Friday, December 26, 2014

A Frozen Merry Christmas

This was Madeline's 3rd Christmas with us, she is now 3 1/2 years old & is in Love with anything from "Frozen". So for our Christmas Card this year we decided to dress in hints of blues. Photo was taken by Madi's Godfather Ryan on a white background, then daddy designed the "Frozen" themed graphics. Madi was overjoyed with "Elsa's" castle in the far back. When she first saw the card she said to us "wow, it's beautiful! May I put it in my room?" I had made her dress a few months ago to wear to a friend's wedding, and since we didn't have any clear photos of her in it, we thought it would be perfect for our card.

A brief update on our daughter: Madeline continues to thrive at home. She's talking a lot more, and has a sweet, funny personality. She loves puzzles, legos, paint, and play dress up. She's been a busy little girl too. She attends a preschool-like parent & tot class for two hours every Friday, participates in our Parish's children's ministry where she dances Folklorico and participates on occasion in the children's choir. She completed her first year of Ballet/Tap dance class at Valverde School of Performing Arts, and in her 3rd month of beginning Piano also at Valverde School of Performing Arts. She was invited to perform in two live shows, the summer program being the largest, which showcased at the Lewis Family Playhouse, where she was part of the opener/closer in addition to her ballet recital. We couldn't be more proud of our daughter, and we love how much joy & laughter she has brought to our family. We are lucky to be able to work from home as well, so that we can be with her daily and enjoy her blossom. 

I will try to update more often, as I realize this blog still gets visitors who have followed Madi's story. 

Merry Christmas to all, and may 2015 bring you much happiness and joy!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Remembering Gotcha Day....1 year later.

This photo was taken by the orphanage director's wife just minutes before we were handed our daughter
at the Galactic Peace Hotel in Nanchang, China. 
Exactly one year ago today, we met our daughter in China for the very first time. It was Sunday, November 25, 2012. We were told by our local guide Mary, that our daughter would be arriving at 4 pm that afternoon with the orphanage director and possibly her nanny. We were told that it was about a 6-7 hour drive from her orphanage in Ningdu County to our hotel in Nanchang. We were staying at the Galactic Peace, a beautiful 5 star hotel located in an incredibly busy intersection, where hundreds of cars, scooters, busses, and trucks seemed to navigate the streets in what seemed like orchestrated chaos. Looking back, I can't believe we had decided to venture out on our own around 1 pm that afternoon. Our local guide Mary had already taken us to the grocery market the day before so we figured we would be able to walk the 6 blocks or so on our own to pick up a few things before meeting our daughter. But as we walked these crazy busy chaotic streets, it started to drizzle on us, and I suddenly started to panic a little. We were only a few hours away from meeting our daughter, & the idea of getting drenched in the rain or somehow getting lost in the crowded streets or getting hit by a bus or even a scooter freaked me out a little. We both only had 1 semester of Chinese in our vocabulary, hardly enough to feel confident wandering the streets alone. Nanchang was not a city where you would easily find any people that spoke any English ( like in other cities in China ). Even our hotel staff was very limited. And so halfway to the market, we turned ourselves around and headed back to our hotel. Around 2:30 or so, we decided to grab a bite to eat in our hotel dining room. There we met up with Andrea and her mom who were also going to be getting their little girl. We all ordered hamburgers and fries, a familiar taste from home. It was nice catching up with Andrea, a woman I had met through our FaceBook adoption support group. She had also been waiting over 6 years to be matched up, and she was traveling with her mom Joyce, a very sweet and excited grandma to be. As we savored our last bites and shared our excitement of meeting our girls in a matter of hours, "daddy to be" got up to take a peak through the glass window to check out the activity of the entrance to the hotel. I will never forget how we all quickly jumped out of our seats as he screamed "I think I see Madi downstairs!" She was wearing a yellow snowsuit which appeared to be over a few other layers of clothes & was holding the orphanage director's hand. Although she seemed a lot smaller in person than she appeared in the photos we had seen of her, we were certain it was her, with her cute little chubby cheeks. We quickly grabbed our video camera & started filming and then continued to the elevator to rush upstairs to our room. We had already been told that as soon as the babies would arrive, we would be getting a call in our room to let us know when they were heading up....or that was the initial plan. But as we waited anxiously in our rooms, and we no longer could contain ourselves, we received our call from our guide Mary and she asked us if we were ready for them to come up or if we wanted to come downstairs to meet her in the lobby. Without hesitation we both decided to just rush downstairs as we didn't think we could stand the anticipation. As soon as our elevators to the lobby downstairs opened, we were quickly greeted by our guide Mary, and then appears.... the most sweetest little girl with the chubby cheeks, dressed in bundles of clothes under a bright yellow soft snowsuit. She had a little scab on her nose and appeared to be quite frightened. Without any sort of gentle introduction, the orphanage director took her little hand and led her over to us and abruptly said "mama" "baba" "mama" baba". She cried and cried as her new daddy scooped her up into his arms and gently whispered into her ears that everything would be ok. But she continued to cry a deep sorrowful cry. We had just learned minutes after we received our daughter, that she had been living with a foster mother, her husband, and older married son, and not at the orphanage as we had initially been told.  The cries were perhaps for her foster family & the only life she knew. But for as much as we felt her immense fear and confusion, we knew in our hearts that she would one day grow to love us as her forever parents. 

