Thursday, August 30, 2012


Coralie in the outfit she was wearing when we met.
It's been two years and it still brings tears to my eyes that Coralie is ours.  I know I've shared these thoughts before, but not sure if I've shared them here.  We first saw Coralie on ASIA's website in December, 2009.  I immediately emailed about "Wednesday" (Coralie) and another little girl on the list.  Both were already being reviewed, but we were 2nd in line for both.  About a week later, we learned that both families were proceeding with the adoptions of the girls.  I was pretty heartbroken because...get this...I was SURE the other little girl was meant to be ours.  It shames me to tell you that I told Marci (ASIA's AWESOME Waiting Child Coordinator) to please let me know if the other little girl became available again by some chance.  I didn't even mention Wednesday.  About 2 weeks later I got an email that Wednesday was again available and did we want to review her file.  I knew the answer was yes.  It seemed that her special need was a bit more involved than originally thought and was not very common.  We were sent her file the week of Christmas 2009.  We had one week to make the decision on whether we wanted to pursue her or not.  The day came that we had to tell Marci 'yes' or 'no'.  We woke up still not knowing which way to go.  Finally-as it typically happens-Jeff said, 'let's do it'.  From that second on, she was 100% our girl, but until that moment it could have easily gone either way.  From time to time, I think about that.  How easily it could have been 'no'.  Never once have had that thought without tears because I couldn't bear life without her.  She's an amazing treasure and I am the most blessed mama in the world to be able to call her mine.    

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Coralie's First First Day of School

We registered Coralie for preschool last spring.  She was frustrated that she couldn't start the very day she was signed up.  She asked repeatedly over the last few months when she was going to get to go to school.  When I took her to orientation, she got cold feet.  Her little eyes welled up with tears and she scrunched up her face.  I could see that she was trying so hard to be a big girl and not cry, but she was oh so close.  I am not typically a crier when I drop my kids off at school for the first time.  I was excited for her and excited for me to be down to only one child to drag to the grocery store.  Seeing her sad little face almost got me.   I had to pull out the big guns and offer to get her a milk shake on the way home as a big girl reward.  Some may call that a bribe...I'll consider it incentive.  Either way, little miss accepted my offer of a 'shilpmake' and went in her classroom to play.  I could tell she didn't really want to, but she was brave.  When she started school the next Monday, I was really hoping there wouldn't be tears or any need for 'incentive'.  My hopes were realized with she walked right in her class with barely a goodbye to Emmeline or me.  I stood in her classroom for a minute talking to her teacher and then told her bye.  She was playing with the play kitchen with her back to me.  She said goodbye without even turning around.  I may or may not have *almost* shed a tear on the way home.  Emmeline asked 'Where Coralie?' probably 1000 times that day.  When I went to pick her up, her teacher said she had a great day and that she and Max (a little boy in her class) were buddies.  When we left, Coralie turned around and said in a sing songie voice 'bye Max'.  Seriously?  Already?  She's FOUR.  Poor Max.  He has no idea the mess he may have gotten himself into.  She's a handful, dude.  But she's totally worth it.  :)  

Unfortunately, she only goes to school in Mondays and Wednesdays, so on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday she continually asks if she can go to school.  She doesn't understand why I just can't take her down there on her off days.  I am just happy that she seems to love it and I hope she feels the same way next year when she is in Kindergarten full time.  

Friday, August 17, 2012

First Day of School Pics

Summer went by so fast.  I can't believe the middles and Ryan have already started back to school.  Yesterday when Brady got in the car after his first full day of school he said, 'that was the longest day EVER.'  I guess 2nd grade isn't quite as fun as first.  Today was better for him and he decided he liked his teacher.  He was still undecided yesterday.  The girls both have male teachers and Brady's bummed because he 'always gets a girl'.  Life's tough, buddy.  :)

AnnaClaire seems happy with her teacher.  She always just goes with the flow with very little complaint.  Of all the kids, she is the one who makes sure I see her paperwork from school first thing when we walk in the door from school (instead of first thing in the morning).  She is still so painfully shy.  I am hoping this will be her year to come out of her shell and let others see what an amazing little girl she is.
Allie has the same teacher that she had last year.  She's pretty happy about that. She also has a friend from last year in her class again.  Our school is very large so that is a rarity.  She and her friend talked on the phone all afternoon.  Does that sort of thing start this young these days?  Oy!  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

What's up with us...

