Sunday, January 3, 2010

2009 all over again in speed fashion

New Years Eve 2008
As tradition has it, we have spent New Years Eve on the beach with great friends toasting in the New Year as the final sunset of the year fades into the Gulf of Mexico. I love it & I love spending time with my family and friends.

Weston & Mali, one year ago.

Final 2008 sunset

Jan. was all about getting on the roller coaster ride of emotional ups and downs in the adoption world. Starting in Jan 2009, I boarded the ride and never got off until spring.

I decided to take care of the care package photo album that would be sent to China and took the boys photos and labeled them in Chinese characters of Mom, Dad & brothers, simply because I wanted to feel closer to China & have the satisfaction of crossing something off of my list of things to do.

Feb 2009
A lot of time was spent enjoying the company of girlfriends. & I had a birthday where I turned another year older and a wee bit wiser....or so I'd like to think.

We even had a weekly date night because our husbands all went out for poker night. I spent a whole lot of Feb & March stressing over the never ending paperwork fiasco when Homeland Security managed to leave our I-700 paperwork in a very unsecured location TWICE. Needless to say, I don't miss the paperwork headache of adoption....though I still need to take care of the readoption process. Ugh. I also decided that my dear husband held a deep desire to be the secretary of a Board of Directors for the cranky neighborhood we live in. & I sent his cute mug to every mailbox to be re-elected. I annoy him. & in Feb, I was introduced to the RQ underground which becomes greatly entertaining when you are on the cusp of referral & all your favorite buds are down under with secret little names. Shamefully, I admit I spent a few to many hours searching for rumors. On a perfectly chilly weekend, at the end of Feb, a few of my bestest girls came for a visit, where I introduced them to "bullshit cold paradise." ;0)PugMama and I continued our quest to find one single rumor that would tell us if our 7th & 8th LID's would be included in the batch of referrals that were due to arrive. Photographic proof of our obsession with the RQ underground during that time of our life. I haven't been back to the underground since China either.
The disappointment of knowing we had missed the cutoff by one day was quickly gone by knowing that our March 7th LID would be next without a shadow of doubt. Half the stress was wondering if we were or weren't in. I was so giddy with joy in knowing that we would be next!
& on March 7, 2009, we were the first group of waiting families to hit the 3 year mark that many doubted would ever happen, we also knew it would be our last referral countdown of chalk in the road that had become a monthly tradition for 3 LONG years.... I found myself with many overwhelming feelings and was happy to accept the invite to my friends lake house for the weekend with my family to decompress my brain.

~~~It was fab~U~lous~~~ When the relaxation of that trip had worn off in about 10 seconds, I ate my way through the rest of March... ...and enjoyed a lot of cocktails on my favorite island with some really dear friends.
I was 'Storkin' It' the entire month of March and my brain was not fully inside my head. My friends agree=0) At the end of March, I decided to say goodbye to my first home in cyber world where I spent 3 years rambling about BOD drama behind the gated community of hell where I reside, my gyno hygiene regiment and the sexual assertiveness of ducks. It was time for me to bring the blog up to a G rating...or at least strive for something obtainable, like PG-13.
So my sassy friend M created 'Adding a Sister' for me to call home.

On March 26, we rumor seeking nuts got wind that the CCAA had begun matching.

It was the oddest, most overwhelming feeling to know that my family file was being dusted off after years of sitting on a shelf to be examined for the perfect little girl for our family. I was overwhelmed with emotions, knowing she & I were both existing on opposite sides of the world.
April 2009
April arrived with much anticipation and anxiety, where the rumors were running really thick about referrals being held until after the Swine Flu epidemic was over. It was almost more than the human heart could bear when hearing one rumor (from a really shitty agency) that referrals would be held for at least 6 months until the flu situation could be assessed better. Knowing that we had already been matched left me with a heavy heart and a huge headache.

Colleen flew in for what we thought would be a difficult time for me, but what turned out to a rock star kind of weekend.
April 3, 2009
We saw our daughters face for the first time and fell completely head over heels in love.
There she was, our Emerson Grace. My favorite quote in life proved to be true again,

"Life is not measured by the amount of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away".... and that she did.

I'm sure that deep within the dictionary there is a word for what I felt on April 3, 2009...but I have no idea what it would possibly be. My heart was overflowing with joy and our 3 sons could not have been more proud to have a face to go with their dreams of having a sister.
The boys spent the weekend with Grams & Gramps while Colleen, Jason and I spent the weekend with lots of friends celebrating the referral of our sweet Emerson Grace.

And I must have asked myself a dozen times that weekend...."Did that really just happen?"

It couldn't have been better planned to have Col in town to be there with us as we received that long awaited call that we had a daughter.
We danced, we sang on the dock of the bay, we showed everyone the face of Eme Grace and we popped the cork of champagne as we celebrated, VIP style, every.where.we.went.
