Wednesday, December 15, 2010

More from Reagan....

Rylie got a giraffe toy for her birthday....

Reagan: Mommy, do giraffes poop?

Me: Of course they do.

Reagan: Do they every time (they use the bathroom)?

Me: I don't know.

Reagan: Hmmm.....I'll have to ask one.

Later, the conversation changed....

Reagan: Mommy, sharing and loving and caring about other people....that's the truth of Christmas!!

Preach it baby girl! :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Rylie Girl!!!

2 is a big number around here right now.

Rylie has been home for just over 2 months.....and today she is 2 years old!!!

My, how much has changed in the past 2 months!

When we arrived home from China, we came with a little girl who was part happy, silly and crazy and part terrified-of-everything stressed out. She screamed, she tantrumed, she hated the dog, hated toys, hated blankets, hated stuffed animals, didn't know how to play, wasn't sure of her siblings, had bumps all over her skin, carried a parasite, took at least 2 hours every night to fall asleep, and nearly refused to be put down. She was unsure of us, unsure of her surroundings, unsure of everything.

Now, just 2 months later, we still have some moments....but she is a different girl.

She still has some tantrums when she doesn't get her way (hey, she's 2) but instead of having 20 in a day that are violent and lengthy, they are short and infrequent.

She LOVES the dog and will even climb into bed with her and hug her goodnight.

She loves (most) toys. She has learned to play. She likes some stuffed animals as long as they don't move and make noise. She likes blankets now and will happily be covered up and snuggle with one in bed.

She loves (for the most part) her siblings. Well, Jonah anyway. She has a love-hate relationship with Reagan....which I think is mutual!

Her skin looks great and she is rid of her giardia.

Bedtime is down to about 20 minutes and she sleeps through the night! (Praise God!!) She used to force herself to stay awake. She would kick, roll, pick at herself, her clothes, the bedding and us just to stay awake. She would rhythmically "chant" for hours until she would fall asleep...I guess as a type of self-soothing thing. She doesn't do these things anymore, unless something unusual is going on. For example, on Thanksgiving night, she was running a fever and felt miserable. I was putting her to bed when I realized she was doing her chanting thing as she was trying to go to sleep. It hit me that she hadn't done that in quite a while, and suddenly it seemed so strange!

She still likes to be held a lot, but is ok for a lot of the time to be on her own walking around.

She can run across the whole yard and not fall. She can go up steps pretty well and climb. When she first got home, she fell constantly and could hardly push up her own body weight on steps.

She eats like a horse. We have yet to find anything she doesn't like....I'm talking raw onions, peppers, just about any soup, black olives, guacamole, beans, broccoli....she loves everything. In fact, when it's mealtime, I can barely even put plates on the table without her running full speed to the table screaming with delight. She LOVES to eat. She must have the world's fastest metabolism considering how tiny she is!

She is the queen of silly faces.

The day we met her, one of the ladies from her orphanage said she was smart and liked imitating people. Boy was she accurate! Her imitations are hilarious. She'll imitate any face you make or motion you do. It's come in really handy as we have taught her signs. She knows more than 20! She has tried to start verbally imitating things we say such as, cracker, more, hot, Mama, bye-bye, night-night, I love you, and my personal favorite..."Say what??" Not bad for still having a massive hole in her mouth!

She loves music and dances pretty much right away whenever she hears it.

She loves blowing kisses.

She LOVES her Daddy.

She loves bathtime.

She loves brushing her hair, and necklaces, and anything girly.

She loves Christmas lights!

She recently learned to give real kisses and hugs. She used to just sit there if you hugged her. Now, she hugs back! And she'll pucker up to give kisses. I can't explain how awesome it felt the first time she hugged me back. Something that is so instinctive for us....people who have always received love and affection...was so unnatural for her. How much we take for granted....

In a nutshell, adoption changes lives.


And certainly, this little girl has changed our lives.

Bringing her into our family has challenged us in more ways than we could have even anticipated, from start to finish. But she is worth it. In a short time, she has blessed us tremendously. We have learned so much about ourselves. About perseverance. About patience. About unconditional love. About choices. About faith and hope and expectations. It's been quite a ride so far. We're thrilled to be along for the journey.

