Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Ok, so I have not done as well as I intended at keeping up here-- but we have been posting on the family blog! Still, there is no excuse for not recording the EXCITING things that are happening with our Elli!!!

I must say, when Teri made this comment Jeremy and I just looked at each other like, "Wow. Really? Can she really be right?" It seemed so far off-- the day where Elizabeth would put two words together. Such a distant thing that it was hard to really even imagine. She has been copying phrases for awhile now-- even complete sentences sometimes-- but never using them on her own to communicate something to us.

Well, I am pleased and humbled and thrilled to announce that SHE HAS DONE IT!!! Our sweet lilttle Elli, who just months ago was not talking, has begun to put two words together!!! In the past few days, she has used the following phrases without being prompted:

"Go night-night!"
"Yummy, yummy oatmeal!"
"Take bath"
"Fruit snacks all gone."

It still seems a little surreal to think that she may actually learn to really talk some day!! I think that both Jeremy and I, while having hope in miracles and faith in our Father in Heaven, had in part resigned ourselves to the idea that she may never learn to communicate fully. Like having hope, while deep down thinking that it just wouldn't happen. I know that we have had many discussions over whether or not she could ever lead any kind of "normal" life. You have to understand that it took SIX MONTHS to teach her how to put food in her mouth! It took a year to get her to not be afraid of toys. It took WELL OVER A YEAR before she would consistently try to copy words we would say. When she first joined our family, at age 2 1/2, she would every once in awhile use a word, like "more" for a day or two, then stop all speech for a month or two. She had vocal tics (still does sometimes) that would drive me batty. She would have frequent tantrums and meltdowns because of lack of communication.

The Elli you would meet now is almost always HAPPY!!!! She understands A LOT! Sometimes we're not sure what or how much she understands, but compared to when she became ours, it is A LOT!!! Now, when I tuck her in and she wants a drink, I can tell her that I will get her one in a few minutes and she waits happily until I come back. It wasn't long ago that she would SCREAM if I didn't give her something RIGHT AWAY.

Elli is also letting us sing along with her much of the time (she can still be stubborn about that, but it does happen). She has a great ear for music, singing perfectly tunes that she has only been exposed to a few times. She is very deliberate when sitting at the piano-- not just banging like many kids do, but playing and then putting her ear close to the piano and really listening. She has been AMAZING in the past few months at singing the lyrics to MANY, MANY songs. She is great at memorizing. The other day, she was singing the song, "Bubble Gum." When she finished she said, "Little faster? Follow me," and proceeded to sing the song faster. Again, at the end of the song, "Little faster? Follow me," and sang as fast as she could! (: I was grinning ear to ear and asked her teacher about it. Surely enough, the CD they listen to at school asks for them to faster each time. So so cute.

Speaking of school, if you remember, the DAY AFTER I decided to set up this website, I was informed of a new preschool option for Elli. She has been going there for a few weeks now and it is FABULOUS! I cannot even tell you how pleased I am with the teachers and facility. It is perfect for her. Still two hours a day, four days a week, but now with a smaller class size and more teachers. More importantly, the head teacher has really taken charge of Elli's education. She has really, truly worked to insure that Elli's day fits her needs exactly. There is a lot of structure-- and a lot of stimulation. She does the exact same routine every day, and it is so so good for her!! The classroom has a trampoline, ball pit, and swing. It is full of toys that have music and texture. It is just, well-- perfect!! Elli's vision/mobility specialist, Eileen, has transferred to this new school with Elli and has told me that Elli is just blossoming there, and last I heard, has not had ANY TANTRUMS. YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

One especially cute thing-- they have been working on "quiet hands." This means that she has to take her hands from her eyes (where they so often are) and put them on her lap. They count to three and if she keeps them there, she is rewarded with an M&M. Well, Elli is very motivated by food! (: It is hilarious to watch her, as I say, "quiet hands!" She'll put her hands on her lap and then reach out almost frantically for her M&M. It is so hard for her to wait the full three seconds, but she is getting it! Soon, the time will be lengthened, and she won't always be rewarded. Eventually we hope that she will consistently do "quiet hands" even without a treat, and we can get those hands away from her poor eyes!!! The optometrist says it is a concern, because eye-pressing can push the eyeballs back into the head. This of course, isn't a concern vision-wise, but cosmetically it is, and I don't want her beautiful eyes to be pushed back!

So, are you ready for the cherry on top?

