Monday, October 29, 2007

Family Pictures

We had family pictures made on Saturday by our wonderful friend and fellow adoptive mom, Alison Bynum. For those of you that have followed this blog from the beginning, you'll remember Alison as Norah's mom! I have to say that I just LOVE all the pics and I am having a hard time deciding on which ones are my faves! Check them out at www.alisonbynum.com and let me know what you think! THANKS Alison for putting up with the wild Freeman crew and ME says she can't wait to play with Norah!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mary Elizabeth 10/21

THANKS to Uncle Josh for taking these amazing pics...


This made me laugh out loud

Thanks to Chris S. for sending it to me:

So, they had a little going away party for the gal in their office and they called Walmart to order the cake. This is what they wanted on the cake:
"Best Wishes Suzanne" and underneath that write "We will miss you".

This is what they got:

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Pray for Tom McMinn

I realize that many of you don't know this man, but please take a moment and pray for him as you read this.

Tom's wife, Stephanie, passed away on September 1st after a LONG fight with breast cancer. She is so greatly missed by everyone that knew her, but mostly by her husband Tom and daughter Molly. I won't even to pretend to understand what the last 7 weeks have been like for them without Stephanie.

Today we found out that Tom's oldest brother was killed in a car accident yesterday in NC where they live. He is also Tom's pastor. I know the whole church and family is hurting so much and yet, I found it refreshing to read Tom's words on his blog tonight.

"My aim in life is not to live long enough to see all of my loved ones near and dear to me die. But at this rate, I feel like I'm being picked on. Well, take two seconds to pity me if necessary, I know that my options are just as they were when Stephanie passed seven weeks and one day ago. I will remain resolved in my faith and pray God will use me."

Sweet Tom, you are already being used so much. Your faith is amazing and should be an example to all of us who think we have it tough. Our prayers are with you tonight.

Perfectly stated

I have been horrible the last few weeks about checking email so I spent a few minutes this morning trying to get a few read. In my inbox, I found this email from a consignor and friend who adopted a little girl from China. Even though our situation was a little different, the feelings are the same. I couldn't wait to share it with you.

P.S. I will try to get this sucker updated tonight :)

Today is Emma Grace's birthday. Such a special day for me. It was 3 years ago on October 17 that we announced to our church family that we had decided to adopt from China. At that time, we had no information on her. Basically, all we knew was that we would be getting a daughter from China within the next year. We asked our church family to keep our journey in their prayers and to also keep Emma Grace in their prayers. We wanted her to be safe, healthy, be loved and very well taken care of by her caretakers.

Imagine our joy when we got our referral and saw her birth date...October 18!! One day after we announced it to the church. She had prayers going up for her before she was even born....actually with the time difference...when we announced it...it was actually 10:00 am on October 18 in China. Our paperwork shows that she was born around 10:30. Isn't is amazing how God works?? I love it!!

Anyway, fast forward 3 years and we have the most beautiful, loving, caring, intelligent child (of course...I am not biased).

She has filled our lives with so much joy, happiness and laughter. The love that she has brought to our home is overwhelming. I am amazed every day at the wonderful gift that God has granted to Jason and I.

Along with the joy that we have on this day...I can't help but have a little bit of sadness. I have so many thoughts of her birthmother today. Oh, what I would give to meet her, know her, hug her and thank her for the wonderful sacrifice she made. I know that somewhere in Jiangxi, China is a wonderful loving woman who is hurting today. I imagine she wonders about her little girl...where she is, how she is doing, what she looks like. I know she wonders these things b/c it wasn't so long ago that I would stand on my back porch at night, looking at the moon and wondering the same things. Knowing that somewhere on the other side of the world was a baby that I had not yet seen or held, but that I already loved so much with every fiber of my being.

