This blog chronicles the miracles and struggles of our daughters, Emily and Olivia. Emily was born 15 weeks early and had many complications, but she continues to amaze us! Olivia, born in China with heart complications, is also beating the odds. She joined her forever family (us!) when she was four years old and has been doing wonderfully! UPDATE: We started homeschooling August 2009 :)

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The results are in...

We went back to the endocrinlogist today for the analysis of all the labs that were ordered. The good news is that the latest blood test showed that thyroid levels are now in the normal range and we do not need any follow up!! Her anemia also seems to be responding to the iron supplements :) VERY good news!!

The only bad news is that we already spent $$$ out of pocket for a slew of (unneccessary?) labs that we think were ordered a little prematurely (the hand x-ray wasn't even read yet). I'm also questioning why we even needed to come in for today's office visit (more $$$ out of pocket). They didn't look up the blood results until we got there and then declared her healthy, but it seems like a phone call could have sufficed.

Andy had the right idea when he balked at all the labs and suggested (to me) that it'd make more sense to wait for the new blood results first to see if the other tests were still warranted...I agreed but wasn't assertive enough to call back and debate the order of events... so I did what I was told to do. Now that we're out several hundred of dollars for tests we didn't need I'm really kicking myself! Of course, Olivia's health is our first concern and I'm thrilled that her thyroid is fine. I just wish medical professionals would consider the cost before ordering tests that may not even be needed. I suppose they assume it's all complimentary thanks to insurance, but that's not always the case--we have a very high deductible. Okay, off my soap box ;-> The bottom line is Olivia's thyroid is NORMAL!!! :)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Memorial Day

We had a fun picnic at Grandma & Grandpa M's house for Memorial Day. Andy's folks are snowbirds who have just recently come home from Florida and it was fun watching Olivia interact and make herself at home as if she's always been part of the family. She also felt quite comfortable riding their giant stuffed animal who guards their home!

Talk to the hand. Olivia thinks it's great fun to put her sock on her hand and make her own puppet. She's pretty good at entertaining herself and has quite an imagination :)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Dry run

Emily was really hoping we'd set up the pool Saturday, but rain kept us inside. Fortunately, that didn't stop them from having fun with some new pool toys! By Sunday night the pool was up and when it warms up later this week I might have some real pool pictures :)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Backpack, backpack

Every time we leave to drop off or pick up Emily from school, Olivia can't leave home until she has a backpack, too! Oh, and also Bunny, of course. I Just think it's cute how she has to be just like her big sister and I had to take their pictures after we got home from school today :)

For inquiring minds...Olivia's backpack contains whatever she can find to put in it. Today it has one Chinese doll, one green marker, an old photo albums (from our last house farewell party five years ago!) and an empty water color case. Heaven only knows what's become of the paint tray and brush.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Labs and I love yous :)

Olivia was such a trooper for her thyroid ultrasound, hand x-ray and blood tests today. She made friends with the older adults in the waiting rooms, kissing their owies and dressing their wounds with the stickers she'd just earned. Some hospitals have therapy dogs to cheer patients up, but Olivia did a great job without any training! She really knows how to light up a room and make people smile :)

Some people in the waiting room today commented about Olivia being a lucky girl, but really I feel lucky, blessed and honored to be her mom. Both our girls bring us so much joy and have so much empathy for others. Yes, I'm the lucky one. No, the miscarriages and infertility stuff weren't fun, but without them we would not have considered adoption... and we wouldn't have these TWO wonderful child we have today. Sure, we could have been happy with another biological child, but adoption can be a pretty amazing experience in its own right and doesn't at all feel like we've settled for second best as some might presume. God works in strange and mysterious ways and I'm so grateful for the path He's led us on to get each of our amazing kids. Neither one came to us easily, but both have been so worth every difficulty that we've come across. Yes, I'm one blessed mama :)

I'm attaching a video clip from putting the girls to bed tonight. Olivia's almost perfected the "I love you," but now I wish I'd captured the earlier attempts that were so cute like, "!" Both of them are pros now, but still cute to me :)

On May 31 we'll go back to endocrinologist for the analysis of all the lab results and I'm praying that her anemia has improved and that her thyroid levels don't indicate a need for a lifetime of meds. It wouldn't be the worst news if she did, but of course it'd be better not to need it...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Olivia says her name!

