Friday, May 25, 2012

Cutie-patootie- Brooke home 1 week!

Brooke has been home one week now, and it feels like she's been with us forever. Her adjustment has been incredible, and we are so thankful for the love and care she was given at New Day for the last year and a half- it has truly made Brooke's adjustment and attachment process so much more seamless than we could have ever expected or hoped for. She fits completely into our family and we just love her to pieces. 

First manicure!!

Things we have learned about Brooke: 
  1. She LOVES sno-cones/ice cream/any other sweet treat. The mere mention of "ice cream" causes her to break out into fits of giggles and excited arm waving. 
  2. Water fountains are her favorite toy. Especially when the water splashes all the way down her shirt front. Even better when big sister behind her gets splashed as well. 
  3. Swimming is the greatest invention of all time. She has NO FEAR. Purposefully jumps in and dunks her head under water- telling whoever is supervising her in the pool to "move....I do!!!". What.a.character.
  4. She is absolutely the spunkiest, craziest, most fun-loving kiddo. Continuously on the go and knows EXACTLY what she wants...and let's you know exactly what that is until you give in :)
  5. She loves, loves, LOVES her big sister Erica. Anything big sister does, Brooke wants to do. She loves wearing outfits that match Erica and will even demand to have a matching hair bow in. She will also only let Erica push her stroller if Erica is around. Too precious. 
Erica graduated from Kindergarten on Thursday night- it was too precious watching Brooke enjoy Erica's performance with her class. She excitedly yelled "JIE JIE!!!" (big sister) when Erica walked across the stage to get her diploma, and as soon as the ceremony was over, Brooke RAN to Erica to give her a huge hug. Erica did a great job- played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on the piano in front of everyone and sang her heart out with her class! Brooke had too much fun dancing along to all the songs and pretending to sing with us :)

Erica with part of her precious class!

Sweet, sweet sisters. Brooke was SO excited to hug on Erica when her performance was over!

Four sisters. Best friends. 

The whole fam. Excuse Cole's pained expression. The likelihood of getting 8 people to look at the same camera at the same time has become slim to none :)

Brooke was a HUGE fan of the after-ceremony refreshments. She loved the cake. Understandably. :)

And licking the plate to finish it off. HA. 

Brooke has brought so much joy into our life- we cannot imagine life without her and are loving every single day. She is absolutely hysterical and we are continually amazed with how much she is picking up and able to mimic. She is too precious- we are too blessed. 

Thank you all for your prayers!!!!!! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Home Again!!!!

Home again…home again…there’s no place like home!

So many have contacted us and want us to further update the blog…we have been blessed with everyone’s kindness to journey with us.  It is this unity of believers and sharing one another’s burden that make this journey such a testimony to the Lord’s sovereignty and power to work through us.  We have had all our prayers answered beyond what we could have imagined and feel that God has truly blessed us!  Please know that this blog is Brooke’s “Ebenezer stone” memory book…a testimony of how God sovereignly helped…to knit Brooke together into the womb of our family.  We pray that our journey in faith would increase your faith and further the cause of orphan care both near and far in the world as the Lord leads you as He did us.

So…for those who are still interested in following the details…

Our travel home was nothing short of amazing…with our Consulate appointment moved up a day (thank you, Lord), train tickets purchased from Guangzhou to Hong Kong and a contingency plan A, B, and C to fly home we started our trek home.  Our wonderful guide, Judy, faithfully gathered Brooke’s passport with her visa toAmerica from the American Consulate and whisked us to the train station.  With luggage loaded…quite a feat when Brooke would only allow “Baba” to touch her stroller or hold her…we so enjoyed the 2 hour train ride to see the amazing development and the high rise apartments everywhere and then beautiful countryside before coming into Hong Kong.  We easily get through their customs and then find transportation to our hotel at the airport.

Erica with our wonderful guide Judy!

Mom and Brooke- last day leaving Guangzhou!

