Sunday, January 31, 2010

Practice, Practice, Practice...

1.31.10: Today we went bowling to practice our skill. Dan doesn't need the practice as much as I do. But he really enjoys bowling and it's great exercise. I have increased my average from an 84 before China to now my average is 103 and I'm hoping by the end of the league I'll be at a 130. That's a high goal--but it's a good one to try to reach. Sunday mornings at the bowling alley they ahve $1.29/game/person so it's a good inexpensive time to practice. We've been talking about doing it for weeks--and finally got going and did it. I'm so glad we did. We got 3 games in--I played a 120, 91, 123! OK the second game was awful-sticky fingers. But overall--Dan's coaching is paying off--and as always practice make perfect.

Nothing exciting really-I love this picture of Dan and Izabella with the bowling alley and pins in the background. Tried to get one of her and I--she was not cooperating--as well as the people next to us LOVED her and were distracting her like crazy--ugh! And how 'bout my man--nice style eh? PS Dan bowled a 168, 216, 206...yeah would love to be that good.

Anyway--I love taking pictures of my loves....truly. Drives Dan crazy sometimes...but...oh well!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

It's a wild animal Iowa in the dead of winter!

1.30.10: After taking care of some outdoor chores (don't want to go into details...just think, we have two dogs and they eat a lot of food and it has to end up somewhere.) Papa told me to get my zoom lense and camera and let's go for a ride. So we did. I love these surprise adventures. Our adventure started out at the lake at a spot where he has spotted a few bald eagles on a regular basis, but there were none to be seen today.

Then we headed over to a farm that has elk and buffalo, and along the way we saw a whole herd of wild turkey's feasting in a corn field, and lots of deer in the woods. It was so fun! I didn't get pics of the wild turkey's wish I would have.

Elk! A boy and a girl...we think they're husband and wife. :) They were eating and just staring away at us. This was so cool. Don't recall I've ever seen an Elk in my life!

These deer were just hanging out next to this home. We think they are feeding them. There was a whole herd of them there. There is so little food this winter--it's so harsh out there.
A Buffalo!! OK, never saw one of these before either! Wow! Fun!

Then he took us to Jester park look-out to see if we could find those bald eagles that weren't at the other side of the lake. They were not--but we had fun looking for them through the huge binoculars.

This picture is one of my favorites today. All day she kept talking to us--pointing out the window and everywhere--she loves all these new things in her world. She'll say with such excitement, "Momma! Momma! and point at whatever it is she doesn't want me to miss. We look in the direction she's pointing and we can't see what it is that's so exciting! Cause it's all just normal stuff for us--to her it's a whole new world. So it is now for us too.

Then we headed over to the equestrian center to see some horses.

These horses were so beautiful...and looked like the cold didn't bother them one bit!
Look how white his/her coat is! Gorgeous Animal.

This was also our first outing that we took the "girls" with us. We haven't dared to do this yet--but how could we go on a wild animal adventure without them? They LOVED you can see. I took this picture in my rear view mirror while we were headed down the road. I LOVE IT...they are in Dog Heaven! Ears flopping in the wind and all! It was so nice to have them with us. Our first FULL family outing! So many first...! Life is so good!
I'll end this wild adventure..with a couple pics of our beautful Izabella! Just because. :) She's ours...BIG SMILE :)

Silly Saturday...

1.30.10: No explanation needed here. Papa is un-abashedly unafraid to be silly and look goofy when playing with his Izabella! There is something special--in the details of each of these pictures...I'll share below each picture.
As you can see--she loves hats...and is very creative about what she puts on her head--always has been even in the ophanage pictures we have, she is pictured more than once with something silly on her head. It's really rather sweet--and very sily.

Papa had to try too--and she didn't see anything funny about it--seriously now--doesn't every Papa wear baby blankets and bows for hats? Note how she's adjusting Mulan--for the portrait.
I love how even Papa is all about Mulan being in the right position for the portrait.
This is my favorite shot--Izabella loves to put her sweet little hand on our face when she sits in our lap, as you saw in our Christmas Card picture she touches both our faces, as if to say, "yeah, they're all mine." And it's how it feels too when she does this. I hope she never stops doing it. Well in this shot--she is touching Mulan's face with one hand and Papa's face with the other. I think she is just as happy to have baby's all her own to love and care for. In her paperwork from the orphanage--it tells of how she LOVES her baby dolls. Oh yes she does.

