Part of Me Blog

technicolor mini-sessions!

PHOTOGRAPHYlissa-anglinComment
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Summer is just around the corner and after a long school year, I feel like this is the perfect way to celebrate!

I typically only offer mini sessions during the fall, but this fun concept demanded it and I can’t wait to get technicolor with you.

A few FAQ’s:

  • I will provide colored powder and silly string- all you need to do is show up!

  • The colored powder is non-toxic and will wash out of clothing. That being said, you might not want to wear the fanciest thing in your closet.

  • These are quick, fun sessions that major on candid fun and lifestyle photos. If you’d like more formal photos- sign up for my mini-sessions in the fall!

  • We will be shooting outdoors in a park-type setting, weather permitting. If weather doesn’t allow us to shoot, we will reschedule for another date.

  • There are lots of different ways you could style your family- in all black or white, or all COLOR! Neons could be fun as well.

  • This session can be for couples or kids only, but is ideal when the whole family gets in on the fun.

  • Photos will be delivered via digital download from a private online gallery about 2 weeks after your session.

Because of the nature of these sessions, spots are limited and are first-come, first-served.

Available Sessions are all Saturday, May 18:

5:10

5:30

5:50

6:10

6:30

6:50

7:10

7:30

7:50

8:10

To request a spot, please fill out the form below and I will respond ASAP. You will be sent an email invoice for the session and your spot will be officially booked once the invoice is paid.

Name *
Name
Please select and I will do my best to give you the time you prefer.

a technicolor dream family session

PHOTOGRAPHYlissa-anglinComment

I have been professional photographer for over 13 years now, and in that time, I feel like I’ve done literally everything there is to do. Until a couple of weeks ago- when I felt the need to put together this rainbow of a session.

I have had the honor of photographing this sweet family for all of those 13 years, and have literally watched their babies grow! So, when I had this idea for a crazy fun session, I knew who to call. Jessica has done my hair for over a decade as well- and I am so glad she’s there to tame my mane and make me look cooler than I really am. :) If you are needing a great stylist in Lubbock, I highly recommend her salon!

I wanted to capture spontaneous fun and real smiles. Candid photos with no stiff smiling- and of course, lots of COLOR! I think we achieved all that and more. These are definitely some fun family portraits, and ones unlike we have ever shot before.

jumpsuit love!

STYLElissa-anglinComment

Guys, I’ve been obsessed with jumpsuits lately- and so I spent a few hours trying on every one I could get my hands on, and then ogling a few on the internet afterward. :) They are definitely my favorite trend this season.

I LOVE this jumpsuit and wore it to photograph a wedding recently. I was surprised by the great quality of the material and the fit for the price (just $23!). You can shop it by following me in the LIKEtoKNOWit app or just click here:  https://www.liketoknow.it/ltk/6SRDjnKMgsQ70VGY1xjduO

I LOVE this jumpsuit and wore it to photograph a wedding recently. I was surprised by the great quality of the material and the fit for the price (just $23!). You can shop it by following me in the LIKEtoKNOWit app or just click here: https://www.liketoknow.it/ltk/6SRDjnKMgsQ70VGY1xjduO

I love the fact that they can be casual or dressy- which really depends on the material it is made of. I’ve seen lots of jumpsuits being worn to weddings- and I would advise to save the cotton/cotton blends for errands or a weekday. If you’re wanting to wear a jumpsuit for a more formal occasion, definitely choose something more flowy in a poly or satin blend, or one with a more structured fit.

And- shoes MATTER! Dress up your jumpsuit with heels- or if it’s casual- sandals/wedges, espadrilles, flats.

I’m sharing the ones I tried on (and really liked) and a few I’m just waiting to go on sale so I can snatch them up! I am always looking for fits that will flatter a mommy tummy and be able to be worn comfortably for a long day! I’m typically a size medium, with a bigger bottom and smaller top, so if you’re shaped like me, this is the list for you.

Head to the end of this post for a HUGE list of my faves!


