Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What a slacker

Wow, what a slacker I've been with getting blog posts up here!!  I wish I could say it's because I've been off on some beach somewhere getting a great tan and sipping margaritas....but alas, that is not the case.  I think I've been reluctant to do a new post because life is not what I ever expected it to be right now, and I just don't really know what to say about it.  I'm not one to air everything to the public and put all my personal business out there, but for those of you that are close, you know what I'm talking about.

Our family has had some pretty huge and unexpected changes over the last several months.  Things that I guess somehow I wasn't shocked by but was shocked by all at the same time.  To say it's been hard doesn't begin to explain it.  Our life has been rocked.  Mine, the kids, everyone.  We are trying to adjust to a new normal here, and it's not been an easy task, especially with the holidays here.  I say all of this never to get sympathy, or to try to make everyone guess what is going on.  I say this so that maybe I can share a little about what I've learned.

It's so interesting to me to look back over my life and how I've grown as a person, mother, daughter, etc.  I really can see how much I've changed when I look at hard situations like this, and I can only attribute it to one thing.  I've grown in my faith.  I think that 2 years ago when we were at Christmas putting the "Waiting for us in Russia" adoption ornament on the tree while wondering what was going to happen with adoptions in Russia, I was still struggling ALOT with trusting God and His plan that He had for us.  We all know that it is hard when things are hard to sit back and trust that He's got this.  As soon as we heard that we couldn't adopt from Russia anymore, I was immediately looking into other options and trying to figure out what to do next.  What I should have been doing is sitting quietly and listening to what He wanted me to do next.  Sure would have saved me alot of work and worry!!!  Ironically, that ornament isn't hanging on our tree this year, but I do look at it almost every day.  For me, it's a reminder that while we thought our little girl was in Russia, that was just a detour for us to get to the child He really had planned for us. 

Fast forward to now, and Lainey could not be more of a part of our family, and just fits like I carried her myself.  Seeing her is truly a reminder of God's faithfulness to us, and reminds me that when I follow His plan, it always works.  I'm in a time of my life where that is very difficult to see again.  I think we all find ourselves here more than once in our lives.  I'm trying to listen, but it's so so hard with so many voices from so many places that are giving advice.  I truly truly appreciate the family and friends in my life who are standing next to me now through all of this, and don't think I would be surviving without them.  BUT, I also need to remind myself to sit and be quiet and listen to what God wants me to do, who He wants me to be, what path He wants me to take. 

I don't know what the future will hold, but I know that one day I will look back with more wisdom and be able to see how I have grown through struggle.  I will look back and see that I did the best I could do in the situation, and I trusted Him in each step knowing that His plan was in place.  I will still pray EVERY day for the situation to resolve, because I know in my heart that it can.  I will look back at my life and see the amazing things that I have been able to make it through and know that He has given me the strength to make it through this and be the mom that I need to be and the strong woman that He made me.  I will learn to trust more, I will know myself better, and I will come out even stronger. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

One year ago....

I think I've been writing this post in my head for at least a month now.  I have so many thoughts and emotions swirling around right now, and I'm honestly still in shock that our sweet girl has been with us for a year!!  When we met her in the hotel lobby, it was awkward, and I truly didn't know whether to cry, smile, pass out, or what!!  She was more than overwhelmed and just kind of zoned.
She really just didn't know what to do.  She wasn't unhappy, she didn't cry like many other kids did, but I think she was just trying to shut it all out.  We would get smiles, but I can look back now and know they weren't real smiles.  Luckily we know what those real smiles look like now.  She started giving us these cute little shoulder shrugs with the smiles, and I think that she likely did that in the orphanage to be super cute and get what she wanted!!  Cute, but not genuine yet....
Things over this past year have been full of ups and downs, and Lainey has adjusted amazingly well.  It's truly been incredible to watch her come out of her "zone" and really become the little girl that was in there.  Her smiles are real, her laughter is beautiful, and she loves like crazy!!!  She is such a happy little girl, and we are so blessed to have her join our family.

Before dedication on 10/19
Just looking at her, you can see the light in her eyes, the shine in her hair, and the fact that she has grown 4 inches since coming home last year.  So much of this can be attributed to eating well and getting good care.  But, the smiles and hugs and happiness I can only attribute to her knowing EVERY day that her family loves her, and that she has us EVERY day to hug her and take care of her. 
Crazy love for her big brothers!! 