I was looking back at what we were doing on this day in 2009 and 2008. I found this shot of this day in 2008, I love how perfect it is--that 2 years later--we really do have this silly snow family for real. :) Since it's Silly Saturday--I thought this was PERFECT to post. Saturday 2009 was much too serious for silly I guess--cause the post were all about our new wait in the SN program and our desire to see her face--soon! So...just 2008 and 2010 here! Too cold this day 2010 to venture out for snow fun. Hopefully soon though.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Such empathy she has...

1.29.09: I've been cleaning our house this morning. And Izabella of course wants to help...with everything mommy! She's such a good girl. Don't know if I mentioned yet--she helps set the table every night for dinner. I tell her it's time to set the table--and she heads for the placemat cupboard and pulls them out and puts them on the table. Then she puts the utensils on and sometimes -- not always gets them on the right side even. She goes from one place to the next saying, "mama", "papa", "tatie" (that's Izabella for Katie). My mom taught her this when she was here. It's really precious to see. The top of her head barely hits the top of the table--so she can barely reach the table--but always insisting on helping.

While I was cleaning-and hanging out with my girl this morning. A few events kept ringing through my head from this past couple weeks. They all show she has such deep, deep empathy and compassion. I just love the innocence of it on her little face. For someone so young--to know so much pain both physical and emotional--and have such a deep empathy for others well being is truly remarkable to me. Again--I'm new at this parenting thing--perhaps this is a common trait amoung 2-year olds. But it's something I cherish about her--yet another. This is very similar to the look she has on her's precious!

Here are a few of the events that signaled this post:

During dinner we had the news on (Dan really has to stay up on the weather for his job-otherwise we have been trying to have no TV at dinner time. Everything goes haywire in the winter..UGH!) and a piece on Haiti came on. They were showing children hurt and sad from the events there recently. I looked over to Izabella--concerned these images might be too much for her. I wish I could have captured the look on her face. She was had this deeply concerned look on her face and her pursed little lips were saying, ever so very softly, "baby, baby, baby..." Then she'd point to her head where one of the children had a bandage and say, "boo-boo, boo-boo". It's times like this--I wish I knew what was running through her head.

One evening I was rocking Izabella to sleep. I had a v-neck shirt on and it was a bit chilly in the house, so my skin was cold. She put her head on my chest like she always does, then rocked her head over to my arm and looked up at me while touching so gently my chest and said, "Mama Cold, Mama Cold" and it was the most concerned look on her face. And brought a tear to my eye in an instant. She calls out to me all the time, "Mama, Mama, Mama" when she wants something. But this time it was so different. She's the sweetest thing ever.

Last night while waiting for her to do her potty duty. I rubbed my eyes and some of my masscara came off on my finger, it was smudged black, but my fingers actually looked black and blue, she noticed it, and took her little finger and pointed to it and said, "Boo-boo." With that sad face. Then she gently rubbed it as if to try to make it better or to examine it closer. Then she moved her little face down and pressed her sweet little lips on my "boo-boo." , to kiss it and make it better. Like I kiss her boo-boo's to make them better. I was so fasinated to watch her face and her reaction to her mommy's hurt. I didn't tell her I was ok--til after she had kissed it--and I said, "There all better--Thanks Izabella."

There are so many things about her personality--like all of us--and she opens up more and more everyday. Just when we think we know her--she'll do something that shows a side of her we didn't know.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Garage Grillin' Party...

1.28.10: Iowa pork is soooo good. If you've never had Iowa Pork--you haven't really tasted pork. We had some pork lions out for dinner--I usually bake them in the winter--last time we had them we used our Foreman Grill--but it just wasn't the same as grilling them. So Dan pulled out our tailgate grill--set it up in the garage and we hung out in the garage while he cooked them for dinner. It was really pretty fun. Usually he runs in and out to check on them--but since the grill was in the garage--so he stayed out there with it. Izabella wanted to be with her Papa--so he bundled her up--and we all went out for a "Garage Grillin' Party". Music, Grillin and Family...couldn't ask for more.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Izabella has a table and chairs!

1.27.09: We made a delivery for my studio today--and Izabella got to meet a very special friend of ours. She is the lady that helped us get and build our first home! During that process we became such great friends. We so enjoyed our visit!

