Thursday, May 25, 2006

So much for worrying about her hearing...

Yesterday, Esther had her Hearing & Speech Evaluation at the hospital downtown. I had the pleasure of staying home with the younger three, so all I know is what I was told by my parents. Apparently, her hearing is excellent.. which doesn't surprise us since we sorta figured that out already. The speech pathologist was extremely impressed with how well Esther is talking and told us that she will need to be evaluated in six months. If they evaluated her now, she'd be classified as "extremely developmentally delayed" so we'll give her a few more months to pick up more English. She'll need speech therapy, but for now that's just down the road. She's doing great with speaking though. Instead of "wu-la-yu" which she used for "gotta go potty" she will now tell you she has to go "potty." She know's everyone's names, including the dogs and guinea pigs and knows where her eyes, ears, nose, head.. etc are. She also sings the cutest version of the ABC song that you've ever heard. =) I know I've said it a lot, but she's doing really well. She really is. We just need to work on the blood-curdling-screaming/temper tantrums she has thrown the last few mornings because the bathing suit has come out. And when that happens.. it's time for swimming!!

I plan on taking Esther on her first jet ski ride today.. we'll see how that goes!!! Pictures to follow!

Esther's Adoption Announcement

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Celebrating 9 Weeks of Esther

Today was the first time Tian did not cry during swimming lessons. For the past week, she has screamed since the moment she saw the swim teacher walk in the door, 'til the moment she got out of the pool. And if you asked her "Tian, do you like swimming?" She would say "Yes!" This morning, she started crying again when her swim teacher- Mr P- came in, and she kept on screaming as she sat and watched Emma swim. Finally, she calmed down and I told her she needs to be happy when she goes swimming.. and she went into the pool with a smile on her face!!

We've had Tian for nine weeks now! Since she's been home, these have been the craziest nine weeks of our lives. I'll be completely honest that they have been very tough and at times, I wonder just what have we done to our family by bringing home another kid!!? "Twinning" hasn't gone as easy as I thought it would.. in fact it's a whole lot more work than I think any of us were anticipating. But we have been blessed by the fact that Tian's a very easy kid and pretty laid back. The one who has had the hardest time has been Emma. She's the bully around the house who always takes a toy from Tian and makes her cry. And then when the toy is given back to Tian, she has a fit. Crying and temper tantrums have become a way of life for us now, whether it's just one of them doing it, or both! The hardest part is that both girls have to be watched EVERY single second, or they are getting into trouble.

But just when the girls do something bad like dumping their Cinderella cups all over the floor or getting into their brother's lego's.. they just surprise you with some of the funniest and sweetest things. Funny is when the girls decide to switch each other's clothing, or both of them ride on their bike and chase Ian around the house as he throws pillows at them. And sweet when the girls share their food and drinks with each other, or kiss one another before they go down for a nap.. like they did today. They really do care for each other and there's no doubt they are sisters!

The girls have lately become completely obsessed with Dora the Explorer and Cinderella. Everything has to be Cinderella, including Tian's underwear! For being such good swimmers this week, the girls got matching Dora the Explorer cups and place mats and Cinderella & Sleeping Beauty Cups.

Tian is doing great as far as bedtime goes. Before, it was a constant struggle trying to get her to bed and then having her wake up screaming in the middle of the night. Now, she goes to bed the same time as Emma and lays down in her bed and goes to sleep. She HAS to fall asleep listening to the "Mama Hao" song. Sometimes you can even hear her upstairs singing Mama Hao or the EI-EI-O song. We even have her sleeping in her own bed for naptime which was huge since she used to ONLY sleep on the couch!