Olivia has been answering to her new name, but often seems to be trying to gently correct us when we say "Olivia," by pointing to herself and saying, "Tan Tan!" When she asks for things, she uses her Chinese name, saying things like, "Tan Tan go outside?" And why not? For four years she had a perfectly good name and then these strange people swooped in start calling her by the WRONG name!! While she'd humor us by responding to "Olivia," she never had much interest in saying it. And, on the rare occasions she tried (with much coaching), she'd get tripped up with the difficult letters (especially V). So, I was very surprised today to hear her say her name as plain as day and had to run to get the camera!! Some might have suggested a better backdrop (you'll see if you watch the video), but I've learned that I have to catch the moment before it's gone! I did try to recapture the moment in a nice sunny outside spot, but the moment was over and there just wasn't the same enthusiasm.

All of this is exciting yet a little sad because as she gains English and a new American identity, she loses her Chinese-ness. It's kind of like the bittersweetness of watching a baby's milestones; it's neat to see the progress, but it's sad to let go of the previous stage that can never return. It's too bad she can't keep both English and Chinese...

Right after I captured this I put her down for a nap and apparently I had the volume up too high while editing the video clip, because she's just responded to the video by yelling down, "hi, Olivia" to the girl she is hearing! Volume is now down. Go to sleep, Olivia :)

(you may have to double click on the arrow and it may have some stops and starts the first time through as it's buffering)

Busy weekend

The weekend started off with a baseball game that a Emily earned by reading. Few people actually watched the game because it was more about getting your T-shirt signed by other friends in attendance! The girls also liked meeting the mascot, Ozzie, who picked Olivia up and could have made a great photo IF only I had my camera on me at the time! I did have the camera handy when they met the Diamond Dog, Jake, who served as bat boy :)

Since the girls are so interested in cousin Sara's violin (Olivia still turns everything into one!), we went to see her play Saturday morning and also saw her art as well as her brother Brian's displayed at the Fine Arts Festival.

Sunday Andy's parents joined us to watch Emily's bridging ceremony, graduating from being a Daisy Girl Scout to a Brownie. Afterwards we enjoyed a nice, but chilly picnic.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Cute kids if I do say so myself :)

I just love this first photo from the other day!! I took the other two pix yesterday :)

You can click on an image to enlarge it.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Note to Susan, adopting from RongXian

I am so excited to hear that another one of Olivia's "brothers" will soon have a new home!! I don't know how you found our blog, but thanks for leaving a comment!! Without an email address I don't know how to reach you except through this public post...but I would love to get in contact with you! I might even have a picture of your son in the little photo album that the orphanage sent home with Olivia. I also wanted to make sure you know about a yahoo group you can join that's just for those of us with kids from RongXian RongXian's orphanage has so few kids (I think at one point there were only 9) that our kids would have to know each other and it'd be great for them to keep some connections to their first "family."

If you join the yahoo group we can email each other privately there without having to broadcast addresses here.

cute pix of Olivia from this afternoon

Olivia looked so cute in her asian-style dress that I just had to take her picture :)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Two months!

It's been two months since we brought Olivia home and amazingly she acts as though she's always been part of the family. There is now no doubt that she loves her daddy as much as Mommy and squeals with delight when he comes home. She is so sweet and affectionate, always giving smiles and kisses and she has the biggest belly laughs when tickled. I still haven't seen the shy introverted child they said she was--she waves and says hi to everyone she sees!

She's picked up a lot of English and most people wouldn't guess she's been here such a short time. I can still hear some Chinese, but based on her tiny size and her telegraphic speech, one would probably just assume she's a toddler who is just learning to speak. When she's more fluent I hope she'll be able to share with us about her life in China and the people she loved.

