Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mommy. What's that Red Dot Right There?

Izabella loves the mirror. She talks to herself in front of the mirror. She even plays with her imaginary friends in the mirror. It's so fun to watch her.

This morning she found a Red Dot between her eye brows. I looked and didn't see anything. So I dismissed it and moved on.

Later that morning--at school I saw it--the RED DOT! And I said with a bit of concern in my voice, 'Hmmmm...there is a red dot there Izabella. I wonder what that is."

She immediately responded, "Don't worry Mommy it's just a part of my body. It's ok. It will go away into my body. I think maybe it's there to help me have good ideas!"

She's so amazing how she processes things. I just love this girl. She's a gem...truly...deeply.

After leaving her at school,  I couldn't stop thinking about how much I love her little mind--and how she shares her thoughts, feelings and emotions about what's going on with her and around her so freely and openly. I remembered the days when I posted on this blog and I longed for the day she could share what she was thinking about the world around her, her feelings, her beautiful mind.

Then I realized I couldn't remember what it was like when she couldn't communicate with us. I thought--how is that possible I don't remember those days--they were not that long ago.

Then I realized, it's because she has never had a problem communicating with us. She has always communicated what she wanted, what she needed and how she was feeling. Even in those early minutes, hours and days of meeting her in China. And we have always marveled at how she just knows what we're saying to her--and we just know what she's saying, needing, wanting. And we happily listen, give her what she needs and meet her needs. It's magical I tell you--and the only way I remember those days is by watching video I took of her from those days.

Magical. I love this girl beyond life itself.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Izabella's Orphanage Supporting Organization--Half the Sky Foundation--Fundraiser

What can I say--except that this organization is powerful organization that's helping orphanages provide "NURTURING" care to the hundreds of thousands of orphans--just like Izabella everyday. And this give away--supports their efforts.

We are endeared to them for their support of our Izabella--although it's hard to believe--now when you see her sweet face and hear her sweet, smart and joyful voice, feel her sweet heart--she was an orphan--and they did the best they could to be sure she understood Love. And oh she does--Thank God she does.

Take a peek at this fundraiser--

There are three of these going on everyday for 12 days. This link is to Izabella's Organizations Supporting Foundation--but there are two others 'An Orphan's Wish" and "Pearl River Outreach" that do the same kind of work--and equally amazing and wonderful.

Each blog is giving away 3 different items each day--for 12 days to enter each you have to enter each. 

Check it out and enter today!

Fill Their StockingsJust cause I can't NOT share her sweetness with you here are a couple photos of our Sweet Izabella--two from our 2nd Year Family Day this year--we brought home Family Day gifts for her for every year til she is 18. This year she got a new chinese princess dress for HER and one for her BARBIE. From CHINA--with love from her Love Mommy and Love Daddy.

And this one from the week before we met her--oh how far you've come my sweet girl.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mommy I need a coin!

Today I had a meeting at Panera Bread. Izabella accompanies me to these meetings--thank God most of my clients are very good with doing this for me. Allows me to take care of our girl--at home. Talk about blessings. Anyway--we decided to hit the "bread bar" to pick up some of Daddy's favorite bread for dinner. While we were waiting in line. Here's what transpired next. 

I: Mommy do you have cash? You can use cash mommy. 

M: Yes. I know. And Yes I have cash. But we'll pay with Mommy's cash card. 

Waiting patiently in line. 

I: Peers into the clear box in front of her that has a bunch of coins dropped in, she looks up at me and say's Mommy I need a money for Ruby?

(Ruby is a little girl--with a heart defect--waiting for her Mommy and Daddy to come get her. They live here in our area--and we have playdates with Ruby's family during the summer. You can read their about their amazing journey to Ruby and their family here. They leave on November 25th and meet Ruby on November 28th. Caution..little Ruby is adorable! Izabella is very excited about her coming home, having a family and playing with her this summer at the park. And we will meet them at our Chinese New Years Celebration.)

M: What?

I: I need to put money in for Ruby. So she can get better. 

M: Oh. Ok. Here is some money. 

I: Puts it in and says, "Now I hope Ruby can get better." Then she examines the box closely--almost pressing her little nose against the little box--and says--"Mommy. Where is my coin in there? Can you see it?" 

The clear box was for donations to the "Children and Families of Iowa" organization. 

That girl. I'll tell you. Something else. :) Something pretty special. Such a huge heart!

This video was taken after Izabella's dance class one day a couple weeks ago. She dances in and out of dance class every week.

I was watching X-Factor tonight--the little girl Rachel on there was adopted--she was a crack baby when they made her a part of their family. Her parents were so clearly proud of her. My mind of course wondered to the day that Izabella would do something amazing as a young woman--and how I'd be busting at the seams with pride. Then I looked over at her--and realized--this girl makes me sooooo deeply proud everyday. The way she loves and cares about everyone. The way she reaches out to those that need help--prays for their health and safety--and just plain loves life--regardless of her traumatic beginnings has a beautiful and joyful heart. Everyone she meets is touched by her special heart--and I am so proud--she is ours! Thank you God for finding us Izabella.

I am proud a million times a day--no one event--no big event--can make me prouder than I am of you all day long.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy Family Day Izabella-Love, Your LOVE Mommy and Daddy!

This is a raw un-edited Mommy's heart --my gift to my sweet daughter--on the day we honor God's Blessing of her--to us--our family. 

A picture speaks a thousand words. What a difference two years makes.

Izabella and Mommy--Just a few hours after we met our precious, precious girl in Xi'an City, Shaanix Province, China -- 2-years ago today.

Izabella and Mommy--October 2011

We have all grown in this past 2 years together as a family of 3. We've aged considerably, she has taught us so many things about ourselves and the world around us--and she has adjusted and grown by leaps and bounds. You can see the maturity in her face. She's as JOY-ful as always. What you don't see is how brilliant she is in so many, many ways. 

--Her wobbly little legs are now strong and powerful. Where she initially couldn't walk with much stability--she now races up and down the sidewalk giggling and laughing with no fear of falling and great confidence.

