Tuesday, January 5, 2016

First Forever Family Day Anniversary for Emmy Bear

To Emmy on your first Forever Family (Gotcha) Day anniversary:
How blessed I feel, sweet girl, to be your mommy.
You are such a joy-bringer.  From the moment we met you it was clear that you scatter joy in your wake wherever you go.  When we met you, you had your nannies (and their driver) in stitches with your funny stories, facial expressions and jokes. We didn't even speak the same language and by the end of our first day together, you were telling us jokes and cracking us up too.
You have never met a stranger. Initially, this worried me a bit about your ability to attach to us.  But I did not need to be worried.  It's not that you can't or don't attach more strongly to your family, it's that you simply love everyone.  So many times this year, I've been in a hurry or maybe a teensy bit grumpy or something and you have noticed someone in the line at the grocery store, the waitress at the restaurant or the person next to us at the gas station or washing their hands in the sink next to ours in the rest room and said, "What's your name?" And the person, who usually looks pretty in a hurry and crabby themselves before your question gets a smile on their face and tells you their name and you reply, "My name is Emmy.  Nice to meet you." And you smile at them and everyone around smiles with you because you bring joy, sweet girl.
You are honest. You are sometimes a little bit naughty in a Junie B. Jones kind of way. But whenever you're naughty, you are the first to tattle on yourself.  I never need to wonder what you've been up to because you'll tell me, through honest tears, exactly what you've done and how sad you are.  Your honesty extends beyond yourself, too.  One day a little girl at preschool told you that she didn't like you and you weren't her friend.  And you responded, "That's not very nice.  And you're my friend." You know how I know?  Because you told me.  Right after you told her in the library after school that she was your friend again just in case she forgot.  Because she is your friend.  Everyone is.
You've never met an audience you didn't like.  Right after you came home from China, the kids were leading in worship in church.  The little kids were waving ribbons to the worship music.  You just grabbed a ribbon and jumped up in front and joined them.  Every children's sermon is an opportunity to share your thoughts into a microphone, to make the congregation laugh and generally to endear yourself to more and more people.  You dance to the worship music in the front pew.  You tell my 6th grade class all about your day if they're there (all 31 of them) when you come in after preschool. Your current favorite phrase is, "Mom, you wanna hear my song?"followed by an awesome conglomeration of many carefully selected tunes. You are a performer.
You are uncanningly good at directions.  We thought you might be when we were in China but we know you are now.  Today, for example, we were going to get my haircut and you said, "This is by chorale." And you were right.  You always know which direction the car is going and where we are headed before I even tell you.  Seriously.  I think you have a map in your head.  You also really like to know the schedule.  You ask me what the plan is for the day every morning.  And it really bugs you when we deviate from it, which we do almost every day.  I think you might have a daytimer in your head too.
Your laugh is as contagious as your smile. As I mentioned before, you are a great joke-teller.  You know what will be funny and you say it.  And sometimes you crack yourself up and your laughter is just as funny as the joke. You like people.  You think they are funny and you know you are funny. You bring laughter.
You are resilient and a learner. This year you did lots of incredibly hard things, things that most adults I know would not be able to do.  You assimilated to a new culture and grieved your own, learned to love and trust a new family, and learned to love dogs.  You learned how to be a sibling, how to trust other kids not to take your food or toys and how to share.  You learned that there is enough food for now and for later, that it's okay to grow out of things and give them away, and that taking turns can be fun.  You learned to eat new foods, celebrate new holidays and to not put lotion in your hair.  You learned a new language, how to clean and wear your glasses and wore an eye patch for two hours every day.  You learned to answer questions, to ask a million why questions everyday and to accept no for an answer...sometimes. You learned to write your name, to ride a tricycle, to do a forward roll, to count to 15, to say your alphabet and even to identify some letters.  You learned to sit still for a while to listen, to "read" yourself a book, to play by yourself with toys for a bit and to play pretend with others. This year was full of learning new things.  And I'd imagine every year will be full of learning new things because you're curious.  And you're a learner.
You are a thrill seeker.  When we went to Disney World this summer, you didn't just tolerate the big rides, they were your favorites.  You laughed through the many plunges on the Tower of Terror.  You asked to go again and again on the Thunder Mountain Railroad.  The faster, the bumpier, the scarier, the better! I imagine that this life that we now get to share with you will be a great adventure because you are a great adventurer.  And I'm excited for the ride.  I'm so grateful that God brought us together.  So I'm putting on my hiking boots and my sunscreen and packing a bag full of lots of crazy things (Do they actually make shark repellent?) because I have a feeling that we are going some wild and amazing places.  And I wouldn't miss it for the world.
Love you, Emmy Bear (LuXin, Jingle Bear McGoo, Emmy Jun), oodles and bunches.
The first time we saw you.