There is truly something miraculous that happens when a child joins their family.  A child that was untrusting, and likely assumed that everyone would leave them learns to trust, learns to love, learns that she is safe, learns that she is loved, learns what a family means.

We were able to dedicate her at church yesterday, the day before her year anniversary of joining our family, and that was very overwhelming for me.  I will admit and say that right now our family does have some challenges that we are going through, and we have some problems for sure.  But, one thing is for sure, all three of our children are such an amazing blessing to us.  We know that we were chosen to be parents to these kids, no matter how they came to us, and we don't take that lightly.  It's such a huge responsibility to raise these little (or not so little anymore!) people and many days it overwhelms you, and most days I wonder if I'm doing the right things, saying the right things, and spending my time working on the right things. 

Saying we have been blessed truly doesn't seem to cover it.  Our entire family has changed.  This little girl who was essentially alone now has a mama, dada, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends.  She has been welcomed with open arms, and we are very thankful for that.  There has been so much support for us, and couldn't have gotten here without that!!!

Happy Gotcha Day to our sweet Lainey!!!  Can't wait to celebrate this day every year, and celebrate the day that our lives changed again!!

We had a great dedication day/gotcha day cookout with family and friends!  And Minnie Mouse cake makes everything better!


Friday, June 27, 2014

Total Fail....

Well, I hate to admit that I've failed at something, but I have to do it....I totally failed at the "have a picture for every moment, document every step, and make sure you kid has a detailed picture account of everything they have ever done" kind of thing.  Yep...total fail....bummer....

This all comes from this past week.  The kids and I made the VERY long treck down to Florida to have vacation for a week.  This was not a normal vacation for me, this was one where I actually got to relax, WHAT???!!  relax on a vacation?  I know, I was surprised too!  We rented a house with a pool, and really didn't do a whole lot else!  We hit the beach twice and did some bowling and putt putt, but that was it.  And, you know what....it was glorious!!!!  It was Lainey's first trip (I assume) to the beach, so I know I should have gotten at least 100 pictures....but I got just these....
Lainey's first steps on the beach!

"Mom...we're staring at the sun!"

You know what I got instead?  I got to sit on the beach while Lainey exfoliated my legs with a sand massage, and I got to see Noah's dimples as he was riding waves in from the water, and I got to see Gavin with a bucket trying to catch fish.  We watched the tiny clams dig into the sand, we watched the birds, and we built some sandcastles.  All that I would have missed if I was trying to get those ever so important pictures!!

The kids spent most of their time in the pool so you would think I would have gotten lots of pics of that too....but again, I didn't!!  I got to relax by the pool and read and watch the kids play together without fighting, and I got to play many games of monkey in the middle, and watch Gavin throwing Lainey in the water.  We had popsicles in the hot tub, and played until our eyes were hurting from the chlorine.  I got a couple of pics....but the memories are so much better!!

We did other things and I did snap a few pictures, but mostly we just had FUN TOGETHER.  No, my kids will not have a book of pictures about the trip to the beach.  But, they had so much fun, and it was amazing to spend fun time with them without having to worry about anything or try to keep up with the other moms who were placing their perfectly matching family pictures on the beach up on FB....I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that!!  I just have realized that while I'm trying to get this "image" of this perfect family, I'm missing out on my perfect family.  My kids are awesome and fun and hilarious...and they are growing up way too fast.  One day they won't want to be thrown in the pool, and have movie night with popcorn and icecream, or snuggle next to me on the couch when they are worn out from swimming...and I think that day will come way too soon!!
She may or may not have been eating the sand...

So awesome to have gotten to meet up with another adoptive family!


Yeah!!  Popsicles for breakfast!
Just a few others I managed to get...man they are awesome....
Had to share this creepy one...Lainey took a while to go to sleep the first couple of nights.  No crying or anything, just hanging out...creepily....

So, yes, I failed in the Pinterest-y world we live in...but the kids told me so many times that this was the "best vacation ever!", which means I guess I wasn't really a failure!  I need to remember now that even though we aren't on vacation, I need to enjoy them now, before they are too cool to hang out with me!!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Six Months....

Six months ago today, this was the only glimpse we had of a little girl who was going to be our daughter.....we were on our way to the province of Lanzhou where we would meet this little one.  I still can't describe what that feels like.  I was excited, scared, overwhelmed, and just plain terrified all at the same time.  We really had no idea what to expect.  We didn't know if she would cry, scream, shut down...or if we would!! 

