sorry, too, if she had known, she'd have tried to find a way to get it to me.  I thought nothing else of the conversation until a little while longer when I got a notification of another comment on the original post.

This friend, who lives across the state from me, went on the local-to-me cr@iglist site and found THE VERY BOOKSHELF for sale in basically the next town or two over from our home. She contacted me and asked me if it was close enough to me to be a possibility for purchase.

Whaaaa? Cuh-razy! So crazy thoughtful and helpful!

So I pulled up the link, replied to the sale post and connected with the seller in less than a half hour after contacting him.

Whaaaaa?! Cuh-razy! So crazy to find the exact one, in great shape and so local! 

Not only was it still available for sale, he had JUST posted it last night AND had done so after his neighbor failed to sell it at their community yard sale. The neighbor was going to put it out to trash but the seller knew it would move fast, so he took it and listed it.

Whaaaaa? Cuh-razy! Simply crazy that someone would throw something like that out. Utterly crazy that it hadn't sold at the immediate moment that he listed it - these things move FAST. I should know, I spent a lot of time tracking them this winter.

Best of all?!


It only cost us FIFTEEN DOLLARS! Dude. Seriously - that's about 3/4 of what I would have paid if I had scored the one I found this winter!

CUH-RAZY!!!! What a crazy sweet little treat from My Father and my friend - He loves giving us good gifts and He loves using His people to do it. So thankful for the connections He weaves through my life. And the adorable surprises He gives us along the way.

How cute is this?!
Those books have been in storage for over a year,
because we only had two small bookshelves
that LadyBug and Baby BlueEyes keep chock full in their rooms.
Li'l Empress is so excited to have
her own library in their room now!
Isn't this just like God?!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Building a Foundation

My parents came to a personal relationship with the Lord in the mid-70's. At that time and through the majority of the 80's, much of the praise & worship in their circles was Scripture put to music - straight from The Word. Choruses were simple and the quotes were often from The King James version of The Bible. I loved learning new songs: the lyrics were poetic and appealed to my poetry-writing heart. The many repetitions we sang sunk both the songs and the verses from which they came deep into my heart and mind.

It's a gift I treasure, particularly in the hard times of life. I feel His faithfulness and love for me when a song floods my heart, specific to the situation I'm facing, washing my thoughts with The Word. Being able to sing out, and thus stand on the promises and the declarations of His character and His commitment to me, has carried me in some very difficult times. I've shared here before how much I love the old hymns of my faith, for much the same reason. The bedrock that The Word put to music provides in my life is a comfort, a foundation, a keystone.

The other day, as I was rocking Mei Mei to sleep, I was singing and humming my favorite hymn, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" as we snuggled together. Out of seemingly nowhere, the Lord brought an old chorus to my mind. I can't even say I was really searching for a new song to sing, though the minute I "heard" the tune in my head, I knew HE had just been waiting to give it to me again. I've been singing it all week long. I love the way He quickened it to me, wrapping me in His love and giving me another tool by which to sing her life verse over her day after day. I love that for years now I have had this verse memorized and buried deep into my heart. That I now have the privilege of delivering it to her little heart and mind. This is a bedrock verse for her life and I get to actively build that foundation of His love and His mercy for her each time we sit in my rocking chair to snuggle before bed and nap times.

Isn't He so good? What a gift, to be able to so directly speak to my daughter's heart.

by Robert Davidson

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
His mercies never come to an end.

They are new every morning,
New every morning

Great is Thy faithfulness, O Lord!
Great is Thy faithfulness"

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wordless Wednesday {beauty}

Every where I look....

I'm surrounded by beauty.

head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.
Consider linking up and joining the fun!

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Happy Mother's Day, Indeed.

What a wonderful Mother's Day weekend I had with my gang! The Boss's folks came in for a long weekend on Friday afternoon. His sister and her family came in Saturday afternoon. Everyone wanted to meet Mei Mei. It was LadyBug's 14th birthday {sigh. sob.}on Sunday. So we celebrated all three big events together. All weekend long. We ate. We laughed. We watched the kids play together. We ate some more. And I got the exquisite joy of having all 6 of my kids home, together, for the first Mother's Day ever. Knowing that our Gang is now complete, that we are, indeed, "all here" added such a sweet note to the day. I am a blessed momma.

