Friday, January 22, 2016

A big day!

Today is sweet Jilly-Bean's first skull surgery.  They will be doing a "rear-vault expansion" - meaning they will be adding to the back of her head.  I should have gotten a picture of the "before" and "after" because it is AMAZING what they can do!  She will be in the hospital for around 5 days depending on her swelling and pain factors.



These aren't really the back of her head, but you can see that it is fairly flat.  As I mentioned before, the lack of space in the skull is putting pressure on her brain as well as on her optic nerves (which would eventually cause brain-damage and blindness).  Because she is home so much younger than Serenity - and getting the surgery so much younger, there should be very little long term damage. (Just a side note, if she had been born in the US, this surgery would have happened within the first year of her life.)

Look at this beautiful little face!


We just love this precious, energetic, cranky little girl!  Yes, she is very cranky - but she is oh, so, smart!  She reminds us a great deal of The Prince when he came home from Ethiopia.  He was the crankiest baby we had ever known - but he is also one of the smartest...so maybe it goes hand-in-hand. 

Please pray for her today.  It is always hard to hug my babies and send them in for surgery.  It just goes against the grain of my mama's heart....but I also know that this is so needed for her future growth and present comfort.  I just pray for God's sovereign Hand to be resting upon her and her doctors.

Catching up on all the news -life has been so busy, there has been so much that God is working on in my heart, and my computer has been on the fritz for weeks - I have just gotten behind.  You can pretty much bet if the blog goes silent for a while that God is working on our lives again and I just don't know what to say at the time.  There is always so much I have to learn.  So many things that I need to learn to hand over to Him....Heaven will be a place of rest from this wrestling, but until He calls me home there is still so much to learn.   Anyway - some of the things I can share now, others will have to wait for a while....

Little Grace is going to have rods put in her back for her scoliosis.  We were desperately praying to avoid this as it is a risky, painful surgery and it must be redone about every 6 months to extend the rods as she grows.  She has been in a brace, but when we went in for a check up, her scoliosis has progressed rapidly to the point that surgery has to be done.  But even as the tears were filling my eyes, her doctor said "BUT WAIT!"  and said that in this last year everything has changed in the world of scoliosis.  They have developed "growing rods" that are put in and then as they need to get longer, a huge magnet is put up to the child's back and it magnetically draws another little piece of the rod out without surgery.  They just roll the machine up to their back and click - the rod is longer.  Can you imagine?  It just took my breath away.  No more constant fears - no more brace  - PRAISE THE LORD!  I am still not happy about surgery for my precious girl - but this is SO much better than what we thought.  This surgery is scheduled for Feb 11th.

And since we are trying to get all the surgeries in before Handsome goes to China, Serenity is scheduled for her last pinkie to be "released" at the end of April.  I am also trying to get Jillian's thumbs released between Grace's surgery in Feb and Serenity's surgery....that way we will be free to focus on what Lucy and Peter will need.  I am so thankful that Handsome doesn't mind staying at the hospital - it is one of my least favorite things to do.  "Grammy" or I will go up during the day time so Handsome can go to work, but he will stay at night and on his days off.

We have very little information on Peter right now, but the information that we have makes my heart hurt.  He needs home quickly.  I have just run out of time, but will share more soon.  We are thankfully DTC/LID (dossier to China and Logged in dossier) as of last week - so we are praying we can travel by late spring/early summer.  Please keep praying.  We still have about $13,000 to raise for all the costs and fees involved.  We are trusting Him as He is always faithful.

Here is a picture of Peter from over 3 years ago - I cannot wait to get some updated pictures and information!


Until He comes.....

Monday, December 21, 2015

Here he is!

We received pre-approval (PA) from China for this precious little man.  His birthday is in just a few days, he will be 7 years old.  He has waited far too long for a family.




God's Christmas gift to us takes my breath away......

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Thank you for those who have sent messages with encouragement and concern.  We are still here!

