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 :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

One year ago today...

One year ago today, on the other side of the world, we met our second daughter--a cute little girl called Tan Tan (rhymes with won ton) who became our Olivia. I still remember how nervous and excited we were when we took that van ride across Nanning to meet her for the first time. Would she accept us or hate us? Would we all bond? A FOUR year old?! What were we thinking? Were we crazy to mess with a perfectly happy family? How would this affect Emily?

I had so many questions running through my head, but most of those were replaced with relief and joy as soon as we saw her. As we pulled up to the building we caught a glimpse of two little kids playing cars on a coffee table in the lobby. The little girl we had fallen in love with was right there! And the rest is now history :) I'm so glad we took that leap of faith and got the daughter we never knew we were looking for--we thought we wanted an infant, but had no idea how perfect a four year old would be! I guess God knew what He was doing after all when He matched us up! A year later I'm still amazed by how smooth the transition has been. We have much to be grateful for.

This is my blog entry from one year ago:

What a wonderful, wonderful day :) Well worth the wait!!

Introverted? Timid? Shy? Huh?? Olivia FuTan is a giggly, sweet little bundle of love that seems far from the reserved child I expected!! She has such a belly laugh and is just too cute!! I'm not sure if the other shoe is going to drop tomorrow, but today was just wonderful!! At first she was a little quiet and shy, but after I held her and fed her a while, she really warmed up and turned into a giggly chatter box who loves to eat like there's no tomorrow! She hasn't cried at all yet, not even at bedtime. She's been surprisingly easy so's my other one who's having a hard time with the adjustment. At bedtime, Emily was feeling a little jealous and sullen and Olivia reached out to her to try to console her! They are now sound asleep next to each other.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Princess Olivia

Olivia was very surprised and excited to find this beautiful dress in package that arrived with her name on it. My sister Angie is apparently cleaning house for a cross country move and Olivia is the benefactor! This flower girl dress was first worn by cousin Katie in my sister Pamela's wedding the year that Olivia was born...and now it fits the smallest princess in the family. Olivia was so giddy about trying it on that I just had to capture the moment with a little impromptu photo shoot. Isn't she a beautiful little princess?!

My other princess is a bit under the weather with a messy gastro-intestinal bug that's going around. She stayed home sick today and it looks like she'll be home again tomorrow. I hope the rest of us don't get it!

Tomorrow marks one year since we met Olivia!! Check back for an anniversary post.

(click to enlarge)

Monday, February 25, 2008

I've been tagged twice!

I have been tagged by two fellow Bloggers who are also adoptive moms, Lisa and Sue. To check out their kids/blogs, just click on their names. Now that I've been tagged I'm supposed to post seven facts about me that you, readers in blogland, may not know.

How this works: If you've been tagged, link the person who sent this to you and leave a comment on their blog so their readers can visit yours. Post the rules on your blog. Share seven little known facts about yourself. Tag seven other Bloggers at the end of your post and include links to their blogs. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Seven tidbits of info about me:

  1. I hate to spend more money than necessary. I much prefer to shop at Aldi and put the money saved on a vacation vs. eating designer groceries. I also love the challenge of researching the best deals on everything from appliances to vacation home rentals.

  2. When I browse big warehouse stores with ever-changing inventory I have need to stroll in a systematic, aisle by aisle fashion to make sure I see everything.

  3. Time sensitive video games stress me out--I just tried to earn Emily some Webkinz money playing games and it made me way too anxious. That $1300 of fake money wasn't worth the stress head ache it gave me!

  4. I don't like spicy foods, but I have been known to drink pickle juice. Wonder if it cures head aches??

  5. I married my high school sweetheart. We went to different colleges (okay, they were only an hour apart!), but we have been together since we were 16. Oh, and I still like him, too :)

  6. Andy and I both grew up in Ronald Reagan's hometown, Dixon, IL, and I once taught sixth grade in my hometown alongside my old teachers.

  7. After we got married and moved to the 'burbs, I took I nanny job that was supposed to be short term between teaching jobs...and stayed on for four years. During that time, the mom was diagnosed with cancer...and died within months...leaving her four year old with way too few happy mother-daughter memories. That experience made a huge impact on me and is one of the driving forces in my desire to record memories for my kids by scrapbooking. I never want my husband or kids to have to wonder if I love(d) them.

