Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Our First Christmas Part Two

Christmas night was spent with my (Heather's) side of the family... a lot of tall bodies in my parents' small house. I hope to post the group shot later when my parents email that over to me (hint, hint). Until then...

(Ella hanging out with her Uncle JB and Uncle Greg. It's hard to tell if they adore her, huh?)

(Showing off her outfit to cousin Haley.)

(Taking a break to catch up on the basketball scores. That's my girl.)

Tomorrow we gear up for four of our little FCC friends to come over and play. Actually, it will be our own little United Nations - three little girls from China; one little one from Guatemala and one from Russia. Yes...the camera is charging.

I hope to post one last time before the ball drops on Friday night. If I don't, it is only because we're just having too much fun (off work until Monday). So let me say Happy New Year. May 2011 be a blessed one for you, filled with health and joy. 2010 will go down in history for us. Although, I'm pretty certain Ella will do her best to top it.

H, L & EML

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Our First Christmas Part One

(Ella in her Christmas Eve dress before church. Dress compliments of Grandma Irene!)

Oh wow!! Wow. Wow. Wow. Our first Christmas as a threesome was really quite wonderful, to say the least. There was: a candlelight worship service; John & Jennifer's annual Christmas Eve soiree; presents; a visit from Grandma and Grandpa; Skype and a near four-hour nap. Folks, that was just part of our celebration.

I'm busy editing photos and will leave you with part one - Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning. More coming your way later on!

Ella slept in until 9:15 on Christmas morning. Merry Christmas to US! We thank John and Jennifer and friends for tiring her out the night before.

(Santa scores with an Ella-sized kitchen.)

(Ella firing up the laptop to Skype with her BFF, Roz, so that they can compare presents.)

Before hunkering down for a cold winter's nap, Ella enjoyed cookies made especially for her by our sweet neighbor.

Family celebration pictures in Part Two's post. Have a wonderful Monday, Ella-Land!

Friday, December 17, 2010

We told you December was a big month!

We have learned that raising a child is a series of landmarks and anniversaries. Today is a special one for our family that we have looked forward to for several months. As of today, Ella Man Li has been part of our forever-family for the same amount of time that she lived in China as Guan Man Li.

People often comment that Ella (obviously) won't remember her time in China. Although well-intentioned, that comment often misses the point. It is (not was) part of her story and her development. It still amazes us when we think that by the time we met her at approximately nines months of age, she had been uprooted no less than seven times. We are still working to comfort, reassure and build a sense of permanency in an effort to overcome what must be in the back of every orphan's mind, either consciously or subconsciously: this ain't gonna last.

So, crossing today's threshold is a major step for us, whether it's merely symbolic or not. We remain so thankful for those that were with Guan Man Li. Anyone who knows Ella knows that she was obviously loved. Someone played her music and made her bounce. Someone had a sense of humor and made her laugh. Someone kept her safe. Someone was beautiful.

And finally, to further prove the legend of the Red Thread, and that this was somehow meant to be, it is not lost on us that today falls on the birthday of Ella's best friend, Roz, who has her own special China story to share.

Larry, Heather & EML

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nose pressed up against the window pane

She saw her first snow. She was intrigued, for sure. She doesn't seem all that excited about being out in it, however.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Three Little Girls

On Sunday we celebrated Larry's birthday at our favorite Mexican restaurant. The weather was horrid - freezing temperatures, howling wind, blowing snow. We had the place to ourselves! Two families joined us - Roz's family...

...and Lana's family...

At one moment during that evening, I looked around the table and it hit me like a ton of bricks. But for these three little girls, we would not have been celebrating Larry's birthday together. We all met through our local FCC group several years back. Like life with Ella, it is difficult to remember our lives without their love, friendship, celebrations, phone calls (especially Lana's), emails and texts. I marvel how our paths crossed so perfectly.

Three little girls from halfway around the world - Vietnam and China - brought three families together, all who live within 20 minutes of each other. Good stuff.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Operation Christmas Card 2010

Here's what you will not be seeing on our Christmas card...

Ella with her 100 Wishes Quilt. No way. No how. Even giving it a three-day rest in between photo shoots.

Photographing my friends' children in the past has me seasoned, right? (There is one little 3year old miracle in particular however, and she knows who she is, who challenges me to no end!) This should all be a piece of cake...right???

Never did I think that my own child would be so unbelievably uncooperative about a camera in her face. Sure you see some cute pictures here on the blog. I refuse to tell you how many are taken in an effort to secure three or four good ones.

What were we thinking with the Santa beard?? She may be laughing here but it got u-g-l-y fast.

We hope the Christmas cards will make it out before the ball drops on December 31. We really, really do. H, L & EML

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


We are experiencing the first blast of cold weather here in Ella-Land. This really is all new to Ella. The climate she knew in China was far from this... "springtime all year long" is how the Chinese refer to Kunming. (It is no exaggeration.) Each time we bundle her up and she fights us, we apologize!

This past weekend was big fun. We got the Christmas tree up (lit but no decorations yet - sigh), there was a trip to Ella's favorite record store and a birthday party for Ella's BFF Roz. Roz will be two years old in a few weeks. Since her grandparents were in town, the celebration kicked off a bit early. The girls had a great time together!

We were honored to be included in Roz's big day. Stay warm out there!

H, L & EML

Thursday, December 2, 2010

4:30 pm December 2, 2009

"4:30pm...We just took Veronica's call. Sweet heavens. I did a conference call from my work phone. Your Dad was driving home - in the rain. You are from Kunming. Your birthday is May 19. Baby girl - your birthday is the same as your Mommy's. I have a zillion phone calls to make...first up? Grandma and Grandpa."

The rest of the night unfolded like a dream. Literally, hundreds of emails and phone calls. The doorbell again and again. She touched so many lives that evening. God's hand guided us home. Together. A three-some. At last.