Today, I hug my child and I lavish so much love and attention on her, but tonight when I lay down to rest from the activity of the day, I will think of her Mu-Qing (moo-ching)(birthmother). I will shed tears for her and pray for her, as I do daily. I pray that God will give her peace about her decision and that somehow she knows that Emma Grace is taken care of and very much loved and adored. I give thanks also to God for her....because without her, I would not be a mother to God's wonderful gift....my daughter, Emma Grace.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cousins and Friends

How lucky are these girls to have each other! I had always hoped that my sister Alison and I would have children that were close in age. We never dreamed the girls would be 2 weeks apart! Maggie was born July 24 and Mary Elizabeth on August 7. Check out the size difference!


P.S. The beautiful quilt they are laying on was made by Mary Elizabeth's interim family. THANKS to Betty and her amazing family!


Sunday

Mary Elizabeth did really well sleeping on Saturday night especially considering there were no beeps from machines like in the NICU and she was in a new place. She eats every four hours so she typically eats around midnight and again at 4 am. We have her in a travel crib in our room for a little while at least. When we left the NICU on Saturday night she weighed 4 lbs. 8 ozs. It's amazing that she came into this world on August 7th only weighing 1 lb. 4.3 ozs and has already gained so much weight but trust me when I say...she is still SO TINY!

Anyway, the kids and I stayed home while Jonathan went to church. My parents were driving home from Florida and they were the first to arrive. They were so excited and I loved when I told them we were coming home on Saturday, my mom burst into tears in a department store in Florida and my dad said, "Now that I KNOW she is coming home, I can get excited and NOW I AM EXCITED!" Keep in mind that they drove home after being in Florida for 2 days!

When they walked in the door and saw her, they couldn't believe how tiny she was. They both couldn't wait to hold her.

Soon after mom and dad got here, Angie, Robert and Alexandra arrived to see her. Alexandra was fascinated and Angie was so excited to see her, especially in her new preemie outfit she had gotten her. THANKS ANG!

Because she was so premature, the doctors only want Mary Elizabeth being held for short periods of time right after she eats. They want her to spend most of her time sleeping so that she will continue to grow and not get over stimulated. Everyone left and we spent some time just being quiet.


Then, Aunt Janie and Uncle Dickie (my dad's brother) called and wanted to come by. We hadn't told hardly anyone that we were home so we just figured that my mom and dad had called them. When they came in, they were both shocked to see Mary Elizabeth! They had no idea she was home...they were just coming by to drop off a gift. Their reaction was priceless. Aunt Janie just kept saying "Oh! Oh!" with a shocked look on her face. She couldn't wait to hold her and again, they were shocked at how tiny she is. Then Uncle Dickie held her and did the most amazing thing...he started crying. Janie said she had never seen him react that way, but he said he was just so happy for her and so excited that she would be raised in a Christian home. Of course, it made me cry! It was just so sweet.

We were so anxious to see Alison, Josh and Maggie who were traveling home from Indiana. They arrived soon after Dickie and Janie arrived and again, it was awesome for them to meet Mary Elizabeth.






The Welcome Wagon

We got home around 8pm on Friday night and just a few minutes after we arrived, Grandmother and Papa Sam arrived with Isaac and Luke. This was the first time any of them had seen Mary Elizabeth in person. I love this pic of Isaac when he walked in the front door and saw her for the first time:

Grandmother, Isaac and Luke really enjoyed watching me feeding her a bottle and they loved her "drama queen" burps.

Papa Sam doesn't hold little babies....he's more comfortable with babies that are old enough to walk! Grandmother, on the other hand, couldn't wait to get her hands on little sprout. Papa Sam was pooped so they headed out. Mary Elizabeth had not had a real bath since Tuesday and was pretty stinky (trust me, her formula STINKS!) so it was time for her first bath at home. Let me preface this picture by saying that yes, it did take ALL OF US to get her bathed and yes, Anna was taking these pics because it took ALL OF US to get her bathed. 4 pound babies that are soaped up are hard to hold so I am sure we looked like a bunch of crazies trying to get her cleaned up.

She was SO sleepy after her bath...I just love these sleepy eyes!

Our first real shot of all of our children together!

Saturday...Coming Home

We spent Friday night working around the house as we knew that Jonathan, Anna and I would be heading back to Jackson on Saturday morning. Since we still didn't have test results, we assumed it would be Monday before we would be coming home so we wanted to get the house picked up. I got the BEST night's sleep....seriously, I slept so freaking good. Little did I know it would be my last great nights sleep for a while (but I wouldn't change that for anything!)

