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.
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.