Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ice skating revisited.

The video from Sunday night showed our girl hesitant, but at least happy. Here she was before the video started rolling. She couldn't wait to hit the ice but got pretty overwhelmed when she realized how difficult it was to stay upright.

And then the walkers came out! Ella isn't a huge risk-taker, so the walker really helped her feel comfortable. And her concentration was exceptional.

I just love the expression on her face...and her tongue! The more she concentrated, the more her tongue popped out.

JT keeping a watchful eye on his girl
And what could be better than ice skating for the first time, but to have some of her favorite muscians along for the night?! JT and Allison are our wonderful friends and currently traveling the states on tour. We were happy to open our home to them for a few days this week as they enjoyed some down time in between Midwest performances. Ella was equal parts bashful and in awe that we had others living with us. Alli introduce Ella to "Dinah", her new ukulele. Suffice it to say that Ella's fascination with anything resembling a guitar is over the top at this point. Ella got to strum the strings and touch "Dinah" with a wide-eyed grin. Their last night here, Alli serenaded Ella before bedtime. Sweet heavens, it brought me to tears...such a touching few moments.

JT (he really is that tall), Alli, Ella and Larry!


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

We remember that crystal clear morning, bright blue sky and firecrackers.

Happy 2nd Forever Family Day to us!! There are some memories about that Sunday morning, halfway around the world in Kunming that are forever burned in my mind. And that clear air (not uncommon in Kunming), bright sun and the remnants of new year firecrackers popping loudly as we drove off with that pink-cheeked bundle in our arms are as bright as ever.

Lexie and her mama, Ella and her daddy
And her cheeks!

With her nannies from the orphanage


“If we had it to do over again
Adoption is what we'd choose.
We got more than we had hoped for
The day we adopted you.

For you have given us more in life
Than we could ever want or need.
You made our house into a home
And made our family complete.

We love you more than life itself
for all the things you say and do.
And if we had it to do over again
You'd be the only one we'd choose..”

The last two years have gone so, so fast, haven't they? What a gift Guan Man Li has been to all of us. Thank you for being with us there, here and in the days to come.

~H, L & EML

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday night skate.

We have friends staying with us for a few days, so photos will have to come a bit later. I will leave you with this video of our girl's first try at ice skating. I can't get over how old she looks!

~H, L & EML

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bundle up girls, we are blowin' off the stink.

I think the pictures speak for themselves, including the March of the Pandas!!

Ella sporting her newly-knitted hat from Grandma.
A perfect cherry on top to a love-filled day was this piece that aired on a popular morning show. What a woman....what love.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Shout it from the rooftops!

Happy Valentine's Day!! I love you, Ella-Land!!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be..*

And we think her laughter and giggles are some of the best around. When her giggles and my shutterbug finger line-up in perfected timing? Well, it is worth a blog post :)

Ella did me the honor of a fantastic dance party after Ah-men on Sunday. (Her first time at Ah-men without a diaper, I might add!) Larry put in my "I need a pick-me-up like no other" CD. It is the soundtrack from a movie that Whitney H. appeared in when things were better in her life. It is chucked full of spirituals. We marched and danced through the house with our shakers. Larry read the paper, occasionally glancing over the top of it to smirk at us. I think it was a fantastic tribute and probably not the last this week if Mama has anything to say about it.


*Whitney Houston "Greatest Love of All" (1963-2012)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Ella the baker

We got a little baking done this evening in preparation for Tuesday.

And she's serious about her mixing duties.

And she's quite pleased with the finished product. But she's not so serious or willing to help with clean up...


Thursday, February 9, 2012

What goes on when I'm doing dishes.

I was doing dinner clean up tonight when Ella yelled up the basement stairs at me, "We gotta band, Mama!!" I dropped everything and headed down...

This is our Ella and why we love her so.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Coffee Shop Love

Happiness is going into Ella's favorite coffee shop this morning and having her announce to the barista crew working that she was Day #2 in her big girl pants and then watching them all break out into applause, hoots and hollers. That includes the patrons as well.

I'm sure glad Ella didn't leave me in the car. It was awesome.

