Tuesday, November 30, 2010

black and white Wednesday - wonder

color Grace lights web WM-2

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.

~Norman Vincent Peale

blw Grace lights web WM
I love Christmas.

And I feel incredibly privileged to be able to experience it through my children's eyes.
I become ages 8 and 5 again in a way.

Monday evening we started decorating indoors.
The sparkly snow house is a new decoration this year.
I captured this of Grace (after her bath), when she came downstairs and saw it for the first time.
We have one tree up and will be going to the tree farm on the weekend for a real one.
I've never had a Christmas without one.

Hope you are starting to enjoy the magic of this beautiful season!

the long road

Both images post processed with 2 of my favorite Florabella actions.
 Ambrosia (color) is wonderful for Asian skin tones and really makes the reds pop in the image.
And Black and White Truffle, just because I plain old love it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The quest

tree farm 1 red WM

The quest isn't what you might think it's for...
not a tree.
But that elusive Christmas card picture.

Storyboard-tree farm

About 5 weeks ago I realized my weekends were pretty full taking pictures of other families.
Except my own.
So I actually scheduled time on our calendar for that Christmas or Holiday picture or pictures.

storyboard candy canes

This session was 'take 2.'
 Take 1 was at an entirely different location and day (and those ended up being my faves).
I rarely dress my kids in traditional red/green colors for the card 
so this was a little different for me.
Though I like them very much (especially the one below),
I didn't 'love' them.

The ones that made the card will be appearing later in December.
But for now these will share my festive mood. :)
tree farm 2 red WM

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gratitude - National Adoption Month/Black and White Wednesday

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice.

 ~Meister Eckhart

blw portrait 3 FINAL FINAL flickr web WM-2

Somehow the words 'thank you' aren't enough.

10 years ago I sat in my OB/GYN's office as he told me in a very kind manner
that I wouldn't be able to have any more children.
In a way I already knew what he was going to say after several surgeries,
and infertility issues for years.
At the time we had a 15 year old son in high school.

I could have never dreamed that 10 years later, I'd be sitting here at the computer writing 
 a blog post about adoption.
And be a mother to an eight and almost five year old.
There are times I still can't believe they are ours.
It's an honor to be their mom.

Every single day I thank God for this opportunity.
Has it always been easy? Why of course not, nothing worth having comes easy.
Certainly life in general isn't at times.
But taking a risk with that leap of faith, with perseverance and patience to adopt
will bring you so much joy.
And you'll be giving the gift of a family to a child who has none.

As for our future, we hope to adopt again.
Right now it isn't right for us financially but we're hoping it will happen,
and we haven't aged out of the China SN program yet.
Somehow I believe there's another child out there for us.
For now, I count my blessings.
I am one extremely lucky momma to 3 incredible children.

the long road

Please check out more black and white's at Lisa's blog.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The last leaves

gathering leaves WM

I'm always a little sad to see the last of our Fall.

will hat portrait web WM

Monday we didn't have school (it was a teacher education day).
We ran some errands and then stopped at our favorite park before going home.
Leaves storyboard

There was 1 tree  that still had about a third of it's leaves. Large, bright yellow Maple leaves.
And so many on the ground.
Of course Grace and Will collected a few and then had to throw some.
I love  their expressions in the storyboard...Grace's concentration as she's getting ready to throw
and Will laughing.

wave web WM

We've already been wearing warm coats, hats and mittens.
Snow is coming I'm sure. And Thanksgiving is next week. :)

Farewell Fall.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

black and white Wednesday - and she dances

ballet frame 1

"Dancing with the feet is one thing, but dancing with the heart is another."


ballet frame 2

"Dance as though no one is watching you, love as though you have never hurt before,
sing as though no one can hear you, and live as though heaven is on earth."

~  unknown

ballet frame 3

A few months ago, 8 year old Grace asked me if she could take a dance class.
She had been swimming for over 3 years and we'd just decided to take a break.
I was a little surprised about her request with dance because we'd tried it before.

ballet frame 4

About 4 years ago she tried her first dance class,
 and enthusiastically went the first time.
It did not go well as she cried when I left the room and when I came right back,
 sat on my lap and watched the other girls.
We went a second time and again she couldn't leave my lap. She refused to go back.

And that was okay because trying new things and transitions were very hard for Grace at that time.
She was only 4.

ballet frame 5
In September, she chose 2 classes to try. A jazz/tap combo and ballet.
The day we enrolled her, on the way home in the car she nervously told me she wasn't sure if she could take the classes.
I left the subject alone.

Time went by, we bought the new dance wear and shoes. She didn't say much.
The first day of class she smiled and confidently walked into the studio, she didn't even look back.
I'll admit I had tears in my eyes.
I'm so proud of this little girl.