Training to Hong Kong! 
Without a crib in this room, Brooke shared a bed with Larry and me.  She kicked and squirmed all night long and literally tried to kicked me out of bed when she noticed me and pulled away my covers and throughout the night felt and patted Baba’s neck and head reassuring herself that all is still well with her world even in the dark of the night.  Needless to say it was a LONG night but one that we certainly understood as Brooke tried to sort out this nomadic lifestyle upon which we were embarking.  If only we all kept such a grip on our Heavenly Father for our security here on Earth.     

We headed to the airport very early…decided that Tokyo was our best chance to get stateside and headed out with out a hitch making all our flights.  Brooke slept almost the entire flight from Tokyo to Chicago…except I was so worried that she would roll off the seat that I got no rest making sure she didn’t fall.  It could not have gone any better!  The Chicago Immigration officers welcomed the newest resident of the United States!!!!  What a privilege for which we are so thankful!

Ready to board the flight!!

Brooke with the Ipad- lifesaver!!

We are IN Chicago with a tired little cookie!!! :)
We landed in Tulsa and were greeted by our wonderful family and friends.  Brooke was a bit overwhelmed and went into her shy zone but understood with all the attention!  We headed home for a good night’s sleep and thankful that the journey home went so well.  Thank you all for your prayers.

In Tulsa!!!

Welcome to your new home, baby girl!

Baba showing Brooke her new bedroom (as soon as she is big enough to move out of the crib, that is!) :)

Good morning!! First morning in her bed at home!! 

1st breakfast at home! Erica was loving showing little sister everything about home sweet home!
The last 3 days we have just been getting over jet lag and catching up on things.  Brooke has now bonded with me and sleeps very well in her crib in our room and is just not too sure about Bella and Ritz, our two labs.  The overflowing of love and prayer has carried us to this point and we are so grateful. Allison was home and had the house cleaned, ready and waiting for us which was a HUGE blessing!!! Meredith had to finish up all of her finals and the rest of her RA duties at college, so she missed our official arrival- but she was so bound and determined to not miss a single DAY with Brooke at home, she drove ALL NIGHT LONG home from Birmingham, Alabama!! Thats 11 hours!! She pulled in around 10 AM on Saturday morning after leaving at midnight the night before, with open arms to hug on her baby sister again! 

We had an 8th grade graduation celebration for Cole, and Brooke loved watching "GE GE!!!" (big brother in Chinese) walk across the stage. She has fondly taken to calling Cole "Coley-cuckoo!", or for short, merely "Cuck-oo!". Too precious...hope Cole appreciates it! Ha! 

Erica is reveling in her new role as big sister :)

She's teaching Brooke some piano skills! 

Can't get enough of their little matching outfits!!

Brooke loves her ge ge, Victor!

Getting sno-cones! We THOUGHT we had all 6 kids...then realized that Mom was one of them! We were missing Cole! It's hard rounding up all 6 for a picture! 

Finally- all 6! Not a good shot...but at least all the munchkins are accounted for! 

Sunday morning- Erica just couldn't WAIT for Brooke to wake up!!

The girls in their precious matching dresses!

Congrats to the 8th grade graduate!! Brooke liked his hat :)

Part of the fam at Cole's graduation- Victor and Allison had another commitment, so they snuck out early

Brooke was a HUGE fan of the cake :)
Our next journey is to heal her heart!!  Brooke is doing really well right now with her blood oxygen levels and we pray that she stays healthy before her next surgery (she also has no spleen – so infection is of some concern for her).  Stay tuned to this blog as we start down this adventure.  She will meet with the pediatric cardiologist soon and plans should be made to start the healing of her heart! We can't wait to see how God will work!

For now, she has a forever family who loves her and will get the care she needs to live the life God has planned for her.  We are so blessed by her presence in our family and love her more and more each day!! Enjoy the pictures and stop back often- we'll be updating fairly regularly, especially once her heart surgery is planned!  

