Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Sight for Sunday...

Absolutely hand-picked by God to be sisters and best friends. How I love them. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thankful for HOPE!!!

This Thanksgiving...we are so very, very thankful for our precious Cai Wei and the MIRACLE of her life. We are thankful for her life-saving open heart surgery she had in July, and for how well she has recovered. We can't imagine life without her, and are thankful every single day that we took the leap of faith just a little over a year ago to bring home a sweet little heart baby called Cai Wei. She has changed  our lives, and blessed us immensely.

Happy Thanksgiving, baby girl. We are so glad to be spending it with YOU...home forever and so loved by your forever family!!! 

Love, Shyla for all!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

GREAT Joy- 6 Months with Brooke Cai Wei

6 months ago today, Cai Wei met her forever family for the very first time.

 It's a day that is forever etched into my memory. 

 I walked into the playroom, and told my soon-to-be littlest sister that her mama and baba were here! They had come to meet her! She understood exactly what I was saying, and grabbed my hand and ran to the big window that looked out of the playroom. I lifted her up, and I'll never forget the way she pressed her nose and hands against the glass of that window...straining to catch her first glimpse of her Mama. 

I'll admit, I was a little worried with how Brooke would respond to meeting my her family  as she is very wary around strangers and was very attached to her nanny. I shouldn't have worried. Those first moments together, introducing Brooke to her forever mama and baba and her new sisters, could not have been more perfect or more special. 

I'll never forget the look of joy and the happy tears on my mom's face as she saw Brooke for the first time through the window of the playroom. I'll never forget the way that Erica literally could not get into the room fast enough to touch her little sister's foot and hand, and just repeat to herself over and over "I can't believe she is really here! I'm a big sister now! I'm your big sister, Cai Wei! I love you so much!" 

The beauty of that moment was so I introduced Brooke to her mama and sisters, telling them we all loved her so very much, my voice caught as I realized that this was real. Brooke was coming home and would be a part of our family, my little sister, forever. My mom held out her arms to Cai Wei, to hold her baby girl for the first time, and I held my breath...waiting to see how Brooke would respond. To both of our utter delights, Brooke leaned out of my arms and went to my mom, saying "Mama", and let my mom snuggle and kiss her to her heart's content. It was in that moment that everything shifted, and Cai Wei was no longer just "my" baby that I had fallen in love with the previous summer. She was now a daughter and a sister, held by tightly by her mama, a treasured member of a family forever

Baba then got a chance to hold his precious girl, and fell in love immediately as he heard her first giggles. She already had him wrapped around her little finger before he even met her, and seeing her there for the first time just confirmed it. She was a Daddy's girl, through and through. Erica and Allison were both so excited to be meeting Brooke in real life. It's amazing how you can fall so in love with a child through pictures and stories, and then meeting them in real life almost seems surreal. Erica was so gentle, so sweet. She reveled in every moment of her new-found "big sisterhood", holding Brooke's hand, feeding her snacks, etc. 

It was a moment of joy, one that I will always look back on in complete amazement. It was truly a "Meet-ya Day" experience like none other. We can't believe it's been 6 months...Brooke has come so far and is truly a hoot in every sense of the word. 

Some Brooke-isms: 

  • She STILL has her Baba (Daddy) completely wrapped around her finger. Completely. 
  • She loves visiting "Ca-yege" (college) to see Allison and I...she gets more attention than I think is possible. 
  • Brooke turned THREE! There's a post with pictures coming...but she was so excited to finally be three that she sang "Happy Birthday" to herself All day. She also called the day "My day...Cai Wei's Happy Birthday day". 
  • She is little miss bossy...making sure everyone stays in line and knows exactly what they are supposed to be doing. She will bust out in a 5 minute long monologue, of which we understand NOTHING...except the "Okay???" at the end. 
  • Her English is incredible. She is putting together full sentences and understands every single thing you say. My favorite is when she says "What is dat?" over and over again. 
  • She started gymnastics! She LOVES "nastics-days!" and is always very excited about the "bouncy-bounce" (trampoline)
  • She is obsessed with Panda Express, and if she sees the restaurant, she will yell PANDA...NOODLES at the top of her lungs. You can take the girl out of China, but you can't take the China out of the girl. 
  • She and Erica have truly become best friends. It is precious to see the two of them together, running around having the time of their lives. 
More updates and pictures coming...we have been terrible about keeping this updated. Thank you for your continued prayers for her heart and her overall adjustment to our family. She is doing incredibly God be the glory! 