By the way she loves BOTH classes and will perform for the first time in front of an audience in December.
I think she's growing up.

ballet frame 6 grace

The vintage frames and black and white Truffle action are by Florabella.

the long road

Monday, November 15, 2010

30 Days of Giveaways at Ni Hao Y'all!

Ni Hao Y'all

Stefanie at Ni Hao Y'all is giving away some FABULOUS prizes for the next 30 days. 
It's an awesome way to get a jump start on your Christmas shopping.
Click on the link to see how you can enter.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

National Adoption Month - over 140 million orphans

"I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything,
 I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."

 ~ Edward Everett Hale

"Adopting a child won't change the world,
but for that child the world will change."
~ unknown

running sunflare WEB WM

There are a few things I could have spoken about for this post.
Early intervention and screening, which is so important,
having a support system for yourself after you're home with your child.
My primary support was and still is Grace's travel group.
 And also quite a few wonderful adoptive moms I've met through blogging and in person.

But I think I'd rather ask the question...why don't more people adopt?
That question haunts me.
Probably because I don't think of these children as a nameless face or a statistic.
They are real, living, breathing people who have distinct personalities, names, likes and dislikes.
They laugh, cry and love. And need to be loved.
They may live in a foster home, an orphanage, or on the street.
They lack one thing.
A family that is theirs and loves them unconditionally.
I often think about the children in Grace's orphanage and Will's foster home that I spoke to,
played and laughed with, touched and held on our trips to China.
 Do they have a family now?

I imagine most folks who don't want to adopt are afraid.
Afraid of it possibly not working out, the expense or not having the money, etc.
There are all kinds of reasons.
Both times we adopted there were events that happened in our lives
 that could have made us pull our paperwork.
With Grace's adoption, Dan lost his job twice.
We kept moving forward and he was employed eventually.
For both adoptions we took a leap of faith and made the commitment.
Each time we didn't have all the money when we started the process.
And somehow it came.
 Sometimes in surprising ways.

I'm asking you to consider adoption and if it's the right thing for your family,
to research and find out everything you can.
And if you feel like this isn't for you,
I'm asking you to consider helping a child financially 
 through one of these organizations which will benefit them directly.
Or give to a family financially that's waiting to adopt.
Any amount will help.

 Please email me with any questions about our experiences.

And I'll have one more adoption month post to come soon.

gracewill leaves WEB WM

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

National Adoption Month - Will

Will post
(Will - age 2.5, taken within the first 10 days we were home).

"We can see clearly with our hearts.
What matters is invisible to the eye."

~ Le Petite Prince
Antoine de Saint - Exupery

Will post1

He was such a little guy then,
you can really see it from these first pictures in my post.
Will has grown in all ways,
physically, emotionally and socially.
Will post2

I'm not going to pretend everything was sunshine and rainbows that first year.
We had a rough start.
It was hard. And when I remember some of those hard times I still cry.
I cry for him and all that he lost,
and I keep in mind what he had gone through.
His entire world was turned upside down.
And maybe I cry for us (some) too with the transitions and chaos our family went through.

me Will portrait

Through it all we loved him.
Fiercely and stubbornly. We would never give up.
Eventually we got help with therapy and had him evaluated for a few things.
Beyond that wall of anger was a sweet and loving little boy with a caring heart.
We also found out that attachment wise he was doing extremely well,
but he had something called a Sensory Processing Disorder(SPD).
Will post3

Will has the medical special need of a repaired cleft lip and palate (Grade 3 bilateral).
His cleft issues have been virtually non existent, other than he gets speech therapy.
After 18 mos. of speech therapy, his speech and language have progressed to where he's easily understood by most people.
He's followed by the cleft team here in Madison
and will require another surgery on his palate probably around the age of 6-7.
What has been more of an issue is his SPD and figuring out how to help him the best we can.
Will is what's called a 'sensory seeker.'
He's a jumper, a mover and a crasher and needs the heavy work of lifting, pushing, pulling, playing and moving to calm and organize his nervous system.

Will post4

I have to talk about the most incredible people who've been placed into our lives for Will.
His teachers at his first school.
And now Karen, the head teacher of his class. She is truly an angel on earth who 'gets' him.
Karen also happens to be an adoptive mom to 2 young sons.
With Karen's guidance, his Speech therapist, Occupational therapist and several others who love and and care about our son dearly,
William is a shining star in school.

He's a happy, joyful little boy now.
Who loves life to it's fullest and all that it offers.

Will post5

Will is funny, loving, caring, empathetic and delightful.
He's an interesting little boy in that emotionally he's a bit immature,
but intellectually is gifted. Scary smart, he gets subtleties in humor,
and understands abstract ideas.
 He asks complex questions about life and death, science and God. He loves to learn.
When you meet him in person it's his larger than life personality that stands out. :)

We love this little guy to pieces.
I can't believe how far he's come in the almost 2 and a half years he's been with us.
This experience has made Dan and I stronger in our marriage and our commitment to our children.
We're the kind of people that can always see the big picture.
Not perfect parents, we are problem solvers and ones who ask for help.
We're also hands on parents and have a lot of fun with our kids.

William's full name is William Michael (Michael is his foster dad's name) Yousheng.
You Sheng means 'gift from above.'
William was born on Christmas Day.
And he surely is a gift to us!

