A bit about the Himsels

In July 2011, we were drawn to a posting by our adoption agency of a little girl that was soon to "age out" of the orphanage in China, and they were hoping to find her family before her birthday in February, when she would no longer be eligible for adoption. After reviewing the information, giving it alot of thought and prayers, we knew she was to be our daughter. So we started the paperwork chase to bring her home. But God had a bigger plan in mind for the Himsels. Along the way, we decided to pursue adopting a little boy, and that journey actually led us to two little boys, who are 18 months and 14 months old. All three children are located in the Guizhou province. We are excited to be so close to bringing home Ella (Jinglan), William, and Ethan, and we hope you follow along with our journey.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ella's Musical Debut

Our little Ella had a big night on Tuesday. Her class participated in the fine arts night at school and she was up there with all the other kiddos singing her heart out.

How appropriate that the theme for the night was America. I was one proud mama watching my little American singing with the rest of them with a big smile on her face. She even had her own special dance part in one of the songs and her grin was from ear to ear when it was her time to dance.  Way to go Ella!

While at the program, we met a number of parents with children in Ella's class.  Every one of them said something about how excited their child was to have Ella in their class.  The school has been so welcoming to her and really has made her transition so much easier. 

She is really doing well with her English also.  They have provided her with an iPad in class so she can use Google Translate to communicate with the teacher, but she rarely needs to use it herself - they really are only having to use it when they need to give her very specific instructions.  She seems to understand quite a bit when we are talking around the house, and she is starting to say a few phrases in English.

And most of all, she really loves school.  She has a smile on her face each morning before she leaves and gives me a thumbs up when she gets home.  Almost sad that next week is spring break and she'll be stuck home with me during the day.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Another horse lover in the making

Andrew had another horseback riding lesson this week and I took the whole zoo crew along. After a few laps inside the arena, his instructor took Andrew outside to walk the trails and get some outside instruction. So Ella, the boys and I decided to check out the horses in the pens outside. There is this cute little fellow named Charlie B that is just so gentle. Ella and I both had been petting him and he was certainly begging for more. I thought we had the boys a good distance from the fence when I heard Ethan making this clicking noise and waiving to Charlie B. Well Charlie B was more than happy to oblige Ethan. He bent his head down, stuck it thru the fence rail and stretched all the way over so Ethan could give him a good rubbing on his nose. Not a bit of fear from the little guy.

Luckily I had my phone out where I could snap a few quick photos before I felt I needed to move Ethan further away. Any longer and I'm pretty sure Ethan was going to try to check out what Charlie B had been snacking on.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

LIfe is changed forever

Yes indeed, our sweet William could not let his younger brother take the spotlight for too long - our sweet William shined last night.  With lots of determination, William started walking yesterday, and is quite proud of himself.  It was a sad day for mama though because I am traveling for work this weekend and missed it live.  I was in the middle of dinner when Chris sent me a few videos via text to watch.  Had no idea what I was going to see but I had tears in my eyes when I saw how excited William was making this milestone.  Grandma Ruth (better known as MawMaw to the kids) had the honor of seeing his very first steps first hand.  Congratulations sweet little boy!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Our little Ethan - oh boy are we in trouble!

Yep, we were pretty sure that Ethan was going to keep us on our toes and we certainly haven't been disappointed. This little guy is a ball of laughing, giggling energy. Well, until he's not. He definitely has his two extremes. But the ugly Ethan really only peeks out when he's tired. The very vocal Ethan shows up when he's hungry and when he he wants something William has (which is pretty much anytime William has something). Otherwise he's all smiles and laughs. Of course, Ethan knows how to turn on the charm - I'm pretty sure it served him well in the orphanage. For example, he's our food thrower. If he doesn't like something or he is done eating it, he tosses it wherever he can. We've been working on it, and if caught in the act he will flash me the biggest Ethan grin ever, and then attempt to put it in his mouth as if he was never intending to throw it in the first place. I'm on to you kiddo - that isn't working with mama (well, maybe a little - I just love my Ethan grins!) with all the food throwing, you can understand why he has become Mahli's favorite - she hangs out under Ethan's high chair at every meal and just waits for the treats to fall - and Ethan has yet to disappoint her! I've also had to put enough distance between his and William's chairs to keep Ethan from stealing food from William. And sometimes he steals it just so he can throw it - guess he figures he knows better when William is done eating too.

