Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Pics

Sassy girl showing off her new outfit and purse.

Yes, I think Santa is crazy sometimes, but they love it!

Modeling their new hats.

Christmas Eve night with their cousin, Hunter at Mamaw's house.  Can you tell Bella is exhausted?

Christmas morning.  The boys are ready to attack the presents, but Bella is not so sure.

Cutie Pie!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Christmas picture.

Spoons full of icing ... their reward for a job well done on their gingerbread house.

Silly Faces


Bella decorating her gingerbread man.

Our Christmas Letter:

Merry Christmas! We hope this letter finds everyone healthy and doing well. We have had a very blessed 2009 and pray 2010 will be just as wonderful.

Keenan started to learn to ski this last January and February. We think he will really take off this winter. He can’t wait to hit the slopes this year. Aidan continues to be more daring taking on black diamond slopes that his mommy won’t even touch. This will be his 4th year skiing.

Michael and I celebrated our 10th year anniversary in May. Ten years already? Really? Doesn’t seem possible. They have been 10 wonderful years and we look forward to spending many many more decades together.

In March of this year we got the phone call we did not expect to receive for a couple more years. We were matched with a beautiful 3 year old girl in China. We learned her name and saw her precious face for the first time on March 30th. We could not believe we had been matched. Last fall we completed paperwork stating we would accept a special needs child. In February we increased the age of the child we would accept to be 3 ½, so she would be younger than Keenan. So this year has been very busy. We prepared our home and traveled to meet Isabella and brought her home in August. Our journey to China and to Isabella was an experience of a lifetime. God made it very clear to us that he had hand picked her for our family. We are so thankful.

Isabella was born with a cleft lip/palate and a heart defect. Her heart and lip were repaired in China and her palate was recently repaired here at Cincinnati Children’s hospital. Aidan adores Bella and Keenan and her have become a lot closer, although there is still quite a bit of competition between them.

God provided Bella with a wonderful foster family to live with for 20 months prior to us meeting her. We are so thankful and believe they saved her life and gave her a chance. She was not thriving in the orphanage and had been quite ill when they got her.

Aidan celebrated his 7th birthday and Keenan celebrated his 4th birthday this year. Aidan is in first grade and is doing very well. He is enjoying reading and loves art, music and gym. Keenan and Bella started a new preschool in November and they both love it so far. The preschool has a gym and that seems to be Keenan’s highlight of the day. Bella enjoys painting and singing songs.

After a one year temporary period, Michael was given his permanent contract with State Farm in October. He continues to love working with and helping people with their needs.

Aidan has tested and received his red belt in Tae Kwon Do. To our surprise, Keenan decided he wanted to join class one day and has also been taking Tae Kwon Do. Aidan and Keenan also played Upwards soccer this fall. Keenan did a great job running up and down the field. We really aren’t sure if he knew he was supposed to try to kick the ball, but very funny to watch.

Isabella has been doing great since she has been home. She has been through a lot of medical appointments (which she hates!) and she is starting occupational and speech therapy. She loves Dora, loves wrestling with her brothers, loves musical toys, loves swimming in our pool and loves to go places.

May you and your family enjoy time together this Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our lord and savior.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wordless Wednesday ... almost

Bella playing peek-a-boo with her cousin Megan.
Serious little Indian.

The guys ... posing while hanging Christmas lights.

Keenan trying to escape the cold
Aidan doing his job testing the lights.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

At Home

We just got home a short while ago. Ice cream finally won Bella over and once we got her to eat that she was allowed to come home. Above are some of the better pictures we took during our stay at the hospital. The last one is from this morning. She is starting to look back to normal. She was so swollen, but this morning we saw a huge difference. She is still in pain and is very careful about drinking or eating anything, but little by little she is letting us give her sips to drink and things to eat like pudding and jello.
Today was the hardest day to be at the hospital because physically she was feeling more like herself, but she couldn't get out of bed and walk around because the IV was her in her foot. We took her to the playroom and that made her happy for awhile. All day she pointed to the door and waved bye bye. She wanted to leave so bad, but she did not understand she needed to drink before she was allowed to leave.
As long as we have been by her side, we have let her keep the arm cuffs off. One reason is that she does not put her hands in her mouth normally and two because she HATES them. We make her sleep with them on and will make her have them on while she is playing on her own and running around with the boys. The trick right now is keeping snacks and food out of her reach because she wants to eat normal food, but is not allowed.
Our experience with Children's Hospital was amazing and we know she was in great hands. We also know that she has been lifted up in prayer all along and we are very grateful.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Bella is out of surgery and resting. She has slept most of the day, which has been good. She was in surgery a little over 2 hours. The doctor met with us while Bella was moved to the recovery room. He said her cleft was one of the widest separations he has ever seen and that it was a difficult surgery. He said her palate is only 1/8 of an inch thick in some places and in others it is only 1/32 of an inch thick. We have to be very careful about how she eats or drinks for 2 weeks. She also has to wear arm cuffs for 1 week while she recovers. Because there was not much material, the palate does not reach completely to the sides of her mouth. The doctor explained that the gaps will fill in over time.
I don't want to go into all of the details, but right now Bella's tongue is stitched and pulled to the side of her mouth which is making it hard for her to swallow. They will pull the stitches out tomorrow morning.
When she got to the hospital this morning, she tried to put her jacket back on and started waving bye to all of the nurses. She remembered and did not want to stay.
She may or may not go home tomorrow. Thanks for all your prayers and well wishes. Will post updates soon.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Surgery Tomorrow