Fall portrait WM
(Taken last week of my handsome little man).

I have another adoption month post coming(next week for sure)...just some thoughts.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

National Adoption Month - Grace

Grace reflection 13mos
(Captured that first week we were home).

'If I keep a green bough in my heart,
then the singing bird will come.'
~ Chinese proverb

Grace post

Looking back on those first 2 years with her, it's really kind of a blur.
Thankfully I took many pictures.
 And it's those pictures and a small journal I kept of that first year that have helped me to remember.
Grace transitioned easily into our family life and attached to both Dan and I very well.
She was a happy baby who laughed easily and often.
Shy with strangers, she stuck to me like glue (which was just fine with me).

grace smile walk
(She was walking for the first time here at 14 mos. old...and so proud of herself).

Dan and I were absolutely giddy with joy that first year,
at times it was hard to believe she was ours and finally here.
That year came with challenges as far as many health issues for Grace,
she was diagnosed with Reactive Airway Disease within the first week of our coming home.
We became 'regulars' at our pediatricians office,
being seen for her chronic ear infections and getting sick from many upper respiratory infections
that settled in her lungs.
By age 2, suddenly it all disappeared.
And Grace was healthy.

Grace post1

So many firsts...first Christmas, Easter, Birthday celebration and milestones.
We got to see her first steps, and she didn't walk for long...she ran!
We had to teach her how to give a kiss.
The first time she spontaneously gave me one...my heart melted.

Grace post2

Grace was diagnosed at age 2 and a half with a profound speech delay.
I had noticed something wasn't quite right and had her screened
by the state's Birth to 3 program.
She started speech therapy immediately
 and still gets speech through our school district now at age 8.

She's about ready to graduate, and the gains she has made are nothing short of spectacular.

(Grace dearly loves our black lab Molly and the feeling is reciprocal).

Grace has been with our family over 7 years.
How do you summarize this little girl from possibly thousands of pictures
 that we have?
I tried to choose ones that showed her personality
and some that have never been on my blog.

The years have literally flown by.

Grace post4

I would describe her as an easy child,
happy, funny, creative, loving and giving.
She's a wonderful big sister to William and loves him dearly.
Grace's teachers have described her as 'delightful.'

Grace post5

Within the China adoption community is something called the 'Red Thread.'
Many times parents notice one when they receive their child's referral.
It is perhaps a date, a name or something that connects the child to you or your family.
I never saw much of a red thread with Grace.
I mean, I fell in love with her the moment I saw those first pictures.
She has the full mouth of my father's family.
But I didn't see a red thread.

We gave Grace her name because it was by the "grace" of God that we got her. 
We chose the name years before we met this little girl.
 As she grew we saw that her name was perfect and completely her. 
A child so peaceful, kind and only sees the good in others.
  A couple of weeks ago my husband started reciting a very old nursery rhyme ..."Mondays child is fair of face, Tuesdays child is full of grace,
Wednesdays child is full of woe, Thursdays child has far to go,"
and so on.

Out of my own curiosity, I googled her birth date (August 6, 2002)
and looked up the calendar for August 2002.

Grace was born on a Tuesday.
The same day as that nursery rhyme described, "Tuesdays child is full of grace."
You see I'm a believer in fate and destiny.
And I believe that this was our little wink from God validating that she was the child
we were supposed to have.
Sometimes it might take a while to find your red thread.

(Taken this Summer, our sweet Gracie)portrait summer WM

Next I'll write about William. :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

black and white Wednesday - beautiful boy

Will hat color portrait WM-2

Not many words necessary.
He's my little love bug and I can't get enough of this guy.
Our sweet Will.
In color and black and white.

Will hat blw portrait WM

the long road

Monday, November 1, 2010

Trick or Treat!

storyboard 1

'Nothing on Earth is so beautiful as the final haul
on Halloween night.'

~ Steve Almond
storyboard 2

'A person should choose a costume that contrasts
their own personality.'

~ Lucy
3 girls WM

There were no tricks, just treats.
 Lots and lots of them.
We spent Halloween afternoon at the annual neighborhood party.
The kids played, parents socialized and we all ate.
Following that, it started to get dark and on they
went to get the c a n d y.

This year was the longest Will stayed out trick or treating.
He really loved it!

I didn't take many pictures this year, was
too busy talking (gee, imagine that).
 But managed to capture a few snapshots.

storyboard 3

November - National Adoption Awareness Month

adoption month

I'm a mother to three children, 2 by my heart through adoption.
4 years ago this month our dossier for our son William was logged into China.
Some of my friends from that original log in date group are still waiting for their children to come home.
And I'm waiting right beside them until they do.

In honor of National Adoption Awareness month
I'll be doing a series of posts about our two adoptions.
I'll be speaking about the good stuff, 
some of the challenging parts (things I haven't spoken about previously),
and the in between.
Our family has been so blessed by these amazing children.

Hopefully I can inspire someone to adopt.

© Aging with Grace and strong Will
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