Monday, July 14, 2014

Beach Memories

We are spending this week at our favorite beach in St. George Island, Florida.  Last year, we came to SGI in June.  Since we were camping then, Trent and Reece drove the truck and pulled the camper.  The girls and I followed in the van.  It was during this drive that I first mentioned adopting again to Mary Ashtyn.  Trent and I had been praying and talking about "Frannie" for about a month, but we had not mentioned her to the kids.  Mary Ashtyn quickly said that she didn't think we could handle another little girl who couldn't walk.  I passed my phone over and she watched Frannie's videos and looked at her pictures.  That was the first time I heard, "can we get her, Mom?"  My sweet girl is so much like her Daddy and me, once she saw her...Mash wanted her.  Throughout the next 2 weeks, all three of the kids asked us over and over if we were getting her.

We spent that trip talking about that sweet little girl with the huge smile and dreamed about what it be like to have another little girl on the beach with us.  Could we really do this?  Two littles who didn't walk...could we REALLY do this???  Mary Ashtyn, Reece, and Lily were positive we could.  They begged and made promises about helping with her and they made lists of names for their new Mei Mei.  Piper was our favorite at first, but it didn't take too long for us to agree on Ava.

 A year later, we're back at the beach with that little girl that we talked about the entire trip last time!!  It's been an emotional trip.  Watching Ava see the beach for the first time, play in the sand, ride the waves, and eat in our favorite restaurant has almost brought us to tears.  Who am I kidding, I cried!!!  As we watch the kids, Trent catches my eye and gives me this look, the "I can't believe this is real" look.  Last year, it seemed impossible, but we made it through the difficult and it is done!  As we drove the golf cart down to the beach on our first night, Ava put her hand on Trent's face and whispered, "xie xie, Baba".  Thank you, Daddy.  Oh sweet Ava, we thank our Heavenly Father for you each and every day!!


Our sweet girl on the beach for the first time!!


Almost every year since we've been coming to SGI, we've had a mini photo shoot...

 



2010


Mash posing



BamFam4...no clue that we were missing 2!!!  (and Trent had hair!!!)




2011...waiting on Lily
Mash still  posing :)


We skipped a few years at the fountain, we didn't go to SGI the year that Lily came home...a body cast and Muscular Dystrophy slowed us down a little that summer. For some reason, we skipped fountain photos in 2013???



2013 Lily's first trip to SGI, dreaming of Ava the entire trip :)



For 2014, the fountain photos have returned!!!

This...


has turned into this...




Sometimes this...


She's still posing...


But now, so is she...


And her, too...


He still won't, but what a cutie...


All four of them take my breath away...










Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me!
Psalm 66:16


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Ava Update

Adopting an older child is one of the biggest blessings!  Sure, there are challenges...but watching this sweet little girl experience LIFE outweighs the language barriers and the habits that have been established over the last 9 years. Over the past month, Ava has changed so much.  With four kids, it's been a little busy and I've had no time to blog.  So, here is my attempt to answer some of the questions about the newest Bamberg:

Ava is doing well learning English!  She is following simple commands and answering basic "wh" questions.  She is combining 2 words to make phrases (my shoe, Ava eat, my clothes) and several 3 and 4 word sentences (Ava no sleepy,  turn light off/on, charge my iPod) She brought one of her baby dolls into the den for me to  babysit while she rough housed with the boys and asked, "Mama, you keepa my baby?"  As I picked up her baby, she reminded me, "be easy my baby, Mama".  We still get LOTS of Chinese, but somehow we are communicating pretty easily.  She realized after a few days that we tell each other I love you often, so she tells us "I lub you" a bunch. 

Ava and Lily are the best of friends.  They spend hours playing in their room...play dough, barbies, babies, library, arts and crafts.  We tried to put Ava to bed early one night because she had an early morning appointment.  She couldn't/wouldn't go to sleep without Lily.  Trent and I both tried to get her to sleep...NOPE.  She kept asking for Lily.  As soon as Lily was in bed, Ava was snoring in less than 5 minutes.  They eat with their chairs touching at the kitchen table and watch Barbie movies on the iPad sharing a set of headphones.  It is so sweet to watch!!




Sweet Sisters


Bonding and attachment are going OK.  Ava LOVES her Daddy, she kinda idolizes him.  She adores her JieJie and GuGu.  Mary Ashtyn and Reece have been so good with her.  Ava likes me, but mainly sees me as her caregiver at this point.  She calls for me when it's time to eat or go to the bathroom.  She gives me hugs and kisses, but will choose her Daddy any day of the week if we're both in the same room.  I'm praying a lot and trying not to get my feelings hurt.  Some days, it's hard!  Some days, it's funny and we laugh at how she is smothering Trent.  I know this is all part of adoption and that it will get better.  I'm also happy to say that the other three liked me most from the very beginning :)  I couldn't have handled this more than once!!

Ava gets very quiet and withdrawn when we are out in public.  The few times we've gotten out of the house, she smiles and greets people, but gets clingy to us.  She is so much more comfortable at home with just us, so we aren't getting out much.  If you're local and see us out, please understand that you are not truly seeing the real Ava.  She is in NO way quiet and withdrawn when she is safe and secure at home.  Also understand when we don't stop to talk much, it's easier on Ava. 