A year later, today, Madeline is a confident, trusting, loving two and a half year old. 
We are looking forward to a very special Thanksgiving Day this week, as we have so much to be thankful for. After dinner with close family, we are planning to watch our video footage of our Gotcha Day for the very first time, as well as our photos from our two week stay in China to relieve this miraculous event. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Fabulous Two's!

The last time I posted to this blog our Madeline had just turned 2 years old! 

And since I never got around to posting any pics from her Bday party at the Chino Youth Museum, here are a few 
( although it is now 6 months later ). 

Madeline continues to blossom! She is always learning new things, and continues to bring us so much joy! I'm hoping to update this blog a bit more since it's really the only way I have been documenting her life, and time seems to be flying by so fast. But I will try to do it in segments, like documenting our first summer together, her educational development, life with extended family & friends, and Halloween ( which was so much fun for her ). 

Happy Birthday =  Happy Family!

Garden Theme 

Kids sang Happy Birthday in English, Spanish, and Chinese

Grandparents, Sister & hubby, & a long time family friend. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The First Time We Ever Saw Your Face....

Exactly 1 year ago today, we received our long, long, awaited call! 
But even though we had waited almost 6 years for this call, we were still caught off guard, scared, excited, and relieved. 
At the time, China had only been referring just a few Log In Dates at a time, so given its pattern, we were not expecting our referral call until June. 

Needless to say, when we did receive our call, first thing on a Monday morning, we were overwhelmed with emotion.
And then a few minutes later, we received these 3 precious little photos via email, and our hearts instantly knew that this was our Daughter, the one we had hoped for, prayed for, and loved in our hearts, long before she was even born.

Ning Xing Yao was her given name, and we were told she was residing at an orphanage in Ningdu County, Jiangxi, China, and had just turned 1 year old at the time. Little did we know at the time that it would be yet another 6 more months before we could meet her in person & kiss her sweet face, but for the time being, we held on to these little photos very tightly & counted the days until we could finally be together as a family.

Adoption is a beautiful thing! Not only do we get to enjoy the gift of becoming a family, but we also get to adopt many new beautiful traditions, anniversaries, and celebrations, like today -

May 21
Happy Referral Anniversary to us!
( and to all those families throughout the world with babies from China 
who also received their referral on this date )

Saturday, May 4, 2013

You are now officially 2 years old, my sweet Madeline!

Dear Madeline,

You turned 2 years old on May 1, 2013 my sweet girl, and your daddy & I were so happy you were finally with us to celebrate this wonderful milestone. Here are a few things we'd like for  you to know about your little self after only being with us for 6 months.

At 2 years old you have continued to blossom in more beautiful ways that we can count. You have attached very strongly to mama & daddy and have even started to cry out for "daddy" whenever we have to run errands without him.

You also adore your Pake & Beppa, and get so excited every time they come to visit you or when we take you over to visit them. You also love your abuelita and abuelito but for some reason, you tend to be a little more naughty with your abuelita.....maybe because it's hard for her to tell you "no".

