Monday, December 31, 2007

Oh what a Year...

Can you believe that 2007 is almost over?! What an incredible journey we experienced this year through adoption. It is amazing to me to think about what all we did in 2007. We had a wonderful year and we are planning on another great year in 2008. The boys and I sang "It's going to be great in 2008!" as we strolled through our favorite mall, Discover Mills, today. I clearly remember us spending our first day in 2007 at that mall, so we decided that there couldn't be a better way to spend the last day 2007. When we were there on the first day of the year I clearly remember CJ and I just still in the "talking stage" of adoption. And today we were living out our dream as we enjoyed all THREE of our kids enjoying the day hanging out together.

Shelby was playing a "kissing" game with the boys tonight and really showing out playing with them finally nicely in the living room. CJ said can you believe that this would have been possible one month ago? Remember that just one month ago Shelby would hit or pinch or bite the boys if they were in swiping range of her. And then tonight she was so giggly and just begging for more and more attention from the boys. She has changed so much in such a short time. She is adjusting so well and has begun really attaching to us. Oh how I love our family!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Happy Wedding Day

Wanted to send out a special wish to my boss today who is in New York getting married. You can check out his wedding site here. I wish I could have been there, but considering that Shelby would of had to have gone with us, the costs involved just didn't make sense. I am sure they had a lovely wedding and I wish them well. Vince deserves all the happiness He can dish out. If it weren't for all of his support this past year during our adoption process, Shelby being here would have not been possible. I am truly grateful to him for being such a great boss and giving me such a great job. Yeah, it sounds like I am sucking up, but I really do mean all of that! So Happy Wedding Day to the Vinman :)

We have been busy around here just trying out some of the indoor play places around for the last few days. We started out on Thursday hanging out at Gymboree with Sheridan. Kim was nice enough to invite my 3 to join them for their free open house on Thursday-FUN and FREE what a great combination. We then went to Monkey Joes on Friday for some play time. It was so much fun watching Shelby run around with the boys acting like she had been on those jumpy things her whole life. It is so hard to believe that this kid was on the other side of the world just 2 months ago. She acts like she has been one of my kids forever. She absolutely loved playing on all that stuff. So since she had so much fun yesterday, we went over to Kangaroo Bobs today for some play time. Again she enjoyed every minute. The boys love to go too so it looks like we have found the perfect thing to do on cold or rainy days to get some of that energy out of my 3.

I spent Friday morning at the Social Security office since I recently received that wonderful COC (Certificate of Citizenship). It wasn't too bad, I only waited about an hour. The procedure was pretty painless actually. We are going to be very excited to get that little number that will give us back alot of money on our taxes. You see we will get back a reimbursement of $11,390 for our adoption expenses. This is ALOT of money that helped make it possible to afford this adoption. I know that some people don't really know how much adoptions costs, so I am going to share this with you all. (Remember this blog is here to educate others interested in adoptions too.) We spent a total of $25K. That includes everything everything everything (all paperwork, travel, orphanage fees, sightseeing, food, spending money, etc.) We will get back this $11,390 from the gov't plus an additional refund of $2K from the state of Georgia. So our net out of pocket was only about $11K. You really need to also consider that it costs us about $3K extra just to take the boys. I would of course recommend that you take your kids with you and spend the extra money, but if you don't already have kids then you would save that $3K. So our net out of pocket comes to about $8K. To me that is not a lot of money considering what we received for our money :) Face it, most people spend that kind of money everyday on silly things like cars and such. If you ask me, I got the biggest return on my 8K than any stock market could ever provide!

So if you ever wanted to ask and just weren't sure how to do it, that is that on the money issue for China adoption-about $8K. I found a video on another site today that speaks openly about how sometimes going special needs adoption can just be "messy" and how sometimes you think about others opinions too much- click here to view. All I can is that Shelby is truly meant to be my daughter and I am so thankful that we took the chance and the leap of faith through Him to bring her home no matter what the co$t!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Kiss!

We had the best Christmas ever.We had a busy Christmas Eve that started with breakfast at McDs with our favorite boy-Sheridan, and of course his parents too ;) Then we were off to Granny's for a big Christmas luncheon, then home to bake our traditional Christmas Eve dinner-lasagna. CJ's parents joined us here at home for the lasagna and of course the presents! We let the kids all open up one gift from us. Caleb got the infamous MP3 player or as he would like to call it his iPod. Travis got a CD player too and Shelby got the fanciest little pink trike in the neighborhood (courtesy of her daddy who obviously doesn't have a Christmas budget to adhere too!) We all had a great Christmas Eve.

Then of course the next day we woke up to a living room full of toys from that big guy in the red suit. The kids must of been really good this year :) We were soon visited by the breakfast fairy (Nana) and had a great morning at home playing with all the good stuff. Best of all we were visited by lots of people who love us...Nana, my aunt Julia, Betty, Frank, Sheila, Scott, Blake, and Austin. I can't think of a better way to spend Christmas morning that surrounded by my family and friends!

We finished up the day with Christmas dinner at my dad's where we were showered with more and more presents and more and more family and friends. Travis picked up a new big kid bicycle, Caleb got the long awaited for Guitar Hero III, and Shelby received a fancy pink PowerWheel (now what else did you expect Papa and Grandma to get her). I received lots and lots of photo albums to finally have a place to put all our China pics. And CJ got a gift card to his favorite man store-Harbor Freight. We had lots of fun and needless to say the kids were jumping for joy all day with excitement (or maybe it was the sugar), fun fun fun!
Once we were back at home and settling down for bed, I received the best present of the day. I always lay down in Shelby's bed with her at night until she falls asleep. Well last night as she was settling down and covering herself up for the 100th time, she simply reached over and gave me an unsolicited, unexpected, out of nowhere-KISS! A real live kiss just because-dare I say it-because she likes me ;) It was the most wonderful present ever. It felt like the same feeling I got when my boys first gave me that first genuine smile. I couldn't help but get all teary eyed as I laid there in bed with my sweet beautiful daughter, whom I know has been through so much in the past couple of months, who felt the urge to reach over a give her forever mommy a kiss. She is truly amazing and resilient and I am so proud to be her mom!

