Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Just One...

In just ONE day, my husband will return from his deployment!  What a sweet homecoming it will be.  If you are a military spouse, you are likely familiar with the incredible sense of relief that floods your heart when you SEE your spouse safe and sound, right there in front of you, hugging your children. 

We are no strangers to deployment.  There have been many goodbyes and hellos over the past ten years, so much time spent apart:





I could go on and on posting photos - so many memories associated with them - but in the interest of time I will jump ahead to 2010.  That was the last time I waited anxiously at the Honolulu Airport, scanning the crowd for a man in uniform, then watching my sweet little girl jump into her daddy's arms for the first time in months.

And tomorrow, we get to do it again!

My daughter doesn't even know that she is going to see her dad tomorrow.  Since he is coming home three weeks earlier than anticipated, I decided to surprise her!

I think she'll be overjoyed, don't you?  :)

And if that weren't enough cause for celebration, in just ONE week we will be on our way to see our new daughter!

Not much longer sweet child, til I see you again.

I don't think I'll be able to sleep tonight - too much to be excited about!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Adoption Shower!

Two of my very gracious friends hosted an adoption shower for Isabella today.  I thought it was really wonderful and was overcome with emotion (in a good way) more than once.  Everyone who attended seemed genuinely interested in learning more about our girl, and about the plight of special needs orphans in general.  It was a great time of sharing and gave me a jolt of much-needed confidence about the trip we will soon embark on.  I left feeling that Isabella is already loved and supported by many friends who are eagerly anticipating her arrival!

When I came home I was so excited about putting her new things in her room that I immediately started emptying gift bags.  Then I decided to stop and snap a few pictures.  I want Isabella to some day be able to read this blog and to SEE how many people cared about her, even as she lay in her bed each day, completely unaware that her family was coming. 

Just some of the many gifts Isabella was blessed with today.  I wish I had photos of the people who gave them to us - I took my camera to the shower but didn't take a single picture!

You may have read my first post about Isabella, entitled A Blue Sun.  Amy and Suzy, my friends who hosted the shower, made cupcakes with little blue suns and hung decorative blue paper suns!  So thoughtful. 

Dresser drawers are now stocked with the basics - cute camisoles and underwear in different sizes...

...a mix of new clothing and lovingly passed along hand-me-downs.

Everything she needs for a nice comfy sleeping space - a plush pink blanket, a soft stuffed animal, and a small quilt that my friend Michelle made by hand.  It has gorgeous Hawaiian-themed fabrics and I love it (even more so because it was made with her hands!).  I will always cherish it.

Books to read, tools to teach with, music to listen to, and her own Bible.  

Isabella is even ready for her first trip to the beach :)

She now has an awesome high-chair that is perfect for eating meals with our family, as well as a new car seat.  Another friend dropped off a bean bag so she can lounge in the living room with us until she is healthy enough to sit up.  I feel so incredibly blessed tonight - I just hope I can find the words to adequately convey to everyone who has supported us how much this means to my family.  We LOVE the gifts, we NEED the gifts, they help so much.  We are very grateful.  But what we REALLY love and need and treasure more than anything else are the friendships, the prayers, and the enthusiasm of those around us!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sharing Sunday: Not An Ordinary Day!

I like this photo for three reasons:  Isabella has toys to play with, a friend to share with, and laughter to fill the room with!  What a treat for her.  Thank you to my friend N for the photo - you are such a special person to us and to Isabella, and I am so grateful for the mission work you do. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Long Story: Part Two

In an earlier post, I wrote about the process of having my eyes and heart opened to special needs orphans.  So what to do now that my ideas about adoption had been molded and shaped into something that hardly resembled my decade-old vision of bringing home a healthy infant?

For the first time, I was open the possibility of adopting an older special needs child.  Both my husband and I still had some soul-searching to do though; lots of late-night talks to discern whether this was something we could do, something we wanted to do.  His concerns were different from mine, but it was obvious that we both needed more time to consider this kind of life-changing decision.  I felt that adoption may only be in our distant future at that point, but I still wanted to find a way to be involved with orphan care in Eastern Europe.  I decided that the best option was to participate in some kind of medical mission trip. 

That was last November, and just as I began to seriously plan to participate in a short-term summer trip, my husband came home with news that he would be deployed again.  I would not be able to take my trip after all -  I would be spending several months as a single parent while he was in Afghanistan.  I was very disappointed but there was really nothing I could do about it.

Meanwhile, the military was also shaking up the plans that my friend Lora and her husband Dean had made.  They were getting ready to travel to Eastern Europe to adopt a five year old little girl with cerebral palsy named "Vi".  Just before their travel date, Dean learned that the military would only allow him to accompany Lora to Vi's country for the first trip, where they would accept their referral and spend several days visiting her.  For the second trip - the one in which court, the waiting period, the paper chase, gotcha day, and bringing Vi home occur - Lora would be on her own.

I felt that just as the door closed on the possibility of a summer trip for me, a window opened elsewhere.  I had an opportunity to help my friend and be a part of a very special journey.  Lora and I talked, and it was decided that I would fly over during her second trip to Vi's country and help her get her daughter home.  I was thrilled, and so grateful to Lora for allowing me to be there.  

Lora's friend Jane (a tireless advocate for Vi and other children) would also meet her in country for part of the trip.  Lora would not be on her own after all!  Now anyone who knows this woman understands that she would have been absolutely capable of getting her girl home all by herself, but why should she have to?  God orchestrated the details of her adoption perfectly, and in the process He used this experience to break the hearts of Jane and I in ways that I wonder if either of us imagined beforehand.    