Hugs from all the Toerings- Meredith

Picnics are the best :)

She LOVES the fish at Walmart!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sunday Snapshot:: Seven.


Seven whole years old. 

I so clearly remember meeting you in that little, tiny hotel conference room in Nanchang, Jiangxi province, China. You were such a teeny tiny peanut and absolutely precious. You were everything we had been hoping, dreaming, and praying for throughout the 2 years we waited to bring you home, and so much more. You have been a spunky, sweet, hysterical blessing in our lives over the past 6 years. I can't believe you are seven has been incredible to watch you grow into the beautiful girl you are today. I'm so very proud of you. We love you so much, Erica Xin Leigh!! 

Love you to the moon and a dance around the stars, 
Your jie jie, Mei. 

Erica Xin Leigh...8 months old. 
Erica Xin Leigh...7 years old!!!

Head over to Stefanie's blog to check out other Sunday Snapshots today...
Ni Hao Yall

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Just One Year.

 Has it really been a year? 

It doesn't seem possible. 

It doesn't seem possible that it's already been a year since our life as we knew it was completely turned upside down. 

It can't be possible how, only one year ago, this little picture, stumbled across so miraculously through a RainbowKids email, would change our lives forever. 

But it has been. A full year since we saw your face on that adoption file, little Cai Wei, and knew we were going to bring you home. 

An entire year since the day I called your mama and baba...OUR mama and baba, sobbing in the middle of the Samford food court, telling them that somehow YOU, my precious China baby that we had all fallen head over heels in love with...through my pictures, videos, and stories of the days and months we spent together in were paper-ready and waiting for a family. 

And you were ours. Forever. You had to be. 

The original pictures in your adoption file from China!

An entire year from the day your baba answered that phone call...and responded immediately with "What do we need to do to lock that file?"

Looking back a year ago,  I never could have imagined you would be home with your forever family. God works in wonderful, incredible ways...and the way He brought you to our family was nothing short of miraculous. 

In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would have the chance to introduce you to your forever mama and baba...your forever family... just 7 months to the day we were accepted at our adoption agency and were able to begin the paperwork process to bring you home. A mere 7 months. Miraculous. 

"Cai Wei, meet your mama" 

And best of all? A year ago, I never could have guessed that you would be running around with your beautiful new "brave scar" and your beautiful newly-repaired heart beating strong in your chest.

A year ago, when we thought about the year to come, bringing home a precious little girl from China was nowhere on the horizon...until God placed you directly in our laps. I'm so glad His plans are so much sweeter than we could ever dream. 

Thank you, sweet Cai Wei, for turning the Toering household completely upside-down. You have been home with us for 4 months now, and you have brought sparkle and joy into our hearts and we will never, ever be the same. You are so very loved. 

(The full story behind how we miraculously found Brooke's file is here...God is so good.) 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Dad's Day Out...

So sorry on a break from blog updates! I (dad) am always sensitive to writing about my family and the presumptuous thought of people actually taking the time to read. However, God has created such a great story in every family that perhaps we should all share those moments more frequently with one another. After much prodding from my friend, Scott, and many others, we have allowed too much time to pass as many of you desire to read about the great progress in Brooke’s life. Keep in mind, that while Scott’s stress-test in life is shopping for what type of pancakes to make for their dogs (yes…feed them as well with a plate and fork) my stress-test consists of Wal-Mart visits at 1am trying to recall if Brooke is Toddler #4 size Pull-Ups or now a #5. And once you purchase the Pull-Up, how do you know the front from the back??

There are those days in life where one desires time to stand still…. away from a cell phone, away from email, Twitter or Facebook! The way it used to be!! (my kids ask…what do you mean, they can’t imagine a phone with a cord!). I enjoyed one of those days last week in spending a precious part of a day with Brooke. The day was one of reflection for me as the similar moments with my other children are as vivid today as they were when they occurred many years ago.