Saturday morning we got up, met Grandmother (J's mom) to hand off the boys and headed towards Jackson. We were hoping to be there in time for the lunch time feeding. About an hour outside Jackson my cell phone rang and I about died when it was Ashley calling from the NICU. Evidently the doctor had called to the lab directly and found out that all of Mary Elizabeth's tests were normal and we could go home THAT DAY! We were shocked!! We immediately called both sets of parents, my sister and Angie....we just couldn't believe that we were actually coming home THAT DAY! We got to the hospital, did our discharge training, signed the adoption papers from Bethany in Memphis and we were ready to go home. This is our nurse Ashley who was WONDERFUL and so helpful in this process:


I just love this picture of Mary Elizabeth really checking her car seat out:

It was finally time to come home! She did great on her long ride home!

Friday....4 Kids is a TON of work & a TON of FUN!

I came home from Jackson on Thursday and had planned to go back on Friday morning, but feeling guilty from being away from my children for so long...I decided to stick around and have a fun day out with Anna, Isaac and Luke. Alexandra Vaughan was on fall break so she joined the party!

We started out by going to Green Hills mall and doing some shopping at Janie and Jack and Gymboree for Mary Elizabeth. The kids were GREAT...I couldn't believe they weren't wild, but they did exactly what I told them. Because they were so good, I promised them a nice lunch at one of my favorite Mexican restaurants La Paz.















Leave it to my kids to order corn dogs at a Mexican restaurant, but hey, they ate great so I shouldn't complain.

Then it was on to Dragon Park. I LOVE this park...we go there quite a bit simply because it has lots of different activities and areas to play in. They had a blast as you can tell:
































We're Home!!

Praise the Lord...isn't he GREAT!!! We got home late Saturday night with our new daughter, Mary Elizabeth Freeman. I am going to be doing a ton of posts tonight so stay tuned! Sorry it has taken so long to do this, but getting adjusted to a preemie in the house has become a full time job. She is so sweet and I love seeing people's reaction to her....she is such a blessing and I can't begin to tell you how happy I am...such joy...true joy!

It is GREAT having a newborn without having all the side effects of childbirth. I love that I don't have to fool with breastfeeding, etc. and yet trust me, we are still very sleep deprived already.

So, I'm sure you want pics so I will end the post so I can start editing the 200 pics on the digital camera and tell you everything that has happened since Thursday!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Still not home...

Sorry I haven't updated the blog...I realized as I headed back to Jackson on Tuesday morning that I didn't have the laptop.

Mary Elizabeth is doing great...eating great, etc. but they needed to run some more tests so they delayed coming home a few days. I got in earlier today but I had so much to get caught up here plus I am exhausted. Who knew just sitting at a hospital could be so wearing?

We have been told that she will be released Monday at the latest but we are hoping for Saturday. Everything is just up in the air but we are still doing great and trusting in HIM.

I promise to return all the phone calls!! I am so thankful for all the love and support and trust me, every time I check messages I end up in tears all over again because everyone is just so wonderful. We will probably head back to Jackson at some point tomorrow (I just can't stand being away from her and yet it is hard to juggle everything at home when I am gone) The boys are so anxious to meet their new sister and Anna can't wait to get her hands on her again.

AGAIN, thank you for you love, support and most importantly PRAYERS. We feel them and continue to need them. I will keep you all posted as I can...

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Coming home without her

Tomorrow is going to be hard.

We found out today that she needs to stay until Wednesday or Thursday. An eye specialist will be coming to see her Wednesday and they want to go ahead and get her immunizations started while at the hospital as preemies often don't do as well as regular sized babies. They want to monitor her to make sure that everything goes ok. To be completely honest, I was completely ok with them keeping her. I don't want to travel home only to end up at Vanderbilt right away so I think this is the best decision.

BUT....

