Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Blossoming

Over the last couple weeks Grace seems to have jumped with her two little size 3 feet into toddler-hood.




I look at pictures from China... just three months ago... and if I wasn't there, if I didn't see her then and now... I wouldn't believe she is the same girl.



The change in her is just amazing. She seems to be blossoming before our eyes.



This morning, she sat a stool in our kitchen and played with play-do.



As I was taking pictures, she made funny faces at me... giggled and hid her face so I couldn't capture her grin.


But, I caught a few.

Seriously, could she be ANY cuter?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

two little girls giggle

Yesterday, I spent a couple hours with my dear friend J and Kailey with her dear friend... M.

It was a pretty normal playdate. Two moms drinking coffee and two little five and six year old girls giggling.

One difference, we just happen to be in a hospital room.

Our friend M, a spicy little princess from Hunan, needs blood transfusions every three weeks, and recently has had to be admitted every three weeks for three days of intense chelation therapy.

So, we thought we'd break up their hospital room monotony and visit. (OK, I'll admit it, it was just an excuse to have coffee with my friend).

I so WISH I had my camera! Darn. It was such a moment worth capturing.

Two little girls, one who happened to be hooked up to an IV, giggled and giggled... and ate chocolate ice cream with sprinkles and painted each others' finger and toenails... and giggled.

I couldn't help but think about how people are surprised or question "why special needs?"... I'm so immersed in the special needs adoption community, I don't even think about it.

So, M has a special need (as does our Grace). Well, I guess? We DID just have a playdate in a hospital room.

But, when I saw those girls sitting in the hospital bed yesterday... one hooked up to an IV, the other not. I just couldn't help but think how M's special need does NOT define her. Just as Grace's special need does NOT define her.

They are just little girls.

Their greatest needs were never the medical diagnosis listed on their adoption papers.

Their greatest need...

A FAMILY.


Trust me, it's worth the click.






Thursday, May 19, 2011

Nine.

He looks at the world with eyes full of wonder.

He analyzes and thinks outside of the box.


He does math in his head better than than me.

He LOVES all things sports. He knows all the batting averages of the Red Sox lineup.



He has the most amazing blue eyes... with these crazy long eyelashes. And freckles.



He often eats more than me at dinner. He head reaches my shoulders.

and no matter how much I beg him... he won't stop growing.

He is NINE.


I'm not sure how all this happened.

Happy Birthday Braden!!!! We love you!!!


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

go with the heart

As our travel to China approached, I was a bit obsessed with reading books about adoption. Adoption and attachment, sleep, and eating.

Obsessed.

Then we met Grace.

I've read them all. I have. But, when she was finally with us. It was time to throw the books out the window and go with the heart.

That first week in China. She slept. It was GREAT. Other families in our travel group were fighting with the kids to get them to go to sleep, to get them to stay asleep, to have them sleep soundly (mind you... they were all older than Grace). I was feeling blessed. We were sleeping.

Then we came home.

Then she had surgery.

Now we are not.

Sleeping, that is.

Our three biological children have never spent one single night in our bed. They have slept in their own rooms, in their own beds since they were about 8 weeks old and we moved them from the bassinet next to our bed to their crib in their room. And none of them every looked back.

But, we also never even gave attachment and bonding a thought. Why would we?

I knew parenting Grace was going to have to be a different. Sleep arrangements would be one of them.

So, for the first two months home, Grace's crib sat just feet from our bed. We would lie with her to go to sleep. We picked her up and cuddled her with every peep she made. and... we let her snuggle up close to us in the middle of the night when it was quite obvious she wasn't going back to sleep in the crib. alone.

Recently, we moved her crib to her room. She has adjusted to going to sleep on her own without us laying with her or patting her on her back.

But she doesn't STAY asleep.

And here is where I have to just...

let. it. all. go.

Here I have let my heart lead me.

My heart says...

Hold her.

My heart says....

let her sleep WHEREVER she is most comfortable.

My heart says....

I am grateful that comfort to her means... sleeping between the two people who LOVE her the most in the world.

My heart says....

I will NOT regret this. Ever.

I spent 5 1/2 LONG months with a picture of Grace by my bed. It was the last thing I looked at when I went to sleep at night. and the first thing I saw as I rolled out of bed in the morning.

So, if I have to spend the next two years or more with this little one making our bed seem oh-so small....

I will remember the five long months when I saw her face but couldn't smell her.

When I memorized every crease and dimple of her chubby cheeks, but couldn't hear her breathe.

When I dreamed silent dreams of her... dreams where I saw her face, but never did she make a noise because I couldn't imagine what her voice sounded like.

I will let my heart lead me.

Forget the books.

Forget the blogs.

Forget the fears.

Just go with your heart.

In the end, this is what adoption is all about. Actually, that is what being a Mom is all about.