FOUR beautiful sisters

Precious Erica

Best friends

Mei with the littles :)

Alla with her sisters- and the photographer for most of these impromptu photo shoots in the front yard :)

Forever sisters- what a special history these two have. 

Brooke got to tag along to Erica's gymnastics class- we even found an old leotard for her to wear! She loved watching Erica do all sorts of flips and jumps!

Wagon ride with Alla and Erica down the driveway!


Brushing her teeth...her favorite hobby :)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Headed Home!!!

We are in Tokyo....boarding our flight to the USA!!!!!!!

We will be landing in Tulsa at 7:45 PM on American Airlines flight 485! Feel free to come to the airport and meet Brooke! All are welcome!

See you soon!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

TB check, Swimming, and the Playground

Yesterday all that needed to be done was head back to confirm the TB test results…it was all clear except for just a small we quickly headed back to the hotel to swim and explore and enjoy the playground!

Brooke’s personality is really starting to shine…she is still a Daddy’s girl and loves to be with him. I really am thankful for this time for her to bond with her ‘’Ba-Ba”…it really is sweet to watch her total dependence on him for her security…only he can push the stroller and hold her and even give her any food. She can get quite possessive…she is even jealous of Erica at times if he gives her any attention! Really fascinating to watch!

Pool up on top of the hotel!

Erica and Brooke on the playground

Brooke and Baba!!

Sweet Erica!
We are very much into typical “2 year old” fun stuff…amazing how quickly it all floods back into my memory. The important things in Brooke’s day are: shoes…on and off, brushing teeth…back and forth, hotel room key…in and out, elevator buttons…up and down…going potty (“1, 2, 3, Potty!”)….pulling the toilet paper…more and more…washing hands…over and over…..going potty…again and again! (And have I mentioned the squatie potties here? – hard enough alone…let alone with a two year old and a six yr old in the stall as is quite a feat in and of itself!). And of coarse, the stairs!…up and down…and last but not least, ring around the rosie…round and round. Oh the joy of it all and we are enjoying it all….over and over! : )

Wanted to post some pictures of some sweet friends that we ran into while in Guangzhou! They are adopting two beautiful girls with heart defects as well, and have just been a joy to get to know as we have walked through this adoption process on similar timelines...and now get to meet up in China! God is good! It was definitely comical getting all 4 of our girls to look at the same camera, but they are all so precious!!! 

All four! Lily, Mackenzie, Brooke, and Erica!

Beautiful girls!!

Erica loved sweet Lily!

Lily, Brooke and Erica!

Emily with her daughter Mackenzie, Erica and Brooke!
Today we had a great time exploring the market…fascinating!!!! We went with a delightful family…in addition to their new 2 year old, they also have a 5 year old, Ella. She and Erica are now friends…so special to see these two, who are from the same province, bond and experience the country of their birth together. Special memories being made!

A precious class of kindergartners we ran into outside! 

Oh my!!!


The outdoor market

Looking at some puppies!

So busy!

Erica and her sweet friend!

Erica and I had a very poignant discussion today about what “abandoned” means…you think they understand a word until you hear them ask quietly, “was I abandoned?” She really thought it had more to do with being “found” than actually being “left”….or “placed”, the word I prefer to use. We talked how Moses’ mother, Jochebed, “placed” her most precious baby, Moses, into the river to allow God to protect him. And how Miriam, his sister, diligently watched from the river’s edge until Moses was found, safe and sound. We talk how her biological mommy most likely did that too… and Brooke’s…watched them carefully until they were FOUND…and so in the end we decided being “abandoned” really is all about “being found”… for even when it appears that all is lost or dire or “really bad”…if we trust God…we will always FIND ourselves in His sovereign care. Erica liked that…and I thanked God for each of my children that God has “found” to “place” in my care.

A very local restaurant experience! 

The menu: Internal organs of the ox, anyone?? No?? 

Eating some jiaozi...dumplings!

Back to the hotel!

Thank you for your prayers. God has been so good to us!