It has been a jumbled season of searching and waiting, rejoicing and grieving.  I have stopped trying to sort out what may be because of our Brooke leaving and what is just this season of life.  I have spent time wrestling with my Savior - "Is this the path You would have us continue on?"  "We haven't missed a turn in the road, have we?"  "You are still leading and guiding us, right Lord?"  I have just needed His loving confirmation that we are indeed still walking with Him.  The wrestling takes a lot out of me emotionally.  When I have confidence, I can cling to Him and continue running.  When I start to question, I begin to stumble and fall as my eyes turn every direction but onto His face.  I let all the whispers around me distract and derail me. 

Yes, I am sure some of this is because the path has led us in places I never wanted to go.  I thought Brooke would be in awe of the Christmas lights and licking frosting from Christmas cookies off her hands.  We had already bought her Christmas dress as all the "little" girls have the same type of dress this year.  What do I do with that dress?  It seems like a little question, but it really is not....I can't bear to give it away, but I can't bear to keep it either. 

My days will be busy and full of joyful Christmas things and then something - like an email from the funeral home saying that her grave marker has finally been set in place - pops up and it brings the joyful noise to an instant silence in my heart.  I need to remind myself that my precious daughter is not spending her Christmas in a graveyard - she is rejoicing with the very Savior we are celebrating!  But emotions can be very hard to reign in and redirect at times.  Some days the grief seems quieter and then I feel guilty - other days the grief is roaring and I just can't find any relief.

We have also been wrestling over adding a second child to Lucy's adoption.  It would be so easy - emotionally, financially, logistically - to just get Lucy this time.  But our heart cries, "How can you leave one behind?"  We had several times settled on a child but then found out that child had a family coming - which is a cause for rejoicing!!!  But then we must wrestle again.  We know each time that happens, it means that God has another child for us.  We are completely and utterly confident of that.  But the wrestling in prayer can be a wearing thing.  We have submitted LOI (Letter of Intent) to adopt for a precious pumpkin that has been on our "list" for long time.  When we hear back from the country, I will post a picture and some information.  We will hopefully know by Monday.

We had the final post-placement visit with the caseworker on Tuesday for Hope and Serenity.  It is always a cause for reflection as we tell her what has happened over the past months.  She felt that Hope was a completely different little girl than when she first met it.  From one point of view, I can see that.  But my heart is always broken by the depth of damage that was done to her over her first years of life.  How would she be different if she had been in our family since birth?  I think seeing Jillian thrive in even the first few months she is here just emphasizes that.  But it is so much easier to think about "what ifs" and so much harder to answer the "what now?".  Hope is just such a complex tangle of hurt and missing connections and unknowns.  The other day, we did have a break-through with Hope.  My mom had her at the school table with the other kids and through a great deal of prompting, was finally able to get Hope to drop a little colored bear in a bucket.  This is the first time we have EVER seen her to this.  If she is just playing on the floor, she will pick up an item - but I have never seen her put an item in a bucket, box, purse, etc.  It is one of the "basics" of play.  She will put toys in her mouth or scratch on them or spin a part - but she doesn't put them in and out.  I was thrilled and sad all at the same time.  I purposely kept out of her sight because she seems to not be willing to do anything if I am watching.  I was reading a wonderful post by Susanna at The Blessing of Verity.   She was discussing Katie, a little girl they adopted from a situation even worse than Hope's, and she used the phrase "learned helplessness".  This just brought clarity to my struggles with Hope.  She won't even try to do things, like feed herself or pull herself up or pick up a toy, because she has learned to just sit and wait for it to be done for her.  Even worse, she has learned in the past that she will be punished if she does try.  How do you even begin to repair that type of damage?  Only through prayer and patience....and more prayer and patience.  Hope spends her days playing on the floor and scooting around the house in search of another item that she can scratch or bang on to make noise.  She does spend more and more time observing what others around her are doing and that is very good.  She gets very excited when new people come and she wants to interact, but she has not learned how to do so appropriately.  She does what we call the "octopus" in that she scoots very close and wraps her legs around the person.  It is very disconcerting to other small children and even to adults that are not familiar to her situation.  We are really working to help her with this, but without much avail at this point.  She ends up completely overstimulated and we have to remove her from them - which is very sad.  She is sleeping well finally.  I do still have to hand feed her all her food.  Occasionally,  usually when there has been some kind of change to her routine, she will fight me on the food - but she has plumped up and is growing taller.