Another WINNER of a jumpsuit- super flattering on that mommy tummy! Shop this look here:  https://www.liketoknow.it/ltk/2sw4q5oqzf2OoMYLuIxN6i

Another WINNER of a jumpsuit- super flattering on that mommy tummy! Shop this look here: https://www.liketoknow.it/ltk/2sw4q5oqzf2OoMYLuIxN6i


And now for the comfiest thing you will ever put on- I will likely be wearing this as a swim cover up too. Shop this look here:  https://www.liketoknow.it/ltk/3T61BI5qZLyYR97NerzPaO

And now for the comfiest thing you will ever put on- I will likely be wearing this as a swim cover up too. Shop this look here: https://www.liketoknow.it/ltk/3T61BI5qZLyYR97NerzPaO

This image is CLICKABLE and will take you to that specific jumpsuit when you click on it!

Hope you enjoy this collection!

Easy Easter Baskets

HOME + LIFESTYLElissa-anglinComment
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I’m definitely an Amazon Prime type of mom, and that includes Easter basket goodies. I love filling the kids’ baskets with a few fun (and functional items), a little candy, and lots of things we ‘ll be able to use over and over. So, I’m sharing my Easter Baskets Amazon List today- just in case you’re in need of some new ideas- just click Add To Cart and you’re DONE!

Click on any item below and it will take you straight to Amazon- easy peasy!

I love giving my kids the fun stuff, but I’m also practical and take every opportunity I have to throw in some practical items. This includes a few different categories of items:

Outdoor items: sidewalk chalk, and bubbles (this Fubbles bubble holder is a NO-SPILL container- I don’t know about you, but we have spilled many brand-new bottles of bubbles).

Artsy-crafty things that double for use in the car: I love the Melissa and Doug products like Scissor Skills, Scratch Art, and Bingo Markers are all entertaining and portable. We also LOVE Monkey String (also called Wikki Stix) and I keep a package of it in my purse, my car, and the girls’ backpacks (really) because it is a great non-messy activity to have at restaurants and other places kids may be waiting. Model Magic is not for the car, but an easy-to-clean alternative to play dough that dries and can be displayed.

Bath items: I’m dying to try out these water flutes and bath bombs with fun surprises inside are always a hit!

Books that are also great in the car: I spy books for different ages, and a book on coding for our son who is the best kind of nerd. :)

A little Candy: White Rabbit candy can be found in China and so I thought it would be a special edition this year. We always need chocolate carrots and I KNOW the kids will think the Bunny Farts are hilarious.

Games: This colorful Jenga set is too cute, and Knox has recently had an obsession with Uno. I know he will love this emoji edition! Also- how genius is this $5 card holder for kids?!

Practical: We love these silicone shoelaces. They make any shoe a slip-on and are so convenient! The Contigo brand cups are also a favorite and the ONLY kind that we have found that do not leak. I like to buy a few every now and then to keep our collection fresh.

I hope you’ve found at least a couple of things you can add for some fun! After making this graphic, I thought of even more fun things and added them to my list on Amazon, which you can check out here:

ALSO- if you are an Amazon Prime user (or shop online at all) you need to install the Honey Plugin!

It automatically checks for coupons and the same product at lower prices and gives you the option to swap them in your shopping cart. It saves me almost every time I check out! You also earn points which you can redeem for gift cards. I just redeemed some for a Target gift card, so I can vouch that it actually works!

 
 

knox's constellation bedroom!

HOMElissa-anglin1 Comment

I’ve been promising Knox (our 8 year old son) that I would redo his room for over a year now and have finally, finally finished it. He has been so patient! This room was previously painted a mint green with a mashup of furniture and an overflow of toys. So, we took the opportunity to do an all-out cleanup and make some bolder design choices that would take him from little boy room and still be appropriate for a teenager.