Six months ago tomorrow.....we drove up to the hotel in Lanzhou, and as we were driving by, I spotted our girl being carried in a bright pink coat.  I swear I thought I was going to choke on my heart, it was so far up in my throat!!  I knew it was her, I had stared at those pictures for months!!  I didn't even know what to do when they walked into the hotel lobby with her, and put her in a stroller next to me.  I so much wanted to pick her up and squeeze her, but I didn't want to scare her, and with the 5 people (almost all men), standing around staring, to say that it was awkward is an understatement!!  I can still remember her dark eyes looking at me, but really just being blank....it's so hard to believe now that they were ever like that.  This is the first day that she was with us...October 20th
She wasn't crying, she wasn't screaming, but she wasn't really there....pretty sure she was pretty zoned out because of being overwhelmed at everything.   I still can't believe how well she did when being given over to these white people who looked nothing like anyone she had ever seen, speaking a language different than she had ever heard, and knowing no one she was familiar with.  If I was in that situation, I would be crying and screaming!!!

Six months ago Monday....Wu YuanQing became Lainey Wu Ashe, officially our daughter, officially a sister, officially a granddaughter....what an amazing day.  Like her, I think I was also in a daze, I hardly remember most of it, except for looking at pictures.  I think it's much like when I went through labor and delivery with the boys....I really can't remember most of that either, but I remember holding them, hugging them, loving them.
I remember the fingerprints, footprints, lots of signing and making sure things were spelled right and written right.  It's a good thing that Jeremy is good at that sort of practical stuff, because I'm pretty sure my brain was mush at that point!!  I had gotten all of the paperwork done and together up until that point, but was done after that!  This picture is the first picture of us with Lainey Wu Ashe, our daughter (well, the first one after it was official anyway!).  It still almost seem surreal to me.  It has been six months, and I know that we missed almost 3 years of her life, but most of the time it seems like she has been with us forever.  I can't imagine life without her crazy hair in the morning, without her sweet smile when she's playing, her laugh when you tickle her.  I won't lie and say it's been a totally easy road.  It's not easy to throw a toddler into a family who is essentially a stranger and to just be totally in love as a mother (although I thought it would be).  That love takes time to grow, and it has.  I feel more and more like her "mama" every day.  Every time she pulls my head down to kiss her goodnight one more time, I get a step closer.  Every time I give her a hug and feel her little arms wrap around my neck, I'm a little deeper.  Every time she snuggles into my lap at bedtime when we rock, I feel more bonded....and that is the miracle.  I know what it feels like to carry a child, and love that child from the moment you know you are pregnant.  Now I know what it feels like to love a child that  didn't carry in my belly, but carried for months in my heart. 

This is the little girl that I know now....

 Silly, fun, happy, and difficult to get a picture of without her tongue hanging out!!

It just hit me this week that her 6 month anniversary of gotcha day is on Easter.  What an awesome picture of new beginnings.  Easter brings us new life in Christ, a new beginning, a hope that we couldn't have otherwise.  Lainey brought us a new life, a new normal, a new beginning in our family.  Our sacrifices we made to bring her home are nothing compared to the sacrifice Christ made for us, when we didn't deserve it.  We are so so so blessed, and are just so thankful for all of our new beginnings and new life!!!

Monday, February 10, 2014


If you have been following this blog for any length of time, you know that our adoption journey started with us being called to adopt our little one from Russia.  Jeremy and I were both very sure that this is where God was leading us, and so that is where we started.  After a year of paperwork and much time and money spent, the president of Russia, Putin, decided that Americans could no longer adopt children from Russia, and placed the ban on US adoptions.  We of course were devastated, but knew that God still had plans for us to adopt, so we made a detour and absolutely ended up with the little girl that was meant to be our daughter.  We now have zero doubt that she was meant to be part of our family, and wouldn't change a thing.

That being said....with all of the coverage of the Olympics, it seriously makes my blood boil every time I see Putin putting on this show for the world to see.  I know that I should be over it, as we obviously are thrilled with our outcome, but I can't help but think of all of those children that have been left and all but forgotten by their president.  This show that is being put on makes Russia seem like it is a place that in reality it is not.  There are pictures of the people living without plumbing and electricity living just minutes from beautiful structures built just for the Olympics.  I wish that the Russian government would take even a fraction of the interest that they are putting into the Olympics and put it into their forgotten children.  I realize that these orphans don't bring money to the country, and they don't make the president look good to the world, but they are humans....they are lives....they are tiny beings that are being forgotten. 