--She's been dancing since our first days together--her stand in place wiggle has transformed to the most beautiful graceful movements that show signs she is going to be an amazing contemporary dancer-with all the emotion of a matured dancer years her senior. 

--Her little confused and scared heart--has revealed itself to be the most loving, sweet heart we have ever witnessed. 

--She always understood what we were saying to her. This--even not knowing a lick of english in her life. But her language now--is up with her 4.5 year old peers in school. So much so--the teacher didn't realize she had only been submersed in english for just 22 months at the start of school. And those language skills have proved a gift--to unlocking her memories--still fresh in her little mind--like all these little ones--giving us a little glimpse into what her life was like the day she said goodbye to her China Mommy and Daddy and her nannies the day we met her. 
With all the challenges this presents to us as parents on the recieving end of this information from our precious sweet baby girl--and the fact that as much as we read--we felt completely incompetent. All we could do--and as instructed by professionals that know much more than we do about these things--was walk through the door to her past--and be there with her--hold her and hug her. It was her first waking moment of grieving (previously--her greiving was done at night during sleep--in the from of night terrors--that she didn't remember the next morning.) This is a new development this year and a mile stone in ability to let go and reconcile with her past. Of course we know there is more to be done in this area--a lifetime of reconciling--as she grows and matures. However, it was as if sharing this memory with us--released her to be "sad"and released her to move on to the next step for her--in trying to make sense of this crazy life she finds herself in. 

--She continues to blow our minds with her ability to process her traumatic past and every situation she finds her little self in. A gift that serves her well in dealing with her past as well as the sometimes crazy world around her, and will serve her well all the years of her life.

Here is a little "bit" I wrote and never posted about how she has processed her new family--her China family--and all the things that have happened in her short 4-year life--well this is pretty phenomenal!  She has taught me so much--thank you Izabella for sharing your heart and your wise soul.
"Mommy, tell me about the day I was born." This has to be the question of the summer. Initially I thought she was asking about her China Mommy. So I would tell her I can't tell her about that day because I wasn't there. Her China Mommy and Daddy were there with her. Then I'd tell her--her story--of how we can assume somethings--mostly that they loved her. This is a gift for her--that is a question mark for so many--but her story is one of sacrifice to give life. Then I'd tell her the story of how she grew in my heart and how we came to meet her in China and bring her home. As the summer progressed, she'd ask me to tell her that story--and I'd happily oblige. Recently, she asked me again, "Tell me the story about the day I was born, the day you came to China to get me." Wow. She has processed all this information as factual as I can give it to her without embellishments, and age appropriate as I can--to the point where she now refers to the day we met--as the day she was born. Here words. Her conclusion. Precious I tell you.
That day was like giving birth. Complete with all the gripping each others hand as we approached the Xi'an City Airport. I thought Dan would break every finger on my hand. I'll never forget that part. Walking into the hotel room to see a crib set up--empty waiting for the arrival of our little girl. Settling in our hotel room as our new home--away from home--preparing the perfect place to bring her home. The rush across a crazy busy street to the big Chinese Government building--Civil Affairs Office. Asking our guide where she was, she replied--"she's on her way here." To the moment when she appeared in the room on the hip of her Ayi and all I could say was, "Oh she's beautiful!" I imagine--that is what I would have said in the delivery room--if i gave birth to her of my body. Just like a babe covered with the blood and fluids of the mothers womb--our girl was dressed in clothes that were very boyish--she needed a bath--and was covered with scratches and scars. I wouldn't even notice any of that--until much later when we looked back at pictures of her. She was simply beautiful to us--so much so we called her from the day we met her (she was "born" as she puts it) "Our Chinese Princess".

One evening during our nightime routine"Mommy Izabella Chat" she wanted to talk about the day we met her in China. I asked her what she remembered about that day. She said, "Oh. I didn't like Mommy. I just like Daddy."

 That's right. I asked her why and she said, "You not look like me Mommy." Of course, how silly of me to not know that. Surely my green eyes were a scarey sight to a little girl in a world full of brown eyes and black hair. Even the locals wanted pictures with me--and it was then I realized--like her--it must have been my green eyes. When I'm happy-they are really green. I"m sure they were super green that day. Then she said, "But you look like me now Mommy." Ahhhh.... :)
She now says--I have TWO Mommies and TWO Daddies! ONE--China Mommy and ONE Love Mommy (that's me.) ONE China Daddy and ONE Love Daddy. These are her words--I never like the label Forever Mommy--so we don't use the term Forever Family or Forever Mommy or Forever Daddy here. In doing so--we allowed her to come up with her own description of what label she wanted to give us. Frankly--I think it's precious. As demonstarted in the above story 

--She bonded with Daddy from the start--as evidence in this photo the first day we met her--headed to our hotel HOME--her sweet little hand wrapped around his back--so loving and trusting. Her bond with Daddy this past year has been a miracle to watch. She is the center of her Daddy's world--he's lost without hearing from her while at work. She has his sense of humor and loves to giggle and be "silly and goofy" with him. Their favorite game on the phone each day she calls him--and says, "Hello. Hello? Are you there? Are you there?" repeat refrain...over and over again. No matter what a bad day he's having--I hear his voice lifted to the heavens in JOY when she does this. 

"Izabella your Daddy sent a very special text to me this year--I want to share it with you. He said, "I know I've told you this before but, thank you for brings Izabella into my life. She makes me laugh and I hope that never changes. She is the best thing that ever happened to me."

--Her humor is balanced with a compassionate, sensitive side. Dad and I like to say she got the best of both of us--his humor and my sensitive nature. This morning is the perfect example of this. We discussed today is Family Day--and how we'd celebrate. Here's how we started our day.

