What can I say other than it was as wonderful as we imagined all those years we were waiting, hoping and praying for a family...even more so now that we have our daughters and have grown to know and love them more than we thought possible. They didn't really get the whole Christmas thing, but they sure liked being with everyone, getting many hugs and kisses, and playing with all their great new toys. Our main gift to them were two comfy, pink chairs with their names on them and they LOVED them. They sat happily in those chairs for about an hour as we handed them their presents on Christmas morning - it was so cute to watch. I don't know how many times we looked at each other and just marveled at how blessed we are with these two beautiful girls - our girls. We spent Christmas Eve with Jonathan's side of the family and Christmas Day with mine; it was a very Merry Christmas and one we will always cherish as our first as a family of four.
Grandpa and LilyKate after our church's Christmas Cantata.
Grandma and Eleanor share a cookie.
Okay, we still aren't happy about this Santa guy.
Daddy and Mommy climbed in the sleigh too, but it didn't help much.
~~~CHRISTMAS EVE ~~~
Aunt Lisa and baby Seth opening gifts.
Jackie's ready for her presents.
Travis looks up from his video game long enough for me to snap this.
Aunt Shelby and Matthew.
Eleanor introduces Grover to a friendly bear.
LilyKate kissed her new Elmo all night.
Matthew is happy with his new Transformers!
The girls went missing for a few minutes and were discovered playing in the trash...eggnog makes pretty good fingerpaint!
Aunt Eleanor and little E share a toy.
Our tree on Christmas Eve.
~~~CHRISTMAS DAY ~~~
Daddy and his girls on Christmas morning.
Eleanor is happy and ready to see what Santa brought.
LilyKate says let's go Mommy, there are gifts to open!
Sitting in their new chairs and opening presents.
LilyKate checking out her stocking.
Mommy tickling LilyKate.
Daddy and his easy E.
Uncle Sean and baby Joey.
Cousin Jack shows off his cool new Transformers.
Daddy and LilyKate share a laugh.
Our beautiful daughters in their Christmas dresses.
I swear I did not intentionally take a three week break from posting. The weeks after Thanksgiving, and leading up to Christmas, are always really busy for us and this year is no exception. It is hard to believe it is Christmas already and we have been home for six months with our daughters. I fully intended to post something on the actual date, December 15th, but somehow I just never found the time. That seems to be a familiar refrain lately, but better late than never, right?
A little over six months ago, we gathered with 9 other families in a hotel lobby in Nanchang, China, filled with anticipation and nervous energy. The day we had all waited for had finally arrived and we were about to meet our daughters for the first time. We took some photos and chatted about nothing and everything and then it was time; all we had to do was cross the street outside our hotel (no easy feat in China) to the Jiangxi Province Adoption Center, and the babies would be brought to us around 10:00 a.m. Our good friends, Susan and Riz, snapped this photo of us while we were waiting for the babies to arrive. They were coming from 6 or 7 different orphanages, so we had no way of knowing when and who would arrive first. This picture illustrates the best I ever looked in China. After we got the babies, all attempts to do hair and makeup were pointless; if I actually had time for either, it didn't matter since it would all melt away as soon as we stepped outside into the hot and humid Chinese air.
There were two or three families who received their babies before us and everyone was so excited and happy for them. There was a bit of a lull and then there they were, Xin Ling and Xin Long, soon to be LilyKate and Eleanor, in the arms of two nannies and wearing the outfits we had sent in our care package. The moment was beyond surreal, yet more real and vivid that any other time I can recall. They were handed to us and we spoke with the orphanage director, who gave us several items, including some small toys we had sent, a book from the orphanage with photos of the girls and their foster mom (a treasure!), as well as their finding ads. We can hardly remember what was said, because all we could see was those two beautiful babies and we just wanted to hold them and kiss them over and over, through tears of joy and happiness.
They have grown and changed so much since then, we look at the pictures and marvel at how small they were. They have blossomed into two funny, feisty, adorable little girls and every day with them is an adventure and a blessing. Happy six months sweet girls, we love you more than we could ever put into words, and having you here with us is the best Christmas present we have ever received.
LilyKate and Eleanor - home for one week - July 2008
Eleanor and LilyKate - August 2008
LilyKate and Eleanor - September 2008
LilyKate and Eleanor - October 2008
Eleanor and LilyKate - November 2008
Eleanor and LilyKate - Christmas 2008
Merry Christmas! Thanks for all the sweet comments, helpful advice and much-needed support. It has been a great year for us and we wish you all love, peace and much happiness during this holiday season.
The girls have been sick again this week and are still not over this terrible cold. Jonathan and I both have minor cases, but I think if we don't start getting some decent sleep, it might be awhile before we are all back to normal. I am frustrated that they are sick again, since we all had colds at the beginning of November, but what are you gonna do? So, I have hardly had time to brush my teeth, let alone post anything. These normally happy-go-lucky babies are whiny and clingy and just want Mama to hold them. I feel so bad for them and wish I could make it go away.
Anyway, here are a few pictures from Thanksgiving, and the weekend after, to tide us over until we feel well again. The girls had a great day, ate everything in sight and played with their cousins for hours. We saw lots of family and had a wonderful time. On Saturday, the girls had their first photos with Santa taken. Let's just say that Eleanor was less than thrilled with the whole experience and if we got a single shot in which she is not crying, I will be surprised. We will see the proofs this weekend. We don't have our tree yet, but hopefully we'll get one this weekend and do all the decorating. I can't believe Christmas is less than three weeks away!
Daddy took these first two shots as he was getting the girls dressed. This is our happy LilyKate.
And our sweet, silly Eleanor.
Their cousin Morgan made them laugh like crazy by jumping on this bean bag.
Eleanor having a great time with Morgan.
This is so much fun!
LilyKate thinks it hilarious.
Uncle Andy and Aunt Lisa have only boy toys, but the girls don't seem to mind.
Eleanor and Jackie loved playing on this big, stuffed bear.
Eleanor took a little longer than LilyKate to start walking, but she's an old pro now. I love the look of concentration and the pointed toe.
LilyKate loves to laugh.
Uncle Andy with his goddaughters - E and LK
We went to Jonathan's brother Daniel's house on Saturday night to help trim their tree. Eleanor was very interested in cousin Seth's bottle.
This picture has been a long time in the making. Finally, we have all our children together under the tree. From left, Morgan, LilyKate, Matthew, Eleanor, Travis, Seth and Jackie.
And, next year there will be one more! Daniel and Shelby, parents to Travis and Matthew, are expecting their third child, a girl! We are so excited and happy for them.