So what are my hopes and dreams for her over the next year?  I would love for her to start to feed herself - like small pieces of graham cracker or Cherrios or something of the sort.   I would love to see her learn to interact with people on a more "typical" level so they can see how amazing this little fighter is - how far she has come - rather than the oddity of her behavior.  I would also love to see her begin to interact with her environment - such has putting toys "in and out" of something, stacking, etc.  I am still praying over how to begin with each of these things.

Serenity has changed so much over the last two years.  Physically, she has grown a great deal - plus the skull surgeries have altered her looks.  She now has glasses and her hearing aids are in process.  We finally were able to get her sedated hearing test done and she does have significant hearing loss.  Again, I am on pins and needles to see what differences the hearing aids make.  I am hoping it will begin to open up meaningful speech from her.  Right now, she has a few words that we recognize, but others may not and a lot of pointing and gesturing, with a few words in sign language.  She gets frustrated - we get frustrated....really praying for a breakthrough. 

We are finally seeing some progress with the potty-training!  I am so very relieved.  I had spent so much time praying over this and really felt it was an important part of her maturing.  I think if Hope has "learned helplessness", Serenity at times has "desired helplessness".   She still wants to be treated like a baby - but on her terms.  She doesn't want to have to use the potty - but she gets very angry if we don't change her messy diaper RIGHT NOW.   We still have a long way to go, but I feel like she is finally getting the idea. 

I have so many hopes and dreams for her.  They have changed as she has been home and we can see that there is more damage cognitively than we had originally thought - due to pressure on her brain and lack of oxygen at night.  But I know there is more to her future than searching from one mess to make to another.  She is just beginning to pick up books and look at them (probably due to the glasses) and she is beginning to try puzzles though she has a very short attention span.  As we have not been letting her be a "baby" with the Chipmunks (Jillian and Little Man), she has switched to being very bossy older sister and telling them "Mo!" (her version of "no") on most things.  But then she gleefully joins into their mischeivousness in the bathrooms and out of mom's sight. 

For her this next year, I am praying that the hearing aids make a huge difference in her attention span and her desires to learn.  I can't even imagine the frustration of only hearing bits and pieces.  She is doing better in her interactions with others, but we still have to work pretty hard to get her to keep her hands to herself.  She wants to run them through people's hair, on their necks, and even under their shirts....soooo not "okay". 

Jillian is thriving.  She has a very strong personality - not a surprise - so when she is happy she is very happy.  When she is cranky,  she is very, very cranky!!!  She and Little Man get into all kinds of mischief.  We call her the mastermind and he covers the PR once they get caught!  They are the dynamic duo!  She did have some abnormal blood work results as far as clotting as they prepare for her surgery in January, so waiting to see what that means.  But overall "thriving", "mischieveous" and "adorable" sums her up.

Grace is just being her beautiful, happy self but we are now planning for a surgery with growth rods for her scoliosis.  There have been some amazing changes in the technology and this will mean no more chest brace for 18 hours a day - which we could never accomplish anyway.  I am assuming this surgery will be Feb or March - hopefully before we go to get Lucy.

My kiddos are straggling out, so I am going to enjoy this quiet Saturday morning with them.  Will try to snap some pictures today, but here was our best attempt at a family picture the other day.  Yes, Romeo DID deliberately hide most of his face behind his brother and he may or may not have had to run a few laps for his choice to mess up the family picture after very specific warnings.  Keepin' it real here folks.