Speaking of "no"'s your favorite little word lately, as you have discovered just how powerful that little word can be. But you are still a sweet little girl who is quickly learning to save that little word for when it's really needed. You do not like to disappoint, and have started to show giddiness or even embarrassment when you either hear nice compliments about you, or we ask you to sing a song.

You love to hold hands, with us, your grandparents, and sometimes your favorite little playmates.

You have a strong willed personality, confident in what you want, and very wise for your very young age. You are starting to put two words and sometimes 3 words together to communicate with us. Just the other day you tapped me on my lap and said "mama, Lila bone", to tell me you wanted to give our dog Dalila a doggie bone to much on.

You continue to show great appreciation for music and dance, as you love holding a fake microphone to your mouth to sing, or dance away when you see dancing on t.v.

You always show a great desire to learn new things everyday. Your latest thing is asking for a pencil and saying "Mamalin" indicating you want to write your name Madeline on a piece of paper. You are the cutest when you start to sound out all the letters as mama holds your pencil to the paper. And if others are around, you are not shy to point at them and ask to write down their names on the paper too and then you will start to point at the names and then at the people to indicate their match.

You recently had your ears pierced ( per your request, as you would say "mama" and then point to my earings and then to your earlobes. You did the same when you wanted your toe nails painted. You love showing off your little painted toes.

You also seem to love fashion at your little age, always wanting to carry a purse, change your shoes, go through your little rack in your closet, and love putting on your plastic jewelry and sunglasses.

You are still being pretty good about going potty in the toilet and not in your pull up ( although sometimes you get a little distracted when there are visitors and you forget to tell me. But it has been months since I've even changed poopie diaper, so for that, Mama is very happy!

Although you seem to get along quite well with kids who are over 4 years old, for some reason, I still have to watch you very closely if you are ever around little ones. Whenever there is a baby or a 1 or 2 year old, you tend to get a little aggressive and charge towards them to try to pinch them, smack them, or pull on their clothes. Of course, I will always try to get to you before you get to them, but sometimes you are much quicker and have made a few little ones cry. Then mama will usually have to apologize to other mommies and then try to tell you not to hit your little friends. I'm not sure about how you spent your first 18 months of life, but I am assuming you may have had to fend for yourself many times and had to learn a few little survival skills on your own, weather it was snatching the few little toys available, or perhaps even food.

Although we celebrated a little bit with you on your Birthday a few days ago, we are looking forward to your birthday party set for this Sunday. We can't wait to see your little face as you enjoy all the fun at the museum with your little friends, and watch your face light up when we all sing "Hap Bee Bee Day" as you like saying.

Happy 2nd Birthday, my sweet little doll! You are a blessing in our lives.

Mama & Daddy

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Approaching 2.....

Our little girl is now 23 months old......and in just a few more weeks she will be turning 2! 
The good 'ol "terrible twos" as many of our friends have warned us! 
Oh, but if they are referring to the stage where toddlers will suddenly start to become more explorative, more independent, develop a pickiness for food, decide that their favorite word is "no", and try to prove that they can do it all by themselves.....I think our little sassy gal is already there!
 March was clearly a month in which our little Madeline suddenly decided she felt loved and secure enough in our home to begin to express more of her independence. 

But for Goodness Sake.....she is just so cute as a bug! 

It all started in early March when we decided to move her crib closer to my side of the bed to somehow make it more appealing for her to want to sleep in it. Ever since we returned home from China in December, she had not wanted to sleep in there, screaming every time we tried to lay her in it. And so we had decided not to push her, and had let her sleep with us in our Cal King bed. And although we loved having her get cozy cozy with us, her cute little kicking feet were becoming not so cute anymore. And then one day as I was rocking her in my arms she suddenly pointed her toe toward the crib and then I laid her in it and off to sleep she went. But although she now takes all her naps in there & sleeps in there during the night, there are times when she starts to whine or even cry ( from nightmares possibly ) and we'll still let her come with us to sleep. And then a few hours later, she'll wake up again a bit fussy and point to her crib with her hand and I'll lay her back in there until she wakes up again around 8:30-9am.
She is so bossy, funny girl!

