Friday, December 21, 2012

It's hard to believe that we have had our little China doll for a year now.  The fifteen months of paper work and waiting seemed to move so slow at times when waiting for our travel approval to go get her, but once we returned home with her, time seems to have flown by.  God taught me a lot of patience during that time of waiting.  I learned even more of just how much HE is in control of everything.

AubriAnna has grown & changed so much this past year.  She has gotten 5 inches taller and gained about 9 lbs.  She has cut 16 new teeth giving her a total of 20 teeth.  Her hair has grown out so good.  It's still thin, but I think that's something several of the children that have been adopted experience.  We were told it was due to a vitamin deficiency.  When we brought her home she could barely crawl.  A month later and she was walking!  She seems to have two speeds, fast and asleep!

AubriAnna has gone through two major surgeries. Palate surgery & tubes in her ears were in February and then a lip revision in June.  She has had 2 minor procedures as well.  Each time she was a little trooper.  After each major surgeries she came home from the hospital the very next morning.  She recovered very well, with the exception of having to wear the no-no's (braces that covered her entire arms to keep them from bending).  She amazes me each time with how resilient she is! She definitely makes me put my needs into perspective.  She had her first speech test done in September and the speech pathologist said she was doing very well with over a 50+ word vocabulary and was making some of the sounds that are usually harder for cleft kids to make.  She said she didn't need speech therapy at this time.  We go back sometime around March to be tested again.  If she's still doing well and progressing, we'll be able to go without therapy for a while longer.  We work with her a lot at home.  Since September, her vocabulary has grown so much.  She is putting sentences together & loves to sing, Jesus Loves Me!  We also have a little break before her next major surgery.  We're looking at next fall having a "nose" surgery to lengthen the little tip of her nose.  We're not looking forward to it, but know it's something that needs to be done and we know God has her in His hands.

Here's a before & after pictures after her lip revision.

Since Jimmy's being called as youth minister to our new church home, AubriAnna has really come out of her shell for the most part.  She still deals with some levels of separation anxiety, but it's not near as much as it was in the first six months or so after getting home with her.  It just took her some time to learn that we were always going to be her for her.  She loves her Sunday school class and thinks she's one of the youth.  Most of the kids in the youth group spoil her rotten.  When she's in the right mood, she'll let some of them wag her around, but usually she's high speed everywhere.

In April, we put her in a little beauty pageant.  I'm not big on beauty pageants.  I don't think we should allow our self-worth be determined by someone else's opinion.  Jessica wanted to put her in it and it was a fundraiser for some of our families' youth group at their church.  I only entered her into the beauty part, so I was totally surprised when they called her out as the winner of Prettiest Smile.  (This was prior to lip revision)  I put her trophy & banner in her room.  I hope as she grows, it might be a small encouragement to her. More than that, we want to instill in her that her self-worth should be judged by her love for God and the knowledge that He dwells in her and she is made in His image.

She really was smiling during the pageant!  She was smiling, waving, blowing kisses & talking to everyone when she walked out.  By the time I took this pic, she was ready for a nap. Lol

We celebrated her 2nd birthday on August 4th due to her baba being gone for drill the weekend after her birthday.  She loves Minnie Mouse so she had a Minnie Mouse birthday party.  She had tons of family & friends to come and help celebrate!  I know she didn't understand a lot of it, but I do think she knew she was the center of attention.  Jimmy said I went over board with decorating and all, but I wanted it to be a really BIG deal since we missed her 1st birthday.  She was sick on her actual birthday and we spent 4 & 1/2 hours in the ER only to be sent home unsure of what was wrong with her.  We picked her up a little cake from Kroger and I made her some egg drop soup and dumplings (store bought because I was too tired to attempt homemade) for her birthday supper.  

A few months back we had the privilege of welcoming home friends with their sweet little China doll.  We'd been praying for months for Miss Lara Kate!  We were able to go to the airport and help welcome them home.  AubriAnna even held her own sign up waiting patiently for them to appear in the terminal! 

Over the last month AubriAnna has started praying out loud by herself.  She loves praying and sometimes she will even pray after EACH bite.  This makes for a long meal, but oh so precious to listen to.  If everyone doesn't bow their head, she'll stop and wave her hand in a downward motion and say, "Pray".  There have been a few occasions when she will say someones name when praying and we will not have mentioned that person all day, then later that day find out that person was sick.  You can't tell me God doesn't use even the smallest!  The past few months have been busy and exciting!  She loves baking!  Making cookies if one of her favorite things to do!  Our church also hosted the Uganda Thunder and we were fortunate enough to have two of the girls come stay the  night with us.  Their names were Rachel & Violet.  AubriAnna loved them!

