Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!

This is a test...

... to see if I can post to the blog via my cell phone. I'm not sure how to get our Christmas photos on here (ba-lieve me, there are lots!) but will try that when we are back at home. We pray you had a blessed day celebrating our Lord's birth. I'll see you here soon with the scoop!

J

Friday, December 19, 2008

House Update

Well folks...

The rent-to-own situation is a no go.

The family that was interested became quickly disinterested when they discovered what purchasing a home truly entails. They decided that renting was the best option for them and have gone another direction.

Yes, we are disappointed. We thought this was going to be our miracle and the removal of our financial burden. We are just hanging on (really hanging on, sometimes by a thread...) that God has a bigger and better miracle in mind.

In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. Psalm 5:3

Monday, December 8, 2008

We may have news about our house...

There is a family in Richmond who is interested in our house. Yipee!

They want to know if we would consider a rent-to-own. We had been hoping for an outright sale, but in this housing market, this may be the answer the Lord is providing for us.

Will you please join us in prayer for God's will in this situation? He knows we want to pay down debt, to be good stewards of the resources He has given us, and our desire to expand our family. We know He has a reason for everything and teaches us valuable lessons along the way. (I'm pretty sure "Patience / Waiting" is still one of 'em - ugh! ;-) ) I keep reminding myself that His plan is way better than our plan. Above all else, we want to honor Christ.

We'll let you know if anything comes of this rental / sale.

And thanks for praying, friends.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Noelle's Referral - One Year Ago Today

What an angelic little face! We just couldn't stop staring at this photo on the computer screen. That same weekend we ordered dozens of prints from Walmart of the 3 referral photos. This one we printed on an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet and hung it up in our bedroom. Oh, those beautiful, somewhat sad eyes, those round cheeks, that thick hair-- Ahhh - our baby!


One year ago today we saw our daughter's precious face for the very first time. What a dream come true! I love reliving that day in my mind. I love telling others just how we felt when The Phone Call from our adoption agency came through, and when we rushed home to check the email that contained the photos of Lu Jia Zhen, our long awaited daughter. I feel like crying, shouting, laughing and jumping - all over again! :)

If you'd like to reminisce with us, click on the links below to read about that special day:

http://johnsonfamilyadoption.blogspot.com/2007/12/call-that-changed-everything-part-1.html

http://johnsonfamilyadoption.blogspot.com/2007/12/call-that-changed-everything-part-2.html

http://johnsonfamilyadoption.blogspot.com/2007/12/miracles-along-way.html

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Noelle (and Mommy's) BIG DAY

(Photos courtesy of Aleph Bet Director, Shayna Howard)

Today was a really big day for Noelle...and for me.

Noelle had her first day of preschool.

Our kiddo is now the newest member of Aleph Bet Children's Center part-time preschool program. It is a wonderful Jewish school with an awesome director and caring teachers and it just happens to be literally *right next door* to the church my husband pastors.

Yes, I know it may seem like an odd move to some out there, but to our family, today was a huge blessing and answer to prayer.

As you read my post from Nov. 20, you know that I've had my struggles recently. Learning to be a mom while living far from everything safe and familiar had been taking it's toll on me-- and I didn't like the person I was becoming. I have been cranky, exhausted and an emotional wreck. My house has been in a constant state of disarray. I couldn't even seem to find the strength to hang pictures or do other things that would make the parsonage feel like home. I was avoiding calls and emails and could hardly wait until Noelle's nap time so I could take one too. My family and friends began to be concerned. I was concerned. Something had to give.

Through holding tightly to Jesus and leaning on the encouraging prayers of my loved ones, I am starting to find some solutions. Eric and I are working on finding more balance in our home life. I finally went to see the doc for a check-up. (He put me on the, um, "pill" to, er, regulate my, uh, "cycle" and hormone levels.)(sorry guys!) I am beginning to make improvements in my nutritional intake (boy, that sweet tooth is gonna be hard to break), and I started filling out an application to the local YMCA for a regular work-out program (oh me achin' back!).

