Thursday, May 29, 2008
Please don't interrupt the master stylist at work! My client is about to experience the style experience of her lifetime! (Yeah, that little green thing in Noelle's hand is a toy brush, if you missed it.)
(Naaaaa, there isn't any waste going on in this picture. And yes, money does grow on trees. And yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.)
Tummies are meant for tickles!
I told you she likes milk!
Helping dad put together our new (to us) swing set in the back yard - Aren't neighbors great?
Way to work a wrench, girl!
Trying the slide with just a little help from dad
Our friend Morgan swings on the teeter-totter opposite Noelle
Eric and I took Noelle to her follow-up appointment at the International Adoption Clinic this morning. ('Had to get up at 5am - ick!) We dropped off her stool samples for the lab to test for parasites ('what fun!) and are expecting a call in a few days with the results. Noelle was also measured and weighed (that was a bit of a fiasco!). She had a series of hearing tests (the most fun part, for her, of the whole morning), and we met with a cardiologist to test and evaluate her heart condition (this part was the most fun for us!)
Weight - She gained 2 pounds in 7 weeks (we thought it would be more...but she sure is an active little kid, so what do we know?)
Height - She has supposedly only grown 1/2 a centimeter in 7 weeks, yet we believe this figure to be low. 2 reasons: her pairs of jeans that in early April had to have the bottoms rolled up 2 or 3 times now fit perfectly, and they measured Noelle standing up, sort of, against a wall chart (she was slouching, twisting, squirming, bending over, fussing, etc.). Craziness!
Head circumference - I forget what the measurement is, but Eric, who had been holding her at the time said, "Jen, don't freak out when it appears her head has shrunk. It hasn't." (The poor young gal who was measuring Noelle appeared to not be very adept in getting accurate measurements from a crying, squirmy toddler. Ah well. We will redo them here at home for our own peace of mind.)
Hearing - Her hearing is very strong in both ears. She had fun sitting with mom and dad in the purple space-age looking test booth. The animatronic animals made Noelle think it was all a game. She made lots of "Oh!!" and "Ooo!!" sounds while whipping her head from side to side in response to the funny noises. She even tolerated various instruments being stuck in her ear. And the Tinkerbell and Dora stickers afterwards were way-cool! Only issue is that she may possibly have an infection or fluid in one or both ears. We are scheduling an appointment with a local pediatrician to have this checked out.
Immunizations - All but one are great!! She may benefit from a DPT booster, but she shows good immunity from all other vaccinations. Yay!! You may wonder why I'm so excited. Well, it's rare for Chinese adopted children (and many other internationally adopted children) to have successful vaccinations. Quite often the titters show little or no immunity and the doctor will recommend redoing the entire series. We were uncomfortable with the thought of re-doing all her shots (possible health concerns or side effects), and now we don't need to. Praise God!!
Heart Condition (her special need is PFO - basically, a small whole in the heart) - Two test were performed today, the most important one being...oh, what's the one called when they do a sonogram of the heart?? Well, that test was lengthy and initially quite upsetting for Noelle, but we sure are glad we persisted. Fortunately, feeding her cheerios and fruit snacks while she looked at some fun light-up toys helped tremendously. Sooooooo, when we visited with the cardiologist a bit later on, we received the news that...
...the hole in Noelle's heart has closed!!!
Although I remained relatively calm on the outside, I was definitely doing the happy dance on the inside. We prayed for this and God answered! Yippee!!!!!!!!!!! Not only has the hole closed (by God's very own hand, we believe), but her heart is healthy and strong in every way. Praise God! Neither Eric nor I can imagine life without this gift of our daughter, Noelle. Just think - if we had not in prayerful obedience filled out the additional application to adopt a special needs child...; if we had not later on prayerfully requested a final revision of our application to include "yes" to a child with a heart defect (kinda scary!)...; if China had not placed Noelle in the special needs category...we would not have this child. We would have missed out on this amazing blessing, this child who was hand-picked by our Heavenly Father for our family.
'Just thought you all would like to know... :-)
Thursday, May 22, 2008
For more information:
I'm hugging our Noelle a little closer than usual today.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
After last week's show, we discussed the vocals, song selections and costume choices while rocking in Noelle's rocking chair in her room. We both agreed that Syesha, though a good performer, just wasn't strong enough to stick around. We were very pleased to see it has come to a showdown of The Davids'.
Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating. Or maybe I'm describing myself rather than Noelle. Maybe. But I can tell you this - Noelle supports me, joins me even, in this...addiction? guilty pleasure? mind-numbing life-waster reality show?
Back to The Davids. I find myself torn between the 2. I've loved little David Archuletta from the beginning. His voice is probably the most lovely, pure and natural talent of all the competitors on the show (this is the vocal teacher speaking). His vocal talent combined with his humble and gentle spirit make him a very charming performer. But David Cook, on the other hand, is from Kansas City!! I've got to root for him! He is definitely a very gifted musician and the audience loves him. He looks the part and has the maturity of someone who has lived a bit more of life (than say, the 17 year old David A.). He is also a very genuinely good guy. Touch decision. Now Noelle says her choice is easy. She thinks David A. is cute (and not even that much taller than her) and that the other guy is, like, ooooold. I guess we shall see come tomorrow night who will be the happier fan.
(((It really is cute to watch Noelle watching the show. She has certainly demonstrated her love for music in the 2 months we've been a family. And since Eric and I are both musicians, we do what we can to encourage (not push) her love and appreciation to continue. At church during the worship time, she loves to clap or bounce or sway back and forth while I hold her on the pew top in front of me. When I put in some lively CD on the stereo, she gets at kick out of dancing goofy choreography with mom. She enjoys her musically inclined toys (don't all kids). And she sings, at the top of her voice (toddler lyrics are unrecognizable at this juncture), as she marches around the house.
So, when American Idol is on, she sits with me or stands in front of the TV transfixed. The commercials are her toy breaks. Tonight it cracked me up to see her imitate the folks right up there by the stage. She raised her hands above her head and swayed back and forth like a seasoned roadie. Then she did that over-the-head clap that is so popular with all screaming fans. I just wonder what her reaction will be tomorrow night when the tons of confetti drop onto the frenzied crowd as the winner is announced. I see shredded tissues and toilet paper in my future.)))
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Two months ago today we saw in person, for the very first time, the sweet face of our Noelle.
I promise I won't do this every month, but as a new mom, I just can't help myself!! :-)
Posing in front of the crib in our hotel room, just moments before heading to the lobby, and to Noelle - We wondered what the child would be like who would sleep there...(and notice the St. Patty's Day t-shirt and jeans all set and ready to go)
And then there were 2! (pig-tails, that is) As our Hefei group put it, "Hey! She sprouted another one!!"
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Noelle and I have been out running errands no less than 3 times since I have been out of gum. (I need my Trident. I must have my sugar-free Trident!) I have been gumless for nearly 2 weeks now and my teeth are sad, dull and listless. How difficult is it to purchase one stinking pack of gum, I say?! I mean, there are, like, 500 packs of the stuff beckoning to shoppers right at the check-out. But alas, The Toddler Haze has struck again!
My guess is that she enjoys leaving home (or "hummm", as she pronounces it) then landing at some surprising new destination. Our girl is always up for a new adventure. But I think the greatest reason she likes the car rides so much is the speed. She can't get enough of going places fast. She moves about the house in a rush. But that's not fast enough. She wants daddy or mommy to run while pushing her in her stroller. That still isn't fast enough. But the car...now that's the way to move!
Let me pause in the story a moment to say that normally I love taking our white VW (nicknamed "Angel" for her great safety features) for a spin. It's a great car and the manual transmission makes driving it that much more fun. "Watch out you pimply, teen aged girly-man/boys! When that light turns green, you can eat my dust!" (Nawww. I don't really do that. I gave up drag racing last year, after we got Noelle's referral.) ;-) But seriously, the gas prices these days make each outing a luxury. So I attempt to make these expensive jaunts count for something - a trip to pick up some milk, check out an audio book at the library, run to the post box, visit Eric's office, etc. And I can enjoy a break from the 4 shrinking walls of our house and smile at my happy clam in her car seat. This way I'm not thinking too much about the nickles, dimes and quarters flying like a banner from the rear of our vehicle.
Okay. Back to the story. Today began with the usual begging for a ride in the car. As I did want to visit the library and needed to pick up some fruit from the grocery store, I succumbed to Noelle's persuasions and said. "Sure, let's go for a ride in the cahr!"
