Officially Final!

It’s final!  It’s really final.  Esther’s adoption process from start to ending was around two and a half years and is officially final today!  I know that today you could really care less about words.  It’s time to meet the girl that has been hiding behind the camera for the past six months.

Meet Esther…. one of the U.S.’s newest citizens and the newest official member of our family!

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Isn’t she just beautiful?  We think so and I can’t help but tell her everyday.  In the picture above I think she has the beauty of a model. This is absolutely one of my most favorite pictures of her.  Pictures. Oh, yeah.  You are probably here to see lots of them… so here goes. Six months of Esther in one post.

But first let’s back up to the beginning of July 2013.  That’s when we received the picture below along with a few more precious photos and information about our daughter. This picture remained the screensaver on my phone until we went to Hong Kong.  Looking back now it is easy to see how much she has grown in a year’s time… even in six month’s time.

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To keep it simple all pictures are in chronological order.

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This is one of our first pictures as a family of four in Hong Kong.  It was gotcha-day night.  I know this because I remember we went and bought her a pair of pink Stride-Rite shoes that day. Esther wasn’t exactly in love with us yet but thankfully we won her over in time.
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This was one of our first nights home and the girls were goofing off in bed with their new matching panda pajamas.  We were probably still pretty jet lagged at this point so this picture could have easily been taken close to midnight.  
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Esther immediately fell in love with her pink princess bicycle that I brought her home one day.  I can’t say she felt the same about learning to ride her bike but now that she has it down she really enjoys it.
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She was so excited about her bicycle helmet that she wore it on to the playground.  This is one of the beautiful dresses that was given to her by one of her caregivers that I mentioned in her earlier posts.  I’m amazed at the detail on it but most of all I love the smile on her face in this picture.
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Apparently someone in Hong Kong taught her how to make her “angry face” which she felt was appropriate for lots of pictures in the beginning.  We still get that face from time to time.
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This pretty much sums up how Esther felt about her kitchen and turning three.2014-03-09 16.23.02

And what princess doesn’t wear a crown on her head for her birthday.

2014-03-12 17.58.58Before having two girls I thought I wouldn’t enjoy dressing them just alike but it really doesn’t matter what I like because these two girls love dressing the same.

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This was only a few weeks after coming home and Esther was already beginning to make friends. Outside of Noah, June is her best friend.
2014-05-01 17.28.45I have this picture hanging up in our den. I absolutely love it.  Another dress-alike day and Esther’s determination to get down the road make this picture.  Although I’m pretty sure Noah fell off shortly after this picture was taken.

2014-04-20 12.15.12-1Ok. Can I just say that I love this picture.  That’s all.  Oh, and it’s not uncommon for people to say that Esther resembles Michael Luke.  It makes him smile every time he hears it.

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All dressed up to go to a Fancy Nancy book signing.  This is the day Esther fell in love with Fancy Nancy.  So much so that we check out a Fancy Nancy book almost every week at the library and she just might have a Fancy Nancy birthday party next year.  Yeah, she’s already planning it… weekly.2014-05-30 09.33.45And this is who Esther thinks she really is.  A princess.

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Hanging out at the library.  Don’t mind us.  We are just your typical American family.2014-06-07 12.02.23

What?  You wouldn’t let your kids ride a zebra if it promised not to move?2014-07-17 09.52.07

It’s the moments like this that make it all worthwhile. The moments when they love each other.wpid-20140806_103000.jpg

At the beginning of the summer this child cried because her swim suit got splashed by a wave. Now look at her.  She’s a little fish!wpid-20140803_150153.jpg

Just a girl and a donkey.  
wpid-20140807_160158.jpgBecause every girl needs to know what a Krispy Kreme Donut tastes like and because sometimes Momma is just plain craving some sweets.  It happens.  Needless to say Esther is a huge fan of donuts now.  Mission Accomplished.

 
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… and our most recent family picture taken this past Sunday.

That ladies and gentlemen is Esther.  A girl that six months ago didn’t want us and now wants to know why we waited so long to come get her.  God has truly worked in her heart and ours.

Speaking of God working in hearts.  You may have noticed that something doesn’t look quite right about one of Esther’s eyes.  She has a facial eye cleft of the left eye.  These days I hardly notice it.  God has allowed me to see past her special need and to instead see the beautiful girl that he created in his image and that he loves.  He loves her!  He loves her and how could I not love his creation?

When we received that first picture of her over a year ago I knew almost immediately that she was meant to be our daughter but I also struggled with adopting a girl with such a visible special need.  Not because I worried what other’s would think but because I didn’t know if it was something that would keep me from seeing her true beauty.

So I began praying from the beginning that God would give me strength.  That he would allow me to see her as he sees her.  And now six months later I can say without a shadow of doubt that he has done that.  It’s not even a special need to me anymore.  I hardly even think about it because all I see is my beautiful daughter staring back at me.  I have enjoyed these past six months of hiding her face from you.  Not because I am ashamed of it but because you have had the chance to fall in love with her for who she is.  Star.  Esther.

Thank you!

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Team Color Transformed Family

The other day I posted this picture on my personal Facebook page.

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(After the picture was up for the entire day I realized that my numbers were actually off by 110 million.  It is estimated that there are 153 million orphans worldwide.)

I posted it for two reasons.  The first being that on Tuesday we celebrated six months home with Esther.  A pretty big milestone in the Hong Kong Adoption world.  Her adoption will be finalized in court next Tuesday.  She will then become a permanent member of our family and  a U.S. citizen.  I may or may not get teary eyed just thinking about it.  Once the adoption is finalized next Tuesday I will finally be able to share pictures that showcase Esther’s beautiful face.  So, if everything goes as planned I should be releasing a new post sometime late Tuesday morning or afternoon.