While we were there--she offered to give us a little table and chairs for Izabella to use. Little did she know I had been talking about getting a table and chairs for her since before we went to China and it just wasn't working out. And just this morning--as I grabbed a step stool for her to draw and work on--I said, "I really have to get her a little table and chairs of her own. A real one--not a step stool. So this is such a huge blessing!

We can't thank her enough.

Izabella loves it--and already has her dollies "sitting up straight" at the table and everything. (see the picture to the left--of her talking to her baby. Right after this shot, she got up and went over and talked very seriously to her baby and adjusted her so she could sit up straighter. It's so much fun to just watch her.

THANK YOU BOBBI! We are so blessed--seriously--I can't thank you enough.

ALSO--I wanted to make a special note--this is the first morning we could get piggy tails in her hair! After I got them in--she reached up to touch them and said with the biggest smile ever "PRETTY!" Recently she's been pulling her hair up into a ponytail. So I think she is so happy to finally have hair long enough to have pig tails like the other girls she sees. And I think they look adorable on her!

A Sweater I made over 15 years ago...

1.27.10: I made this sweater over 15 years ago, for the child I was dreaming of so long ago. Little did I know I'd have a toddler and not a baby. I've looked at it a million times, thinking I wish she was younger and could wear it. So yesterday--I thought heck--let's try it. And it fit. A little short--she's so tall for her weight--but other wise it was a pretty good fit. I love how the color stands up and it looks a little James Dean-ish. I made a couple sweaters--the other one is definately too small--too bad cause it's pretty stylish--even 15 years later. So I'll have to save that one to give to her for "her babies" when she has them. Just had to document this...a dream that keeps unfolding.

PS--just a couple of the many faces of Izabella. She's always had a lot of facial expressions--she's very expressive and many times it's how we know what she's thinking or what she wants. It's pretty funny.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"God, I ouuuu ou....ameeen!"

1.26.10: Last night Izabella grabbed a precious book my sweet friend Andrea gave her called "Questions from little hearts." by Kathleen Long Bostrom. The music in the background is her lullabies CD given to her before we left for China from a very sweet couple and their son (adopted from China as well) Matthew! We listen to it everynight. If I forget to play it she alwasys reminds me to turn it on.

This author has several books, this one is a collection of all her books in one book. Izabella just loves the illustrations--they're so sweet and friendly. She really identify's with them and it is very ethnically diverse with even a little Asian girl in the stories. It's really precious. Of course we talk about God a lot, but I don't think she really gets it--so when she picked up this book, I think she really started to get it --as much as a 2-year old can. I love the part where she is trying to tell me "God, God, God..." It's pretty sweet. I just loved this book when Andrea gave it to me--almost brought it to China with us--but decided she'd enjoy and understand it much later when her language skills were better. But in addition to God, she actually started blurting out so many other things we'd been teaching her in other books--when she saw them in this book. Like "fish" she loves them but we couldn't get her to say "fish"--this example is in this video. It was so sweet to see these breakthroughs.

Then we got to the chapter called, "What is Prayer?" She put her little hands together in prayer, and I said you want to pray like the little girl in the picture? She said a few un-identifiable things. It was so sweet. Then I taught her to say, "God, I love you. Amen" I know she understands "I love you." so I thought that was a good place to start and now we can learn about God and Love too. She picked this up licky split. It was so sweet. So I ran down stairs to get my carmera and video taped it. I tried to let it be as natural as possible. Let her do it on her own. I just opened to the prayer pages and she did what was in her you can's precious. No more needs to be said.

Except--Thank you soooo very much "Eggleston Family"! And "Roslevege Family", bedtime is so special with these precious gifts--from your hearts.

Of course I believe with all the things she's already been through--and come through it with such a loving, caring and joyful soul--I believe she's already said many prayers--and they were answered beyond her wildest dreams.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Family Pictures...

1.24.10: This weekend we went to the photo studio my niece works at -- "Portrait Innovations" to get our first family portraits taken. I've been trying to get these done since we got home--but as you it's been a little crazy around here. Dan and I have not had professional portraits taken since our engagement photo and our wedding day. And this was another big milestone and it was interesting. My niece managed to capture some beautiful images for us--but we learned our Izabella is not the same child outside of our home as she is at home in the safety of familiar and safe surroundings. It was very difficult to get her to open up--and she refused to sit alone for more than a few minutes..and even then was not happy doing it for more than a split second at a time. From the pictures you can kind of tell. I said, we got some great images--but it was a lot of work to do it. Katie did a great job--I am so proud of the work she does there! She's so great with the kids and her photos are amazing. I"m so happy she found a place she loves the work and the people she works with! It's so wonderful.

