It's Done! Grace's Adoption Video...

I finally finished Grace's adoption video! It was an amazing experience to sift through video clips I hadn't yet seen and piece together a story that I hope Grace will appreciate and cherish. She has already sat in my lap and watched the video at least six times. The first time, she was very serious and focused, and I worried about how it might affect her to "relive" Gotcha Day. But I think it has helped her remember the big change she has undergone, and I love seeing her smiles and laughter each time she views it now.

As a note, the slides with text move very quickly so you may have to just skim while reading. :) I had already set the music before I inserted transitions, and those stole time from each clip.

Thank you for allowing us to share our journey with you.


3 Months in our Arms

Dear Grace,

Today marks 3 months since Gotcha Day, when we first held you in our arms. It's almost hard to process that it's been that long! Last night, I told your daddy that I almost wish we could go back and, with the knowledge I have of you now, do those first few days together again. I don't think we could have loved you or held you any more than we did, but I am much more attuned to you and your needs now. I would have known to give you a burp cloth to suck on to help soothe you. I would have known just where to tickle you to get the biggest laugh and squeal. I would have known what foods you loved most and which sippy cups worked best. I would have played more music so you could dance.

But knowing you as well as I do now, I think I would have cried harder seeing you struggle in shock those first hours. I would have recognized right away that your body had temporarily shut down, limiting your physical skills. I would have noticed the full depth of grief in your "empress" eyes. Even now, it breaks my heart.

But sweet princess, our God has worked miraculously in your little body and heart over the last 90 days. You are stronger than I could ever hope to be. When you wake up, you immediately light up with a smile...your nature is to be cheerful and happy. In fact, you're one of the happiest little girls I've ever come across. You have a great sense of humour, and we adore hearing your chuckles and laughter. While you can be fiercely independent and stubborn, you are very caring and maternal. When your brother awakes from his nap, you typically rub his head or his leg, cock your head, and talk softly to him. You love to give him kisses too.

You are great at trying all kinds of new foods. But you are also developing into a finicky eater. Sometimes, you've got your mind set on something specific. Some of your favorite foods are cheese, spinach dip (by the spoonful!), hummus, blueberries, yogurt, raisins, turkey, and ice pops. But you'll also eat a wide variety of salads, pastas, casseroles, sandwiches, meats, and more.

At 19 months, you weigh a tad under 22 lbs. You're finally starting to move into 12-18 mo clothing. (Although, I did have to exchange a Janie & Jack skirt for a 3-6 month size this morning so it will stay up on your little waist!) You've grown taller, but I'm not sure what your current measurement is.

You understand almost everything we say, and you've picked up quite a few English words. Some of those include mommy, daddy, out, Jackson, yogurt, cheese, okay, bye bye, hello, ball, baby, juice, Coco, and hot. Your one phrase is "I love you," which comes out like "ahhhwuvooooh." While you can't communicate much with words, you'll often look deep into my eyes and babble away, cocking your head every once in a while, as if we're having a big conversation.

On TV, you love to watch Kai Lan, Imagination Movers, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and Little Einsteins. You dance at any little note you hear. You like to give high fives, blow kisses, shut doors, and wave to people. You seem to enjoy the water, and your favorite feature at the playground is the slide.

You and Carter get along pretty well. The two of you don't always share, and you kiddos can be rough with each other. But you're both learning to keep your hands to yourselves. And if Carter is the one in time out, you usually join him to make him feel better. It's that maternal side of you. Your brother loves you so much and doesn't like to be awake without you.

You're still very attached to me and Daddy and won't really let anyone else hold you except our close family. But you're attaching well, and in time you'll feel secure enough to let others hold you without the fear that they're taking you away from us forever. You're a great sleeper and you go to bed on your own now... a HUGE step!

You're definitely a little diva, and it's been a bit rough as I've begun disciplining you and telling you "No." You like to get your way. But when you don't, you bounce back pretty quickly and don't seem to hold grudges. And unlike a diva, you like to help out and serve. Whenever I change Carter's diaper, you pick it up and carry it to the diaper champ in your room. Then you come back clapping your hands. You're also a huge help when it comes to putting away your toys.