Please pray for Bella tomorrow. After waiting almost 4 years, she is finally going to have a palate. We have heard only wonderful things about the doctor and team that will be operating on her. We have to be at the hospital very early and know that she will spend at least one night there. We expect it to be a rough go for a few days and we expect her to fight the arm cuffs that she will have to keep on her arms for a week, but we know it will be worth it in the end.

We will post updates when we can!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

October Wrap Up

During Aidan's fall break a couple of weeks ago, we went to the Smoky Mountains for a long weekend and rented a cabin with Michael's parents. We had a fabulous time and the mountains were just beautiful. God had painted the trees with a million different beautiful colors. This was our first vacation as a family of 5 and Bella loved every minute of it. We introduced her to all of our favorite places to go and eat. One thing we have learned about Bella is that she LOVES syrup. She will dip anything into syrup. If you ever have seen the movie "Elf", that is who she reminds us of. She had sausage, potatoes and green beans the other night. Everything got dipped. We figure we can get her to eat anything as long as syrup is on her plate. Sooo, she loved the pancake house in Gatlinburg and ate 2 HUGE pancakes.
Here are some pictures from our trip ...

We hiked, went on the alpine slide, raced cars and ate lots of yummy food. We got to see three bear cubs up in a tree. Bella loves to ride rides. She squeeled continuously while on them. The boys raced cars by themselves for the first time this year. They are both very competitive ... not sure where they get that (wink wink).

We have also had some fun days at home. Keenan, Bella and I got to play in the leaves in our backyard the other day. Keenan was all about jumping into the pile, but Bella looked at him like he was crazy. I ended up lifting her up and putting her in them. She cooperated for a couple of pictures, but then she was done with them.
I have also found out I have 3 painters. This was the first time I let Bella paint and by the time she was finished, she was a mess! I ended up taking her clothes off and at some point, she had her whole body in the paint. Needless to say, she got to take a bath - another favorite activity for her.

And last night she got to experience trick or treating. Let's just say she was not a happy bumblebee at first, but then got into the hang of it. Aidan was Indiana Jones. Keenan was the new and improved G.I. Joe. They had a great time. After trick or treating was over, we went to some friends for a little party. Everyone slept in this morning since we had an extra hour before church- yay!
Please pray for me this week. I have been working from home since we returned from China, but I go back to my regular schedule at the office this week. This is going to be not only a transition for Bella, but for me and Keenan as well. Bella and Keenan will be starting a new preschool/daycare for the 3 days that I work this week. We had to say goodbye to the preschool that Keenan has gone to for the last 2 years and that Aidan went to before that. It was such a hard decision to make because we loved it there, but feel that this new school along with some state run programs that Bella should be able to receive will be best for her. So please pray for all of the transitions and changes that we will be facing this week.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Post Hernia Surgery

Bella did great during and after her surgery yesterday. She is groggy and kind of out of it still today, but she does not seem to be uncomfortable or sore. The dr was able to do the surgery laproscopically and went it through her belly button. She only has 2 other little incisions. Thank you for all of your prayers and support!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Parade of Pictures

All 3 kiddos on a beautiful fall day!

The sun was in their eyes, but I still think it is a cute picture.Getting ready to get her first haircut since being home. She really didn't care for it too much.

Afterwards ... can see her beautiful eyes again.
Bella brushing her hair after I curled it.

Bella let me curl her hair before we went for a girl's night - jewelry party.

