Posting at SHINE

After almost 3 years of posting to this blog I've decided I am going to simplify my life and put all posts (for all my children!) on my "photography blog": SHINE!
I hope to see you there!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

a little bit of sunshine.

We had a few hours of sunshine and Tia took her motorcycle for a ride down the driveway - and even a little ways down the street. She is getting so big :)

Monday, July 28, 2008

2 years ago today . . . .

a beautiful 2 week old baby girl was left in the transfusion room of ChouZhou Hospital in Yiwu, China where it was certain she would be found quickly. At examination it was discovered that the baby had a heart condition that would later require surgery. Named after the hospital and given the common surname of all the children at Yiwu Social Welfare Institute: Ni ChouZhou would spend her next 19 months there until an American family living in Australia would cross the ocean to bring her home to her forever family.

That my friends, is the beginning of the known story of our little Tia.

"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

All day I've been wishing I could send Tia's birthmom a letter. This is what I wish to say:

"I awoke this morning to realize that 2 years ago today you were required to make the most selfless decision that a parent should NEVER have to make. On July 29, 2006 you had to take your beautiful baby girl and leave her in a place where she would be assured of getting the medical attention her sick little heart required. Oh how your own heart must have been breaking! The sorrow you felt must have been overwhelming . . . . words cannot express how sad I am for your loss and how my heart breaks when I think of the sacrifice you had to make to give your baby girl hope and a future. . . .

I want to tell you . . . she had surgery and her heart is doing well! she is beautiful, she is charming, she is funny and smart and somehow I'm sure she looks like you! From the moment we met this daughter she has had an aura around her that says that she is loved, she has been loved. I wish you could know that you made the right decision! Oh how I long to tell you about how she is so very sweet and also such a sass! She believes she is the center of the universe, and she has us all convinced of it also. If ever a child stole hearts, it is this little beauty . . . We love her, we really do.

I want you to know that we promise we will always love this little girl you made such a sacrifice for, we will teach her that you made the best decision you could in order to give her the very best future. . . . . we will teach her that God also wanted to give her hope, he loves her too! He has a wonderful future for this little Princess! God has this same promise for you. It is our prayer for you that you would feel God's love envelop you during the times your heart aches for your baby daughter, that somehow you would know God's peace and his healing, - We pray you will know his hope and his love . . . .

and we promise to give Kristiana Hope, a future.

we promise."

Tia & mom (& the vice director of the Yiwu SWI) in the Transfusion room March 4, 2008 - the day after she met her forever family.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

what is working?

My friend Angel has posted about some things she is doing that are making life work for her to run her household of now 3 children. She has some great ideas and has issued a challenge to have her readers post their ideas. I am posting because I thought it might be nice to hear from one of the NOT so organized moms :) sadly I am in that category.

This is how a not naturally organized mom makes it somewhat work:

#1 - Matt is a very hands on father. He takes the big kids to the train when he goes in the morning, he picks up Isabella from gymnastics 3 nights a week after work, he loves to cook and clean too!

#2 - After bringing Tia home in March we decided that if we were ever going to have someone clean our house that NOW is the time. 2X/month they do our bathrooms and floors - I dust and do major tidying up the day before - this has made keeping the house clean so much easier!

#3 - When I had only one child my house was perfect! After the second one it was really clean and organized, with #3 it was pretty clean, and now I am learning to let go of perfection :) I feel really blessed to have 4 beautiful children - with them comes a challenge to keep a clean house. It will be empty and perfect again someday!

#4 - We do expect the kids to clean up after themselves and help us make it all work :) They make their beds in the morning and put put their clean clothes away. They each have a chore at dinnertime. They all help with the littler ones!

#5 - When I put Tia down for a nap I have to stay with her until she is asleep - this is when I read - usually my bible and do my Bible Study for the week, or I read a book. Using this time to read has made me really appreciate these 30 or so minutes I spend stroking her hair and being with her in the middle of the day. At night when it is too dark to read I listen to my radio station and try to spend my time praying.

#6 - I always try to Double Up. I focus on trying to get two things out of every task or errand.

