Friday, July 22, 2011

Part 1: Father's Day

"And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers."  Malachi 4:6

I know it has been over a month since Father's Day, but I still want to share some pictures with you.  I can't let another year go by without making a Father's Day post, because David is such a good Papa and Hannah loves him so much.  We didn't do anything amazing.  David had been up half the night helping to finish the media presentation for Vacation Bible School; so, he and Hannah slept most of the afternoon.  We had a nice lunch and Hannah gave him a card she made and a simple gift, but it was a sweet family time.  On Monday, we went and had all-you-can-eat pizza for lunch with Grandie and Grammy so that we could honor him as well because Hannah adores him too.  I have to admit that I had a few tears as I thought of my own father and how I wish that Hannah could meet her granddaddy, but we'll have to be content with photos for now, and look forward to a special introduction in heaven.  They would have loved each other a lot. 
Thank You, God, for Papa, Grandie and Granddaddy.  They are each wonderful, godly men and we are glad that you put them in our lives.

Here she is in these two pictures giving him her gifts.  First there was the gift bag holding chocolate...

...then, there was the "I love you!" kiss.

Here they are wearing their "Hannah's Papa" and "Papa's Hannah" T-shirts. 
(Thank you to Cindy Betsill who made them for us!)

Part 2:  What's in a Name?

That is all about Father's Day; so, if you want to stop here, it's okay.  We have been asked from time to time what Hannah calls us and why; so, I thought I'd write a little explanation.  That is not an easy question to answer because it continues to evolve.  Before we brought her home, David decided that he wanted her to call him Papa partly because it sounds more like Baba, the Chinese word for Daddy, and partly because he just likes it. (I like it because it reminds me of the time we spent getting to know each other through hundreds of emails while I was living in China.  We couldn't use the name God, and Father seemed to formal; so, we used Papa to refer to God.)  We started teaching Hannah to use Papa as soon as she joined our family, but for a very long time, she continued to called him Baba. She called me Mama, which is the same in English and Chinese for a long time too.  Then she began to hear other children use the words Daddy and Mommy; so, she began to experiment with using them.  Sometimes we were Mama and Baba or Mama and Papa; sometimes we were Mommy and Daddy.  Then, one day she tried to call David Poppy.  It makes sense if you think about it. If Mama can be Mommy, why can't Papa be Poppy?  I thought it was funny, but Papa didn't seem to feel comfortable being called Poppy; so, he nipped that in the bud really fast.  She didn't seem to be too sad about it when we explained to her that a poppy is a flower.  Now she some times calls us Moms and Dads. ( I love it when she says, "Thanks Moms!)  We're never quite sure what she is going to call us, but we're not really picky (except for the Poppy thing).  We just like having her call on us.

In honor of Father's Day, I wanted to show a few special pictures of
Hannah and her Papa taken over the past year. 

They like to read together.  Here they are reading the paper shortly after Hannah came home. 
Now they prefer to read books together.

They watched and cheered for Auburn football together.  War Eagle!

They enjoyed playing in the snow.

They played the piano together. 

They flew kites.

And they just enjoy playing and laughing together.

We love you Papa!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Duchess!

Duchess our Schnoodle was six years old yesterday; so, Hannah and I had fun baking and decorating a cake for the occasion.  She (Hannah, not the dog) likes helping in the kitchen and enjoyed "making a mess" as she called it.  The more flour that fell on the floor, the better she liked it.

When I took Hannah's picture with the finished cake, I said, "Smile."  She gave a big smile and said the cake was smiling too. 

I do think it was smiling. 

Especially considering its rough start.  (It crusted over too soon, and, like a volcano, burst open oosing batter out the side.)  There was nothing wrong with the taste, however.

Hannah and Duchess' relationship has grown quite a bit over the past year.  The first day we were all home together,  Duchess curiously investigated Hannah while Hannah screamed.  For weeks after that, Hannah would look at us and point to the dog as if to say, "Don't you know that thing is in the house?"  She eventually accepted that the dog was a part of the environment, but tried to keep her distance.  Here are a couple of pictures from our first month home.  Hannah had put on her red, squeaky Chinese shoes and poudly began prancing suqeakily through the house.  Duchess assumed that Hannah had a new squeaky toy and came ready to chase it wherever it went.  Hannah screamed and tried to get away, but wherever she went, the dog followed with great intensity.  Hannah didn't think it was funny (but it really was :).  We finally put the shoes away for a along time. 

Except for a little sibling rivalry, they get along quite well now.  Hannah helps feed Duchess every day and when we go off, she says things like, "Let's go home and see Duchess."  There is a little jealousy occasionally when she realizes that Duchess is sitting in Mama or Papa's lap.  Then Hannah says, "I want to sit THERE."  We tell her that she has to take turns with Duchess for two reasons.  First, Duchess deserves to have some lap time too, and Hannah needs to practice sharing before her future brother or sister comes home.  Eventually I guess she will accept her human siblings just as well as she has Duchess. 

We love you Duchess and hope you have many more birthdays to come!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Very Special Visit

We recently had a visit from a very special little guest.  If you have been following our blog since we were matched with Hannah, you may remember seeing the first picture below in a post we made on April 21, 2010.  

This is a picture of Hannah with her friend Kerry.  Right after we were first matched with Hannah, we joined a Yahoo group for families that have adopted from the orphanage where Hannah spent her first two years, and through this group, we connected with a family that had already adopted Kerry from that same orphanage.  They had sent a disposable camera to the orphanage in early 2009 and the nannies took pictures that included Kerry and Hannah when they were about a year old.  The pictures seemed to show that Kerry and Hannah had been really close friends.  Kerry came to live with her new family in June of 2009; so, she and Hannah had not seen each other for almost two years.  After months of trying to arrange a reunion, Kerry and Hannah got to meet again a few weeks ago as Kerry was traveling through Atlanta with her Mom and grandmother.  We had a great time visiting with all three of them. 

