slide show

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

3 years ago today...


... she came.
This is what happened 3 years ago and then on the day after. 
3 years holds a lot of time to examine hindsight.

In hindsight, she looked so very little in those photos.  So much littler that that other little girls, who were the same age by a few weeks. She didn't look 24 months old at all.  Rather she looked like a baby.  Not a toddler.  I remember the feeling that we set out to adopt a toddler and got a baby instead.

She never again had a bottle.  Ever. Not that we didn't try.  I was told she has one 2 times a day but the moment she was handed off to us, she never had one again.

It took almost half a day to get off all those pee-soaked clothes.  I knew that I was suppose to leave them on her, to let her have even the smallest piece of her past and herself.  But the pee... even when it dried... was just too much for me, and so I coaxed her out of 5 layers of clothing in the next 24 hours.

Her constant scratching was most certainly not from scabies or eczema, but from fear.  3 years later she still does it when she's anxious, scratching the tops of her shoulders.

Her grief was so so awful to witness.  I said at the time, it wasn't screaming really, just constant grief, looking for someone not there, frequent and unknown triggers that brought her silent tears.  I remember one of the children in our travel group, saying to us, Your baby cries all the time. She did.  It was heartbreaking.

She started to emerge from "shut down" mode slowly.  Within a few days we got smiles, but she was still far from the 2 other babies in our group.  With in a couple weeks we could see her personality more clearly.  Within a couple months I can say that she was feeling "at home."

And her special need?  Hmmmmm... I was confused then too.  If you don't remember the story, we went to China not really knowing what her special need was.  Mimi was in the traditional China adoption program, when at 12+ months when she was pulled from the standard program, evaluated, and put into the special need's adoption program.  When we looked at her file, it was a list of symptoms, not a diagnosis.  After consulting with docs that had reviewed her file, we had several things it could be, but still no diagnosis.  Brain damage, mental retardation, mild CP... So there was a huge leap of faith going on when we said yes to her file.  But within a couple days of her being placed with us, Papa and I said the unthinkable out loud... what is her special need?  We still couldn't put our finger on it. She was significantly delayed, and like I said even more so than her peers of the same age at the orphanage, but she really didn't present like there was a definable special need. Then again she was on total shut down mode, and we were confused.  And totally in love.  And it didn't seem to matter much.  In the weeks and months that followed, Mimi opened up and showed us her silly, feminine, stubborn, beautiful self.  And it became obvious, even before we took her to the doctor, that there was no. special. need. at. all.
None.

How does that happen?  How does a a non-special need adoption happen in the special need's program?  I don't have any idea.  After talking directly to both the China orphanage director and our agency, we have several theories how it happened.  And we know that this type of thing although very rare, does happen in the China adoption program.  But really, we will never know.  Was it all on the up and up?  Again, I have my theories, but no concrete answers.  Such are the unknowns in international adoption.

But here is what I do know.
3 years ago today I fell in love with this child so so so much, and that never changed.  =

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Annual top 10 photos - 2014 edition


Ya, it's late.
Like so so late. 
I run on late these days.  
Am I sounding like a broken record?  Papa is still traveling weekly.  He just got home from Las Vegas and next week he's off to Kansas City.  (Anyone from Kansas City that wants to recommend a great place to eat?  Papa thinks he's a foodie.)  If I count the big kids, our kids are in 6 different schools.  Luckily I only have to carpool to 4 schools... only.  If you read a bit of sarcasm in that sentence then I've written it correctly.  The amount of time I'm spending in the car is crazy.  I am well versed in all things reported on by NPR though!  As I reminded Papa recently, the things that matter most to our family are all getting done though.  Like training up children, and we even all seem to like each other these days.  The teenagers are being pretty awesome and not yanking my chain too much.  And that's not a given by any means.  So my apologies are with you my bloggie friends.  I'm sorry I'm behind on my Q&A posts and family favorite recipes, and just plain ol' life posts.  I'm sorry.  We knew it was going to be a year of crazy busy, and I am so ready for May 22nd, the last day of school this year, when I'll be high tailing it to Little Cabin in the Woods and done done done with this busy year.  
86 days and counting... not that I'm counting or anything.  
But I am so counting! 

So onto my top 10 pics for 2014.  After 2013, 2012,  2011, and 2010 I don't want to miss this tradition.  And it's also a tradition that I go way past 10 pics.  We had a lot of big stuff happen this in 2014 and as usual narrowing it down to 10 just wasn't going to happen.  So here it goes no particular order. 