Monday, December 24, 2007


"While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her first born, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." - Luke 2:6-11

Sunday, December 23, 2007

First Tea Party

Shelby let us all experience our first little tea party today. She was so cute getting out all her little cups and saucers and of course the tea kettle to pour us all our pretend tea. It was really sweet and something that this house full of boys has never experienced. I am sure this was the first of many many more tea parties to come. I welcome them all! I will have to whip out the camera for our next one though-I completely forgot to take pics as I was enjoying my tea too much. So here is a quick pic of a happy little family of FIVE!!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Full Swing Christmas Mode

We have been in full Christmas Spirit enjoying our friends and family this time of year. Yesterday the kids and I headed out to 3rd Friday early in the day so we would miss the traffic. We went to our favorite mall Discover Mills to hang out until 3rd Friday was to begin. Well it turned out that my friend Lucy was nice enough to call me as soon as she discovered that 3rd Friday had been cancelled. Oh well here is where good friends pay off...Lucy invited us on over to her house to enjoy a visit with her family and Ellen even joined us with little Frannie. This was a nice surprise visit for Lucy to accommodate us all on such short notice. She has a beautiful home that is all decked out for Christmas. She even served us snacks and fresh baked cookies. Who knew she was an undiscovered Martha Stewart?! Needless to say if was a great ending to a fun day I got to spend with my kids and friends.

Oh and by the way, I managed great with all 3 kids yesterday at the mall, etc. all by myself. I finally broke down a bought a new (or gently used) stroller so that I could manage a little better in the stores. It worked perfectly and the boys really did well so that I didn't even have to yell or beat any of them at all the whole day ;)

Today I hosted our family Christmas party for my mom's side of the family at my house. We had a great time and really got to enjoy my newly expanded living room ;) Shelby did great considering that her house was filled with about 40 "strangers" in it. She even managed a little nap in the middle of the chaos. Everyone seemed to have a good time and enjoy our family get together. I know the kids really loved getting to play with all their cousins today. I am so excited that Shelby just seems to feel right at home and a part of her new family. Amazing that we are so blessed with all of children and family surrounding us.

We wrapped up the evening with a little Mexican with my sister's family at the local Mexican restaurant. I am loving the fact that Shelby loves to eat Mexican already. She can eat cheese dip like a pro! She also enjoys tortilla shells with rice wrapped up inside of them. She eats Mexican better than the boys since they still prefer ordering ole chicken fingers and fries even at Mexican. Maybe one day I can convince them of how good Mexican food really is ;) Oh and we even got to say hello to our favorite teacher as we were leaving the restaurant. She really seems to enjoy every time she gets to see our new addition live and in person. I was glad I could show off Shelby all decked out in her cute little Santa dress too.

My Travis was spoiled rotten today by his Uncle Scott. He begged to even go home with him tonight to spend the night. Now you would think that he would want to go home with them to spend time with his cousin, but no he would rather spend time with his Uncle Scott! Travis has really struggled with sharing everything and everyone with his new sister. He really eats it up when he gets some well deserved extra attention. He is doing much better about tolerating his sister now, but he still is feeling a little left out every now and then since she seems to be getting most of the attention. So I am sure he will enjoy this special visit with his favorite uncle :)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Feeling Like Family

I just finally get the feeling that Shelby has accepted her new family. We have had a terrific week and I get the sense that Shelby is actually enjoying being home! Well when I say home, I mean home with us. Not really being "home" because we are never at home ;) Mom and Shelby are on the go all the time. She fits in perfectly with us ready to go anytime anywhere. I don't like just sitting at home, so we are out and about all the time. Shelby seems to really enjoy being out and about as well, so that is a good thing. We had a playdate yesterday with Sheridan and Michelle at Hobby Town. Big fun! As you can see from the pics, Sheridan is finally learning how to put Shelby in her place; therefore, Shelby is learning how to play nicely more often ;) Little Miss Shelby has had her own way for quite a while, and she is now learning that she doesn't always get what she wants all the time. She is actually transitioning very well and starting to share much better now. She doesn't even fight with her brothers as often now. She of course loves to pester them, but she doesn't just hit for no reason anymore.

Speaking of Shelby and her brothers, she hasn't really become "attached" to them now. I can see a complete shift in her behavior and interaction with them. I think she might even really love them now! She has been doing the sweetest little things this week when we are out shopping. If she sees something she wants, she will get one and then she always gets 2 more and says Caleb...Travis. Too cute! When she pulled a boy toy off the shelf, I assumed she was getting that for her brothers too, but when I asked if it was for Caleb-she said no. Then I asked if it was for Travis- she said no. I asked her again what she was saying, and finally realized she was saying- Hong Hong. I said oh this is for Shelby, and she was so excited that I figured out what she was saying shaking her head a definite yes for Hong Hong. Too cute!

Shelby must have received presents of some sort in China, because she definitely knows how to unwrap them at super speed. Good thing we don't wrap our presents ahead of time and put under the tree. Because as soon as she sees a wrapped present, she is ripping it apart. Christmas is going to be a lot of fun watching her open all her gifts. I still sit in awe that she is actually here for this Christmas. Even though it seemed like forever while we waited for her, in the grand scheme of adoptions, she arrived quickly for us. This time last year she was just a dream I had, and this year she is REAL-I have a daughter!