For halloween, she was Tinkerbell!  The whole family got involved!  Jess was Captain Hook, Zac & Jimmy were Lost boys, I was Wendy and one of our youth girls dressed as Peter Pan.  AubriAnna won 1st place in the costume competition!  She was the cutest TinkerBell ever!  Even if I am a little bias! lol

We finally had our 1st official family pictures made in October.  They turned out really cute.  She is definitely a hard one to photograph when outside!  My dear friend, Lori Ann, patiently took our pictures!  We had a great time and laughed a lot.  There was also a considerable amount of chasing and coaxing AubriAnna!

November 21st we celebrated AubriAnna's 1year Gotcha Day!  We took her to her favorite Chinese restaurant for lunch.  She can always out eat me there. She absolutely loves their egg drop soup and crab meat.  Sometimes she'll even opt for more egg drop soup rather than ice cream!  She had a great time and everyone there loves seeing her come in.  We took her there about 3 weeks after we got home with her so they have gotten to see her grow.  They always want hugs from her.

Now Christmas is days away & it truly is turning out to be a magical season.  She loves the tree and all the pretty packages.  She has learned to sing Jingle Bells (most of it anyways) and will sing at the top of her lungs even when in stores!  She has started telling everyone Merry Christmas.  Most can't understand her until we tell them what she is saying, but that doesn't stop her from sharing the Christmas spirit with everyone!  Even though she doesn't really understand who Jesus is, she definitely knows He's a very important person because we talk about Him all the time.  She even goes around the house with a hand raised saying, "thank you, Jesus" when she's thankful for something.  Yep!  Makes my heart sore!

She LOVED the Christmas parade!!

From our family to your's, we hope you have a very Merry Christmas filled with love, peace, joy & memories to last a lifetime!  May God be your reason for living each day!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS from the Hutchesons! 

What a wonderful Christmas it is!  First of all, it is an opportunity to refocus and remember exactly why we celebrate Christmas.  It's not the elaborately wrapped packages, twinkling lights, santa or even gathering of family.  It's to say thank you to our Lord and Savior for leaving that glorius throne, humbling Himself and being born into a cold self destructive world.  He could have just as easily saved us without ever leaving the throne, but He chose to come among us and live with us.

I was listening to a sermon on AFR the other day and something was said that I had never really thought of.  Of ALL the people He could have sent the angels to, He chose the shephards.  They were the only ones that could not go into the temple to worship Him because they were considered not only unclean, but unable to become clean.  Their job was to tend the sheep that were to be used as sacrifices.  How sad and left out they must have felt.  I wonder did they have an ache in their hearts to worship Him more intimately, but knowing they would never be able to enter the temple?  God chose these, the most unclean to announce this wonderful news to first!  How remarkable and miraculous that must have been.  They got to see the new born baby first!

I think of conversations I have had over the years with people who have strayed from Christ or maybe never knew Him as their Savoir.  One thing I hear a lot is, "I've done too much wrong for Him to forgive me" or "I've done so many bad things for Him to love me".  Looking at the shephards, did they think that too?  Perhaps they thought, "I'm to unclean for God to ever notice me".  Oh how they were wrong!  It should be enough to make us want to shout from the rooftops! GOD LOVES YOU!! He loves you inspite of your sins!  He came to this earth as a little baby! A sweet baby! Oh my goodness how precious that is!  THAT IS WHAT CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT!!

This year is a very special Christmas for us!  Last year at this time, I cried, longing to hold our little one in my arms and wondering if he or she was being held and loved.  I praised God for the journey He had us on.  In July we were matched with our precious little girl.  This morning on our way to church we listened to NewSong's song, Every Child.  I cried again!  It was for several reasons.  First of all because I have been holding, rocking repeatedly telling AubriAnna how much we love her!  The journey has been long and trying at times, but it is a journey I would take a thousand times over without blinking!  I could not imagine our lives without her!  I would not trade the experience of seeing God unfold this journey before us.  He is AMAZING and FAITHFUL!  Secondly, I cried because I think of all the little ones still waiting and longing for a forever family.  I think of one little boy who looked to be a little bigger than AubriAnna.  He was lying in his bed at the orphanage when we visited it.  He could move his head a little, but followed with his eyes.  You could tell he had a lot wrong physically, paralysis being one of them.  He was watching tv when we came through the room.  The nanny stopped in front of his bed talking to us.  She had her back to him and was hugging AubriAnna.  This sweet quiet little boy laid there looking up at us and watching us.  Jimmy reached out and held his hand while we stood there talking to the nannys.  I have no idea if this sweet little boy will ever have that forever family!  I know he took in every moment we stood there and Jimmy held his hand.  My heart breaks for those children.  The ones waiting.