I cannot express to you how blessed we feel to know Kerry and her family.  When Hannah became a part of our family, she had to leave behind everything she had known the first two years of her life.  Her country of birth, her language, her home at the orphanage, her caretakers, and her friends.  We're so glad that Hannah now can keep a connection with Kerry and three other little girls we know from the orphanage.  The book of James says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above," and we believe this is a special gift from God for these girls.
Do they really remember each other?  After all, they were only a year old the last time they saw each other.  I can't say for sure, but I can say that Hannah intereacted with her in a way I haven't seen her interact with other children she meets for the first time.  That night after playing for several hours, Hannah told me, "I want to put it there."  When I asked her what she wanted to put where, she said, "I want to put my bed there" (beside Kerry's bed).  Does she remember that she used to have a bed near Kerry's bed?  I don't know, but I'm really glad that they have a chance know each other and become friends now. 

As you can see from the pictures, they had a really good time playing together. 

They stayed up later playing with each other the first night...

And continued playing and having fun the next day.

There was a lot of laughing,

a lot of sharing,

and a lot of fun!

Getting ready for a good-bye hug.

Thank you for coming to see us, Kerry.  Thank you for bringing your mama and grandma with you.  We had a great time and hope that you'll come back again.  We hope this will be the first of many reunions.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

At the Petting Zoo

Today we visited a petting zoo at our church.  We had a really fun time.  We had some indoor activities before visiting with the animals.  First we made dirt with chocolate pudding and oreos.  Hannah chose not eat dirt, but she did eat the oreo middle.  She tried her first gummy worm...

And decided she'd rather give it back!

Then, she made a pig.  Oink!

Then she got her face painted.  Who is that cute little puppy?  
She looks like Duchess our schnoodle.

Then, we finally got to go outside where we received a warm welcome.

We got to feed the goats.

... and pet the rabbits. 
There were also roosters, chickens, ducks, sheep, a pig named Porky, and a horse named Scooter.

We were having a really good time until Hannah saw a rooster peck on my leg.  Although I explained to her that it he probably did it because he was scared and that it hadn't hurt me at all, Hannah was done.  She was ready to go.

The rooster.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy Birthday Hannah! (Continued)

We started telling you about Hannah's birthday in the last post, but the celebration didn't end there.  This was our first birthday with Hannah; so, we wanted it to be special.  Circumstances didn't allow us to do one big party; so, we celebrated several times over the whole month.  Our friend Linda Bidez always says that you shouldn’t just celebrate your birthday for only a day, you should celebrate for the whole month!  Hannah came close to doing just that.  It has been a special time for a special little girl who is a special gift from God to brighten our lives with smiles and laughter and fill our hearts with love and joy.   It has been a joy to watch Hannah grow over the past year.  We know that she is fearfully and wonderfully made and that all the days ordained for her were written in God's book before one of them came to be.  We thank God for her life and for ordaining that she should spend her days and years with us.

Here are some of the hightlights of the month with photos.

Below is a picture of Hannah opening her gift from Grandma.  It was a big hit with a cute dress and a “Pollybook,” Hannah’s name for Polly Pocket.  (I guess she is associating it with the word pocketbook?) 

On May 30, which was also the first anniversary of Gotcha Day, we celebrated with David’s family, and had some of Hannah’s favorite foods: hamburgers, chips, and cup cakes! Thanks Papa and Grandy for grilling the hamburgers. When I had asked Hannah what kind of cake she wanted, she was very specific: chocolate cupcakes with flowers on them in the colors of yellow, pink, and green with sprinkles on top. Circumstances did not allow Mama to have time to make them; so, Lisa Watson made them for us, and they were beautiful and delicious. Thank you Lisa! They were perfect and you are an angel. As usual, Hannah said, “I just want to eat the frosting,” and so she did. She was adventurous and tried eating ice cream, but decided that she still doesn’t like it. It’s too cold, and it had “things” in it. (We personally really like having chunks of chocolate in our ice cream, but it was too much for Hannah.)

Hannah enjoyed opening all of her gifts. Here she is sitting in her new rocking chair holding her new “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See” book and wearing her new pink squeaky shoes. She has enjoyed them and the other items she got, but nothing has pleased her more than the squeaky shoes. She would wear them everywhere if we let her. Papa let her wear them to church one Wednesday night, but Mama drew the line there so that Hannah’s teachers don’t go crazy. Thank you Tammy and Jim for going to so much trouble to find them and bring them home from China!

Duchess enjoyed the birthday too. She got to chase and shred balls of wrapping paper. (You can see her in the background in the picture below.)  She also had great fun stalking Hannah’s shoes because she thinks that anything that squeaks must be her toy.  Hannah doesn't really like it though.

Finally, Aunt Hazel, Aunt Harriet and Cousin Jodi came to visit and bring more gifts. We often hear the book singing off in another room as Hannah “reads” it, and she loves dressing the dolls over and over. Since Hannah still likes dressing up, she enjoys wearing the lady bug dress Aunt Hazel gave her (which is pictured below).

A few days after this, Hannah got a package in the mail from her friend Maya Lulu.  Maya and Hannah were freinds and lived in the same room in the orphanage in China.  Now she lives with her new family in Michigan.  Thank you, Maya, for the Olivia doll and a Forever Friends Olivia T-shirt!

What a great birthday month!  Thank you to everyone who made it such a special time for Hannah!