Mommy: "Good Morning Izabella!" Hair all mussed and in her face--so much so I couldn't see her precious face. As I whissped it away from her face and gleefully telling her I found you my little Izabella.
I: A groggy- "Good Morning Mommy! I so tired! I not sleep good."
Mommy: "Ahhh...I'm sorry. Then go back to sleep." As I snuggled her in tight to my chest to love on her rubbing her back.
I: "No Mommy. Isn't it Family Day today?!"
Mommy: A tear rushed to my eye, the world stopped for a moment, my heart warmed so sweetly, as I  replied--my voice cracked-EVER so slightly--"Yes it is."
I: Her head buried in my chest, my arms wrapped so tightly around her--I couldn't hold her close enough, she said, "Mommy have happy tears?"
Mommy: The emotions flooded my eyes, my chest tightened with deep emotion, as I said, 'Oh yes. Mommy have happy tears. I am soooo very glad you are here with us--and that God found us YOU and we met you 2-years ago today. So VERY HAPPY." The truth is--no only was I  overwelmed with pure and utter Joy of the kind I have experienced so often since we met her--but I was stunned yet again--that she is so sensitive--that she could "HEAR the tears" in my voice--when I utter just three little words--and tried to conceal it from her even. She is so amazing and so sweetly, compassionately and genuinely sensitive and loving.
I: "I love you Mommy. Forever and ever!"
Mommy: "Oh me too Izabella. I love you too--forever and ever."
I: "Mommy tell me about the day I was born."
Mommy: "Ok...well....let's get you ready for school and I'll tell you all about it." And we did. As we dressed, brushed our teeth, jumped in the car, buckled up and headed to school...all throughout she'd say over and over again, "Then what happened Mommy? What happened next Mommy?" In the car on the way to school--we got to the day she walked through the door in the arms of her Nanny and she was so scared....
I: She stopped me and said, "But Mommy my China Daddy told me it would be ok."
Mommy: "Really? That's great. Was your China Daddy there with you? Or could you not see him--just hear him?"
I: "Oh I just look up at the sky and I hear him in my ear." as she looks to the sky through her window and points to her ear. "Mommy, wouldn't be cool if we could all be together in the same place?"
I don't know if she meant her China Daddy (bio father) or God her Daddy in heaven. She talks about God talking to her all the time. She even thinks God lives in China taking care of all the children without families and she wants to go be with Him and help them. I didn't clarify with her. I just left it alone.
In the parking lot--we had to wrap up the story--so...
Mommy: "At the end of the day we met you--after you had met many of your new family on the computer from our hotel room, we put you in a warm fuzzy PINK pj's and you snuggled down on Daddy's chest and fell fast asleep."  As captured in the picture below--NOTE--she is holding tight to those keys--the ones she wouldn't put down from the moment we gave them to her in the Civil Affairs Office--even when she went potty. She loved them--still does--Daddy just changed the batteries for her. The "beep, beep" that sounded like a rickshaw (ironically our ride back to the hotel after meeting her was in a rickshaw) horn--the symbol almost completely worn off with wear from her pressing so much. Eventually, she learned--it was HERS and no one was going to take it away. Just like our LOVE--it's hers for ever--no one will take it away.
I: As we entered the school foyer--the director of the school greeted us. She let go of my hand and ran towards her yelling, "Did you know I fell asleep on my Daddy chest in China?" 
Ahh.....sweet girl. :) I was sure to share with her teacher this was our Family Day--thinking she would be sharing it a lot today. The teacher replied that YES--she heard all about it yesterday. Very exciting. I said, "Yes it is. We will celebrate tonight." And I quickly headed out the door--choked up all the way to the car--with the un-shakeable overwhelming feeling of gratitude and pure JOY that God had Blessed us so extraordinarily! 

She finally started naming her "babies" (stuffed animals). This beautiful lamb-given to her by one of my best friends from high school and her family, Laura--she has named "Franny." Ironically, it is the first baby to get a name--other than her horse CHINA, that was named in the store before we bought him. :) 

--She is now--43 pounds, 42" tall. But, she is soooooo little here--just 28 pounds and 30"tall! I am always amazed when I see these images of her at 28 months and so tiny. Now 2 years later--a full grown 4.5 year old! Crazy I tell you. 

I will close with the same closing as the post from China the day we met--cause I still feel the same way--would only add--her beauty continues to astound us--inside and out this girl is a gift of immeasurable value. I am deeply grateful--so deeply: 

Izabella's mom! I'm a MOM! Finally! and never imagined it would be to such a beautiful chinese princess! I love her beyond words!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

OK...I can't stand it any longer...

....the sight of my precious Izabella's blog untouched except a few "mistake" postings from my phone. It has been a really hectic, sometimes very stressful summer. But through it all...Izabella continued to have fun at just about anything--including playing happily by my side in my studio, and grow, and laugh and learn more than I think a 4-year old can learn in one summer. She has astonished us in so many ways.

We are creeping quickly up on our 2nd Anniversary Family Day--the most amazing day of my life, our lives. The day we met the most precious little girl anyone could possibly ask for--October 26. I will post an update soon and an anniversary post for sure. But, I just have to share some little things she's done and said recently.

This morning! Izabella said, "I have two Mommy's--a China Mommy and a Love Mommy!"

Over the summer she's become aware of her skin color--Izabella has recently been talking and asking a lot about skin color. The other day she came running into my studio and said, "Mommy Look. I have white skin on this side of my arm like you--and peach skin on this side." Big smiles.

You know how the inside of your arm is a lighter color than the outside--she was thrilled to have a little of us and a little of her all in one Izabella. 

We were at the park on Sunday--and there was just one other boy there. Izabella loves the sand box and was playing with her toys--when the boy approached. I told her she could share her toys with him--if he would like to play. This is the conversation that insued:
Izabella: Hi! My name is Izabella. What's your name?
Jackson: My name is Jackson.
Izabella: Hi Jackson. I'm from China.
Jackson: I figured as much.
Izabella: --giggles--and proceeded to pull out some toys from her bag--then she got to her sand dump truck "And I have a BIG TRUCK. Just like the one my Daddy has a work! It's really big! Do you have a Daddy?"
Jackson: No I don't have a Daddy.
Izabella: Oh? Who is here with you?
Jackson: My Mom. She's right there with my Dog.
Izabella: Oh! I'm here with my Mommy too. What is your Dogs name?
About 15 minutes into playing together--really sweetly--she yelled--hey Mom her Mommy is a Boy. Yikes what? Geeez....turns out--Jackson had two Mommies too--no Daddy--and the Mommy at the park was soooo nice and a very loving Mom. We had a wonderful conversation while we watched our children play. Later, I explained that Jackson had two Mommies too--she thought that was pretty sweet! 