Deck the Halls...Falalalahlah w/Shelby

You got love it! My baby the Christmas Caroler :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Pics Galore

I am just loving all these cute little Christmas dresses I get to deck Shelby out in everyday. Needed to catch up on a showing you all some new pics. Oh I threw in one of Scott's van that was totalled the other day. Amazing that he is alive and well!

Kim and I spent the other day visiting the Asian grocery stores and having another playdate. They posted some great pics of the event on their blog, click here to take a peek. We are actually having another playdate tomorrow since we have so much fun together. Lily and Michelle are going to be there too, yeah for friends!

We had a wonderful time today with all of our "Digit Friends". We finally had 6, 7, 8, and 9 together in person today at the mall. It was great seeing all of these girls who have come from across the world to now be all together with their forever families. We were quite a sight to see with these 4 little cutie pies running around at the mall. We even managed an awesome pic with Santa today. Thanks to Hope for Children for bringing these 4 babies home and bringing together 4 great families!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Here is our official Cyber Christmas Card for everyone. Merry Christmas to you all and wishing you the best year of your life. We have certainly had ours this year! Thank you to everyone for all of your support and prayers for our family. We are truly blessed. Have a wonderful Christmas celebrating the birth of our Savior. Happy Birthday Jesus!
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Family Pic

Thought I would show off one of the latest Christmas pics that has all the grandkids together and not a one crying- pretty impressive I think!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Learning to Communicate

Shelby and I are getting in the groove of communication. She used some of her signs today to help me understand what she wants. This was the first time she has used the signs without me first prompting her to do so. I wish I could remember more signs as she really catches on quickly. I found this great site to help teach me more signs to use with her. She used the more sign and she can also say more, and she used the drink sign for me today.

We had a good day again today, and she even seemed to like me the whole day ;) We did a little shopping this morning and then she joined me at my company year end Christmas Luncheon. She was a perfect little companion during the entire meeting. Oh and she was too cute today in her little Christmas dress and hair bows. Have I mentioned about how much I am enjoying playing real life "dress-up" with my daughter!?! I failed to take a pic today of her styling in her Christmas clothes, but I will get some tomorrow.

The boys are going tomorrow with the Boy Scout group to sing at a local nursing home. This should be fun and festive and help show the boys what Christmas is all about-loving and helping others just as Christ does for us everyday. We hope to give out a few smiles tomorrow singing Christmas Carols for some people who may not get to see all of their own kids and grandkids singing this holiday season. I am sure Miss Shelby will be a big hit as well showing out her rockin dancing moves to the music :) Have I mentioned lately how lucky I am to have my entire family surrounding us everyday?! I was just about brought to tears tonight as I sat in my chair holding all 3 of my fresh cleaned sweet smelling babies in my lap. My life is truly wonderful and I thank Him everyday for another day with my family. How did I ever get so blessed?

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with JOY.- Psalm 126:3

Thursday, December 13, 2007

We have her back

It appears that our happy fun loving girl is back today! Shelby is feeling much better and I am so happy to see her little personality back to normal. We had a busy day hanging out with Kim and Sheridan visiting the Asian markets looking for Wahahas. Unfortunately we did not find them, but we did get some cool snacks and noodles for the kids to enjoy. My little Shelby will just have to learn to live without those cool little drinks. Oh well, we tried. Kim and I enjoyed a lovely Mexican lunch while the kids enjoyed some true authentic Chinese that we picked up to go from the Asian market. Fun had by all. Hoping for some pics from Kim soon as I forgot my camera on this outing today.

Enjoy the pics here as I knew it wouldn't take long to turn my Chinese Princess into a cute little Southern Belle as she now really enjoys 4-wheelin, YooHoos, and of course Collards! (yes, I said collard greens :)

I wrapped up tonight by enjoying a night out celebrating with my life long friend, Jen, as she has just graduated from college. Yes, I was childless for the event-woohoo. Shelby and the boys stayed with my mom for almost 3 hours tonight without any tears from any of them...progress for sure.

PS-Update on the man that was in the accident with Scott yesterday. The final results of the investigation was that he had a heart attack and that is what caused the accident. Scott and Sheila met with some of his family members today and found out that he was only 52. Very sad that his family will have to go on without him. Fortunately Scott came through with only a few minor injuries. We are counting our blessings for sure this holiday!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Stop, Listen, Love

My brother in law was involved in a very serious car accident today that unfortunately ended another man's life. The other man suddenly crossed the yellow line and hit Scott head on. Fortunately Scott is alive and generally doing OK. He was released from the hospital to see more docs tomorrow for his leg and shoulder.

Scott of course, was way more concerned about the other person during this ordeal. As Scott was pinned inside his van, he had no choice but to witness first hand the end of the other man's life. No one understands why this person suddenly lost control of his vehicle and crossed the yellow line, but they are going to try to figure that out. Scott did nothing wrong and unfortunately this will probably change him forever. However, I hope that he understands that we are all so very glad that he is OK and alive.

So I go back to my title today. Stop right now and listen to your hearts and figure out who it is that you love today. Spend time with those people and be sure to let them know how much they mean to you. For no one knows what tomorrow might bring, live your life everyday thankful to have each person you love around you. We are so grateful to have Uncle Scott in our lives and we love him very much :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Getting back to norm

I know I know, I have been slacking on the blogger end. However, my social life is busier than ever! Shelby and I have just been having playdates after playdates and hanging out and really enjoying Mom's time off from work ;) We even attending our first Christmas party at Chris and Greg's house on Saturday night. We did the norm church stuff on Sunday. Then we went Monday to this new cool place called The Coffee Park. We met with Lily, Sheridan, and Michelle for our big playdate. Unfortunately, Shelby still wasn't feeling well so she slept through most of the playdate. But Mom had a great time chit chatting and socializing with these great women. So we left there and were off to the doctor where we received much needed antibiotics for Shelby's whatever kind of cold thing she has. The doc also explained to me that until Shelby's surgery to close her palate that I needed to understand that she would be sick alot more than "regular" kids. And for me to know that when she is sick with something that it will typically last double the amount of time than someone with a closed palate. So that let me feel better about the last week we have had (I will explain in detail below). Anyway after the dr visit, we met up again with Sheridan at ChicFil@ and had another quick playdate and lunch. So fun had by all hanging out together all day.

