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Sunday, July 31, 2011

{Sunday Snapshot} My Girls

"Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward." Psalm 127:3, ESV

This verse was quoted during church today, and it seemed so fitting with this blog post. Unfortunately it's missing Lovebug, but all of my children truly are gifts from God, an unbelievable "reward." I am in awe of God's love when I look at them ... I can see Him in them so many times throughout each day. And when things aren't going exactly as I'd like, I try to remind myself that through serving my children, I serve Jesus.

I'm actually still in shock that I got this picture today - but Angel wanted to lay with Sunshine and then ASKED (yes I said *asked*) me to take a picture. When Angel asks, I jump and then leap for my camera! LOL. And then I couldn't believe that I actually got both of them looking at me, let alone happily. I mean, just LOOK at Angel's smile ... ahh swoon! I can always snap shots of Sunshine but Angel is much more of a challenge. Ohh, so excited! If I had known I would get a result like this, I would have taken them outside in the grass and gotten some real light instead of the dull window light from the family room. Oh well though - I'll take what I can get - definitely framable!

Sunday Snapshot

Thursday, July 28, 2011


In case you were wondering, or the least bit curious, dinnertime is usually the most stressful time of the day at our house. DH is not yet home from work ... and although the older 2 will occupy themselves quite well, Sunshine will absolutely not. LOL. In fact, all she wants to do at that point is be held ... by me. Or in some cases, she is ok with scooting about at my feet with lots of leg hugs. Although this affection is one of the most adorable things I can think of, it's not the safest thing while I'm trying to prepare dinner, especially when knives are involved. This whole situation makes it a tad bit difficult to get dinner going, as you may imagine. I'm sure many of you mamas out there can relate to this scenario.

So in an effort to speed up this process before DH gets home from work, I have started to bribe her with non-toy things to play with ... in many cases, these things are food. It has been a big hit and she loves everything ... she especially loves to eat her bribes :-) Here are a few recent examples:

Above - the dishwasher. Below - mustard. Can you pass the Grey Poupon please?

Above - "What's up doc?" Below - difficult to see, but that's the stalk of a broccoli (which she loved - there were bits of it all over the floor).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My girl

Oh I love this child more than life itself. I still haven't figure out how she has gotten so grown up. Don't know that I ever will. LOL. We got a bit of one-on-one time yesterday, which I think we *both* so desperately needed. It's nice to let the worries of the world pass by while I sit and work on beads (or get my butt kicked in Wii) together with my first born. So lovely and simple.

Of course, I still had to bribe her with marshmallows for a few pictures, but at least she finally obliged! That third shot shows what she was doing before I pulled out the big guns of bribery. I'm not kidding. That's what she does every. single. time. I pull out my camera. She hides. She runs. She covers her face. I sure hope she grows out of that stage sometime soon though, because her smile is like food for my soul, it just takes my breath away. And although I see it all the time, it's nice to capture it with my lens every once in awhile.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cleft clinic appointment

I snapped this shot while we were waiting to go in for her hearing test ... she doesn't look all that jazzed. I can't really blame her though, with all of our recent experience with doctor's and lab visits. Unfortunately this is the *only* picture I took today :-( But hey, at least I have one!

So we started off our long afternoon with her hearing test, which she did ok with. She responded to voices very well, but sounds & beeps were another issue. She is definitely showing some signs of hearing loss, especially on her left side (which makes sense because that's the side that is cleft-affected). They assume it has to do with fluid build-up, which is very common with cleft kiddos.

When we went to see the ENT after that, she was able to see fluid on the left side, but couldn't really see much on the right. With a combination of very narrow ear canals and lots of wax, it was difficult to tell exactly what was going on. And let me tell ya ... Sunshine just *loved* that exam, especially with me & DH super-humanly papoose-boarding her the whole time. LOL. My poor child. The doc talked about cleaning out her ears right then so Sunshine could hear better and so she could see into her ears better ... but after explaining to her that it would be a bad idea and would really, really not go over well with Sunshine ... she gave the alternative of doing it while she was knocked out during her surgery. Phew, disaster averted. A very sleepy no-nap kind of Sunshine would not have handled that well on top of her strong-willed nature. Plus, who wants to have THAT done?! The plan will also be to place tubes in her ears at the time of surgery.