"Mommy. I have a question." This usually means she has something to tell me. And usually it's pretty fun to listen to."

"Mommy. Did you know that when butterflys go to sleep and die they lay some eggs out. Then the eggs move and do the work and become brothers and sisters and do what their Mommy and  Daddy did all over again."

We went to the grocery store on Sunday. Izabella loves to help me with all things! And frankly--I love having her next to me to do it all. We opted to drive up for our groceries--as the parking lot is a pretty scarey place--trying to navigate the cart full of groceries and a 4 year old at the same time. But even without a cart--I'm always focused on getting us to the care safely--buckling her up--and answering her million questions as we go. I then made my way to the exit to go home--when I hear Izabella say, "Mommy! We don't have our GROCERIES." Oh goodness--God was so good to me to give me a 4-year old when I was 50 something! She fills in where my memory lacks.

"Mommy. I miss my lovin'!" This is the sweetest thing to hear. She--loves her Mommy and Daddy lovin' and can't get enough of it and we I can't love on her enough. Can you tell by this pic below--on our 12th Anniversary--September 25th.

I: Mommy. I want to go to be with God.

Oh Izabella, if you went to be with God, I wouldn't see you anymore and I'd miss you sooo much!
I: No Mommy. I just go to China and be with God and help him take care of all the girls and boys that don't have a Mommy and Daddy.
She talks about God and Jesus alot when talking about China. "God found me and took me to the Pink Castle. Then he found my Mommy and Daddy." "Jesus was with me in the hospital when the God fixed my heart." When I ask her if she was scared living in the pink castle with no Mommy and Daddy she always responds promptly and confidently, and I'd say even matter of factly, "No Mommy God was with me. I wasn't scared."

Playing with her play doctor's kit, she invented a oxygen mask--from 1/2 of a plastic easter egg shell. She held it up to my face and said, "Mommy. Breath. You feel better." I wondered how she knew this, so I asked her. She said, "Oh. Doctor tell me." I asked what doctor she was referring to. She said, "He look like me Mommy. You know black hair and black eyes." At the hospital? I asked. "No. At the Pink Castle."

We did our nighttime routine--she settled into her toddler bed--I into the couch to "sit for a little bit" (as she says to me every night) with her. It was pitch black--I was dozing off--when I felt little fingers on my arm and Izabella saying, "Mommy. Can I nuggle a little bit?" Absolutely. It has become a pretty regular thing now--we "nuggle" (snuggle) together on the couch for a bit. Then when she's ready she'll say, "Mommy. I go to my bed now?" and off she goes.

I: "Mommy. I want to be on the-X."
What's the X?
I: You know that show they sing on?
Oh. X-Factor.
I: Yes! Mommy. When I grow up. I'm going to be on the X-Factor and ALL the judges are going to say YES and I'll be a TV Star.

She does love to sing and dance! You never know.

We were headed to the Omaha Zoo--and just before we got there. Izabella said, "Mommy. I'm so excited! I'm so excited my eyes and my whole body are going to come right our my eyes!" Then as we approached the pumpkin patch recently--she said, "Mommy. I'm so excited my eyeballs are going to come right out of my head forever and ever!" As we got closer--to the pumpkin patch--she proclaims perched atop Dan's shoulders, "Is this cool or what Mom!? Is this cool or what?"

She was playing with her baby dolls on the floor directly behind my chair in my studio when I heard her talking to her baby, "Don't worry baby. It will be alright. I will NEVER EVER LEAVE YOU."

We were grocery shopping one day--after a visit from my sister Shelly and her husband Topher. Topher's favorite vegetable is Brussel Sprouts. So we had some during their visit. As we were gathering our produce she said, "Mommy. Can we get some Brussel Sprouts?" Ahhh...yeah...we can.

"But Mommy. I'm just a little girl. I can't do that." 

"Mommy. We need to have a little talk." with her hands firmly on her hips--looking up at me in complete seriousness.

"Mommy. I'm going to miss "tana" (our dog Montana) when she go to heaven to be with God. I don't want her to go to God yet." 

One Sunday morning we were all laying in bed being silly and just hanging out. We had just found out a few days earlier--one of her little friends still at the orphanage in China--had finally found his family. Izabella had been praying for her friend "Ma Teng" for months and months. After we received the good news--that night I told her she didn't need to pray for Ma Teng to have a family anymore. I used it as a way to show her God listens to our prayers when we pray--and He answers. Then a few days later--in bed that Sunday morning--Izabella looks at me and said, "Mommy. I prayed to God and asked him to let your Daddy and your Grammy out of heaven. And he said Yes!"

So many things to write little time. More later...promise Izabella. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The girl loves her dance class!

Thanks Aunt Chelle for the tutu and slippers they fit perfect.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011

A very special be published on...

"We Are Grafted In".

It's like being published in "Martha Stewart Magazine"--only better--it's not about "home-making tips" it's about "Making-homes-for-children without one - tips". One family at a time.

This website was the vision of a very special friend that you've heard me mention many times, our story here, on my blog--Kelly--she sent us the picture of Izabella hoping she might be our daughter--the night before our agency called with a referral to the same little girl! God uses this faithful christian woman in ways that are so deeply moving.

If you've adopted, waiting or paper-chasing, thinking about adoption as a way of growing your family, or even if you're just curious about all the ups, downs, twists and turns of adoption--this site is one you'll want to follow--it will not disappoint you, it is sure to move you, you will occasionally find some comfort when you read a post from a mom that's feeling the same way you are--and you thought you were alone. It will enlighten ALL. It's a very spiritual site that advocates for orphans--just as God calls us to do. As he laid on my heart to do.

Today--I am honored to have a post--published on this site. I am humbled, honored and blessed with this--truly. Deeply.

Visit and see us today--on this special site.

AND just cause pictures of our Izabella is what most really want to see--and the published post is titled "Mommy"'s a picture of our Izabella and I during a visit with our very, very special friends Shayna, Stella, and Zophia.