Sending Noelle to a 2 day preschool program is another one of these solutions. It gives Noelle, an extremely active and inquisitive child, the opportunity to socialize with kids her age. And it gives mom-me the chance to run errands, do chores and...breathe.

Eric and I had talked and prayed about this possibility for many weeks, but did not see a way to fit it in our budget. God bless my sweet parents-- they offered to help us pay for Noelle to attend a preschool program. Wow oh wow!! And then the day we went visiting schools, Aleph Bet Children's Center (a highly recommended school and very difficult to get in to) just happened to have one opening in the Tues / Thurs 2-year-old classroom. Wow oh wow oh wow!! We met with the director and teachers on several occasions, Noelle attend a "practice" day with mom...and we signed her up.

Today, lunch box and blanket in hand, our family of three arrived at Noelle's new school. Eric kissed his angel good-bye and walked across the yard to work, and a nervous mommy and Noelle walked through the front door.

I stayed for 15 minutes or so to let Noelle get a feel for things, gave my baby a hug and kiss, then slipped out the door when she was happily engaged cooking in the play kitchen. At home, I worked like a fiend on long over-due projects, all the while praying for my little girl's happiness, safety and well being. Her class schedule is posted on our fridge, so I enjoyed keeping track of her throughout the day.

At 1:00pm my phone rang. It was Miss Meghan, Noelle's head teacher. She called to say that Noelle was doing fabulously. Praise Jesus! I almost bawled right there on the phone, I was so relieved.

Our scheduled pick-up time arrived and I drove to the school to collect my precious cargo. I wondered how she would greet me. She happened to playing outside on the playground at the time and when she saw me, she acknowledged my presence with a nod then went back to playing. Hey! Where's my hug? Where's my "Mommy, mommy, mommy!!!"

It's okay. Actually it's much better than okay. My little girl was safe, happy and having a ball. Again I breathed a thank you to my Heavenly Father-- for the preschool-answer-to-prayer, but mostly for my gift of a precious daughter.

When I finally persuaded Noelle to come home with me - first she had to hug her teachers and say 'bye' to her friends and Bob the Bunny (her stuffed animal for nap time) and Romeo the Bunny (the live school-pet rabbit that lives outside) - we headed back inside to collect the lunchbox and head home. But before I could get her out the door, Noelle ran back inside her classroom, pressed her face up to the glass door leading outside to the play ground, and proclaimed with a wave, "Bye-bye friends! I miss you!"

AWWWWWwwwwww!!!!

:-)









These last 3 photos show Noelle discovering how to tip over the red couch. She repeated this activity several times before the teachers told her that maybe this wasn't such a good idea...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Noelle: Creative Genius or Criminal Mastermind?

Happy December 1st everybody!

And it sure feels like winter around here-- feels more like Kansas City. As I am writing this, there are snowflakes falling in our yard. Granted, they're not sticking, but they are falling. Several schools even closed this morning due to accumulated snow on the ground in several areas (the higher elevations). I was really looking forward to the mild Tennessee winters, but it seems like Chattanooga is producing the cold weather to make us feel more at home in our new environment.

Okay. Noelle is a smart kid. I realize this is the statement of a typical proud first time parent. But remember, Eric and I can't take any credit, so I figure we get to say it more often than the quota allows. ;-) Anyhoo, I wanted to share a couple stories I think you will find amusing.

~A majority of our church services Noelle is in the nursery, but from time to time she stays with me in "big church" when she needs a little extra mommy-time. This past Sunday morning was one of those times. We were sitting on the back row, and Noelle was on my lap with a pen and the church bulletin. As Eric preached, she was contentedly "taking notes". I soon noticed, however, that she was marking on her paper with great concentration. I looked down to see a bulletin filled with tiny scribbles. She would make a mark, pause with the pen resting against her head, scan the type with her eyes, then scribble another mark.