Today, I'm glad she can celebrate. I'm glad there are people to celebrate her. She deserves it.

So for the first time, let me say...


Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Parade!

So, post-adoption and trip to the other side of the world adding in another kiddo near the holidays....what's a family to do?

Whatever is FREE...that's what!

We packed up and headed out in the cold on Saturday morning to the Christmas Parade. It's been a while since I've been. I think I last took Jonah before Reagan was even born! It was COLD, but fun! My sweet friend Ashley came along (Thanks Ashley!!!).

We arrived over an hour early to make sure we got a good spot!

It was a long wait...

Rylie got a little concerned....

Then, she got angry....

Fortunately, it soon started, and she loved it! I just wish I had a video of her dancing to the marching bands!
And then, there's the happy boy who just saw a bunch of Star Wars characters.

It made the wait and the cold all worth it!


Lots to be thankful for around here this year! We made a "Thankful Tree" and wrote down some of our favorite things. Legos, candy, and bananas made the lists of the kids. Of course, Rylie coming home was surely the highlight!

Reagan and Rylie were my kitchen helpers. Mostly, they helped eat the supplies.

My 3 pilgrims

Thanksgiving and Christmas are always busy around here. Since our families both are local, we head to both places; one for lunch and one for dinner. We LOVE not travelling, but it makes for a long day for everyone....including our stomachs!

This year, we started at my mom's. Our family has outgrown her house, so she rented the clubhouse in her neighborhood. It was great!

The "older" cousins had their own table.

Rylie seemed to thoroughly enjoy the day.....especially since it involved food!

Unfortunately, Rylie ended up with a fever once we got to Rush's parents' house, so I don't really have any pictures from their house. She was fine once she woke up the next morning though. Regardless, I think she was impressed with her first taste of the holidays in America!

How about a random post?

I'm in a period of being really bad about updating. And, unfortunately, that means it's time for a random catch-all post. Ready? Let's go!

We made shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan's Purse. We've done it since Jonah was a baby and I just love it. The kids have enjoyed participating more and more each year. This year, we even bought some milk and chickens to help people in other countries (Jonah's choice).

Jonah's school had a great Veteran's Day program. The first graders sang multiple songs. I took the girls up to the school to watch. I was so impressed! They did a great job!

Reagan is suddenly interested in helping out in the kitchen. She wants to help make
coffee every day and pretty much everything else you can think of.
Daddy taught her to make pancakes!

We've thoroughly enjoyed watching our Hokies recently. We had a great time watching them win the ACC championship game, and ending the season, of course, by beating UVA! (Sorry, I couldn't resist!) Of course, along with that goes the further indoctrination of the kids. :)

Of course, around here, with fall, comes lots and lots and lots of leaves. We've raked 4 times already I believe!

We decided it's time for Rylie to start earning her keep around didn't turn out so well for us! :)


One of Rylie's Christmas presents was a family membership to our local Children's Museum.....we joined a little early, and have taken the girls a few times.

Rylie has always done great when we've gone places to play, and this has been no exception. She loves it!

She LOVED this fact, her tantrum over not riding the train 12 times in a row is what made us leave! I'd say she's definitely getting over some of her fears.

My little artists!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Big Sisters

Reagan: "Mommy, Rylie's going up the stairs!!"

Me: "It's ok babe, stop fussing at her please."

Reagan: "I can't help it."


Jonah is trying to convince Rush to buy him a Playstation 3. I am the roadblock on his street of smooth sailing. They are scheming against me.

Jonah says to Rush....

"Let's just tell her we're going to buy her a present and really come back with a Playstation 3!"

Next, I went to take a shower. He said to Rush....

"Quick Daddy! Let's go! Now's our only chance!"

How I love that boy. That sneaky scheming boy....

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Give thanks in all circumstances knowing that this is the will of God in
Christ Jesus concerning you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

In honor of Thanksgiving, I felt compelled to write a post about how thankful I am, just as everyone else does this time of year.

But to be honest, I'm not feeling it.

I know, I know....I have a MILLION things to be thankful for.

My family.


A warm home.

Friends to look after me.

I could go on and on. But it just feels cliched to me this year. And I know, I sound completely ungrateful. I don't mean to.

