Friday, January 30, 2009

When's the Best Time to Swing and Slide? ANYtime According to Emily!


So -- we seized the moment and hopped over to the park before it got too terribly late. She got in a few up's and down's in the air, a couple of squeals, and a good dose of fresh air.
Big brown eyes. Gaping hole in the front of her mouth. Lovely smile.
It was a good thing.

Emily's Martin Luther King Tribute -- To Ayi K.K.


Emily had to do a little MLK tribute in her classroom about someone who has been a source of "light & love for others", and she decided to thank Ayi K.K. -- who also works at her school with me. Karen has done so much to help Emily's transition into school be a smoothe one. I typed up what she said...to the effect of:
Thank you for:
-making my school uniforms
-giving me snacks in the afternoons
-helping me with my reading
and
-letting me come to your house to play.
Simple -- but to the point.
The picture is one Emily drew of Karen (with some little art technique of tearing paper to fill in the hair and dress). The typed "thank you" is attached below her drawing.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Em's Haul of Gifts


Lookee Here. Somebody has really racked up, huh? Our precious friend, Martha K. - the school librarian - sent a darling little book to Emily. Ayi Marlene and Ayi Cookie showered her w/fun stuff. Ms. Kim, Mr. David, Lizzie, & Leslie left a bunch of happies by the door last night (after this pic was taken), and then.....
I came home the other day and a BIG ole box was at my door. I thought it was a textbook I'd ordered for a night class. Not the case.
It was from our DEAR, PRECIOUS Samm who lives in Kansas. Samm was adopted at the same exact time as Emily. Christy, Emily, and I were with Sherrie, Dick, (mom/dad) and Samm in Guangzhou, China. We got to hang out together, laugh, cry, eat, chat, play. The Lord sent them there to help me during those first few weeks of first time parenthood. Sherrie and Dick are so calming and wise, and that darling little fella, Samm, is just a love. We've officially decided that Samm and Emily are China cousins/siblings/something. Case closed. We will stay in touch forever and get the two together some day in the future.
How understanding and sensitive of this family to buy the coveted recovery toys for Emily, get them all packed up, and shipped to us just in time for surgery. I'm not surprised. They are just THAT way. So are these other good buddies -- and all who've called, emailed, written. We love you guys.
Again, do we have wonderful friends -- or what? I'm amazed and blessed.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Emily is Doing Wonderfully Well, and I Look Like the Bride of Frankenstein.

24 hours after surgery

The night was great. Em never even needed the children's Motrin that was recommended. I told her to let me know if she hurt, but she seemed to be just fine. She slept w/me and was thrilled to have Nanny Carol spend the night again (and wait on us hand and foot - thank you very much). As one friend noted, this also points out what a great ophthalmic plastic surgeon our doctor is. Basically no bruising, not much hurting -- when I consider what was done.

She woke up in a great mood, chose some cutsie pink clothes to wear, popped that hair back into two ponytails, donned her big, plastic sparkly earrings, and was ready to have her nails painted.

Emily has looked in the mirror and somewhat wondered about what took place. I'm approaching everything from the standpoint of, "This was to help you so you could see really well." She understands. I'm not going into any details about what was actually done. (I know you are all curious. I'll give a brief description.)

Mom and I agree that Em seems to have some new-found wonderment about her world. What she is seeing, how she looks, etc.

Shall I tell you a bit about the procedure? It's only understandable that people will be curious. No skin was cut away as many folks believe. It is NOT the same procedure that older women have w/drooping eyelids. Her eyelids did not work. A silicone band was attached from her eyelids to her eyebrows (underneath the eyelid -- not on the outside surface of the face). She has a stitch in each eyebrow to hold the band in place. Done there so as not to have scarring on the face/forehead. Her eyebrow muscles will now literally navigate her eyelids. She will basically have to learn how to do this on her own. She's NOT doing it right now b/c it hurts if she squints her eyes b/c of the procedure done. This will, of course, lessen over time. The area will relax some and her appearance will settle in to her new look.

I will post pictures way down the road out of respect for her.

I'm glad we're off the whole week for her to recover otherwise -- b/c of my fall to the face -- I would've had to "call in to work ugly"...not sick. LOL!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Surgery a Success. All is Well...

Hey Ya'll.
Nanny Carol is watching Miss Em while I take a moment to post. Emily's a trooper. She's a tough cookie, and I'm amazed at her ability to endure.