Knox loves Star Wars and science, as well as maps and travel, so I thought this constellation design I created for a Minted wall mural challenge would work really well for his room. Knowing that it was mostly black/dark, I painted the other 3 walls of his room white. I was really impressed with the quality of the new mid-century style bed we bought from Walmart. I love the upholstered headboard and the tapered legs.

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LINKS:

RUG // NEON LETTERS // BEDDING // BED // CURTAINS // DESK (Similar, this one is vintage)

I’ve had a red mid-century desk for many years I couldn’t bear to part with, and it worked really well in this room. The wire Knoll Bertoia Chair was a $5 garage sale find (which is crazy- these retail for $832 new- no kidding!). Knox got the projector clock for Christmas. Above his desk are his life verse framed, a letterboard with a gold frame, and a map.

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LINKS:

FLOOR LAMP (Similar, this one is vintage) // MAP // WIRE CHAIR // CLOCK // LETTERBOARD

A fun new edition is this pushpin map I got custom made from Paperrama. I thought it would be neat for Knox to get to pin the places he’s been in the world, and dream of where he’d like to go! This is a canvas print, but it has a hard backing that allows you to put in the pushpins. They were super quick about the customization and changed the colors to match his room, as well as added 1 Timothy 6:12: “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

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LINKS:

PUSHPIN MAP // PROJECTOR CLOCK

I like to keep an eclectic feel to our house and don’t like all the furniture to match, so I pulled in a wood side table with hairpin legs I already had and a wire Bertoia diamond chair (another crazy Craigslist find!).

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LINKS:

WIRE DIAMOND CHAIR (similar, this one is vintage) // SIDE TABLE // GOLD LAMP (Similar)

Once we got the bed in place, I knew I still wanted to put some focal point above his bed. I found these “neon” letters on Amazon (link below) and Knox thought they were super cool. They are really LED lights and are lightweight so they are easily hung. They do have wires that extend from them for the battery or USB plugin, but I found a USB connector that allowed me to connect all 5 letters to a hub so we can plug them into an outlet and not use up a ton of batteries.

We chose the word BRAVE because this is Knox’s focus word. This post explains what a prayer word is and why it is so special to us and him!

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LINKS:

NEON LETTERS // USB HUB (GET THIS if you are getting the neon letters!)

The ceiling fan was a much-needed and simple update, and I still think I might take the whole thing down at some point and paint it all black, but it was nice to get rid of the frilly lamp cages, and replace them with these industrial ones I found. A quick $20 fix!

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LINKS:

INDUSTRIAL LAMP CAGES

Knox’s old bed had storage in the bottom, so I knew when we got rid of it, we would need another storage solution. My mom (who is a pro estate-saler) found this mid-century dresser for him quite a while ago, and so I dreamed up some shelving to go around it. Thankfully, Shawn was up for the job!

It was a fairly easy D.I.Y.- we followed the outline of this tutorial. I did have to search all over town to find bracketing that was already painted black, and I’m so glad I did! After checking Lowes and Home Depot, it was True Value that had it. It was 1/2 the price of the white and grey versions I had seen AND I didn’t have to spray paint it. We bought the wood at Lowe’s and stained it, and then just put it together. I think the whole shelf project was around $200.

Another big project was getting all of Knox’s toys organized and contained into the storage boxes you see on the shelves. I basically sat everything out on his bed and said, “everything needs to fit in these 4 boxes, and if it doesn’t, it’s being donated”- which actually worked! We did use an old cube bookshelf you can see on the floor next to the dresser for some stuffed animals/robots, but everything else is contained on the shelving!

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LINKS:

BLACK BRACKETS // BLACK SHELF TRACK // GREY STORAGE BOXES- LARGE // CUBE BOOKSHELF // DRESSER (Similar, this one is vintage) // BLACK AND WHITE GLOBE // INDUSTRIAL FAN (Similar, this one is vintage)

One solution I was particularly proud of was the use of these magazine files for softcover books. Since the books couldn’t stand up on their own, and I didn’t want to stack them on top of each other, this was a great solution. I found these cute gold ones and thought they were perfect!