Shayna and I have been friends since 1995--However, I actually knew her family before I knew her (when she was assigned to work with me from our West Union Headquarters office--in our WDM office--she was my marketing assistant.) Since then--her family has become like my second family--before I met and married Dan and brought home Izabella--and I love them all dearly--and they are so good to me--as I have moved through some very important milestones in my life--they are always there for me/us now.

Needless to say--we were friends when we were both single, we'd often talk about getting married and having a family. I about adoption, of course. We talked about how it would be so great to have children the same age to play and grow up together. Of course we don't have control of such timing--but as God would have it--Zophia was born in February of 2006. As the years rolled by--it was looking less likely we'd realize that wish. A year later--we started our journey to adopt Izabella from China--3 years later we brought home a 28 month old daughter--that is just over a year younger than Shayna's Daughter Zophia. always moves me--when we get together and I see the girls play. God is sooo good.  
A little Disco anyone? Too funny. She loves to dance--and she's actually getting pretty good too.
This is one of my favorite all time pics--"our girls"!!!

My Silly Girl!
Shayna and her two daughters, Zophia and Baby Stella--Precious!
That Baby Stella is such a sweetheart!!!
This is my favorite picture of zophia--she was so excited
to take a picture with her friend Izabella and her Mommy!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Friday, June 3, 2011

Oh Goodness!

Last night Izabella and I were having a fun little chat about this and that. When she said something hilarious. She's obsessed with brothers and sisters--as you know by previous post. Here's what she said.

"I'm going to have a brother and a sister. Well maybe not a brother. But a little sister. She's in China. We'll just go get her. But I'm not going back to China. She's at the Honda Dealer!"

The other day we were visiting our dear friends Zola and Gary in Elm Creek. I was helping Zola on her computer--and Izabella was fluttering around us. When she stopped and played with my hair as she said, "I love you Mommy. I'm going to have a little brother." Zola said, "You are?" She said, "Yes. He's in China. We'll just go to China and BRING HIM HOME. But I'm not going back to China."

And one last cute story.

We have so many sweet fellow adoptive families that have become friends--although we have never met some of them. Several of them are in the process of going back to China to bring home their second child. So, we have been praying for these families and children every night. One of the children we've been praying for "Little Chloe's" family went to China a couple weeks ago to meet her and bring her home--they are on their way home as I type this.

This is how prayer time went the day I told her Chloe was meeting her parents and would be home soon!

Izabella prayed, "God Thank you for Hope, Sarah, Joshua and Ruby find Mommy and Daddy soon!"

I said, "Don't forget Chloe! Chloe needs your prayers too."

Izabella replied, "Silly Mommy. Chloe doesn't need any more prayers. She has her Mommy and Daddy now. She's not in China anymore and she even has two sisters!"

Ahhhhh....out of the mouths of babes!

(Pic of Izabella--at the Air Force Graduation Ceremonies last weekend.) Post coming of our graduation/birthday weekend! )

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Izabella's first Theater Movie....

As part of her birthday--we took Izabella to her first movie at the big theater! We saw "Rio"--an adorable movie about a Blue Macaw bird that can't fly and is an endangered spieces. She was so good--she sat patiently and quietly through the whole movie--and after we got out she said, "Let's go to another movie!"

Then as we headed back to the car--through the mall--she ran all the way "flapping her arms like wings" -- trying to fly, just like Blue! I think she had a great day!

Izabella's first Mall Ride...

Izabella has walked past these rides a lot of times in the past 1.5 years home and never once asked to ride. But yesterday--her 4th birthday--she asked to ride and we obliged. I thought it was interesting she picked the school bus ride rather than the horse or the boat. The girl LOVES anything to do with school!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

It's a tower...

Izabella's last day of school was today and the planned park picnic and playdate was rained out--so it was inside at the school. The kids were not short of fun though--fun with empty yoguart cups--seriously fun--for me too. I'd love a basket of these at home--if I had a basement play area for them--a bit of a mess to pick up after the fun. Oh well--nothing good comes easy right? 

As you can see, Izabella took a unique approach this fun activity--instead of building the "castle" like others--she built a TOWER taller than her. Just as I got around to taking the picture it started to fall--so she saved it just in time. 

Looking forward to summer. Izabella will have some fun at the an art studio for a week of over the top art classes, ballet and gymnastic classes, summer camp at the zoo, and some fun group playdates with our families of chinese children group. Should be fun to watch her experience the "summer". 

A flower for Mom...

Monday, May 16, 2011

A few things Izabella says...

It's another post about things she says. I know. I know. Not again. But I have to document these things--and realized why the other day when I she said something really remarkable--and I tried to remember previous things she said when we were first home. Of course I remember the "I you you" (which was her way to say I love you). But I drew a blank on others. So...

The other day when putting her shoes on to go to school. Out of the blue came this little conversation.

I: Mommy I'm from China.

M: Yes you are. Where in China are you from?

I: With God.

Whenever we talk about China--she always insist she lived there with God.

Another day, she was scared of something. I told her it's ok to be scared, it makes us alert to things around us--that might hurt us. So we proceed with caution. But we can't let it stop us. It then occured to me--she might have been afraid in China--although she never expresses any fear.  And I so want her to talk about any fears she has or concerns she has. Or at least feel open to talk abot it--so I asked--

M: Izabella were you scared when you were in China?

I: Said with such insistence, "No Mommy! I had God! I wasn't afraid at all!"

M: OK then--I won't worry about it then. But you would tell me if you were frightened of something and needed to talk about it right?

I: Yes. I will. I understand.

I was interviewing her the other day about her favorites. Just to see where she's at on things.

Her favorite color is still pink.
Her favorite food is still noodles.
Her favorite thing to do is "help mommy".
Her favorite friend is "God".