I have a picture I love of my old Mazda beater truck, me lying under it doing my own home maintenance and my then toddler daughter, Allison trying to peer under the truck to help her daddy.

Or the images of my older daughter, Meredith sitting in the same highchair that Brooke sits in today, commanding the home as she was so capable of doing (still is). Or the image of Victor and Cole on the inner tube behind the boat, wondering who would be the first to go down, or Erica helping me on projects such as painting and making sure I dripped as much as she did so she would know it’s okay.

I recall the days of Brooke’s surgery and my email posting on a few days in life you wish to pass quickly…ie Brooke’s recovery after such an incredibly invasive surgery… while other days you savor and wish for the power to make time stand still. My finite mind quickly concludes we will never understand God’s sovereign plan and to take delight in each moment God brings our way.

The moments in the hospital...that you wish you just fly by!!! 

On a truly special day with Brooke last week, I felt like a young father in my twenties again in delight of my gift of of the ‘make time stand still’ days! One would suggest at the age of 50 I can justify having my oil changed, however I’m old school and still tinker on all my car maintenance. Brooke insisted on helping ‘Baba’ (although now calling me ‘daddy’ as well) and took great delight in bringing (and taking) my tools and running around the car in her delightful giggle. If that wasn’t pure joy, we later enjoyed a dad’s day out visit to the tire store and she had a great time exploring the merchandise! What a special time!

Dad's best helper!!

Finish it off with a dinner date!

Medical Update!!!

Brooke’s medical update remains nothing short of amazing. We met with the cardiologist this week and rejoice in Brooke’s blood-oxygen levels at 98%...essentially where mine are! He took her off her nightly diuretic which assisted in keeping fluid retention to a minimum so the Pull-Ups I mentioned earlier may no longer be 5 pounds in the morning!! She essentially has no limitations and will have her next visit in 6 months and yearly following. Isn’t it great to be able to share God’s faithfulness in Brooke’s little life? Please continue to pray for Brooke’s dear China friend, Lily who had Brooke’s identical heart surgery but continues to have some follow-up complications… God’s timing is perfect but please continue to pray for Lily and her family during this time!

In closing, I recall a flight I worked early this year departing from Dallas, TX to Seattle, WA. A relatively long flight for the MD80 typically 4 hours or so in duration. During the boarding process, an anxious woman peered into the cockpit and was in disbelief at the gate agent’s announcement that WIFI would be unavailable on my particular flight. “Is this true?” asked the woman who appeared to be in her early to mid-40’s. “Yes, I’m afraid it is” I answered and expected the conversation to be concluded. However, our anxious passenger remained in the cockpit area and was serious in her question to herself…and perhaps me… “What am I to do for four hours?” Cognizant of her worried state, I asked her to step in to the doorway and specifically gave her the assignment for the flight….”First,” I exclaimed, “I want you to be sure your window shade remains open to savor every sight that passes by. Second, strike up a conversation with the person next to you and just enjoy non-electronic conversation, Third, I want you to read something.... just for fun.” Half brushing off my suggestions and perhaps half offended that I answered her perhaps rhetorical question, she uttered a thank you and made her way to her seat.

Four hours later…. our anxious passenger asked to step into the cockpit and stated
“Captain, may I speak to you?” I obliged and listened as she teary-eyed said that was the best advice she has had in many years and how she enjoyed her flight, realizing the distractions of life as day-by-day rushes by.

I need to listen to the choir I’m leading and enjoy more of the windows of life that we are given to enjoy. Savor the walks and eliminate the needless cell phone talks. Perhaps less texting and more time spent writing a hand-written thank you to those who have been faithful in prayer for our family. More time looking my children in the eye and enjoying their comfort and a moment of timeless joy than being on the computer anxious over an election poll or unanswered emails.

Savor the short windows of life God breathes into our every day… be sure, like my passenger, to put away the distractions and find the joy God provides if we’ll just stop to listen, and rest in his sovereign plan. He has been faithful in Brooke’s, and He remains faithful in yours as well.

Enjoying the moment...watching the fish :)

She thinks she can read now :)

Love and Thanks to all of you!

Larry for the Toerings

Psalms 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God”

PS…an interesting article on Brooke’s surgeon, Dr. Nikaidoh:

Brooke with her surgeon, Dr. Nikaidoh!