Monday, December 30, 2013

I Am Second

Came across this website the other day.  Click on "Films" to see all the list of people who have a testimony to share.  Perhaps what they have to share may speak to your heart and give you a renewed understanding of work of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I am enjoying this special day with my dear family!  Hope you are making memories with your loved ones too!

Picture taken at a friend's house last week. Gotta love Nate's expression. Disclaimer: dog is not ours. : )

Sunday, December 15, 2013

It's a GIRL!!

I was surprised, but should not have been.  After I gave birth to Nate and while we were early in the process of adopting, God spoke to my heart that I would have one more child by birth and it would be a girl.  Yes, He was that specific. : )  Well, at our age and with Jim and I being sure we were done, I wondered if I heard Him right.  Then in early September (1 1/2 years later), I received the wonderful news that I was expecting.  When it came time for the ultrasound, I wavered.  I thought that it must be a boy.  I doubted.  But God kept his word (as always).  He is faithful and good and right.  After I found out that our new baby is a girl, I repented for my lack of faith, and then as a good friend said, I rejoiced that He increased my faith through this experience!

The older girls are thrilled!  This was their reaction when they found out that they are having a sister.

I am so happy for Isabel too.  She LOVES babies and I am so happy that she will have a baby sister to play with and care for.  She will be a great big sister!

We are blessed!!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Where Are You From?

I want to instill in my daughter a love of her birth country.  I want her to understand early on that she is from China; a country with a beautiful heritage.  So, we are starting simple.

Where are you from?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cardiology Appt - Good News!

Isabel had her cardiology follow-up yesterday.  Just as background, her medical paperwork from China mentioned nothing of a heart condition, just her missing radius bones.  The only reason we found out about her VSD was a routine cardiology screening prior to her centralization surgery for her bilateral radial club hands in April of this year.

We were surprised to find out that she had a VSD and another issue with her heart.  The VSD is rather minor and both heart issues do not seem to be affecting her activity or general health.  Since this was the first time that her heart condition had been identified, it was a baseline for future screenings.  Today, we saw her cardiologist to see exactly what is going on with the VSD... is it getting bigger, smaller, staying the same size??  Well, the hole was the same size, but as the doctor pointed out, she is bigger.  Therefore, relative to her heart now, the hole is smaller.  Praise God!!

She was a bit nervous waiting for the EKG and ultrasound tests, but did great.  A lollipop always helps. ;-)

Rejoicing over this good news today!

Tomorrow I have an ultrasound to check on baby's progress.  I am 18 weeks today, so hoping to also find out if it's a boy or girl!  Can't wait!!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Chopstick War

I found this video on my phone that I took in Guangzhou.  Isabel had been with us only a week and thoroughly enjoying the love and attention from her parents and siblings... especially playing chopstick war with her eldest brother! Makes me smile every time I watch it!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nate the Comedian

Nate just started this pretend sneezing lately.  Makes me laugh every time!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Change of Plans

What a week!  I took Isabel to her pre-op appointment at Children's Hospital on Tuesday.  Not an easy trip for us.  While there, admitting said they may need her to see the cardiologist again with an updated letter.  Izzy has a very minor heart issue.  It's so minor that no doctor knew about it until we had to take her to a cardiologist before her last surgery and he did an ultrasound of her heart.  The tests he did prior to the ultrasound didn't show any problems either.  Anyway, I had taken her to the cardiologist prior to her last surgery in April.  He cleared her for surgery and said he would just like a follow up in 6 months.  That would have been September/October. That's when we were dealing with my pregnancy nausea and exhaustion, illness after illness with our kids, Jim going to Africa and breaking his arm and Izzy's rod poking out of her elbow!!  Yeah, a no-biggie, follow-up appt with the cardiologist just wasn't happening! The hospital never told me that they needed her to see the cardiologist again. Grrrr!

Well, I made a stink and the hospital said they would accept an updated letter from the cardiologist without her seeing him first and the cardiologist was ok with that too.  However, her surgery was supposed to take place on Thursday and we settled on the letter Wednesday morning.  Cutting it close, but thought it would work.  By 2pm on Wednesday, the hospital still didn't have the letter.  The hospital wanted the letter written and formatted a certain way.  The cardiologist tried 3 times.  Not acceptable.  I left messages for one person at the hospital, spoke with another person and waited, but they were leaving at 4pm. Grrr, again! During the wait, Jim shared with me (again) that he felt there was a greater purpose in this delay.  He tried to tell me before but I was just so set on the surgery happening on Thursday.  We had arranged friends and a babysitter to help watch the kids and I was just mentally prepared for it. 

