Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Our Asian Prince and Princess In Their Silks

Last week as we pulled the silks out for our Chinese New Year celebrations I did a little photo shoot of Max and Ellie.  I love how their little personalities came out as I let them play 

Even though fortune cookies are no where to be found in China I thought they would be a good prop to keep Max occupied.  He was so cute trying to get them with his chopsticks. 

I love how his little feet are crossed and those fingers are spread as he is concentrating on the task at hand. 

He finally gave in and used his fingers and began to line them up.  I do believe he had his fair share of fortune cookies.  It was a good thing mom was distracted behind the lens.

Max also loves his oranges!  

Those big brown eyes are a window to this little boy's soul.  They speak volumes to the passion and love he has for life. 

His smile is a permanent fixture on his little face.  He lives life big and full of joy! As someone once asked "is every day the best day of his life?"

That sparkle in his eyes shows that little mischievous side of him too. 

This is probably my favorite picture of these two.  It actually may be my only picture of these two this close together.  Two precious little blessings born an ocean away and yet hand picked to be brother and sister.  Handpicked by God to journey through life together.  I can't wait to see how their relationship unfolds in the years to come.  

Miss Ellie had fun grabbing those cookies and throwing them to side.  It is amazing the strength she has gained and the fine motor development that has taken place in such a short time. 

There were lots of smiles as she discovered and explored. 

She also loved banging the chopsticks together to make some noise! 

I was shocked as Ellie brought the orange to her little mouth.  Ellie had no idea how to use those little fingers and hands and as she learned to use them nothing would go to her mouth.  It is so crazy because I thoughts kids were just born with that instinct.  It is another sad reminder of what happens to natural progression and development of our sweet little ones that are institutionalized.  We continue to celebrate every new victory and every new milestone we hit.  There seems to be an awful lot of them lately. 

Ellie continues to use her little hands and feet to explore the world around her.  I love this picture of her little foot in the orange bowl.  Her feet often follow her little hands as she discovers new things.  At times it seems as though her feet are two extra hands. 

Those lost, sad brown eyes that we met on November 5, 2013 have been replaced with a sparkle and a new depth.  An amazing transformation ... beauty from ashes. 

In time our little princess decided she was done exploring, done smiling, done being reset ... she was done! 

Happy Chinese New Year

 When Eric and I traveled across the world to bring two of our precious little ones home not only did we fall in love with them but we fell in love with their birth country.  A country that is rich in its heritage and culture.  A country that will always hold a special place in our heart.

 While Max and Ellie will grow up Chinese Americans and lose so much of their culture we wanted to find ways to celebrate and honor their culture and heritage in our home. One of the ways we want to do that is by celebrating the Chinese New Year.  The big kids love the tradition we started before Max came home.  We decorate the table, make Chinese food and the kids love getting red envelopes.

In China the Chinese New Year lasts 15 days and it is a huge celebration.  This year it started on February 10th and ended on February 25. Houses are cleaned from top to bottom, decorations are hung, new outfits are bought, families gather, food is made and many traditions are carried out.

This year we felt blessed to have Ellie around out table as we celebrated this year. 

The big kids love sharing the Chinese culture with their classmates.  I had fun in their classrooms sharing with their classmates about the Chinese New Year.  

Another highlight for our family is gathering with other families that have adopted or are in process to celebrate.  This year some friends opened their home and we had a great time.  It is always fun to connect and see how families have grown and changed.  It is also amazing to see how little ones change and mature from year to year. 

There is always yummy food and ....

The kids love playing with the other kids and it is always fun to connect with other adoptive parents and share experiences and gain insight in things we may be dealing with. 

We had quite the gang this year.  I actually have no idea where Max was during this picture. Where ever he was I am sure he was having fun. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

28 Days of Hearts

Today Ellie is featured at 28 Days of Hearts

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Heart Day

A fellow heart mom put this special video together for Heart day of some amazing Asian Heart babies.  Miss Ellie is in the video along with Max sharing about Ellie's broken heart!

