Sunday, November 30, 2014

Birthday Girl!!

Last year, we sent Ava a birthday cake and gift.  My heart ached when we got the pictures of her on her birthday.  Her little lips were chapped and she was serving the cake to her friends.  I wanted to put chapstick on those lips and cut her cake for her.  I wanted to so badly for her to be HOME.

What a difference a year makes!!  Six months of love and family.  It is such a blessing to watch Ava become just what God intended...a cherished daughter, His and ours!!

 Happy Birthday, sweet Ava!!!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Three Years

November 28, 2011...three years ago, the four of us sat in a hotel lobby in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia anxiously watching for our first glimpse of our little Lily.

The little girl that we had loved since that first video we saw in March was finally ours!!
If you've never read about Lily's Gotcha Day, CLICK HERE

God's plan for our family always included Lily.  Three years of loving her have been an absolute joy. Lily has taught us to savor every minute of life and take nothing for granted.  God used this tiny girl and her weak little muscles to change our lives in the most extraordinary ways.  Three years of learning to live with a progressive muscle disease,contractures, wheelchairs, surgeries and tears...three years of love, laughter, faith, hope, joy, and peace.  The only thing that I would change would be finding her sooner and loving her longer.  

Happy Gotcha Day, to the strongest little girl I will ever know...we are so glad that you are ours!!

Three years on November 28, 2011, as Lily joined our family, another sweet little girl turned 7 years old in an orphanage in Ningbo, China.  Three years ago, we had no idea that God would send us back to China to bring our Ava HOME.  Tomorrow, Ava will turn 10 years old and will have her first birthday celebration.  We'll spend the day celebrating our littles and praising God for making them ours.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Sometimes, I'm so tired I can't see straight.  Four kids is a full time job and I HAVE a full time job outside of our home, too.  Days like today, I am stretched so many ways... I'm not sure I can get it all done.  The bigs are on different ends of the county at majorette and football practice.  The littles get home and need to change clothes, snack, potty, and do homework.  For Lily and Ava, all of these things require a lot of assistance.  By the time we finish, it's time to go pick up Mary Ashtyn from practice while Trent waits for Reece to finish.   When the boys get home, it's time to eat, get baths, and go to bed.  Oh, yeah...there are grocery store trips and cooking somewhere in this hectic schedule.

Tonight, we had pizza rolls and I just started the first load of laundry.  I. am. so. tired!  I am not complaining, just stating a fact.  As busy as we are, I am thankful beyond words for my little (well, big) family.  As I drove home from church last night, I listened to all four of the kids laugh and joke with each other.  There is no doubt that these are the best times of my life.  My body is dragging, but my heart is so full.

After the littles finished homework this afternoon, Lily asked to snuggle in my lap and watch TV.  Ava quickly noticed and asked me to "holda" her too.  After we got situated, I wrapped an arm around each of them and they laid their heads against mine.  We sat that way for about an hour.  For this weary Mama, it was just what I needed to recharge and refocus.

 (Sorry for the pitiful selfie...just one of those moments I want to remember)
 He gives strength to the weary...  (Isaiah 40:29)

My strength definitely comes from the Lord!  My sweet miracles wear me out, but I know God gave us the four of them for specific purposes and I wouldn't change one second of our life. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Great Day!!

The blog is way behind, but with four kids...I'm barely finding time to do laundry!    Blogging has been on the back burner.  Ava has been home for 3 months and we are finding our new normal.  It's been an adjustment, but she is thriving and amazes us every day with how she is embracing family life.  Tonight, I have to share quickly about our day.

On July 24, we went to our first orthopedic appointment.  After x-rays of Ava's hips and an examination, we got some surprising news.  Ava's doctor did not want her to use her walker due to some issues with her hips that were caused by the difference in her leg length and the way she favored one leg and hip to balance.  It was explained to us that her best option would be a manual wheelchair that she could propel herself.  We left a little shocked since we have watched Ava zoom around using the walker so well.  We were not devastated, just surprised...still trusting God's plan.

Trent and I decided to look at more options and made an appointment at Shriner's in South Carolina. That appointment was today.  After reviewing all of Ava's medical tests, another doctor shocked us once again...wheelchair??  NO!  Braces, shoe lifts, and forearm crutches.  He agreed that she is much too strong to not try to give her more mobility.  Ava went from no independence, to this...

We left the hospital with this lightweight walker!!!

Ava did great using the walker and we are all thrilled!  The rehab department also loaned us a wheelchair that is just Ava's size that she can roll herself.  She was backing up and turning like a pro in just a few minutes.  In the next few weeks, we will begin casting her smaller leg to help with the contracture at her knee level.  Then, she'll be fitted for KAFOs (knee ankle foot orthotics) and will start some physical therapy to use the forearm crutches.  She will also be fitted for a manual wheelchair for long distances.

It was a really great day!!  I love giving God control and letting Him lead us right where we need to be!


Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
(Philippians 4:6)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

15 Years

Fifteen years ago, a young couple sat in a hot, airless room waiting.  Waiting after 5 years of hopelessness, wanting, and praying...waiting on a dream to come true.  That dream was a seven month old, 12 pound baby girl.  As the curtain hanging in front of the orphanage door parted and that tiny baby was brought into the room, everything was right in the world.  That sweet baby was held by a brand new Mama who was scared to death.  I was that Mama and my Mary Ashtyn was that tiny baby.  As I took her from her nanny, her little lip started to quiver and I locked eyes with her and told her not to cry because I had waited on her for so long.  She put her tiny hand it in my mouth and gave me the sweetest little smirk I've ever seen.  I sobbed as I held my sweet daughter...finally a Mama!!!

Prayers were answered and our dreams came true in that Russian orphanage!!

I still remember sharing with our social worker all the reasons I wanted to be a mother to a little girl.  Not just the cute baby clothes and toddler years but shopping together, first boyfriends, first dances, tryouts, watching her grow up loving Jesus.  Oh, my Mary really did make all my dreams come true!!  I am blessed by the miracle that you are!  God answered my prayers when He gave us you.  

My Granny, Mary Frances Baker Scott, with her name sake.

You made us parents, you made our dreams come true, you made us want more...

For this child I prayed and the Lord has granted me the desires of my heart!  (1 Samuel 1:27)

Happy Gotcha Day, Mary Ashtyn!!! 

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...



Mash posing 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!!!


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 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.