After we sign our official paperwork we have to come home tomorrow. The kids are dying to see us (Anna went home this morning) and Jonathan has to go back to work. It is going to SUCK leaving without her and I am already trying to figure out how to come back ASAP. My plan at this point is to come home and get stuff at the house taken care of and come back on Tuesday morning. They want us to "room in" at the NICU the night before we leave so I hope to just hang out at the hospital with her until her release on Wednesday (hopefully)

She already looks like she has grown to me..maybe it's because I am getting more and more used to her, but I can tell she is starting to get used to us as well. When we feed her the bottle, she will barely open her eyes and look at us. I guess she thinks we don't notice that she is completely checking us out. As she eats, I tell her to give me a good burp and she can lay on my chest. This morning, she looked up at me with those big eyes after her burp and snuggled into my chest....oooh how I love this child. It seems as though she is thinking, "I don't know who you are, but you feed me and hold me so I like you."

I desperately miss Isaac and Luke and even though Anna hasn't been gone long, I miss her so. She is such a great helper and is such an amazing big sister. Yesterday at lunch, she was already talking about adopting again. We had to tell her to slow down sistah! Isaac and Luke are so sweet on the phone and I know they are so excited to meet Mary Elizabeth. I can't wait for you all to meet her.

Ok, I will quit blabbing...we are EXHAUSTED and turning in early, but I will post more pics of her tomorrow. We love you all and GOD IS IN CONTROL!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

How big was the fish?

It was THIS BIG!!

More pics






Friday, October 5, 2007

Just Because I Always Want To Remember....

How I felt at this moment I wanted to type this. The last 48 hours of my life have been the most amazing, scary, joyful, prayerful, uplifting, and crazy hours of my life. In that time, I truly learned what it means to get out of God's way. I learned how much I love my wonderful, amazing husband. I got to see (once again) how much I am blessed with my three biological children and how loving and accepting that they can be. I got to see how God takes your heart that is already so full of love and adds another spot for another child. I got to see that even though I didn't give physical birth to Mary Elizabeth, that I already love her like I did. I am so blessed. So incredibly blessed.

More pics...

Ok, so the connection in the hotel is not so great, but we are going to get more pics up if we can.....

By the way, I just LOVE her hair...can't wait to get some bows (Ali, I forgot them!)

From 3 to 4

Anna wanted to share with everyone about her big day! From Anna:

Today I got to meet my baby sister. She's very tiny and she has lots of hair. I can't wait to take her home on Monday (hopefully). We found out we could come and meet her yesterday and mommy and daddy have named her Mary Elizabeth Freeman. She was born August 7th and was very early and tiny....she only weighed 1 pound 6 ounces, but now she weighs 4 pounds 3 ounces. Here I am when I got to see her for the first time:


















From Brea:

Can you tell Anna is super excited! Mary Elizabeth is so cute but so tiny. We are just so overwhelmed and SO BLESSED. We can't wait for everyone to see our new little girl. We are exhausted and have a big day tomorrow so here are the close up pics and I promise to post more as we get a chance:



Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Anna's 1st Visit to the ER

After our eventful day at High School Musical on ice, I didn't think we could have any more drama...boy was I wrong!

About 9pm on Sunday night (the 16th), Anna came in our room hysterical saying that her head hurt. Jonathan had literally just gotten in from the airport (he had been out of town since Friday). The only time she gets sick is usually with strep so I knew something was up, especially when she couldn't stop crying and whispered to me that she felt like she could pass out. After about 30 minutes, we decided to head to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. We dropped the boys off at my sister's house (thanks Ali and Josh for watching them) and spent the next four hours receiving the most expensive dose of Motrin ever. I was very frustrated that they literally did nothing, but also glad that they didn't feel it was serious.

Yes, I had my camera in my purse from HSM so I had to snap this pic:














After two more days of horrible headaches and an MRI at Vanderbilt, they prescribed some meds and diagnosed her with migraines. Needless to say it was a fun week!

High School Musical On Ice

Anna and I got to have an official girl's day on September 16th! For her 9th birthday, I got her tickets on the second row to High School Musical on ice (thanks to Angie for scoring those amazing tickets!)