I have neglected this blog so much since we brought Emmeline home.  That makes me sad, because there are so many times that I will come and read posts from years past.  It makes my heart happy to see the pictures and the read the stories about the kids and what they were doing.  Over the last 10 months, I just never seemed make the effort to post anything.  Lately, I've had several people ask me to update my blog.  It's funny because I went for months hardly thinking about it and not hearing a peep from anyone about the blog, but in the last month or two I've heard from several.  It definitely got me motivated to at least make an attempt to start updating again.  So...what's up with us? we go...

On October 20th, 2011, Cameron and I returned home with Emmeline.  I know I referred to her as Cecilia during the end of our wait for her, but as anyone who knows us for a while will tell you, we are fickle creatures when it comes to naming.  HuiLan just didn't seem like a Cecilia and I struggled with the name for months before deciding that she just wasn't a Cecilia.  But what was she?  When I got on the plane to China I still didn't know.  When I first held her in my arms I still didn't know.  The morning after I met her, I was Skyping with Jeff and we had to decide right then so her paperwork could be done.  We decided on Emmeline, a name that had been on our list a few times, but had never made the cut to the short list.  My mom mentioned it when she came by to say goodbye before Cameron and I left. It just felt right.  So Cecilia Faith HuiLan is Emmeline Faith HuiLan.

Emmeline did really well transitioning into our family.  The older kids (Cameron, Brandon, Ryan) and the middles (Allie, AnnaClaire, Brady) welcomed her immediately.  Unfortunately, Coralie didn't do well at all with the fact that Emmeline existed.  The first few months were a battle over mom.  If one of them came near me, the other ran over to protect their turf.  I was confident that God had placed Emmeline in our family, but definitely had moments of concern that bringing her home had ruined Coralie forever.  My sweet, loving, full of personality girl turned into a whiny, clingy, tantrum throwing, head spinning creature.  Month by month, the girls made progress in their relationship.  They now genuinely love each other and enjoy having the other one around.  Wouldn't you know, God gave us a child with as much personality as Miss Coralie.  I wasn't sure that was possible!

Last summer, Jeff and I bought a lot in the middle of nowhere (seriously, it's so far out that I question our sanity every time we drive over there) in a lakefront community.  We soon realized that it would probably be years before we built something on it, so we traded it for a lot with a shell house on it.  The outside of the house was complete, but the inside was just studs.  We signed the paperwork for it just after Emmeline came home and Jeff and his buddies went up almost every weekend to work on the house.  It's been a true labor of love.  I am really proud of Jeff for all the work he's done on the house.  He's not what I'd call a handy man, but he has learned what he had to to get it done.  I guess I should say that he *wasn't* what I'd call a handyman because now he is quite handy.  The girls love going up there (like pink puffy heart type love).  The older boys go only when we beg and plead.  Brady usually enjoys it once he is there, but he often asks to stay with the big boys.  One of the reasons we bought where we did is because they have a community dock where we can not only dock our boat, but we also can use several other boats which are property of the homeowners association.  The kids were so excited when they recently built a neighborhood pool by the boat dock.  Fun family times will be had at our little lake house.

Cameron graduated college in early May.  So proud of him!  He knew what career he wanted, studied it and got a great job straight out of college.  I have a feeling they (the kids and their career decisions) won't all be that easy.  :)
As if graduating college wasn't enough, Cameron married the world's best daughter in law at the end of May.  I was thrilled when Cameron asked Charity to marry him and I am even more thrilled now that they are married.  She's the perfect mate for him and I feel so blessed to have her as part of our family.  

My sister, Lori, had her first baby in December.  We are very thrilled to have little Isabel as part of the family. You can tell that the girls loooove having a baby cousin.  That's my sister's husband Frank (or Franken as Coralie calls him) holding Isabel.

Those are the main highlights of our last 10 months.  As always, we feel that God has blessed us and continues to bless us and we just praise His name.  

Saturday, March 03, 2012

What a Difference

Hard to believe it hasn't even been 5 months since I was handed Emmeline in China.  This picture is from our first few days together.

This picture is from this past week...

Love that kid!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Monday, October 03, 2011

Pumpkin Patch

We had so much fun at the pumpkin patch yesterday.  Jeff and I must be getting old because we were both completely worn out afterwards.  The kids?  Not so much.