We had father/daughter and mother daughter pictures taken. When I saw the pictures on the screen for the first time--I began to weep with joy! It hit me--she is ours--I'm getting choked up to see those images of me and our DAUGHTER!

It was so sweet...

Here are a couple of my favorit photos..and a movie of them all at the very bottom of the post:

It's a Family of 3!!!
Yup..they're all mine...

This is the photo tha brought me to tears at the studio. It's a real live mother daughter portrait!
Praise God! What a blessing!
This is from the series of Katie, Izabella and I--it wasn't as good of Katie--so I cropped her out and I love this shot...
I love this shot of Katie (my niece), my daughter and me...I love them both so very much.
This is absolutely my favorite shot of our girl! She LOVED this bike!!! And she looks like a natural too--FUN!
We were going to do one of these shots with her alone--she would sit alone--so Dad sat with her. This is a precious shot of them together--I love it.
She did like this red rocker--I'm bummed cause this little dress is so cute and we couldn't get any pictures of her standing alone...oh well...she's adorable..dress or not.

She did not like this set-up at all--again all by herself...yeah...not so much.Papa, I don't want to do this anymore...:)'s ok little one!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

She was so sick...

1.23.09: I found this picture of Izabella in the orphanage before her heart surgery, she was about 13 months old. Before we left for China--I searched for hours to find her face in the hundreds of photos on a yahoo group for parents that adopted from her same orphanage. I was so desparate to see her face--all I had for weeks after accepting her referral was 4 very old pictures of her. And I wanted to know what floor she was on, what her environment she was in, and if she was being well taken care of. I felt so out of touch with her. I found 3 pictures I thought might be her. Only 1 of the 3 was actually her. Now that we're home with her, I can clearly identify her. She is the one on the far right hand side of the picture with the white shirt and pink pants on.

Look how "tiny" she is--so skinny--and she looks so sad and lonely. When I think of how this was only 3 months after she was abandoned--I can only think of how excruciating it must have been for her birthparents to let her go! But they had to--with what we assume was--no means to get her the medical care she needed to save her precious life. What choice does a mom and dad have in that situation. They clearly loved her and sacraficed a life with her joyful spirit and love--to give life to her. There isn't a day go by that I don't think of them, pray for their hearts to be comforted, that somehow they would know she is fine, and with a family that will love her forever and never let her forget how much they loved her. And, I think what beautiful people they must be to have made such a beautiful little girl. I wish I could know them, I wish she could know them. I wish she could have stayed with them forever and this didn't have to happen to any of them. But, what a blessing we have been handed--and although it is our arms that comfort her when she's sad or hurt, and our eyes that see her blossom into a beautiful young woman, and our ears that hear her soft words of wonder and joy and singing...we will never forget the sacrafice they made for her.

God clearly had his hand on this little one--and surely has a very special plan for her life. We are honored to be witness to this amazing miracle girl everyday! She's kissing and lovin on her babies right now--wrapping them in the pages of her coloring books as blankets.

Anyone considering adoption--trust me when I say it's a miracle! It will transform your life in ways you can't begin to understand. I urge you to search your heart-is there room for one more in your life? Whether from China or the U.S. or another country (like Haiti even) there are children growing up in this world without a family. That's all they need--a home and a family--they expect so little and need so much love. And will give back to you immeasurably! There are literally millions of orphans around the world-it's a sad

Ending on a happy note--Izabella wanted a picture of her baby and her. And our montana is laying guard at her castle doors.

Lessons of "colors" from a 2-year old...