Please pray for Bella tomorrow. She is having her hernia surgery. We are told the recovery should be fast, so we are hoping they are right.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Good Week

It is amazing how short my memory is ... good thing I take pictures to help remind me what we have done! Isabella had her echocardiogram on Friday. They had to sedate her and when she came to, she was NOT happy! Michael got to spend some quality one on one time with her (haha). We think everything went fine and Michael said he could see where they had put sutures in her heart. We will talk to the cardiologist about the results sometime this week. The funniest thing about the experience for us is that the entire day she was like a drunk monkey. She would try to stand up, only to wobble around and fall. She thought it was funny too ... and it was!
I went with Keenan's preschool class on Wednesday to the zoo. He has needed some much one on one time with mommy and I have needed the same with him. Bella went and spent the day with Mamaw and had a great time. Keenan and I had a great time also and he thought it was so much fun that I got to sit with him on the bus. The Cincinnati Zoo is really beautiful and it was a chilly fall day, which meant the animals were more active.

One of Bella's favorite things to do is to take her clothes off. She loves to be nude. She squeals with delight. So as the weather gets cooler, it should be interesting to try to keep her clothes on. Here is a picture of my ninjas ... all three of them. Bella just loves doing whatever her brothers are doing and as you can see, she is wearing as little as possible.

I am having trouble finding pants that fit her. If they fit her waist, then they are too short. If they are the right length, then they fall down around her ankles. So we are trying everything from pinning the waistband to doubling the waistband over. Here is a picture of her in the only pair of jeans that sort of fit her and her new girly pink boots.

We had a church picnic on Sunday. It was fun and the kids had a ball. We went on a hayride and the kids played in a big jump house. Bella passed out as soon as she was in her carseat. The boys never did fall asleep and I am not sure how they didn't. I get tired just watching them play.

As I re-read this post, I see that I really don't have any updates about Aidan. So here it goes ... If you don't know, Aidan is very sensitive and does not like to get in trouble (except he doesn't even seem to notice when I am getting after him - selective hearing I guess). Well, as I met the bus on Friday, I could tell something was wrong immediately. You see, Aidan got off the bus looking as if he just lost his best friend ... head down, shoulders slumped, only looked up at me when he needed to with huge sad eyes. I asked him what was wrong. He told me his folder had got written in because he was playing with a toy during class when he wasn't supposed to. I didn't get upset, I didn't even raise my voice. I just told him that if it happens again, that he would not be allowed to take toys to school anymore to play with at recess. I thought that was it, no big deal. Well, as soon as he came in the house and saw Michael, he just burst into tears. Such a sweet little guy who is growing up so fast right before my eyes. Can't believe he only weighed 4 lbs 10 ounces when he was born and now is in 1st grade.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Surgeries Scheduled!!!

Bella had her apppointment with the cranio-facial team this past Friday. We thought it would be an evaluation by multiple doctors (and it was!), but what we did not expect is to walk out of the appointment with a date for her palate surgery! She will finally have her palate repair surgery on November 10th! This is so quick and we fully expected to have to wait until after the first of the year. We know this surgery will be very difficult, but we also know that she needs it and don't want to wait any longer. She will also have some dental surgery done during this time. The funny thing (at least we think it is funny since she has had so many other issues) is that she will not need ear tubes put in. The ENT said in about 98% of palate kids, tubes are needed. Wouldn't you know ... she is in the 2% for that area. He said her ears look perfect.

She is still scheduled for her hernia repair surgery for October 20th. We are currently going through all of the pre-op appointments for that. She also had her 1 month follow up appointment with the International Adoption Clinic. She has gained 1 pound and grown 1 cm. That is a lot for such a little thing!

Moving on past medical news ... We went to the local fair this past week. Aidan and Keenan loved the rides and Bella loved going on the Merry-Go-Round. Here is a picture of her with my mom.

There was a little rollercoaster there that Keenan just had to go on. As soon as it took off his eyes got as big as saucers. We was so ready to get off! Here he is looking happier on one of those spin rides.

Here is another one of the boys looking pretty darn cute.

The Budweiser Clydesdale horses were also there. They are so big and beautiful! God really knew what he was doing when he made them. Keenan looked so small next to them.

Here is Bella and Papaw. She is happy, but it is probably because she can't see the Bengals hat that is on her. You know, since she is a Colts fan and all (ha-ha).

Aidan also tested for his red belt in Tae Kwon Do on Friday. He did great on all of his forms and broke the board with a roundhouse kick (his favorite kick).

Here you can see the board is broken.

Please continue to pray for Bella and us as we prepare for a couple of surgeries within a short amount of time between each other.