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Welcome 2016

Apologies for not blogging lately – if you want to know a little of what’s been going on, follow me on instagram here for now!

We are doing well – I can’t believe we will have been home a month next week.  Even the past 10 days here have been so different and we’ve seen so many changes and can tell that Wen feels so much more at ease than he did the first 10 days home.  Last weekend some good friends came over to play – 2 families – 7 kids total and he did great.  I was amazed at the kind words and sharing that went on.  Wen even let the other visiting boys play with his Lego toys – it probably helped that the other kids were so sweet to him and would ask his permission!

Here’s the crew…

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plus there are 3 more on the way!  2 more boys and ONE girl.  I just love all of these kids (and their parents too!) So thankful we can continue to get them together as they grow up.


And for a recap of the last few weeks before we bid 2015 goodbye…

We had a great day at DUKE.  We were super-impressed with the spinal clinic docs and couldn’t believe how efficient the day was.  We saw 4 specialists, met briefly with the physical therapy team who set us up with someone to help with Wen’s wheelchair, met with a social worker about medical coverage, etc. and they even sent a translator to help us ask Wen some specific questions during our meetings with the doctors!  During one of our meetings with the doctor, the wheelchair tech showed up, took Wen’s wheelchair out into the hall and took it apart and re-adjusted it to fit better for the time being.

We go back at the end of January for some larger tests in urology and neurology but overall Wen is in good health and the only major decisions to make right now are some orthopedic options.  Also, as it turns out, Wen does not have Spina Bifida as his file said, but was actually born with something more rare – Caudal Regression Syndrome/Sacral Agenesis.  You can read about it here.

At Duke we could tell the doctors were pretty amazed by Wen and all he does, how good his English is, how well-adjusted he is and how he manages his disability without complaints or obstacles.  We continue to be amazed daily.

Other than the Ironman (“transformer” as Wen calls it, we’re gonna have to show him the Ironman movie) and Star Wars figurines he was given as Christmas gifts from the clinic, the highlight for him was getting to go see where Uncle Sam and Aunt CeCe live in Raleigh and meet their new pup Banksy.  If you want to see cuter and clearer photos of him – check out his very own instagram feed here.


We did a lot of fun things to celebrate Christmas.  The boys loved going to the Aberdeen Christmas parade,


and having our own special tea party followed by the event of setting up the Nativity



The Nativity is Rand’s favorite thing to do at Christmas.  We’re hoping Wen and Philip will love it too.  They all loved playing with the “play nativity set” too…you can order it on Amazon.  This one was given to us when Rand had his first Christmas and it’s the first thing he asks for us to bring out (usually at Thanksgiving!)

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Philip especially got into setting it up and learning who was who.


On Christmas Eve, Rand and Philip were in the Nativity scene at our church.  They were both shepherds.  Rand wore the same headpiece from last year – a cut up old golf shirt that was his “Grandpa Hank’s” – makes me smile to see it.  Philip’s was a last minute “Ikea hack” haha…I think I’ll need to dig out another heirloom if they are going to be shepherds again next year!


After church on Christmas Eve, the family came over for dinner at our house!  After everyone left and the boys went to sleep, Santa showed up.


A lot of people have asked me this Christmas if we do “Santa” and the answer is yes, however, pretty much everything my kids know (or think they know) about Santa is learned from books, movies or school (i.e. the world).  We don’t bring him up or talk about him at all.  In fact, early in the season, I heard someone ask Rand what was on his Christmas list and he shrugged and said he’d “get what he’d get” type answer (but really he just hadn’t thought about it because we don’t talk about it).  We don’t really have an answer on what is “best” to do and we don’t want our kids being the ones who burst their friends bubbles and shout out “SANTA’S NOT REAL” so for now, we just glaze over it throughout the season and make a bigger deal about what actually is THE BIG DEAL – THE BIRTH OF CHRIST!