Today Shelby and I went shopping with her Aunt Sheila most of the day. We started at the mall, then Target, then Costco. Then we were off to Chinese lunch again (Shelby is refusing most American food these days) with my dad. Next we had Travis' school conference where we learned that Travis is one smart 4 year old! He is doing wonderfully at school and believe it or not is not even the "class clown" as his mother originally predicted ;) Then we were off to Carol's where Shelby actually got down and played with Carol for about an hour today-yeah! Carol is going to be Shelby's caretaker when I go back to work, so we are easing her into going to Carol's house all this week. She will stay a few hours by herself starting next week. Then we were off to hang out with Lori and Ashlee and Alex. I did get a few pics of the kids playing outside at Lori's tonight. It was fun seeing Shelby actually playing again (see below). We wrapped up the evening at Shelby's first visit to Joe's Crab Shack since the weather is so nice. She loved it as expected and really enjoyed Ashlee taking her down the slide about 101 times :) So enjoy the fun pics of our happier times we have had this week!!

I thought I would go ahead and post about some of the not so fun parts of last week or so that we have had too. I have warned before that I blog about the good, bad and the ugly parts of adoption. Well I wanted to discuss some of the uglier parts that we have recently been through. Shelby started not feeling well last Wednesday and she quickly went down hill from there. We had a week of LOTS of tantrums and uncontrollable crying spells and throwing fits, etc. Looking back now on the week, I realize it was mainly because she wasn't feeling great. However, it was still a really rough week all together no matter what the reason. I felt so sorry for her especially when she would run a fever and feel horrible. She would cry and cry and there was really nothing I could do for her. She would let me comfort her the best I could most of the time when she was running a fever though.

The problem was that I could not "fix it" and that was very hard on me to watch her being miserable. I so wanted to be able to make her laugh or giggle or just be happy a little bit. Unfortunately, she was like a different child for all of last week. I was getting very very worried that her immunization shots had actually altered her personality. You hear about all this autism being caused by immunizations, and to be frankly honest- I was very concerned for a while there after her shots. I mean she was totally a different kid there throwing screaming fits most of the time. No one wanted to come near her or touch her scared that it would trigger a tantrum. We all walked on eggshells around her to just try to keep the peace in the house. When Shelby and I would go out, she would not leave my side or lap or even sit in a high chair. I was really really worried that we had altered her personality forever.

Well needless to say, we seem to have turned the corner-finally. Yesterday she started feeling better and getting down out of my lap to play a little bit. So I am very thankful to finally see more and more of the real fun loving Shelby come back again. She still throws a fit every now and then, but I am pretty used to that by now. I still really wish that I could meet all of her needs, and that she would not feel so frustrated that she has to have a tantrum. Unfortunately, her tantrums seem to be getting harder and harder on the boys. They are pretty much really tired of watching her throw toys and screaming at them and trying to hit and pinch and scratch them. Frankly, I don't blame them and sometimes I even have to just walk away and let her cry. I feel so sorry for her as I can only imagine how difficult this life change is for her. I am only human though, so one should know their limits and know when to just walk away and BREATHE. I always return to her quickly and eventually she lets me pick her up and hold her until she calms down. So basically we are all dealing with this "bad" and hard part of her adjustments the best we know how. You can see below a little bit of a Shelby tantrum. Again, I am so thankful to finally see our real Shelby come through some today. Looking forward to seeing her feel better more and more every day and get back to playing and having fun with all of us. Keep praying for us and her little soul to heal more and more with her new life as a Straight!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Motorcycle Mania

As you can see, Miss Shelby has finally come to trust her brother Travis. Even enough to let him cruize around the yard with her on his motorcycle. I think I will definately need to have a talk with her about who she just hops on a bike with in her future ;)

Friday, December 7, 2007

Full Circle For Sure

Well tonight we had the privilege of attending our First Friday group with Shelby finally able to attend in person instead of on a photo button! We started the evening off sharing dinner with alot of the families that I feel like have become such a special part of this journey. Dinner was great and especially the part where we got to see pics of the new babies that will soon be joining our group. Bruce and Karen were finally matched with their new little one. Yeah another 2 year old to add to the group. Sheridan will soon have a little boy to play with since they are getting a BOY. It is so amazing to witness another family being able to have their dreams come true right before you. I can so remember how I felt to finally hold a picture of Shelby in my hands and be able to show her off to everyone. Next I finally got to see pics of Tymm and Laura's ebaby- what a sweet little baby face! He is only a month old and already has such a sparkle in his eyes. I can't wait to get to squeeze on a LITTLE little one soon when they bring home this baby. It was a great dinner and fun to share such an exciting time with these families.

We left from dinner and made it to First Friday. Shelby was of course dressed in her cute little Christmas dress for the big debut. Everyone was happy to see her finally home. We are so thankful to all the people from the group who have ever sent up a special prayer for our family. Dan said that it looks like we "won the lottery"-you bet we did! Shelby is so perfect for our family and we would have never been united with her without all the connections that we made through this group. I have always spoken of the First Friday High that I would leave with every month, and this month it must of been the Ultimate High for me. There is just something about joining together with people who understand the need or urge or push or obsession or calling or whatever you want to call it- to adopt from China. I am so thankful to have this resource and be surrounded by these people who really "get it".