From the two doctors we've seen so far, Ava seems to have nerve damage that affects both of her legs.   Neither doctor thinks she has Muscular Dystrophy!!!!  She'll be having an MRI in the next few weeks to determine more.  Both doctors have mentioned hip dislocation and possible surgery...which would mean a body cast.  Since we've been there, done that with Lily, I think Trent and I dreading this even more than last time.  The nerve damage can not be reversed, but she'll start physical therapy to make the most of the function that she does have.  She is a speed demon in her walker and her upper body is so strong, she is not missing out on anything.  Just like Lily, Ava is a determined and sassy little girl that won't be defined by how she ambulates.

Life with two littles who don't walk has not been much different so far.  It takes us longer to get dressed and out of the house, of course.  Getting loaded in and out of the van takes longer, but we're establishing our new routine.  No one warned me that 2 littles so close in age would turn me into the Potty Queen!!!  LOL  If one goes to the restroom, the other is sure to follow.  Most days, I'm running back and forth between both bathrooms checking on them.  It's hilarious, but very tiring!

Overall, I think we're doing great.  Many want to know if Ava smiles all the time...yep, pretty much!  She has not grieved much since we've been home.  She's cried a few times at night, but who wouldn't when you leave everything you know?

As I typed, Ava got off the couch and made her way over to me and climbed in my lap for a quick hug and kiss. I'm reminded again that she's right where she's supposed to be.  God always knew she belonged in my arms, in our family.












Tuesday, July 1, 2014

One Month

One month ago, Ava leapt into our lives.  As we watched one door, she was brought up the back stairs.  We heard someone furiously trying to get into the locked door. About the time we realized it was Ava, the door was opened, she was screaming "MaMa" and jumping into my arms.  It was an amazing Gotcha Day...






Ava's first doll
Sweet girl was terrified
Making it official


We just sat and stared at our beautiful girl

Finally together!!

On our way to the hotel

So very blessed!!!

Family...FOREVER!

It's so hard to believe that a month ago we didn't know Ava.  Today, she is a part of us and we can't imagine life without her. 

Happy One Month, Ava...looking forward to a lifetime of love and laughter!!!




Monday, June 30, 2014

His Plans

Friday, Lily and Ava played outside.  As I pulled into the garage later in the afternoon, this made me smile...



I've thought about this picture a lot over the last few days.  Four short years ago, I had no idea that walkers and wheelchairs would be a part of our everyday life...that they would  be lined up outside my kitchen door after an afternoon of playing outside.  It blows my mind that I pull up and am happy to see my girls' wheels.  There is no sadness or regret, just excitement that Lily and Ava are ours.   

It honestly doesn't bother us that Lily and Ava don't walk.  If there is a cure for Muscular Dystrophy in my girls' lifetime that will restore muscle function, I will be praising Jesus the loudest of anyone.  If that cure doesn't come, I'll still be the one praising Jesus the loudest!  God has given complete peace about our girls.  We didn't bring them home to fix them, just to love them.


Never in a million years did we think our life would lead us to where we are today.  Never in a million years could we imagine our life any differently than it is today!  God knew!! Never in a million years can I praise Him enough for bringing the six of us together.



For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  (Jeremiah 29:11) 


  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Brother's Love

I don't blog about my bigs much, mainly because they are teenagers and I'm forbidden.  Today, I'm sneaking in a post about my Reece.  I've said many times that he has a servant's heart.  He is the first one willing to stop what he's doing and help someone.  He is super aware of other people's feelings and needs.  There is no way to even begin to describe his devotion to his sisters, especially Lily.  He realizes what she misses out on because of her MD, and it breaks his heart.

First time Reece held Lily in China (2011)




Last year at the beach, her little body just couldn't handle much time in the ocean.  Every afternoon, a tide pool would form and he spent hours playing with her.  No one asked him to, his sweet servant's heart chose to spend time helping Lily enjoy her beach time.  These are some of my favorite pictures ever... 








 I'm so proud of my son and the man that he is too quickly becoming.  As I watch him with his sisters, there is no doubt that he will one day be the most caring husband and Daddy (if I ever let him leave me).   Reece would do anything for Lily and I'm sure Ava is realizing he will do the same for her.  She already worships her GuGu and calls out for his help often.

GuGu and Ava on the Pearl River Cruise in Guangzhou...their smiles say it all!


This morning, Reece woke up with a headache.  As I doted on him and gave his some medicine, Ava and Lily noticed.  Lily understood the GuGu was feeling bad and through our gestures and broken English, I helped Ava understand that his head hurt.  As he fixed his breakfast plate and sat down with the littles, the servant became the served.  Watching the girls baby their big brother was one of the sweetest thing I've ever seen.  I'm so glad my camera just happened to be on the kitchen counter, I promise none of these photos were staged...











Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. (Romans 12:10)


Flight delays, delayed homecomings, illness, and surgery just can't steal our joy!  When scenes like this play out at our kitchen table, there is no doubt that God knew exactly what He was doing when He brought us all together!!