Until He comes, we will rejoice in both His birth and His death and resurrection to save us from our sins.  To Him be all glory, honor, and praise!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Day by day

The Lord is showing His faithfulness day by day to walk me through the sorrow.  I am missing Brookie even more as we are talking Christmas stockings, celebrations, and thankfulness.  It is almost one year ago that we decided to adopt Brooke and Jillian.  I went into Thanksgiving day with such joy that those beautiful girls were going to be ours.  I am even more thankful now....but oh, how I miss her.  How I would love to have her cuddled on my lap....

But day by day, I keep walking, knowing that someday I will be with her in heaven with our glorious Savior, Jesus Christ.

Jillian is simply amazing.  She is so adorable and smart. Nothing is going to hold this little girl back!  After our initial assessment with our amazing craniofacial team, the doctors were not overly concerned about her skull needing immediate surgery.  We then shifted the goal to getting thumbs for her, along with a few digits for each hand.  But a few days later, the craniofacial nurse called to ask us to have Jillian's eyes checked asap for any pressure on the optic nerves.  (You may remember that the pressure on the nerves was what catapulted Serenity into surgery last fall.)  They got us in last Friday - sure enough, there is pressure on the optic nerves.  Surgery for her skull is set for January 22nd.  I was hoping for thumbs....but obviously this is much more critical.  We will hope for thumbs before summertime now. :)

We are also coming up on the two year mark of Hope and Serenity being home.  I need to pull out the old pictures and do some comparisons.   Serenity, sporting her new glasses, looks so different.   I will need to get pictures.  Once again, the anniversary marks a time of me wrestling with what I had hoped for Hope and where she is at.  Has there been progress? Absolutely!  Is it what I had dreamed of?  No.  Is she better off?  YES!!!   So I need to be content in that.

This will be anti-climatic to some, but we are going forward with Lucy's adoption.  The grief of Brooke's passing was closely followed by the great fear that we would also lose our Lucy girl.  Having her here cemented her in our hearts like nothing else could.   As I said in an earlier post, I had assumed that God had brought her to us so that we wouldn't be tempted to "wait" awhile before the next adoption even though we would be worn out emotionally and financially after getting to the end of the race to get Jillian and Brooke home.  Well, it turned out to be much more - He knew we would want to just tip toe away from adoption and heartache for a while....but we couldn't without leaving our precious Lucy behind.  So here we go....trusting God to provide for all that we will need again.  We should be so excited to watch and see how He provides again, but instead we ache a bit.  Our "faith" muscles are sore from so much exercise....but here we go again.  He is faithful always

I will soon post our list of expenses, but for now our fundraising link at Reese's Rainbow is here and for The Shepherd's Crook is here.  We have completed the homestudy and are waiting on initial USCIS approval.  My prayer is that we can be DTC (dossier to China) by Christmas - this would take God moving things along smoothly and quickly - but is not outside the realm of possibilities because we don't have to redo fingerprints.

God is good.  My heart aches so much still - but as a mama, I don't expect that ache to ever really go away.  I just hope to learn to live with it.

But live goes on beautifully....day by day...birthdays and lovies and buddies...






Thank you for all the love and support.  I needed it....

PS - Still praying for my Angel Tree babies - Rudy and Ginny!




Until He comes....

Sunday, November 1, 2015

ANGEL TREE TIME!

I had found Reece's Rainbow many years ago, when we first began praying about a special needs adoption.  The first time I scrolled through the pages, I was honestly horrified.  All those children.  All those needs.  I was completely overwhelmed and quickly moved on.  But God continued to work on my heart.  Through the story of Kathy and Scott Rosenow at  The Shepherd's Crook He showed us that He could do amazing things through a large family, focused and dependent on Him. We found our precious Grace through The Shepherd's Crook.

Then the Lord brought me back to Reece's Rainbow after we had already begun Grace's adoption.  This time, my heart saw each precious face as an individual...a precious life...a pearl without price.  I was still overwhelmed, but in a different way.  I wanted to do something this time....I wanted to be part of the rescuing of these precious little ones.  Through Reece's Rainbow, we found Serenity and Hope - and have been fully engulfed in the world of special needs adoption.