The other night, I was putting Elli's jammies on and she said, "Go night night?" I said "Yes, we are going night-night." She then surprised my by saying, "oatmeal?" I answered, "Yes, when you wake up, you will have oatmeal!" She then said, "bath?" I said "Yes, then you will take a bath." She replied, "rock-a-bye?" I told her that I would rock-a-bye her. She didn't say anything else, so I asked, "Then what?" She replied, "Bus?" I couldn't believe it. I was actually having a conversation with my little girl. It may not sound like much, but this was really my first (and only) real conversation I have had with Elli. It felt so good. She really seemed to understand what we were talking about! Again, I was filled with the hope that Elli, might indeed, rise above the struggles that have been hers and understand life.

I have always known that God could heal Elli. He could heal her completely, eyesight included. But I have not known that He will. I still do not know. He could very well keep the miracles coming beyond our wildest dreams, and she could live a life of great accomplishment-- graduating from college, marrying, and raising a family of her own-- with or without vision. Or she might level out right where she is, living dependent on us for the rest of her earthly life-- never learning how to read or talk with others or even use the bathroom on her own.

I am fine, either way.

I really, really am.

Because I know that HE knows what is best for her and for our family. I will love her the same EITHER WAY. And I know that SOMEDAY, because of HIM

my Elizabeth Mei will sing and talk and laugh and converse in full. and be FREE (one of my favorite pics EVER)
from the chains that now bind her. I know it will happen.

But I YEARN for her happiness NOW, and it sure seems like that would most likely be acheived if she were to live a "more normal" life here on earth! (: If she could one day have a conversation with anyone she chose. If she could experience the wonder and joy and adventure that comes from learning to read. If she could hold her own precious child in her arms.

And so, I hope!

And I find GREAT REASON to hope! Because this week, our Elli spoke two words together, on her own!! Because this week, our Elli at an ENTIRE bowl of oatmeal by herself WITHOUT me loading the spoon! Because this week, our Elli tried to put her jacket on by herself, and almost succeeded. Because this week, Elli giggled and laughed and sang and went entire days without crying.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Home sweet home!

Two days ago, I had one of my most exciting/sweet moments with Elli! We had been outside playing, and as we walked into the house, she got a big smile on her face and said, "Home! Home!" I don't think that word has ever sounded so sweet as it did right then to me. Whenever we walk into the house, I tell her that we're home-- but it's not something I can really have her feel and practice like I can with an object. "Home" is more of a concept-- and she had obviously gotten it! (: My heart just sang and I was just so full of joy! What amazing miracles we are seeing!

On another note, today I put Elli on the trampoline while I cooked dinner. I can see her out my window, and she was having a great time. At one point, I noticed that something seemed a little, well, off! That something was her pants and diaper! Yes, our little Elli was jumping naked and happy on the trampoline. I wish I could have taken a picture, but I'm not sure if she's too old for that... She was so cute!

Also, I just realized that today Elli hit the big 50!!! Yes, she now has FIFTY words that she can use appropriately-- I AM AMAZED! There was a time where I didn't know if we would ever see this day!! So... I am setting a new goal. We are going for 100 words by the end of April! Even as I type it, it seems unbelievable that she could do it-- and yet I know that she can do it with HIM! We have been so blessed and have seen the Lord open up so many doors for her. The first 50 words were mostly made up of words that she has had a lot of experience with, and ones that we have been practicing for months- so it will be a stretch to get 50 NEW words! Can she do it??? I'm thinking so!


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Curry Connoisseur

It was mentioned that I hadn't put "pillow fight" on yesterday's list. I had thought about it and decided not to, because it was a concept-- and up until now I had only been listing actual objects that she was touching and recognizing what they were and naming them. Well, Jeremy pointed out that her knowing what a pillow fight was is even more advanced than knowing an object. So, I've decided to add it, along with other words that she uses that don't necessarily fit under the "objects she can recognize by touch." So thanks, guys, for pointing it out to me!!

Today, Elli was not really happy with her peanut butter and jam sandwich, and didn't seem interested in eating it, as displayed by throwing it on the floor. I finally said in exasperation, "Elli, what do you want?" She immediately replied, "curry!" I was shocked! Last week Jeremy brought me home some curry from a Thai restaurant, and I had given her a little for dinner. Apparently, she really liked it!! It is one thing for her to name something like "banana" because she eats those all the time. But to name something she's only had once was ever so much more exciting! (:

Sadly, I didn't have any curry for her. ):

Friday, March 13, 2009

Blind luck?

So this is kind of a weak entry, but it is a great story, and has obvious relevance to Elli. It will be fun to see Elli's life unfold and the miracles that will occur for her. Click here to read a very inspiring account:)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pillow fight!