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LINKS:

GOLD MAGAZINE FILES // POTTED FAUX PLANTER (I found this one at HomeGoods)

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LINKS:

AGATE BOOKENDS // DIFFUSER // GLOBE (Similar, this one is vintage) // DARTH VADER HELMET // STORAGE BOXES

I love the way his room looks as it gets darker outside. The letters glow and the constellations seem to as well. I typically like light-and-bright but this dark-ish room makes me just as happy, and I really feel like Knox will be able to use this room for many years.

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Let’s talk about the wall mural!

I created the wall mural using engineering prints, which you can get at local print shops like FedEx Office, Staples or Office Depot. This is the 3rd or 4th time I have used this technique, and so I decided to film the process and make it a Skillshare class! So, if you have a Skillshare account, you can go watch and learn- or use this link to get 2 months for free- which is more than enough time to watch the whole class.

You can easily check out all of the products I’ve linked here:

PIN IT!

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glorieta family camp 2018 recap

TRAVELlissa-anglinComment

March seems like a funny time to be sharing about a vacation we took last July, but I also know that it’s that time of year to start planning vacation for next summer! So, I’m sharing our third-year experience at Glorieta Family Camp today!

We weren’t sure if we’d be able to make it to camp this year with our adoption being completed- but once we realized we’d be home from China at the end of April, we were able to decide whether or not we’d be able to go. I was worried about family camp disrupting Lucy’s transition to her new home, but in retrospect I think it only helped. More on this in a minute.

If you haven’t read my first blog post on Why We Love Family Camp, go read! <- This post will give you the main HUGE reasons we love camp. We have attended family camp in Glorieta, New Mexico for 3 years now. It’s a specialized camp for families that really caters to all ages, including the parents.

This year at camp, our family jumped right in, literally and figuratively. There were some fun new elements, and some of the things we’ve enjoyed every year.

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One of the first activities we did was the arbor climb- and I was so proud of Knox, who volunteered to go first and killed it climbing up the tree! The girls were more interested in the little ziplines they had made nearby, so everyone was entertained and it was a fun time. At every activity, there are camp counselors who are trained in the safety practices necessary, and so we really got to relax and just enjoy the beautiful setting and our kids.

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One of the things I mentioned earlier was Lucy’s transition and our fear that family camp would interrupt her newly-forming attachment to us. In all reality, I think it only helped. Because we attended camp with several families from our church, it was like a week-long “get to know you” session for Lucy.

Many of the older kids were (and still are!) so great with our kiddos, and being at camp really gave them lots of playtime. I vastly underestimated how important it is for our children to know other kids older and younger- it has been so amazing to see them connect throughout the week when we see them at church and beyond.

Because of these familiar faces, I was much more confident taking Lucy to church (and leaving her in childcare) those first few weeks. We are so, so thankful to the kids and families that helped us establish a safe place of community from the get-go.

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Mealtimes at family camp are always fun (and the food is actually good!). One afternoon, we had a make-your-own-family pizza time where we all got to select the “ingredients” we wanted on our pizza. Of course, we were encouraged to talk about the things our pepperonis and such stood for- like being people with great integrity, gratefulness, and generosity. It was a great activity that kept the kids engaged and the pizza was good, too!

A few years ago, Shawn and I established a no-nag rule at mealtime on vacation, and it is the best thing ever! At home, we are constantly begging for our kids to take “one more bite”, and it is such a relief to have a week where we worry zero about how much food they are eating. The amount of exercise and fresh air they are getting almost guarantees they will be hungry, and food is available almost all the time at camp- plus I keep a good stash of granola bars in our room just to satisfy hungry tummies.

There are several meals that we get to do kid-free, too- which is always nice! This year, we had a speed-dating style meet and greet with the other parents before dinner which included some delicious appetizers (bruschetta! hummus! tiny skewers!). And date night is always fun. Here is our group of friends from last year- so thankful for these people!