After that, we headed upstairs to see the surgeon and his amazing nurse! I have been in contact with her for months and she has been absolutely wonderful, so I was really excited to finally meet her! The surgeon mapped out the plan for us ... the first surgery on 8/18 will be a "lip adhesion" where he will repair the top part of her lip only. This will help to pull things together and help them line up for the full lip surgery in November(ish). He also said that because she is older, as long as she can eat well after the surgery, we will mostly likely not even need to stay in the hospital overnight! Yay!

After the 2nd lip surgery, Sunshine will have her final surgery a few months later for her palate. The surgeon explained that the palate will be repaired but her gumline will stay they way it is. If he were to fix it then, it would permanently set her gumline in place, which would not be a good thing because she's so young. BUT, the cool thing is that the gumline will naturally pull itself together (because of the lip & palate repairs) and we will only see the tiniest gap within about a month (I think). How fascinating!

After that, he said she'll see an orthodontist at about age 6-7 and we would start working on an expander for her palate to help get everything lined up correctly. And then at about age 9-10, we'll do braces. Sounds easy enough, right? LOL. Unfortunately we forgot to ask about the shape of her nose and whether she will need additional surgeries for that, but we'll have plenty of time to sort all of that out! We also saw a dental team but honestly, I'm not quite sure why because they didn't give us any new information that the surgeon hadn't already discussed. We're also going to save meeting with the speech pathologist until Sunshine's palate repair.

It's funny because the actual meeting with doctors wasn't all that long - it was being shuffled around and waiting in multiple waiting rooms that took so long! So glad that's over! Sunshine was passed out in the car 7 minutes into the ride home. Exhausted baby girl. LOL. Don't blame her much, we were pooped too!

So our next stop is the first surgery on 8/18! We arrive at the hospital at 9:15am. Wow, that's only 24 days from now! I'm excited but also nervous for Sunshine ... I am so attached to the way she looks right now, it's a little scary to know that we are changing her face forever. Although obviously I know this needs to be done, I just love her little (or not so little) smile just the way it is!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Catching up

Our weekend in review!! Where does the time go?!

Lots of playing ...

Sunshine is such a busy girl all. day. long. She never stops! It's so cool to watch her "work" ... she is so curious and is constantly learning new things! She is really good at playing by herself most of the time and loves that play kitchen! Her favorite toy so far is the tea set - you can see bits of it laying around in the pictures. She likes to imitate us having tea by stirring things with spoons - love!

In that last shot, you can see her demonstrating a skill she had just figured out - scooting ON something ... totally quicker and more efficient :-) We are all about efficiency in this house!

Next up, we have 2 videos - the first one is a super-fun clip of Sunshine splashing in the baby pool with Angel & Lovebug. She is such a water baby and had a blast! I pieced the video together from several clips I shot while we were outside, so you'll see it broken up a little.

The second video was taken earlier tonight as we were finishing up dinner with her. She is getting really good at imitating us and THIS one is hysterical, I just had to share. The little nose crinkle is about the cutest thing ever. LOL.

I know I am her mom, but I stand in awe watching her ... we have our tough times just like any other family but she is such a happy, well-adjusted baby girl. She is affectionate and sweet and looks to us for approval. She is so smart and is picking things up so quickly! It's truly miraculous to watch God work through her. I have already learned so much from her and I know it's only the beginning. It is such an honor to be her mom ... to be given the opportunity to watch her life unfold and help her grow. Wow, just in awe. God is so good.

And then we have Lovebug making a super-goofy face with a mouth full of Noodles. LOL. This is a pretty typical sight at our house - Lovebug being goofy AND him having a mouth filled with macaroni :-)

I'd also love to include a shot or 2 of Angel, but she is in a "no pictures, please" phase ... I feel bad because she has been kind of neglected on the blog, but she refuses to take any pictures for me! Actually I guess both of the older 2 have been neglected a bit recently ... but I have lots of catching up to do with Sunshine!

