Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Finding ad

When a child is abandoned in China and then at some point deemed ready to be adopted, a finding ad is placed in the paper. This tells the child's approximate (or possibly known - if there was some kind of note) birthdate, where they were found, what date they were found, their sex and any "characteristics of the body". This is to give the parents an opportunity to reclaim their child. I'm guessing this is a very rare event. Sometimes when you meet your child in China the orphanage will give you a copy of their finding ad. When ours did not I contacted someone who obtains finding ads for families who have adopted.

We have so little of Cadence's first 16 months of life. The original 4 pictures from her referral, the 20 pictures from the camera I sent to the orphanage, and the memory book that her nannies made for her. Anything we can get so that she will know a little of her past is so important. I had someone ask me once if we would tell her she was abandoned. Cadence will have so many questions about her life before us that I can't imagine keeping anything from her. As difficult as the knowledge may be, it is her past and will shape the person she becomes. Although I am happy to have a small piece of her life, my heart breaks that it is her story. I cried when I opened the paper and I cried as I looked at each of the 17 children listed. I pray that each of them will find themselves in a parent's loving arms soon. I cried when I saw that she had "nothing" listed under "items found with her". I pray that her birth parents somehow sense that she is safe, warm, and loved now. When she is old enough we will look at this together and I pray that as she grows she will be at peace with her story.

Cadence is in the middle.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I bought these stocking hangers over 8 years ago and prayed that one day we would fill them. So happy that this year the dog's doesn't take up the "E"!

The Christmas spread.

Here are my pretty and sometimes super silly girls before church! Cadence cracks herself up!

We had a wonderful "first Christmas" as our family of 5! A fabulously relaxing day of gift giving, karaoke singing, and family snuggling! Sierra and Laurel waited until our 7:30 wake-up time to get us and Cadence up. Cadence's "big" present was an adorable pink chair. She loves to sit in/on things her size and I have always wanted to get one of these for the kids. Regardless of how many stools or boxes she sits on, she is underwhelmed by the chair! I think the cats have enjoyed it more! Cadence mostly observed the gift opening in the morning. I think she was still a little tired.

Sierra got Playstation 3's SingStar Dance and she has not done much else except perfect her Lady GaGa impersonation since then. Great! I'm wishing that there was a more age appropriate version for her, but we'll monitor as we go. She loves it though and Cadence "sings" into the microphone every chance she gets. One of Laurel's favorite gifts was an art set from her gramma. Girlfriend loves to draw!

Never thought I'd hear Brad singing Soulja Boy!
Cadence perfects her pitch!

We had our wonderful french toast casserole then lounged around watching Christmas shows. Eventually we all snuggled into our bed for lots of giggling and laughing. The feeling of love and warmth was my favorite gift of the day!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

First snow!

I'm from Ohio. I'm used to having snow dumped on us and looking at it for months until it finally melts away. I moved to Virginia to get away from that. Until last year, generally we'd get a dusting of snow or a couple of inches and it would be gone the next day or two. Then the snow insanity of 2009/2010 hit! Three huge snow storms shut the area down for weeks, power was out for days, people were stranded in cars overnight, and the snow stayed. We waged bets on when Mt.Chipotle would melt (the HUGE snowpile in the shopping center parking lot). I predicted my birthday, April 28th, and was only off by a few days. It was madness! And a fluke, I hoped!

We got our first snowfall last week. The kids had two snow days and we had a ball sledding. I'm sure Cadence saw her share of snow out the window in Inner Mongolia, but considering that they like their children sweltering hot in China, I'm doubtful she ever got to see the white stuff up close. I'm not sure if she was unsure about the snow or her outfit ("I can't put my arms down!" kept running through my head!) but she warmed up quickly and joined in the fun!

What is this stuff? And you want me to do what with it, Mom?!

This is kinda like a rickshaw!

I think I got this now!

Sierra making me nervous. Cadence LOVING the sledding!!!
Hearing the kids laugh and play in the snow makes me think it's ok if it snows again... one more time this year!

These are a few of my favorite things!

Reynaldo, our "Elf on the shelf" makes his first appearance in our Christmas tree!

The first ornament after Brad and I got married. Who knew this is where we'd be 10 years down the road!

I love looking at our tree! There are handmade ornaments from the kids as well as ones from my childhood. My first priority in the morning is to turn the lights on and they stay on all day. Due to the late appearance of the tree this year it may stay up a little extra late!

Definitely 3 of my most favorite things!!

Our gingerbread village - or the gingerbread ghetto as it's come to be known around here!

Of all the Santa's that we happened upon, this is the only one with all 3 girls. Cadence is very skeptical about the big guy!

All I want for Christmas...