1.23.09: This morning we are in my favorite room in the house. The room with no TV, comfy chairs, music (Nora her music), and a pink castle full of baby dolls and the most wonderous gift in the world, our Izabella. She still--even after getting in with her and reading the paper didn't realize this was a fun little castle to play with her babies. I also think she was a little nervous about staying in there where she couldn't see us. So I taped the door open for her--and peeked in the window to show her she can see us. Then we set her babies up inside and told her they were calling her to come play with them. She went and got her color book and "colors" (as papa calls them--we always called them crayons--he always called them "colors". It's amazing the things you learn about a man you've been married to for 10 years once you have a child in your life. Seems silly, but I think it's the sweetness in life in the details of these little things. I can picture him as a little boy with his "colors" when he says it) and proceeded to each her babies how to color. Even putting a "color" in the baby's hand (my favorite baby too!) and showing her how to do it. Then she talks to them and tells them are you ready? We're about to begin. Then, and one baby needed to sit up straight now. It's all in the pictures here. It's precious, it's a sight I will never grow weary of seeing. She's playing next to me in her castle right now, as I type this. Her papa is reading all about the world and listening to music. And I'm doing what I love to do, watch my family and write about it, so I never forget these precious moments...just us...and when she's older, she will know...we love her beyond measure..and always did!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hectic Week, Silliness at 50, Fun at the Doctors, and another orphan has a home at last-Congratulations Raudenbush Family!--and rabbits in the snow!

1.22.09: What a crazy week. Email issues, phone issues, online banking name it...but when all is said and done, at the end of the day...I look at my little Izabella and she makes me smile inside and out!

Here are some highlights from this week:

Our week started out with Papa having to work VERY early Monday morning. But Tuesday morning she woke up before he left --5:45am! Normally she's sleeping when he leaves. So watching Papa put on his boots was a first for her. So of course she ran and got her boots (thanks Diana and Tessa) and put them on with him. And had to leave them on all morning. Then I look over and she's decided that little couch that is Montana's bed was just her size. So she plopped herself down and the girls and Izabella hung out. Pretty cute...

Wednesday night Poppa worked late, so by the time he got home and we got dinner it was late for everyone. The silliness was at an all time high. Our neighbor Cheyanne had dropped off a little tube that expands and contracts and bends and she "LOVES" it..plays with it all the time (thank you Cheyanne). Well Dan and Izabella found a fun game to play and the giggles from them both were enough to raise a farm from a dead sleep. They'd each take turns blowing into the tube, and call to each other through it--sometimes simultaneously.
Earlier that evening--we were hanging out together in the front room. I wanted to see what the inside of that castle looked like. I also thought it would be fun to read a book to Izabella in there. She likes this castle, but hasn't figured out she doesn't have to just go in and out--she can do things in there too. So, I got in there--and Izabella crawled in--there was barely room for the two of us. Then Montana wanted in too...and of course Sadie had to take her was a seriously funny moment. And I love the picture Dan got of us--in all our silliness!

Izabella has yet another doctor's visit for vaccinations. She is such a good girl. She doesn't like them, but usually shuts off the tears after we pick her up. I had not gotten any pictures of the doctor that helped us bring her home. We can never thank him enough for what he did for our family before we went to China. And for taking such amazing care of her since we brought her home. We love you Dr. Zhou. Kelly is a very special nurse. She also has been so good to us--she adores our Izabella (ok she likely adores all the beautiful children there) and we can't thank her for her care and support.

Dr. Zhou also helped another friend of ours through the referral process to a little girl who's medical records were very old and very scarey. I know she appreciated deeply all the help her gave her. And I am soooo very happy to say they have accepted the little girl and hope to travel sometime in March to bring her home. She's simply adorable little thing. Congratualtions Kelly and family--we can't wait to see Lydia in your arms. Your story is so inspirational and full of God's amazing grace and power to perform miracles when we just take a chance and step out on faith. You should all know their story, it's very similar referral review as ours and ours was, as you know one amazing ride of miracles. You can read their beautiful story of the day they saw her face and the miracles that transpired after on her beautiful here to read.

Papa and Izabella can have fun anywhere--even in the doctors office. He was pushing her around on the doctors stool with wheels on it and she was giggling so hard. The doctor came in right after it--they must have heard her down the hallway and thought they'd better get in there before those two break up the entire office.

wWe did Family Date Night early--as the doctors appt ran late and it was a long week already for all of us. At the restrauant--there was a family of rabbits that had burrowed tunnels in the snow and ice on the porch outside our window. The wait staff was feeding them tortilla chips to keep them alive I guess. Izabella was fascinated with them. Daddy showed her what they were by signing "rabbit" ..well I don't think this is the REAL sign for rabbit, but it sure is cute. Izabella didn't get her fingers up quite high enough for them to be ears..but you get the idea.