Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ
2 Peter 3:18

Friday, January 28, 2011

Update on our Baby Girl

We were headed out the door for dinner when this:
came in my email inbox!  I've been waiting for this picture since we mailed her her birthday happies.

The first part of the email was the results from her 1 year MRI.  We knew that she had it last Friday and that they'd have the results Wednesday.  I was really hoping we'd get the good news before the weekend.  And we did.  Everything was completely normal- no need for further monitoring.  Most of you know Eliza Grace is considered "special needs".  She was born about 5 few weeks premature.  Amazingly, she only spent 5 days in the hospital after she was born and has been with her foster family ever since.  As part of the screening for orphans she was given a neurosonogram.  This is a very common practice in Korea- Korean adoptive parents insist that this test be run.  Most brains, however, are not completely developed at the time that this test is run.  EG's had something that didn't look "perfect" so they did an MRI at 6mos which also didn't look perfect.  So they scheduled a follow up MRI for 1 year.  Because all of these tests have been a matter of formality (as opposed to being in response to any abnormal symptoms) we weren't really all that concerned about this test, but it's always good to know that everything is looking good. 

The added bonus is that we got another picture of our girl.  This time with her care package that we sent for her birthday!  I'm so glad to know that she got it.  I doubt it made it there by her exact first birthday and the babies stop going to the doctor once a month after their first birthday.  I was concerned she might not get back to Holt until her next well baby check in March.  I can not believe how big she looks!!Miller was really impressed too- "look how big she gotten!" She then pats her on the head through the computer screen and tells her we're coming to get her.  And I love her little hair sticking up out of her bow.  So ready to meet her.

We love you Eliza Grace!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Girls' Birthday Parties

Before the month gets completely away from me- I need to post about our girls' birthday parties.  I think this is actually the third post covering Miller's birthday.  From taking a cookie cake to school, celebrating the actual day and then having a party with her friends, the celebrating has definitely gotten spread out! 
We'll start with Eliza Grace's party because it was first.  Her first birthday was on the 10th.  She had phone calls from a couple of her great grandparents (I was completely impressed that they remembered her special day- so sweet) to start the day off and then as a family we went out to eat and opened her birthday presents.

We went to one of our favorite Asian places- sadly there's not a purely Korean place around, but this is pretty close.  Our server was so confused when he was taking our drink orders.  He was trying to concentrate on us, but his eye kept wandering to the picture of Eliza Grace with a 1st birthday hat strapped to it!  I explained that we were celebrating our daughter's birthday but that she wasn't home yet.  I think he got it, but then all the staff thought she was Chinese- and were completely confused when I said she was from Seoul!  She'll be here for her next birthday- we'll let her do all the talking!

In Korea the first birthday party is called the Dol and it is a BIG deal.  Here's a fun website to browse- check out the check list for your dol.  Let's just say, we missed a few things!  One fun part of the Dol is the doljabi.  This is a game where the baby is place in front of a group of toy objects that represent things in her future.  The party guests watch as the baby crawls to and grabs something of interest.  The first things the baby grabs are supposedly the most significant- or will be their career.

We did a version of this.  Obviously Eliza Grace wasn't here to choose so I printed a few cards with some icons on them folded them up, put them in a bag, and Wilson and Miller got to choose- blindly.  Miller chose an abacus and Wilson chose a crown.  So we'll have a royal accountant! (the other options were a computer, drafting table, microphone, black board, and paint- mostly things from our family members' occupations)

Her birthday presents- before and after.  The books and bunny were from us.  I bought the Little Miss Spider book last spring.  The Lord had just begun to work in our hearts about this adoption journey when I pulled this off the shelf at a local store.  In it Little Miss Spider gets separated from her mom after her egg hatches.  An older bug helps her as she searches and keeps her safe from danger.  In the end she decides that a mother is not someone that looks just like you, but the one that loves you best.  I bought the book right then and there- just in case these whispers in my heart ever came to be.  Her brother drew her the picture and Granna got her the baby doll.  Her Aunt Ashley got her the car- it was a set of two.  We sent one in her care package and kept one to have when we get her.

At the end of the week it was FINALLY time for Miller to celebrate with her friends.  This was quite the wait for a three year old.  She new she was having a party at the church with the jumpy and her friends and asked everyday between her real birthday and the party day if TODAY was the day for the jumpy (eight days-  in case you were wondering!)  She had a great party.  All she really requested were cupcakes- so the church and jumpy were just icing on the, well, cupcakes!  The highlight was that the tube from the jumpy to the blower kept coming detached.  Most kids were traumatized, but Miller who knows no fear thinks it's hilarious and is still talking about "da jumpy fell down!" with a huge smile on her face!