We're working to schedule the next round of doctor appointments. It's going to be a busy few months - and we may wear out the route from Fort Wayne to Cincinnati, but it will be good to have him evaluated by the neurosurgeon to see if he needs an additional surgery on his forehead. He has an MRI scheduled during spring break so they can get a better look at what was corrected when he was just 6 months old, and determine what our next steps are. He's adjusting so well, that I really hope we don't have to put him thru too much. Oh I almost forgot - our little guy took his first steps on Mar 2 and now he's a definite walking ball of energy. He is so cute toddling around with his arms flapping to keep his balance. And he definitely is proud of himself. And he's not the only proud one!

Cousin Emily getting some Ethan loving!
"Yep, I'm pretty sure I can steal that cup while William's not looking"
There's that devilish grin he does so well.
Having fun with Ella instead of eating - and just waiting for the opportunity to start throwing
Yep, he's a perfect 7-cup size head!
And he wears his "hat" every chance he gets unless there is something else to wear ...
See what happens when you let the two older ones watch Ethan

Friday, March 2, 2012

We are clearly outnumbered

Yes, we are certainly outnumbered here by our kiddos. But so far, I don't think they realize they could take advantage of it. Wednesday we had our post-adoption assessment appointments at Cincinnati Children's Hospital for all three of our new additions. Since each appointment is about 3-4 hours, and we had staggered appointment we knew the ratio of adults to children meant we didn't have enough to shuffle kids around. So we invited Grandma Jean to go with us. That was a huge help as each child saw the occupational therapist, the nurse for shots/TB test, had bloodwork drawn and had the medical evaluation done by Dr. Staat. Our first appointment was at 7:45 and with it being a 5 hour drive for us, we decided to drive down the night before - good idea, and we had good intentions of leaving at a decent time but Andrew decided to throw a little wrench into things.

Our poor little guy fell at school and busted open his chin. So on top of everything else, we squeezed in a trip to the emergency room. Thought he needed stitches but luckily it wasn't as deep as they thought so they were able to glue it. Yay for Andrew as he was panicked about them having to sew him back together. He was a trooper and never shed a tear. We had asked Grandma Ruth to come stay with Andrew while we headed to Cincinnati. I guess Andrew was feeling left out of all the doctor stuff and needed to add to our excitement for the day. Made for a late start to Cincinnati but we're flexible, right?

The boys handled being in the car seats for that long trip pretty well. Only a few times Ethan was screaming. Mainly when he was sleeping and wanted to roll over. Darn those car seats that just don't accommodate his sleeping routine :)

The day was long. Started at 7:45, and we left the hospital just before 4:00. Ella also saw a genetic team of doctors to make sure there is nothing causing her short stature that we need to be worried about. That involved a few more blood tests and a bone age test which added to our day.

Everyone did great, and Dr. Staat was very pleased with everyone's progress so far. We'll schedule to meet with their cranial/facial team in about a month for William to start the process for his cleft palate repair. And we'll schedule at the same time for Ethan to meet with their neurosurgeon to see if he may need an additional surgery for the cyst on his forehead. All in all- great appointments but long day.

I guess I was feeling more confident about being outnumbered as I ventured to the grocery store - just me and 4 kiddos. I'm sure we were quite the site - 1 mama, 2 carts with a baby in each and two more kids pushing the carts. If I wasn't so busy directing cart traffic, I would have snapped a picture of our crew.
And another milestone - Ella had her first day of school. She was so nervous - made herself sick on the drive to school. But she still wanted to go, and seemed to take on anything we threw at her. She gave me a big thumbs up when she came home and was very excited to show me her papers and get her homework done. So I would say a huge success so far. I think the kids in her class did a great job making her feel welcome. Great job Ella!

Now if we can just get the boys on a more synchronized nap schedule so I can have some mama time, I will be a happier person. Oh well, can't have it all, huh?