I took a closer look. What I discovered was that Noelle was crossing out all the O's. That's right. Uppercase, lowercase, she found 'em. I thought I must be mistaken, so I grabbed the paper and double checked. But sure enough-- she had found just the O's.

I doubt I had nearly this level of concentration when I was her age. What's next? Word-finds, Sudoku, The New York Times crossword puzzle? All I could do was shake my head and grin widely.

~The other story occurred just this last Friday. We had family and friends over for the Thanksgiving holiday. It was the middle of the afternoon and people had gone their separate ways for a while to visit, chill, rest, make loud banging noises (that last one would be my husband and father working on some mannish project in the basement). Since Noelle was napping, I took the opportunity to rest for a little while before rejoining the family.

Well, the banging below our bedroom went on for some time, so I didn't really sleep. Nor did I hear anything else going on inside the house. And certainly not what was going on right across the hall in Noelle's room.

I got up to use to restroom or something - don't even remember now - and that's when I heard the voice of my daughter-who-should-be-sleeping. "Mommy!! Mommeeeeee!!" This did not sound like her typical "Mommy I want to get uuuuup!" voice. This had a bit more intensity. I decided to investigate.

When I opened the door to her room, I noticed right away that Noelle's bed was empty. A quick scan of the room revealed no toddler about. I immediately remembered that Eric had recently taught Noelle to climb in and out of her crib / toddler bed (UGH!). Maybe she was hiding under the bed? When I looked more closely, I observed a suspicious wet spot in the center of her mattress, but I also saw that the decorative pillow that usually sits on the rocking chair was now in her bed (it was wet, too - ick).

Noelle had definitely been out of bed, but where was she now?

Then I heard it again. That little voice calling for mommy. Oh no. My sweet angel was in her very off limits bathroom (used only when accompanied by an adult).

I opened the door with some dread and a burst of steam hit me in the face!

My face registered shock as I first observed Noelle standing butt naked on the bath mat, her pj top soaked with water and her head full of bubbly shampoo. Then I saw that the sink faucet was running and the shower was turned on almost full blast to the hot setting.

I stumbled around and stuttered, "Noelle Johnson! What on earth are you doing?!?"

I felt a mixture of relief that I had found my child, amazement at the brilliance of her escapade, frustration that she wasn't napping but had made a huge mess, and fear that she could have slipped, fallen and conked herself out, or severely scalded herself in the hot shower.

(Please note: Eric had cranked up the heat on our teeny water heater to better accommodate our Thanksgiving house guests - and had warned them of this fact. Noelle could have been seriously injured, but the Lord truly protected her when no one else was around.)

Her matter-of-fact answer to my question was, "Noelle want to take bath. Noelle hot in my diaper."

What? Oh. Okay.

"Where is your dirty diaper?"

"In the trash can."

Oh. Okay. Good place for it.

"Noelle Johnson!!! Do you realize you could have been hurt?!? Bumped your head, burned your skin on the hot water?!?"

I went on like this for some time, trying to make sure the message would stick in her head. My mom soon heard the commotion and came to check things out. So then Noelle's Grammy put her 2 cents in about the dangers of bathing without supervision. And of course I had to call to Eric to share the news of his daughter's latest adventure (and to also scold him again for teaching our daughter how to climb out of her crib)

After the hubbub died down, my blood pressure retreated to normal levels, and Noelle had a supervised bath, I started to chuckle a bit (when the kiddo wasn't looking, of course). What creativity!

Then I lifted the toilet seat. The stool was jammed mercilessly with toilet paper. A quick look confirmed that the roll was empty. I also noticed that water was splashed on the inside of every surface...as if little hands had been playing in the soggy paper... Eewww.

Good thing she was taking a bath.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

M.I.A.

