Friday, June 17, 2011

2 weeks out & still surviving! LOL!

So, it's now been 2 weeks since we arrived home. Things are starting to settle into place. I believe I'm starting to realize what our "new" normal will be...... A LOT OF WORK!! LOL!

Elise is doing well. She is now sleeping through the night without issues. The night terrors seem to have subsided. She is going to bed and taking naps without crying! Yippee! Elise is still doing her comando style crawling. I'm working with her to crawl in a normal fashion, but I'm afraid she is going to skip right over that and go staright to walking!.... or maybe staright to running! She can now pull herself up to a standing position, and walk around furniture. She is quite proud of herself for this accomplishment! It's so cute! I'm going to try to get some video on here soon of her, cause I know all of you that haven't seen her in person yet would love it! She is such a happy baby. Laughing, smiling, talking all the time. She is saying words like "momma, dadda, thank you and baba. I think she's trying to say Brandon, Blake & Emmie's names too, but they aren't coming out just right yet.

Emmie is getting better about sharing and loving on her sister. Most of the jealousy these days seems to be from Elise rather than Emmie. Elise doesn't like me holding Emmie, so there are still adjustments to be made, but overall things are going well. Emmie is starting to embrace her new role as the "big sister" and for the most part that is good, but then there is the bossy side of her that comes out and it's not so good! LOL!

The boys are still doing great! They are great helpers! I love having them here! And I'm so glad I waited to have Emmie and that we had to wait for Elise because that created this huge age gap, which is coming in quite handy for me now! Amazing how God's timing is always perfect!

So, Emmie and Elise went for a photo shoot this week! Mostly Elise, I wanted 1 yr pics of her and some other stuff. But, we also got pics of the girls in their matching Chinese dresses, and oh my goodness!! They are just adorable, so the pics I'm posting today are from the phot shoot! If you've seen them on FB, sorry! They're just too cute, so I'm posting them again :-) ...... family pics coming soon!

The cuttest angel in a tutu I ever saw!

The next few pics are priceless! Emmie and Elise together, all smiles, then the total "sister" pose!! One is scrunching up her nose & the other is rolling her eyes! LOL! These are going in BIG frames!!

Finally, Elise's 1 yr pics, who cares that she's really 16 months old!!

Love it when she smiles so big her eyes dissapear!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A look back at the first week home....

So, it's Saturday night... well technically it's Sunday morning because its after midnight! It seems my only chance to get on the computer and actually type these days would be LATE at night when the house is quiet!

Well, so far so good! The adventrures of the Brooks family of 6 is going well. I'm exhuasted, but all is good! We did a lot of stuff this week and Elise had a lot of firsts!

Elise and Emmie both had check-ups this past week. Elise was with our pediatrician and she checked out great! She seems to be a very healthy baby. We are so grateful for God's provisions over Elise! All the things I worried about for her haven't been an issue! She had no diaper rash when I got her. She wasn't under weight, She didn't have any trouble bonding with me. She eats well and sleeps well (most of the time). God is good! I've prayed for Elise for 5 years and God did answer my prayers. She is everything we ever hoped for and we are so blessed to have her!

Emmie had a Riley check-up on Tuesday, and again God is showing up in big ways! Emmie had another great check-up! Her blood pressure was 93/52 when the nurse took it, and before we left, the doctor took it again and it was 82/52! That is by far the lowest blood pressure we've ever seen from her! It amazes me how far she has come in one year. Last year in June she was re-admitted to Riley for renal failure, and now she is doing aswesome! Because of her good blood pressure readings, we don't have to go back to Riley until September!!! I'm not sure I'll know what to do without a monthly visit to that hospital! I think my van is on auto pilot to drive there at least once a month! We also got to reduce 2 of her medications and reduce her blood work to 1 time a month instead of 2!! I am just so excited for Emmie, and me!! I hate giving her meds and I hate holding her down for blood work, so less of both is great for both of us!

Brandon and Blake continue to be big helpers around here! They are awesome big brothers!! They do a great job playing with Emmie and Elise. They get bottles and sippy cups for me when I need it. They take Emmie outside for me when I don't want to go! And tonight they even babysat both girls!! I was reluctant to leave the girls home with them, but they assured me it would be OK. They have watched Emmie before, but I wasn't sure they could handle 2 babies! However, both girls were sleeping, so Tom and I went out ALONE!!!! Wow!! It's been a long time since that happened! Of course our glorious date involved going to Menards to look at patio furniture, return some overdue videos and to buy milk, but hey at least we could hear ourselves think in the car without babies crying and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse playing on the DVD player! We actually had an adult comversation without beign interupted!

Tom started a new job while I was in China, so there have been lots of changes going on around here! He seems to be enjoying it a lot. Sonar Studios was a good fit for him the last time he worked there, and I think it's even better for him now. It's almost like they are renewing his confidence after being knocked down for the last year and a half! Plus working for a CEO who starts each business meeting with prayer is always an awesome thing! I'm so happy they found Tom again and wanted him back! We are hoping for a long career there!