From here on out, our day was fairly typical. It was the ride, however, that amused me, and as such, it is the subject of this post.
From the moment I placed Noelle into her car seat, she grinned from ear to ear. Surrounded by toys, books, Cheerios and her sippy cup, what more could a girl want? Well, nothing, other than the need to repeatedly adjust her sunglasses. Since she wasn't in the sun at the moment, she put them on top of her head out of the way. This is a new trick she learned from her daddy. Eric has always done this, but Noelle only recently noticed. I watched her, in our baby-view mirror, fuss for a couple minutes to find the perfect spot for the shades to rest. Once they found their permanent perch, she could focus on other things, like throwing Cheerios.
After about 5 minutes into our trip, we met with some major road construction. MoDOT was resurfacing the only road to where we were going; it was down to one lane. And so we sat. Noelle was fine for about the first 45 seconds, then started kicking her feet and shouting "Uh! Uh! Uh!" I used my diversionary techniques to point out the pretty trees and grass and the white pony eating in the field next to the highway. This helped briefly until she remembered we were sitting still. Then I reverted to my own childish behavior and made goofy sounds and faces. After 10 loooong minutes we were on our way once again.
Once the car was back up to mach speed, Noelle smiled angelically. As I observed through my special spy mirror, Noelle placed her baby-doll on her knees and chattered away happily. She appeared to be giving advice or perhaps telling a story. Noelle stroked dolly's hair and pulled repeatedly at her ears, smiling down indulgently. Then I watched as she held her dolly out in front of her and examined each facial feature, then began to style her hair. Noelle ran her fingers through the doll's bangs and arranged them with a side part, just like I do each morning with Noelle's hair. Then in a comforting voice, Noelle pulled her precious doll close, and patting her head cooed, "Ohhhhh baby! Awwwww baby! Ohhhhh baby...."
The antics continued as I chuckled softly in the front seat, commiting each endearing expression and gesture to memory.
(My mother is worrying for our safety right now as she reads this. Mom, yes, I was a mite distracted - and not setting the best example for Miss Future Driver. From now on I'll just listen to the frivolity in the back seat. Okay?)
Noelle "helping" me get the diaper bag ready to go by stuffing it with all her favorite toys
Noelle loves her shades. She has loved them ever since she discovered Eric's shades in China. She would rip them off his face every time he carried her around outside. Once back in the States, I made sure to purchase her very own pair. And we don't leave the house without them.
Chillin' in the car as we are stopped for road construction - Notice the sunglasses?
The back seat, post-errands - If you look closely, you can see Cheerios and Goldfish crackers scattered across the upholstery
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Here are Eric and Noelle goofing around before Sunday dinner. We surmised that eating with the pretty red dress on would be a disastrous mistake. Diapers, a towel and a bib won the day.
There is an active Church of believers in China, however (Praise God!), who have now been given the opportunity to love, assist, and minister to those in need. As these Christians are "underground" due to the Communist regime, please pray that God gives them strength, courage and wisdom as they seek to put Christ's love into action.
Also, some of you may be interested in the fate of the orphanages in the areas of destruction. I'll share what little I know. Jenny Bowen, Executive Director of Half the Sky Foundation, posted the information below at their website. (This organization sponsors orphanages across China, including Noelle's orphanage in Hefei, Anhui.) Keep checking back at their site for continued updates. (http://www.halfthesky.org/)
"The Earthquake in China "
May 12th, 2008
We have received many emails and calls about the terrible earthquake that struck Sichuan and Chongqing yesterday. We have reached the three orphanages where Half the Sky operates programs: Chengdu, Chongqing and Yibin. All is well. At each place, the children were all evacuated until the tremors passed. The buildings suffered no great damage. And no child was injured.
We will reach out to other welfare institutions in the province today. Should we learn of any problems or earthquake-related needs, I’ll post another note.
While Half the Sky exists first and foremost to provide nurturing care and education to orphaned children, we are pleased to be in a position to be the eyes and ears on the ground in China for all of you who have such concern for all aspects of the children’s welfare. We are so grateful to those of you who make our presence in China possible. (Article continued at http://www.halfthesky.org/journal/?p=87 )
"Half the Sky’s Children’s Earthquake Fund"
May 13th, 2008
During the past several hours Half the Sky has been working hard to get more information about the children impacted by the Sichuan and Chongqing earthquake. We know that it is not only children in welfare institutions who are in trouble. We know that hundreds of children have been separated from their families, have lost their parents, are hurt, traumatized and in pain. We know we must help; we have been working to figure how best to do so.