It seems I've been out of the blog-esphere for one whole month now. Wow! I didn't realize it was so long. Several friends and family members have e-mailed to ask about the blog. (I am amazed once again that folks out there still follow along with our crazy life.) It's not that things here in Chattanooga have been slow or uninteresting - quite the opposite. We have been very busy, and my phone holds the proof. It is filled with fun pictures of Noelle, Eric, church friends, the cats...and Noelle. One example-- Noelle was a "karate-girl" for Halloween. Wait until you see how much fun I had with her hair! When I get these and other 'Life of the Johnson's' photos uploaded to Flickr, I post the link here on the blog.

I don't have any great excuse or explanation for my lack of blogging. I was sick for 3+ weeks, which kept me away from my computer, but to be completely honest, I've just been bummed lately. It seems that moving to a new community, attending a larger church (and all that entails), and the whole 'new mommy thing' finally caught up with me. I have been discouraged and overwhelmed with my life. Making a big move is hard. Learning to fit in with a whole new group of people is hard. Facing new responsibilities is hard. Being a mom is hard.

Whew! Well now that I've got that off my chest...

To answer the common question-- yes, I do intend to continue blogging. Although I have had a rough few weeks, I do really enjoy writing for the blog, and I like being able to keep our loved ones far away up to speed. I can't tell you when I'll get caught up, but I will. So please check in from time to time. (Or just subscribe to our blog (upper right corner)) It is fun to know that you are out there reading. :)

My one request: please pray for God to help me navigate my way through the new life He has brought me to.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A revealing conversation

Noelle and I were recently visiting one of those gourmet organic food shoppes. You know the type. Where everything looks and smells divine but is highly detrimental to the pocketbook (and perhaps the waistline). My intention for going in was to merely check the place out and perhaps find some loose leaf teas in the process.

Noelle, on the other hand, found the colorful displays, bins of imported chocolate, blocks of cheeses, and trays of samples a temptation she could not resist. I had to think fast and move even faster to save many items from being tossed, not very delicately, into our cart or being ripped open and immediately shoved into my toddler's eager mouth. You can imagine how displeased Noelle was with my attempts to deny her the pleasures of this fine cuisine.

Our conversation through the aisles, well her side at least, went something like this:

1. (spoken while grabbing and pointing at item) "Mommy, I need that."

2. (same as above) "I need it right now."

3. (same as above) "I neeeeeeeeeeeeeeed it!"

4. (if steps 1-3 don't work, try the polite version) "I need it, pleeeeeeeeeease!"

5. (when none of the above work, try guilt) "Noelle sad!!"

6. (and if all of the above fail, try acting like you are the mommy, and scold the offending party) "Mommy, be nice to Noelle!!!"

At the time I found it cute and was chuckling behind my firm mommy face. But now (yes, we've had this same conversation several times since) that she has added a step 7 - her tiny arms crossed over her chest - I'm not chuckling as much any more.

;-)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Culture Fest at Coolidge Park

Here's the video I promised from my day with Noelle at the Culture Fest.

(These were shot using my Blackberry, so the picture quality is fairly blurry.)

video

Enjoy the Chinese music presentation while you watch me trying to get Noelle to dance. Also, it is difficult to see, but check out the old woman dancing a solo in the upper right corner of the video.

video

Noelle loves to play with (waste) wet wipes. We have to keep them high ot of reach or the container will be emptied as our back is turned. Here, she is assuring me she will only take 1 wipe. We'll see about that...

video

The family seen here is in the process of adopting from China. I had a really nice (and lengthy) conversation with them while our girls played.

Short, Blonde and Sunny OR Short, Dark and Mysterious

Noelle recently went on a double date...sans the second girl.
She had these two "older guys" -
they'll both be 3 in January - all to herself.

Pretty good deal, huh?

This is the trio improvising on the player piano at the Creative Discovery Museum.

Caedmon is the dark haired cutie - Eli is the blonde cutie

As Promised...Here are a few pictures

Photos from a recent visit to Chattanooga's riverfront Coolidge Park-- What a perfect day for a visit to the park!






Click on this link BELOW to see more photos taken over recent weeks:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Okay. Let's See...

Here are some highlights (what I remember anyway) from the past few weeks.