The other day we visited a Chinese restaurant--we love chinese food (well the american-ized version)--and have our favorite places. Often Izabella will request it. We just love the woman that owns "Mandarin Grill and Sushi Bar" --Jade. She's so good to us and just adores Izabella. And she always gets down to Izabella's level and opens her arms to her and offers a hug. Izabella always does it with much hesitation. We haven't been there recently--and I was curious how Izabella would react. She has been home almost as long as she was lived in the orphanage--and which they say means they're likely settled into who they are by this point. We've seen huge changes in her--especially lately. She's more shy with strangers a good sign for our bonding process (she used to be so friendly with strangers it made us a little nervous--bonding wise--we knew this was to be expected early on), and she just seems like she was doing 'GREAT". Well think again--she was again very nervous about Jades welcome hug. Jade and I talked about it--and she understood the fears she might have. And was very good about it all.

After we got home-I thought I should talk to her about this. She has never been comfortable around Asian women. I remember at one point home--I was chatting with a neighbor family that is from China and she refused to look at them--clung to me--and was very upset while we visited. Once we were on our way again--she was back to herself again. So I tried to talk to her about it a little:

M: Why are you so nervous when Jade wants to give you a hug?

I: I'm afraid Mommy.

M: Afraid of Jade? She is our friend, she wouldn't hurt you, and Mommy and  Daddy are right there with you.

I: I not want take me. And I never see Mommy and Daddy again.

Obviously, I assured her she would never, ever lose us--we were here a family forever and ever. And not to worry about that. I promise. I do. Forever!

Oh goodness. Breaks my heart. Bless her little heart.

To end on a good note:

I: Mommy.

M: Yes Izabella.

I: I have a question.

NOTE: When she says "question" she means I want to "tell you something".

M: Ok. What's your question.

I: Can I love on you Mommy? I want to love on you!


I heard a bird!

Izabella loves birds. Today they went on a nature walk at preschool. When they got back to the classroom they each did a drawing.

As you can see--Izabella drew this simple and beautiful bird. I love her innocent interpretation of the birds feathered wings and little legs.

In art college, I learned how to recognize an educated line. An educated line is the way an artist puts the lines on the paper to create a drawing. The theory is--you can recognize a line drawn by an educated artist--it has a certain air of purpose and intention about it. That said, "Izabella's lines--as un-educated as they are--are so sweetly innocent and careful. And I like them better! So delicate, simple and understated--and I see a bit of confidence in them as well.

I love it, so I had to share the sweetness.

She's come so far in a short period of time. It's shows in all kinds of ways.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Izabella's Mommy! She's beautiful!

Don't you think? I do! Love our girl!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Oh! Aunt She-wee!

Happy Birthday Little Sister!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

So much to do...about everything!

Warning! Very long post--lots to catch up on for our girl's journal.

We have been soooo busy! And delightfully so! This is a long update--but a fun one. Izabella's preschool class learned about pets in the month of April. The teacher offered each student the opportunity to bring in one of their pets to share. Needless to say, she was over-joyed to be able to share her puppies with the class. Remember at the first of the year--when sharing about herself--she brought pictures of her family--including her puppies. Two dogs was too much to handle--so she had to chose one--and it was Montana. Montana was the perfect dog--letting the kids hug and kiss on her--pet her, all 14 hands at once it seemed at times. She even did a couple commands for the class. Pretty fun day indeed.
A BIRTHDAY PARTY for her friend Lily! Izabella had a blast and at the end of the party she said to Lily's mom, "Thank-you. Will you come to my birthday party and bring a present?" Ahem...yeah. Well.....
  Lily was so excited to see Izabella arrive. It was so sweet.
 After lots of games and fun inside--they had a birthday cake and juice picnic outside--it was a gorgeous spring day!

 Then it was time to say good-bye. :) For now.
A trip home to VERMONT to meet my family and friends!
What a trip. It's a 22 hour drive from Iowa--and we always do it in one straight drive--we wondered how Izabella would do. She was a dream. Actually she managed it much better than us. I knew it would be strange for her to not have "bed" time when it was night time. So I packed a bag with her blanket/pillow/favorite stuffed toy (of the month since she has so many favorites now) and her jammies. When it was time for bed, I explained, we'd get ready for bed and she'd sleep in her car seat--while Daddy and Mommy drove. When she woke up we'd have breakfast and be at Aunt Shelly, Topher and Grammy's house. She said, 'Nah. I'll wait and put jammies on at Aunt Shelly's house." After some more explaining--she snuggled in my arms for a little, I sang her favorite lullaby--and she out out like a light until just before we got to my sisters house. So she was rested for the day! Opposed to Dan and I were wiped out. So we decided then and there--we would stop half way on the way home. We did and it was a good thing--we had a horrible storm in Toledo, OH (our halfway point) so driving would have been miserable.

But...we made it fine--and it was soooooo good to see my mom and my sister. The next day we had an Open House for friends and family to come and meet Izabella. It was so fun to share her with everyone. And they were all soooo good to her and to us. I can't thank everyone enough. This picture is one of my all time favorites--if you look in the background you'll see a mountain--that's just a slice of the breathtaking views she has from her property. It's truly beautiful. We had some SNOW through out our visit--that was a bit crazy. A power outage with a downed powerline that trapped us up on the mountain for the night--with two guest stranded with us for the night.
Daddy gets the "Izabella Spa Treatment" for getting us to Vermont safely. As you can see--Daddy needed some serious shut eye--after driving for 22 straight hours. And Izabella was happy to offer some spa treatment as well.
 "Shhhh....Daddy's sleeping!" It's important to note--those things on his face--they are the dogs toys--YUCK. He's such a good sport.

My youngest niece--(little brothers' daughter), Ashley, has a little boy--just 1 year old. It's hard to believe we are mothers at the same time. Life is full of miraculous surprises. She is an amazing mom--and her little Ryan is truly precious! We so loved seeing them!
 Can you tell my niece is in love with this little guy?
 Love this shot of the two of them!
 But..this one is my favorite--look how Izabella is trying to catch him before he falls. She is so sweet.

When I answered the door and it was my high school friend Kim I jumped up and down with JOY! I literally did! I was THRILLED to see her and meet her beautiful daughter Erica! Wow what a great job she's done raising that precious young woman. We had such a great visit, catching up. I don't think we've see each other in 20 years--but it seemed like yesterday--and if I showed you a picture of her when we were in high school--you'd not know a day had passed! She is a breast cancer survivor--and I am so inspired by her and her story. This year our "Trick-or-Treat for the Cure" jug will honor her! I can't wait! 
They brought Izabella an easter basket--and Kim's daughter Erica played with Izabella for quite a while. As you can see Izabella was thrilled! Erica is a sophmore at UVM studying mechanical engineering. I was so impressed with this young woman.

