Angel Unaware

Look what I just picked up for Virginia Grace's room! Liz Landgren painted this beautiful work of art just for us. When I look at it, I imagine that God has commissioned an angel to watch over our little girl until she's with us. I also think of her birth mother symbolically pushing her forward on the swing to a better future than she felt she could provide. I just love this painting so much!

Liz also did a similar one for my friend Emily who is in China with her husband now! They got Lia Kate on Monday, and she is just precious. We've been Skyping a bit, and I was literally caressing Lia Kate's cheek on my computer screen. I just wanted to reach in and hold her! You can find the link to their blog on my sidebar and follow their journey.

Have I mentioned that all I want for Christmas is our LOA? (aka Letter of Approval and next big step we're waiting for.) Santa, PLEASE!!!

A Tie for the Toddler, Please

Carter is really into routine and loves following Scott around as he gets ready. A typical morning conversation with Scott as he walks out the door goes like this:
"Yeah buddy, I've got my keys."
"Yep, got my wallet."
"I have my watch on."
"Yes, here's my brief case."
"Car? Work?" (with an extra hard K at the end)
"Yeah, I'm heading down to the car to go to work. Learn a lot, grow a little. And be good for Mommy today."

I never have to worry about leaving without my purse because my little guy makes sure to ask me about it.

When Scott gets home and heads to the closet to change out of his suit, Carter likes to pick out a shirt for him to wear. He also likes pulling out all the belts and ties so he can be just like his daddy.(In case you're wondering and are concerned...Scott was not wearing that tie, or any tie, with that shirt. He put it around his neck to get it away from Carter since it's one of his nicer ones. Just had to clarify! :) )One tie won't do it... he must have 3 or 4.
I guess Carter thinks getting dressed is a hard process because he looks pretty worn out. It's okay, Bud, I sometimes feel the same way after leaving my closet.


The Polar Express

On Friday night, we went to Calera's Heart of Dixie Railroad for the popular (and sold out weeks ago!) Polar Express ride. My sister and I grew up reading this book at Christmas, so it was fun to take Carter. Because it was raining and Carter wasn't in the most cooperative mood, I didn't get many pictures of the train, Santa Claus, the North Pole, or the elves. But I did get one of the bells that Carter clutched. He had so much fun ringing them, and we all heard the jingle. We still believe! :)All the kids wear their pjs on the train, just like in the book.
But it was so cold, we had to keep his jacket on him.
Family picture. Too bad his sippy cup got in the way.
Carter had the most fun watching some of the older kids singing Christmas carols and jumping around. He got shy when Santa came by, but called out "Santa Claus" several times once passed.
Carter loved the bells so much, he wasn't content with just one. He had mine and Scott's in his hand as well.While the ride was fun, I think Carter may enjoy it a little more next year when he's a year older. But he sure loved the "choo choo."



That's how I felt when I saw this picture taken at Bryan's loft office by Stephen Fitts at our book club Christmas party. I am beyond excited if the camera Scott and I are giving each other for Christmas makes my pictures look like this. :) That's how I felt when I saw the time and creativity that went into Stephanie's yummylicious cake pops. You can find the recipe here, and she even made little flags of all the books we've read this year. Amazing! Picture by Abby Maddox

That's how I felt when Bryan (an AWESOME photographer, by the way) was snapping away while we played with our props and enjoyed our goofiness. Photo by Stephen Fitts...and have I mentioned that Stephen is an attorney by day and not a professional photographer?? Would you ever know?!And inspired is how I felt after hanging out with these girls and their hubbies for the evening. We draw so much energy from each other and can have the deepest and most thought-provoking conversations one hour, and a rockstar dance party the next. Photo by Stephen Fitts

Love you girls!

Happy Birthday Jesus!

A Christmas memory I have from childhood is my aunt baking a chocolate birthday cake for Jesus. That moment has always stuck with me, and so when my friend Susan had the idea of doing a birthday party for Jesus, I was so excited. We ended up hosting since Susan was sick the few days before.
We got all the kids together...ate pizza (and don't worry, Carter didn't mind missing out on the pizza as you can tell from his bbq sauce-covered face) blew out the candle amongst cookies (Susan wasn't feeling well so we decided cookies were easier than cake), read a story about Jesus' birth, and let the kids open gifts for Jesus that are being given to our local Sav-A-Life center. When I placed the gift from Carter under the tree, he started to pick it up. I told him it was for baby Jesus. He ran over to our Fisher Price Advent calendar, pulled out the mini baby Jesus, and ran over to lay Him on the gift. :)It was a blast...here are some cute pictures and some adorable quotes from last night. :)
CollinHope: "Mommy, where is Jesus? He needs to come to his own birthday party!"Kaitlyn: Pointing to Amy's 4 month old son, Collin, she asked "Is that baby Jesus?" Travis: "Happy birthday BABY JEEEEESUS!!!!!!!" He was super pumped about singing happy birthday.Ben: He got baby Jesus out of the manger and carried him around. He seemed very pleased that he was the one getting to hold Him. :)Susan did such a great job planning the party. She brought plates...party blowers... baby Jesus in a manger... :) and even balloons and decorations.

The guys managed to escape almost all the pictures. Here's a few of the girls..

