to China for Clementine – my favorites: Shamian Island

Yesterday marked nine months since we met Clementine. We didn’t celebrate with a cake or a photo session. Our girl is still deep in the recovery stages of open heart and slide tracheoplasy surgery. I’ve shared a lot of the last few weeks on Instagram and I’m not sure yet if I’ll sit down and blog about it because it was so very hard, y’all. I walked through an open heart surgery with Isabelle shortly after she came home, and thought I had an inkling of what it might be like. I was wrong.

I just thank the Lord He went before, beside and behind us, in a mighty way. I am thankful for each of you that prayed on behalf of Clementine as she struggled so badly with pain and anxiety. And I am thankful to be on the tail end of a long and hard road that began in late January – the day we found out Clementine had complete tracheal rings – thankful to be done with the surgery that will give our girl every chance at a long and healthy life.

So here I go again, now nine months home, back to posting my favorites from our China trip. And oh, this day was such a sweet day. You’ve probably already heard me say it a million times before but Shamian Island is my favorite. And these pictures, from one of the few days we spent there with Clementine, are some of my all-time favorites, too.

I mean, just look at her. Safely snuggled in the arms of her new baba.

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He was starry-eyed for her from the beginning, but the way he fiercely and unconditionally loves her now? It’s heart-melting.

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But she wasn’t completely sure about him (or that beard) at the beginning.

Nine months later and he is one of her favorite people on the planet. When she was hospitalized, one of the only things that would make her smile during the long and often painful days was Face-timing with her daddy.

And boy, did he make her smile. And squeal. And make smooch-faces.

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This day was also a joy for our bigger girl, Sophie. To take her back to a place we had visited when I was in China bringing her home over nine years ago felt like giving her another piece of the puzzle as she matures and processes the realities of what it means to be not only adopted, but adopted from another country.

I didn’t have to ask twice if she wanted her picture taken among the statues on the island.

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And I didn’t have to ask twice if she was up for eating an ice cream cone in the very same spot (and at the same age) as her brothers when they were on the island.

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It was such a joy-filled day. I smile just going through these pictures.

But I am also struck that on this day, we had absolutely no idea that Clementine was so very fragile or her trachea so painfully tiny. God, in His wisdom, kept this special need from us until it was time for us to know.

He is Faithful and True.

Happy nine months together, little brave one. The best is yet to come.

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here and now.

It’s been a while since I’ve pulled out my big girl camera for anything other than the slew of birthdays we celebrate over the summer.

But this is a special occasion. I wanted to capture our girl, where she is right here and right now, before heading into this great unknown. Also known as the tracheal slide surgery, but the great unknown sounds better.

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She’s walking now. Like, no more scooting or bear walking or crumbling like she used to do. Girl is officially a toddler.

Sometimes, instead of wanting me to pick her up, she’d rather me just hold her hand.

*gulp*

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She’s climbing, too. She conquered the furniture about a month ago… first the couch, then the kitchen chairs and then the kitchen table. I have no idea what’s after that and honestly I’d rather not think about it.

She’s also showing great interest in the stairs, but mama don’t play when it comes to the stairs. Until she’s fully recovered from this surgery, stairs are a no-no for our fragile-but-doesn’t-know-it girl.

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She’s really into giving kisses and sits with her smooching face on until her kiss is received. She is very discerning in who will receive her kisses – her current favorite recipients are her biggest brothers, possibly because they are two of her most ardent admirers.

Goodness, how a little girl can melt the hearts of a couple goofy teenaged boys… one of the countless gifts we have been given in making this little love our daughter.

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She talks constantly. What she’s saying we’re not exactly sure, but thankfully that doesn’t seem to stop her. There is always someone close by who is happy to join in her conversation.

She loves signs and her very favorite show is Signing Time. (That song, y’all.) She is quick to pick up a new sign and is learning to use quite a few to let us know exactly what she wants – down, dog, eat, all done, outside, ponies, mama, please, swing, book, music and drink are the most frequently seen. She is also nodding yes and no, not always correctly, but it’s fun trying to figure out which she’s trying to convey.

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Her imagination is growing, too. She imitates wiping down the counter, sweeping and folding clothes.

She loves to find objects that (to her) resemble a phone, and then carry on looong, animated conversations with the *person* at the other end. A stray Mio container, a block, or her hand will do, but her favorite is an actual phones. Duh.

If you haven’t seen the video of Clementine being interrupted on a *phone call* by her very own foot, you really must.

She also imitates feeding herself, complete with loud and boisterous smacking. And she’s generous too – almost always willing to share her pretend unidentified-but-clearly-yummy treat.

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Her newest Mt. Everest (other than wanting to climb the stairs) is learning to pedal a bike. She loves riding around the house on the back of the trike, pedaled by any number of willing big siblings. But lately she’s wanted to be in the driver’s seat.

This girl is pretty amazing.

Despite her crazy tiny trachea and her painfully long bouts with illness over the winter and spring, Clementine has gone from being completely non-mobile in December to walking, climbing and pedaling.

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I have no idea what the next few weeks hold for our girl – how she will tolerate the surgery, how she will react to being in pain, how her trachea will heal or how her little body will recover.

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But based on how she’s handled every other challenge placed in her path, I have a hunch she just might amaze me.

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Clementine’s real special need

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When we reviewed Clementine’s medical, it was pretty boring. In a really good way. Down syndrome, a minor heart issue and developing relatively well. Once we’d committed and were well into the wait, we got word of her breathing issues. Asthma? Pneumonia? Bronchitis? She was hospitalized for the entire month of April. Then in September […]

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to China for Clementine – my favorites: Martyrs Park

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I started going through these and sharing my favorites when we’d been home with Clementine about six months. Now we’ve been home eight, but I’m not quitting. I think I can, I think I can… Getting ready to take our girl in for a major surgery is getting me a little weepy. And nostalgic. And […]

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Isabelle = 11

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Isabelle (not-too-long-ago) turned 11. This is a girl that thinks about her birthday for approximately 360 days a year, give or take. During the 6 months that follow her birthday I refuse her attempts to engage me in birthday-themed conversations. You know, all the things she’d like to get for her birthday, what kind of […]

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Today is the day.

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13 days ago it was my birthday. And I asked y’all to partner with me to help heal a broken heart. 8 days ago Meredith and I talked about who would be the recipient of this effort. The one who, right now, most needed it. And we decided it would be for Joy. As always, […]

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for joy

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Look at this sweetness. The newest arrival to Morning Star. Meet Joy. Meredith and I talked a bit about this precious little one and her desperate need for corrective surgery in the next few months. And we both agreed, we should use the funds generated by the sale of So Loved to help heal her […]

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it’s my birthday and I want to do something wonderful. join me.

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I love it when it’s my birthday, because I get to do special stuff. Ask for special stuff. And usually, because I’m the birthday girl, I get what I ask for. Last year I asked y’all to join us in celebrating a new little one who would be joining our family. (Can you believe it’s […]

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sixteen is pretty sweet.

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a mama’s gotta do…

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School’s out. Which means I have all of my babies, from the littlest to the biggest, home. As must as I wish it were otherwise, this is rare. Due to Zach’s college schedule, sometimes this phenomenon only occurs twice a year. Which leaves a mama with only one thing to do. Insist on taking pictures. […]

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