OK, so here is a list of all the "firsts" Elise experienced this week! ....
Went to the doctor
Took walks around the neighborhood
Tasted lots of new foods
Started drinking milk (instead of formula)
Learned to crawl "comando" style
Pulled herself up to standing
Let go of Tom to stand alone for about 2 seconds!
Had her first "Welcome Home Party" and got lots of gifts!
Met most of her extended family (second cousins, great aunts, great uncles and many more)
Met her great grandma Rucker
Went swimming  with her brothers and sister
Went ot a birthday party
Watched Blake earn red tips on his brown belt in Taekwondo
Was babysat by Grandma (and seemed to love getting spoiled by her)

Lots of stuff happening for this little girl and she's doing remarkably well with all of it! Still having a little bit of anxiety when I leave the room, or when I hold Emmie instead of her. Still having a few issues with going to bed at night and at naptime, but all in all, she is adjusting pretty well!

Some pictures from our week.....

The new double stroller that I couldn't wait to get!

Cousins having fun in the pool!

Love the tongue!
Having fun with big brother Blake
Emmie & Brandon

I really think she wants to read! She loves books!
Learning to share..... maybe!!
Meeting Great Grandma
Never get tired of that smile!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

First 5 days.....

It has been a crazy 5 days in our household! Well, I say that like there is ever a normal day! LOL! Anyway, we have gotten off to a great start, just been busy and a little stressfull at times :)


Elise is doing great! I'm amazed at her progress in the little time she's been with me, and now in the 5 days at home she has shown even more growth. When I got her she could sit up well on her own. However, she could not get from a seated position onto her belly, she could not crawl, or move at all. In fact, the first time I put her on her hands and knees to see if she could crawl (on Day 2 of having her in China), she cried! She was no where near walking, was way to wobbly to even take steps when standing. She was very quiet and reserved.

Now, she is a whole new child! Before I left China, after having her for 9 days she was doing better with being on her belly. She was holding her weight better while standing, she was jabbering not stop, smiling and laughing. After being home for 5 days, she is almost crawling! She scoots comando style everywhere! She will take steps while holding my hands. She is talking and laughing and smiling more and more everyday! She is truely a happy baby!

She had her first check-up with the pediatrician. He said she is a very healthy baby. He said not all babies from orphananges are this healthy,and he was pleasantly surprised by her muscle tone. She is small for her age, but nothing to be concerned about. She is in the 6th percentile for height and 10th percentile for weight. Considering I'm only 5'0" I don't think it'll be a big deal if she's short, she'll fit right into the family! He thinks she is going to explode developmentaly in the next few months! I'm so excited to be able to witness her crawling and walking for the first time! Those are precious milestones that I didn't want to miss out on with her.

While for the most part things are going well, I would be lieing if I said all was perfect. There are always issues with adopting. You do not know what the child experienced for the first year or so of life, and Elise is no exception. We have not had any bonding issues, its almost the opposite. She bonded with me so well, that for the first 3 or 5 days she cried when I put her down, she screamed bloody murder if I walked out of the room. I'm happy to report that is improving. She isn't crying for me to hold her 24/7 anymore, just maybe 15/6! LOL! She is doing a much better job at playing with toys and playing with her siblings, and I am able to leave the room to start a load of laundry without her crying! Thank goodness!

She is also having night terrors. which I guess is pretty common, or so I've read. They weren't terrible at first. Just once or twice a night, and she would go right back to sleep without any trouble. However two nights ago, it was really bad. She was up every 15 minutes for about 4 hours straight! It was not a good night for her or me! She seemed to hate her bed and cried everytime I left the room that night. I was so upset, and so was she. I didn't know quite how to handle the situation. She seemed to get mad at me for putting her to bed and then just screamed out of anger and it became a battle of the wills and to be honest, neither one of us won! Thank goodness last night she slept all night and as I'm typing this at 1am, so far so good! I'm hoping we've seen the worst of that and from now on things will get better!

I have to say, she is an absolute joy! She is so smiley! I just love her to pieces!


The boys are doing great with Elise. They are awesome big brothers. They were so excited to have Elise home and it's been great watching them interact with her. She already loves them and enjoys their presence.

Emmie has her moments! It is really a love/hate relationship right now. Emmie loves to mother Elise, however she hates to share her toys and she's not crazy about sharing mommy & daddy either! I tthink most of it is typical jealousy, which we expected and some of it is probably the terrible 2's coming out! She is good to Elise, loves to help feed her and wipe her face. She likes to tell me when she thinks Elise needs a bottle! But she has also been caught hitting Elise, which she gets spanked for or sent ot her room. However, Elise is no angel. Elise is not afraid to hit back, or take back the toy that was taken, or just take a toy that Emmie had first! LOL! So, I think life will be interesting for quite awhile around here! I think the two of them will be the best of friends, or the worst of enemies, depending on thier moods! LOL! But isn't that typical sisters for you!