Noelle's 2 Year Check-Up:
Three weeks ago Eric took Noelle to her new pediatrician here in Chattanooga - I was very bummed to be home in bed with a nasty migraine - so the info below comes from Eric's report. Her physician's name is "Doctor Jeanie", a sweet 30-something friendly Asian woman who, under the circumstances, Noelle seemed to really like.

All the usual poking and prodding were done and measurements taken. Noelle's head circumference grew to 47 cm. Her weight increased by a pound and a half to a grand total of 28.5 pounds, though Eric and I both find this small increase hard to believe. We are thinking her weight taken in China may have been reported a bit high?? Her height, on the other hand, increased by a whopping 9 inches! On the day of the appointment she measured in at 35 inches, and I think she's gotten even taller since! All her tests and measurements put her in the 75th percentile-- for American children. Very cool!

I sent Eric with a whole list of health (and a few parenting) questions for the doctor which he dutifully asked and received answers. So far we seem to not be damaging our kid too much. ;-) We may even be doing pretty well for a couple of rookies. Dr. Jeanie advised us on how to help decrease the waxy buildup in Noelle's ears (common in Chinese adoptees) and how we can help prevent her nosebleeds. The doc also gave us pamphlets on potty training and timeouts. She concluded that Noelle is healthy and strong with good verbal skills and won't need to return until next year. Yay for such a positive report!

6 Month Post-Placement Visit:
Two weeks ago our new Tennessee social worker from America World, our adoption agency, came to conduct the 6 month post-adoption visit in our home. China requires this and a 12 month visit.

Bethany was scheduled to join us for a 5pm dinner and then a "relaxed" visit in the family room. That's not exactly what happened, however. With the clock approaching 6pm and no sign of our social worker (we had no cell phone number) we began to get concerned. Fortunately at 5:45ish she called to say, "I am soooo sorry! I forgot Chattanooga is on Eastern time! And, I'm stuck in traffic!" Bethany felt terrible, but in my mind, this was better than the original plan. I had not been super psyched about Bethany observing Noelle's mealtime antics, especially with a messy plate of lasagna and salad. By the time the front door bell rang, however, Noelle was cleaned up from dinner and happily playing with her toys. I was greatly relieved.

We visited for approximately an hour and a half. Bethany asked us a list of questions and recorded her answers while watching our interactions with Noelle. I had been nervous at first about this visit - my spotless house was evidence of this - but Bethany was very laid back and put us at ease. She was very complimentary of Noelle's adjustment and our parenting style. And she didn't even mind that Noelle was tired, whiny and cranky during much of the visit (poor kid was running way low on sleep due to all the excitement of grandparents being around for several days). We asked a few questions of our own, gave Bethany a tour of Noelle's room, said our goodbyes, and that was that. Simple. Whew!

Note: At the time of the p.p. visit, Noelle was using 3 word sentences. As of this post, Noelle is regularly using 4 and 5 word sentences. Amazing! In spite of the all the changes in Noelle's life these past 6 months, her language skills have grown at a rapid rate...especially in the last 2 1/2 months. This is also a real answer to prayer, as being able to communicate with your child, and vice versa, sure does make life easier.

The Church of the Nazarene 100th Anniversary Celebration:
This past Sunday, our church, with so many others across the country (and world), celebrated 100 years as a denomination. It is amazing to think about how many lives God, though us, has touched and transformed over the past century. I love the way God uses ordinary people to fulfill the Great Commission. I am humbled and blessed to be part of a church that believes in the saving and sanctifying power of Christ. Amen! Go God!!

This link will provide more in depth information to those interested in the history of the Church of the Nazarene: http://www.nazarene.org/ministries/administration/centennial/celebration/display.aspx

We had a beautiful service with rousing worship and were joined by the precious folks from our Hispanic congregation as well as a good number of visitors. Afterwords we sat down in the fellowship hall and picnic tables outside for a delicious meal of barbecued-right-here-on-the-church-grounds pork and all the trimmings (Awesome job Kelly & Karen M. and crew! Best BBQ I've ever eaten -for real!). It was all washed down with Sweet-tea and luscious desserts provided by the ladies of the congregation.

