Archive | April, 2015

Smith Party of FIVE

We are proud to announce that this evening we received Pre-Approval (aka PA!) from China for our son WenXuan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Giving praise to the Lord who is the giver of all good gifts for surely this the best gift we could get – another son!

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(this is an old photo I took from Eagles’ Wings Facebook Page)

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(WenXuan is on the left and his best bud who was adopted last summer is on the right – they are sad here to be saying goodbye but little does WenXuan know Jay’s mom and I have already been scheming a reuinon.   Photo cred. from Jay’s family blog)

What????!!!!

When Philip was moved from House of Love in Guilin, China to Eagle’s Wings in August of 2013, we started scouring the Eagle’s Wings facebook page in search of updates and photos about him.  In the process, we saw photos of WenXuan and thought – hey, he seems like a really cool kid!  Then, we saw an update about him on an advocacy site, and saw a video and Wes and I both watched it and looked at each other and said – that kiddo could be a Smith!  I was especially drawn to the fact that he had such a twinkle in his eye – we couldn’t stop thinking about him.

After some thinking and prayer, we felt led to ask some questions about him and learned that he wasn’t currently up for adoption, but if a family came forward, they would likely finish and submit his paperwork to the CCCWA to be considered for adoption.  We asked more questions, talked to adoptive families who have met him and also got a detailed email from the amazing lady who founded Eagle’s Wings and she too mentioned that WenXuan had a…you guessed it…”twinkle in his eye.”

So, a little over a year ago, we made it clear to our agencies and, in turn, his orphanage, that we would like WenXuan to be our son and we’ve pretty much not had any clue as to when or if this could actually happen, in fact, we were even told it could be unlikely…until a few weeks ago.

Fast forward to our trip to China for Philip…we were up on and off in the night with Rand who got a little sick in Guangzhou and I checked my email and almost fell out of the bed when I saw we had matched with WenXuan!  We immediately requested his file and approved it right away and started filling out forms in the middle of the night we were so excited.  And so TORN UP because we just met him – with extremely guarded hearts – when we visited Philip’s orphanage, less than a week before! It was all we could do to not fly back to Zhengzhou and get back in that van to go hug his neck and tell him the good news.  We even asked our agency if we stayed a little longer if there is anything that could be done, but we have to resubmit a lot of new forms here in the US as well as China so there was no chance to bring him back with Philip.  And we weren’t allowed to announce it formally until we had PA – which now we do!

When we found out in China, Wes and I both knew deep down that it was going to happen, in fact, when we dream about our life and talk about our plans as a family, WenXuan was already a part of those dreams.

In 4-7 months (estimate) we’ll be headed back to China to bring home the oldest Smith brother!  We are praying we’ll be able to celebrate his 12th birthday here, all together at HOME.

And you probably have a lot of questions – so do we!  So far, what we have to go on is this: if we let the questions (the hows and the whys especially!) get in the way, we’d be disobedient and completely paralyzed.  I think of how the Lord told us about Philip and then HE plowed the way for it all to fall perfectly into place.  So we have to just keep trusting that the One who chose WenXuan to be a Smith will guide us through the details.

Please join us in prayer for WenXuan as he continues to wait and, in a few days or weeks, whenever he finds out that he has a family that his heart would be prepared and that the wait won’t be to much longer for him…or for us!

Rand especially is excited to have an older brother, but having a hard time with WenXuan still being in China.  We told him the news back when we were in China and he’s reminded us every day that one Smith is missing.  Yesterday he got us all choked up because he started crying when he saw the photo of WenXuan from the blog.  He was trying his best not to cry, his lower lip giving him a time trying to hide it.  I asked him why in the world he was sad and he said because Wen (what he calls him) wasn’t here and was still at the orphanage.

Thanks for sharing in our excitement over this news! We think WenXuan is an awesome and amazing kid and we can’t wait for us all to get to know him and for him to be here, at home, with his FOREVER FAMILY.