Liv's 18th birthday, highschool graduation, trip-of-a-life-time trip.  This is looking through a glass door at St. An's Orphanage in VietNam.  The children stole our hearts.  I miss it.  So much.  I love this pic because Liv is doing one of the things she does best, loving on the children there and giving of herself.  But I also love it because I can see myself, with a baby on my hip too, in the reflection of the glass.  My time with my daughter on this trip was so special.  
In order to go to VietNam I sadly missed my favorite pow wow.  Thankfully my papa took me to an itty bitty pow wow in my home town and it was different and still wonderful.
I'm photographing this gorgeous young lady again later this week.  It might be one of my favorite BWs that I've ever taken.
Kids in the mud?  What can go wrong.  Well Jude was NOT happy with me at all for making him get dirty.  I'm not sure he'll ever forgive me or forget the horror of this moment.  The girls had fun though!
I love love love this pic.  I might in my top ten of all time.  I love how it empowers little girls. specifically my little girl.  Yes, I miss FireDog so much.  But our 24/7 ninja is awesome too.  If Tess could do anything this is where she'd be all day long, in the air, fighting off evil with a sword.  She is the best ninja ever!
This pic is special to me becuase I remember my papa doing this exact thing to me in my home town, lifting me up to see the Christmas display.  Now Papa does it for Mimi.  ***sigh***
I discovered a deep love of my macro lens this year.  Like I love this lens.  And I love these little lips.  Heaven  Pure heaven.
I had an occasion to shoot my first birth in 2014 too.  It was the most amazing experience ever!  And I'm excited that I'll get to photograph another one in April too!  I love the details in this shot.  The vernix on her finger and the blood drop on the blanket and skin.  So very new was this gorgeous baby!
If you've followed my photography for a while, you know I love color.  Mimi in orange and on orange is pretty much the best thing ever!
Oh how much I want to be back here!  I love that turquoise house in the background.  I love the oxen in the rice fields.  I love the red tile roofs.  I love this country.
This little one was a pre-schooler when this was taken, just a bit older than Mimi.  I saw her sitting in this doorway and it took my breath away even before I took the pic.  And I remember thinking as I walked over to take the pic, oh please don't move before I can get the shot.  Thankfully she didn't.  And the image turned out just like I hope it was.  That doesn't always happen.   This time it did.
More VietNam?  Ummmmm, YES!  I have this one blown up on canvas.  The yellow was behind her is the outer wall of St. Ans.
I think this is the same little one that is in the pic 2 above this one in the door way.   She really is a gorgeous child.  And I love all the peachy tones in this image.  Not to mention the little top notch on her head.  All the children were just this gorgeous!
This next pic was a finalist for Adoptive Families annual contest!  And I love it too for the way it shows how Jude is the consummate big brother, teaching his littlest sister how to twirl.  Those little cheeks of hers and the way her dress and pony tail fly out are pretty awesome too!
VietNam in HaLong Bay and one of the floating villages there.  In just a few moments after I snapped this pic, we hopped on board that orange boat and got the tour.  Ya... it was that freaking amazing!
Seriously, a pic of me made it into my top 10?  Oh yes it did!  My good friend Kate took this pic of Mimi and me.  I love everything about it, and it's just how I still feel about this little Chinese princess of mine... giddy! And I even love the urban background setting.  If I die this year, someone please tell my family to use this photo at my memorial service!
Oh my goodness this child just amazes me!  She isn't stereotypical Viet looking, but I love how God has created her with her own unique look, and it's a gorgeous one at that.  Flash forward... she's gonna be 17 someday.  Someone help me when we get there!
This pic made it into the top ten because it's one of my favorite places on the planet, about 90 min from my home.  That's water coming down from the top and 5 of my kiddos on the bottom.
Yep, she did it!  Sunny got married and this is the pic I have to show for it.  But the words are better than I could have ever chosen.  ...be united to his wife... So they are no longer two, but one. And we are amazing proud of both Sunny and her Airman!  We love you both!
Ya the love affair with the macro lens continues!  Waiting and waiting for the honey bee to be in just the right place.  Those little suckers are fast!  Let's just say it was an exercise in patience.
Their first day of school.  Tess wasn't happy with me.  Sometimes that's just how it is.  And he's usually got his eye on her all the time to be there when she needs.
More macro.  I'm not a carnation kind of gal, but I'm thinking that maybe I am now!  Carnations never looked so delicate and pretty to me.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Great big wonderful things in little packages


I'll be the first to say that this little man has me wrapped around his little finger.  He's 7 years old and in a house of crazy and chaos and noise, he's our anal retentive sensitive rule follower.  
Do you know those people that unknowingly stick out their tongues when they are concentrating?  We have one of those!  Really, how cute is that as he's working hard to make the basket?!
I'm really posting this next photo so you can see how tiny this child is. Granted he's all stretched out here, but still!  The shorts he's wearing are a size 4.  Jude will be 8 years old this summer.
So not only is Jude one of our "littles," but one of the reasons we call them the littles isn't just because they are young, but because all three of them are quite little, and no matter how old they get, they are likely going to stay that way.  Jude is a small guy.  A year older than his classmates, he's a full head shorter than them.  At 7 1/2 he currently weighs 38 lbs and is 42 inches tall.  That puts him on course to be a whopping 5'3" at best when he's grown.  It's a big world out there, and he's he's gonna be a little man.  He's even small according to the Vietnamese growth charts!  I won't lie and say that doesn't concern me.  We're not hugely concerned, but in a world where Jude is already going to stand apart from his ethnicity, he's going to have to deal with his smaller stature too.  It's yet another thing to think about and keep our eyes and ears open in the world of interracial families.
But I know he's not going to let a little thing like being little stop him.  Cause after all, he's loving and playing basketball!  A big man sport, and his height isn't even a concern so far.  And he is huge when it comes to his all-around amazingness!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

It's only a week late...


... but here they are!
Please don't hold it against me if I'm just now posting Valentine's pictures... pictures that I took in January and had every intention of posting on Valentine's Day!  Each year I make the Valentines that they exchange with classmates, and the good news is that I did get their Valentines done on time.  But not so much the blog post.  I can't say why things are so busy right now, but most of the days it does feel like I'm not getting enough sleep at night and just treading water in the day.

Any who... here is part II of our ♥ pics!  There was a little bit of kissing going on but it was all in the spirit of brother and sister love.  
Happy belated Valentine's Day.  
(I better start Easter pics RIGHT AWAY!)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Happy ❤ Day!


The little scrunched up nose smile
Her little tootsies and fingers
Everything really
Oh yes, I will be yours, Mimi... forever!  

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Meanwhile behind the scenes...


...of the wrestling meet
Big brother loves on littlest sister.
Littlest brother loves on biggest brother.
The not-twins have their own wrestling match. 
and Mama loves seeing them all knit perfectly together.
Seriously, how lucky am I?!

***sigh***

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