However, after Jim and spoke, I relinquished.  If for some strange reason her heart had gotten worse and we didn't take her to the cardiologist first to find that out, we would have felt awful.  It could have had terrible results for Isabel.  So, I called the hospital back to reschedule her surgery and called the cardiologist to make an appt.  She'll see the cardiologist in December and have her surgery in February.  That was the soonest I could get a surgery date.

I would have liked to have had this last surgery behind her, but I guess delaying is best for the family too.  Jim is still in terrible pain from his broken arm and can't do much.  Isabel would have come out of surgery with double casts from fingertips to armpits for 4 - 6 weeks.  We have the typical busy schedule in December with the holidays.  And on Friday, she came down with a terrible cold that must have been brewing.

So, this sweet girl didn't have the hard week we were prepared for. : )

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

One Year Ago

November 19 and 20 are now very special dates in our family.  November 19 is when I first got to hold my girl!  There are no words to express that feeling.  For me it was like holding my newborn baby after months of dreaming and loving him/her.

She was rightfully scared and unsure, but she adjusted so amazingly well.  She honestly never looked back.

First night with us!
The next day, the adoption was finalized and she was officially ours!

This is the first picture I saw of Isabel back in May 2012.  I dreamt about that picture. 

I fell in love with the picture and then fell in love with the girl!

We all love you Isabel!  You add so much to our family.  I've never been the same since I held you in my arms!!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Christmas Pajamas

I bought Christmas pajamas for the youngest 5 children and tried to get a quick picture of them with my phone.  Easier said then done...

Not quite


Definitely not!

I think it's best to leave the uncooperative 2-year-old out of the photo!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Where Have I Been?

Well, mostly tending to sick kiddos.  Since early September, we have had a string of illnesses from croup and strep throat to stomach flu (twice) and the good ol' regular flu.  It's been a hard season for this family that never gets sick.  It was directly linked to the little boys starting preschool.  Nate got the worst of it, though.  He would go for one week (only twice/wk), get sick, be out for a week, get better and go to school for a week, get sick and the cycle would start over.  He also started crying when I would pull into the parking lot.  After a few weeks, Jim and I realized that this was not working out for our family and Nate was definitely not enjoying it.  We only sent him because he seemed ready and has no problem being left at the nursery at church and with a babysitter.  However, he was definitely not ready for preschool.

Dan, on the other hand, LOVES it.  He goes 3 times per week now and would got 5 days if I let him.
First Day of School for Nate (happier days!)
Then, my dear husband went to Sierra Leone for 9 days with our friend and pediatrician, Dr.  Kevin White through the medical missions organization he started.  After a few days, I received a phone call and it was him!  I was so surprised, but not as surprised as when I found out he broke his arm!  He fell into a concrete culvert in the pitch dark in front of his hotel and broke the bone right below the ball and socket.  No slings at the Sierra Leone hospital, so one of the Canadian doctors had this scarf he bought in Afghanistan years back and loaned it to my husband to use as a sling. Thank God that he was with a team of excellent doctors from the US, Canada and Albania.  His roommate was an ER doctor. They took very good care of him while he was there, but I was sure happy to have him home.  There is nothing that can be done for the break except keep it immobilized in a sling (a proper one) for a few weeks.  He's still in a lot of pain, but managing.  I'm so proud of him!

Working the medical clinic in Sierra Leone.
Let's see, what else...

The girls and I were able to go to The Huntington Library and Gardens for a free day last month.  I used to go frequently as a young girl with my Great Aunt Sunny.  It was a sweet time to take my girls and share it with them.  It has changed a lot, though.  They have built and are building so many new exhibits.  We couldn't see it all!

At the Japanese Garden.

The new Chinese Garden.  Still under construction.

Visited some of my favorite paintings.
We decided to homeschool Will again.  He started at a wonderful private, Christian school shortly after we brought Isabel home last December.  Will is a very good student who works best in a structured, quiet environment.  Well, that was just not our home a year ago (and really isn't now, but it's better).  Since this school goes through 8th grade, we really thought we'd keep him there until then, but the Lord really impressed upon our hearts that he should be back home with the rest of the children.  So as of last Monday, he is my student again!  He's happy about it and I enjoy having all my dear ones together again.  He's got a pretty rigorous schedule, but I know he's up for the challenge and thrives better that way.

Just after Jim came back from Africa, we jumped into Halloween.  Pumpkin patch, carving and decorating pumpkins, choosing costumes and CANDY.  This was Isabel's first Halloween.  She picked it up quickly, just like as all little kids do.  Halloween is definitely my least favorite holiday, but I put a smile on my face for the kids.  Trying to get a picture of all the kids in their costume was comical.  Nate just wouldn't cooperate.  This is my favorite picture!