Tian is very smart and picking up things very fast. She's able to communicate pretty well with all of us. She loves to sing and has picked up on the ABC song, all though she only gets past ABC and then it's a mixture of a bunch of words together, but it's cute to hear her sing. She also loves to sing the EI-EI-O song and loves horseys, doggies and flowers. She, however HATES buggies! I've noticed that she cannot pronounce "R's" so she uses "L's" instead. Instead of calling me Sera, she calls me "Sela".. but I don't mind! =)

It's been a LONG nine weeks and an adjustment for all of us to make, including myself. But we're getting through it and realizing that Tian was meant for our family. She definitely completes us. I was hoping we could get a little brother from China, but we are definitely DONE! Six kids, more-so, two 3 year olds, is enough to handle right now!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Cheaper by the (Half) Dozen

Ever seen the movie Cheaper by the Dozen? Well that's pretty much what life is like in our house.. minus about six kids. Laundry is constantly piled up-by the mountain- in our house, and the dishwashers are always being run or emptied. There never seems to be enough milk by Sunday, and we go through six gallons a week!

In the last 24 hours, Emma has fallen off her chair at the table and has a nice big bump by her eye. She also threw up yesterday all over the floor, and Ian wasn't watching where he was going as he ran right through what she had just up-chucked. The twins got into one of the bathrooms and took apart a WHOLE package of baby wipes. And this isn't your ordinary package- it's one of those 200 baby wipe packages. I'm glad I found the baby wipes before they dryed out. The dogs have gotten ahold of a garbage can and dumped it's entire contents-nasty pullups and all- on the floor. The twins also managed to pull down one of those wall divider things that my mom has in her bathroom, right over the tub-and it had her towels draped over it. I hadn't drained the tub yet, so all of my parent's towels are now soaked. We have lego's spewed all across the floor, and barbie dolls- some with clothes and some without. And to top it all off, the dog just threw up. How lovely is that???

Yah that's pretty much "normal" life in this house. Gosh, I NEVER want to have kids!!!

Friday, May 12, 2006

"Operation Smile": The Movie

Come journey back with us to March 2006 on our "Operation Smile" mission to Esther Joy Xiao Tian. The movie is done and now able to be viewed on the web. It's long at 23 minutes, but there was just too much to be left out. So grab some tissues if you're the crying type and get ready for another exciting journey to China and back. =)

You can also go right to the movie by clicking on the link to the left "Our Adoption Movies" and clicking on "Esther (Tian)'s Adoption Movie."

You will need quicktime installed on your computer to view the movie. Also, I've received e-mails from Apple that my bandwith for this month has exceeded my allowed bandwith, so they might be cutting off my site. I just tried it and it was still working, but I'm not sure for how much longer. If it is turned off, it will be back up and running on the 1st of May. A pain in the butt, I know!!!

The music for the first 4 songs is from Disney's "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmaron" Soundtrack. This is Esther's favorite movie and the words to the songs are meaningful to me. When we met Esther (Tian) my dad and I were both saying how it was as if she walked in saying, "Here I am. What took you guys so long?" The following songs are also from the soundtrack, and the last two are "How Great Is Our God" by Chris Tomlin (Do I really need to give an explanation for why I chose this one?) and "I'm Only Getting Started" by Steven Curtis Chapman. You'll see in the movie why I chose the last one. =)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

My Favorite Time of Day....


And it's even better when both girls nap in their own beds! =)

Swim Lessons

Living in the south on a lake, and having a pool in our backyard makes it imperative for the girls to learn how to swim. So, this week they started their swimming lessons.
Simply put, Emma loves it.
She loves her teacher, she loves being in the water, and she keeps a huge smile on her face the entire time.
Esther, however, started crying the moment she saw the swim teacher arrive, and the crying only escalated as it became her turn.
Needless to say, there aren't any photos of her swimming, since it was a bit traumatic for her!

Emma was a great little sister- she clapped & rejoiced for Esther when she swam and patted her back after she was done swimming!

And both girls got lei's because they did so well in swimming! =)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Thing 1

