Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Three Months With Chapman

Three short months ago, we walked into the lobby of a government building in Shanxi, China, and there, after seven months of paper chasing and praying for her, we finally got to lay eyes on our Chapman as she toddled into the room to greet us.  It is simply amazing to see a picture that you have stared at and studied for months come to life right before your eyes.  
Three months ago, this baby girl knew nothing of the life that awaited her and she really knew absolutely none of the love that was about to be bestowed upon her!  A mommy, a daddy, two brothers, three sisters, four grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. etc. etc.
Little by little, she has been introduced to all of the above....and three months in, she is saying, "Hi!" and "Bye, Bye!" to all who will listen.  And she still has the most angelic little voice when she speaks!
Three months in and these two sisters are learning love and jealousy are two very strong emotions! Ha! Maryn truly adores Chapman and uses the sweetest little voice when she is trying to calm her or play with her....on the same hand, Maryn is not so sure about sharing her mommy with this sweet girl just yet.  So, we spend quite a bit of time on the floor with both girls on my lap!  Or, when out and about, if both girls need to be held, I hold them both.  Anything to keep them from melting! And especially anything will be done to keep them feeling safe, secure and loved!
Three months in, and this girl is full speed ahead.  Chapman had surgery to untether her spinal cord on October 19.  I am so happy to report that she has regained all of her mobility back and then some! This girl is a busy one!  And, as always, we tell the children to please put away everything they treasure, even candy, because Chapman is curious about anything and all that is within her reach.  In the picture above, Chapman had gone into one brother's room, retrieved a pack of candy....I knew this and totally underestimated her ability to get the candy open.....but this girl was determined and she opened the bag and inhaled the goods!  Skittles are yummy!
Three months in, and try as we might to get a good napping schedule going, it just isn't a real possibility.  So, this lady naps mostly in the car as we shuttle this brother, or that sister, or all of the above to and fro!  Thankfully, she doesn't seem to mind and she sleeps 11-12 hours each night!  
Three months in and we were sure for her to meet Mr. Noah.  Noah is such a light in our lives and we were thrilled to have the opportunity to visit with him and his two big brothers for a few hours over the Thanksgiving holidays!
Three months in and this girl loves being in the kitchen!  Our bookends remind us of one another.....Colin was always into my pots and pans at this age while this little Miss is all about some good Tupperware. 
Three months in and our sweet girl is all about trying on clothes whether they belong to her or not!  Dress up, hand-me-downs, big sister's clothes, shoes, shoes and shoes!  She loves it all!
And she thinks footie pajamas are pretty amazing too!
Three months in and we have decided she is definitely a keeper....she is the cutest, sweetest, most willing little laundry helper around!  
Three months in and she has seen all of the toys we have to offer so she has moved on to getting into things that aren't necessarily toys yet make lots of fun to play with anyway, like shoeboxes!
Three months in and this little one is experiencing life as a two year old should.  She reaches out to me each morning to hold her until she is fully awake, when she calls out for "Mama" she knows I am going to answer her every wish and command, when she wants to play, we play; when she is tired, this little one cuddles up on my shoulder and drifts off to sleep; when she is hurt, she looks for me to calm her and kiss her boo-boo; we know what makes her laugh, we know her favorite foods, we know what is going to scare her and we know exactly how to comfort her. 
 Three months ago we met a very emotionless little girl...she came to us without any hesitation though she knew nothing of who we were.  Can you imagine?! 
Three months in and we can't imagine life without our Chapman!
She is a gift to us, a beautiful little gift.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above...."
James 1:17