- I try to take Elijah to preschool early enough that Tia can play and have some time around other kids.
- If Jonah(age 12) wants to play outside after school I ask him to take the little kids with him on the trampoline or in the front garden - he is learning to be responsible while I can get something done inside.
- I take the dog for a walk after the kids are in bed at night and get some exercise (and listen to music).
- When cleaning the kitchen after dinner I make lunches for the next day and use the leftovers.
- When I cook I let Elijah (5) help or do his messy crafts while I am in the kitchen with him. There are lots more and I'm sure every mom does all of these but trying to do Double Ups really helps me a LOT!

#7 - I do one persons laundry per day bringing it down in the morning - with the boys I throw all the colors in together (I cringe reading that too!) so far it hasn't hurt anything. For the girls I separate the pinks & reds and do them together. Matt's & mine I do together.

I have to say that reading Angel's and the other posts was a little intimidating but so inspiring! I have been busy organizing toys and my office since seeing some of those great ideas!

Friday, July 25, 2008

gymnastics . . .

Tia went to a gymnastics class for 2 year olds today - it was a trial class. Tia LOVED the class, it was so fun!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

My crazy thrill-seeking baby :)

We are happiest when flying down a hill at top speeds!
The photo above is the same as the one below - which is just cropped to show our expressions :) We are loving this!! I crack up when I see how Tia is holding onto me!
We went sand sledding on Friday - Tia screamed because she wanted to go down the very steep hill on the toboggan . . . . I took her 'cause I know she loves everything exciting and wild! When we got to the bottom I had to carry her and the sled (ouchamunga that was a workout!) all the way back up so I said: "all done?" Tia's answer? "AGAIN!" we went 3 times - the last time she wanted to stand up and surf like the big kids were doing!!! (we did NOT! She settled for facing me and holding on like a Koala Bear!) This little China Doll is totally crazy . . . . I love her, she is so MY daughter :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tia's 2 year old birthday!

Isabella made this sign to wish me a happy birthday right when I woke up.Waiting for the excitement to begin . . . . .
Just 'cause Grandma made me this beautiful dress is no reason to take so many pictures!
Two beautiful sisters! (Is Mommy biased?)Spaghetti is my favorite meal - can't you tell? (didn't want to stain my new dress. . . .)

I loved the whipped cream on my #2 - but I would not try the cake - How 2years old is that?!A ladybug tambourine and maracas from Aunt Annie & Cousin Madeleine!
I love them!I love my fairy wings and wand !A baby doll?! ohhhhhhhh she's so pretty!
I love her - I'll call her Beebee

Do you like our matching Dora dresses?
Beebee & I, with our teddies and our quilts are ready for bed after a very exciting day!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Two Years Old!

We had a cake and opened gifts with just our family . . . .

She was the Princess of Quite A Lot
She was a bit overwhelmed by all the attention/gifts
She looked adorable in the dress my mom made for her
She loves the ladybug morroccas & Tamborine
She loves the Bitty Baby & clothes
She loves the Baby "China Doll" quilt and bedding
She loves the fairy wings & wand
She didn't eat any cake
She did not want to wear the tiara
She did not want her photo taken

more tomorrow!

(Thanks Cindy, Lynn & Wendy for leaving birthday wishes :)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Birthday Girl!

Today we celebrate Tia's second birthday. Since this is her first birthday with us and that she will know was celebrated, I would love to have some birthday wishes for her memory book. If you are a family member, a friend, have followed our journey to and with Tia or just dropped by for the first time- do you think you could post a comment wishing Tia a Happy Birthday? I promise your comment/birthday wish will be printed and put in her memory book so she will know how very much she is loved!

Big Hugs :)

Have a little play . . . .

Here in Australia we say "do you want to have a little play?" so today it was a beautiful winter day and we went to our favorite park to "have a little play"!

Check out how much Tia looks like her referral photo (to the right and above) in the photo on the slide. This little girl is adorable - we are so blessed!

"From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another".

John 1:16 (NIV)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

sleeping better.

I thought I better give an update after my last post :) The great news is that Tia is sleeping better these days. In addition to my mom visiting, my sister and niece are also visiting us. We needed Tia's room as a guestroom and moved Tia's crib into our room. Truthfully, Tia has been in our bed every night and she seems to be sleeping much better. It is great to get some real sleep!