This just sums it up!
Sweet girls!

The morning of Halloween, Isabel had to have a minor procedure on her left arm.  The rod in her left arm started shifting and ended up poking out of her elbow and bleeding.  It was out far enough that the doctor couldn't just pull it out in the office, so she had to go to our local surgery center so she could be under general anesthesia.  The doctor made a small incision and pulled out the rod.  It only took 15 minutes and after about an hour of crying and general unhappiness, she was back to her happy, sweet self.

Waiting for surgery.
Finally, I went through a pretty hard season of change going on in my life earlier this year.  Personal changes; changes that a woman in her 40's start to notice about herself... physically and emotionally.  I thought I was too young, but I also couldn't ignore the night sweats, irritability, weight gain, lack of energy and other symptoms I was feeling.  Realizing that my body was changing and I possibly could no longer have any children was very hard on me.  I love all my children so much, no matter how they come to our family.  However, there was a deep sorrow for me to know that my time to carry a child and bring life to this world was ending.  So, we left it in God's hand.  Month after month... nothing.  By  the end of summer, I figured that it really was final.  Then, early September I received a glorious surprise!  A true gift!  I am now 14 weeks pregnant and feeling so much better.  In the midst of all the sickness in our home in September and October, I also was extremely ill with nausea and exhaustion.

Our newest little treasure!
So, here we are having passed through some trying times ready for the holidays.  We do have Isabel's second major surgery next week, but that's for another post.  I'm just enjoying this calm before the next storm. : )

I hope to blog again soon.  I do miss it!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A New Month

Wow!  Here it is September 1st!  I can't believe it!  August was a whirlwind.  I can only remember what happened by looking at the pictures on my phone!  : )

So, here's the recap...
Went to the nearby water park a couple times.

It's not really that cold!
Isabel entertained us with her fork trick while at The Cheesec*ke Factory.  We had a follow up appt at Children's Hospital in LA for Isabel.  While we were down there, we had to go to The Americ*n Girl Doll Store and The Cheesec*ke Factory, of course!

Went to our county fair.
Looks like fun, girls!

He had a fit when the ride was over!

So I bribed him with popcorn and cotton candy!

I went on this virtual ride too.  Made me queasy!  
Enjoyed lots and lots of popsicles in the back yard.
The fact that she can hold a heavy popsicle like that in her hand is a huge development!

Dan's first day of preschool.  He attends our local preschool 3 mornings a week and LOVES it!

And our latest development is that we are bringing our sweet horse back from my mom's house.  Actually my mom and sister are bringing her after church today.  Since having Dan 4 years ago, we realized that we just couldn't make it over to the ranch often enough to see her and take care of her properly.  So, she's been lovingly taken care of at my mom's.  She's 2 hours away so we haven't been able to see Sunny very often.  My children are HORSE CRAZY, especially the girls.  Now that life has settled down a bit and the children are older, we knew that they could help and would love the opportunity.  So, below is a picture of the first "horse club" meeting.  Will is leading, of course!!

So excited!!
Well, I guess I'd say the other big news is that my husband has decided to go to Africa on a medical missions trip with our pediatrician next month.  Our doctor started a medical missions organization a few years ago and leads trips twice a year.  Jim was planning on going in the spring, but it was too close to Isabel's first surgery.  It is actually working out much better financially for him to go on this trip.  Love when God works out the details.  It's ALWAYS so much better then we planned! : )  So proud of my husband to taking on this challenge.  Can't wait to hear how God reveals Himself on this journey!

September brings the start of our local homeschool co-op school year.  We started school last month at home, but the co-op classes don't start until the 13th.  The girls are looking forward to the fun and interesting classes and making new friends.  I found myself as the preschool coordinator, so I've been a bit busy lately planning and organizing!  

I look forward to anticipation what this fall brings.  My favorite time of year!  Special birthdays, anniversary, holidays, the chill in the air (well, whatever we can get in S. California!).

In the midst of it all, our family strives to stay in God's will for our lives, to go where He leads, to serve where and how He asks and to love big in this world... for this world truly needs more demonstrations of God's great love!!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Horse Camp

Last week the girls had the opportunity to attend horse camp by my mom's house... in the desert.  There were a few 110 degree days, but they had the best time despite the heat. She sent me some pictures of their time at the camp.  They came home tired on Saturday, but so filled to the brim with happiness.  There's something about girls and horses!!