Once in awhile, my darling kids will round up all the pillows in the house and have a "pillow fight" with Elli. This consists of them dropping pillows on top of her while she laughs uncontrollably. We haven't done it for awhile, but tonight as I was tucking Elli in, she took hold of her blanket, hit it hard across her face and started giggling. Then she did it again and called out, "pillow fight! Pillow fight!" It made me so happy that she remembered the word for something we haven't done in a long time! YAY ELLI!!! (:

Monday, March 9, 2009

Enjoying Elli

If you haven't seen the slide show of Elli at the bottom of this blog, it's worth your time to sit through it. And if you have seen it, it's worth your while to watch it again. Go down to the bottom of the page. Turn up the music a bit. Double click on the slides so you see them bigger, and just drink in Elli. It will without a doubt lift your spirits!


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Families are Forever

It was a beautiful, sunny day today and so after church, we decided to drive to the cemetery. We had been going regularly after church for a long time, but hadn't been for quite awhile due to the cold/snow. When we got there, I told Elli that we were visiting Jacob and Emily. She was so cute-- she would jump on their headstone and giggle and say, over and over, "Jacob and Emily!" She is always so happy when we go there, and I feel that it is because she is somehow aware of the special connection she has with them. Indeed, if it weren't for their short lives here on earth, she and Graci would not be in our home. It is amazing how the Lord works and how He brings to pass His eternal purposes. I know that we will all be together someday, and for that knowledge I am so very grateful. I love you, dear Jake and Emmy! Thank-you for all you have done for our family, and for guiding us to China. We know we will see you again!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Up the stairs!

Tonight as I went to put Elli to bed, I realized that we didn't have any new words to add to her list. We were downstairs and so I brought her to the bottom of the stairs, put her hand out, and let her feel a couple of stairs. I was about to tell her what they were, so we could practice, but I decided to just ask her instead. I thought if she said anything, it would be "carpet," but as she felt the shape of the stairs, she said, "up the stairs!" YAY!!!!!!!! Every time we are going upstairs I tell her, "Elli, we're going up the stairs." Apparently, she has caught on! She doesn't usually feel them with her hands-- just walks straight up-- but she was still able to tell what they were by feeling them. I am continually amazed at the progress she is making. She is truly a different girl than just a couple of months ago. I am so so so very happy for her!! Watching the world open to her through language is truly miraculous. I am so grateful to a loving Father in Heaven who has been with us every step of the way.

Oh, and P.S. Les-- Yes, Utah Truffle Bars are worth every one of their 306 calories! Sometimes we split one-- and it's still an indulgence! More often, I eat the whole thing myself and won't let Jeremy get within 10 feet of it. Once in awhile, when I'm being really good, I'll break a bar into thirds and make it last over 3 days. I like to eat them slowly and let them melt away in my mouth. Can you tell I'm passionate about my Utah Truffles? Mint, to be specific. Eat one a week and you'll be happy for the rest of your life! (;

Friday, March 6, 2009

A heartfelt post

I'm exhausted, but nobody can say I didn't write today! (:

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Tantrums and truffles

To say Elli woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning is an understatement. The tantrums she has had in the past were angelic compared to the one she had this morning! I must say, we were quite amused!!! She woke up with a goopy nose and I'm sure she wasn't feeling well. I'm not sure what exactly set her off, but as Jeremy sat her down for breakfast she began what was craziest tantrum I have ever seen. She was screaming and crying and throwing her tray off and flailing herslelf onto the floor. Then she thrashed around in such a rage that I could barely pick her up. I finally calmed her down enough to the point where she took a bite of oatmeal. As soon as it was in her mouth, she started screaming again and threw down the spoon. She then reached in the bowl with both of her hands and began shoveling sticky oatmeal in her mouth, all the while screaming and shaking. I couldn't help but laugh!! That probably sounds horrible, but there was nothing else to do!! Jeremy even got out the video camera to start recording it! I'm toying with posting it, but I think we would be tried for child abuse. (: She was covered from head to toe in oatmeal and was still screaming and shaking while shoveling oatmeal in as fast as her hands could go. When it was gone, she was even more mad! I put her in the bathtub and washed her off, and eventually coaxed her into the rocking chair where she finally cuddled up to me and started to calm down. I have NO IDEA what made her so upset! Like I said, I'm sure she wasn't feeling well-- but that isn't really anything new-- she gets colds often and they usually don't phase her much. I am happy to say that the rest of the day went perfectly well and she was very excited to learn her new word today-- "sticky blocks." They are those blocks with the prickly sides that stick together-- and there was something about that word that she loved saying! We would go through other words, and she would keep going back and saying "sticky blocks" and smiling and finding them on the floor. So cute.

It was four years ago this week that Elli was found along the side of a road by an older gentleman. She was brought to the police station and from there to the orphanage. I cannot even say how blessed we feel that she found her way from that road into our hearts and home. Just four years ago, a mother had to say goodbye to a beautiful little girl. I cannot wait until the day where I can meet her and express my love and gratitude for the amazing gift she gave us. I love her dearly for it.