Virginia Grace Xue, you've been with us for a quarter of a year!! And yet, it seems like you've been ours from the beginning. Becoming your mother has been one of the most natural steps in my life. And I'm not taking that for granted, as I know the ease of our transition is not the norm. I know hard days (and hard questions) can be expected ahead. But for now, I'll just cherish the moments with my little cuddlebug in my arms and thank God that He truly knows what He's doing. He's performing a great work in your life, little one, as He has in each of ours. And I'm amazed to be a witness to it.

We love you Grace!



What to Say

I know...I have been a horrible blogger over the last couple of weeks. It's been really busy. But mainly, I just haven't really had anything to say or share that would seem interesting. I've been trying to use my spare time to catch up on some reading, make Grace's Gotcha Day video (aiming to be done August 1st), and just get plain organized. The last 10 weeks have been full of joy as we've assimilated Grace into our family and worked to provide a safe and secure environment for her. But I also feel very disconnected from everyone and everything. I miss church. I miss playgroup. I miss friends. I miss reading blogs. I miss having spare time to myself. But I know it's a season. And I don't necessarily want to wish this time away.

Going from one to two kiddos hasn't been nearly as difficult as I had imagined, but I definitely don't seem to have the same number of hours in a day. I am going to take a small blogging break (I'll post about once a week) until I reach some of my goals and complete some projects that are begging for my attention. Thanks for hanging in there with us! :)


Wedding Weekend Recap

Last Sunday, when you asked Carter what Uncle Stuart was doing that day, he replied, "Gettin' MARE-eed!!!!"
We had driven up to Greenville, SC on Friday and enjoyed a rehearsal dinner that evening. By the way, I am IN LOVE with downtown Greenville! Such a neat area!! Saturday, following a rehearsal at Glassy Chapel on top of a mountain, Noelle and Stu's friends and family enjoyed a sunset, cocktails, and toasts to the bride and groom. Take a look at how beautiful the chapel and view are...

I wish I had taken a picture of the inside. Many of my pics were taken on my camera, so I'm sorry the quality isn't the best.

Grace and I met my parents and Carter in Spartanburg on Sunday morning to visit my paternal grandmother, Mimi. She was so thrilled to meet Grace! Grace still won't go to anyone else, but she blew lots of sweet kisses to her great-grandmother. Grace was ecstatic to see her "guh-guh" again, and it was cute to watch them.
The wedding took place at 6 pm on Sunday night, and it was a gorgeous ceremony. Noelle looked stunning. Stuart choked up when she came down the aisle. And the most beautiful image of the night was them walking out the chapel doors as husband and wife with the sun shining toward them in a way that created an amazing silhouette. I know one of the photographers had to have caught it on camera!

Here are a few pics (from my phone) that were taken during family photos after the ceremony. I wish I had a closeup of Noelle and Stuart together, but here are a few candids.
Noelle with her parents
Stuart, Noelle, and her parents
Scott and me (you can see my beautiful MIL in the right corner)
Scott holding the very important marriage license for his twin bro and new sister-in-law!

Grace did GREAT staying with my mom and Carter in the hotel on Sunday night. I actually snuck out (against general advice) because Grace screamed when I tried to say goodbye another time that weekend. I think she thought I was in the next room the whole time. She had fun and went to sleep well, so I was SO relieved. And surprised, to be honest, given how clingy she had been the whole weekend.

Carter had an awesome time in NC with GrandMary and Papa and raved about their picnic that Saturday evening at a park where the symphony performed. Mom said he sat entranced when the music began. The other day, he told me, "I love music!"

I should have pics of the kids from last weekend to come soon. They're all on other people's cameras.

Happy July 4th weekend!!

Late pics from Father's Day

Here are a few more pictures from Father's Day afternoon when we visited Scott's parents. Grace made my father-in-law's day by sitting in his lap for the first time!