Cut to the chase: She was perfect this morning as we headed to "the doctor". That sounded better than "surgery center". Nanny Carol spent the night w/us. Marlene met us at the center. Emily was precious. Not crying; however, when I did talk w/her about this last night, she did her sweet, pitiful little cry. This was because she remembered having had ear tube/nasal passage surgery in November. She pointed to her hand noting the IV and not wanting one. Uh, do you blame her? I explained that she'd be asleep and not know a thing. Once she had her little cry, that was that. She watched Lady and the Tramp 2 times back to back. I allowed it b/c it was a great distraction for her.

Surgery center procedures went well. She consumed a little " pink cocktail" to take the edge off. She immediately got silly, goofy, and we were all laughing at her. This stuff does not make her go to sleep. It winds her up but does it deed nonetheless.

She did not cry when they wheeled her on her train (rolling bed) through the magic doors (that open all by themselves). This is what the nurses told her. They were wonderful!!!

When she woke up, she was fit to be tied. The doctors and nurses call it 'emergent....' something or other -- it's some children's reaction to anesthesia. She was this way after tubes in her ears; however, once it's over...20 minutes or so...she's FINE. They said they gave her the forgetting drug and she'll not even remember what happened for the most part. Hallelujah.

Ophthalmic plastic surgeon said the procedure was a success. He said she is going to look somewhat different b/c now she has eyes that are fully opened. She is/was confused by what had taken place. Right now she's pointed to pictures and things in the house and saying she sees them. Her world will be different w/adjustment for a little while. I do not think she realizes what actually was done. I believe she assumes they just fixed her eyes...whatever that entailed.

Ayi Cookie came from out of town to visit w/Em for a few minutes and be her ever constant moral support -- as was Marlene and Nanny Carol.

Home: Slept on couch. Later, she and I both took a 2 hr. nap. I was whipped emotionally. Ayi KK and "Monkey" (as Emily calls her, a.k.a. Kristen -- one of KK's three darling daughters) came over and brought Emily some Chinese "jook" -- watered down rice w/ham, chicken, and love. Mr. Jeff cooked it at 2 a.m. and said it was his best pot ever. You got that right. Emily scarfed down 3 bowls.

All that said, for anyone who has fallen in love w/a child who later had to have a "fixing" surgery of sorts, here's a truth: There is a tad of sadness knowing that what was will be no longer. Other moms have confirmed this. It's real. I can see all of a sudden missing the look of who Emily has been, but I know that this procedure is what was best for her. It defined so much of her life in China from birth and was the reason she was on a Special Needs list (along w/her age). That, however, is another post.

I should stop rambling and go check on the 2 girls: Nanny Carol and Emily. I cannot thank you enough for your prayers, calls, emails, post, and well wishes. I've read them, rec'd them, heard them. Thank you for caring about our little Emily.

Oh by the way...not to play any sympathy card BUT guess who fell flat & VERY HARD on her face at the park yesterday. Uh huh. Me. I had Emily out riding her bike in the beautiful weather before she got confined inside for a few days. I hit some uneven concrete & I slammed hard straight to the lips and cheek -- mutilated skin on my lips flapping in the wind, swollen face, blood going everywhere, black eye. I am lovely to behold. I kept telling folks at the surgery center today, "I am actually NOT the patient -- believe it or not." Last year I trained for the Chicago Marathon (but couldn't go b/c of China trip). I was walking 15 miles at one time on weekends -- on all different types of surfaces. Did a half marathon (done 4 of them). Yet...I take 40 paces at the park on a beautiful day and wham. All I could think of was how fortunate I am not to have spent the night in an ER, not to have a broken nose or broken teeth. The nurse this morning said I was fortunate not to have broken the orbital rim around my eye. Thank the Lord for the Jackie O sunglasses I was wearing (now scraped up big time).

Just thought I'd throw that in there. After all Emily has had to face today, I was NOT going to pay too much attention to my incident. It's not about me. I'm just so very proud of how she has courageously faced her life challenges.

Maybe it does take a village to raise a child. I just hope Emily doesn't grow up thinking she got THE village idiot for a mother. LOL!! Had to have a laugh in here somewhere.

Love you. Thank you for praying. All prayers have been answered. Thank you, Lord.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Emily's Surgery is Monday, Jan. 19th.