Today we finished EVERYTHING for our newest adoption! The dossier was Fed-Exed to CCAI and now we just WAIT! I am so excited to be at this point!!! It feels so good knowing that we have done our part and that he will be in our arms soon. We love you, little Chu Chu!!

And now I leave you to enjoy the finest chocolate ever created! Yes, a mint Utah truffle bar is waiting for me on my pillow. If you have not yet experienced one of these, you have not lived. I truly believe this. So as you go about your business tomorrow, stop at a Deseret Book or Seagull Tape or Walgreens or even a random gas station (most of them carry Utah truffles_ and treat yourself to absolute bliss. If you live outside of Utah, you are still in luck. You can order them online in bulk, and the only thing better than buying one for yourself is buying them in bulk to share with all your friends! (:

Good night!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Family Blog

Tonight I decided to finally post over on the family blog instead of here. I will add Elli's "word of the day" and say that she had a fabulous day. She was singing her heart out almost all day long. (:

Monday, March 2, 2009

Cousin It

This "every day of March" goal of mine is all that's making me blog right now! I'm exhausted, sick (just a cold) and want to curl up in my bed! My mind is all fuzzy right now, and I can't think of anything meaningful to say. So, I'm going to write about our Elli's hair!!! You will surely get a laugh out of this picture. For some reason, Elli's hair if left undone falls right over her face. It's just the way it lays. This is the reason I almost always it in ponytails of some kind-- if I leave even some of it down, it is always getting in her mouth and eyes. I've told people that her hair really falls forward, but to prove it, Jeremy took this picture. (: This is after having combed it nicely following a bath, but not putting clippies or ponytails in-- just a nice side part. Ten minutes later, it looked like this! Gotta love it!

As far as the new word for today-- we had another trampoline moment! I was getting Elli out of the car and put her hand on her seatbelt and asked her what it was. She felt it for a second and said, "buckle!" It was so cute! I had never practiced this with her. I am constantly talking to her and telling her what I'm doing, but never know how much she is comprehending. It is SO REWARDING to have her using some words and learning that she IS GETTING SOME THINGS! She's obviously listening when I tell her, "it's time for me to buckle you!" (:(:(:(:(:(:(:

Thanks so very much for your comments. They truly mean so much to me-- every single encouraging word. Truthfully, there are many times that mothering Elli is overwhelming, to say the least. So, THANK-YOU!

Ok, the bed is really calling out-- goodnight!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A word a day...

I was just thinking, if I am blogging every day this month, a good goal would be to add one word to the sidebar each day. It may not seem like much, but at the end of March, she could have 31 new words-- AMAZING. My rule with adding words is that she has to be able to identify them by herself at least an hour after we've taught them to her. For instance, she may copy something I'm showing her, but if I show it to her later in the day and she can't identify it, it can't go on the list. Maybe trying for this will give me added incentive to really work with her-- and I do feel like she is really wanting this and able to do it now. So... I'm adding this as a goal-- I'm praying for 31 words for March!! I know it can happen through HIM. Let's watch the miracle unfold!

Enough joy in one...

I am so in love with my kids! I don't always show it, and find myself nearly every day wishing I had spoken more kindly, taken more time, listened with more interest... Still, I cannot imagine loving them more!! The other day I was down about something, and then Elli started singing at the top of her lungs, "The Star Spangled Banner." I really need to get this on video, as it would surely bring a smile to your face. (: She doesn't pronounce every word, but is very much on key. Her voice is so so unique that you cannot help but smile and even laugh. I was thinking, "you know, if I cannot find enough joy in just that to get me through this day, then I am truly crazy!" In fact, I think I can find enough joy in just one of my kids to be really happy in my life! Really, each one brings such a swelling to my heart that I cannot imagine how I have become so blessed. I am so very grateful.

Tonight we had a VERY exciting thing happen. I was walking Elli downstairs to go to bed. When we got to the bottom of the stairs, I saw her trampoline and decided to try something. I put her hand on the bouncy part and asked, "What's this?" She bounced her hand on it for a few seconds that blurted out with complete clarity, "trampoline!" This is the first time (at least that I can now think of) that she has labeled something without having ever been coached. Usually, we practice with her, and then she may or may not remember it the next day. So this was VERY exciting! What's probably more exciting is how she seems so happy when she can say a word. It's like something has turned on in her that makes her WANT to learn and WANT to succeed. She smiles so big when she can identify something by touch. I am really feeling that we are on our way to more and more communication, and that is amazing beyond words. (No pun intended).

So, come on-- are you completely impressed that I have done two days in a row? (: I'm really committed to keeping this going!