Both The Shepherd's Crook and Reece's Rainbow have accounts for people to donate toward the cost of the adoption of a specific child.  It is an amazing way to help other families, even if you cannot adopt.  Each year at Christmas time, Reece's Rainbow has their "Angel Tree" - it is the opportunity through much promotion and effort to build the adoption accounts of these precious children needing families - a way to remove what is usually the biggest barrier to adoption - finances.  A child is not put on the Angel Tree unless they have a "warrior" - a family/person committed to advocating for that child.  The stated goal is to try to raise $1000 for each child.  Honestly, my hope is just to raise up prayer warriors to pray for my Angel Tree kiddos.

This year, there was a lack of "warriors" compared to the amount of kids that were able to be on the Angel Tree, so they allowed us to be warriors for two kids for the first time.  Both are very precious to us.

The first is Rudy.  We were his Angel Tree warriors last year.  It is heartbreaking to see him still there...still needing a family.  You can read more about him or donate to him here.

The second is beautiful Ginny. Look at those freckles!!!  Her description and donation button is here.

I will share more about them soon...but until then, PLEASE pray for them.  That God would raise up families to save them.

Until He comes....

Thursday, October 29, 2015

I'm still here....

I have been avoiding the blog a bit - but then I feel badly as I see how many people keep checking back to see if I have posted again.

Honestly, this blog was not my idea.  I am a very, very private person - my family was floored that I began a blog.  It was truly the Spirit pressing upon me that I was to share our journey.  That I was to be the voice for the voiceless even though I did not want to be heard or seen or critiqued.  But through it, I have "met" some wonderful friends - people with hearts like my own.  People doing things because He asked - not for their own gain, desires, or fame. 

Anyway, through Brooke's passing, I have wanted to hide away.  I didn't want to read another nasty troll comment or deal with someone else's opinion of what we should do or have not done - based on not a scrap of information - just their own self-righteous feelings.  Yes, I can see what site people have come to ours from - I know that we get a lot of "hits" from people purposely out to criticize large, Christian, adoptive families - yes, it is that specific.  I have gone to those pages just to see what is being said - and it is a bunch of foolishness.  Criticism without knowledge.  And even more foolish - criticism without offering any alternative besides "it isn't our job to save these kids" or more honestly, "let them die".  And most of the time no alternative is offered - just criticism.  I have said it before and I will repeat it again.  A few of these people may be very clever and witty in their criticism.  But clever does not equal wise.  These people rage against the children of God - I do not have to defend myself.  He says that retribution is His job, not mine.  I can leave it in His Hands.  I am sure some of you are even reading this paragraph now...I have nothing but true sorrow for you.  You deny Him and someday, when it is too late for you to still seek Him, He will deny you.  My prayer is always that you will seek Him.  That you will become children of almighty God.  He may not ask you to adopt or have a large family - He may call you to prison ministry, to the homeless, to another country, or to simply, but completely serve those you see everyday.  But this will all come from a completely new heart.  When you are saved, He tells us that He brings our hearts of stone to life.  We change from death to life.  One day - when you least expect it - He will either come or you will die.  You will stand before Him and will be condemned...not just for your nastiness against us, that truly is nothing - but for every lie, every evil thought, every thought that did not honor Him as God.  We all stand condemned - there is nothing we could possibly do to erase the tiniest bit of our sin.  James 2:10 says that whoever keeps the whole law, yet breaks it at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.  Cleverness and wit will not save us from a holy God.  Only the salvation offered through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Only His death on our behalf. 

The days have been full.  I still wish some moments that I could find a quiet moment to cry my heart out for my baby girl - but I am also thankful that I cannot.  I need to be with my children, I need to be with my husband, I need to be managing my home.  I need to remember that Brookie is not suffering, she is not lonely - she is with Christ!  One of my children is home forever - exactly where she should be.  I pray fervently that each of my precious children will be ready on the day that He calls them home.  This is my greatest prayer.