On April 23, G had a golf tournament where he played his personal worst and I rode along simple to entertain I guess. I don't know why they bring me to these things. G worried night and day about my ability to be still and yet they always tempt fate by dragging me to sit in a golf cart and not cheer my boy on. That was the tournament where I decided that my 'Bar in a Bag' should be a patented design;0)
We spent a lot more time with friends at our favorite island just soaking up the sunshine and trying to not think about anything China related.
We relaxed in the pool and my dh was feeding me his lovely concoction of the paradise drink. I blame him for my 10 lb weight gain prior to China.
May 2009:

On May 8th our TA arrived along with some special friends to celebrate Eme Grace at a party my dear friend had organized.

It was such a beautiful party and we will forever be grateful to all those that knew how much this celebration meant to us. We were so excited to share this moment with our friends and family. It was joy quadrupled.

May 21, 2009

My wonderful husband & I boarded a plane for China to pick up our daughter where he handed me a sentimental silver necklace that says, "Dreams Come True."

So after one long a$$ flight, we landed in Beijing, China with our traveling pediatrician
and managed to find a wine tasting event in a local grocery within an hour after getting to the hotel.
We stocked up on a few essentials and then spent our entire first night doing that G.O. Cashing thing that our ped was in to and had the time of our lives. We were all over the streets of Beijing and there were several times I didn't think we were where we should be...especially with the amount of cash that we had taped to our chests. But it was so much fun and we thoroughly enjoyed being with someone that knew how to enjoy the culture and had that zest for life that I love. This picture is of one of the statues that the little tracking device led us to that you have to *claim*, I don't know the lingo for it, but it was a fun activity to pass the first night in a new city and it was a great way to tour by foot.
& in May, another dream came true where we walked as far up the Great Wall of China that our legs could possibly carry us.
The Forbidden City was another exciting site to see.
After a 3 hour flight to Nanchang, in Jiangxi China we were told that the Shangrao babies would arrive that day instead of the next. Our babies beat us to the hotel where the the years of waiting had culminated to that one moment... on May 24, 2009 at 4:30 in the afternoon I walked into a crowded room and immediately saw my daughter, where a perfectly wonderful stranger handed her to me. My heart had never felt such emotion.

She was perfect.
And in that moment, we became a family of 6.
After a short while of watching other miracles take place in that room, we walked out of the room and headed back to our room and I looked at J and said, "Did that really just happen?"...

"Did somebody hand me this perfect little girl and allow me to walk out of there with her?"
to which he responded, "That really did happen."
We spent the remainder of our time in Jiangxi soaking up the culture. Neither one of us felt any jet lag in China, but it was another whole situation upon returning to the U.S.

On May 29, as we were packing up our room to fly to Guangzhou, when some ladies knocked on the door and delivered a cake to celebrate J's birthday. It was the most memorable birthday ever for him.
We said a bittersweet goodbye to Nanchang, the place where our dreams came true.
& moved on to the magnificent White Swan hotel where the food was fabulous and we felt as though we were right at home with the warm temps, the beautiful palm trees and the quaint little shops.
We had a lot of fun on the island as we waited for our paperwork, to bring Eme home, to be completed. We did our cute little swearing in, in a room full of babies waiting to make their journey and received the last piece of paperwork necessary to come home. Our Chinese girl was about to become an American girl.

On June 2, Eme Grace became an American citizen and was introduced to another whole world with a homecoming that was emotional and sweet. I missed my sons so much and couldn't wait for them to meet their sister. They were smitten the moment they saw her.... and on that night, my whole heart was home.

Our family was complete. June was super difficult. I lived much of it in a fog. Eme was super stressed with her new life and terrified to detach herself from me long enough for me to pee. I struggled with jet lag, 3 energetic boys, laundry, dishes, cooking, shopping and cleaning. June flew by in an exhausted sort of way. We watched Eme struggle with her Daddy. She was terrified of him in China, but her fear only worsened after coming home.
In the midst of our fog, my son became a teenager. He is a boy who makes us proud and he was a tremendous amount of help with Eme. She would only let him hold her besides me. Eme experienced a lot of firsts in June.

She ate her first icecream cone!
She enjoyed her first swim in the pool!
She took her first float in the beautiful Gulf of Mexico! She took her first boat ride!
And she went on her first bike ride!
& on June 20, just in time for Father's Day, Daddy had his first breakthrough moment with his daughter in the pool. She opened up her heart just a wee bit to allow him in... By the end of June, we were still struggling with a scared little girl that was slowly adjusting to her bright new world.


Colleen and Hannah came for a visit and we had a grand ol' time with all 5 kids.The boys spent some time at Grams and Gramp's house playing with their cousins. They golfed, swam and made all sorts of memories with their grandparents.
Emerson learned to move her arms and feet in a bear like crawl to get to where she wanted to go. This is a prime example of 'how not to crawl' =0) & though she figured out how to move, it also spoke volumes to us and validated many concerns. AND, before I receive a hundred emails that your child or your friends child learned to crawl this way, please remember that Eme spent the first 15 months of her life as an institutionalized child being tied to that damn potty chair.