Isn't the hat my mom made for Tia cute?!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Getting Real . . . .

My friend Angel has posted a challenge on her blog ( to get REAL. hmmmmmm I've often thought about how real should I get on this blog!? This is after all supposed to be the happy go lucky story of our little Tia to share a bit of her life with our family and friends. It is her very own story/blog that she will read some day and will give her a bit of history where she previously had none. I am going to attempt to be real, as much as I feel is appropriate under these circumstances. Let me start with one of the definitions of "REAL" I found in the dictionary:

1 |ˈrē(ə)l|
adjective • Philosophy relating to something as it is, not merely as it may be described or distinguished.
2 (of a substance or thing) not imitation or artificial; genuine : the earring was presumably real gold. true or actual : his real name is James | this isn't my real reason for coming.
6 Optics (of an image) of a kind in which the light that forms it actually passes through it; not virtual.

So I will try to describe how the adoption of our precious, adorable, Sweet Tia has affected our lives - genuinely, truly, actually.

Genuinely . . . . we adore Tia. honestly and without any other feeling. We feel totally blessed by her addition to our family. This feeling is not because we are wonderful people, it is because Tia has the type of personality that draws you to her. She charms us, and everyone, not an attachment disorder type of charm (ok, hopefully not . . . . :) but a 'says hello to people as she passes them while in her stroller' type of charm (she would never let them get too close or pick her up or hold her . . . ), 'a big kisses on the lips when she comes out of a deep sleep' type of charm, she has all of us charmed and she is generally funny and cute and happy.

Truly . . . . we are exhausted. Tia does not sleep very well. If she goes to sleep at 8 pm she will normally wake up once or twice to cry - the first time she usually goes back to sleep on her own but the second time (anywhere from 11pm until 3 or 4 am she screams and cries until we bring her into our bed, where she tosses and turns and kicks and snuggles and looks into our faces and says "HI" until 5 or 6 am and then wants her bottle. Tia has taken a 2 hour nap 2 or 3 times. Mostly her naps are 1 or 1.5 hours. That totals about 11 hours of sleep total per day/night, is that normal for a 23 month old????????? She is happy & sad, sassy & adorable and TRULY, she is wearing us out.

Actually . . . . Tia is a terrible eater. We always say Tia has 5 food groups: Rice, eggs, yogurt (including go-gurt -see photo above- which are her favorite and a real reason to scream until she gets one. . . .), noodles, and crackers with peanut butter or nutella - see photo below - (if she is in the mood which is actually rarely). She also likes chocolate, candy and ice cream and screams if she sees them and doesn't get them immediately! (and screams and screams and screams and . . . .) and lately has added chicken nuggets (YEAH!). Every single day, much of the day she screams to go in the pantry and check out the food choices. Truthfully I didn't think it was a bad plan in the beginning when she couldn't say what she wanted and would only eat rice and yogurt but it causes a lot of stress and now I am not letting her in the pantry anymore. . . .
I think that is as real as I can be for now. Tia has been on antibiotics lately, she has been prescribed an inhaler for asthma and she is almost 2 years old - sooooooooo each of those bring a very REAL set of challenges on their own. We adore this little girl REALLY, and some days are REALLY exhausting. We really would go to China and bring her home to be our little monkey all over again in a heartbeat - REALLY we would :)

The last part of the definition of REAL:
6 Optics (of an image) of a kind in which the light that forms it actually passes through it; not virtual. I found this very inspiring. My prayer is that God's love would be REAL, and would be that light that forms my children, that passes through them (and stays with them) and that God would be so REAL to Tia and to all my children. REALLY, If it were up to me to be the model of the perfect Christian I know I am so far from that goal, but thankfully and graciously, God is perfect in his love towards them, towards us and he is oh so very REAL! :)

In the past 2 hours Tia has woken up 3 times, fallen out of our bed, held her breath until I thought she would pass out, and screamed for go-gurt. She has now climbed up onto my lap and is saying Mama in her little one year old voice (so cute:) . . . . . It is almost 12 :30 am. I hope this post is real enough for you :) and now I am hoping to go to bed . . . I wish I knew if it was for real.
"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