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:

**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. ;-)


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. :-)

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:

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:

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...!

Noelle's Latest Antics

(I've been working on this post for awhile but just now got around to posting. Here goes!)

What's our munchkin has been up to?

--She continues to gain lots of new words almost on a daily basis. Here are just a few:
"Chicken" though she says it like "kitchen" (same 2 sounds only backwards)
"Nope" which for the time being has replaced "No no no no No" (and is just as annoying...)
"Silly" as in silly Noelle, silly Mommy, silly Daddy, silly kitty, silly shoe, etc.
"Bible", hope she uses this often throughout her life
"Kids" and "Friends" which are now her primary motivation for attending church (used to be the singing)
"Move", hadn't heard her say this one until she recently told Grammy to "move" out of the rocking chair for Mommy to sit (oops! Sorry Mom!)

But my favorite word of all is "Mommy".

My heart and my ears had long waited to hear this word. We arrived in Chattanooga on a Monday. The next day she started calling me Mommy. Oh, what a sweet, melodious sound!! And I find it particularly charming when she "practices" it by pointing to my chest saying "Mommy", nodding emphatically as if saying, "I dare you to contradict me on this. YOU are MY mommy, no ifs, ands or buts about it!" To think this precious child is mine (and Eric's and Christ's), my daughter - it still takes my breath away! (And still freaks me out when I remember I'm responsible for this kid! Eeeek! LOL)

--She has been opening...doorknobs! I suspect she's had this 'dastardly' ability for quite awhile, but the child-proof knobs on our doors in Richmond were successful in preventing her unauthorized entry. Our Chatt home is not toddler-proofed. Our "stuff" is no longer safe. Tubes of toothpaste, bottles of scented lotion, sticks of deodorant, rolls of toilet paper, clean bath towels, secret birthday presents, mommy's chocolate candies-- run for your life! The Invasion is coming!

--Toothbrush time is exciting for Noelle. She is gaining in skill every day. I think that soon she may be able to keep a new brush longer than 2 weeks (instead of chewing it up 'til it resembles a fir tree). Mostly she loves to imitate the fine hygienic examples of mom and dad. She sweeps the brush over her teeth a few times, then with an awful hacking rumble low in her throat, she "spits" on the floor. Lovely, just lovely.

--Noelle has a boyfriend. His name is Eli. He is little blonde fellow that she plays with at church. Noelle talks about Eli frequently and pleads almost daily to go to church to see her "friend E-why" and "toys" and have some "fun". His parents tell me he reciprocates the emotion. Awww. It's just like all the great romance novels.

I could go on, but this brag session has been quite long enough. All parents know that their kid is the best and the brightest, and I'm no exception. I'll save the other stories for another day. ;-)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Our Big Girl is 2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Can hardly believe it!

I've grown used to saying when asked, "She's 19 months old", "She's 21 months old", "She's 23 months old"... Now my little munchkin is a BIG munchkin. Yesterday morning mom and I were visiting at the kitchen table (my folks are here for a couple days) when Noelle ran by at top speed to shout some bit of news to us. Seeing her in her size 3T shorts and top I exclaimed with surprised realization to my mom, "She's HUGE!!!"

When did our Nolie turn from our baby to our little girl?

We never had Noelle as an infant. We missed seeing her first smile, first tooth, first word or her first steps. That bothered me for a while. But God made up for what we missed by what we have gained.

We have a rich life with a precious child.

Noelle has a smile that lights up a room and everyone who sees it--
Her goofy chuckle and quirky sense of humor is a joy to us daily--
She loves to sing and dance with abandon (makes me think of King David dancing before the Lord in praise)--
She eats her veggies! (usually)--
Her excitement for life helps us see the ordinary in a brand new way--
She is learning to pray to Jesus and enjoyes us reading from her 'Toddler Bible'--
We love to watch her tenderly hold and whisper words of love to her doll-baby--
Her demonstration of care and compassion towards a hurting child makes us so proud--
Our morning snuggles together in bed or on the couch before we face the day are priceless memories--
And we love the way she trusts us implicitly and has given us her whole heart--

Thank you Heavenly Father for choosing this most precious child, so perfect for our family!

(We have a family celebration planned for later today. Check back this evening for photos and details!)