Friday, May 13, 2011

blanket/lovey attachment (reposted)

***Somehow blogger lost this post that I posted yesterday, but a follower retrieved it for me and I was able to repost, sorry if you got it through the feed twice. Thanks Michelle for your help!***


I'm one to believe that every kid needs to have a blanket or some kind of lovey to bring added comfort to their lives.


So, we have a few lovey's in the house.


There is "White Blanket". White Blanket has been around for almost nine years. It's no longer white... so sometimes we call it "Brown Blanket". It pretty much stays on the top bunk of a certain, almost nine year olds, bed. He doesn't NEED it anymore. But, he sure likes to have it. But, shhhh, don't tell his friends.


Here it is when it was still white, lying next to Braden on Christmas morning a few years ago.


http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-91eYLmVcNXA/TcwxenRdYHI/AAAAAAAABDo/pn48tXPP_kM/s320/DSCN1004_0028.jpg



Then there is "Bear". Sometimes known as "Beary". His name is "Bear" because, well... he's a bear. This little stuffed bear with a rattle in his tummy was given to Kailey by her Auntie when she was born. Bear traveled EVERYWHERE with us for many years, usually in the crook of Kailey's arm. Bear went missing a few years back. After a daycare Amber alert went out, Bear returned safely a few days later. Since then, Bear spends most days safely in Kailey's bed. We always know when Kailey is awake in the morning because you hear bear rattle from her room.


http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VAxZ7h15xrM/TcwxfNeeXpI/AAAAAAAABD4/fDInwpdHyms/s320/P2240268.JPG



Then there is "Star Blankey"... because, well, it has stars on it. Star Blankey is Devin's lovey... although, he isn't quite as attached to it as the other two (ahem, three) are to theirs.


http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-12teuoGzqKk/Tcwxe9bssrI/AAAAAAAABDw/iu0E0qhZCos/s320/DSCN2692.JPG



and now... we have Grace's blanket. Actually, blanketS. She has two. She will go for either, but prefers the polka dot one.


Now, why am I telling you all this.


Well, it seems we created a severe blanket attachment disorder with Grace. One that I getting a little concerned about. and NO, I'm really not kidding.


Blanket seems to be the the love of Grace's life. (Blanket doesn't have a name yet, other than ..."Blanket")


She wants Blanket with her ALWAYS. When she is eating, when she is playing, when she is sleeping, when she is getting dressed, she even asked for Blanket when she got in the bathtub.


Hmmm...


I look at pictures... and Blanket is in almost EVERY picture.


http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1QtE0klIo-8/TcwxfWS5uPI/AAAAAAAABEA/Du4Bg8iOjCk/s320/IMG_1477.JPG



This morning, Grace tripped and fell. I was standing right next to her. Instead of reaching up for me for comfort... she walked across the room and layed down on her Blanket.


Um. Yeah.


Should I be concerned? Should I limit access to blanket?


I'm glad she has something that comforts her. But, I fear, her blanket comforts her more than I do.


I've run into an attachment stumbling block. I might have read too many attachment books and I am worrying for nothing.


I do worry for nothing A LOT.


Please advise.

what happened to my post?

I posted yesterday... now it's gone.

anyway know where it went? what's up with blogger?

do tell bloggy friends... are you having the same problem?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

blanket/lovey attachment

I'm one to believe that every kid needs to have a blanket or some kind of lovey to bring added comfort to their lives.

So, we have a few lovey's in the house.

There is "White Blanket". White Blanket has been around for almost nine years. It's no longer white... so sometimes we call it "Brown Blanket". It pretty much stays on the top bunk of a certain, almost nine year olds, bed. He doesn't NEED it anymore. But, he sure likes to have it. But, shhhh, don't tell his friends.

Here it is when it was still white, lying next to Braden on Christmas morning a few years ago.


Then there is "Bear". Sometimes known as "Beary". His name is "Bear" because well... he's a bear. This little stuffed bear with a rattle in his tummy was given to Kailey by her Auntie when she was born. Bear traveled EVERYWHERE with us for many years, usually in the crook of Kailey's arm. Bear went missing a few years back. After a daycare Amber alert went out, Bear returned safely a few days later. Since then, Bear spends most days safely in Kailey's bed. We always know when Kailey is awake in the morning because you hear bear rattle from her room.



Then there is "Star Blankey"... because, well, it has stars on it. Star Blankey is Devin's lovey... although, he isn't quite as attached to it as the other two (ahem, three) are to theirs.



and now... we have Grace's blanket. Actually, blanketS. She has two. She will go for either, but prefers the polka dot one.

Now, why am I telling you all this.

Well, it seems we created a severe blanket attachment disorder with Grace. One that I getting a little concerned about. and NO, I'm really not kidding.

Blanket seems to be the the love of Grace's life. (Blanket doesn't have a name yet, other than ..."Blanket")

She wants Blanket with her ALWAYS. When she is eating, when she is playing, when she is sleeping, when she is getting dressed, she even asked for Blanket when she got in the bathtub.