We covet your prayers.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Making Gingerbread Friends

Hi all! These are some photos from my recent visit with these precious gals. Vicki said I should just go ahead and post them. Hope you enjoy.

My goal was simple: spend time with them getting to know the little angel. She is a precious, creative, energetic, darling! We had an absolute blast together. I was so sad to leave.

One of the bigger projects was to bake and decorate gingerbread cookies. The most amazing thing is that it was Emily's original idea. Friends got her the Jan Brett book recently. You know I just had to read it to her the first night. Jan is one of my favorite authors. The following morning little Emily was talking about making gingerbread people. At first we thought she meant with Play-Doh. Then she was emphatically shaking her head saying no and gesturing that we needed to make ones we could eat. Here are some highlights of that fun:

I would be remiss not to mention that we put to good use the homemade marshmallows that arrived in a package from Ginger. You can see them in the picture at left. Aren't they "Blah-Blah-riffic" cookies???
My recommendation is that if you have not had a chance to spend quality time with these amazing women above, you must do so ASAP. In fact, I'm thinking it is time for a Blah-Blah Sister reunion plus one. Maybe it is time we hit Disney World?
As time permits I may upload a couple more photos later.
:)dona
Vicki's National Board Friend

Two Peas in Pod: Emily and Savannah

This is our dear friend, Savannah. She's like family. I know her from working at a Group Home, and distinctly remember the day she moved in. She had lived with her father, but he passed away. So we had the honor or receiving her into her "new family".

Emily and I had the pleasure of having her over to spend the night a while back. One day -- before I traveled to China -- when sitting in church, Savannah handed me a note that she'd written. She said it was a "word" of encouragement for me. Here's a litte bit of how it went: "...by the grace of God, He brought forth a mercy which is her (Vicki's) destiny from God -- to be able to go where God chose her to go -- which is China to bring home a mercy of God into her life. She is going to a place where dreams really do come true. God wraps His arms of love around her as her life unfolds with God's love and the miracle of the light of God's love will shine on her life. Love can move mountains."

Now, I don't know about you...but that's deep stuff she wrote. I sat awestruck when I read it. Handed it to Marlene and Mom who were both sitting nearby. Phew! I've treasured reading it time and again.

Just merely wanted to share it with you so that you could grasp the wonderment of how "Aunt" Savannah has been a blessing to our lives.

Fall Photo in Front of Fireplace (all "f" sounds, huh?)


Emily's 1st Tattoo -- What Else but a Butterfly?


Emily, Xenia, and Jenna at the Park


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

You Are Correct. I'm Not Finding The Time To Post.

Happy New Year - a week late.

Phew. You'd think being out of school for the holidays would've provided some extra time to post.

Uh. No.

I'm striving diligently with time management procedures these days - but this is a work in progress: returning to the classroom after a 3 month absence & totally being out of that mode of thinking, getting ready for Emily's eyelid surgery on Jan. 19th, starting up night classes again -- doing all the paperwork/gruntwork necessary to have those ducks in a row, helping Emily with homework at night (more specifically with the language/sound acquisition...feeling like we're playing 'catch up') - just the basic routines of daily life. These are all 'good things' and will provide progressively good outcomes as time goes by.

I sound like a teacher with that last statement. There's hope.

I will say this. I walked outside the other night. It was cold, raining (better than hot and muggy like the days before). I noticed that the street was dark - not lit up with Christmas lights or trees shining through the neighbors' windows. The decorations are gone from the little park right up the street. In years past, I truly hated to see the Christmas season end. I love the music, scenery changes -- all the sights and sounds of this brief period of time. I actually enjoyed all the good reasons to be 'off schedule/off routine' - staying up later, eating party foods, visiting with friends and family.

I believe, though, it's the familiarity of family & friends that I treasure so much in this season - along with the thankfulness of the birth of Jesus. The feelings of comfort, security, belonging....and now Emily -- who is new to all this -- has the canvas of her heart painted with these same experiences that have meant so much to me. As I stared out into the darkness, I thought of the children in the world who are waiting still to know this way of life and wondered what Emily's past Christmas seasons had been like. I had to fight a heaviness of heart.

I am thankful for the opportunity to provide for Emily a life filled with the promises of hope and a future. I am ever grateful for the friends and family members who are helping us along the way.

I will enter the new year with thankfulness in my heart -- and a day planner in my hand.
I'm optimistic!