 Pirate cupcakes for the boys
 Princess cupcakes for the girls

 The initial spontaneous jumpy deflation 

Unca John getting schooled in the finer points of princess beauty products

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Big Adoption Week . . .

 We've gotten several fun adoption related emails, FedExes and phone calls this week.  Since Eliza Grace was one on Monday, she had what's called her 2nd physical exam.  It's basically her monthly check up, but because she's a year old now they consider this to be an "official update" for her pediatrician here.  She'll also only be going to the doctor every other month now.  She's about 30 " tall (50%) and 21.5 pounds (also 50%), saying Mamma, Daddy, and food and has four teeth.  She plays pat a cake, waves goodbye, imitates other's behavior, and plays ball.  This is a very standard form, so there's not a lot of insight into her personality, but it's always great to see that she's growing and developing!

Earlier this week we received a receipt for some of our immigration paperwork from the Department of Homeland Security and it had our address listed in the wrong state.  So, I called to make the correction.  While I was on the phone with the officer she let me know that our I600 had been approved!  I absolutely can't believe it- it took less than a month even with all the holidays!  So we are officially done with US paperwork, now we wait for South Korea to do all of their processing.  I'm still saying it'll be this summer before we get her, but with all that's happened maybe we'll get to see her a little sooner.  MAYBE.  Wilson was so excited when I told him- he is so ready for her to come home.  He keeps saying out of the blue "I can't believe they're done with our paperwork and that we might get her before the summer!"  Love that boy!

Then when I didn't think things could get better- we got new pictures of our girl today!  She's gotten enough hair that they've put a teeny tiny bow in in some of the pictures.  It also looks like "grace" is not only her middle name, but a goal to shoot for.  She's got a bit of a bruise on her eye and forehead.  Being a toddler is hard work!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Congrats, congrats, congrats!!

There have been LOTS of Seoul babies submitted for their Emigration Permits in the last week.  I am SOOOO EXCITED to say that one of those babies is the daughter of our dear friends Amy & Patrick.  They have been on this roller coaster entirely too long, but have remained mindful that the ticket for the ride was issued by the One who knew exactly when they would cross the finish line the entire time.  What a great example to the rest of us twiddling our thumbs.  We can't wait to meet Evelyn in person- 6 weeks and counting!!  I don't know if I'll be able to sleep tonight.

CONGRATS, Amy Patrick!!

PS- Amy, It's a good thing the whole "Pandabrella Incident" didn't go on our permanent records.  We may never have gotten these babies home!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Happy First Birthday, Eliza Grace!

Tomorrow (in central MS) it will be Eliza Grace's first birthday.  In Seoul the day is half way over, so I'll post now as she is on my heart and mind. 

When we started this processes we had no idea where our third child was.  If that child was a boy or girl, whether she was in our country or one far away.  If he was a baby or a child.  The Lord quickly led us to Korea and as we began wading through the specifics of that country it became a home away from home that we'd never even been too.  Our child was there (or soon would be).  We were encouraged by the fact that children were eligible for international adoption at an early age, the process moves fairly quickly, and that we'd likely have our child before they were a year old.  I never dreamed I'd be going to bed the night before my baby's first birthday with an empty bed upstairs.  It's so strange to miss someone you've never met!

As I look back over her first year I don't have the memories that I do with our first two.  I have a calendar date of when she met her milestones, but no memories of clapping and jumping around like an idiot when she first smiled or sat up.  I viewed her first steps in a photograph where she grinned and eagerly walked between her foster mother and social worker.  The reality of what it's going to be like to pull her away from these trusted and loved people is really starting to sink in.  Honestly, we're a little nervous about the transition.

I do have one thing from her first year that is a true gift.  We know exactly what we were doing and where we were when she was born.  She was born on the evening January 10th (very early in the morning here in the states).  Normally I would not have been awake at the horrid hour of 4 or 5:00 in the morning.  But on January 10, 2010 Phil and I were in Disney World, on bus, preparing for him to run his first marathon (he got to have the pain with this birth!).  I love how the Lord works out the little details- I love that we had such a memorable day on her birthday.

Weather permitting (we're being iced in as I type for those of you who are not local), we're planning on having a little dol (Korean first birthday party) tomorrow night complete with a few little gifts for when she gets here.  But I thought I give her something tonight.  Actually its a regift.  Something Phil gave me years ago.  Long before we were married.  We were actually juniors in high school. 