We do talk about Santa if the kids have a question – for example, Rand said to me one day (when he wasn’t on his best behavior), “Mom, if I’m not a good listener then Santa won’t bring me any presents, will he?” which drives me CRAZY that they get told this elsewhere…we went through the same thing last year…our answer is the same: “No, you will get presents on Christmas because we love you regardless of how you behave.  God loved us so much he sent us the gift of Jesus to save us from our sin when we didn’t deserve it!  But in our family, we try to behave and be good listeners because we love God and want to be like Jesus.”  While Santa will show up at the Smith house to help celebrate Jesus’ birthday, he will not be tolerated as the disciplinary tool for the season!!!!  On that note, we made sure the best gift the kids got came from us…hey, I also don’t like to give Santa all the credit:)  As their only gift from mom and dad (and as an attempt for some more new family bonding) we’re driving down to Florida very soon to go to Legoland and the Magic Kingdom!

I didn’t take enough photos on Christmas day, but this was a sweet one from Raleigh – we went and had lunch with Wes’ extended family and all the kids were so welcoming to Wen.  They are always awesome with the younger kids, but I was really blown away by how they just played with him as if he’d always been in the family.  What a Christmas gift it was for this mama to see.


We spent some fun time with my side of the family (I need to upload those photos still, sorry!) and then have really been hanging out around the house.  We’ve had several successful movie night with Peter Pan, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.


We built one fire before it started feeling like summer here in North Carolina.


The boys have spent a lot of time outside playing – Wen can pretty much ride any of the toys somehow and he loves to hit golf balls and play baseball.


The boys play and play and play together.  Our noise level is UP and there is always some type of fun shenanigan going on with the 3 of them…


The costumes come out all the time


Philip continues to keep us laughing.  His most recent line of choice when you tell him something or he gets something he wants is, “That’s what I’m talking about!”


It’s been really fun to see them all play together and have so much fun.  Our house last Christmastime was so quiet with just Rand and this year it has exploded with noise, and laughter and JOY.  I have to say it was the best Christmas yet for me.  I’m just so happy to have all my boys home to celebrate Jesus’ Birthday and to welcome 2016.



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Happy Birthday Philip

Today Philip is Three.  We’ve been home from China almost three weeks now, and tomorrow it will be one month since he’s been with us!  I’m thankful our “family day” is so close to his birth date because for me, and probably someday for him too, his birthday will always be bittersweet.  A celebration, like all of us have, to welcome another year of his life, but also marking the time back to a gigantic loss.  We don’t know anything about his birth parents, or the situation or even why he was abandoned.  We can’t even guess or tell Philip things we “think” might have been the case – we’ve learned (from wiser “been there done that” adoptive parents and countless hours of “parent training”) that’s an unfair burden to give to a child, even if it’s well meaning, so we don’t make anything up, we just say what we know: whoever left him, must have wanted him to be found and to be safe because they put him out side the gate of the hospital when he was a few days old.  We don’t know anything else about their wishes or their needs or their age – or what the factors for their decision were.


We also know we love Philip’s birth parents.  We have them to thank for the blessing of him.  And we pray for them, that they will come to know Christ, if they don’t already, and we pray for them because we have Philip in our lives and they do not.  And maybe someday, in this life, we will have the joy of meeting them face to face – and we are up for that, if that’s part of this adventure.

In the meantime, Philip is THREE.

And we do know a lot of new things about him…for example…

1.  Right now, yogurt is his all time favorite thing.  Vanilla, Blueberry, Strawberry, Strawberry Banana…doesn’t really matter, he loves it all.

2.  His brother Rand is a pretty big favorite too.  Yesterday, Rand went back to preschool for 3 hours in the morning and Philip didn’t realize what was going on and kept asking for him. Today when Rand left, he knew what was up and oh how he cried and cried for Rand.  He was so excited when I finally told him we were going to pick Rand up!  Rand, in Philip-speak is Ray-And

3.  Philip wakes up happy and is a jokester – not sure if his “silly/slapstick” side is true nature yet or just to get attention, or maybe a little of both but he definitely will drop something on purpose and be dramatically funny or do something he knows is silly and give “that look” – then laugh and laugh.