Hmmm..

I look at pictures... and Blanket is in almost EVERY picture.


This morning, Grace tripped and fell. I was standing right next to her. Instead of reaching up for me for comfort... she walked across the room and layed down on her Blanket.

Um. Yeah.

Should I be concerned? Should I limit access to blanket?

I'm glad she has something that comforts her. But, I fear, her blanket comforts her more than I do.

I've run into an attachment stumbling block. I might have read too many books and I am worrying for nothing.

I do worry for nothing A LOT. Please advise.




Tuesday, May 10, 2011

cleft palate repair - an update


We are 18 days post surgery and Grace is doing SOOOO much better.

She is smiling a little more readily, although still not as much as she was pre-surgery.

She is eating (she is only allowed soft foods) but she is very picky about what she will eat. Her diet has mostly been... yogurt, banana baby food, applesauce, and cream of wheat. That's. about. it. Everything else she downright refuses. EVEN ice cream! She still will not drink from her bottle. Or drink from a sippy cup. Or drink from a regular cup. So, we are still syringe feeding her liquids.

I'm thinking she just might be a little stubborn. :)

We had a follow-up visit with her surgeon yesterday. Thankfully, he palate is looking really good. There are still quite a number of stitches that have not dissolved, he said that could take another couple of weeks. There is a small hole where the hard and soft palate meet, but he expects that will close on it's own.

Most likely she still has quite a bit of tenderness in her mouth. If you could have seen what the inside of her mouth looked like. Oh my. I can't imagine how much it hurt.

The surgeon did make one small revision to the outside of her lip.

I'll see if you can see it...

Before...

After...



If you can see past the drool (oh the drool! it doesn't stop!)....

The cute notch. It's gone. When the surgeon told us after surgery that he was able to repair the notch on her upper lip. Both Steve and I were a bit sad... We're going to miss that cute notch!

But, I also understand that she will be grateful NOT to have the notch when she is 15.

So onward we go... Four more weeks of soft foods. Praying the palate continues to heal well.

There were moments early on that I worried that our bonding would suffer because of the surgery. Is she going to look at me and think about the pain she went through? Thankfully, quite the opposite has been true.

One of Grace's most favorite things to do....

find her blanket laying on the floor somewhere and then walk over to me and raise her arms to be picked up. I pick her up and she pulls her legs up underneath her and lays her head on my shoulder.

Nothing better I'll tell you. Nothing.








Monday, May 9, 2011

I love Mother's Day.

What's not to love?

Showered with hugs and kisses.

Homemade gifts and cards. Mother's Day Tea Party at the preschool. Sharing tea and snacks with my three littles.




Kids telling you that you are the best mom EVER at least 50 times.

I'm really not. But, don't tell my kids that. It's a secret.

How about when the best husband in the world surprises you with an impromptu overnighter down to the shore. A hotel with an indoor pool.... oh yeah...THAT makes for happy kids.








and happy kids = happy Mom.

seafood dinner. Yum.

and a day at the aquarium.









It really doesn't get any better.

I know you all think YOU have the best family.

Nope. I win.


I do.

How I love Mother's Day.



Friday, May 6, 2011

the big reveal!

So...here it is!

Welcome to the new and improved "By Grace We Are 6"

What do you think?????

Thanks to Blog Designs by Alexis for her great work. She is speedy. She is professional. And she sure is talented! Don't ya think?!

Hop on over to her site to see more of Alexis' designs and find out what she does with the money she earns from her work.

I think she is a pretty great young women.

Thanks again Alexis.

Technical difficulties!I

****UPDATE: It seems to be fixed. I don't know how. But, I'm not complaining****

I was so excited to show off my new blog design by Alexis today! (see her button on the right sidebar!)

She uploaded it last night. It's a beauty I'll tell you. But, of course... You wouldn't know, because you can't see it.

Why?

Because, of course, I just couldn't leave it alone.

So...in my attempt to delete an unwanted sidebar item... I seem to have deleted all the pictures and the blog header.

Oh good grief.

Alexis is going to kill me when she reads the "HELP!" email I just sent her.

Sorry Alexis!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

having four

Some ask... so, "what's it like with four"?


Really, the transition from three to four... not that bad. two to three... now that was hard!

We were already outnumbered. Now, we are just more outnumbered.

We already didn't have enough hands.

The house was already loud!

and taking a picture of three kids was only SLIGHTLY easier than taking a picture of four.


Of course, it's busy. very busy. my house is ALWAYS a mess. the laundry is NEVER done. and I still can't figure out what time of day is best to take a shower.


BUT, overall... I recommend four. There is something very even about it.

And, now we have FOUR beautiful smiles that light up our home.


and there is nothing better than that.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

SHE SMILES!

It's been 12 days since we saw this smile. Oh how we missed it.



The scrunchy face grin returns. And we are so grateful.