It was around this same time of year and my granddaddy had just died.  My grandparents lived in Greenwood and my family had gone up the day before the funeral.  Phil and my best buddy, Lauren, came up for the funeral.  I was heart broken and desperate to return to school so I wouldn't miss a day and have to talk about why I'd been gone and then fall apart at school.  So, I said goodbye to my family, rode home with Phil and Lauren, and spent the night with Lauren's family.  We were driving down the two lane highway, my head was leaning against the cold glass, tears were streaming down my face, it was starting to get dark. 

Now would be a good time to let those of you who don't know Phil know that he is a sky/space/weather nerd.  I mean that in a GREAT way.  He is completely amazed by it all- the handiwork of our Father.  As a kid he saved money to go back to space camp- he loved it that much.  If your ever with him during a good lightning storm- get ready.  Each bolt is like the first one he's ever seen- I LOVE IT!  If there's bad weather, he's picked up right where my mom left off and I never have to remember to go the store or get away from the windows.  He knows what all those weather maps mean.  I'm in awe of how this trait was etched in him from the beginning of time- long before we met, long before we married, long before we knew about Eliza Grace.  Back to the story.

So as the cotton fields are flashing by in the twilight, Phil takes a hand off the steering wheel and pats me on the leg.  He looks into the sky.  "Look, he's smiling back at you. . ."  I looked up and the only portion of the moon visible was a tiny sliver at the bottom.  A small smile- very similar to the one often seen on Granddaddy's face.  And that was quite possibly the best gift I've ever received.  I have a regular reminder of my granddad (the only one that is no longer with us).  I don't necessarily notice each lunar cycle, but each time I do I smile and say a little hello to him.

What in the world does this have to do with Eliza Grace?

The moon is the little smile right now.  I noticed it last night as I was loading groceries after fighting the "a snowflake is going to fall from the sky" Kroger crowd. 

I've been reading and thinking about ways to incorporate Eliza Grace's birth mom into our lives.  We more than likely will never meet her and we don't know a lot about her.  Some people light a candle on mother's day or on the child's birthday.  But that just doesn't really fit us.  Some people write letters and draw pictures and either keep them or send a copy to the agency in case the birth mother ever expresses and interest in the child.  I love that idea, but don't want it to be forced and Eliza Grace may not want to do that.  I love that the moon is smiling on her first birthday.  We now have this to remind us of the wonderful day she came into the world.  We can now look at the moon smiling at us and know that it is also smiling on her birth mom.  It can serve as a spring board for conversations throughout the year.  We'll notice it when we notice it and talk about her when we feel like.  I can write what's on my heart all day long, but I'm not so good at talking about important things- or bringing them up.  God has known this from the beginning.  He knew it the day he made the moon.  He created Phil to be small child that was in love with His sky.  He pushed Phil's desk next to mine in Algebra in the 8th grade.  He hung the smiley moon in the sky on the day of my grandfather's funeral.  And brought it back out on my 3rd child's 1st birthday to provide me an eternal opportunity to talk to my daughter about her history!  Wow.

So, I know this has been long and there are very few pictures (not something I particularly care for) but I wanted it all down for our family.  Stay tuned for pictures from our family's celebration of her big day and hopefully some of her- we should be getting an update soon.  In the mean time Google 'Korean Dol'- these parties are insane- it will more than make up for my lack of pictures. 

Happy, happy, first birthday, Baby Girl!  I'm smiling at you, too!!

(no it's not the actually moon outside right now, a google image will have to do, have you seen the ice out there!?)

Baby It's Cold Outside!

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Happy 3rd Birthday, Miller!

Well, this is you as a 3 year old!  Hard to believe that this is how Wilson was when you were born.  He seemed like such a big kid and I still think of you as my baby.  I think if I had to sum you up in one word it would be spunky.  You are contagiously silly and if you get tickled, bless the black heart in the room that does not get tickled too.  Your preschool teachers are smitten with you and say they love it when you start laughing.  You are very expressive and we love the drama on your face when you get excited- it's too cute!  You are also quite head strong and know exactly what you want.  For example- your attire.  We have been having some pretty big wardrobe wars lately.  Not that we disagree on styles, but that I prefer you get dressed and you'd rather just wear a t-shirt and panties!  You enjoyed this outfit quite a bit during the holidays, but when it was time to go back to school- wow.  It was not fun convincing you that you had to put pants on.  (and no a dress is not what you want either- everyone suggests that, like I haven't thought of that :)  So we have finally found a compromise.  You wear a tshirt and then pick leggings or tights and a tutu to go with it.  I have to say your clothing of choice has been much more colorful and much more "you" lately.  Of course as soon as we walk in the door from anywhere the tights and tutu are left on the floor by the back door and you are back to the pantsless wonder that we all love!  But the battle is over at least until bedtime.  I just can't let a little person go to bed in a short sleeve shirt and pull up with no pants when it's below freezing outside.  I. Just. Can't. 