 

 

 

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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.

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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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Saturday through Tuesday

On Saturday, I set up a table at a local event to promote my Beautycounter business.

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I’ve been on a mission to spread the word about safe products/cosmetics for the past year now.  So, since I’ve got your attention, go and check the ingredients in your products.  And your family’s products.  If you need help, the Environmental Working Group has an app you can download and scan barcodes that saves loads of time.  It’s called Skin Deep.  Or you can go here and type in the names of your products.  Even if you don’t buy Beautycounter, find something safe to use – we can’t control everything in our environment but we are 100% in control of what we put in and on our bodies!  Ok, there’s my PSA for the day.  Also, if you do want to try Beautycounter, or want more info, let me know.

Philip and Rand’s favorites:

Nice Do Shampoo – we squeeze a little in the tub for bubbles too!

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Lustro Body Oil in Rosemary Citrus – this is the only “lotion” I can get Rand to use (strong smells bother him) and Philip gets mad when I tell him he can’t have more.  I put it on both boys immediately after the bath!  And for me, I mix it with a little of the hydrate body lotion.  There’s actually a Mother’s Day promo now with the lotion/oil combo.

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And the boys have been taking frequent baths because we’ve been enjoying springtime and have been outside as much as possible in between rain showers.  The boys collected some “wild” flowers on our walk and learned about dogwoods and azaleas.  Thankfully no shoes were thrown.

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I did a smoothie experiment with my Pilates friends and I’m convinced I might need to sell my juicer and get a vitamix.  These were delicious.

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Other than that we’ve been hanging tight around the house.  Rand went back to preschool today after a week off for spring break.  We’ve still been enjoying lots of yummy meals and sweet visits from friends & neighbors coming to welcome Philip.  Don’t tell Charlie McWilliams (aka the chicken connoisseur), but last night we enjoyed the most perfectly grilled chicken – our friend Caitlin is apparently going to have to teach me how to make chicken because mine has never turned out that good!

Here’s a shot of the boys eating some pretzels today that we made!  Our sweet friend Amy brought us a delicious dinner and her son Walker suggested she also bring us his favorite snack – “make your own pretzels” and lemonade.  Perfect for our rainy afternoon.

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I thought this was cute of the boys and Nina watching Wes pull up in the driveway the other day.  You can tell it’s towards the end of the day around here because of the missing/mismatched clothes.  Ha.  They seem so little yet they make so. much. dirty. laundry.

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And with that, I’m off to bed.  Yes, everyone has asked – we are sleeping great!  However just not in our regular places yet.  We’re still divided up one of us with each boy in separate beds for the night. Eventually we’ll all be straight but we’re taking our time and just savoring that everyone is sleeping until at least 7am  (A real miracle.  Even pre-china, Rand rarely slept past 6am) AND taking 2hr (Rand & mommy sometimes too) and 3hr (Philip) naps every day as well.

Tomorrow is a very important day – Philip turns 3!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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We’re around

Sorry for the delay in a new post, but we’ve been really busy just doing life!  The kids take a little longer to fall asleep at home vs. in a hotel room for some reason and by the time we get them down for bed, it hasn’t left much time (and some nights we’ve fallen asleep trying to get the boys to sleep…) – although Wes and I did sneak in the season finale of Downton Abbey the other night! And have caught up on a few episodes of Madame Secretary.  It’s pretty good if you haven’t seen it.

Also, April is one of my busiest months!  I have not one now, but TWO boys with birthdays coming up, window boxes/planters to be planted and my garden to plan – these are a few things I really look forward to all year!!!

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It’s a good thing our car didn’t have room for more or we’d go broke.  I think I would be really happy working at a nursery/garden center some day.  There is something about plants and greenhouses that I can’t resist.

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In addition to the window boxes/planters, we planted 30 hosta and 30 ferns for some little “shade gardens” in the new landscape plan.