I know that I need to get over this...but after knowing what is going on there, it's not something you "get over".  You can't ignore the fact that children are dying EVERY DAY.  Children are laying for days in a crib with no attention.  Children are learning that there is no reason to cry because it doesn't do them any good and they are becoming numb.  Children are going hungry, feeling cold, and feeling no love, no affection, no warmth.  I guess that seeing this circus being put on really brings these feelings to the surface for me.  It's wrong....that is a fact.  It's something that happens all over, not just in Russia.  It is something that most of us can't truly fathom.  It's reality, and my heart still breaks to know that children like my daughter are left every day to learn to comfort themselves instead of having a family to bring them comfort. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014


This is the picture I saw as I opened an envelope from the government....it's a picture of Lainey that was taken while we were in China, on the day that we had our medical appointment.  I seriously hardly recognize her!  I guess that much like the boys growing so much, I don't notice it as much when I see them every day, I haven't realized how much she has changed in the 3 months (almost) since we came home.  This is a picture I took last week....
Wow...shocks me every time!  It's so hard to even believe that is the same child.  I have posted before about how much progress she has made, but I still can't hardly believe it.  She's such a brave little girl!!  We took her to Sports Connection, and she wasn't too thrilled with the bounce houses, but after her awesome big brothers got her bouncing, she didn't want to leave!
She was so happy to be on that slide with her brothers!  They had so much fun, and it was so great to watch the boys really step up and be such great brothers to her, and to help her get over the fear of things.  I have told people that I know she is happy to have parents, but I think she is even more happy to have her brothers!  She loves them so much.  When she wakes up from her nap before they get home, she will watch at the window for them, and gets so giddy when she sees the bus.  It's really great.  She has come so far, and in the past few weeks has really gone from this kid with "orphanage behavior" of just always being compliant to pushing back a bit.  While it's great to have a kid who does whatever you ask, it's much better to have a kid who is starting to trust that no matter what we will still love her and be here for her, so she feels like she can be herself.  She's a pretty feisty girl, and I love that about her.  I think it probably helped her in those two years in an orphanage to get what she wants!  Just another picture to share....she's come so far, but still loves her noodles!!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

10 weeks

Wow, 10 weeks home...in some ways is so hard to believe that it has been 10 weeks since we got off that plane and finally made it home.  In other ways, it seems like it's been a lifetime, because at this point I couldn't imagine Lainey not being here.  Funny how that works.  To say that she is doing well is really an understatement.  She's doing incredible.  She has learned so many new things, and it amazes me everyday to see how resilient a little person can be. 

That first night we got home, she cried and screamed like I've never heard when she saw the dogs....now they are really her best friends.  She hugs and kisses them at least 20 times a day, and every time I go up to get her out of bed, they are waiting at the door to see her!

She was scared at first when we would throw her around, and now she trusts us and absolutely loves to be thrown around and flipped upside down.  She knows that we will catch her, and that we won't let her fall.

She has been pretty smitten with the boys (and them with her) since we got home, but now she cannot go to bed without hugs and kisses every night, and makes sure that she gets at least one from each of them.

She was a little skittish around Jeremy when we first got home, and really wouldn't let him hold her, especially when I was around.  This morning I watched as she snuggled up next to him under the blanket and laid with him.

She really didn't even know what to do with all of the toys we had, and I remember her really just walking around and looking at things and just not seeming to know what to do with them.  Now, I watch her play in her kitchen, dance with her stuffed animals, and have sword fights with her brothers.

She was very compliant with everything when we first got home, aside from the screaming about the dogs, she never really cried or really let out any emotion.  Her personality is really coming out, and we get some tears when she's sad or mad about something, and we get crossed arms and a "hmpf" when you tell her no.  As much as I love a compliant kid, it's great that she is starting to trust us and trust that we love her enough that she can start to be herself.  Every day we get a little more of her personality.

She's really learned so much that it's hard to even keep up with.  Silly things like being able to take off her own pants and socks, and put on her own shoes and socks. Learning to say please when she wants something instead of pointing and whining.  Going up and down the stairs.  Playing paddycake, kissing her baby dolls, and making dinner for the dog in her kitchen.  All things that are new....and amazing.
With the cousins at Grandma's house

She has been in that kitchen so much since Christmas!!