July 31st 2016

Hello Everyone!  I want to apologize for not posting sooner, but we have been in survival mode around here.  I cannot believe we have been home for 5 weeks this weekend.  It has been a wild roller coaster ride since coming home.  It has been a big adjustment for all 5 of us!  I am learning that this is definitely not a race, but a marathon.

We had our first doctors appointment with our primary care physician on July 11th.  Here is a picture in the waiting room before going back!

Luckily Grace had several shots in China and we were only missing 5 to be caught up.  We got 4 shots and will do the 5th one with her 2 year shots in August.  She did not like the doctor examining her, but everything checked out perfectly.  She only cried a few minutes after receiving the shots and she was back to her happy self!!  We also got a script for blood work, which we did the following week.  All of her blood work also came back good!  It is a relief to know that everything besides the bilateral cleft lip and palate is healthy!!  Here is a picture back at home with her first sucker!  It took a while for us to get her to put it in her mouth!  She did not like it as much as I thought she would.

We decided to get out and go to a Ladybug release at the Myriad Gardens.  The girls all had a great time and I got some good pictures.  Grace is unhappy in the first one because I sat her down and she did not want that.  She does not like getting her picture made.

We decided to release our ladybugs outside instead of in the greenhouse!!  Grace was much happier once we were outside!!

Grace is still not wanting to nap much.  We are continuing to work on that.  She gets grumpy when she does not get enough sleep.  Here is a cute picture of her playing around in her bed!

We had to go and run a few errands and pick out fabric for Sydney's quilt that she will be making at sewing camp.  Who would have thought that you could be so happy to be at Hobby Lobby.  You cannot help but smile when you see this face!!

The reality of surgery set in on about the Thursday before.  I felt like I had everything under control, but there is something about your baby having surgery that makes you feel a little sick.  The girls got invited to go to the lake the weekend before and were so excited to go!  Thank you Will and Tracy for loving on our girls.  They had the BEST time at the lake!!

We stayed home, played, and loved on her all weekend.  We did not get much sleep due to nerves, but were able to have a low key weekend with Grace before surgery.  Here is a picture of her playing with her Baba (Chinese for daddy).  She loves playing and being silly!!

She also found a fun July 4th headband in her big sisters closet and loves wearing it around!!

Surgery day was a bittersweet day.  We know the surgeries have to happen, but we felt like we were just starting to get a little bit adjusted and then we have to have surgery.  We were full of nerves and anxiety, but know we are in good hands with Dr. Glade.  Here are a few pictures before surgery.  We were a little sad knowing her smile would not be this big after surgery.  We LOVE her big smile!

They let me carry her back to the operating room and be with her until she was under anesthesia so she would not be traumatized about being taken away from us.  She is still very cautious of people and does not like anyone except her momma, baba and 2 big sisters to touch or hold her.  

This surgery is the shortest of the first 3 and will only be about an hour.  The doctor took both sides of her lip and attached them to the middle piece in order to stretch the skin so that everything will go together easier on the final repair of the lip.  The Dr. said that everything went together great and that there was not any tension on the skin.   He also placed tubes in her ears.  He said there was a lot of fluid on her ears so she should hear a lot better with that gone and the tubes.  He assured us that she would not remember anything for the first hour after coming out of anesthesia.  Shortly after the doctor left they came to get us to go back and see her.  She was crying hard when we walked back.  A nurse was holding her to try and calm her down.  The second she got into her mamas arms she stopped crying.  On a positive note it was good to know she knows her mama even coming out of anesthesia and on morphine.  We stayed in recovery for a short while and then got moved to a room on the floor.  

Once on the floor the nurse had to do vitals and re-tape her IV.  She did not like any of this so it was nice when it was all over.  Grace continued to be restless, but was able to have some water through a syringe and even eat some pureed food through a syringe for lunch.  We found out that she is a very tough little girl and has a very high pain tolerance.  The doctor could not believe she was already playing in the playroom by that afternoon.  He joked that Chinese kids are tougher than American ones (I have to agree with him) and it was not normal for her to be doing so good so soon after surgery.  We spent 1 night in the hospital and were able to go home Tuesday morning.  The hospital is not a fun place and we were so happy to be home!!  Thank you for your continued prayers.  After going through 1 surgery we are really dreading the next two.  Please pray that John and I can take 1 day at a time and not worry about the upcoming surgeries that she will be having.  We know God has a plan and we are doing our best to trust him in all things.  Grace is still so full of joy despite going through surgery.  Although we have been through some tough times she is beyond amazing and we are so blessed to be her family!!