We also celebrated Easter!  Since we’ve been staying in for the most part in order to teach Philip we are his parents, and to not overwhelm him, we hadn’t planned to go to church – it’s not like he will be able to go to nursery or Sunday School for a while (without one of us), BUT Easter morning, at breakfast, Wes and I decided we couldn’t NOT go to church so we decided to go get dressed and give it a try!  Rand went to nursery and Philip sat with us.  He did really well, considering every time I tried to tell him, in Mandarin, that he needed to be quiet, he thought I was telling him “I love you”…Mandarin is HARD y’all!!!

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After church we went to “Ema and Pops” house for Easter lunch and then took the boys home for naps.  After lunch, Ema and Pops and Uncle Sam and Aunt CeCe did an Easter egg hunt in our yard for the boys and Uncle Fred and Aunt Tina, along with Uncle Wellborn (Rand and Philip’s great, great uncle!) came over to meet Philip and see the egg hunt go down.

The candy and toys were a big hit – Philip caught on right away and wanted to eat as he went…thankfully Ema only put one or two jellybeans or one gummy worm or one graham cracker bunny in each egg!!!

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And Uncle Sam helped the boys work out some of the sugar rush.

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We’ve also taken some walks in the past few days, one to our local Arboretum – as I shared on Instagram (follow me @annafranklinsmith I post a lot more often on Insta!) – on that first walk together, Wes and I marveled at how many walks we’d been on with just Rand and Nina and talked about Philip the whole time and what we needed to do, what was the next step, dreamed what things would be like…etc. We waited a long time for this inaugural walk!!!

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It was “very real” too – because we had to get on Philip at one point about throwing sand and he wasn’t happy that we made him get back in the stroller…so he threw 2 shoes and a sock…But all in all, it was a good outing!

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Rand’s been enjoying helping make popcorn – a snack we eat just about every day.  We’ve been really liking this recipe for a healthy version.  I omit the pepper and coconut oil (we have an air popper – $20 on amazon…) and drizzle with melted Ghee (you can see it melting in the top of the popper!) + turmeric mixed in and a sprinkle of sea salt! YUM.

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And we’ve been taking good naps every day (keeps everyone happy).  Sorry for the scary pic of me half asleep.  I’m not good at selfies, but I wanted to document how Rand likes to cuddle when he’s fast asleep.  I’m not sure how much longer he’ll be doing this, so I’ve been trying to soak it all in while I still can, it’s just about as sweet as it gets!

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Yesterday, we needed to run an errand in a nearby town, so we took the boys with us on a mini day trip and stopped at Smithfield’s on the way.  The waitress brought both boys a balloon.  I’m pretty sure they think that’s why we made the trip.

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Philip thankfully is really content to ride in the car.  I’m thinking we have TWO great travelers on our hands! He even caught a little snooze on the way home…

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Best shot I could get of the boys.  Wes is happy, Philip has a “hand up/peace sign” reaction every time we bring out a camera and Rand is getting down to eating his drumstick. Apparently with some texas pete?!?!

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I’m thankful for my boys and all of our moments of real life (even if some are without a shoe or two).

Thanks for continuing to follow us even though I’ll only be posting “often” and not always daily!

 

 

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Brother bonding

Yesterday and today, Rand drove Philip around on his new Gator and China seemed really far away.

While Philip is still terrified of our gentle dog Nina even looking his way, he was quick to jump right into the passenger seat of the Gator.  Unafraid and completely trusting of his unlicensed, 3 year old brother driving him around the yard on a large power wheel toy. I guess some things are just boy things through and through – no matter what country you are from.

Rand and Philip have really bonded outside driving around on this new toy.  The other day, Philip barely wanted to go outside and today, he wanted to sit in the passenger seat and wait for Rand to get home from school to drive him around.

When we stop and think about what’s actually happening, it seems unreal…

but, in the midst all the moments of the day, it feels like things are exactly how they’re supposed to be.

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