And I don't mean to come across as too depressing...I've just needed a major attitude adjustment. There's been so much adjusting going on around here in other ways that I've lost sight of those typical "thankful" things. My focus has been different this year.

It's funny, for the past nearly 3 years, we've been desperate for Rylie to get here. And now she's here.....and a lot of the time, I feel neutral about it. I know...that sounds horrible. I get it. Bear with me.

It's all about expectations. Stinking expectations....

It's so easy to romanticize the process of adding a new child to your family. Whether by birth or by adoption, it's hard not to imagine what life will be like once they are here. As much as we knew bringing a nearly 2 year old into our home would bring challenges, we still had hopes and expectations. Unrealistic expectations. Expectations of ourselves and of Rylie which were fair to no one. We're not superparents but we expect a lot out of our kids. Perhaps too much too soon. It's easy to forget we've just been home 7 1/2 weeks from China. It's easy to forget Rylie doesn't understand our expectations yet. It's easy to forget she's still figuring us out...and our life, which she was very recently thrust into, without any choice. It's hard not to expect her to behave as if she is an almost-2-year-old who was born into our family. It's hard to look at her and not yet truly feel the same about her as I do about Jonah and Reagan. And I feel bad about that. And I hate to admit it. I feel bad there's been no love at first sight thing happening here. But it's the truth. I know it will come though. It will. And things will get easier.

And I will feel more thankful...because of how I feel now.

So actually, I AM thankful. For all the usual stuff, of course. But also, I am thankful for these present trials....because I know they will make us stronger in the long run.

I am thankful to have these times to look back upon one day and see how far Rylie has come.

I am thankful to have the opportunity to experience adoption and know the joys and challenges of both. Both are so awesome in their own way. What a privilege to see both sides.

I am thankful for the chance to self-reflect. To be presented with a circumstance which has tested me and revealed a lot of stuff I need to work on. A lot of stuff.

And grace. I am thankful for a heck of a lot of grace.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ,
after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you
and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
1 Peter 5:10

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Another one...

Today, Jonah's school had a great little Veteran's Day program. All the first graders were singing, so I headed down to the school with the girls bright and early this morning to watch. I have to admit, cheesy as I am, that I got a little teary watching all these kids sing songs about our country and wave flags! It was so cute!

When Jonah got home, we got on the subject of George Washington. Jonah studied him a little bit in kindergarten, but said he couldn't remember anything about him. Of course, I took the opportunity to refresh his memory... Reagan was happy to participate.

Jonah: I don't remember much about him.

Me: He was the first what?

Jonah: President

Me: What kind of hat did her wear?

Jonah: One with 3 corners.

Me: A tri-corner hat. Right. He was called the Father of what?

Reagan: Jesus!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Crazy Cakes

This afternoon, Reagan wanted a snack....

Me: How about a clementine?

Reagan: No. I'll take a peach-tine.

A few days ago, she was getting dressed.

Reagan: Mommy, I want to wear my tacky pants.

Me: Your tacky pants???

Reagan: Yes, my tacky pants.

She went to the dresser and pulled out her khaki pants.

Today, we were driving in the car and she was talking about milk.

Reagan: Mommy, you should drink some milk for your tummy.

Me: I should? Why?

Reagan: Because we have 2 kids and a toddler. Now we need a baby.

Me: Ummm, no.

(She gets confused about breastfeeding.)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fancy Times

A few weeks ago, one of our neighbors handed-down a suit to Jonah. He was so excited! He decided to wear it for picture day at school (which we haven't gotten back yet) and then made even bigger plans.

He decided he wanted to wear his suit to church (but come into the service with us, as his suit was too "fancy" for his class), and then, go to a "fancy" restaurant for lunch.

A really fancy place.....

.....The Olive Garden.

So, today, we all dressed up for church. Then, we headed to the fancy Olive Garden. I figured it was worth know, being fancy and all.

We learned a lot.

Apparently, fancy restaurants have cool things like Tic-tac-toe.

But, we didn't feel like it was fancy enough. So, we took care of that.

Rush was impressed with the prices at the fancy restaurant.

Even the girls were thrilled to have the opportunity to experience such a fancy place.

It was an experience we will certainly remember for a long that we're fancy and all.