I titled this post about coming full circle. At one special moment in the meeting, I had the amazing sensation of truly coming full circle finally. It is hard to explain, but a whole load of emotions fell upon me when Lily simply walked up and gave a cute little wave hello to Shelby. It was like Lily had known how much she was a part of Shelby's life. There was little Lily standing in person welcoming my Shelby home. It was too much for me and tears just immediately filled my eyes and I had to sit down just to take it all in. I watched Shelby and Lily play together and thought so much about each person can really effect another person's life in such a dramatic way. Heather (Lily's mom) had no idea what seed she was responsible for planting in my life just 10 months ago the first time I met her. I am so grateful for her sharing her story with me which eventually led me straight to my baby Shelby.

The guest speaker there tonight was Amy from Love Without Boundaries. This is truly an amazing organization that helps thousands of children in China. They were showing a video of some of there work which of course was playing music with some touching lyrics. Shelby then reached up grabbed my finger and wanted me to "dance" with her (which means spin with her round and round). I don't think I could of written such a dramatic moment in any movie. Here was Shelby and I spinning full circles surrounded by the very first people that I met when I dreamed of her so many months ago. Shelby was laughing and giggling while we were spinning and I was crying complete tears of joy for this wonderful moment that I was sharing with my daughter. We have truly come full circle and we are so very blessed!!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Happy One Month to us!

That's right, can you believe that today we celebrate Shelby being officially in our family for one whole month. We are so blessed to have this precious human being in our family. Unfortunately she wasn't feeling well today as she is having some ill effects from the shots she received this week. I felt so sorry for her all day since she was pitiful and not feeling herself. She is such a happy little girl and so fun to be with, I hope she gets back to her cheery self soon :) Our lives changed forever 30 days ago- forever for the BETTER!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Shelby's First First Friday coming soon

It's Here - First Fridays China Adoption Website
First Fridays-China Adoption Journey

A perfect fit for any family thinking about adopting, in the process of adopting, or who has already adopted a child from China.

A Child is Worth
"The Wait"

Vision Statement
Our vision is to make sure that every family who wants to adopt embrace the thought that
"every child is worth the wait!"

It's Here! Our New Website ,thanks for your patience. We are excited about our new website and hope this provides you with valuable information. If you have suggestions as to what you would like to see on First Friday's China Adoption Journey's website, please do not hesitate to let us know.

Dan and Susan Chapman

Next Meeting: December 7, 2007
@ 7:00 pm

Please join us at First Friday for Shelby's big official 1st appearance LIVE and in person :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Catching up on things

Finally I have a free moment to do some real blogging. I have been laying down with Shelby at night to get her to sleep and keep saying that I will wait until she falls asleep and then get up and do some computer time. Well needless to say the last few nights I have fallen asleep as well! So tonight Shelby was wiped out and she fell asleep quickly and earlier than normal. My little sweetie suffered through 6 shots today at the pediatrician-YUCK. I was going to just go the tithers route and my pediatrician talked me out of it. Considering that Shelby is going to need a few surgeries in her lifetime, he said that he strongly recommended getting revaccinated on everything. He said that you don't know if they had the correct dosages and series of shots by just doing the tithers. So anyway I am going to trust his recommendations and get her revaccinated. I would love to hear from anyone who wants to throw their 2 cents in on this issue :) All in all, Shelby has been a little trooper and has handled the last 3 days of docs very well. I felt so sorry for her today during the shots as she was in pain and crying those huge crocodile tears. I couldn't help but tear up myself to know that she may be thinking this is going to be a regular event. It is so hard to know what is going on in her little head. I so wish she could understand English so she would hear me reassuring her that she is Ok and how much I love her and only do this to protect her. I need to really really work on my "pain or heartbreak" tolerance before we experience her palate surgery :( I know all of this is for her well being, but it is still hard to put your new little one in pain on purpose.

On a lighter note, we did get to start the day off with a fun playdate with Sheridan! We had a great time at the mall doing a little lunch and some play time. They were doing so well, we even left the mall and continued our play adventure at Chic Fil@. Sheridan and Shelby played great together considering they both have some "sharing" issues. It is heart warming to see these two babies finally playing together here at home when they were both just "dreams" not so long ago. I still remember the first time I laid my eyes on that little boy's picture and I am sure that Kim can say the same thing about Shelby. We are so lucky to be blessed with these great kids!

Still here

Sorry I haven't had a free chance to post in the past few days. We have been on the go and busy busy having fun. Shelby is doing great and adjusting well. We are off to a playdate today with Sheridan! We had fun at the skate park this weekend where Caleb braved getting out there with the "big kids". This was his birthday present since we were in the air flying home from China on his actual birthday. So he had fun with his friends, Austin and Alex, at the Discover Mills skate park. Little Frannie even came to meet Shelby while we were there :) Oh and the best progress of all is that Shelby finally lets CJ hold her!! She even ran and jumped in his lap at Austin's basketball game the other day. WOOHOO!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Cleft Team Results

Well it was certainly a long day yesterday spent down at Scottish Rite. However, it was a good day overall as it was the best it could have been. Shelby did great enduring all the exams. She of course wasn't happy about each doctor poking on her, but she recovered quickly after each exam. She even had her teeth cleaned by the dentist as a last torture ;)

So the final results are that Shelby looks great and it is obvious that she was taken care of very well in China. Her teeth look great and she has all of them without any decay. Her palate is wide; however, it does not appear to need to be lengthened (which is a good thing). Her speech is obviously where we have alot of work to do with her. So we will start doing some speech exercises with her so she can start learning how to speak properly. We visit the ENT on Monday and after that we can plan her surgery. I really want to plan it for the week of Spring Break if I can get on the schedule for that week. I think it would help the healing process if she had her brothers around to distract her during that tough recovery first week. The surgery will have us in the hospital for a couple of nights and then we will be home.