Here are a few pictures from the week!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Elise's Home Coming

Blake waiting patiently for us to walk down the hallway

I can't begin to thank everyone enough! This has truely been a journey. The journey started for us about 6 years ago when we decided to pursue an international adoption. A decision that came after God placed the desire in our hearts, after much prayer and discussions. We started the process by applying with America World in July of 2005, and you know the rest of the story. The paper chasing, the fundraising, the long wait that turned into years! While I do not know all the reasons why the wait was so long, I do believe that God has a purpose in that long wait. I know that the wait & Elise are all a part of God's perfect plan. I know that having Emmie while waiting for Elise was also a part of God's master plan. Emmie is already such a good big sister. I won't lie, there are some jealousy issues coming out, but overall she is doing very well with the transisition from baby to big sister!

Emmie holding her sign for Elise!

We made it home to a huge welcome committee! The signs, balloons & familiar faces were a great sight for me!! I was so happy to be back with the family & friends we cherish so much! I loved traveling in China, but I was VERY ready to get home to my other 3 kids, my husband, and everyone else I missed so much!

Some of the crowd waiting on us!

Elise's home coming was something I've dreamed of for a very long time, and you all made it everything I've dreamed of. I think she knows she's well loved!!! The pictures in this blog are some awesome pictures taken by Cinnamon! Thanks Cinny!!!

Brandon doing some video taping for us

Tom holding his daughter for the first time!

Daddy kisses!

Meeting Aunt Lori

Uncle Scott video taping

Papaw anticipating the arrival of his newest grandaughter!

Sydney all decked out in her American attire!

First family photo with all 6 of us!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Home Sweet Home!!!!!

Got up at 7:30am Hong Kong time (which was 7:30pm on Wednesday night Indiana time), a 14.5 hour flight from Hong Kong to Chicago, customs, immigration, a 3 hour layover, and a 1 hour flight to Indy, we FINALLY made it home!!!

Thank you to everyone! Your comments and emails kept me going! Thank you for the huge welcome home at the airport & thank you for joining us for dinner!

Elise is doing great! She warmed up to everyone over dinner. Emmie really enjoyed helping her little sister eat green beans and wipe her face. Too cute! Elise played with Emmie all evening, took a bath with Emmie, let the boys hold her and play with her, but most importantly she seems to like her daddy!! So thankful for that. I was worried she wouldn't let him hold her right away. So far so good. The girls even went to bed at the same time, and I could hear Emmie in their room saying "It's OK Elise." Brings tears to my eyes! She's a good big sis already!

It feels good to be home! I've officialy been up for about 28 hours now, so I'm going to hit the sack!

One picture for today, then I promise more to come tomorrow! But this picture prett much sums it up for me! ......

Me and my girls!!! HOME AT LAST!!!!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Heading to Hong Kong

It's 3:00pm on Wednesday afternoon. We leave in 1 hour for Hong Kong! The bags are packed, all shopping is done, we are just waiting on our guide to get here with Elise's passport!

We had a great time last night with our travel group. We all hung out in the courtyard, ate pizza, chatted, the kids all played together. Even Elise and Paige (the 11 month old in our group) had a good time playing together. They were so cute together playing on a blanket with the toys we brought. It's amazing how much these little babies lives have changed in the last week. Nine days ago they were sitting in an orphanage, with no mommy or daddy, no family to call their own, and while I'm sure their nannies cared for them, there is no way a nanny can give the kind of care and love a baby gets from a family. Elise has changed so much in the last nine days (and I'm sure Paige's mommy would say the same). Elise seems happier and more relaxed. She does not seem like the timid scared baby that was handed to me. Call me crazy, but I think she know's she's found home, she found her mommy, and she's about to find her daddy, brothers, sister, aunts, uncles (well she already knows Scott as "jo-jo" which means "mommy's brother" in Mandarin), grand parents, cousins, friends, great aunts and uncles, second cousins, great grand parents.... the list goes on and on. I'm so happy for Elise. She had no idea how much love is coming her way!

So, while in the court yard last nigt, I got some more pictures of Elise in a traditional Chinese dress. One of the moms in our travel group love photography, I think it's more of a hobby for her than a job, but she took great pictures of Elise for me. So the pictures on today's blog are thanks to Natalie!

This is our last blog from Guangzhou!! I will try to blog once more from Hong Kong!! Then we will be off the grid until 4:50 PM on Thursday when we arrive in Indy!!

Thanks again everyone for all your prayers & ccomments! I love reading the comments (they come to me via email so I'm able to see what people are saying) Please continue to pray for safe travels. It will be a long few days traveling with a 15 month old.