Anna holding Collin.
Anna (most sought after bachelorette in Birmingham), Susan (mom to Kaitlyn and Davis), me (mom to Carter), Amy (mom to Travis and Collin), Stacey C. (mom to Hope), and Stacey P. (mom to Ben)
We're not sure the kiddos completely understood the whole birthday deal and why Jesus wasn't physically there. :) But they all loved saying His name and celebrating Him, and I guess that's a first step in knowing Him and learning the meaning of Christmas.


Our Song this Season

A couple years ago, my husband pulled me onto his lap in front of his computer and played me Third Day's "Merry Christmas." Hearing the words, tears quickly began falling. At that point, Scott wasn't yet sure about adopting so I took this action as a sign that he was getting closer to embracing the idea. Anyway, we've listened to it every Christmas since, thinking our little girl wasn't even born yet. In reality, on last Christmas Day, our baby girl turned 1 month! I posted the song and lyrics below. The lyrics are so sweet (and will probably make you cry), and the instrumental portions are just gorgeous.

Virginia Grace... Merry Christmas Darling! This time next year, you will be HOME!!!

"Merry Christmas" by Third Day

There's a little girl trembling on a cold December morn
Crying for momma's arms
At an orphanage just outside a little China town
There the forgotten are

But half a world away I hang the stockings by the fire
And dream about the day when I can finally call you mine

It's Christmas time again but you're not home
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone
And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in his arms
And tell you from my heart I wish you Merry Christmas

As I hang the tinsel on the tree and watch the twinkling lights
I'm warmed by the fire's glow
Outside the children tumble in a wonderland of white,
Make angels in the snow

But half a world away you try your best to fight the tears
And hope that heaven's angels come to carry you here

It's Christmas time again but you're not home
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone
And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in his arms
And tell you from my heart I wish you Merry Christmas

Christmas is a time to celebrate the holy child
And we celebrate his perfect gift of love
He came to earth to give his life
And prepare a place for us
So we could have a home with him above

It's Christmas time again and now you're home
Your family is here so you will never be alone
So tonight before you go to sleep, I'll hold you in my arms
And I'll tell you from my heart, and I'll you from my heart
I wish you Merry Christmas



A year ago today, a mother took her 20-day-old baby girl to a public place in the Guandu District of Kunming, and placed her daughter where she would quickly be found. According to Virginia Grace's records, "On December 15, 2008, the child was picked up by police after being found and reported by common people. After investigation by the local police station confirmed she was an abandoned baby, she was sent to the Kunming City Children's Welfare Institute." Until we meet with the orphanage director, we will not know whether she was left with a note, as some children are.

Over the last couple of years, I've read several stories written by adoptive mothers and fathers who have imagined what it must have been like for the birth mother or father to leave their child. If you aren't familiar with Chinese laws, cultural norms, and economic difficulties of various provinces, it's easy to judge the actions and the hearts of these parents. In fact, placing their children to be found has quite possibly been the greatest act of love that some of these mothers could have performed.

I started to write my own imaginative account of what happened this day a year ago, but at this point, I am too emotional to go that deep. So I have posted a link to a beautiful and poignant story written by another adoptive mom. I think it will help you understand the heartwrenching decisions and the incredible strength involved in leaving a child forever.

We are so grateful our Guan Xue Hua was found quickly. We wish that she could know and understand that her forever parents have been found too. In time...


Celebrating Virginia Grace's Birthday

Scott, Carter and I had a little party for Virginia Grace on her birthday. We videotaped it so that she can watch it one day and know that her family was celebrating her first birthday too! Here are a few pictures from that night...

Scott's sister, Julie, made this plate with Virginia Grace's birth date and initials. (She made one for Carter too when he was born.)
We baked an allergy-free cake so Carter could indulge. (I wouldn't really say that Scott and I indulged in it! At least Carter doesn't know what he's missing.)
Carter and Scott cheering for Virginia Grace!A little dress I bought her.
And some really cute PJs that have Chinese characters on them. (I guess I should figure how what they say!)
Julie bought this dress for her little niece.
This is one of the Asian dolls I bought for her.
And for the BIG birthday present....her very own table and chairs at which she can have a tea party upon her arrival home. (Carter has taken a liking to the chairs and has been found just chilling in one.)
It may seem like assignment of these items to our little girl's birthday is just justification for making so many purchases.... okay, so that's partly true. :) But we did want to make her birthday special, even if she doesn't learn about it until later on.

Happy 1st Birthday Virginia Grace!

Care Package

I am WAY behind on blog updates.... I meant to post this one a few weeks ago. We ordered a care package through Ann at Red Thread, as she is in China and has built a good relationship with various orphanages. She was able to have a cake delivered for Virginia Grace's birthday, but I don't think we'll get any pictures of the party they were supposedly going to have. Her orphanage/foster village rarely sends out pictures like other orphanages do. It makes me sad we won't have a record of her first birthday. I've seen pictures on other blogs of kids with their cakes, and I SO wish we could have one for our daughter's baby book!

Here is a picture Ann sent us of the care package that was sent along with the cake. There's a disposable camera, a cloth photo book with our family pictures, a donation of pjs, tea for the foster parents, candies for the other kids and nannies, a little panda bear, a lovie blanket, and a letter that Ann translated for us. We've been told that, unlike other orphanages, the gifts will probably not be given to our little girl until the day before she meets us. So she won't really be able to become familiar with our faces. I am hoping that just maybe they've given her the gifts already. They also say they don't give any gifts to the foster parents. (Can you tell I'm a bit frustrated with her orphanage's policies??) But I included the tea anyway.

Anyway, we are still praying that they might send pictures! A girl can hope. :)