**By the way, if you don't already follow Jane's blog, please go HERE and check it out.  She is doing amazing things for special needs children at one particular orphanage in Eastern Europe**

Beautiful Vi (aka "Francine" on Reece's Rainbow)

Vi meeting her Mama and Papa!

I flew out of Honolulu late one Friday night.  Saying goodbye to my children was one of the hardest things I've ever done.  I love to travel - I spent five years living in Europe.  I was excited to go help Lora.  I knew I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, and that gave me some peace.  But it was still so hard for me to leave my own babies.

I put our 22 month old little boy to bed first.  To him, it surely felt like any other night.  The bedtime routine was exactly the same.  He was happy - laughing, asking for books, doing his roaring dinosaur imitation.  Not me - I was fighting back the tears.  Sitting in the dark, holding him in the rocking chair, my voice cracked and I had to pause several times as I sang his nighttime song to him.  After I closed his door, I stood in the hallway and let the tears flow.  I composed myself, but when it was time to say goodnight to my five year old a little later, the tears started flowing again.

 I stuck a small photo album in my carry-on bag, where it stayed untouched for three days.   I would get a huge lump in my throat if I even thought about pulling it out to look at those sweet little faces. 

My friend Suzy drove me to the airport and as we crossed the island on our way to town we talked about the trip, little Vi, God, and my struggle with leaving my children.  Before we said goodbye, she gave me a beautiful card - she'd written some verses from Isaiah 58 in it.  I would pull that card out and read it several times during my trip:  on the plane, late at night in the apartment, and after going to the orphanages.

Twenty-seven hours and over 7000 miles later, I stepped off the plane in Eastern Europe.  There was not a jetway, and as I walked down the plane stairs I remember thinking that it wasn't quite as cold as I'd expected.  That was a good thing for me, because after spending the last three years in Hawaii I've become a real wimp!  I remember that afternoon very well - standing in the short customs line listening to Russian being spoken in front of me, thinking about how I wish I'd worn a different pair of boots because these were killing my feet.  What I wasn't thinking about - what I had no idea about that day as I walked out to greet Lora - was that I would soon be meeting my future daughter as well.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Last weekend I went to Kualoa Beach Park with two of my dear friends, and we took a whole mess of kids with us :)

The gaggle, minus two grown-ups and two babies.

The big girls explored the beach, hunting for shells and other treasures, while the little ones had a great time splashing in the water.  It was such a beautiful day - warm sunshine and a perfectly calm sea.  We played, we ate a picnic dinner, we played some more. 

I love this photo of the little ones - it looks like they are all peering out at Chinaman's Hat Island, pondering something really important (they were probably just watching the pigeons!).

 My beautiful girl, getting in one last swim as the sun goes down.

 What a fun afternoon - sure hope we get to do it again soon!

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Girls' Room!

I'm excited that I've finished transforming my girl's bedroom into my girls' bedroom!  We didn't do a whole lot - it actually looks very similar to the way it did before.  The walls, floor, toys, and bed are unchanged, but I'm still really happy with the end result:

We decided to keep the Ikea bed for now, until we get Isabella healthy and settled here.  Then we'll reassess to see what will best fit the girls' needs.  

They each have their own new dresser, and there is plenty of empty space on the bookshelf for Isabella to add her artwork and new things.  

Rainbows and castles on the walls for my two princesses :)

 The newly-divided closet is probably my favorite part of the room, because I love to organize stuff :)  The neglected neat freak in me felt very triumphant after finishing this little project!  

Isabella's needs for love, nutrition, and medical care far outweigh her need for stuff.  However, I am looking forward to giving her so many things that she has never had:  toys (and the freedom to get down on the floor and play with them), a calm pretty space to sleep in, and clothes of her own.  Did you know that orphans own nothing?  Nothing.  She cannot even claim one single piece of clothing - everything is community property and the clothes she wears are mismatched and too big.  One day, very soon, she will be able to point to the clothes in this closet and tell me which one of HER outfits she wants to wear!  I think that is awesome :)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Blue Angels

My boy!  He loves anything with wheels or wings.  




Dune Buggies.

He loves to help "drive".  This photo of him with my dad is one of my favorites.

So naturally, when the Blue Angels came to Hawaii this past weekend to perform at the air show, I had to make sure this little boy got to see them.  He had his first peek on Thursday afternoon, when they were practicing maneuvers directly over our house.  He was SO excited!  He kept running outside - hands over his ears and big smile on his face -  whenever he heard them approaching.

On Saturday afternoon we met some friends at one of the beaches on Kaneohe Marine Corps Base, the site of the air show.  From there we had a great view of the Blue Angels without the deafening noise that comes with being at the airfield. Another bonus was the kids could run around and play while we were waiting for them to take off.

Driving his Tonka truck while he waits.

Sister turning cartwheels in the sand.

When the planes began to fly over, Buddy was mesmerized.  He just stood in one spot the entire time, with his eyes glued to the sky.  Afterward there was still plenty of time to play in the water before the sun began to sink behind the mountains.

For the rest of the night, all he talked about was the Blue Angels.  When he woke up on Sunday morning and I went to get him from his crib he told me, "I heard the Blue Angels.  They flew over my room while I took my nap!"  So I decided, on a whim, to take him to the airfield after church.  On our way there he told me that maybe they'd let him drive one :)  Crazy boy!  I think that he found the planes to be both terrifying and thrilling when they took off.

Holding on tight to Sis.

He quickly got over his fear though, and had a blast!

No matter how many times I see them fly, I am always amazed at their speed and close proximity to each other as they maneuver.  It is incredible and I would NEVER have the courage to do it!  It was an exciting show and both the kids loved it.

Look how close together they are!

Flying right over our heads.

Almost looks like three planes instead of four.