Congenital heart defects are the top killer of newborn babies in China due to high incidence and inadequate treatment. It is estimated that there are 300,000 babies born each year with a Congenital Heart Defect. Due to their one child policy there are likely thousands more births that are not reported. Out of the 300,000 births, only about 70,000 of those babies will ever receive medical attention for their congenital heart defects due to low awareness, limited medical resources and financial reasons. Thousands more are born still or will die shortly after birth due to lack of medical attention. While a simple scan to diagnosis CHD would cost roughly 100RMB the cost of a surgery to repair their child's defect could cost them more then 10 years of their household income. Many families do not have the financial resources to afford such surgeries. Families often make the difficult decision to abandon their baby in hopes that the orphanage will find the baby and help repair that child's heart defects. Unfortunately, that is not the story for many children. They will often be taken to the orphanage and will be scanned to confirm the congenital heart defect, but many still will not receive their life saving surgeries. Many will continue on palliative and hospice care while at the orphanage. Some of these children will be deemed inoperable or terminal. Without immediate medical treatment for the heart defects the child's lungs will be severely and irreparably damaged. These children will then become "paper ready" in hopes that a family will come forward to care for these medically fragile children. Here are the faces of the survivors, who against all odds continue to fight and win the battle of living with a Congenital Heart Defect.

We continue to pray for those sweet little ones that wait, the ones that have no hope without a family!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Families Love .... Love Heals

It is hard to believe that three months ago today we were standing in a hotel lobby in Nanchang, China waiting with anticipation to hold our daughter for the first time.  

There are so many feelings and emotions that are stirred when I see this picture.  The emotions and feelings that come flooding back of those memories when I held her tiny little body next to mine for the first time.  The feeling of knowing the minute I held her she was our little girl, the one God handpicked for our family.  The feeling of knowing she was very weak and her tiny body was fragile. 

The last three months have been quite a journey for our little girl.  She has walked through a lot in a short amount of time but it has been amazing to see this little girl fight, to see her transform before our eyes. 

The last two weeks have been amazing to sit back and watch.  The smiles and giggles are frequent these days.  She is feeling secure and her little heart has been healed. 

Her sisters and brothers love her to pieces and she has learned to trust them and open her little heart to them over time.  She loves cuddle time with them. 

They all love playing with her and often we have to set timers and make plans of who get face time with baby Ellie.  Yes she is the little princess in our house.   

In the last two weeks she has learned how to pat a cake, wave bye-bye, and play peek a boo! 

She has a big fan club cheering her on and so when she does something new everyone claps.  The smile on her face is priceless as she claps right along with them.

Her first word and favorite word is uh oh, she will repeat da da and ma ma.  She also started saying boo and hi this week. 

Her big brother loves to tickle her and as you can see she loves it and he gets those deep big belly laughs going. 

She watches with a big grin in anticipation for her brothers hands to make their way to her time after time. 

Ellie is on the move and is army crawling all over the place.  It has been amazing to watch this little girl explore the world around her.  She spent the first 13 months of her life laying in a crib.  When we got her she would cry to our touch and was so sensory deprived.  

Her little senses are seeking and exploring new things daily and it is pretty amazing to sit back and watch.  Any new item or texture she come across she touches, scratches at and often turns her hand around and rubs it with the back of her hand.  She often brings her feet to the object and lets her feet explore all these new things too. 

The last couple days she has mastered going from laying to sitting on her own.  I have found her sitting up in anticipation of me coming in to get her when she wakes up from her naps.  

I know many of you saw the pictures of how traumatic her bath was for her in China.  Again we realized how sensory deprived she was and she was not a fan of being naked or the water on her body. Baths were short lived with screaming and an arched stiff body.  This didn't change a lot when we got home.  She typically was in the bath long enough to quick wash her and she still would cry every time. 