AubriAnna has already experienced 2 family get togethers for Christmas and she woke up to santa this morning.  She's still taking everything in, but is doing exceptionally well in just a short time.  She is doing good with letting people hold her as long as she does not see us.  If one of us is in eyesight, she'll whimper and reach for us.  (that doesn't hurt my feelings at all! lol I LOVE holding that baby!)  She's opened a few presents.  She's getting better with it.  She likes to rip paper, but doesn't pay the gift much attention.  Santa brought her a Veggietales Princess Sweetpea castle.  She LOVES that!  It's one of the few toys she has really showed interest in other than a little phone we got for her and gave her when we got her on Gottcha day.  She was dressed up in her Christmas dress for church this morning.  We got tickled because she started trying to mimic Bro. Jerry when he was leading music.  She loves music.  She's napping now.  Hopefully she'll wake up in a fantastic mood (she usually does) and be ready to meet more family at our next Christmas gathering!  She has no idea how big of a family she has come into! lol

Christmas IS about CHRIST, but we pray that it is also filled with the magic of the twinkleing lights, lots of food, great presents and warm loving memories with family and friends that will stay with you for a lifetime!  Spread the love CHRIST shows us each and every day!

Merry Christmas!
Prayerfully reflecting Christ's love,
Jimmy, Christie, Jessica, Zac & AubriAnna

Opening her first present from us!

Helping baba open his!

Sweet babygirl!

Playing with her castle from santa!

AubriAnna & Luke with Nana

Friday, December 2, 2011

We finally landed in Memphis airport about 4 p.m. yesterday afternoon.  We were sooo glad to be back!  Poor Jess & Zac had trouble figuring out how to get to the actual airport pickup & ended up being the last ones to get there.  But it was a very sweet reunion with our kiddos!  Jess was crying coming thru the door. 

Our train ride from Guangzhou to Hong Kong was smooth but I was car sick the whole time.  I think it was because we were riding backwards for 2 hours.  Once we arrived in Hong Kong we had a 45 minute ride to the airport hotel.  By the time we got in our room it was nearly 11 p.m. & there was no baby bed or pack n play so miss priss slept with us in a full size bed.  Let me just say she is NOT easy to sleep with.  She has to be confined in her own bed so she can thrash around til she passes out.  We didn't get to sleep til after midnight then were back up by 5:45 a.m. and every hour between that. 

We got to the airport, checked through & were boarding the plane by 10:00 a.m.  About 14 hours later we landed in Detroit, MI.  Let me just is much easier for an illegal to get into this country than someone trying to it the legal way.  We had to go thur 2 immigration lines & it took over an hour!  Out of 3 plane arrivals with at least 250 passengers on each, we were literally the last ones to go thru!  When we finally were able to get to our luggage, it was gone!  They were sending us to different locations to find it then a woman finally said, "Oh, we thought you had just left it so we already checked it & its being sent to Memphis."  We had our doubts.  And the people were not friendly.  Well, the lady at the boarding gate was super nice.  She let us board before anybody else AND she changed our seats so we had 3 seats instead of 2 & we were right behind 1st class so we had plenty of leg room!  It was only an hour & half flight but we slept the whole way!

AubriAnna did great on every flight!  Especially the 14 hour flight.  She slept maybe 4-5 hours tops and played the rest of the time.  I must say, our funny on that flight was when she stinkied her diaper while she was asleep!  We felt bad for the people sitting around us but we were not about to wake her up so Jimmy piled blankets on her to try & mask the smell! Lol  Then when she woke up we all 3 crammed into the bathroom to get her changed.  I had to sit on that little toilet, lay her in my lap & Jimmy change her.  I'm sure we looked ridiculous when Jimmy practically fell out of the bathroom when he opened the door! lol

Our sweet friends, the Blackburns, were the first to greet us at Memphis airport.  Miles is the cutest thing ever & I loved seeing him excited to see AubriAnna!  Then mom, Rebecca, Lori Ann & Olivia came in with big poster signs!  AubriAnna was taking it all in.  Finally, Jess & Zac made it.  They had a really hard time getting to the pick up area of the airport & Memphis security will not help.  Quite rude people for the most part.  The poor kids kept stopping & asking for help but security wouldn't help.  Just told them to keep moving.  Jess was crying coming in the doors.  So so glad to see them!  It didn't take long either for AubriAnna to go to Jess. 

