Preston Party of Six

Preston Party of Six

Saturday, November 30, 2013

One Week HOME!

My heart is so full as I write this, thinking back to all that has transpired in a week.  I had no idea how Jenna would assimilate into our family.  All I knew was what I'd experienced for two weeks in China, but that certainly wasn't "reality."  Though that was all Jenna knew, I knew otherwise.  Jenna would soon be in a house versus a hotel room; she would soon be with three siblings, including two active boys, instead of just her older sister; and she would soon be in America, not her homeland of China, with totally new sights, sounds, and smells.  EVERYTHING would be new...but she would be HOME!

One week later, all I can say is...WOW!  Jenna has blown me away with her transition into our home, our family, our hearts!  This week has truly made Ephesian 3:20 come to life for me, " Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us..."

A few "milestones" that have happened at the one week mark include:
  • Jenna running into her daddy's arms and letting him hold her
  • Jenna petting our sweet yellow lab, Sipsey, instead of running away in fear
  • Jenna knowing where things are in our house, such as forks/spoons (she likes to eat!) and paper to color on (she loves to color!)
  • Jenna riding in the car seat smiling, not crying, for first trip to Kroger
  • Jenna making us laugh at her silly faces, dance or "Tai Chi" moves, and Chinese baby babble
  • Jenna waving "good-bye" and saying "Mama" and "Dada"
  • Jenna playing with her older brothers and sister like she's always been here and them embracing her and loving her with such sweetness
  • Jenna experiencing her first Thanksgiving...she loved her Paw Paw's green beans
  • Jenna going to her first downtown Newnan Christmas tree lighting and arrival of Santa Claus
  • Jenna looking at a family photo album and pointing to each of us, recognizing our faces

Tears came to my eyes as I watched my sweet little girl look at pictures of her new family and then point to each of us sitting around her made my heart swell with joy and sadness.  Like I've said before, there is so much joy with adoption but there is also so much heartache.  It pains me to think about her still being in the orphanage.  As nice as the nannies were and as much as I think they really cared about her, it makes me so sad thinking about her lying in that hard, metal bed all by herself.  It makes me so sad thinking about her little friends that are still there, waiting for a family to love them.  And it makes me so sad to think about her birthmother, somewhere in China, wondering what happened to her baby girl.

Another emotional moment happened at our one week mark home.  While I was doing breakfast dishes, Jenna was at the dining room table coloring and before I knew it, she was beside me holding her arms up, signifying for me to pick her up.  Every time she does this, I really try to stop whatever I am doing and scoop her little body into my arms.  Well this time was different.  It's as if she really just needed her mommy to HOLD her.  I mean truly HOLD her.  She clung to me like a little koala bear and I cried tears of joy and thankfulness.  Joy that she was here in my arms and thankfulness that she knows she can come to me to be held and loved.  I don't know what was going through her little mind, but it was a special "mother/daughter" moment that I cherished. 

On a different note, adding a fourth child takes time away from the other three.  I want to give each of my children all the love, nurturing, and quality time they need and deserve, but there have been a few times already this week where I've been torn how to find this balance.  For example, little Andrew was out back playing all by himself while Jenna was coloring with Shelby, so I chose to go spend some precious one-on-one time with my little buddy as he climbed the tree in the back field.

I hope that I will continue to grow in this "balancing act," for there is so much life yet to be lived as a mother of FOUR.  I know there will be many ups-and-downs, but for today, I am so thankful for this first week that we have all been HOME!



Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thoughts on FAMILY at Thanksgiving

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever." Psalm 136:1

My childhood memories of Thanksgiving include being with my mom's family--aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents.  We'd all gather either at our house or at my aunt's house less than two miles away.  There was always a lot of laughter, games, and a ton of mashed potatoes (mom made the best!!!), turkey, and stuffing (not "dressing," I grew up in Ohio).  We'd always take a walk through the neighborhood after eating and then enjoyed watching football, playing football or other games, and simply being together as a FAMILY.

Last Thanksgiving I was heartbroken over the recent death of my precious mom.  FAMILY meant so much to her and she always enjoyed Thanksgiving, a day full of cooking (which she was very good at!!!), fun, and FAMILY.

This year, though I still miss my mom terribly, my heart is overflowing with joy at the recent addition to our FAMILY.  After nearly 17 months of waiting to bring Jenna home to her forever FAMILY, this Thanksgiving we have the blessing of showing her what FAMILY is all, joy, laughter, and love.  I seriously doubt she understands all of this at 2 1/2 years of age, but I do know she now understands the joy of being with her older brothers and sister (and WOW, I am so thankful for how much they are loving their little sister!)  I know she now understands the fun of playing games, dancing, coloring, doing stickers, and laughing until she can barely breathe.  I know she now understands that when she falls down, I will be there to scoop her into my arms to nurture her.  I know she now understands that when she wakes up in the middle of the night crying, I'll hop into her bed to comfort her until she falls back to sleep.  And I know that, in time, she will understand that it was the grace and goodness of God that brought her to our FAMILY!

In fact, throughout this entire day...while cooking, enjoying a run (in the crisp, clean Georgia air versus the smoky air of China!), and playing with my precious four little turkeys...I was reminded once again that there is no true "thanksgiving" apart from the LORD.  He adopted us into His FAMILY and "every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights" (James 1:17). 

Thank you, Father, for all my blessings...they are too many to count.  Help me to cherish each one and be thankful EVERY day.  AMEN.





Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"Time In"---God holds us close

Throughout our adoption trainings (and there were A LOT of trainings!), we were told about establishing the practice of "time in," the opposite of "time out" that most children receive as a form of discipline.  During a "time in" the parent holds the child close during the time of discipline as an act of nurturing versus sending the child away to be alone.  I have to admit when we first learned about this, I thought it seemed strange and wasn't sure how it could help or work.  But the more I thought about the reason for doing a "time in" with a child that hasn't received proper nurturing due to living in an orphanage, the more it made sense.

Well this week, I got to do a "time in" with Jenna and now I can see the beauty of it.

Jenna is very much a typical two-year-old.  She knows what she likes.  She knows what she doesn't like.  And this week, she is enjoying playing with her new brothers and sister SO MUCH that she did NOT want to take a nap one afternoon in particular.  She began to cry, kick, and writhe about in my arms as I carried her up the stairs, away from her beloved new playmates and toys.

The crying, kicking, and writhing continued as I laid her in her new ladybug bed.  I have been laying with Jenna at naptime and bedtime until she falls asleep, which is encouraged by our adoption agency to help develop trust with your child.  So I crawled into the bed with my little peanut and sure enough, she continued to fight me...but I pressed in and held her close.  She didn't like it at first, but within a few minutes, the crying and kicking stopped.  I continued to hold her close and realized for the first time the gift of a "time in." 

Jenna needed me to hold her and let her know through my nurturing touch that everything was okay and that I'm not going anywhere despite her "tantrum." 

And then it dawned on me...God does the same for me!  He loves me even at my worst.  He desires to hold me close when I'm kicking, screaming, and writhing about like a little two-year-old who doesn't want to take a nap.  He wants me to crawl into His lap and hold me with His loving arms.  He is the perfect Father and yearns for me to have a "time in" with Him.  He loves me with an everlasting love and draws me to Himself with unfailing kindness. 

Thank you, Father, for already teaching me more about Your love through my new daughter, Jenna.  AMEN.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A day of firsts...a day to cherish!

The past 24 hours has simply been a God-thing!  Aside from our sweet Jenna's sheer terror of being stuck in a car seat for 45 minutes from the airport to our house last night, this day has been

We arrived home last night in the dark so I couldn't see all the beautiful decorations clearly until today.  What a blessing it was to see American flags and sweet signs welcoming our daughter HOME!


A day to be thankful, a day of many firsts, and certainly a day to cherish.  Jenna's first night and full day in our home, her home.  WOW!  Still so surreal that she is HERE, she is HOME! 

Jenna was quiet as we toured through the house last night and seemed fearful but curious about Sipsey, our old yellow lab.  But once we got up to "the girls" bedroom, she perked up and had fun playing until it was time for her first bath at home, this one with big brother, Andrew.

I was nervous about how bedtime would go, and I prepared myself for some tears.  Sure enough, Jenna cried as I held her in her new bed.  EVERYTHING is new to her...EVERYTHING!  So I prayed and held her and sang "Jesus Loves Me" into her ear, and within about 20 minutes or so, she calmed down and then was sound asleep.  I think I nodded off for a few minutes, too, but got my butt up so I could go cuddle with Andrew and Nathan since I hadn't gotten to do that in two weeks!

Jenna woke up a couple of times in the middle of the night, which is why I'm glad I was just beneath her in the trundle I just hopped into bed with her to calm her down.  Shelby was up at 4:45 AM, struggling to sleep due to jet lag, so I turned a movie on for her downstairs while I went back to sleep until Jenna woke at 5:45 AM. 

Before long, Nathan was up...

and finally, little Andrew was up.  All FOUR of my sweet children ready to enjoy their first full day together!

Jenna experienced her first southern breakfast made by her Pawpaw.  She enjoyed eggs, bacon, hash browns, and a little bit of toast but did NOT like grits (just like her momma).  I have to admit that I was overjoyed to be able to pour FOUR little cups of milk this morning! : )

The rest of the day was PLAYTIME and full of lots of firsts.  At some point throughout the day, I thought it was so sweet when Nathan made the comment that Jenna is so much smaller than he thought she'd be but also so much cuter!


Jenna didn't cry at all when I took her up for her nap, much to my surprise, after some noodles for lunch...I wanted at least ONE thing to be "normal" for her today! : )

There were a couple times today that Jenna threw a typical 2-year-old fit when she didn't get her way, which in all honesty, makes me thankful...thankful that she is developing normally.  There will be plenty more times that I will have to deal with her fits, anger, frustration, or pouting, but for today I chose to embrace the tantrum and be thankful (and hopefully when more happen in the future, I'll remember how I felt today!)

Shelby was super tired by mid-afternoon, her first jet-lag experience.  She was such an amazing trooper and helper for the two weeks in China.  I will never forget the time we got to spend together, and even though she's so tired right now, I know she'd do it all again in a heartbeat!

So as I sit here writing this, all four of my precious babies are sleeping soundly...the boys together in one room (Andrew wanted to be in Nathan's room tonight) and the girls in their room.  Jenna only cried for 5 minutes tonight while I held her and sang to her...I think all the jumping on the trampoline today wore her little body out!

I KNOW that there will be TOUGH days ahead...there are with every child...that's called PARENTING.  But I also know that I have a God who is able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20) and I am choosing to rejoice and be thankful!

"This is the day the LORD has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 119:24