So all in all, the visit went even better than expected. Thanks for all the prayers, as they seem to be working for us. Shelby and I had a good day and good night as well:)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Miracles of Modern Medicine

Or as I would like to say, the miracles from Heaven. I was blessed again by Grace-Hope and given over 100 pics of Shelby's life before us. We are so happy to have these pictures so that we can see her whole life and that she will have these shots to help answer questions later. As you can see they did a wonderful job repairing her lip and we hope that we will have the same results with her palate repair. Shelby sees the doctors at Scottish Rite today so that we can draft out her treatment plan. Please pray for her to be comforted today during her 3 hour visit with several docs today. I hope it goes well and that she is not scared to death. My mom is going to be able to go with us so hopefully between the 2 of us we can keep her comfortable.

Shelby and I had a rough night last night after we got home. She is really testing my love to see if she can push me away. Of course she will not succeed but it is SO HARD to witness. This little girl is really struggling in her head about allowing me to love her. Since Shelby is doing so well in public and playing, I kind of forget that she is not attached to us yet. I guess that is why I am struggling so much when she rejects me at home. Thankfully I have some great resources and friends to help us get through this time of bonding together. Please keep us in your prayers.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ethiopia Baby Coming Soon

No, no, not to my house...but to Tymm and Laura's house! Congrats to some of my First Friday friends for the referral of their new son currently residing in Ethiopia. Click here for their blog. I am very excited for them. They are doing this adoption first while they await their next little one from China. There is always something extra special about a couple who is expecting their first baby. Oh if they only realized how much free time they are currently using up now. Hoping their lives (and free times) are filled with as much happiness and adventure as mine is!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fun Facts

-Adopting a toddler is way more fun than getting a baby :)
-Shelby is a lot of fun
-Shelby can be mean sometimes too
-She is a good eater
-She can peel her own hard boiled eggs, bananas, and oranges
-Shelby is a master at feeding herself
-Shelby goes to the potty
-She only uses about 3 diapers per day-the rest of the time she pottys
-Shelby likes Travis now
-She loves to be on the go as much as her mom does :)
-Shelby loves to shop at the mall especially with Austin
-Shelby had a playdate with her cousin Autumn on Sunday
-We have only had a couple of hard grieving episodes since we've been home
-Nana cried the first time Shelby called her "Nanwaa"
-Shelby sleeps in her bed (with her mom for now)
-Shelby sleeps all night and only wakes a couple of short times in between
-She takes 1 short nap in the AM and 1 long nap in the afternoon
-Shelby is letting mom finally get back to work a little bit
-Shelby is good at mom's adding machine at work
-Shelby went over to Frank and Betty's today with her brothers and guess what...WITHOUT mom :)
-Frank and Betty make for great baby sitters ;)
-Shelby plays with her daddy alot now
-She even plays with Papa now too
-Shelby visited our Chinese restaurant for the first time today and met the woman who translated a letter for us
-Shelby was very interested in hearing Chinese again as she listened intently to the waitresses
-Shelby understands alot of English already
-She can speak a few words in English as well including Mama, Caleb, Travis, NO, mine, Nana, Papa, hello, bye bye
-Shelby can ride a powerwheel; however, not too good with the steering
-Shelby enjoys pushing buttons on everything
-She is one smart cookie :)
-This mom is enjoying every minute of being Shelby's mom!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Friends in China

Here is the blog of my adoption agency contact, Aisha- click here. She has posted lots of pics of the families from Hope for Children that are all currently in China. Here is one of all the families still there. I am a little jealous that they have so many friends to hang out with there, but I am also glad that we were an easy group of a family of one. So I guess there were pros and cons to that. Anyway, I thought you all might enjoy checking on those families there. Here is Darcy's blog- click here, and here is the Millers blog- click here. Oh and if I do say so myself...I was a GREAT blogger while we were in China! I am so glad I was able to blog and let you all feel a part of our trip. It would not have been the same without all of you following along :)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Busy Days

We have had a few busy days visiting everyone and just plain livin life here at the Straight's. I have to say that I think I have made the transition from 2 to 3 quite well. I have even been to the grocery store and shopping without any major meltdowns from any of us. I can remember when the grocery store was off limits unless CJ was home with the boys or with us in the store. And now here I am taking all 3 with me by myself. Impressive, I think ;) Anyway, we had a great Thanksgiving and alot of fun visiting everyone. Shelby does great playing and being comfortable as long as no one tries to pick her up. So please continue to give her space as she gets more comfortable. I am sure you all will get a squeeze pretty soon. We also went and had a so called playdate with Sheridan yesterday. As you can see these 2 weren't too happy about sharing toys. Just something we still need to work on. But all in all, we are doing great!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

So MANY Thanks!

"I prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him" 1 Samuel 1:27

What a wonderful Thanksgiving we have planned today spending it with friends and family. I have so much to be thankful for!! Happy Thanksgiving to you all. And of course, Happy 1st Thanksgiving to my sweetie pie :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Whole Night of Sleep!

Woohoo! Shelby and I had a whole night of sleep last night!! She woke up a couple of times, but went right back to sleep instead of insisting on getting up. We did not get up until 6am-progress :) We did some visiting yesterday at my sister's work and then on to my work and then off to McD's for a playdate with Emily-FUN! Shelby loves to play on the playgrounds at McD's (a true Straight). We are having a wonderful time learning more and more about each other everyday.

Wanted to send out a special Happy Birthday wish to my nephew Austin today!! Happy Birthday and thank you for being such a great cousin. You are definately my kids HERO!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Work in Progress

Well today we are up at 3:30am, but that isn't too bad since we went to sleep at 8PM. So that is 7 hours of sleep-which is a good thing. Yesterday was close to a normal day as the boys went to school and CJ went off to work. Shelby and I did a whole lot of running around here and there most of the day. We took Caleb to school, then Travis to school. Then we had to go get the cupcakes for Caleb's school birthday celebration (that I forgot to make) and delivered them back to Caleb's school. We made a napping visit to my dad's house, and then we were back off to Travis' school for Thanksgiving luncheon. Finally we were headed home and got a call from the school nurse that Caleb was sick and throwing up. Yeah! So we went back to his school to pick him up (I think just more jet lag). Finally we picked Travis up from Carol and we were home. So we all crashed early at 8PM :)

Oh and we got a call from Caleb's teacher last night to have Caleb bring in a picture of Shelby and where his Chinese big brother shirt because he is going to get to be on the big school TV in the morning to show her off and talk about his trip to China. So he is very excited about the big event for him.