We are coming up on two years that Hope and Serenity have been home.  As always, I wish that Hope was farther along....but she is moving at her own pace.  There have been changes and growth - I just long for her to dance and sing and play with others.  Again, I need to still my heart to just rejoice that she is safe.  I will post more as we hit that mark in December.


Serenity is still struggling with wanting to be a toddler, not a six year old.  Some of my older kids help with the kids' classrooms on Thursday morning at our church while the moms are in a Bible study.  This morning, Serenity went as well.  It will give her some "classroom" time on a limited, protected basis.  We keep trying to find ways to help her be a "big" girl.  Potty training has been a complete failure so far - but I know it is a battle that we have win.  There is no reason she should not be able to learn with patience and a working timer.  We will just keep working at it...in 30 minute increments.  ;-)



I am out of time this morning...but will try to update more very soon.

Please pray for little Chelzey - still needing a family.  She most likely has AMC.  She is the most beautiful, amazing girl...



Until He comes....

Thursday, October 15, 2015

What to say?

I cannot even come up with a title right now...."Moving on" isn't right because it sounds like we are leaving our Brookie behind.  Any reference to time is hard to work with right now.  Time is moving on - that is how God designed life - but in some ways it still seems stuck on the day that Brooke passed away. 

I miss my girl.  How I miss my girl.  As I have seen with others going through grief, the time leading up to the burial/memorial is a complete mix of emotions - disbelief, intense grief, but we have something to "do" - we need to get ready for the burial/memorial.  Friends surround us - we don't have to go some place where people don't know we are grieving.  But then -as is right and good - life must continue onward....

Handsome felt it most after the memorial.  He thought he was doing really well, especially Sunday evening after the memorial.  We were surrounded by precious friends and family.  Some had come a long way to be with us.  One of my friends that I have not seen since high school came!  It was a mix of grief and joy to share Brookie's little life with so many.  My mom made the church look so beautiful.  We wanted it to be a celebration of her life, so we brought the special things that Brooke loved and reminded us of her that we had already put in a "treasure" box.  It made the most beautiful display as people entered, along with big beautiful pictures of her.  Each table had a sand pail holding balloons, rubber duckies (she love the bath), and candy sprinkled all around it.  It was so perfect.  But then Tuesday morning, he just simply missed her.  All the activity is done...and the "missing" is still there.

I think that part of my struggle is that I still think she is coming.  I have loved her from afar - from pictures and videos - for so long, I just feel like I am still waiting for her to come....that any day now the hole in my heart that is shaped just like Brooke, will be filled.  Four days just wasn't enough to make it real that she was finally home.  Getting her up in the morning was like getting to open another amazing gift - she was here!  She was mine!  Now my waiting continues, but in a different way.  I am now waiting for the day we are all together in heaven...

I have had to continue onward with doctors appointments and grocery shopping.  I almost wish that it was still tradition to wear "mourning" clothes.  Then I wouldn't struggle with how to answer the casual question by the cashier of "How are you?"  I really don't want to cry in the supermarket line, but I can't really bring myself to say "good".  I have settled for, "It has been a tough few weeks, but I am here."  No one really questions any farther.  It works.  Not at my blood draw though (I have to have my blood tested every few weeks to make sure the blood thinner I am on for life is at the right level).  She said, "I missed you two weeks ago, you never cancel!"  The tears started flowing before I could even really answer her....and then she started crying too....it was a mess.  I am glad there were not any other people in the lobby at the time.  I feel like I should have some sort of reward each time I return from a "normal life" thing without crying (too much).  Pretty sad, huh?

But even with the grief, my life needs to continue on.  Brookie is just tucked in my heart for the journey, rather than holding my hand.

