Sunday, April 21, 2013

Thank you!

We wanted to thank all the people who walked beside us as we journeyed through our adoption process and gave financially or helped us raise money and all those who prayed before we brought Joy home and those who prayed and counselled us after we brought Joy home.  Wow, what a year it has been!  I hope Greg, I and the boys have learned alot and grown a lot this past year.  Some days I feel like a different person than a year ago!  Unfortunately, I still have hard days when I feel like I haven't grown and changed.  Some days we take two steps forward and some days we take a step or two back. 
Joy has grown leaps and bounds!  It has been amazing to see her growth over the past year!
We had a get together to show our appreciation to some VERY special people who gave so much to help us bring home our JOY!

Bowing to my friend!
Joy testing the cake before everyone else!


Here daddy, you try it!
That's enough for you, the rest is mine!
Butterfly kisses with daddy!

Thank you, thank you!  What a joy!  We are so thankful!!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Family Vacation

We had an amazing vacation in the Great Smokey Mountains!
The view from the back porch of our cabin was beautiful! 
Noah, Brian and Greg ready for an adventure!
We went for a beautiful hike in the mountains and saw some snow!

 Joy, on the other hand, was ready for a nap!  About 30 minutes into our hike, she fell asleep.  I absolutely LOVED holding her while she slept and we hiked!  Sweet baby!
We enjoyed looking at the icycles!
This is the waterfall we hiked an hour and half to see.  We had a picnic at the site of the falls and then headed back for a very strenuous hike back to the road.
The hike back was so strenuous, we scooped some snow to eat/drink on.
We also visited Wonderworks!  Joy enjoyed playing the piano!
 Greg, Brian and Noah's favorite part of our trip was ziplining!  They also loved being in the cabin.  My favorite part were the beautiful views!  Beautiful snowcapped mountains!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Happy Birthday Joy!

Happy Birthday Joy!
Joy turned 3 years old!!
Joy is arriving to her birthday party!
Joy's new favorite food is ICE CREAM!  And that is her new favorite words!  Everytime we open the refrigerator or freezer, Joy starts saying, "Ice Cream!"  Which actually sounds more like, "I emm!"
Taking a water break in big brother, Brian's lap!  I am so thankful for Joy's relationship with her big brothers!
Cake time!
Brian and Noah playing ball at the party.

We are so thankful we could celebrate Joy's birthday with her this year.  We had a lot of fun and so did she!  Her favorite parts were being sang "Happy Birthday" to, the cake and ice cream and being the center of attention!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

One year ago...

One year ago, March 26, 2012, was a BIG day for our family.  Greg and I, for the first time saw our baby girl face to face, held her, fed her and saw her sleep for the first time.  So many memories, such an emotional day!  After working so hard and so long to get to China, it was almost unbelievable to finally be there!  I had dreamed many times before about our daughter and dreamed about her being home with us, so I kept pinching myself, thinking, "Is this for real, this time?"  I will always remember about that day...
seeing her all bundled up in many, many layers...

Her first smile in daddy's arms...

When we got back to our hotel, we stripped her down, just like the classes we took warned us not to do (imagine how we would feel if we were in a foreign place, with people who don't speak the same language as us and they start pulling our clothes off all while they are smiling and kissing us and speaking jibberish!)  We wanted to see if she had 10 fingers and 10 toes.  We bathed her and dressed her in some comfy clothes that we brought to China.  It was very hard for her to settle down for her nap, but with the help of the bottle, she couldn't fight it any longer. 
Her first nap with us...

We are so thankful for this beautiful child!  She brings so much life, joy, and laughter to our household and we have all enjoyed watching her grow and blossom, despite many setbacks. We have all felt growing pains as our household has grown and as Joy has grown and learned so much in this year.  Not only Joy, but Greg and I and even Brian and Noah have learned so much and grown this year.  So, we are all learning more about ourselves and about life through this special child God has placed in our home.

We celebrated our one year anniversary by eating Chinese!  Notice the hold Joy has on Greg and I! :)  I am so thankful that she is holding on to us!

Joy was crawling when we brought her home.  Now she is running and jumping!