Getting a picture of me and my three girlies
proved almost to be my undoing.
I bought the matching dresses for the little ones
The pictures are not doing the
utter cuteness any justice at all...
I guess that's to be expected with a 22-month old
who moves faster than any shutter speed I know!

LadyBug with her yummy chocolate cake
and the delicious coconut cupcakes from my sweet friend, Kateri.
NO ONE on the planet makes coconut cake
(and cupcakes) like this woman can.

Mei Mei completely agrees.
She sucked the icing off that cupcake
faster than I can even SAY cupcake.
And was so sugared up she practically ran
circles in the kitchen.
If she had a tail, she'd have been chasing it!

LadyBug and her bestie cousin, Alyssa.
They are about a year apart in age.
This is one of the rare sitings of them during our weekend
visit. We always joke that as soon as they get together,
they disappear for the entire visit, whispering and talking together
and catching up on all their girl talk!

Happy Momma with all my gang.
All together. At last.
I just love these kids of mine.

LadyBug has a frame that she likes to keep
filled with a picture of the two of us.
She asked for an updated picture while the camera was clicking.
Now that I see this, I might have to go into the archives
and find one from her chubby little baby days.
This one is giving me a heart attack.

Hope your Mother's Day was beautiful and memorable.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Facing Hard Truth

Today marks three weeks since we returned home from China with Mei Mei.

I still hit a "wall" around 4 or 5 every single day. Rather, it feels like a wall hits me. I've taken to calling it my "Wall of Tired."

I know, it's so original and catchy.

I'm still so tired most days, that I cannot form clear thoughts after 7 p.m. Or before 8 a.m. (with a big ole Tigger mug of java in hand).

For example, yesterday morning, I was chastising Li'l Empress for waiting to act on my words until I asked  four times, while holding up three fingers.

Baby BlueEyes very wisely turned away to do his laughing.

In point of fact, the whole gang has enjoyed quite a bit of amusement at the expense of my unfinished sentences and wrongly used words. Apparently, I'm a riot when I'm tired.

I have learned that I am not eloquent, or patient, when experiencing this level of lingering jet lag.


At some point, I suppose I must face the hard truth that at this stage of our "settling in" to our new normal, this is less likely to be lingering jet lag...

...and much more likely to be a very old momma trying to keep up with a very busy, not-quite-two year old.


Hard truth.


And I'll bet with a title like "Facing Hard Truth" you were expecting something much more eloquent and even maybe a little deep or philosophical.


I'll let you know when the {ahem} lingering jet lag has cleared the fog from my brain.

Maybe I'll be sage and thought-provoking then.

Unless it is, in fact, old age.

Then, we're all screwed.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What's A Girl To Do?

When you have ketchup and boxed mac n' cheese residue in your hair from the previous night's dinner, acting as the world's strongest hair gel....

When your big sister calls home with a clarinet crisis that MUST.BE.SOLVED.NOW! (before the big end of year spring concert)...

When your momma's big plans for a sticking you in a nice long bubble bath with toys fly right out the window with said phone call (so much for letting Momma go brainless for a while AND getting you clean at the same time)...

Well, you sit nice and quiet for 30 seconds
(shocking in and of itself!)
and let Momma put TWO piggies in.
And leave the bath time to Daddy for later in the night.
After all, he is the one that let you experiment
with the textures of ketchup and mac n' cheese
as potential hair products.

Monday, May 6, 2013

One Month In

Wow, it's been quite a whirlwind since my last post. Poor little Mei Mei came down with a tummy virus that saw her sportin' a high fever with vomiting and diarrhea for a little over 24 hours. I was a little freaked out by it, honestly, because she is still so new to us and I don't AT ALL feel as if I have a handle on her "cues" of pain or discomfort. I think we weathered it okay - I just shut down everything else and spent most of Monday and Tuesday and a good part of Wednesday of last week holding her and moving gingerly through the day's routines.

Monday afternoon, LadyBug did homework
while occupying Mei Mei with the iPad so
I could get some laundry run.

Early Tuesday morning, she just could not keep her eyes open.
She slept on Daddy like this for over an hour,
after sleeping all night long. Poor baby!

Wednesday morning, Mei Mei was starting
to feel better. As evidenced by the opinionated
glare over the "new" 'do I did in her hair!