A quick update on the medical stuff - we are off to our Cleft Clinic appointment tomorrow. It's not invasive, just long. We'll meet with the surgeon who will do her surgeries, his amazing nurse ... along with a speech pathologist, a dentist and orthodontist, a geneticist and an ENT. Oh, and she'll have a hearing test. Woooo! Long day, but this is the last doctor's appointment with the cleft team before her first surgery on Aug 18th! Hard to believe we are less than a month out!

And one more teeny weeny piece of information about something huge, totally wonderful, and absolutely a God thing ... our dear, dear friends, The W.'s, will be meeting their baby girl in China in about a half hour! You may remember me writing about them - they are the family that received their referral the same day as us ... their daughter was born the day before Sunshine, in the same province, taken to the same orphanage, with the SAME special need of CL/CP. Our families have been forever intertwined and our girls will always be China sisters ... heck, they are practically twins! Just amazing how God weaves things together, isn't it? The people that are placed in your lives ... wow, just so cool. Anywho, if you'd like to head over to their blog and follow their journey (which will practically be the same as ours!), don't forget to leave them some love with an encouraging comment or two! It's so helpful to read them while in China!

ANGIE & CLINT - If/when you read this - We are praying for you and can't wait to see your baby girl in your arms! I have been thinking about you non-stop, we are right there with you!

Friday, July 22, 2011

got sleep?

After a particularly rough night, I walked into Sunshine's room to find her sleeping like this. LOL. What is so stinkin' adorable about this is: (1) the obvious - that position is hysterical, and (2) the fact that just a month ago, she was only laying flat on her back and wouldn't move AT ALL while sleeping. Amazing.

PS - This shot is really grainy - I was shooting at f/1.8, 1/40s, ISO4000 to get it - the sun was just starting to show through the shades and I didn't want to wake her up with a flash. I know I write it here and there, but the low light capabilities on my camera are just remarkable.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Veggie Burger, Update & Praise God!

Yes, that's right - my girl eats veggie burger and LOVES IT! I know I keep saying this, but she is the coolest! Now to just get over the newfound sleeping issues we are having .... hmmm.

So here's an update on the thyroid blood work - we were SUCCESSFUL yesterday in getting the blood sample! Yippy! It was the most non-traumatic traumatic experience anyone could've asked for. Of course, Sunshine is so used to labs now that she starts screaming and thrashing as soon as we walk into the room ... BUT the tech was able to get the blood sample and she was really wonderful. She was efficient AND knew how to tell me to hold Sunshine (to stop her from moving) and boy did that make a huge difference. She did have to stick her twice unfortunately but was so quick that it seriously wasn't even that big of a deal. I LOVED this experience compared to the other 3 - totally amazing.

Anywho - we heard from the doctor just a bit ago and he let us know that all of Sunshine's labs came back perfectly normal! Woohoo! The first test must have just been an error because she had a complete work-up this time and everything was just perfect! SO THANKFUL for this news, Praise God!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bubble wrap = happy baby

Sunshine's first experience with bubble wrap was a big success. LOL. Look at my happy girl! I think it's so awesome to see her experience these things for the first time!

In other news, we have to go get more blood drawn on Wednesday for some follow-up labs on Sunshine's thyroid. Based on the initial blood work, she may have hyperthyroidism. Well - she DOES have it unless the next blood work comes back with different results. It's very treatable, but I am more concerned right now about actually having the blood drawn. The first experience was very traumatic and took a very long time. Apparently she doesn't have "good veins." LOL. Plus she is very strong and gets very mad ... so it's just a bad experience.

We *tried* to go on Friday for the follow-up blood draw ... but I'll summarize that experience by writing that after 2 hours, 2 labs, 5 techs, 4 bad sticks and waaaay more crying and trauma than any one-year old should have to go through ... we were unsuccessful in getting the blood sample. It was really rough on both of us ... I feel terrible that I have to physically restrain her to cause her pain. Ugh. I know we need it but wow ... it sure does hurt my heart. And we still have to go again with no guarantee we will be successful. She still has a pretty bad bruise on her arm, so I'm going to wait until tomorrow and hopefully find a tech that is good with babies that are tough sticks. Blech.