Yes, she gets to sing it! Laurel has lost her two front teeth just in time to sing the song! After losing the first one a week ago she's been actively wiggling the other one just for this occasion. We've had the Tooth Fairy and an Elf wandering through our house at night this month! Laurel has always been "cute". Tiny button nose, sweet little voice, gentle nature. Generally, just cute! (I'm a little biased, but most people agree!) And now her two front teeth are gone and soon to come are some over-sized, too big for her little face, type of teeth. She will grow into them, which means, she will grow up. For some reason this makes me profoundly sad. I love to watch my children grow, but on the other hand I desperately don't want them to grow up. I want them to become competent, independent beings, but I don't want them to not need me. Such is the juxtaposition of being a parent. When I tell Laurel not to grow up she blames me. She says that I make her eat her vegetables. With perfect reasoning, she simply tells me not to make her eat her veggies and then she won't grow up. I'm considering it!


With the move and all it's been a little challenging, but I think I've finally gotten into the spirit of Christmas! Reynaldo, our "Elf on the Shelf" made his first appearance on December 8th. We had our tree up by December 14th and I got Cadence her "First Christmas" ornament a few days after that. My friend brought me a huge container of cookies to indulge in and I finished Cadence's stocking to hang by the fireplace. Alas, none of these made me feel the excitement and anticipation that usually starts right around Thanksgiving.

The Mommy Guilt was creeping in. How could I not be over the moon excited about Cadence's first Christmas? I should be making this one of the best experiences of her life, right? We should have pictures coming out the wazoo of good times and cheer. But I wasn't feeling it. Cadence has been minimally interested in the tree (probably a good thing!) and she has not been a fan of Santa (not unexpected). We've bought less presents due a big "family gift" of a trip to Great Wolf Lodge. I've only used a portion of my Christmas decorations since most are packed away in the garage. We are in a different house, one that is not our own. We haven't seen Brad much due to extra time in the OR and to top it off I have been facing a long, four day stretch at work. (When it's 12 hour days they are pretty consuming.)

I am at the end of the stretch and finally, 3 days before Christmas, finally, feeling like it's the holidays! I anticipate baking a few cookies and wrapping all of the presents in the next day or so. Brad and I will enjoy our longest stretch of days off together since Cadence's surgery. The kids are out of school and things will shut down for a couple of days. I'm planning on excessive time in pajamas, curling up on the couch with the kids, watching "Polar Express" and "A Christmas Story". We will be lazy and overindulgent with the cookies and hot chocolate. The kids are anxious for their sleepover under the tree. If we're lucky, we may sleep in a bit! We will open gifts with excitement and watch each other opens the things we have given them with even more excitement. And we will be surrounded in the love of our family. While the excitement was slow to come, I hope that this is what Cadence feels the most... the love of our family!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Moving and Growing

Cadence is growing and moving! She is in constant motion it seems. Always running here and there, getting in to everything... she never stops! Cadence loves to look at books. Well, she loves to look at one page of each book! She's happy to sit with 3 different toys and alternate playing with all of them. I'll view this as toddlerhood vs. ADHD at this point! She is definitely growing, though. At her 19 month check-up this month we found that she has grown 2 inches since she came home in September. Probably due to decreased eating after her cleft palate surgery, she has only gained 10 oz, but we were very pleased with her growth!

Our family is moving - not growing, though. We are definitely done growing! Our family of 5 feels like the perfect size for us. But we have moved out of our home of the past 7 years. We are currently living in a rental and hoping that they will break ground on our new home soon. The rental is set up with our furniture and our Christmas decorations, but I think I've had the hardest time adjusting out of everyone! I still feel like a visitor in someone else's house. It feels a little odd to walk around so casually in my pajamas, let alone trying to sleep in the "master bedroom". When someone knocks on the door I feel like I should answer "We don't live here"! The kids all seem to love the house and the novelty of being somewhere new. I think a few more family movie nights and pancake breakfasts will leave it feeling like it's our temporary "home" instead of "house".

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Giving Thanks

We have so much to be thankful for this year! Brad finished grad school and started working. We have sold our home and will start building a new one soon. Sierra and Laurel are healthy and happy and thriving. And Cadence... where do we begin to give thanks here? We are thankful that her surgery went well and that she has bonded so amazingly with all of us. We are grateful that we made it to China and back with her in our arms. I won't bore you with the details, but around the time of Cadence's referral there were a lot of "near misses". By this I mean all of those little details that happen - or don't happen. Those tiny events in life that put you in the right place at the right time. The way situations unfold that you have no control over or even want to have control over, but if they didn't happen exactly as they did, your life could be completely different. There were a lot of "near misses" and if a few circumstances had been just a tiny bit different, we might not be giving Cadence her first bite of turkey this Thanksgiving! We might not watch her balance her bowl on her head then laugh and clap in delight! We might not be watching her blow kisses for the first time! So for those "near misses" that ironed out just right - we are forever thankful!