4.  Philip has warmed up to being outside and loves it now, and also he loves bath time.  He’s brave in the tub.  He’ll put his head under water and come up laughing.  The complete opposite of his cautious brother Rand, I have a feeling we’ll be doing some swimming lessons this summer in the pool with adventurous Philip!

5.  He is mischievous and strong-willed which, to us, shows intelligence and the fact that we are in for it…

6.  Other than Ray-And, some of his favorite English words are Nina, Mama/Mommy, Baba, Yogurt, Banana,  All done, Uh-Oh, OH!, Mommy’s Coffee, and Amen – he’s got that one down really well!

7.  Even though Philip doesn’t know much English he sure can remember English if it’s to a tune.  He has been singing “let it go,” “Old macdonald,” and a silly little song that Wes made up of Chinese words we have no clue what they mean! Today, he’s been singing “dappy durth day do yao”all day long.  Really, whenever we sing a little tune or he repeats a word back to us – even if the word is wrong – he gets the rhythm or syllable exactly right.  He’s always humming a tune or seems to have a song stuck in his head.

Today, I think we were given a song for Philip.  I heard it on the radio this morning as I was thinking about him and thought how fitting for his life right now.  I claim it now as our prayer for him…

“Amen.  Amen.  Let my song join the One that never ends.  Because He Lives.” – Matt Maher

You can listen to it here.  And this one is good too!

On this start of a whole new year of life for our mischievously musical Philip, we pray that his song will one day too join the one that never ends.  Amen!



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7 days

We leave for China in 7 days.  I can’t believe I finally get to say that.

We’ve been waiting for that day for the past two years and even longer, I suppose, since the Lord put adoption on our hearts.  While this trip to China will eventually be a blip on the timeline of our lives, right now it is very, very real and the preparation has been like none other!  The “To Do list” is holding strong at 2 pages and is growing faster than shrinking, although it has been really helpful to work from and we are making some progress!

BUT it hasn’t been all work, we’ve celebrated a lot too.  So instead of showing you photos of what is on my “to do list” (like buying bottles and getting vaccinations) I’ll share these more exciting things…

Wes and I went to Vieques, Puerto Rico for a 4 night getaway.  It was PERFECT for us because it has beautiful beaches and lots to explore while still getting to be on “island time.”  We rented a house and a jeep and each morning would head out, pick up some lunch and then go explore, snorkel and find a beach to park it on (literally, you drive your car on some really bad roads right up to the uninhabited beaches.  And your parking spot may or may not be already taken by a horse or two!)


This was our favorite beach – La Chiva or “blue beach.” There was a pretty good sized reef to the right of the island where we liked to snorkel out and see lots of fish and a resident greenback sea turtle!  Yep, a view like this was a perfect way to celebrate, in my book!  I’m hoping to eventually do a post just on our trip.



For Chinese New Year (it’s the Year of the Sheep!) 2 other couples threw us a little Chinese New Year party to celebrate – complete with Asian food and Chinese decor.  They even got the boys matching outfits and a really pretty baby blanket – Philip’s first (and one of his only) “baby” keepsakes!



Lots of “Chinese” touches – and they even wrote little scriptures and blessings our for Philip to have.


Then, my sweet bible study surprised me for a champagne lunch at one of my favorite local spots to celebrate and they showered me with diapers!  We’re gonna need them (at least until Rand potty-trains Philip).


Over the weekend our siblings surprised us with this quilt (handmade by a friend of my brother and sister-in-law) that has a little dash going between China and the USA!  It’s so cute, I don’t think the photo really does it justice!


We are so grateful to all our friends and family for supporting and encouraging us as our family grows.  Now…back to the to-do list.


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