Soon your little sister Eliza Grace will be home and you have very mixed emotions about that.  You proudly show her picture to anyone who'll look and announce, "that's my baby sister".  After Christmas we rearranged "your" room to make it "y'all's" room and this brought a whole new realness to this sister thing and you've had a few cross words here and there.  You're pretty protective of your things and want to make sure that we know what is yours and what's EG's. But you happily welcome anything new for her and were quite distressed when we mailed her blanket to her.  I can't wait for her to get her to see how the two of you do together.  (I'll probably be regretting those words soon, I'm sure!)  But I know having such a great Big Sister so close by will be priceless for Eliza Grace and I know you're going to play a big role in her transition from her foster family to ours.

Miss Moo, I don't know what we did before you.  I know it was a lot less colorful around her, there wasn't quite as much giggling, it was a lot less sticky, and I went months at a time with out saying the word tutu.  I had whole tubes of chap stick that did not have the ends gnawed off and no one in this house appreciated my shoes!  We love you little girl and love how you've turned us upside down!

These are a few pictures from your birthday morning.  You've caught your brother's lego bug, but he doesn't think you're old enough to play with his.  So, you got some of your very own.  You have had so much fun building and rearranging your new Duplo circus and pet shop.  You also got two new books.  Goldalicious and Mary Englebreit's collection of Fairy Tales (to go with her Nursery Rhymes & Nursery Tales books you already have).  You LOVE it and we have read most of them already!  It was your favorite gift you said (that was before you got tutus and pretend cupcakes from Granna & Pat Pat!).  You had a great day and were much loved on!  Thanks to everyone for making it such a special day for our Miller!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Merry Christmas From the Ethridges

So, this Christmas season got a little too hectic to actually get Christmas cards out before the big day.  I bought some cards before the big day (but not enough for my whole list) with the intent of going to another store and getting more.  I also wanted to wait until we knew for absolute sure that Eliza Grace was ours so that she could be included in the picture.  Then two grandparents went in the hospital, a child got the stomach virus, paintings had to be painted, family had to be visited, the other child got the stomach virus, a niece was born, a third birthday is tomorrow . . . well you get the picture.  Actually you haven't gotten a picture because I haven't mailed it!  So I had to greatly slash the Christmas Card List because for some strange reason Christmas Cards are not for sale in January!  So for all of my Blog and Facebook friends here you go:

Welcome Home Baby Ely!

We are glad to report that baby Eli got to come home yesterday! So we headed straight over to her house to meet her after school today.What a little sweetie! She's teeny tiny and slept the whole time we were there. Which made her perfect for holding!
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Happy Birthday!

Well the big day isn't really until tomorrow, but Miller took a cookie cake to share with her school friends today. She also needed to wear the birthday hat Granna gave her on her first birthday! This is miss moo with her teacher "miss feather" & her bff Caroline. More to come tomorrow!
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Monday, January 03, 2011

What a girl

What's more girly than falling asleep in a tutu, on your cupcake quilt, wearing sparkly gold shoes, with a tutu wearing unicorn watching? Gotta love it!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Welcome Ely Marie

The newest cousin has made her arrival!! Please join us in welcoming our first niece (how cute is she!?).

Ely Marie Hatchett
December 30, 2010 | 12:58 pm
6lbs, 7oz | 19.5"

Miss Ely is the second little girl in our family and is already proving her skills at being a princess in need of the spotlight.  She's enjoyed getting everyone's attention by changing colors every now and then.  As a result she'll be spending a little extra time in the hospital nursery as the doctors and nurses evaluate her to figure out what's behind all of her little episodes.  Personally, I think a sparkly tiara might just be the cure :)

Please join us as we pray for her speedy release from the hospital and for Phil's sweet sister, her husband, and our nephew Matthew as they endure the trials of having a newborn in the hospital. 

For updates on little Ely please visit their blog.  I've also added a link on my Favorite Blogs page- it's Matthew and Ely.

Happy New Year, everyone!