July 10th, 2016

Hello Everyone!!  I cannot believe we have been home for 2 weeks.  Part of me feels like it has been a lot longer and part of me feels like it has flown by.  So much has happened over the past 2 weeks.  Everything is new to Grace.  I will list a few of her firsts:  first time to ride in a carseat, first time to ride in a shopping cart, first time to eat cheese and she loves cheese, grill cheese and mac-n-cheese are her favorites, first time to interact with a dog, first time to the pool, first time to Chick-fil-a, first ride in the golf cart, first time to a park, first time to swing are just a few of her firsts.  Her most important first was meeting her Big sisters.  She loves them and they love her.  We are very thankful for God preparing her heart for them.  We know that he did because the entire time we had Grace in China and at the airport she would not allow anyone to touch her except John and I.  (the only person she allowed was Naomi who was also being adopted).  The fact that she went to them so easily is nothing short of a miracle.  The biggest problem we have with the girls is that they fight over her!!  She is so full of joy and everyone just wants to love on her!!  Here is a picture of her with her big sisters!! 


The day after we got home we  headed to Fuzzy's Taco for lunch.  We had no food in the house and John and I were craving something good!!  She loved her chicken quesadilla and ate almost all of it!  She also had a cookies and cream churro which she loved!

The first week home was a lot of adjustments. She did not want to walk around the house and only wanted to be carried. She was also afraid of the dogs. We spent most of the week sitting in the living room playing with toys.  She had her first bath alone in her bathtub.  She did great and loved it!!

On Wednesday she patted Leia on her back, which was a big step for her!!  Leia has been very persistent sitting beside us while playing in the floor.  She has been gentle and seems to know she is a baby.

On Thursday we had our first appointment with the ENT.  He said everything looked as he thought it would.  We had shared a lot of picutres with him during our trip.  He has been wonderful and I encourage anyone that needs an ENT to see Dr. Robert Glade.  We will have 3 surgeries over the next 5-6 months.  Our first surgery will be on July 25th.  He will put tubes in her ears and do part of her lip.  6-8 weeks later he will finish her lip and 2 months after that he will do her palate.  Please be praying for Grace that everything will go as planned during surgery and that there will not be any complications.  We will have to be overnight in the hospital and she will have to be on liquids for 1 week.  She loves to eat so I think this is going to be really tough because she will not understand why she cannot eat.

Here she is finally walking a little bit in the kitchen mid-week of the first week!!  She is a tiny little peanut!!

Friday evening the girls and I went to the mall and had Chick-fil-a.  It was her first time and she was so excited and happy to be eating!  She even was doing a little cheer because she thougth it was so yummy!!  The girls and I told her we feel the same way when we eat it!!
After eating we visited the play area at the mall for a few minutes before heading home.  She had a great time playing.  It warms my heart how all 3 of my girls love each other!!

We visited the pool for the first time Sunday and Grace was a little timid.  By day 2 she loved it!  She was splashing in the water and putting her face in.  She played with toys and was smiling and laughing!! 

The hardest part for Grace has been sleep. She will go to sleep, but wakes up mulitple times a night.  She also is refusing to take naps.  It breaks our heart because she wakes up in a panic and makes sure John and I are there. We think she is so afraid we will not be there so she wakes up muliple times to check. I have never slept with a baby and she flips and flops all night long. Needless to say we have not gotten much sleep in 3 weeks. We decided to move her crib in our room pushed up next to the bed and see how it would go.  She only cried a few minutes and fell asleep.  She only woke up twice and seemed to sleep much better!!  Praising God that we are finally going to get some sleep.
By the end of the second week she is walking around the house by herself, not afraid of the dogs, not screaming in her carseat, playing independently and still eating everything we give her.  She knows her people (mommy, baba, Sydney and Claire) and is such a snuggle bug with us.  We cannot believe how well she is doing with all of the change in her life.  She is even starting to use some of the signs we have been working on!  Everyday she is feeling a little more secure in this new life God has given her!!  Here are some pictures from this past friday.  I literally could eat her up she is so cute!!
I finally broke down and bought a 6-12 month outfit and it fits!!  Everything else we have is 12-18 and falls off of her.  At least we know she will grow into them!!  With all of the eating she is doing we know she will be growing soon. 
Since getting Grace she has wanted nothing to do with anything soft.  They do not have soft toys in the orphanage due to germs so she would only play with hard toys.  We have a lovie for her like her 2 big sisters and she has wanted nothing to do with it.  I have kept it with her when she sleeps hoping she would take to it.  She is going to need something for comfort with all of these surgeries coming up.  Last night she fell asleep with it in her arms!!  She is also now taking naps!!  It is usually only for 1-1 1/2 hours, but we will take it!!
The last month has been one of the most exciting, but hardest months of our lives.  It has been so emotional, but amazing!  We feel so blessed that God chose us to go on this journey.  We would not change 1 bit of the tough road we traveled to get our sweet girl.  There were many times we thought we could not handle one more thing and we did.  God has grown us and changed us in ways only he can while going through something you have no control over.  God's faithfullness and love has never left us.  He has sent us so many Angels on Earth to love and support us.  You know who you are.  Thank you for your time, generosity, prayers, love, and support.  We love each of you dearly.  John and I are still in awe that God did this.  We look at Grace and are so thankful to be her mommy and daddy.  The girls keep saying that it is like a dream!!  It truly is a dream!!   Thank you Jesus for loving us enough to trust us with one of your precious children.
This verse speaks to us right now!  Thank you again for being God's hands and feet on Earth.
Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other, let us show the truth by our actions.
1 John 3:18