Big brother

It was a "pj's" kind of morning :-) Love how Sunshine almost looks bigger than Lovebug. Wonder if she'll weigh more than him one day? LOL.

Lovebug is doing SUCH a good job of being a big brother. I know he probably had the most adjustment (aside from Sunshine obviously!!) and he has handled it with such grace. Sure, he has definitely been affected. But BOY does he loves his little sister ... he just adores her!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Date Night

With Angel! Actually these pictures are from a birthday party at Hot Pots. (What a super-fun idea for a party - Angel loved it!!) So AFTER that, we had a date at one of my favorite restaurants! We has SUCH a fun time, just the two of us ... it was so amazing to re-connect with her. In a lot of ways, Angel gets the least attention at home because she is the oldest and most self-sufficient. I feel terrible about it, but Sunshine requires so much time because she's a baby and Angel is such a wonderful little helper. So really, just such a good feeling to be with JUST Angel for a whole night! We played tic-tac-toe, did crossword puzzles and word puzzles and I think she mastered sudoku! LOL.

I just love this girl of mine! She is growing into an amazing little lady right before my eyes :-) She is such a cool kid ... so laid back, so smart and so fun to be with. Maybe one day she'll outgrow the "NO Mom, I don't WANT any pictures" phase, and I'll actually get pictures of her looking at me smiling! Maybe. LOL.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Peek-a-boo, Sunshine style

Mostly, I just love this video because of Sunshine's addictive giggle! LOL. She has gotten into playing peek-a-boo after she eats and just totally cracks me up!

I had to piece this one together - there were a ton of distractions in the background and video editing is not yet one of my talents. So I cut the parts out where you really couldn't hear what was going on. You'll still hear DH's phone call in the background and the dogs barking at the end ... but that's how things go, c'est la vie, right?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I know Sunshine is rocking the hillbilly-style with just a diaper and a bib but this is still the cutest darn picture :-)

Monday, July 11, 2011


I waited for awhile (ok, a few weeks) to subject Sunshine ... er, I mean, let Sunshine experience ... the ball pit. LOL. I was afraid she'd be too overwhelmed and I would scar her for life and would make her forever fearful of ball pits if I did it too soon. But the time came that I couldn't wait anymore ... what if I was actually scarring her by not providing the opportunity? Maybe she was missing out on hours of ball-pitting because I was withholding this most-important rite of passage?

Fortunately, she loved it ... although not at first. LOL. She was a champ though ... she sat there for a few seconds looking at me like I was a crazy fool. And well let's face it, I am a crazy fool, so she was right to do so :-) But after I showed her how much FUN she could have, she opened up and started to relax a little. And then, well, the pictures can do the rest of the talking ...

And just in case you didn't know, I want to let you in on a little secret ... the ball pit is the perfect place to exercise and stretch your limbs. In fact, I would highly recommend that everyone start doing their stretching in the ball pit. Here, Sunshine demonstrates this practice with ease and grace ... :-) :-)

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I caught her at dinner signing for "milk" - too cute! I love that she is picking up signing, being able to communicate with her is huge! Of course, now she wants milk *all* the time but that's ok! LOL. I think she may have picked up the sign for "cereal" too, which we're using for Cheerios. It's so relieving to have a form of communication with her, considering that she literally couldn't talk if she wanted to right now.

Some of the other signs are more difficult for her to do, but for now, we're working on juice, waffle, yogurt, sleep, eat, thank you, play and toy. She also definitely knows "no" (LOL) and we're working on "yes" also. I'm so excited for her - she's one smart little gal!