The second reason that I posted the above picture is that Lifeline Children Services is hosting a 5k this weekend, R(un) for One.  R(un) for One is a fundraiser for their (un)adopted ministry that trains and supports orphaned children that will age out of the system and/or can not be adopted.  (un)adopted also works to bring the gospel to these children.  This is a ministry that Michael Luke and I love and support and are excited to be running for this Saturday.  When we were registering we decided to create our own team, Team Color Transformed Family.   I was a little nervous because I am such a pessimist that my brain started freaking out and worrying that no one would sign-up on our team.  Thankfully, that’s not the case but even if it had been that’s not the point.  We have enjoyed spreading the word about R(un) for One and (un)adopted over the past few weeks.  Through all this our team has managed to grow to twelve members strong (and hopefully more as we get closer to day).  I’m excited about this Saturday but don’t expect me to post any record times.  I started training for the race last Saturday and because I live the mom lifestyle and refuse to push 50lbs+ of girls around our hilly neighborhoods I most likely won’t do any more preparation before the race.  I do hope to run/jog at least half of the race. We shall see though. I’ll post pics of the race and our team on Instagram and Facebook so make sure you follow Color Transformed Family.

If you want to register for the R(un) for One it’s not too late.  Online registration is open through 9:00 pm today and you can always register on site the day of the race.  Race locations are in Birmingham, AL, Louisville, KY, and Fayetteville, GA or wherever you are.

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Family Friday’s: Noah

There have been lots of posts this year focused on Esther.  It’s understandable since she’s the new kid on the block and all but today I thought I would share a little bit about Noah. Our first born. Our youngest.

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Noah is one of a kind… but aren’t they all.  She truly is though. She lives life to the beat of her  own drum and we’re not quite sure what type of drum that is yet.  The name Noah is commonly used as a boy’s name and means “calm”.  Go figure.  But when Noah is used as a girl’s name it means “movement”.  Noah has certainly lived up to the meaning of her name (and so has Esther who’s name means “star”).  Even when she was still in the womb she was a mover and a kicker and so far not much has changed.

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She can’t sit still. I know most toddler’s have trouble with this but Noah really can’t keep still.  I’ve sort of come to not even expect that of her.  It’s not possible… at all.  Not even in her sleep.  It’s cool though because we just attribute that to part of her personality.

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She’s also our resident goof ball.  Our class clown.  Our bottle of laughter.  We honestly never really know what to expect out of her.  It might just be God’s lighthearted way of making sure I get a little laughter in my day everyday.

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She tickles herself with crazy outfit selections, crazy hat accessories, her favorite owl shoes (thanks Aunt La). She cracks herself up by throwing all the sofa pillows on the floor (everyday), tossing all her clothes out of her dresser drawers, and refusing to obey Mommy and Daddy. Yep, she finds that pretty amusing even though we find it pretty frustrating. Sometimes it’s hard to be stern with her when her smirk is just so cute.

As cute as she is she’s not afraid to show her mean side.  Noah is definitely in touch with her inner anger.  She has no problem raring her head back and throwing a fit. Lately its escalated to excessively loud screaming, kicking, and crying.  Mainly when her brain just can’t make up it’s mine.  Like yesterday morning when I asked for a hug.  At first she said, “no”.  And then lost it because she wanted to hug me.  This indecisiveness went on for several minutes.  It’s not unusual for melt downs like this to happen several times a day.  It is frustrating but it also amazes me that we all at one time went through this stage when our brain truly couldn’t decide what we wanted and just decided to throw an all out tantrum instead.  Now that I’m older is just seems exhausting and like such a waste of energy.  Can you imagined if we threw an all out fit every time a decision seemed like too much or when we were told we couldn’t have something.  We would have very unproductive days and possibly very few friends.  Oh, wait that sounds sort of like a toddler’s life.Noah

Noah is a book lover. It’s not unusual to come in her room and find half of her books on the floor. She likes being read to but most of all flipping through all the pages and trying to retell the story on her own.  It makes me smile knowing that we both share a love of books.  She also enjoys “doing school on the ‘puter” everyday. This summer I subscribed to ABCmouse.com for the girls. They both enjoy it but Noah loves it most.  It’s the first thing she asks for in the mornings and has really gotten the hang of using the mouse and working puzzles on there.  I love it because it keeps her occupied while I shower and because no matter how many puzzles she works there is never a single piece left on the floor afterwards. Score!

She’s also our little smoothie girl. This chick loves some smoothies. She can out drink me in smoothies in the mornings. She’s so crazy about them that she actually requests spinach in them.  No complaining here about that part.

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Don’t let her girl dress confuse you. This girl is all about getting down and dirty.  Give her some dirt or rocks and she’s good.  She may play dress up with the rest of them but don’t expect her to pick pink as her favorite color. She’s a blue and green girl who loves her black stuffed Ape.  She’s definitely our little tomboy in disguise.  She’s also quite the free spirited hippie. Forget the shoes, forget the clothes. She would much rather be in just her underwear… or naked.  She could also care less about bows or headbands. She just wants her hair to flow freely in the wind. And who could blame her with soft waves like that.

Another one of our favorite things about Noah right now is her adorable stutter. It sort of comes and goes. We aren’t too concerned with it right now so we just sit back and enjoy. She’s so cute as she repeats some words multiple, multiple times.  We just remind her to take things slowly and eventually she gets out what she wants to say.

NoahSo that’s just a few things about our Noah.  So far she’s been over two and half years of joy and blessings and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  All her smiles and laughter totally cancels out her not so nice moments.

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