Some days it's hard to believe what amazing stuff has transpired in the last few months. When we asked for a child with a heart condition we had asked for a baby girl, but agreed to put the choice in God's hands. When we were presented with a four year old it was quite a shock, but we are so glad we said yes and took that leap of faith! We couldn't have chosen a better match for us if we'd tried. We still can't believe how happy and easy going she is. As you can see by the video clip, she is just so fun and full of joy. She is such a blessing, as is Emily :)

As for Emily... Never underestimate the power of sleep! I've had Emily take a nap the last couple days and she is more like the girl we know and love :) Naps won't be an option once she's in first grade next year, but I'll cross that bridge when we come to it. I'm hoping that in the mean time the novelty of sharing a room will wear off and they'll actually go to sleep when we tuck them in. The girls love sharing a room and I really hope we can make it work, but for now we've set up a back up plan. The girls were shown a laid out sleeping bag in another room and we tried to impress upon them that that if someone (Olivia is usually the guilty party) is being loud (giggling and talking) they will be separated. They didn't like that idea and were quiet enough last night that they got to stay in their own beds, but I imagine some follow through may be required. I much prefer the giggling to wailing and crying, but sleep would be better yet!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Emily can be a very sweet kid, but for the last few days she's had some episodes of angry and defiant outbursts that have really tested my patience. It's been kind of like Jekyll and Hyde because at some points she can be unrecognizably out of sorts and other times she redeems herself by being as sweet as can be. I hope this isn't foreshadowing hormonal teenage years in our future!

Getting enough sleep continues to be an issue (I made her nap today), but I assume a lot of her turmoil has to do with dealing with being dethroned and sharing our attention. For anyone who has been there, done that please tell me that we're nearing the light at the end of the tunnel! In addition to addressing sleep we think she'll benefit from more one-on-one outings, but we cancelled tonight's outing with Daddy because we didn't want her to think we were rewarding bad behavior.... Hopefully tomorrow will go better and she'll get to enjoy a treat. I also need to schedule a date with her for some undivided attention.

Some sibling issues may be here to stay, but I'm hoping and praying that some behavior is temporary. If we're on your prayer list please pray for Emily (and for her parents!). She's a good kid, but she's having some rough days trying to adjust to her world that's been turned up-side-down.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Slices of life

Life is good :)

You can click images to enlarge.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Presents in bed!

What a wonderful way to start a day! Two beautiful girls and a handsome guy brought me birthday presents in bed!! You may note that the birthday girl isn't actually in the photographs, but that's because I was behind the camera. Besides, I'm not very photogenic first thing in the morning!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The good, the bad...

Olivia sharing her fries with her faithful companion, Bunny.

These pix show some of the good, the bad, and the not-so-rosy moments. Olivia continues to be a pretty easy child, which by comparison, sometimes makes Emily seem difficult during this adjustment period. Emily usually has good intentions initially, but when her little sister isn't complying to her satisfaction she's been known to use some man handling which often results in an unhappy sister and parents.

In this unhappy photo, I'd asked to girls to stand by Daddy so I could take their picture with the kite...when Olivia didn't comply, Emily took it upon herself to "help" and dragged her sister kicking and screaming for the joyful picture. ...big sister thought she knew better than her parents and held tighter despite our requests to let go...and then got scolded for not listening...resulting in an all out meltdown by child #1 that she and parents didn't fully recover from for hours. Child #2 recovers quickly and returns to her happy giggly self.
The above scenario has been replayed with slight variances several times over the last month and this mom is hoping that this too shall pass! Emily is generally very nurturing and seems to see herself as a mini mom for the baby sister she waited for for so long. Along with being sweet and motherly, she also thinks she can assume the role of disciplinarian and has tried to put her sister in time out on occasion. Fortunately Olivia is pretty forgiving--often more so than her parents.

I expected difficulties with both girls, so I'm trying to remind myself how fortunate we are to only have difficulties with one. We are very fortunate and I am still amazed by how well Olivia has adjusted! And, fortunately, the girls really do love each other...we've just joined the rest of the world with sibling issues, rivalry, and all the fun stuff that goes along with having a family! I guess we've got to take the good with the bad.