Newly home, Thing 1 had adapted to her new life amazingly well. She's very laid back, happy and scrupulous! But also, very much a tatle-tale! (Everything is Emma's fault.. usually it is.) If there is a perfect child in our family, it is Tian. She's extremely smart and very obediant. Much different from her "twin" Emma, who's complete opposite.
This is Esther Joy Xiao Tian, or Tian as we call her. She's also referred to as "The Meatball" and "I, I" which is Emma's nickname for her. Tian has been part of our family for about six weeks now. I had the privelage of travelling with my dad to China in March to bring her home. After living in our family for the past few weeks, she's learning that it's okay to get dirty, and okay to spill things on yourself. Oh, and that there will always be food, so you don't have to eat like there won't be any tomorrow! She's learning as she adapts to her new life.
Tian was born on January 6, 2003 in a city in Southern China called, Shenzhen. (It is right on the border of Hong Kong) Tian was found outside of a village on the side of a road five days after her birth. We know that Tian was abandoned because she had been born with a cleft lip and palate. Cleft lip is a split extending from the lip up to the nose, and the severity of it depends. Tian had a pretty severe lip and a large hole in her palate. Both were fixed in China, before we got her. Her transformation looks amazing.. you really wouldn't notice she was born like that. Tian spent her first three years of life in the Shenzhen Children's Welfare Institute. The aunties gave her the name Shen, Xiao Tian, which means "morning sky."
We found her picture on the waiting child list of Lifeline Children's Services in February 2005. We were thinking about adopting again, and knew we wanted a child around Emma's age, with a mild special need. Tian's file had two weeks left before it would be sent back to China and her chances of adoption would be slim to none. She was definitely meant for our family.
She was listed as having special needs, but she really has no special needs at all. Her lip will require some more cosmetic surgery in the future, and some orthodontics, but other than that she is a normal, happy and healthy three year old. Her adjustment has gone smoother than any of us expected. If we could, we'd go back and get five more like Tian! She really is a joy to our family.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Thing 2

She may be small, but don't let her size fool you- she'll kick your butt!! She's cute and funny, loud and noisy, bossy, obedient and oh so very independent. (She's also quite a little flirt!!)

That is my Emma Grace YunNa- or commonly referred to as Twin #2, Thing 2, Emmie, Em or Emzee. (She also responds to 'buthead' and 'little brat'...nicknames given by her big brother- but not endorsed by anyone else!) Emma came to us via Beijing, China in August of 2004 at 18 months old. Our little Valentines Day girl had been born on February 14, 2003, and found the next day, having been abandoned by her birth parents. Why? Well, we won't ever know the circumstances, but we can pretty much guess that it was because she, like so many other little girls in China, was abandoned because she is a girl. There's a lot of reasons to explain this -I won't go into all the details- but she was abandoned by her parents, and sent to an orphanage at five days old.

About the same time all of this was happening, our family decided to adopt a baby girl from China. Through God's amazing grace, we were picked to be her family and on June 10, 2004, we saw her picture for the first time. She was 15 months old and living in the Beijing Children's Welfare Institute. The orphanage gave her the name Xi, Yun Na. Xi, is her last name and was the name given to all of the little girls who came to the orphanage in 2003. Yun means cloud, and Na means slender or graceful. On August 18, 2004, my parents and I headed to Beijing, China to bring her home. We met her on August 24, 2004. I don't normally believe in love at first sight, but it was definitely a case of this when I saw her for the first time. She, however, didn't agree and screamed for the first 1/2 hour, but after we shared our food with her, she thought we were okay. After that, she never looked back and took on her new life with open arms.

Em's been home for a year and a half now and is a constant ray of sunshine. She's a busy little girl.. and never sits still.. but she is so funny and every day is a new adventure for us. She's such a blessing to our family and it seems like she has always been here!

Having her home, made us want to adopt another little girl from China.. and that's where Twin #2, comes in. (Although she is #1, because she's older!)

About the Two "Twin" Terrors

The Two "Twin" Terrors are my sisters, Esther and Emma. They are both three years old and happen to be Chinese, but are all American girls!

Twin #1- Esther (AKA Tian) is the older of the two, by five weeks, and has been home since March 2006.

Twin #2- Emma is the youngest, but has been home longer, since August 2004.

They are the youngest in our family of six children, including myself (Sera age 16), Elena ( age 14), Kayla ( age 11) and big brother, Ian (age 8). They constantly have to be watched because they are smarter than all four of us, and know how to get into trouble. They love to laugh and sing, tattle on each other and hit one another, but seem to act like any normal twins would. They just happen to be caught in the middle of their "trecherous" threes. Oh boy!