Later that night...

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Fun Things...

Eli rocked his All County Orchestra Concert.  He was selected out of all of the orchestra students at his school to be a part of the orchestra.  Congrats, Eli!

Emmy loves parks!  She points every park out as we drive by and wants to stop and play.

And art…Emmy likes to paint and cut and draw and glue and color...

Homework time…even Emmy gets into it.

Grace's cool ski championship hat!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Grace got to spend several days in Vail singing national anthems for the winners of the International Ski Championships with her choir.  What an awesome experience!

Hot chocolate after Emmy's inaugural snow playing time.  She liked being pulled on the sled but did not like trying to trudge through the snow.


Emmy and Abby trying out the hot tub.

And playing the piano.

And having a tea party.


The first stuffed animal Emmy has liked…Hippy the Hippo!

Emmy singing "Baby Mine" (her own version with additional lyrics!). 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Thursday, February 5, 2015

First Pediatrician Appointment and Other Adventures...

Today the boys headed to Texas for a gymnastics meet and Emmy and I had the day to ourselves.  This morning she had her first pediatrician appointment at which she impressed the doctor and all of the nurses too with her fun disposition and being so cute and smart! :)  She is pretty developmentally on target and we just have a couple of specialist appointments to make to follow up.

After the appointment, I decided to forego the follow-up blood work and leave it until after nap and we went to meet our friends Linds, Caden, Asher, Sarah and Col at McDonald's for a little lunch and playtime.  What fun!  Emmy figured out how to get around by herself in the play place after her sweet friend Caden helped her a few times and even tried to help little Col get up (but discovered she couldn't quite lift him).  Then it was nap time (Emmy's started to cheer for herself when she wakes up from her nap…"YAY, Emmy Lu Xin!  Night night!") and back to the doctor for the blood work.  I was not looking forward to that.

The phlebotomist (right, isn't that it?) was amazing with Emmy.  She blew bubbles for her while she was preparing the materials and warmed her little arm to prepare but, unfortunately, Emmy's veins do not like to be messed with so the process was a tricky one again.  Emmy was snuggling against me and crying and I asked her, "Do you want to sing?" at which point Emmy stopped crying and sang, "Are you sleeping, Brother John?" and then began crying again.  She followed up "Brother John" with "Baby Mine" and about that time it was finished.  Phew.  She's a very tough and brave little girl.

This evening Emmy went with me to Grace's dance class.  Emmy has now watched the kids do several activities and nothing has drawn her attention like dance class did.  She sat and watched, she tried to dance and then she asked over and over to join the class.  When she couldn't, she decided to read "Goodnight, Gorilla" to Grace through the glass separating the dance studio from the waiting area…loudly and while yelling, "GRACIE!" every couple of words.  It may have been a little distracting for the dancers.

After dance class it was home for some roasted cauliflower (her favorite!) and french dip sandwiches ala Steve.

I'll post a video of "Brother John" tomorrow (not the blood work version).

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Wacky Wednesday!

Today was kind-a…wacky!  After having a bit of a crazy morning at home, Grace, Eli, Emmy and I headed out to drive Grace to school.  It snowed last night and was still snowing this morning and the roads were slick but not horrible.  We were praying as we typically do on our way to school when my car suddenly started fish tailing all over the road.  When this has happened to me in the past I have been quickly able to recover but this time my car just couldn't recover.  On the opposite side of the road coming our way was a semi truck followed by several cars.  On the side of the road was a shallow ditch lined with barbed-wire and a field behind it.  The car was swishing from one side of the road to the other as the semi drew closer and attempted to get as far over to the side of the road as possible.  Right before we neared the semi my car swerved right and went into the ditch and barbed wire fence.  Phew.  Then this really awesome good samaritan named Jeff came up and helped us get out of the ditch and on our way and Grace was almost on time for her first period pre-algebra test.  Emmy was a little afraid during the accident but recovered quickly and the rest of us were just grateful to be in the ditch instead of the alternative.  Grateful!
Then we came home to homeschool and spent the day cleaning up after a sick dog (I'll spare you the details!).
BUT homeschooling is going SOOOOO much better (the 7th-grade-note-passing-in-class "SOOOOO" felt necessary here).  The boys are able to focus with Emmy being Emmy and Emmy's energy has mostly changed from anxious energy to busy, fun energy and she is better able to attend to a task for a little while…particularly if it's a little dangerous.  :)  Emmy and Noah have become best buddies and she thinks he is wonderful.  He even has her doing p-bar routines using my legs as p-bars.  And Noah and Tay-Tay (as Emmy calls him) are great playmates for her during lunch time when they all race the plasma car around the main floor.  She prays for Tay-Tay at night and wonders why he doesn't sleep here at night.  She asks to "call Nai Nai" and "call YeYe" and "call Gigi" every day and loves to talk with them.  She'll say, "Hi.  How are you?  (I'm fine.  How are you?)  How are you?  You coming?  Love you.  Bye-bye."  And continues to have an uncanny ability to know her whereabouts.  On Sunday afternoon we went to visit Grandma June and Grandpa Lou for the first time.  We drove by the back of their building tonight and Emmy said, "Mama, Grandma June and Papa Lou!"  In other fun news, Emmy said her first unprompted English sentence yesterday.  Gigi was showing her a picture that Steve drew of Emmy and asking her about it and Emmy very clearly said, "Baba draw that."  You go, girl!
Thanks for your continued prayers for our family.  Emmy's sleep is much more peaceful and she is much less fearful at bedtime and while sleeping.  Please continue to pray for everyone's adjustment to their new roles.
Hope your Wednesday was Wacky but only in the best ways!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Some photos from home...