Love, Panda

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Goodbye Weekend.

What a great weekend of good food, long naps and big smiles. After so much go-go-go last weekend, it was a welcome change to have no agenda.

Ella ventured out Friday night for dinner with us and errands with Daddy on Saturday - diaper-free. She did amazingly well, perfect actually. She's still trying to get the hang of it and we aren't pushing her. Each day she seems to want her diaper on less and less.

While everyone else was gearing up for football parties, we hung out in our sun-filled kitchen and got messy.

And it was perfect!!

H, L & EML

Friday, February 3, 2012

Can We Talk?

Over the last few weeks, I've been making a conscious effort to jot down some of Ella's unique conversations with me. I'll admit that sometimes these make there way on to a piece of toilet paper as I rush to get it down before it escapes me.

"I'll be right back mom, in case you're asking for me."

E: "Can I have fruitsnacks?"
M: "No. It's too close to dinnertime."
E: "That makes me sad."

E: "What's that noise?"
M: "Simba (cat) is getting sick, Ella."
E: "Can I step in it?"
M: "Oh no!"
E: "It would be slippery, wouldn't it? I would fall down!"

M: "Ella, you're asking mama a thousand questions right now. Could you try patience patience tick-tock tick-tock?"
E: "It's stress really, mom."

Our bedtime routine is full of rituals. For example, only I can read her special book about saying goodnight to the moon. If I'm not home, she will not allow her daddy to read it. After the three of us have storytime, daddy handles the rest. Including snuggle time. A recent snuggle time conversation went like this:

D: "Isn't mommy a good mommy?"
E: Shakes head no. Pauses then says, "She's a great mommy!"
D: "She is, She is!"
E: "But she's not perfect."

Where on earth did she get that??!!!!!!!!!!!

And some of her not-so-cute conversation skills include:
"Leave me alone!"
"Give me some space!"
And the one that every parent waits for... "*!#*@! it"

I need to talk to Simba about what she's teaching her...

Happy Weekend!

H, L & EML

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Moving Outside of the Comfort Zone.

We are a Chinese-American family. It is good for me to type that because in the middle of doing and living and feeding and bathing, I occasionally lose sight of that - we both do. But we make a conscious effort to not only remember it but embrace it. Chinese New Year decorations hang everywhere right now to honor our combined heritage. We gathered with our FCC families to celebrate the New Year two weeks ago. Ella and her daddy attend a monthly play group that brings together other Chinese adoptees with Chinese students at our local university.

And this past weekend, we headed north to celebrate the Lunar New Year with people we didn't know, another FCC group and Asian families from that community. At least, that's what we thought...
Kunming Sisters Miss D and Ella after a short time with one another.
Meet Miss D. In an amazing twist, we met this sweet little soul on Saturday afternoon. She is four days younger than Ella. She is adopted from the same orphanage as Ella. They began their lives together. Miss D's parents are friends with a couple who adopted a little girl from the same orphanage as Roz. They, too, began their lives together and even shared the same ayi (nanny).
Roz with Miss A
And although we knew we were going to meet Miss A. and her parents on Saturday, we were blown away at the surprise of meeting Ella's Kunming sister. To say that we were touched by this planned surprise (yes, Miss A's mom was thrilled to set this up!) doesn't do it justice. Tears found me rather quickly as I held Miss D. in my arms. Both families live less than an hour away from both Ella and Roz. Our path to making our families took four different couples half-way around the world and we all landed within 60 miles of each other.
Reunited, two years later.

They dance identically!
Some of our other favorite people joined us as well.
Lana trying to convince Ella to do crafts.

The lions danced and the drums played.

What I keep coming back to is this: we have been given a gift. We have one more morsel of Ella's past that wasn't there on Saturday morning when we packed up the car.

Frick and Frack.

 We look forward to fostering the connection for our girls. They deserve it and it is our job. And it may be inconvenient or move us outside of our comfort zone from time to time, but this really isn't about us. It is about Ella. And we wouldn't have it any other way.

If there was any question about The Red Thread, Saturday's experience certainly should sway the doubters. "An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break." -Chinese proverb

H. L & EML