Topher's Family Welcomed Izabella in a Royal way! Anna and her mom Jennifer gave Izabella--a twirly princess skirt--Izabella LOVES skirts that twirl! And a bead kit to make some fun necklaces for accessories! Seriously they know how to take care of a princess.

OK..this is actually a little embarrassing--but--funny and we really think it's pretty cool. Look closely (not at me--I'm exhausted and look just awful) and you'll see we had on the same shirt. You say--"So.This happens." Well, it gets better. We didn't know we were wearing the shirts--yes. But she bought her shirt in Vermont--and I bought mine in Iowa. Hmmm....we always do this--at least once a visit--we'll come down with the same outfit on. Completely un-knowing we're doing it.

And of course Izabella had to get in on the action--afterall, SHE HAD A WHITE shirt on too! That makes her a part of the joke right? :)
 PS--it gets even better--My mom and I also, that same day, wore the same button down over our shirt--yup--different color--same shirt. LOVE IT--that's what I call Sister, mother, daughter bonding!

Handing down the PRINCESS title...I wish I had more photos of Izabella opening her gift from her special cousin Britney. You a little girl, I used to call Britney "little princess". When we returned home from China with our little Chinese Princess, Britney told me she had a very special gift for Izabella--she was passing down the title of princess to her..with a REAL Tiarra and Princess Training Manual and a Princess music CD to train by. It was a precious gift--and deeply meaningful. I don't think Izabella understands the full sweetness of this gift--but she sure does love that book and the tierra--and dances to that princess music daily!

Thank you Britney--You will always be a princess.

Aunt Shelly, Uncle Danny, Daddy, and Mommy all read this book to her over the course of a few days! She LOVES, LOVES, LOVES it!

I told you my sister lives up on a mountain--well that means lots and lots of trees--some of which were in danger of falling in high wind storms and hitting powerlines and one or two had already fallen and come dangerously close to her house. She has tried to find someone willing to come up and put those trees down for her--but no one was willing--for fear of hitting the house or powerline in the process. But, thankfully, my Dan has a lot of experience in putting down trees around homes and high voltage lines--so he and my sister--who also has a lot of experience cutting down trees with my Dad when we grew up--dropped over 35 trees around her house and driveway! Only one tree leaned into a powerline--the power company came out and took care of it without a lot of trouble. They did this "tree project" over a matter of 4 days while we were there--carefully picking their time--when the wind was dead and it was safest. So, my mom and my sister and brother-in-law are all safer now that those trees are down.

Here's some pics of them taking down some trees. Keep in mind--these trees are a minimum of 100 feet tall! I couldn't get any pics of them up and full view to the top.

After the last tree was down--this one rotten one--sat at the top of her flower garden--so Dan left the trunk long--and carved her house address number in it "72". It was a surprise--and Shelly loved it--so did Chris. Unfortunately--Chris couldn't make it home while we were there--but he made it home last weekend and said was ecstatic about the difference this project makes for them.

 My hubby and my sister--two of my favorite people in the whole world--standing by their stump. A job well done.
My Aunt Marion lives on a Dairy farm in central Vermont. She is very ill, so we went to see her. Izabella was introduced to her first real live cows. She loves horses--so I thought she'd love cows--but she was rather skid-dish about them. I have some fun video--I need to do another video clips movie of her soon.
It's a beautiful farm. With chickens and cows and everything.
 Here she is finally warming up to them--and clapping to get their attention.
 Inside we had a nice cup of coffee and a wonderful visit with my Aunt.
My Aunt has sent so many gifts, cards and well wishes along our journey to Izabella. It was a very special moment for her to meet her. And one I got teared up about as I left. She said, "Lisa. She's absolutely beautiful. And I never doubted it would happen for you. I'm so happy for you. You're a good mom." Yup...choking up a bit writing this. I am so appreciative of those around me that love and support me on my journey in life. No matter how un-orthodox it is. They always make me feel like my way is ok! All the people that took the time to visit us made me feel that way--it is a blessing--truly.
Dan never takes candid pics of Izabella and I unless prompted to do so. Typical I'm sure. And usually he takes one picture or two and that's it. So after he took the first few pics--I stopped paying attention--and he kept clicking. I love these images. My breath is taken away a little each time I see images of her and I together. And each time--I can see we are becoming more like "one". It's such a sweet sight to me. Beyond words can explain. 
Here she is planting one of her million kisses on me. I've never seen a child that likes to hug and kiss like her. It's like she's making up for lost kisses and hugs. Recently, she'll say to me, "Mommy. I want to "love-on" you." It's so stinkin' sweet. She says the same thing to Daddy. I just love it! 
One day--when Shelly and Daddy were outside dropping trees--Izabella and I ventured out for a nature walk up away from where they were cutting. It was a magical little walk. She was rather timid at first--so we took it very slow--finding all kinds of things--little pine ones, leaves, beautiful white birch bark that was like paper, rocks and even a beautiful little brook with a waterfall. It was so, so sweet.
Here she's examining a find! It's a beautiful white stone she found in the brook water bed.
 Here she heard a bird up in a tree.
 And here she is fishing with a fallen tree branch she found along the way.
 I love this photo of her looking up.
 And here she's shaking her "leave wand" at me. Love her candid joyful smile. I never tire of seeing it.
 Another treasure--a stick and some leaves.
My sister's loving on the phone--lots--husband is working in Michigan, her daughter now lives in Des Moines (where we live) and her son lives an hour away. So she spends A LOT of time talking or texting them on her phone! I'd say literally about 60% of her days are on the phone. :) Obviously, her loved ones miss her and need her a lot. :)
AND, one of Izabella's favorite things about Aunt Shelly's house is her new puppy Cody. He's about 6 months old--and looks much like a lion. I told her she should have called him "Roar". :) He's a really good puppy and Izabella and he were pals. She let him snuggle in her new soft blanket. Below--Is that not the sweetest picture you've ever seen? It's love. (By the way--that's one of Grammy's sweaters she has on).