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On date night, we were given a couple of hours to rest or get ready (our kids were off having a party of their own), and then we were driven to a really neat old farmhouse where we were served a delicious steak dinner. It was a great time and we were encouraged to take a walk or wander around after dinner. Such a highlight.

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Let’s talk about fun stuff! This is one of Shawn’s favorite activities- drift trikes. This year, even Liv got in on the action. :) We love the different activities that are offered and have found them to be great for almost any age. If the girls were too small to participate, we could bring them along to watch and play on the sidelines, take them to the great childcare, or split up and do something different. There are so many different options, and they add more every year- hiking, archery tag, mini golf, mountain scooters, lake activities, yard games, bikes and trikes to ride, or hammocks to chill in. Let’s be honest- there were several days I opted to “take the girls for a nap” in our room and enjoyed a quick nap myself. :)

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Shawn and Knox went on the optional white water rafting trip this year (the photo above is NOT that, haha). They take a group to a local river and they get to white water raft all afternoon. I think they had fun, but Shawn’s arms were quite sore the next day- needless to say, I don’t think our 7 year old was a lot of help on the rapids. :)

There is a lake at the Glorieta campus (pictured above) with a ton of activities like stand up paddle board, kayak and canoes, and big inflatables. Since our kids are smaller, they mostly loved looking for crawdads.

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An impromptu tea party with our friend Analeigh. Again, we love the flexibility of the schedule at family camp. There is no one expecting you to be anywhere, and that relives such stress and allows for fun little moments like this.

Let’s talk about theme nights!

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Every year, there are a couple of theme nights which you are given in advance so you can bring outfits/costumes. The first this year was “Yacht Party”. So we got a little bit nautical-fancy (for camp, anyway!), and headed to dinner. After we ate yet another delicious meal, they gave us our task for the evening- create a boat out of cardboard. Oh, and one member of our family had to try to float in it.

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So we got to working and taping, and Knox was volunteered as the captain of our ship. :) After we all made our “boats” we headed down to the lake to see if any would float! Haha, ours didn’t last long but it was fun.

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The other theme night was “Lost Boys”. I was determined to make costumes from things we already had at home and really loved what we ended up looking like! On this night, we were driven to a whole new part of campus to find a giant wooden ship, inflatables, slingshots, face painting, cotton candy, grilled corn and turkey legs, and of course, there was a dance party. It was a really fun time.

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Liv was living her best life at the face-painting station. She still talks about it to this day!

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Another thing our kids have talked about consistently since was the foam party! This was a surprise to us, but so much fun! One afternoon, they busted out these giant foam makers- it was quite literally good clean fun!

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Camp this year was a blast and we are so thankful we got to do it again. There are so many HUGE perks I didn’t mention here, so if you are interested in going, please read my previous post.

The time we had together as a family to make memories, worship together and just rest was wonderful. Shawn and I had many great conversations and vision-casting for the Anglin crew, and time to enjoy our friends who support us so much without the distractions of everyday life was invaluable.

I will never forget taking this photo below- this is one of my oldest friends and her daughter, whom they adopted in the past year. We had similar adoption timelines and so seeing these two beauties there with us was evidence of the miracles God has done!

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Shawn and I also made it on this promo video for Glorieta if you would like to see my very pared-down family camp look, haha! No, honestly- it is wonderful to barely wear makeup for an entire week. :)

six months home (two months late) • lucy fei

Adoptionlissa-anglinComment
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So I thought I had blogged an update at Lucy’s 3 month mark home, but it was 1 month home! You can find that post here. The fact that I didn’t remember correctly and the fact that I wasn’t able to get that 3-month update out are good indicators as to where I’ve been mentally and physically. :)

When friends ask how Lucy is doing since has been home, our answer is generally that Lucy is exceeding all our expectations. We as parents, however, have been our biggest disappointment. We laugh about this, but it is true, and something we are getting to be ok with. The transition from 2 to 3 kids has been a doozie for us. Namely, being outnumbered and also the 2 and 3 year old girls keep us on our toes. I joke that they have a “sit down” alarm- just as we sit down, they have a new need. But I digress, this blog is about our sweet Lucy- not our struggles as parents (or is it?!?)