Summer pics of the kids

At the end of July, my baby boy turned 5.

August 2009
The boys spent more time at Grams and Gramp's house making memories, while Daddy and Mommy worked on getting Eme to feel safe and secure.
She turned 17 months old in August as well.
Right before our school started, Eme & Mommy took a quick trip up to Georgia to hang out with PugMama & LowLow and Mare & Sophie. It was a laid back kind of weekend and we really enjoyed watching the girls play.
As soon as I returned, it was time for the boys to start school.
G went off to 8th grade, his last year in planet middle school...

Cole started his 5th grade year, his last year in elementary...
& fun W began his schooling career in kindergarten...
With all the back to school excitement, Eme learned to walk=0)
We took a quick trip up to Disney to meet up with Colleen and family for one day of fun at Disney!
But the adult fun came that night when we sang & danced at Jellyr0lls!
After 2 hours sleep, we loaded up and headed back to get J to the airport on time for a flight to Buckeye world, where he met his brother for game day.
After a long journey for my dear neighbor, they finally celebrated Jaylee day in the Philippians and we could not have been happier for them!
After Col & family finished their week long vacation at the happiest place on earth, they swung by our neck of the woods for a few days of fun. We had a great time and I only wished they could just move down here!
Ms. H is a certified beach bum for sure.
Eme also discovered bling and her great desire to wear 20 necklaces at a time should have made her the Mardi Gras baby winner of the year.
Once Eme could walk, she really took off with discovering the world around her and going outside just so she could walk became a favorite activity of hers.
October 2009
Eme & I made our way to North Car0lina for a weekend with the girls.
How exciting for so many of our girls to finally be home after 3 years of gathering without them. We were missing a few that couldn't come and a few babies that are still to make their journey home.
At the end of October, C turned 11. I can't believe how fast he's growing up.

Eme was introduced to her first Halloween where she quickly got the hang of asking for candy from strangers;0)
November 2009
A month that marked Emerson's 6 month homecoming. The differences in her are night and day. She is truly our hero.
& on Nov. 20, J&I celebrated our 16th anniversary, where I rewarded him for tolerating me all these years & promised him that the best was yet to be;)
We gathered at my inlaws for a fabulous Thanksgiving feast with the entire family where we competed in a Pinewood Derby race, cornhole and golf. It was a spec~TAC~ular time!
December 2009
J resigned his famous position from the BOD in order to pursue a paid position;0)
It was easy for him to do, but I have sort of a lil' control issue that kept me feeling all warm and fuzzy after our years of harrassment behind these gates of hell within our association. My girlfriend got an itch to hop a plane and spend some time with me being goofy gals with no kids. It was a weekend with no husbands, no kids and no responsibilty. Gawd that was fun with a capital F!
Christmas came and it was more than perfect knowing that our family was all home.
It was magical.
& just as the year began, we stood on the beach with good friends, great food and smashing cocktails to say goodbye to another year gone by and usher in the new one.

& when the final sunset of 2009 fell into the Gulf of Mexico, a part of me was really sad to see another chapter in our life close. What a beautiful Eme filled year it has been for our family. Amoung all the challenges we faced this past year, we also have peace deep within our souls of where our journey is headed. We know that the future is completely unpredictable and the story has yet to be written for 2010.

Here's hoping to a bright, healthy and prosperous new year!


Shari U said...

I'd have to say, all in all, 2009 is a year you'll never forget! You guys do a lot of stuff! What a post, that was awesome.

Abby's Mom said...

Great update. Happy New Year:)

Joanne said...

Great recap of an awesome year! Loved this post :)

lora said...

What a GREAT Year!!

Jennifer said...

What an amazing post and what an even more amazing year!

Isabella's Mommy and Daddy said...

Great post.. and what an AMAZING year...
Happy New Year..
Have a great 2010...

Sandra said...

That was awesome. What a fabulous year!

3 Peanuts said...

WOw...what an awesome year Tracy! Eme is such a lil sweetie.

Colleen visited a lot. You two are so lucky to have formed such a close friendship. I have formed one or two as well though adoption but I don't get to see them as much as you two get to see one another.

I hope 2010 is just as fun and even more relaxing than last year for you.

Colleen said...

Well shit that was a FUN year! I forgot really how many times I came down. LOL! Lets do it again THIS year.

That was a great post T. I loved seeing the progression of Eme, those smiles just got bigger and brighter. You really have an amazing life and family. I'm so glad I was able to be such a part of everything last year. Thank you..and love you bunches.

Kristy said...

This was just a beautiful post and I remember it all.... Have a very blessed 2010.

Love and blessings, Kristy

Ani said...

What a great way to remember this past year. Here's hoping that 2010 is as blessed as 2009!

Briana's Mom said...

You certainly had one amazing 2009! Fantastic post!

Good luck to J with his new business opportunity!

Debbie said...

2009 was full of ups and down and I so enjoyed following along as you told us about your stuggles and your joys. So glad that Eme is home and has blossomed into a beautiful young girl!!! Your family is complete and the smiles on your face seal the deal!!!

Laurie said...

Wow! What a year. You are such a fun family to follow.

I never knew about the necklace J gave you on the way to China-so sweet