She rebounded nicely by Wednesday afternoon, only to be forced out of bed and out the door early Thursday morning for first meeting with her specialist at CHOP. What a day that was! Right at the start of the whole "adventure", we got re-routed off of the turnpike because of a terrible accident that shut both north and southbound lanes completely. Thankfully, the specialist had an opening later in the morning, so I followed The Boss down to the city on a long, circuitous route that lulled Mei Mei to sleep for the whole two hours we were in the car. Poor baby, she has so much "catching up" to do in the area of sleep and regaining her health - I was glad for the reprieve of the long nap.

The specialist and his nurse practitioner seem like really caring compassionate folks - they offered some great hope for the upcoming repair and maintenance of Mei Mei's medical needs. Of course, they also shared the harder parts of the journey ahead but I was really thankful for the balance of their frankness and candor. The first round of tests was done after lunch in the CHOP cafeteria and future tests were scheduled to get a full and complete picture of all that we will be facing with Mei Mei's health moving forward. We left the house at 8 a.m. on Thursday and didn't return home till 6 p.m. I sure hope that the future tests and consults don't take up the whole day like that too often - it's really hard to keep a little one happy and occupied in waiting room after waiting room - even at a children's hospital!

Friday was another doctor appointment, just an "in and out" to read her TB test results. But man, it felt like another "whole day" venture - she screamed in the car seat the whole way to the pediatrician and the whole way home. My nerves were SHOT by the time I stopped at the school to pick up Li'l Empress. Mei Mei was so happy to see her big sister that crying and shrieking on the way home was forgotten. After a nice long nap for both girls, and a bit of quiet time on the couch for Momma, our social worker came for our first post placement home study visit. I take these visits very seriously, but I could NOT help laughing at some of the things that the CCCW@ wants to know about our first month together. All I could think was that the first half of our first month together was spent "in country" which is such an unrealistic bubble of newness. And the second half was spent jet-lagged, groggy, and just "surviving." Routine? Normalcy? Habits? Heh. Heh. HEH!

I'm so thankful for my bigger kids, as I sit here thinking back on the week we just had. With all the crazy-ness of stinky diapers, smelly puke, weird nap times, dinners on the fly (Oh man, there were a lot of pb&j's and left-overs consumed last week!), and all the in & out we had to do, they just totally rose to the challenge. They helped where they could: they comforted Mei Mei when my hands were full. They got their homework done (mostly without prodding). They chipped in and really did a good job of keeping things running when I couldn't. Having The Boss home every morning these last days has been a huge help, too. I'm not too anxious for him to resume his o'dark thirty workout routines, even though I know they are so good for him. I think he's kinda enjoying being home to see all the kids in the a.m. as well.

I took the weekend of her nap times to run around re-stocking all of our groceries and household supplies. And friends of the family gifted us with a new-to-us changing table that blends into the decor and look of our family room just beautifully. So I also got to re-arrange the family room and do some cleaning and sprucing up that was long overdue. That was fun - despite The Boss's decided dislike for re-arranging furniture. Ever. :)

The family room, before.
Note the cute little helper perched on the hearth!

A close up of the little helpers :)

The family room, after.
Re-arranged. Fresh and clean. Dusted.
Today, I will fill the dresser and organize
her clothes into it. Yay!

It's been a full month now since we met our sweet girl. I doubt that any month of her life, from this point forward, will ever again have quite so much change and stress and turning upside down as this month has held for her. When I sit and think about how MUCH her life has had to change from April 7th to today, I am humbled by how beautifully she has navigated it all. And by the gift that her sweet little impish self is to our home. I was mindful of it all last week.

As hard as the days were for me (and believe me, being puked on three times in less than 12 hours was really hard for this momma), it gave me a whole new kind of compassion for my little one. Such a hard month she's had - good things all to come out of these big changes but so hard getting there, ya know? I'm really  glad that our first month together had more good than hard times, but I am even "gladder" that the hardest parts of the big changes are well under our belt (not totally over with, I know, but getting to the "behind us" stage for sure...).

It's a brand new week - of more true hibernation and laying low than last week could be. I have a couple friends stopping by for brief visits. LadyBug has her end of year band and wind ensemble concert. And nothing else on the calendar. I am sooooo looking forward to it. Lots of snuggling, relaxing, and getting to know my girl better and better. New memories to make together. New levels of trust and confidence to build. It's gonna be a good week!