We have just a little bit of news. There have been hundreds of aftershocks, one reported to be as strong as 6.0. Children have again been evacuated from the Chengdu institution. Relief workers have arrived in the epicenter, Wenchuan. (Article continued at http://www.halfthesky.org/journal/?p=88 )
For more information about the earthquake and other links, see also:
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Things I'm learning:
1. Never assume you know where your toddler is; always check with your own 2 eyes (and ears, and nose).
I'm still learning this lesson. This was obvious when I opened my car door - right into Noelle's head!! You see, we were just making a quick run to the post box to mail some cards. Noelle was bringing up the rear as we walked to the car in the driveway. She always (until this particular day) walks straight up to her own door to be lifted into the backseat. That's where I thought she was. But when I opened the driver's door to drop off my purse and keys (so I had 2 hands free to heft Noelle's 25+ lbs. squirmy frame into her car seat), THUNK!! Just as my door was opening, Noelle was running full speed into my door. Oh my goodness!! The impact knocked her over handily. And then the wails started; great big whopping tears. I felt terrible!
Fortunately, she is just fine. She's got a hard head, that one. Once we got back inside, I cuddled her on the couch with an ice pack. As I rocked her, I repeated "Ohhh! Poor baby!" like a mantra into her ear and kissed her neck. She recovered quickly and enjoyed the extra cuddles and attention. Now, every time I lift her bangs to see how her bump is doing, she rubs the top of her head (she bumped her forehead) and dramatically whispers, "Ohhhh baaaaaaby!"
That's our munchkin!
2. Never microwave a hard boiled egg.
Noelle ate lots of steamed egg in China. She still loves to eat eggs, almost any way we prepare them. This morning Eric, who is usually on breakfast duty (he works late, so this gives him daddy-daughter time in the morning) had an early appointment. To help me out, he set a couple eggs to boil on the stove. When I was peeling off the shells, I noticed one egg had not cooked all the way through. So of course, I popped it into the microwave for 30 seconds. Beep - beep- beep, it was done, and I took it over on a plate to mash up into Noelle's bowl. Big mistake! When I cut into the egg, it exploded with a "pop". I had egg on my face. Literally. And so did Noelle. She looked at me with a mixture of shock and chagrin, then we both cracked up. It was great! (But I won't do it again. I still gotta scrape egg of the walls.)
3. Don't allow your toddler to fall asleep in the car seat on your short ride home from WalMart. Otherwise, the short power-nap will keep her awake through her nap and up well past bedtime.
4. If something can be climbed up on, it can be jumped off of as well.
5. Knob covers for the stove are only effective if your toddler doesn't carefully observe you opening them.
6. Unraveling the toilet paper roll and shredding full boxes of Kleenex are favorite toddler past times.
7. On/Off buttons on the stereo, TV and computer (especially when you are in the middle of a blog post) are meant for pushing.
8. If you are missing an important bill, or a snotty tissue, it's probably stuffed in your shoe.
9. Repetition is a good thing. Repetition is a good thing. Repetition is a good thing. Repetition is...
10. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...and danger. (i.e. Noelle, please don't run down the stairs while wielding a pair of scissors, carrying 2 loads of laundry, and talking on the phone.) (No, she hasn't actually done this, of course. Nor have I. But it sounds like something I might do.)
11. Baby-proofing is a myth.
To Be Continued as the lessons unfold...
Friday, May 9, 2008
You may have already read the poem below somewhere, but I think it does a pretty great job of describing how I feel about becoming a mother.
Before I was a Mom
Before I was a Mom -I slept as late as I wanted and never worried about how late I got into bed. I brushed my hair and my teeth everyday.
Before I was a Mom -I cleaned my house each day. I never tripped over toys or forgot words to a lullaby. I didn't worry whether or not my plants were poisonous. I never thought about immunizations.
Before I was a Mom -I had never been puked on - Pooped on - Spit on - Chewed on, or Peed on. I had complete control of my mind and my thoughts. I slept all night.
Before I was a Mom -I never held down a screaming child so that doctors could do tests...or give shots. I never looked into teary eyes and cried. I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin. I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.