The very first time she didn't cry in the bath was 5:00 am the morning of her surgery.  I am not sure if she was still half asleep or if her body finally decided the water wasn't too bad.  She would still hold her hands straight out and not even attempt to touch the water.  

Last week she decided to dip those hands in the water ....

the smiles and splashes quickly followed! 

The other big area we have been slowly working on is her eating.  We have met with a feeding team and had decided that she wasn't ready for therapy and was really getting good calories from a high calorie formula recipe we had her own.  We had a goal of working to get those bottles in and getting some weight on her before surgery.  It worked and she gained over 2 pounds before her surgery.  

We have been daily trying to put new food and textures in front of her on her tray while we eat.  She loves throwing cheerios and puffs on the floor but never attempted to put them in her mouth.  She cries when she touches pudding, rice, potatoes, apple sauce or anything that  sticks to her fingers.  We keep introducing and keep trying. 

 Last week Miss Ellie decide she would open that little mouth of hers when I put a spoon to it instead of pursing her little lips and turning her head.  Let me tell you there was a lot of cheering at the McDonald house the night as she ate some baby food.  Max stood right by her and he thought it was fun to show her how it was done. One spoon for her one one for him. Even though she cried through it she kept opening her mouth for more.  

By day two the tears were gone and the mouth was wide open ready to eat.  Big strides lately for this little girl! 

In a couple week when her surgery restrictions are up we will begin her therapies.  I can only imagine the strides she will continue to make in months to come.  

A friend commented about how she could see Miss Ellie was feeling secure and loved and has found her stride in our family, that she was in full bloom! 

Yes this little girl is in full bloom and I know we will continued to see what a healthy little heart and a whole lot of love will do for out little girl! 


Friday, February 1, 2013

February = Love, Hearts, Pink And ......

When you think of February, you probably think of love, pink, red, hearts and Valentine's Day.  It is also precisely why February is CHD Awareness Month.  CHD stands for Congenital Heart Defect.  Many families are affected by CHD and many little ones have some home from China with CHD. What a perfect month to bring awareness to one of the leading birth defects among little ones in the US and around the world. 

This little girl has opened our eyes and our hearts to a whole new world, a heart world. 


  During our journey to Ellie and as we waited to see who God hand picked for our family God opened my eyes and heart to the sick little heart babies in China. 

God hand picked this little girl with a broken little heart to be our daughter.  

When all 14 pounds of our tiny little girl was placed in our arms we could feel her little heart racing against our own hearts.  We had no idea how God would wreck our hearts in the months to come.  How he would show us over and over he clearly had his hands all over our journey to our little girl.  How he would teach us what it truly means to lay our daughter and her health in his hands. 

We feel honored that God picked us to love this little girl, to walk the journey of healing her little heart and watching God restore her little body and spirit.  

God has has taught us about the power of love. 

We have met some amazing families on our journey of Ellie's heart.  There is a group of women who want to share their families stories in hopes of bringing awareness to those little ones waiting in China, those with no HOPE waiting for a chance, a chance at life.  Every day this month a child will be highlighted and their story will be shared.  Some stories are heart wrenching, some complete miracles, some are still being written and others have seen God's healing hand on their child's heart.  We will be sharing Ellie's story on the 17th.  I can't wait to see what God has in store for the "28 Days of Hearts".  Head on over to the blog and may your heart be touched by the stories that God has written, stories of his precious heart children of China.  

Click here to head on over the the "28 Days of Hearts" blog! 

PS. So many of you have emailed or messaged me checking in on us and letting us know you are still praying for Ellie's body and heart.  We are so grateful for all the prayers and encouragement on this journey.  Some of you have expressed concern since the blog hasn't been updated so I wanted you to know Ellie is doing great.  Life has been busy and my computer crashed and was down a week and I finally feel like I am catching up.  So soon I will share how Miss Ellie is blossoming after surgery.  I can't wait for you to see! Your prayers have been felt and God has answered!  God is healing her little body and spirit in an amazing way! 

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