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016 Farm Style

My dad's Uncle George and Aunt Shirley have hosted our family Thanksgiving on their farm my entire life and then some.  It is a tradition and one that keeps family members traveling from lands afar to be a part of.  Wednesday evening the men all gather to cook the pig and talk about the good ole days....and Thursday is when the 100+ family members come to be together and give thanks.  
It really is amazing and my memories from growing up on the farm run deep.
 Thanksgiving 
I give thanks to the Lord above for these precious faces that greet me each morning.  From the oldest to the youngest, my heart is full.  
We are far from perfect, there is always some sort of somewhat managed chaos that follows us yet I would not trade one ounce of it for anything.  
Colin and his jokes - he tries so hard to keep a straight face.
Pryce and his ambitions - his heart is so full.
MK and her sweetness - she is a gentle little soul.
Maddox and her words of wisdom - and sometimes her words of hard truths.
Maryn and her complete love for her mama - oh this little one never forgets to give a kiss and a nose kiss too!
Chapman and her busy-ness - this is a little one on the move at all times!  
 And my nieces and nephew, my brother's children, who we see so little of but adore all the same!  
 And my sweet sister and her family....Emma was the little girl in our home that led us to our MK, the one who Pryce would not even let me hold during our first visit with her when she was a mere one week old.  And Jay, Jay-Man is the man.  He is full of dance moves like no other and is always up for fun during family gatherings.  He adores the boys and the boys love playing all things sports with him!
 My Parents
Gran and Pop
The beginning....
Eleven grands that they hold close to their hearts
I know they are proud.  I know they are in love with the ones that surround them.
I pray that my children will have the memories with them that I have with each of my grandparents.  Thanksgiving is the one holiday that brings back so much for me....it was the one holiday during my childhood that I spent time with all of my family including both sets of grandparents.  Wednesdays were always set to go to the Goodson's house, my Granny and Grandaddy.  There we would be greeted with a refrigerator full of our favorite foods and drinks and dinner of the traditional waffles being cooked.  Thursdays, Thanksgiving Day, we would awaken to BoBerry goodness from Bojangles and the smell of bacon and eggs cooking for us to enjoy as we watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.  And then we would go to the farm, sometimes my Granny and Grandaddy would join us, other times they would do their own feast.  At the farm we were greeted by my father's family, his parents, my Nannie and Papa, as well as my great-grandmother who lived to be 100 years old.  And the farm, full of giggles from all ages, newborn to 90+, was the annual reunion of sorts for this large Peebles, Tisdale clan.  I thought of my Nannie especially yesterday - the weather was so perfect, just a few clouds with sun bursting through, a mere 75 degrees, low winds....the weather was what my Nannie would have worried over for weeks before the big Thanksgiving Day gathering, she wanted it to always be nothing short of amazing!  And, I missed her famous caramel cake. 
 This little turkey is one of my six favorites.....
 She is full of love and silliness and there is never a dull moment!  I am so proud of her!  She has navigated this big sister thing remarkably well!
 And this sweet girl.
Gosh, I am not sure how we deserve to parent such a sweet, humbling child.  She is a little old soul with one of the kindest hearts you will ever meet!
 And Miss Maddox loves this baby Chapman.
She will tell you that Chapman cries ALL of the time, which, in her world, I am sure it seems that way.  However, Maddox is always, always the first one to ask if she can try to make her smile!
 And our sweet little Noah.
This guy has taught us all so much.
We adore his family and we are so thankful they love him to the moon and back!  He is a light in their lives and it gives me nothing but pure joy to know that he is right where he is supposed to be, thriving as he should.  He is a treasured son, brother, grandson, nephew, and friend.  We are especially thankful to be able to visit with him and his family often and watch him grow up!
 This little nugget.
This time last year, we had no idea she was even waiting.  We knew nothing of her.  This littlest light of ours was a missing piece to our puzzle and I am so thankful to call her ours!  
Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours!  May your days be full as you welcome in the holiday season of 2016!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Maddox

We love our little seven year old Maddox.  And this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for just listening to her talk with me about a few things.....
1)  "Mom, is this the first Thanksgiving that Chapman has spent in this land?"
2)  "Mom, you do know that we learned about the pilgrims in school?  Well, they were allowed to eat their dessert first and they didn't even get into trouble!"
3)  "I haven't even eaten pie before!  I want to try a piece of each pie at Thanksgiving!"
Lo and behold, our little Maddox ate an entire piece of apple pie and an entire piece of lemon meringue pie during our meal....and then she followed that up with an unidentifiable amount of cookies!  She may not have eaten turkey but she sure did get her desserts in!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Time For Thanksgiving

30 thankful thanks.
My husband.
My six children.
Our home.
My Parents - they have been our rock this past year as we pursued our little Miss Chapman.
My neighbors - aka, the village.
My church.
Homeschool and Greenbrier Elementary school and Greenbrier High school and Augusta University and Grace Baptist Preschool - honestly, I am thankful for school and the many choices we have for schooling our children.
Candy - specifically chocolate, I am a junkie.
Coke Zero - it is my coffee that keeps me running.
Adoption - the children of adoption, the friends we have made through our own adoptions, the adoption community, adoption agencies, social workers, advocates, foster parents....
Friends - old friends, new friends....
Doctors
Family Time - there is absolutely nothing more in the world that means as much to me as the time we spend together as a family....I am thankful for our little adventures, for the memories that are always made.....
Pizza - it is my comfort food.
China
Orphan Hosting Programs
Facebook - it allows me to stay tuned in to people that I have been honored to meet at some point in my life.
Dunkin Donuts - a good bagel with some strawberry cream cheese on the side....and maybe a munchkin to taste too!
The Beach
Fans that lull me to sleep
Music - it is my therapy.
Family Vacations
Grace - goodness knows we can always use a good dose of grace!
Finley - our little dog, he can drive me batty when he barks randomly but he sure is a sweet little guy and quite warm too!
Make-Up....the older I get, the more this stuff is just needed!
Clean Water....I drink a gallon each day!
Heat....and heated seats, and heated blankets, and heated showers!
Dishwashers...tis true I am not even allowed to operate ours BUT it is also true that this simple machine plays a major part in our everyday, first-world lives.  Feeding six children is no joke:)
My Sister....she is my go-to person, my person that will make me laugh when I don't even know what to laugh about.
My life.  I am thankful for my life, my dream come true.  I always wanted exactly what I have right now - a family of my own, children who call me "Mama" and a husband who gets me and loves me for me and all of my crazy ideas/thoughts/and dreams.



