Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Our representative among the high school graduates

Daniel officially graduated from high school on June 9th with high honors. Anna, John, John and I were able to attend. Since the class was so large and the venue so small each senior only got 4 tickets.

Getting ready

Abbey and Elijah got to play with the Newsomes, since we didn't have a ticket

We met up with him afterward. He lost his tassel on the way to find us, so we dispensed with the cap.
Afterward we picked up the little ones and went out to eat for lunch.

Thing one and thing two

Proud big sister
So proud of Daniel and all his hard work, both in school and in the pool, for the past four years.

Proud mama and daddy!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

5 years since Abbey's Gotcha Day

Five years ago today, God granted me one of my heart's desires. It was in the form of a little girl who captured her Daddy's and my heart.

Our first view of "the babies". We were trying to figure out which one was ours. Wasted effort on our part, as Abbey was asleep on the couch and we couldn't see her.

And then she was in my arms....

I couldn't stop the tears, I'd dreamed of this day for many years  

My precious baby!

Even Daddy was immediately smitten...

She never cried, but was very somber.

And oh, so beautiful!   

 The first night, she went right to sleep and slept all night.

 When she woke up, I peeked over the top of the crib. I'll never forget the startled look on her face, as if she said, "Wow, you're still here??

She had many self-soothing behaviors. She bubbled spit, made a clucking noise in her throat and looked at her hands constantly. She couldn't sit up or hold up her head. It took three days before she smiled at us. I'll never forget the moment I looked down and her eyes had completely disappeared and she was flashing this beautiful smile....

I knew everything was going to be alright!

Five years later, today was a special day for Abbey. She talked a lot about her "Gotcha Day". Last night when we were talking, she asked, "What exactly is my 'Gotcha Day'?" I explained to her and she said, "Oh, so we get to go out to eat?" "No, I explained but we can make a cake or buy a special treat to celebrate." She picked out cupcakes at the grocery store and told several people there that today was her "Gotcha Day"

So tonight we sang, "Happy, Happy Gotcha Day", composed on the spot by Daddy, and enjoyed cupcakes.

Oh what a wonderful day June 25, 2007 was!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Abbey's Gymnastics Recital

Abbey completed her first year of gymnastics this year. The students put on a recital for their parents to see what the students had learned this year. John, Anna, Elijah and I went to see our girl as she participated in the program.

Parading in behind her teacher

So excited to get started

Floor exercise


Her favorite was the beam

Showing off her medal
Congratulatory hug from Dad
Going into the recital, Abbey said she didn't think she wanted to do gymnastics next year. But, once the performing bug bit her, she declared, after the recital, that she did indeed want to continue with gymnastics.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Abbey's Mei Mei Reunion

When we traveled to China to pick up Abbey, it had been 18 months of excruciating waiting. We started the process with the expectation of a wait of 6-9 months, which grew to 10, then 12, then 15, then finally 18 and we were on a plane to China to pick up our baby girl.

During that wait, we longed to be able to commiserate with other parents who were in our shoes. We met Battle and Shannon, but besides them there was no one who knew what a dossier was, a LID, or how it hurt to know you had a child on the other side of the world and your wait to get them kept on getting longer and longer. We were put into a travel group of families who were all getting babies from the same province as we were. By the end of the trip, we had been through some trying as well as blessed times together. God had knit us together.

We've kept in touch with several of these families. We've had a reunion every year since we've been home. We had to miss the one last year because of the weddings. You can look here for the reunion for 2010. You can see how much they've grown.

It was difficult to decide whether to go this year, the hosts live outside of Cincinnati and that's a bit of a haul for us plus our car is getting up there in age and gas prices were out of sight.  When we were trying to decide to go, I asked Abbey if she wanted to go. I prefaced my question with the fact that she would be in the car for 10 hours, the equivalent of basically a whole day. Even faced with riding in the car that long, she still was adamant, "Yes, I want to see my China sisters!"

So we decided we would go. We rented a small car that alleviated the car and gas issues. The kids did great on the ride there. I'm sure the portable DVD player that Nana bought deserves the credit for us making it there and back without ever wanting to hit the imaginary "ejector" button.