Also in March, she started a "Learn with Play" class for 1.5 to 3 year olds and their parents. Madeline loves going to this 2 hour, Friday class where she's learning to play and share with other children ( or defend herself when she gets shoved or stepped on ), and she has also been learning some fun songs, numbers, shapes, colors, and we both make a weekly craft together ( or sometimes daddy attends too ). She's got an awesome teacher, with amazing patience! We have her signed up until May and then we're considering swimming classes for the summer, since she loves splashing around in the tub pretending she is swimming!

Madi has also been understanding a ton of language ( both in English & Spanish ), although she isn't speaking much other than two syllable words, sometimes three. And she will get frustrated sometimes when she can't communicate to us what she needs, its almost like the words are in there somewhere but when we don't understand her she'll just start to whine and gets very frustrated and does this cute little waiving of the hands. And every now and then she's even tried to smack our hands ( more so with me ), but I've been very diligent about holding her hands when she does this and remind her not to hit mama or hit other kids etc. "only hug and kisses please". And lately whenever I have to say this to her, she'll have that frustrated pouty lip look for a while until she finally puckers up to give me a kiss, it's so funny!

But overall, this stage ( although challenging at times ) is still a fun stage & very enjoyable to be able to watch her learn. We are looking forward to celebrating her 2nd birthday next month! She loves singing the "appy biday" song, so we can't wait to watch her as her little friends sing it to her! We will be having it at a nearby children's museum where there are miniature buildings for kids and a pretend stage etc. We took Madi there once & she just absolutely loved it ( I loved it too & wouldn't mind celebrating my own birthday there ).

Until next are a few pics of our little sassy gal.

Ringing their bells in class to help them learn when to make noise & when to be quiet, "shhhhhhh"!

She is loving her Daddy more and more each day! 
Have I mentioned she loves bugs?

At Pake & Beppa's house on Easter, helping to water the garden. 

Shedding some cute little tears of frustration.........

Is she sassy or what? She loves wearing her glasses & colorful jewelry & holding purses & changing her shoes throughout the day!
 ( She also recently got her ears pierced, oh my! )

She got her first tricycle in March. Can't quite peddle it yet, but still enjoys it very much.

She loved her first visit to the beach while her twin cousins were visiting from up North!
 It was still a bit cold, but she still enjoyed playing in the sand.

Sporting the new messenger bag I made for her. 

                                                  We think she's got the best smile!

Monday, February 25, 2013

3 Months since Gotcha!

Madeline has continued to thrive with us! 

In addition to bringing us our daily joy & laughter, her understanding of both English & Spanish have been outstanding! Abuelita Cari speaks to her mostly in Spanish ( as do I on occasion ) and she has really been responding well to certain requests. She's a very smart little girl who currently prefers books over toys. She also has been mimicking what she sees in photos or on television when it's on, although she's not all that interested in cartoons, she really does prefer for one of us to read her a book or enjoys playing with her little kitchen. This past week she also had a few playdates with her little friends, and she really enjoys that playtime. We will soon be attending a "parent & me class" on Fridays where she will enjoy music, books, and interaction with other children, so I am looking forward to that. 

Speaking of here to see her do her version of sit ups after seeing mama do it. 

On the not so rosy side of things.......Madi was sick with the flu a few weeks ago & it was miserable for her & for all of us. It was not easy watching her suffer with a runny nose, fever, cough, no appetite, and super sensitive especially during the night. She would wake up on occasion just terrified, and crying, wanting only to be held by mama. It was very hard for daddy to try to sooth her, but after a few days of this, she was slowly getting back to her old self and was less clingy, poor little gal. What helped was also giving her a little panda to hold on tight as she would wake up crying, we would tell her, "hold your baby panda and tell him don't cry panda, mama is right here". She really took up on this & it seemed to really calm her a lot quicker. Madi herself is a good little care taker. 

But after about a week and a half of this misery, Madi was soon up and running again, and we are so happy about it! She did end up giving us her sickness ( although not the flu part, just a yucky cold ), but it was all good...better us than her. 

Here's a few more pics of our little sunshine. 

Here she is helping to wash some dishes again ( she loves to help )! & since she was so sick during all the Chinese New Year's festivities, we still decorated around the house for her.