If anyone is interested in teaching signs to their children - here is the book I have been using: Teach Your Tot to Sign by Stacy A. Thompson. It's really a fantastic book - I bought it when Angel was a baby and we used it with her, Lovebug, and now Sunshine! We are obviously using it for true needs with Sunshine, but it was fantastic for teaching non-special needs kids a few signs also!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

4 weeks

So today we celebrate being Sunshine's family for four weeks! Wow! Part of me feels like she's still so new to us, but the other part of me feels like she was always here with us because of how well she fits in. Crazy. She has made so much progress in these 4 weeks and has adjusted miraculously well. Here are some of the things we know about our baby girl after having her for 4 weeks:

  • She can definitely light up a room - joy and happiness just explode out of her! She exudes sunshine!
  • She loves to sing in her baby-ish cleft kinda way ... I don't want to be biased but I think her favorite is Chris Tomlin.
  • She also loves to imitate us and really enjoys "talking."
  • Everything makes her happy and anything can be a toy. Her favorite "non-toy" toys are coffee cans, paper and water bottles (the extra noisy ones are preferable).
  • She has clear opinions and knows what she wants. LOL. She has even been known to have a pretty good temper ... seems she fits right in with the rest of us :-)
  • She is definitely a snuggle bug and is a great sleeper (when she isn't teething).
  • She is one flexible little lady - have you SEEN her amazing trick?!
  • She eats everything and gets excited whenever she sees it's time to eat! DH says she has the best "palate" for someone who doesn't have a palate. LOL. We had a good chuckle about that one.
  • She is ticklish and has a totally contagious laugh!
  • She loves being around people but is shy around strangers.
  • She is one of those figure-out-how-it-works types - she will sit for way longer than I'd think possible for a one-year-old to figure something out!
  • She adores bath time! When I take her into the bathroom, her little arms and legs start flapping all over and she has a grin from ear to ear. I think she'd stay in there all day if I let her!

Things she has started doing since we've been her family:
  • Signing! She doesn't sign many words and only does them when *she* wants to - but she can definitely sign "milk" and "more"!
  • She also uses eye contact, simple noises and hand gestures to communicate what she wants - this is a huge improvement over the physical ways she was communicating at first!
  • She has much more patience now and will wait a bit longer for something she wants (like food - LOL) without getting upset right away. She also has more patience for the older kids when they want to over-love on her.
  • She claps and is very proud of herself for doing it!
  • She waves "hi" with her index finger (when she wants to). It is the cutest thing ever and she was even flirting with the guy behind us at church while doing it.
  • She can feed herself now, woohoo!
  • She participates and helps us get her dressed now - this is a huge improvement over the floppy wet-noodle she was in the beginning.
  • She actually LOVES to be on her belly now - when we first got her in China, she got very mad when we tried tummy time.
  • She can also roll over *with* assistance - this also used to make her upset and she would push her body in the opposite direction to stop us. Now she helps do it!
  • She can scoot all around and I think she might even crawl with the way she is starting to pull her legs under her body!
  • She *likes* to hang out in the jumperoo for short periods of time - her leg strength is really improving!
  • She can stand up for short periods while holding onto something - she is super-proud about that one :-)
  • She looks to us for comfort and approval AND loves to bury her face in our legs, chest, or shoulder ... actually any part of our body works for her - she just likes to be close to us!
  • She lets us touch her head and ears now - in the beginning she would hit our hands whenever we tried. I think she felt those areas were "off-limits" to us because she scratches there to self-sooth.
  • Speaking of the self-soothing thing, she is doing that A LOT less - she used to dig and dig at her scalp and ears, along with her belly, legs AND arms. She has scars on her forehead from doing it. I have heard it's a sensory thing? Either way - she does this much less and rarely touches her legs and arms now. She also doesn't stick her fingers in her ears much (no, it isn't an ear infection - just her soothing technique). She now only scratches when she is over-tired or doesn't like what's going on. Baby steps!
  • She is really learning to trust us. We assume that she probably *had* to demand everything she needed in her foster home, but she is slowly learning that we will always meet her needs. Major progress there!

Ok, I think that's it for now - I'm sure I missed some but that's definitely a good recap! We seriously fall more and more in love with Sunshine everyday - she is such a blessing and the perfect addition to our family! In celebration of our 4-week anniversary, I put together a short video about our first few weeks HOME. This *isn't* our adoption movie (still working on that one), but this is a fun, short video with some new stuff that you haven't seen yet! Enjoy!