At the end of this month, we will have reached the 6 month mark. I anticipated this milestone because in many of the books and resources I read pre-adoption, it was advised to not make any hard-and-fast judgments about your newly-adopted child for at least 6 months. This makes sense for medical conditions, physical development and abilities- some things take a while to really show themselves, and to find what treatment is best- but as far as emotional capacity and personality- I have thrown that idea out the window. It’s going to be much longer than 6 months.

I am certain the honeymoon stage is over- this summer was a wild ride and we were all just there for the party, haha! We traveled a LOT (family camp, New Mexico, a cruise to Mexico), and I’m really glad we did. Many families choose to cocoon (stay home in a stable and familiar environment) once a child is brought home, and we have definitely soaked up our time at home. But the travel and change of scenery IS our family- and seeing Lucy soak it all in and live it to the full was just another reminder that God knew she would find a home with us. So as we’ve been home more often and settled into a new routine, it’s been interesting to see how we’ve all adjusted. In many ways it has been great to get to establish “home” and routine. It’s also brought out a lot of what hangs out underneath the surface- trauma. More on this in a bit.

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Physical body:

Lucy is definitely growing- she already looks quite different to me than she did when we first met her. She has only gained two pounds since being home, but has remained very healthy with the exception of some allergies/runny nose. We started gymnastics last month and she is doing amazing. We are all impressed with her balance and ability to execute what she is asked to do. It is a mommy-and-me (although daddy may have done it more than I have!) class, so I think it has been great bonding time as well.

Surprisingly, Lucy is now potty-trained! This is not something we expected, but we are thrilled about! I am pretty sure this is partially thanks to her foster mother in China who had already been working with her, and her PDO teacher who is amazing. Lucy was just ready about a month ago, and it helps that Liv is just a year older and she has been able to watch her.

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Emotional:

You guys, our Lucy is sweet. Since we first met her, we could see that she is a compassionate soul. She deeply cares for others and is quick to comfort another and apologize. She gets her feelings hurt easily (remember, 2 year old here!), but is quickly comforted and back to playing. She is quick to smile and her laugh is the BEST. I am so thankful for that smile. It has reassured me many times when I have felt like I’m not connecting with her.

Speaking of- let’s talk about attachment really quick. Attachment is a a term used to describe a child’s level of bonding or close relationship with a parent. With kids adopted from China, it is not uncommon that they first attach to the father, which is what happened with Lucy. She was immediately more comfortable with (and comforted by) Shawn. She would run to me when she was upset, but there have been many moments where she preferred him. This was tough because at first Shawn felt like I was being overly-sensitive about it (something I have definitely been guilty of), but he has come to see what I am talking about, which has made us on the same team. It is so much easier to parent when you are on the same team as your spouse!

As far as she is concerned, we just want her to feel comfort! So any attachment in our eyes is wonderful. As far as I, as her mother, am concerned, this is HARD. Mentally, I understood that it wasn’t about me, but emotionally, I was dealing with all the negative marks on my ability as a mother. And to add to that, it was like her baggage had finally arrived at our home, and mine was stacked up right behind hers. This bonding process has forced me to look into some of my own trauma (yes, apparently I have some!), wrong thinking, and heart-issues- it has been awful to confront at times BUT I am so thankful to have come out the other side with more FREEDOM than ever to really trust God, as a person and a parent. I will write more on this later, because I think it is something all parents (and people) deal with- not just ones with adopted kiddos.

So- attachment is happening- which we are super thankful for. Some days we can really see it, some days we wonder where she went. And this is due to one thing: trauma.

Many people who have reached out to us regarding adoption (which we LOVE to talk with anyone about- we are not experts but we love adoption)- have a similar question: what is her trauma like? Sometimes it is asked in a way that assumes there will be less trauma based on her young age at the time of her adoption. I am pretty sure this is at the core of what most people mean when they say, “so how is she adjusting?”.