With bulging tummies, kids and adults alike moseyed over to try the inflatables, tossed around the football, or played a game of volleyball or soccer. What a great day of worshipping and praising our God and fellowshipping with old and new friends. Late that afternoon, those in the Johnson household crashed for a well deserved Nazarene Nap.


Okay. I'm trying to remember if anything else blog-worthy has occurred since my last group of posts. We have been super busy (actually I have been busier than I was in Richmond), but most of it doesn't rise to the level of "bloggable" (not that any of the above necessarily does either LOL!). I did take Noelle to Chattanooga's annual Culture Fest in Coolidge Park 2 weekends ago. That was a lot of fun. I even have some pictures and video to share with you. But my fingers are tired and my brain is tired, so I'll have to post on that later.

Check back soon for lots of photos!


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

An Update???

I've had a few inquiries recently as to "What's up with you and the blog?!?" So I got on here and realized it really has been ages since I last posted. Oops. So much has happened, so there is lots to tell. I just haven't been home much lately. I do apologize for the delay. But shucks and gee-whiz, it makes me feel awfully special that ya'll care. ;-)

To you Noellettes out there - those of you who say, "Enough posts about the happenings of Eric and Jen and the church and blah, blah, blah. Just give us the new pictures of Noelle already!!" To you folk I say... Hold your horses! They're coming! And if you're really patient, you might even get a video, or 2 or 3. That's right. My new cell phone has a camera / video feature. Fun, fun, fun! I never worry any more about forgetting to bring the camera or wondering where our camcorder is. I've got one on me at all times. The new mom in me says, thank you oh inventor of this modern technology!

Here's what's in the works:
-our 6 month adoption post-placement visit with the social worker
-Noelle's 2 year check-up at the pediatrician
-a recent visit with both sets of grandparents
-and various exploits around the beautiful city of Chattanooga

I hope to get a few photos posted this weekend, but due to our church's big 100th anniversary celebration this weekend (and my parents will be staying with us for a couple days), it might be early next week before I unveil all the grand news from the Johnson's (er, uh, maybe not grand exactly, but whatever...).

TTFN

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

We met our Noelle 6 months ago today!!!

Goofin' with daddy after our adoption agency group Easter Sunday service in the Guangzhou hotel

I am feeling so emotional as I look through photos and reminisce about our China trip this past March. Some days I look at Noelle and am amazed that I really have a daughter. April 2006, when we turned in our application to the adoption agency, seems like many ages and dreams away. Back then, the concept of "Daughter" was so vague and fuzzy and full of hope and longing. Now it is a running, shouting, giggling 30 pound spit-fire of a reality. Ahhhh...we are blessed!

Here are a few photos taken from March 17, the day we first met Noelle JiaZhen Johnson: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9876651@N05/sets/72157607337221993/detail/


**BTW, our official 6 Month Post Placement Visit (required by the China Center for Adoption Affairs) with our agency social worker is scheduled for next Tuesday evening. This is where China confirms that they (tho' we know God did it) placed *Lu Jia Zhen* with loving and caring parents and that she is healthy and thriving. I'll share the details with you next week.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Pleeeeeeease Pray for Our House to Sell...SOON!


Eric and I would ask that you join us in prayer. We really need to sell our house back in Missouri. We know the Lord has a buyer out there for us - the right buyer. We are just praying that they show up SOON.

Thankfully we are able to live in the church parsonage here in Chatt. We don't have 2 mortgages to pay as others do. That is a huge help and blessing. However, being so very far away, we can't participate in the marketing / advertising process nor can we perform upkeep on the property.

Eric and I desire to honor the Lord in our finances and our goal is to be debt free. Paying for a house that no one is living in seems like poor stewardship to me. ;-)

HEY!!!