And life is still beautiful.  Jillian is such a firecracker - just like big sister Serenity.  When Lou and Handsome first got them in China, it really seemed that she couldn't do much with her hands.  But they both allowed her the opportunity (and insisted a bit) that she begin trying to do some things by herself.  She has made huge progress.  She has now figured out that she has a tiny part of her hands that she can "pinch" something small with - like a piece of bread and feed herself.  She almost has the hang of using a spoon.  We found a sippy cup that she can use by herself.  She is SOOOO much happier.    The more she can do, the less frustration and temper tantrums.

She is still greatly limited and that brings a great deal of frustration and crying - very hard on all of us.  I am counting the days until her first huge appointment with the craniofacial team and the hand surgeon.  I know she will need a vault expansion sooner rather than later (making the back of her head bigger) - but I am really hoping we can get her in to have her hands worked on very quickly.  I know it will depend on what they find with the CT scan.  Eleven more days...

In the meantime, the most precious part is the camaraderie between Jillian and Little Man.  They are 7 months apart, but in many ways on the same level as Little Man is a little more advanced for his age (due to so many big siblings to copy) and Jillian is a little delayed due to orphanage living.  They make quite the pair.  We are calling them the "Chipmunks" as they run and play and get into mischief just like two little chipmunks would.  Oh, how I love it!  It reminds me of the days when Smiley, Romeo, and The Professor were all under two years old.  (They are only 2 months apart.)  It was crazy, but it was so much exhausting fun.  I will post more pictures soon - but here are two from the other day:



I think it has been very good for Jillian to see Little Man doing "normal" family life - she hasn't seen it before. 

So what does Serenity think?  We wondered as she still looks intently at people's hands and feet - what would she think about someone that looked like her?  It has been a weird combination.  She was very happy with Jillian's (webbed) feet like hers.  BUT she is not happy with Jillian's hands.  She keeps trying to pull the fingers apart - much to Jillian's dismay!  She also is obsessed with Jillian's head shape and wants to continually run her hand over it.  Needless to say, Jillian is NOT happy with all the touching - because it is very determined touching and Serenity does NOT back off!

It has been a tough time for Serenity.  She has her Lou back to love on her - she had missed her!  And Jillian is Snip's buddy - so Serenity doesn't have to share Lou - but she is still very jealous.  I think the biggest issue is that she wants to be like the Chipmunks - playing silly and rough, eating messy, doing "toddler" things...but in reality, she is a six year old.  It is the same way when we bring a newborn home - you realize that the next one is growing up...only Serenity would prefer not to.  It has been a good, gentle reminder to me that I need to start expecting more of Serenity, little by little.  We have let her stay in the "toddler" world, but it is not good for her.  I will of course still snuggle and love on her - I do that with all my kids until they decide they are too big to sit on my lap....but I need to help my little daughter start to move forward.  She has gotten so tall and her looks have changed.  She looks like a four/five year old - but she still wants us and company to pick her up and hold her like a baby.  It is getting understandably awkward for those outside of our immediate family.  When she plays with The Boss, who is 4 months younger, but in reality quite a ways ahead of her, she behaves on a higher level - not a six year old, but better than a toddler.  This has been good and The Boss does very well playing with her - but I am seeing she would prefer the "toddler" level, not the school-age level. 

So, I think our first step will be to potty-train her.  I honestly should have tried a year ago - but I am just simply completely dreading it.  I think that with her (as with everything with her) it will either be super easy and she will catch the hang of it immediately OR she will fight it tooth and nail.  Potty training is really, really, really not a happy thing to do.  I have not had an easy adjustment with any of my kids.  I would so appreciate prayers for patience and wisdom with her.

I am praying about some other ways to encourage her to move forward.  We have stopped putting her in a high chair even though that makes containing her as she eats much easier.  I also need to work more on letting her help with more and more things.  She LOVES having something to do but she HATES having to do it any way but hers.  I am praying for more direction and wisdom.  Please pray for her, that she knows she is loved completely and that she will learn to ENJOY moving ahead.

Thank you all so much for your prayers and support.  God is good.  Always.  We hurt, but we continue on the path He has laid out for us....