Theoretically I should be tagging 14 blogs since I was tagged twice, but coming up with seven who haven't already been tagged is hard enough :)

Check out some of my favorite blogs by:

1. Caroline, mom to Jack and our travel mate in China. Jack is from Olivia's same orphanage in RongXian.

2. Susan, mom to BeiLee, also from RongXian.

3. Kristina, mom to Morgan, who recently came from RongXian.

4. Jill, mom to Sydney, from Olivia's province, Guangxi.

5. Monica, mom to Maimie, also from Guangxi.

6. Heather, mom to Maya, who is also an "older" child (6) who had a heart condition.

7. Maureen, mom to Olivia, who reminds me a bit of my Olivia :) I have to break the news to them that they're "it!"

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Valentine's Day surprises

On Valentine's Day I woke up to this nice surprise from my dear husband! Lucky me :) Later in the day I got another surprise in the mail from my Godfather! If you're reading this, Joe, thanks for the chocolates! We are all enjoying them! Happy belated Valentine's Day everyone :)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Olivia's first birthday party: 5 years old!

...finally getting around to posting Olivia's birthday pix. Since both girls had fevers on Olivia's birthday we had to reschedule both the neighborhood basement surprise and the family party. In doing so, her birthday celebrations were stretched out over multiple days and multiple celebrations. I don't think she minded one bit! I imagine this was the first time her birthday was celebrated and she took in all in. It's hard to believe she is FIVE!!

Our one year "GOTCHA" anniversary is coming up in a few weeks! In some ways it's hard to believe it's almost been a year, in other ways it seems like Olivia has always been here.

(click to enlarge)

Friday, February 01, 2008

Olivia's big day

This morning our birthday girl woke up with a fever of 103-105, depending on how I swipe the thermometer on her forehead. This is the first time she's ever been sick and it has to happen on her birthday :( She's been so hyped up for her birthday, I'm not sure how I'm going to explain canceling her "surprise" party since she doesn't agree that she's sick. Fortunately she doesn't seem miserable, just very warm. Emily has a bit of a fever, too, and school is canceled for snow anyway. Looks like an exciting day of cartoons on the couch!

Today, as we celebrate Olivia's birthday, not only am I thinking about her unknown birth family across the world who gave us a wonderful gift when they couldn't keep their daughter, but also about all the other orphans left behind. Living in an orphanage is not the ideal setting, but right now they're struggling even more than usual due to extreme weather that they're not equipped for. This morning, as kids here rejoiced at the news of a snow day in warm houses, I opened an urgent email from Half the Sky, an organization of adoptive parents who are making a difference for orphans left behind in China. The southern part of China is subtropical so they were not prepared for the bitter winter conditions that have caught the whole country off guard. The power is out in many of the orphanages so they have no heat and are running out of food as stores are closed.

Jenny Bowen, Executive Director of Half the Sky, writes: "The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina in the US taught us that no matter how wealthy a country might be,its vulnerable citizens (old, poor, ill, and orphaned children) are the ones who suffer most when disaster strikes. Even as China seems to be entering the first world, a disaster like this is quite simply crippling. We know that orphaned children will be among those who suffer the damage most.

Welfare institutions in south and central China are having the hardest time dealing with the weather disaster. This part of the country is simply not equipped to deal with extreme cold or heavy snow and ice. The most common critical problems are power outages, lack of safe drinking and cooking water, lack of fuel, diapers and public transportation. In many places where buses have stopped running, our Half the Sky nannies have been walking hours (in one case, 4 hours) along icy roads to get to the children. As conditions worsen, our nannies and teachers are remaining at the institutions day and night. They have given up the idea of going home to their own families for the holidays. They need quilts. They need warm clothing. They need coal, water, disposable diapers and food."

In Olivia's province of Guangxi, she writes: "Guangxi Province –Guilin has two broken HTS heater/air conditioners in the Infant Nurture rooms and they’ve asked us to replace. The rooms are very, very cold. They ask for more soft matting for the floors and also snow boots for our HTS nannies who’ve been slipping and falling in the ice and snow as they come to work. They are so ill-equipped to handle severe weather.

Today Half the Sky launches the “Little Mouse Emergency Fund” to help the institutions purchase what they need to get through this disaster. If there are funds left over when the weather clears and services are restored, we will take the balance and help each site establish a store of emergency provisions so that this never happens again.You can give to the Little Mouse Emergency Fund by clicking “Donate Now”on our website. Please note in the “Special Instructions to Half the Sky”that your gift is for the Little Mouse Emergency Fund."

In honor of Olivia's birthday, please consider joining me in making a donation to help those left behind...without families...and without warmth or food during this crisis. We are so blessed and want for nothing while there are so many who are struggling to meet the most basic needs.