Do YOU know of anyone in the Kansas City / surrounding area that is looking to purchase a home? Our home is only 35 miles NE of downtown Kansas City, MO, and many people in the Richmond area commute to work every day because they prefer to raise a family in a smaller community.

For the interested - and the just-plain-curious - here is the realtor's link to our home. It includes a Virtual Tour which you may enjoy. (I just have to add-- when I saw our home on video, I realized just how much clutter we have around the place. Yikes! Please overlook it and love us anyway. :-)

http://billhightowerteam.reeceandnichols.com/Listing/ListingDetail.aspx?Search=5f334279-0793-45a5-8d83-9dde92116805&Listing=33120570&IRPAgentID=9129265&Image=1&First=1&Last=2&pagesize=10&SearchType=&ListingDistrictTypeID=&FirstLetter=&Sort=6&Cookies=&UseColorBar=false

When our house DOES sell, you can be sure I will praising the Lord here on the blog. Just please, please, please keep those prayers comin'! Thanks!!!


(Would one of you less technologically-challenged bloggers out there please tell me how to include a link in my blog without the whole long web address showing?!? I will be eternally grateful! And so will all the folks who read my stuff.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

B.A.D. Mothers Unite!

One of the blogs I visit from time to time had this photo of a poster made by her teenaged daughter, about her mom. Hilarious!

Check out this photo: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_0SV8Ck4Ahr0/SLn9NvysDDI/AAAAAAAADHA/9dtVDsryMPc/s1600-h/IMG_2574.JPG

Wonder if Noelle will be saying this about me someday?

(Or is she already thinking it???)

Hmmmm... :-)

China Adoption in the News

Here is a news story on an adoptive family who also used our agency, America World. They traveled to China the same time we did and adopted a 9 year old girl they named Jael. It looks like the Perna family is doing great! I'm so happy they had the opportunity to share their story and the miracle of adoption with a larger audience.

I think you will enjoy this video: http://www.rnews.com/mediaplayer/players/wmplayerlite.aspx?sid=64298

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Health Updates

I've had so many people ask how both Eric and Noelle are doing with their various health concerns. I'm just a bit slow on geting the update out there. The long and short of it is:

*Eric "feels" fine but still has lower energy levels than normal and tends to crash at the end of the day. I think that overall he is climbing back to health.

*Noelle's infected arm looks much better, but no word back from the doctor about the MRSA. We are expecting good news (or no news, which is good news). She has been having somewhat frequent nose bleeds, however. (We actually missed church Sunday morning because both nostrils started pouring as we were about to head out the door. Took forever to get it stopped.) This could quite possibly be due to the high levels of alergens in this area. We've been told that this region of the country is one of the worst for allergies. Hopefully that's all it is and there's an easy solution at hand. We will ask the doctor about it next week when we go. We also plan to discuss the fluid behind her eardrums. We started working on this issue with her previous pediatrician before we moved. Potential hearing loss is not something to mess around with, so we will ask Dr. Jung what can be done.

That's about all for now. Thanks again for your concern and prayers. Later!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Thanks, Chattanooga First Church!!!

At long last, the continuation of "The Johnson's Land in the Eastern Time Zone"

(Sorry for the delay. All the photos were on my parents' camera since ours was packed away. I just got their memory card a few days ago. They don't have email...)

Let's tell the story in pictures:



When Noelle and I pulled up to the parsonage with my parents, we were greeted with several cheery posters both inside and out. The messages were from the folks at Chatt 1st and made us feel very welcomed.



And the cupboards and fridge were stocked with food - dry goods, canned goods, meats, dairy, pastas, frozen meals, etc. etc. etc. plus yummy snacks we don't normally purchase (mmm!). We also found weeks worth of paper products, freezer bags, soap, diapers for Noelle (and some cute gifts for her, too), and tons of other practical items. I'm probably missing something, but my brain was overwhelmed by people's generosity. It was just so amazing I could hardly take it all in!




Look at all these cars! We had a tremendous crew show up to help unload the truck.