I wanted to update everyone on our "work in progress" with Shelby and her attaching to us. She still will not look me directly in the eyes when I am holding her. She also still won't let CJ hold her yet. She has started to play more and more with CJ and she does go up and touch him on her own. She loves to run from him and giggles and giggles when he chases her. She is doing much better with Travis and even plays with him alot now. She was too cute yesterday when we arrived at his school and all the kids were sitting in circle time, she jumped out of my arms and ran right over to Travis and sat down in his lap. She doesn't even swat him "every" time she sees him-just maybe half the time ;) She still loves on Caleb and lets him do things for her most of the time. To the outside world, she looks very attached to me and I am grateful that she does want to come to me for comfort. However, I do know that for her true attachment takes time and we are taking our time. I love her with all my being and feel like she has been my daughter forever. Some people mention that their attachment to their adopted children took time as well; however, I truly feel completely "attached" and in true love with my precious little girl. She is everything and more that I could have ever dreamed of for a daughter. So please keep praying for her adjustments and that her love for us will continue to grow over time.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Exploring her new World

Shelby spent yesterday trying to be as normal as possible on this side of the world. We started the day off at church and then we came home to play outside. This was Shelby's first experiences outside at home. She enjoyed the trampoline, her new toys, and of course the next door neighbor's house. She met alot of new people in her life. Everyone at church was so happy to finally meet the little one that we had all been praying for for so long. She was a big hit of course! I tried to get her on a regular schedule by only giving her one nap yesterday. Well I didn't quite succeed as she was very hard keep awake after her afternoon nap. So we only did so-so. We finished the evening up at Awana and then Stevi-Bs. She was so tired that she would not eat and she finally fell asleep at the table. So needless to say we are up again now at 2am. Hoping to get her back down soon as I am getting up early to take the boys to school today. CJ is also going back to work today. We are all going to back in the real world today...I hope :)

PS-For those of you who wanted to know more about the family who suffered the loss in China, you can click here to read about it

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Lots of "Firsts"

We had a good day of "firsts" yesterday here at home. We started the morning off at 3AM and the boys woke up around 5am. So all the kids had breakfast together in MY kitchen for the "first" time. Then we decided to get out and about and went to Lori's house for the "first" time. It was really a neat moment for me to look in my rear view mirror and finally see all 3 of my children in MY car for the "first" time. It was so real and a moment I had been picturing in my head for a year! After playing at Lori's we of course all had to go to McDonald's (our local hangout). Shelby acted like she had been going there her whole life, even though this was another "first" for her. She ate chicken nuggets and even dipped like a pro :) Then she was off and running to play at the playground and sliding down the big slide for the "first" time. It was perfect!
We then dropped by to see my dad and Sandy to get Caleb's birthday presents and Shelby walked around checking out all the Thanksgiving decorations at his house. She even walked outside with Grandma and touched the huge blown up turkey they have. Shelby is fearless it seems at times. So needless to say she enjoyed her "first" trip to Papa and Grandma's house.

So we managed to keep her awake until 1PM and then we all went home for a much needed nap. All of us except for CJ slept until 5PM when CJ was finally dragging us out of bed. We literally did have to drag all the kids up and out of the house to get them up. We ventured out to our Walm@rt for the "first" time and kept entertaining the kids there just to keep them awake. Once everyone was fully awake, we went to meet my sister and family at the (of course) Mexican restaurant for Shelby's "first" taste of mexican. She wasn't too crazy about it, but she did eat a little bit of the rice. We finished the evening up at Nana's house for the "first" time where Shelby really enjoyed all the great toys. She even played the piano for the "first" time and got to experience dancing with Nana for her "first" of many dances to come.

PS: Yes it is only 2:30am and Shelby is already wide awake. Hoping to go back down to sleep soon though ;)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Well we are finally home! We made it home after a total of 24 hours of traveling on 3 planes. Fortunately we did not encounter any problems on the way home. The boys were GREAT on this long hard trip. They slept some and played their Gameboys and really did well entertaining themselves. Shelby had a hard time falling asleep a few times but no major meltdowns-yeah! We arrived to the ATL airport with a wonderful reception of friends and family :) It was great to finally be home and let everyone see our angel in person. Thanks to everyone who fought the Friday evening Atlanta traffic to welcome us home-it was very special.

My sister drove us home as CJ was too tired to drive and I assumed Shelby would throw a fit when we put her in a carseat. Thankfully I was wrong! She was a perfect angel all the way home without complaint. We stopped by Taco Bell on the way home. I can't believe I survived 3 weeks without Mexican food. We were then welcomed home in a big way at the house with balloons, banners and more friends and family. We had a big "party" at home and Shelby was loving all the kids and the playing around. You would think she has been a Straight forever.

We wrapped up the evening with a special birthday cake for Caleb since yesterday was his birthday! Can you believe my baby is already 8 years old?!? It was a great evening and we all managed to stay awake until 10PM. Shelby slept until 3AM and as you can see we are still up. We will have some time adjustment to work through, but we will manage. We are so happy to be home!!