Izabella's Family Birthday Celebration. We decided to take the opportunity to celebrate Izabella's birthday early--with family this year. And it was so much fun. She had balloons, cake, presents and lots and lots of family and friends wishes.  At the end of the day I asked her what her favorite part of the day was, she said, "My Tinker Bell Balloon Mommy." And just before she headed to bed that night she hit the balloon and it went into it's singing verse, "Tinker Bell wants to wish you a very happy birthday and hopes all your wishes and dreams come true." To which she replied, "Oh I did! I did!" So sweet.
 Opening gifts....
 A "Horton Hears a Who" DVD. It's one of my sisters childhood favorites.
 Bunny ears and the perfect diva scarf!
 And a very special sweater from Grammy. My mom made this sweater for her. She has so many of them--and loves them all--has outgrown some--sadly--but always insist on wearing them over store bought ones.
 I love seeing pictures of my mom and my daughter--sooo deeply special to this daughter's heart.

 And 'operation"! Another of my sister's favorites--so fun. Izabella loves playing doctor and loves this game! AND BTW--she was better at it than us.
 She removed the intestines and was so excited!
 She also got some super fun beads to make necklaces and things with. This one was so heavy--that's what she's telling me in this picture.
 And a Tinker Bell cake--just what the birthday girl requested. Oh and see that birthday girl badge she's wearing--she requested one of those too--Lily had one at her birthday party. Daddy got it for her and brought it from Des Moines--along with all the Tinker Bell napkins, plates and decorations.
 Blowing out the candles.
 And the traditional Chinese frosting face time.
 Can you tell she's sooo happy.
 My older brother Dan and his fiance' Robin also spoiled her with a watercolor book--she's done all the pages already! She loved it--and a really cool Melissa and Doug--dress up doll that uses scrap material as clothing that you pressed on a doll.

 Here is my goofy brother, his fiance' Robin and Izabella.

My big brother Danny is so silly. He's a comedian, always been goofy and silly, even when we were kids, so it's no surprise that Izabella and Uncle Danny really had a wonderful, silly, goofy time!!! It was such a delight to watch. I wish we lived closer--so she could be silly with her Uncle Dan more often.
 She would just look at him and start laughing. She calls him, "Silly Uncle Dan".
 Love this shot of her with the Tiara upside down. She's got such a great sense of humor.
 And what little girl doesn't like a horse ride--this is by far Izabella's favorite thing to play. And I am so appreciative that each of my siblings and their children--have all played like this with her at one point or another. Even if they can't walk when they get up after the fun is done. Blessed I tell you.
 Pure delight!
Ryan--oh Cousin Ryan! All the way home, she'd say, over and over again, "Where we going Mommy?" and I'd say, "Going to see Aunt Shelly and Grammy" and Izabella would reply--every time the same way,"And cousin Ryan, we can't forget him Mommy. He'd be very sad if we forgot him." Can you tell she absolutely loves him--and him her. Ryan is my sister's son.

 Had to share all three pics of these two--they were all so stinkin' sweet.
 I found this PRINCESS pajamas in Des Moines a few weeks ago and couldn't wait to give them to her. She loved it! And wore them for 4 nights in a row to bed. Every morning we'd take them off and she'd say, 'Can I wear this tomorrow mommy?"
My father passed 12 years ago today. I miss him terribly. This is his little brother Bruce, my Uncle Bruce. He too is very sick--but made the trip out to see us and meet Izabella. It was great to see them.
And my little brother and his wife Dodie also spent the one evening a week he has off with us. A wonderful visit.
Then it was time to say good-bye. To say the least--it was very hard! Let's just say there were a lot of tears and gasping crys while hugging and never wanting to let go. Mom is not doing great at all. I am so glad we were able to spend some time with her. She's such a trooper! I don't know what I'd do without her. She's truly the best mom a girl could ever ask for--always has been--priceless!
 Yup..this is the "gasping crys" and hugging I was talking about. I didn't want to let go!
 And I cried all the way home--off and on--and if you  don't remember from the top of this post--that was two days of driving--crying.
 This is a horrible pic of my mom--but the only one I have of the three of us. I so wanted this pic to be a good one. I love, love, love this sight--regardless if it's the perfect picture or not.
 Daddy and Izabella saying good by to Aunt Shelly. She was so very good to us all week. We are so blessed to have her in our lives.
 Izabella and her special Aunt Shelly! Love this pic.
 And my sister and her two babies. Hunter and Cody!
We arrived home Saturday night before Easter--but the Easter bunny found us on Sunday morning--and the hunt was so fun.
 I have the most adorable video of her this morning--I seriously will do a movie--promis.
 We are pretty religous about not giving her a lot of candy--even brush to a made up tune that goes, 'Go away bad candy, don't take my teeth. I like my teeth."
 So we gave her books and a princess wand she really wanted--in fact--we ready a fairy book on Saturday's trip home--and in the story--the fairy's gave their special visitor a bracelet with one-wish. So Izabella made one wish and it was for a new PRINCESS WAND. As only God would have it--I happened upon one shopping Saturday night when shopping for some items for a job I had to install on Monday. It was meant to be.
 I love this book. And she does too! It's perfect for her.

Then we were invited to celebrate Easter with a brunch and egg hunt with our neighbors Angela and Dan and their twins Nate and Natalie.
The twins are so good to her. They take care of her like a little sister. We just adore this family and are blessed with their friendship.

Nate took time away from the candy to teach Izabella how to play the piano. Precious sight.
 Then we had to get some pics of her in her Easter outfit before her nap.

 And were joined by our neighbor friend Cheyanne.
Then it was MAY DAY! Goodness--so much going on. She had so much fun making May baskets for Nate and Natalie.
And a new bike! This has been a long haul to get this little princess on a bike. But, she's doing great with it. The fear of falling hasn't left--but she's gaining more confidence everyday.
 Love the tongue. It helps with concentration.
That's a quick update of our month. I have more. But this will do it for now. Whew! So many wonderful memories made.