Originally Eric planned to make the trip from Missouri to Chattanooga on a Tuesday. He ended up being delayed due to some final house preps and made the drive on Wednesday instead. In this photo you can see Eric pulling the UHaul up the hill to house. Noelle and I were SO excited and relieved he made it safe and sound. Thank you, Jesus!



Most of the truck was packed in a very orderly fashion. Really, it was. You just wouldn't know it at first glance. Look out beloooooow!!! That bike is aimed for your head...!!!



Here's our handsome "Foreman" for the job. (Someone found him a hardhat to complete the picture.) He was told by several folk to sit down and rest and just direct traffic. He weakly protested and managed to shove a few bites of lasagna down his throat. A little fuel for the body and we got this sweet grin out of him.



Way to move that love seat, guys - you're hardly even breaking a sweat! (Except for the sweat brought on by the, like, thousand degree Tennessee temps at 7:00 in the evening!)

(That might be a slight exaggeration.)



Things are beginning to wind down. A relief for everyone.



Here is the wonderful group of new friends from Chattanooga First Church who moved us in. What a fabulous turnout! And this isn't even everyone. A few had to head out before the 'official photo' was taken.

Eric and I are still humbled, amazed and blessed by your act of kindness on that hot August evening just about a month ago. You helped us feel so special and loved. May God richly bless you for giving of yourselves!

We love you guys!!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Noelle possibly has MRSA

Noelle had an unscheduled visit to the pediatrician yesterday afternoon. She's got a nasty infection in her arm. Doc thinks it could be MRSA. He had some tests run and we'll know in a few days.

Here's how it all played out. Noelle tends to be dramatic about her owies. She thinks wearing band aids is fun and loves the attention. Earlier this week she had a spot on her arm that looked like a pimple or bug bite. She wanted a band aid. I cleaned it up and applied the bandage to keep her from picking at it. Unfortunately I forgot to check on her owie for a couple days. After several cries of "Ouch!" yesterday when I was applying lotion or washing her up after meals, I thought, maybe my drama queen is serious.

I decided to take a peek under the band aid and what I saw made me gasp. The innocent little bump had turned into a swollen, fiery red and pussy mess. I felt SO bad about missing a true owie and gave her lots of sympathy and cuddles. Time to call the pediatrician.

Her doctor was a sensitive and fun young man who Noelle seemed to really like - except when he squeezed the dickens out of her arm to get a "sample" for lab tests. Oh, did she cry! Doc wants to encourage the wound to drain, so we are to soak it twice a day and cover. She's also on antibiotics for 10 days. Ick, ick, ick and oww, oww, oww. Poor kiddo!

Hopefully it's nothing other than your run-of-the-mill bug-bite-gone-bad. But if it is MRSA, that would be more concerning. MSRA is a drug resistant super bug (a type of staph infection) and can lead to other complications. We don't expect this, but want to keep a close eye out. Please pray that she will heal quickly.

(Okay-- Eric, Mono. Noelle, MSRA. Me? Hopefully no other "M" diseases, illnesses, infections or conditions are in my future. Yikes! But I think I'm gonna remove Noelle's letter M magnet from our fridge, just in case. ;-) )

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Birthday Pics

Here are a some of the pics we took at Noelle's party yesterday - our first opportunity to share a birthday celebration with our daughter. What a fun and special day!!














Noelle seemed to enjoy her party, though maybe a bit overwhelmed. Her 1st birthday passed in the orphanage, so I don't know if she was given a party or even a cake. My guess is no, because there are so many children to care for. When we sang the birthday song she actually was a little disturbed and hid in my shoulder. The candles even frightened her and she didn't want to blow them out. But once she got to lick the frosting, she loosed up and got down to partying. Like any kid, the opportunity to rip open presents was not to be missed. And by the end, she was all smiles. Yay for our 2 year old! We love you, Nolie!



Oh! I gotta rush off. Gov. Sarah Palin is about to speak to the RNC...!