Sunday, April 17, 2011

Three Months Ago ....

Three months ago we saw our little Max for the first time as he walked off the elevator at our hotel.  He looked so little and his eyes looked sad.  The love we felt for him was overwhelming and there is nothing that could describe the feelings that we had that day.  This little boy was handpicked by God to be our little boy.  

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Eyes are the window to the soul - an Old English Proverb

In just a matter of hours his sad, hollow eyes were big and bright.  A transformation was happening right before our eyes.

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And in just three short months it feels as though our baby has grown quickly into a busy toddler.  It has been so amazing to see him grow and blossom before our eyes.  We have experienced so many fun firsts since January 17 with him and this past month has been no exception.  We will try to give you a peek into Max's life this past month.


Max got his first haircut.  It actually was pretty traumatic for him.  He was not a fan which isn't going to be fun since his hair is thick and grows like crazy.


And here is our brown eye boy after he was all calmed down after the traumatic first hair cut.


His hair isn't the only thing that has been growing.  He has gained 6-7 pounds since we have been home.  He loves to eat and eats almost everything.  His love for bread has gone away and he has moved on to bigger and getter things.  One of his favorite foods right now is strawberries.


He has picked up on signing "more" and "please" pretty quickly.  Here he is signing "more" for more strawberries.


He is a buys boy but also loves to cuddle and give kisses.  Shane is probably Max's favorite person to kiss and I am pretty sure it is because of Shane's reaction.  The boys already have a special bond. Max often will sit on Shane's lap and just keep kissing him.  Shane will giggle and laugh so Max will just keep it up.  The other day Max kept signing "more" and "please" and then would kiss Shane.  He would do that over and over again! I wish I would have gotten it on video it was so cute.

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One of Max's other favorite things to do is to fly with daddy.  Max now walks as fast as he can into daddy's arms when he gets home.  After greetings and kisses Max reaches his arms in the air to be lifted up and then thrown the rest of the way.  He LOVES it.  The higher the better! If Eric stops he will grab his face and will try to butter him up by kissing him.


He loves his daddy and boy can he make him smile!


The biggest change in Max the last couple weeks is his WALKING! He started letting go of things and taking 5-6 steps a month ago and now he has mastered walking.  He even thought he would show off last week and walk backwards for us of course giggling the whole way.  He knows when he is putting on a show and when he has an audience.


When ever he falls he says "Oh" and then proceeds to clap for himself if no one else does first.


He also has picked up some new words.  Last month he was just saying "uh oh" all the time.  He has added mama, dada, bye bye, cracker, nana, and all done.


We live in South Dakota and so you can have a really nice day and then the next day it can be snowing. So when the snow finally melted and we had a couple decent days in a row the grass was dry enough for Max to venture out for the first time.  It was the first time Max had been in the grass.  He wasn't sure what to think at first but in no time he thought life outside was pretty great! He cried when it was time to go inside.


Max loves his bath time and had his very first bubble bath.  He had so much fun and was even blowing kisses with a bubble face!


One thing that research shows is that kids who have been institutionalized struggle with sensory weakness because of their lack of sensory stimulation.  We have tried to be proactive in this area.  Max spends time in tubs of rice or beans to work on touching and playing with various textures.  It was good to see him explore in the grass the first time outside.  He will touch and feel various textures in books.  You can tell he is very aware of how different textures feel.  One of the things he loves is playing with pudding.  The first couple times he was a little more hesitant to put his hands ALL in but as you can see he loves it now.

This is the face I get when our pudding time is over.


Max has had another visit to the urgent care for a fall and a sliced ear.  They couldn't stitch it because there wasn't enough skin so we will see how it heals.  The other day he fell face first on his nose and had blood pouring out everywhere.  This little boy has had more bumps, bruises and blood coming out of body parts than our other 3 put together.  He is one busy boy who has no fear ... that just might equal trouble! Good thing he is our 4th so we don't get quite so worked up about falls and blood.  We are hoping he slows down in this department though!

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Last week we had a beautiful 70 degree day.  Max had his first morning of fun with his brother in the backyard. It included mastering the slide and playing in the playhouse.

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His favorite thing to do is ride in the car and his big brother was more than willing to push him around.

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He also had his very first picnic with his brother.

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In the evening we had our first family outing to the park with Max.  It was so much fun to see Max explore and experience all of this for the first time.


Max's sisters adore him! He doesn't show a preference to any of the kids but we can definitely see all their relationships forming with him in different ways.  It is so amazing to see them all just fit together. 


Max loves life and lives it to its fullest but there are times he still just sits back and takes it all in.  There are times he can me mesmerized by an object or activity.  It is those times I would love to know what he is thinking.  The other night at the park he was in awe of this man and his son on this rocking toy.  He watched and watched and watched! He took it all in and then some! 


Max plays hard and he sleeps hard! When he gets tired he can fall asleep wherever he is.  One day he fell asleep in the middle of lunch.  There have been a couple days when we drop Shane off at preschool that he has fallen asleep sitting straight up and down on my hip.  He is doing great at night.  He is sleeping in his bed and has gotten to the point that we can lay him down awake and he will be able to go to sleep on his own.  It has been amazing to watch his need for us present in his room or holding him as he falls asleep change as he continues to feel more and more secure! Nap time is a different story.  He needs us to rub his back or rock him to sleep at nap time yet.  We are not sure emotionally why nap and night are so different from him but they are.  We often wonder what feelings is it about that time of day makes it harder for him to go to sleep on his own. He continues to show us how he is growing but also makes us aware of what he needs right now. I have to admit I do love my cuddle time with my baby before nap and some days it is hard to put him in his bed!


His big sister was all smiles when he fell asleep in her arms the other day! 