Before I was a Mom -I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to put it down. I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn't stop the hurt. I never knew that something so small could affect my life so much. I never knew that I could love someone so much. I never knew I would love being a Mom.
Before I was a Mom -I didn't know the feeling of having my heart outside my body. I didn't know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby. I didn't know that bond between a mother and her child. I didn't know that something so small could make me feel so important.
Before I was a Mom -I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay. I had never known The warmth, The joy, The love, The heartache, The wonderment or the satisfaction of being a Mom. I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much before I was a Mom.
Mom and Dad-- Thanks for the special delivery today. It made me feel really special!
My mom and I are real tea lovers. We also collect tea cups and tea pots, so this "bouquet" is very appropriate.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
I thought, "Wow! Great lesson! I think I'm getting this parenting thing figured out!", and patted myself on the back. (I quickly since realized I'm a long way from having this parenting thing 'figured out'. But whatcha gonna do?) Actually, the lesson does seem to be working. We have continued our practice sessions on the stairs, and Noelle is gaining in skill and confidence. She's got so much confidence, however, that she has turned the whole incident into a comedy routine. Every time we go down the stairs together, now she is the one to "mention" the fall. She waves her arms, pats her head, nods and giggles.
This morning was the biggest routine yet. I opened the gate for us to start down, and Noelle began to wildly gesticulate. She waved both arms repeatedly up and down, palms extended downward, all while saying "BUMP - BUmp - bump!" then rubbed her head, big dimpled grin on her face. She did this several times, getting louder and more excited each time. Soon she was grabbing fists of hair and shouting "Bump!" while taking small jumps and giggling wildly. When she was finally composed enough to attempt the stairs, she would only make it down a few steps before teasingly reversing her direction. Her sly look said, "This game is way too much fun to just get to the bottom. Let's extend the fun a bit longer. Mom, you're taking this practice way too seriously. And, by the way, I dare you to catch me!"
Monday, May 5, 2008
Mom, here are the 2 dresses you sent. Noelle had almost as much fun as I did when she tried them on.
"Downsizing from Crib to Cat Bed"
This weekend Eric finished cleaning out the spare room. Now it is a perfect place for Noelle to play with her books and toys, without trashing her bedroom. This morning she had the bright idea to drag our cats' bed from the bedroom to her playroom. She decided it was the perfect place to lounge while reading a book to her baby doll. She even tried to include Rainie in the fun.
"Chillin' and Snackin'"
Noelle loves the outdoors. Our kitchen table is right next to the back door. When it's nice outside, we open the door so we can all enjoy a fresh breeze and a view of the yard. Here, Noelle is enjoying her afternoon snack in the sunshine.
"Kitty Goes for a Stroll"
We left our stroller out in the foyer after being out and about on Friday. On Saturday morning, Noelle discovered it and decided to practice her steering skills. Our cat Stormie-too jumped in (or was forced in by Noelle - details are still sketchy on that) to take a ride. It was really quite amusing, and I was amazed that the cat stayed put for the entire ride - in spite of Noelle's poor driving skills.
"The Elusive Red Balloon"
Noelle was given this helium ballon at the Mushroom Festival on Friday. My guess is, she has never experienced one before now. She was quite taken with it. By the next morning, the balloon had lost just enough helium to make the perfect toy. Noelle had a ball kicking and bopping it around. Then we discovered that if you hit it too high, it still had enough helium left to hug the ceiling. We grabbed the a long-handled cat toy and used it to whack that sticky balloon right off the ceiling and walls. Noelle thought this was even more fun than kicking, so she said "Uh! Uh! Uh!" (translation: Please give me that cat toy!) until we let her try.
Our 3 cats, Shadow (a male, the eldest), and Stormie-too and Rainie (females, the "twins") never, I mean NEVER sit in the same place at the same time. They are either on the move - the little ones running and chasing and Shadow running away and hiding, or they are asleep in various locales. When I spotted this perfectly posed shot, I couldn't pass up the opportunity.
Awwwww-- I wuv my kitty-babies-- They're so furry and soft and cuddly and squishy and-- Awwwwwwwww--
(I apologize for my effusiveness to the cat haters out there. Yes, I know you're out there. I've met you. You prefer loud, slobbery dogs to soft, delicate kitties. Well, I guess it takes all kinds of people to make the earth go 'round.)