And dancing...
Joy loves to dance!!
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven...a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to morun and a time to dance" Ecclesiastes 4:1, 4

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Look who's talking

Joy is talking!  About a month ago Joy began making sounds and talking.  She is saying several words!

Big brother tied a balloon to Joy's poneytail.
Happy Chinese New Year!
We see lots of sweet smiles these days.  Unfortunately, it is very hard to get a smile on camera.  When I pull out the camera, she wants to see the picture before I have taken it.  As soon as she sees the camera, she runs to get behind it!
In the past month, we have moved Joy's bed to her own bedroom and she has done amazing with that transition. 
She is doing so good, her occupational therapist says she is on a 36 month level.  She was tested for physical therapy and she didn't qualify! :)
It has been so hard for Greg and I, trying to learn how to raise a very strong willed child, but her strong will has helped her to persist and work hard.  She doesn't give up and she has come so far.  It has been so fun to see!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

What a beautiful and wonderful Christmas this has been!  It has been a very dreary, rainy day outside, but inside the house is warmed with love and the laughter of our children!  I still wonder if this is all a dream and I will "wake up" from this dream, the dream that our daughter is finally home.  Before we brought Joy home, I would dream about her being home, even before we knew of her.  When I slow down and ponder the moment, reality shakes me and I find myself wondering, am I still dreaming...
Joy has enjoyed her first Christmas.  Before yesterday, she didn't know how to open a present, but she is a pro now! 

Joy applying her lipstick. For Christmas, Santa brought her a purse, complete with lipstick and keys!
Many times during the past month, I think back to last year and I remember decorating for Christmas and celebrating Christmas and the Christmas season with Joy in our hearts and minds and wishing her a Merry Christmas from across the world.  We wanted her to be home so bad and it was so hard to not have her to hold and tuck in at night and protect.  We are so very thankful for having Joy home this Christmas!  We are so thankful for Jesus, that he left his home and came to this broken world and made a Way for us to be at home with Him.  We are so thankful for our health and our family and friends who mean so much to us!

We are so thankful for the progress that Joy has made.  Last week we had a check up at the UAB International Adoption Clinic and found out that Joy is on a 24-30 month level cognitively!  What wonderful news that she has come SO FAR!  When we brought her home, she was on a 6 month level!  Physically, she is on a 12 month level.  So we are working hard on her speech and fine and gross motor skills.  We are confident that she will catch up!  She is working so hard on trying to make sounds, she watches our mouths and tries...she'll get there.  Her strong will can be an advantage!!

Merry Christmas!!!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Wow!  So much going on!  Since the last post, Joy had Bronchitis. At that Dr. visit, for the first time since coming home, Joy was "officially" diagnosed with Asthma.  She was pretty sick when we went to the Doctor and she received a breathing treatment at the Dr. office.

She is now using an inhaler regularly just to keep the asthma under control and she is doing much better.

Brian and Noah finished up football season with a bang!  Both of their teams grew so much over the course of the season and they both learned so much and had a really great time!  We all really enjoyed the season.  They both had great coaches.

We are seeing more and more that Joy is understanding so much of what we are saying.  Joy loves to empty the cabinet of plastic containers and this particular day I asked her to clean up the mess and she turned around and started picking up and putting away the containers back in the cabinet!  My jaw dropped and I turned and saw that Noah was witnessing this moment also and his jaw dropped also! 

Field Trip to Fort Toulouse!  Joy and I went to Ft. Toulouse with Noah and had a great time. 

Once we got home, we received news that Brian had broken his nose during P.E. at school!  Brian had surgery on his nose and is doing very well and healing nicely!

What a JOY she is! She is a beautiful girl! She wears a LOT of pink! :)

We decorated for Christmas today!  The picture above is Joy hanging her first Christmas ornament ever! We bought Joy her very own Christmas ornament in China and she hung it today on the tree. We were very excited to have Joy to decorate for Christmas with us for her first time, but for the most part, she was unhappy and throwing fits, as shown in the pic below.
We are so excited to have Joy home this year for Thanksgiving and Christmas and to celebrate the birth of our Savior with our new daughter!