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One of Max's favorite things to do right now is to build with his blocks.  He loves building but like most little boys his favorite part is knocking them down.


He also loves wrestle time with daddy and of course there is always a little tickle time in there too!


This little boy of ours continues to amaze us at the way he has blossomed and found his spot in our family.  His smile lights up a room.  He loves life and is very social.  He loves to be picked up and cuddled.  It never fails that anytime anyone picks him up he gets the biggest grin on his face.  He is always making us laugh by the things he does and faces he makes.  He knows how to put on a show and to pour on the charm.  Max is such a blessing to our family!


If only those big brown eyes could talk.  Oh how I wish they could.  I wish he could tell me exactly what he needs, how he is feeling, the times he is scared, the things he loves, the things he needs.  I keep trusting that God will give us wisdom and insight as we love and raise our little boy.  

Max you have forever changed your mommy's heart.  Happy 3 months with your forever family sweet boy! 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

God's Hand

It has been amazing to see God's hand at work.  I wanted to share a couple ways we have been seeing God's hand in our lives and those around us.

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First of all we are very excited that in just a few short days sweet Samantha will no longer be an orphan but  will know what the love of a mom and dad feels like. I get goosebumps knowing that one more sweet little one is blessed with a forever family.  Her parents, Jarrod and Sara are good friends of ours and left today for a journey of a lifetime across the world to get their daughter and bring her home.  It has been so amazing to share this journey with them.  We will be waiting with open arms for their return and we can't wait for Max to meet his new friend Sam.



Max loves his blankies.  It is amazing to see how fast he has become attached to his blankies and finds comfort in them.  This week Max got a very special blankie in the mail.  It was a Leigh's Blankie from my friend Andra.  My friend Leigh Ann was killed a little over a year ago tragically in a car accident.  Andra started a ministry in memory of her and to carry on the legacy she left behind.  She was such a light for Christ and loved others well.  Leigh's Blankie's Mission is that those who receive them will be reminded of the warm love of Christ and the security that it brings.


Guess where Leigh's Blankies are heading right now?  Yes, they are on a plane on their way to Beijing, China with Jarrod and Sara to New Day Foster Home where their daughter Samantha is.  Jarrod and Sara will be able to hand Samantha's friends a Leigh's Blankie as these little ones wait for their forever family.

Go to Leigh's Blankies to find out how you can help spread Christ's light through this ministry.  You also can see were all of these sweet little blankies are heading.


Carl and Beth are part of our church family.  They have had trials thrown their way and yet it has been amazing to see God growing them and working in their life.  Their sweet little Sully was born 20 months ago with a large Nevus on his back.  Carl and Beth have embraced this journey they are on and relied on the strength only Christ can give.  When we started our adoption process they supported us and prayed for us.  They also said they felt maybe one day they would head to China for a little girl.  When we were in China this is a message I got from Beth : "If Carl and I hadn't been convinced that God was leading us toward adopting from China before, we are now...100%."  God is opening doors in their lives and their hearts.  They have a heart and a passion for little ones with Nevus' just like their Sully.  You can read about the stirring God has been doing on their hearts here.  I can't wait to see the way God continues to lead and bless their sweet family.

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Many of you followed our journey to Max and many have read about our emotional day as we visited his orphanage.  There were many things about our journey that were deep and heart changing but the visit to the orphanage and seeing the sweet faces of so many little ones with hallow, sad eyes is something that I will never forget.  It was so hard to leave so many behind not knowing if they will ever have a family.  My hearts cry and prayer since we left is that each one of those sweet children will know what it feels like to have a forever family, the love of a mom and dad.


One night as I was making dinner I saw an email come across my phone.  It was a comment on my blog that read "Oh my, that baby girl from the orphanage in the pale blue is our daughter!!! Will you please email me your pictures of her? Oh mercy, praise be to God, you've just made my day!!!" . Tears began to flow and I quickly sent a return email to this sweet mom.  What a God thing ... this mom found my blog and of the very few children that I took a close up of, her daughter was one of them.  Meet sweet Emily.  It was a very real reminder that God answers the prayers of his people.  One of those little ones that stole my heart and that I prayed for has a family.

The final thing I wanted to post about was something I feel that has come full circle for me.  When we started the process I talked about why we adopted a boy and that sweet Andrew stole my heart and was part of Max's story.  The day of the orphanage visit I posted this:

"The faces of these sweet orphans just broke my heart. When we started this journey we prayed that maybe somewhere someone would be touched by Max's story and be led to pray for the orphans, support those who are adopting or step out in faith to bring an orphan home. Sweet Andrew touched our heart as his mom and dad were in China bringing him home. It was the sparkle in his eye that caught my attention after just a couple days with his mom and dad. He is part of Max's story and why we are bringing home a little boy from China and now we have our own little boy with that sparkle that I pray may just touch someone else's heart. These sweet faces will be etched in my mind and heart forever."

Just a couple weeks ago I got a comment on our blog that read: "
I enjoyed watching your journey unfold as you all were in China. There was just something about Max. Those eyes...that sweet face!!! As I went back in your blog, I found a post called "It started with a picture." Well...I can tell you that God used sweet Max's picture to move our hearts. As of 2 weeks ago we put in our application to adopt a SN boy in China. We are very excited and so convinced that this is God's will for our family." Alisa

I got very emotional reading her comment knowing what she felt like.  Knowing how deep a little picture can speak to you and penetrate your heart.  I have been in touch with Alisa and can't wait to encourage, support and follow their journey to their son! I feel like it has come full circle.

So yes I know God is a mighty God and I know he is at work in the lives of his people.  It has been fun to see and share how God is working in our hearts and those around us! God is good!
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