Sunday, November 13, 2016

65 Days

65 days ago, this little one began her morning like any other morning....
only, on this morning, just one day after she turned two years old, she would awake and dress and eat and do everything normal to her for one last time.
On this day, she awoke to the woman who she had come to call "Mama"...
on this day, she awoke to eat her breakfast meal, the one her "mama" would prepare just for her...
on this day, she would play with her foster siblings one last time....
she would watch her friends walk into her orphanage and wave goodbye to them as if she would see them soon....
and then she would get into a van with two orphanage officials and another baby girl for a three hour drive....
and as they drove, she would get farther and farther away from her life she had always known and inch by inch she drew closer to the life that was to be hers forever.
Sobering to think about.
Today, 65 days later, I can tell you that there is not a day that goes by that I don't consciously remind myself of the changes that have occurred in her little life span, changes that most adults have not endured in all of their many years of life.  
When most two year olds are exploding with their vocabulary, our sweet Chapman is learning an entirely different language.  Where we used to hear her sweet voice speak in Chinese phrases or words, those tones are now gone as she begins to put English words to her lips.  
Choosy food eaters as most toddlers are, she is not - she has never had so many choices in food.  
Two months home and she knows who her mommy is and she is not always fond of sharing me with her sisters - though it is tricky to handle, this "jealousy" is soo good.  When she sees me or Ryan, she will run with her eyes wide open, shouting, "Mama! Mama!" grinning from ear to ear with her hands reaching out to us.....she knows we adore her and love to hold her in our arms.
She hesitates when strangers approach, even the kid-sized strangers.
She can cry like no other yet she knows when enough is enough.
She prays.  
For the first few weeks, she would cry out as we said our mealtime prayers - I mean, why would your parents place your food right in front of you only to make you wait?!  But practice makes perfect, and examples are good, especially when you have seven examples sitting around you with their prepared plates in front of them as they pray
And then one night I looked over and said, "Fix pretty hands, Chapman" just as I say at every meal and lo and behold she did it!  And thus her prayer life began.
Two months home is looking good on her.  
This little one is thriving and we are so thankful that we are hers forever!

Pumpkin Patch 2016

The pumpkin patch 
Our tradition is going strong
 Maryn took her job of finding the perfect pumpkin for her and Chapman to carve very seriously - there was a bit of thumping and a little eyeing of each pumpkin to be sure it was just right!
 In true Maddox form, she chose to take along a little tool to observe each stem and determine its growth lest it be too old to carve?!?!
 Maddox loves this baby!  She is always wanting to be right beside her during any new adventures!
 Chapman Mckensie, how observant you are to everything that comes in your path be it a vegetable, a person, a food, a place....all things are inspected before you don your smile.
 But that smile is so sweet and so worth waiting for.....
 and then there are the times when you just need your thumb and because it is soo cute, you will not hear us complain about this habit of choice!
 During this season of Thanks, we give thanks for YOU sweet girl, thanks that you are home forever, thanks that you have settled right into all of our hearts.
 Halloween came and though the others weren't sure of their costume until an hour before the big event, they had all been asking for weeks if you were going to wear the sweet pumpkin costume that all six of the children have worn on their first Halloween.  
 And the answer was YES, a pumpkin, albeit the cutest pumpkin in the patch was you!
 Six
The Fabulous Mix of Six
Two boys, Four girls
So thankful that our plan for our family was overruled by God's ultimate plan for our family!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Maryn visited the preschool pumpkin patch, chose her perfect pumpkin, rode on a hayride with mommy and shared some special snacks with her friends!
 These two Shenzhen cuties are in school together this year and they are simply precious! 
 And they have another sweet little friend who makes them both smile!
 These two.  Both so cherished and loved beyond measure.  
 Maryn LOVES ballet.  She is practically teaching her sisters everything they know!  
 Maryn's ballet class had a special class so they were able to wear their favorite dress-up and parents were invited to attend.  
 Meanwhile, our big girls are busy getting fit at school!  Fun Run Day arrived and my two big girls were beside themselves with excitement as they raced around the track with their friends!
 MK and Chloe.  Our Chongqing besties.  Friends for life.  So thankful for both of these sweet girls!
 One advantage to having sisters in school is that the little sister has rights to meet and greet the school mascot, Wolfie!  
 She may be bitty but she is super mighty!  This girl ran and ran until I finally convinced her to stop for a moment and dance!
 And this sweet baby - we are so glad to report that she continues to improve and heal!  This picture was taken on our "turnaround" day, the day that we began to see the light at the end of the tunnel for healing!
 Maddox has enjoyed meeting lots of new friends at school!  These girls are super sweet and love being together at school and at play!
 Big chairs make for great pictures!