When we got home grandmother was here waiting on us.  Before the night was over she was letting everyone love on her & hold her.  Zac won her over as soon as he started playing the piano!  She loves her big brother & sister!  She has wanted them both to play with her & hold her today!

We took her shopping this afternoon!  She had to have more clothes & shoes.  We also got her a walker, which she loves!  She has been all thru the house tonight already!  She is having a little trouble adjusting to the time change, but I think she'll be alright in a few days.  We may try to go to parade in the morning.  Not sure how she'll like that, but if she does like she has been she'll soak it all up.  She's learning so fast.

Thank you to all who been praying for us, following the blog & taking care of our 2 big kids while we were gone.  It took a lot off our minds knowing they were being watched after at a distance.  God has blessed our family so much.  I wasn't sure if we were going to be able to do this.  Jimmy's nearly 42 & I'm almost 40.  We definately are not as quick as we once were, but God has provided us with as much as we need.  I could not imagine our lives without this beautiful little girl.  She puts a smile to my face & my heart beats a little faster with joy.  God is so amazing how He works.  We're going to keep on trusting Him & following His will for our lives.  I find my peace, comfort & energy in Him!  What a mighty God we serve!

Monday, November 28, 2011

We went on the river cruise last night.  It was great!  The view was amazing.  AubriAnna loved seeing all the lights.  We had supper on the boat as well.  Our guide, Ramon, had Papa John's delivered to the boat before we set out! lol We had one tired little girl by the time we got back to the hotel.  She got a bath then baba got her to sleep.  Going to sleep is a battle!  We're not sure if we've spoiled her to being held or most likely she's got some seperation anxiety.  It's almost like she's afraid we're not coming back.  Which is understandable.  Since leaving the only home she has ever known, she's stayed in 2 hotels & flown on a plane.  LOTS of changes in just little over a week for her!

We had to get up early this morning & go to the U.S. Consulate for the Oath Ceremony. Our babygirl is now a U.S citizen! Wasn't a formal ceremony but the meaning of it all was so moving. Yes, I teared up! This has been such a long emotional journey. Almost unreal that this part of it is almost over.

This is our last night in Guangzhou. We leave tomorrow afternoon for Hong Kong. We'll stay over night there then it's U.S. bound!! Can not wait to see my 2 big kids! Seems like we have been away from them forever! Next trip, they are coming with us. We have had so many of the locals ask if we're going to adopt again. A lot of the yuonger generation here just stare a lot & seem curious, but the older generation are grateful for the most part. They know that the children are getting a chance at a life that they would probably never had.

AubriAnna's grandma nanny put together a memory book over the last year as she grew. In the back of it she wrote a letter to her a few days before we got her. We had it translated last night. It was so sweet. I'll share it with you guys!

My Dear Yurou My Sweetheart,
      We live with each other for more than one year. You brought me countless happiness & joy. You leave me many good memories. Your lovely face will forever stay in my heart. You have been one of the most important part of my life. Now you going to leave grandma. I sincerely wish you healthy & happy under the love of your daddy, mommy & the new warm family. Wish you to be somebody & show respect to you daddy mommy & grateful to the society. And also help those who need help.

      Remember please often write & send pictures to me. Far away in the eastern world in Nanjing, China there is grandma miss you every day. Goodbye & wish you blessed.
      Goodbye my lovely Yurou my sweetheart.
      Your Grandma
      Yang Wen Wan
       I love you

This letter moves me to tears everytime I read it. I am so grateful to God that He put someone over our little girl to love her & protect her until we could. Anytime I get tired or frazzled on this trip, I think about what is happening & I stop & praise God. Our prayer is that through our journey, someone else may answer a calling God has given them & adopt a child of their own. It doesn't have to be international adoption. Domestic adoption may be your callling. China is just where God led us. It's amazing how God works. Who would have ever thought that a child half way around the world would fit our family so well?! No one but GOD! So many children need a mommy & daddy to just take them & love them. Will we adopt again? Very possible!

 Back at the hotel after becoming an American Citizen this morning!
 Finally got to wear her tutu today!

 A museum on the bottom level of our boat.
 Very detailed ships!  Zac would've loved seeing all these!
The lit up boat was our's. It looked like a dragon.