PS: I would like to remind you all to visit this helpful link- click here. I know everyone is very excited to meet Shelby and that you all love her very much. However, please be patient as Shelby will take time to return your love and she first needs to understand who her immediate family is and how we operate. We need to do what we feel is best for her as her parents, so we are asking that you please do not reach out to her and ask to hold her. If she feels comfortable enough to approach you and ask to be held, then you can pick her up. I realize some of you see a very loving playful little girl and do not understand; however, I have researched and educated myself on this issue and would like for you all to respect our request of "no holding" for now. You are more than welcome to play with her, just don't ask her to come to you to be held. Thank you for your patience and understanding :)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

We are heading home!

We are all packed up and ready to come home! We spent our last day here in China sight seeing and finishing up some shopping. Thanks to all who followed us on this wonderful journey. Off to bed now since we leave the hotel at 5:30am. No pics today you all will have to wait for the real thing IN PERSON :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Officially Ours FOREVER

We finished up all the official paperwork and had the official swearing in ceremony today. Shelby Ann Kunhong is ours forever! She was dressed of course in red white and blue for the US Consulate Appointment today. She is just cute as pie :)

PS: Great night of sleep for everyone here!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Our China Princess

We wanted to take the famous red couch photos today and our little princess must have thought the red couch had poison on it! As soon as she sat on it she freaked out and threw a fit. I think she is related to Sheridan -when the shoes get kicked off, watch out for the Shelby wrath ;) Anyway, I finally got a couple of good photos to show off our China Doll. She looked absolutely adorable and she loved her new squeaky shoes she had on too. We all have on our matching shirts today and the Chinese people here love it and just point and laugh when they see us today. Yes, we look like true tourist but we stick out like sore thumbs anyway so we might as well have fun with it :)
The Miller's finally met little Sara Beth today and we stopped by their room for a quick visit. We have a shot here of their last photo as a family of 5 this morning before they left for Gotcha. We were priveledged enough to get to see Sara Beth in person in their room a little while ago and they are doing great. We managed just one shot of her before we left. I am sure we will snap more tomorrow.

CJ made a big breakthrough with Shelby today. We were in Starbuck's and he was playing peek a boo with her and she walked right up to him and started touching his face. After that she even let him pick her up and flip her over and over. He was big smiles and she was just giggling. She finally sees that he is not so bad after all :)

We just ordered in Papa John's to the room and I went in to put Shelby down for a nap. This time she grieved HARD. She started calling for Ahmu over and over again and this time she wanted nothing to do with me. She threw a fit away from me and hit, pinched, and kicked at me to leave her alone. I simply stayed there by her side and let her grieve. Little by little she would get closer and closer to me. Finally she looked at me with such a sad little face and crawled up into my lap on her own! She went limp and finally fell asleep in my arms. My heart breaks for her when I can so feel her pain when she is missing her Ahmu. I really thought this grieving episode was beneficial to her. She needs to grieve and she needs to know that I will never leave her no matter how many times she pushes me away. We are making progress for sure!

Oh and the amazing news for the day is that the hotel manager found us today on the street and said that someone had mailed me back my wallet! Absolutely amazing!! We have kept saying that we have only met amazingly friendly and nice people in China, but this is over the top. There was no money sent back, but that is expected. However, everything else was returned-praise God! It is truly amazing out of the 12.5 million people in this one city that someone was kind enough to go through the trouble of mailing us back my wallet to the hotel. We will definately give this miracle up to God as even the bellhop here the day after I lost my wallet came up to us and said that he prayed a special prayer for the return of my wallet. We serve an awesome God :)

Shopping shopping shopping!

We had a busy busy day shopping with Ann from! She is wonderful and really knows how to get you great deals. It was also a very different world out there in all the wholesale markets. We went to the pearl market and the shopping mall here. Needless to say we were exhausted by noon! So we decided to not meet our guide for the additional sight seeing that was originally planned for the afternoon. Instead we stayed here on the island and finally did some of our own bargaining for some of the items we could not get off the island. That in itself is an adventure and a mind draining experience. But we completed all of our shopping so we don't need to deal with that anymore. We of course had to buy a new suitcase to add all of our treasures.

Later in the evening, we finally met the Miller's in person. Our kids were thrilled to have new friends to play with that speak English! We all had dinner together at Lucy's and enjoyed a night out at the park. They get their little girl tomorrow morning at 10:30am. I am so excited for them :) We would have had more pics, but I thought I left the camera and then CJ pulled it out when we were headed back to the hotel. That's OK as I am sure to get a completed family pic of them tomorrow! It was great remembering all the feelings we had just one week ago. Their kids loved "practicing" being big brothers and sister on Shelby. Oh and just wanted to mention that Shelby absolutely loves the bathtub. She cries when you get her out. Well I am off to bed and CJ is headed out for his nightly massage (I'm jealous but who can blame him at $20 for 2 hours!) Here are some pics from the day... We are definitely ready to come home soon!

PS: We were unable to get an update on the family from the Swan. We hope to get some info tomorrow. Keep praying for them.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Oblivious to the Real World

Shelby and the boys are still all fun and games, while mom and dad fret the loss of mom's wallet! Yep that's right, I managed to leave my wallet in the last taxi/van ride home from shopping. I was able to quickly cancel my credit card and ATM and yes I am out about $300! CJ said I am no longer allowed to have anything on me of importance. Good thing our passports are still in the safe ;) Oh well, at least my kids still know how to have a good time!-tried to upload a video of the kids dancing here but not sure it will show up

And here are a few more pics from the day. Shelby is in full stock of a whopping $6.25 worth of hair bow accessories!

PS-Please send up some extra prayers for a family staying at the White Swan. The adopting father went into a diabetic coma today and they were performing CPR on him as they were leaving the Swan. The mom went to the hospital obviously and had to leave their new daughter with another family that we spoke to on the island. They said that he was clinically dead when leaving the hotel. I am going to try to get an update tomorrow. The couple has been married for 19 years and this is their first child. Makes me so grateful that all I have lost here is a mere wallet.