Yesterday was a day in which I thought I might lose my mind.  Sweet Grace was up all night Monday night with the stomach flu and Emmy had a rough night as well (8 wake-ups but who's counting?).  Tuesday was a tough day for homeschooling as Emmy was crabby and testing and the boys both had difficult work to do.  We managed, though.  Gigi is super sweet to come down and visit and help everyday.  Emmy gets excited when she comes and announces her arrival but she's still not sure she wants to play with Gigi without Mama nearby.  Last night we were going to try to leave her at home with Steve, Grace and Noah while I went to pick up Eli but she was terrified and we decided it was too soon.  She went with me and chatted all the way about "go Mama, Lu Xin, Eli" and smiled and giggled.  I think she felt heard.  
Today was much better!  No more stomach flu for Gracie, Emmy slept mostly through the night and woke up happy and smiling.  It seems to be working to have me sleep in her bed while she sleeps in the pack-and play right next to the bed.  She seems to feel safer.  She wakes up and checks for me and goes back to sleep.  I feel much more human today!  Emmy discovered Eli's plasma car and has been driving her car around the house.  She likes to sit in a laundry basket and read to herself or color and can do that for a couple of minutes…making progress!  She took a good nap today with the boys and I doing homeschool right outside her door where she could see us.  Today she seems more settled and like she feels more at home.  
Thanks again for your prayers, emails and notes and for joining us in our journey!

Monday, January 26, 2015


Emmy update…

  • Emmy has now become Ella's biggest fan.  If the dogs aren't in the house, she asks me multiple times an hour to go see Ella.  When we drive in and out of the driveway, she greets them (mostly Ella) and says goodbye to them.  She still a bit startled by them when they look at her but she "pat-pats" them a lot and likes having them around.  Today she drew pictures of Ella and Hero…and Emmy with her signature pigtails.
  • Emmy has started to default to some English words.  It's bitter-sweet because I don't want her to lose her language but at the same time she so desperately wants to be able to communicate with all of us.  She refers to herself most of the time as "Lu Xin" but about a third of the time as "Emmy Lu Xin."  Especially when cheering for herself…"Yay!  Emmy Lu Xin!" 
  • Emmy has taken to wearing scarfs.  She likes them in combination with a nice pair of my boots, her "glasses," and lots of bead jewelry.  Unfortunately her panda necklace from Grace gave her a rash but she has replaced it with lots of other options.  
  • Emmy likes to do things herself…strapping herself in her carseat, going to the bathroom, putting away the dishes…you name it, she can do it!  And what's weird is…she can!  I'm not sure I'd hand most three year olds our breakable dishes but Emmy is very capable.  She sets the table every night for dinner, grabs everyone's hands and prays, "Thank you, Jesus!  A-men!"  
  • Emmy gets who her family is.  She gets who belongs here all of the time and who just comes to visit.  She walks the visitors to the door and says, "Bye bye!" and gives them kisses.  Today Gigi came to play and it bothered Emmy that Gigi was leaving out the back door and messing up her usual "bye bye" plan.  
  • Emmy will not watch anything on a screen unless it's a video of herself or her siblings.  We knew that from China because when she was sick we tried Chinese cartoons and she had no interest.  Today I put Sesame Street on thinking we could watch it together (and I could sit for a minute, honestly!) and she was having none of it.  The only part she paid any attention to was when one of the characters said, "Abby" for Abby Cadabby and she looked up to see if it was her cousin.  I know, I know...it's a good problem to have.  
  • Emmy can now play "hide-and-seek" but she wants you to feel successful so she hides by laying on the tile and then calls out to you so you know where she is.  But she really likes playing it. 
  • Night time and nap time seems less frightening and sad to Emmy most of the time, now.  Sometimes, though, she will cry silent tears in her bed.  Those times break my heart. 
  • Emmy is brave, kind, beautiful, funny, fun, sweet, silly, busy, energetic, loving and precious.  How I love her!