We started the day off by going to Opry Mills and hitting the Disney Store outlet. Anna really wanted a Minnie Mouse costume for Disney and she found the perfect one there. Next, we headed to McDonalds on Broadway for some lunch where we met Margaret and John (Angie's sister and nephew). Then it was on to the Sommet Center and HSM! Anna was SO excited and to be honest, it was truly a GREAT show. I really enjoyed it as much as her....it was amazing that all those people could not only dance and act so great, but to be on ice skates to boot. Here is a pic of Anna during the intermission:


It was a great day and I loved having Anna all to myself!

Consignment Sale

I am working backwards from my list I posted last week....so the first thing I wanted to post about is the consignment sale. Many have emailed and asked "how did it go?" It went great...pure and simple. Yes, our sales were down just a bit but honestly, I really don't think consignors felt it because it was mainly the new boutique and Gymboree clothing where we noticed the sales being down. I think the fact that it was FREAKING HOT was what affected that the most....everyone tries to blame it on Davidson County going to dress code, but I honestly don't think that affected our sales much at all (if any). Kids still need clothing other than uniforms for weekends and Christmas break.

So what are my goals for the Spring 2008 sale? Well, I have a bunch of them. First and foremost, to find a bigger space. 500 consignors stuff stuffed into 8,000 square feet just isn't working. We need at least 10,000 sq. ft. and even more if we can find it. We need good lighting and plenty of parking. Other than that, I'm not picky. Keep your eyes and ears open for a space that fits that description in the Rivergate/Hendersonville area and I promise you, we will take care of you if you can help us out.

Second priority, to give more back. We already offer the 40 hour worker program which allows people to get paid for their volunteer work, but we piloted a new program with the Long Hollow Baptist MOPS group and another group this sale. We gave back. Both groups had to have at least 10 people consign and in return, we gave each consignors $8 fee back to the group plus a percentage of their sales which was based on how many consigned. I think it worked pretty great except that it was a paperwork nightmare and I am just now getting checks out to these two groups. What will I do differently? Honestly, not much except to sponsor more groups. I will know what to do and what not to do for the Spring 2008 sale so that I can have the checks for these groups at the same time I mail the consignor checks. So if you have a group that needs funds email me....all I require is that they are local and they have something worthwhile to use the funds for. We gave over $1,000 to these two groups so it definitely can help a group out!

Third priority, to get more organized. I think the sale itself is pretty well organized but we are looking at ways to get even more organized behind the scenes. A couple of things will accomplish this including:
1. Computerized Check-In. All the consignor will do is sign the waiver and be given their passes...the rest will be computerized where the person signing the consignor in will update all their information on the computer while they stand there. This will also allow us to send an email to all the consignors reminding them about pick-up and re-stock drop-off.
2. A program that allows consignors to see what they are selling during the sale. Something like My Consignment Manager (for those of you that are familiar with that). It allows you to print your cards out at home (therefore, no transposing numbers), consignors can see what they did not sell so they will know if they have something missing during pick-up, AND you will get your checks at pick-up.
3. Hiring some help. Getting a couple of my 40 hour +++ workers on payroll so that I can have someone to answer the phone calls after the sale, respond to emails and help get checks out (without us being up til 2am to get this done)

Will all this happen for the 2008 sales? I hope so but no promises. It will happen though and hopefully it will make our sale that much better!

6 Months and a day

First, a happy belated birthday to Chris Thomas...congrats on joining the big 3-0 club my brother!

Yesterday was 6 months since we started the adoption process. 6 months ago we had returned the day before from Disney with Kim and Chris and just knew it was the time to request information from the Bethany Christian Services website.

Six months later we had returned the day before from Disney with our family and I think deep down I just knew we would get THE call.

It was a really hard day although I think I did pretty good not showing it. THANKS to Kim, Candy, Angie, and Kelly for making me answer the phone throughout the day. It was definitely one of those days where I could have stayed in the bed all day.

Today is a new day....I am getting out of the house and promising to finally update this blog later tonight so check back tomorrow! GOD IS IN CONTROL!