Have thumb, blanket and DVD will travel!

We missed the first gathering because we arrived late. We wanted to leave earlier, but as things usually happen, we needed to be two places at the same time.  Daniel's Senior Awards Assembly was that morning. His band played and he was recognized. We couldn't miss that! When we reached Cincinnati, we went straight to the hotel. Abbey went for a quick swim and went to bed excited to finally get to see her "China Sisters"!

The next morning we had our reunion in the hotel lobby. It really makes my heart glad to be with these people. We share a connection with them that endures year long absences. At first the girls were a little standoffish.

Our hosts, Dan and Terrie planned for us to go to the Cincinnati zoo.  The zoo had some neat exhibits.

We got to up close get to see a cheetah run.

Feed a giraffe

Well, one of us got to feed the giraffe....

The other one thought that the giraffe might enjoy a game of "catch your cracker, because I'm not getting my hand close to that big black tongue of yours"

They both were quite adventurous with a boa constrictor.

The weather was atypical for the, hot, hot!

So we all welcomed a dip in the hotel pool after our zoo visit.

The girls all started warming up to each other in the pool. Here is Abbey and Ellie sharing a joke.

We then went out to eat at a local Chinese restaurant. Here are all our blessings, both bio and adopted, on the hotel steps.

They made those shirts the night before we got there. They say "friend" in Chinese.

 Elijah fell head over heels in like with the little sister of one of Abbey's China sisters, Emma.

He made no bones about it!

 He even insisted that he absolutely had to sit beside Emma at dinner!

After dinner, we went back to Dan and Terrie's and enjoyed each other's company. The kids rode bikes and scooters, drew pictures and played together. The adults did the same, minus the riding and drawing.

The train of Maddie, Abbey, Dorina, and Esther

Abbey and Esther shared a love of creating art.

On Sunday morning, some of our group went to church. Elijah had broken out in a mystery rash, which we never had diagnosed, and eventually just went away. But, we figured that they might not let him in the children's class. So, we headed back to NC. It was hard to say goodbye again. Both John and I really enjoy all of these families. There was never a lack of conversation or awkward moment. They are each wonderful, godly folks. That, coupled with our shared love of blessings from China, binds us tightly together.

Abbey with Terrie and her daughter, Jodie

Abbey and Brooke
As we pulled into our home town, Abbey and Elijah got to see their first rainbow, an exciting event for them!

We were tired, but oh so glad that we had chosen to go!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

D-Man's birthday!

We recently celebrated another birthday in the D. house. Daniel is now 18! Oh me, oh my, where has the time gone??? Hard to believe that 18 years ago he made his entrance into this world so fast that his face and head were completely blue. Thus, Beth nicknamed him, "Little Boy Blue". In fact her exact words were, "I think Little Boy Blue is quite cute!". The blue quickly faded and he became this beautiful baby.

Taken the day he was dedicated to the Lord

About 2 yrs old, one of my favorite pictures. He was so stinkin' cute!

After losing his first two teeth.

This boy has always adored sports. Any sport, but especially basketball and football. He had an imaginary friend, Jamison,(ie after Antawn Jamison, a Carolina player). He and Jamison played endless hours together. Basketball and football. He would come in covered in mud and say, "Whew, Mom they're tackling hard out there today!" Our neighbors used to love to watch him play a full football game right by himself.

He's always greatly admired his big brother and wanted to do anything that John did. 

He had to have his little drum set, sitting right beside John's big set.
He followed John into swimming. 

He always said, "One day, I'm gonna swim at The High Point!" That was where the Jr. Olympics for NC was held back in the day. My heart swelled with happiness for him when he actually did get to swim at "The High Point" and not only swam, but took the title of NC State Champion!

Racking up medals from the NC State Games.

What a joy this young man has been to our family. He's a wonderful big brother and all his older siblings think he's pretty special also.

We are so incredibly proud of you Daniel-boy! We love you to the moon and back and thank God for the gift of our "Little Boy Blue" (even though he isn't so little anymore, or blue, for that matter!)

Happy Birthday Daniel!