Friday, February 21, 2014

Family Day! Family Day!

 Ahhhh. four years ago today...

What a ride. What a thrill to reflect back. I can still feel her chubby legs as I bathed her that first night. Guan Man Li you make us complete. We love you to the moon and back and forth and back and forth!


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

100 years in the making.

Dear Ella:
We are just days away from our four year anniversary of our Family Day when we were forever joined as a threesome. It is a bigger milestone than your actual birthday, really.
We waited days, months, years for that day. Every so often, it would feel like the day of meeting you would never arrive. I have forgotten most of the angst that centered around that wait. There were key things in place that got me, got us, through.
I trusted the bigger picture. I trusted that God was going to take care of me, of us...of you half way around the world. It WAS all going to work out. It was going to be perfect (not necessarily easy but perfect!). 100 years ago, a few determined folks felt the same way about trusting. Your church started out meeting above a meat market of all things, on the edge of town off a dirt road. That road is far from dirt now!
So, I have been neck-deep in the planning of this big event with our friends at church. Daddy and you have given me the space to do it and joined in when I needed help. Poring over documents and photos has kept me up late and made me cranky in the morning, fumbling for a big cup of coffee. I appreciate you giving me a break on those days.

The original building in the early 1900's (after the meat market!).



In 2005 your church suffered a devastating fire. I was involved pretty heavily in the restoration that took almost two years to complete.

See? There is just one reason you didn't come to us in the time frame I wanted...God had plans. I had 'stuff' to do before you arrived.

And the finished product was well worth the wait. There isn't a morning that I sit in this space that I don't think about what we accomplished; how beautiful we rebuilt it.

Seeing your Daddy contribute to the service each Sunday makes my heart happy, too. Daddy 'married into' this, you see. I have spent every day of my life here while he has gradually found his place. It works.

Just last week, I was able to open the book of the Roll of Members from 100 years ago. I ran my fingertips across the names of those who started this, who heard the call and said, "Yep. We're going to build this!" History is important, Ella. I hope we teach you that...

And then your Mama ended up in the newspaper on the front page of the Religion Section about our Ah-men!

On Tuesday, our city awarded us with a Proclamation at its city council meeting. I packed up Panda and you and we hit City Hall. Daddy met us there as well as some of our other friends from church. It was wonderful. You were there for all of it, even if you did get a bit squirrely from no nap.

Without a doubt, this photo is my favorite. There you are, our youngest member holding the document honoring our 100 years in our community. Look close enough, Ella, and you can see that even Panda made this photo!!

For nearly four years now, you have known no other routine: Sunday mornings we get up, get you dressed in one of your awesome outfits and head to Ah-men. You started out crawling around on the floor during the service. Now you pack everything but the kitchen sink and stay occupied, quiet and (relatively) attentive during the entire service. I marvel sometimes at how comfortable you are there, how you navigate the sprawling building with such ease, much like I did. You listen and I am reminded by your keen ears when I hear you re-telling stories from your little picture Bible to the cats, or to Panda. Little seeds are being sprinkled.
I don't know where your faith will lead you. I am not 100% certain where your Ah-men will be in 20 years, let alone another 100, but I feel confident that we are doing our part. We are steeping you in what is very real to us.
Faith sustained us as we waited for you. Your Ah-men sustained us.
I hope you enjoy this weekend packed with celebration. Mama may cry, but you are fully aware of what happy tears mean. You can even join me.
Love, Mama
PS: I mentioned your 'squirrely' behavior at City Hall? Well, I took you out in the lobby to blow off some steam as we waited our turn on the agenda. Well worth it! You experienced your first revolving door and you were completely fascinated.
And then you found an old piano that had been painted by your Shu Shu John. You recognized his style right away!


Prettiest Eyes Ever!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Commotion in the Ocean.

Ella's preschool had their annual fundraiser last week. The finished product was a scaled-down performance due to all the glorious missed days from school (and rehearsals) due to the snow. But it was still perfect. They performed their sweet little ocean themed songs and had a ball.

She knows her way around a percussion instrument!

Seeing her smile and enjoy herself was great.

She had her cheering committee there as well: Grandma, Papa, Katie, Roz and Patrick. She had her table full of smiles and love.

Three of my favorite women!
It doesn't hit me how much taller Ella is than Roz until I see a photo I've taken of them. Ella always manages to get her arm around Roz's neck or shoulder in her 'love grip'.

Ella's reaction while she and Roz awaited their balloon cats being made.

I don't know what next year will bring with a new school along with new traditions. But boy are we having fun soaking up all of this right now. Such a big girl!!


Friday, February 7, 2014

Our Own Winter Olympics.

Here's the short story to this week:
It Snowed.
A lot.
It got super cold.
Ella went to school one day this week.
We all got snowed in on Wednesday.
We had fun.
Thank God it is Friday...I think. It is Friday, right?
With both of us working from home on Wednesday, we brought the snow to Ella.

It gave us a little time before bundling up and she loved it.

Panda on the loose!


Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Year of the Horse!

The Year of the Horse galloped in wonderfully last week! But before all of the celebrations, Katie and I did our solid best to exhaust our girls last Thursday. With the schedule so off kilter from missed school because of this weather, it was crucial. We hit our science museum and braved the cold weather. We even had lunch with Ella's Daddy and Aunt Gretchen while we were downtown. It was a great diversion.

This may be one of my top five favorite photos of them.

The following morning, we got dressed in our prettiest red for good luck and packed our bags for school. For the second year, Ella's teachers welcomed me into the class to teach her classmates about the New Year traditions.
 Larry and I even made a cake!
Ella goes to school with such ease and confidence now - something that never came easy to her last year in spite of her affection for her teachers and classmates. This year's changes blew me away. I mean just look at these five little women: confident, happy and affectionate. Ella has BOTH arms wrapped around her classmate Callie. The best part? They had to take a break from building forts and towers for this photo. I think they are all going places.

We made Chinese drums. We had a dance party to Chinese music. I read books. We learned Chinese words. Ella never really sought me out or 'needed' me. I left there and headed to work with the hugest grin on my face and really, really exhausted from those sweet kids.

Mrs. K with our serious artist.

We sent out New Year's cards this year of these two screwballs. Here's several from that photo shoot that were included on the card (and some that did not). Mama Katie and her hawk eyes found these adorable shirts that say, "I love you to the moon and back". If you're around us for any amount of time, you'll hear this as we say it all the time.

Such beauties and they look older here than I'm really comfortable with...

We headed to our FCC gathering on Sunday after church with Grandma and Grandpa in tow. It was a smaller crowd this year and it made it slightly easier to navigate and actually talk to just about everyone. I'm in heaven getting face time with some of the parents and kids that I usually only communicate with via social network! We saw very little of Ella at this luncheon. She was busy running with the Brat Pack. Again, what a difference a year makes. The joy and thankfulness we have for this group of families is beyond words. They are part of why Ella is so awesome.

Ava and Emmett, with his pirate smile :)

Lana is amazing with these two. She was Ella's age when we first met her. Unbelievable.

I lived on the edge and piled my plate with a variety of dumplings that I'd never had. Pretty little thing, huh?

This last picture from the celebration is, by far, my favorite. This is Ella's pediatrician. She also is the pediatrician to all of these children - including Roz. She is a mother of three great daughters and her youngest is adopted from China. She is our own personal doctor without borders and we adore her.
Can you say much-needed nap after all that?!!
 We spent our Sunday evening with Lana, Gabe, Dave and Gretchen noshing on food and critiquing commercials in between a pretty boring football game. It was the perfect ending to a great day.