The truth is any adopted child will have experienced trauma. In the womb, shortly after being born, in experiencing the loss of biological parents, dealing with complex medical issues or basic needs that aren’t being met- all of these things result in trauma. It’s just part of the reality- adoption begins in brokenness.

Trauma for our house right now looks like a general distrust in caregivers (us as parents). Lucy frequently asks for food, needs to be told where she is going and that she will come home WITH US, some grappling for control over toys or shoes, and the hardest one for me to see- complete emotional withdrawal. Lucy is an internalizer, so when she chooses to cry, we are thankful and sad at the same time.

What I have learned is that so much of it is out of my control. The trauma she has experienced is not my fault, and it’s not her fault. It doesn’t even help to place blame, really- it’s just there and must be recognized for what it is. I am comforted by the fact that time will help, and she is going to forever be in our family. I am also comforted by the fact that we serve the Ultimate Healer. God sees all our broken parts (ones we don’t even know we have), and He delights in drawing close to those hard places. We will get through this with Jesus. It helps so much to give trauma a name. It rends it powerless because we know the One who IS power. This is something Lucy will deal with all her life, because it is part of her story (and all of ours now), and my hope is that we are able to give her a great foundation in recognizing trauma, giving it a name, and proclaiming victory in Jesus over it.

I’m so proud of our girl in this arena. Though we have some really tough days, watching her trust has taught me so much. She has little reason to trust us- we’ve only been in her life 6 months- and yet she does. What a miracle!

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Food:

Haha- I mentioned this before, but Lucy LOVES food. Some of that is rooted in her past life- the need to know food is always available and she can have as much as she wants has been important. We turned around after dinner last night and she had pulled a huge container of raisins out of the pantry and was finishing it off at the dinner table! It feels good to see her eat and be full. That doesn’t mean we don’t have to bribe her like any other 2 year old, though.

She feeds herself 90% of the time and loves noodles, rice, bread- all the carbs! Spaghetti is always a hit. Our family is at Chick-Fil-A at least once a week as well and it is a fave. She is generally willing to try everything we sit in front of her. Again, so thankful for this. I know many adoptive kids have food-related issues.

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Likes/Dislikes:

Lucy loves music. I have been taking the girls to a music class put on by our parks and rec department and she looooooves it. If there is music playing, she is singing or dancing or both. I am positive she will learn most of her English through song. She is also quite good at imaginative play- I think because she watches her sister so much. They play with their Barbies, baby dolls, kitchen, etc. and there is always a scenario happening we are invited into. She loves to be chased and tickling

Lucy is quite friendly and plays well with other kids, although she likes to keep her distance and get a feel for the environment. She started going to Parents’ Day Out two days a week at the beginning of September and has done really well.

She does not like to be dirty- which is the opposite of her sister! I have been on alert for sensory issues that are common with adopted kiddos, but this does not seem to be that. She just really doesn’t like dirt- or anything on her skin, for that matter. She kindly requests a towel at least 3 times a day. :)

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Language:

Lucy is doing amazingly well. She understands most everything we say to her and is repeating everything…all the time! If you are a parent, you know I say this with a little weariness, haha. But- we are so impressed with her and clearly have a very smart girl. Her love of music has been very helpful in teaching her new words, and she can even put together a few short sentences. We have not changed the way we speak to her at all, and she has not seemed to have any trouble with it.

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Sleep:

This, for me, has been the hardest. Lucy actually sleeps great. It’s the getting there that has been tough. I have felt the need to rock her to sleep so that we could bond- I rocked both Liv and Knox- and Lucy prefers to just be laid down so she can put herself to sleep (the traditional way in China, and the way she’s always known). This has been a struggle as my desire to rock her has met her rejection and it’s hard at the end of the day to not take that too personally. I also hate knowing she may be just laying there in bed, wide awake, scared and trying to soothe herself to sleep. I want to soothe her. She will let me rock her to sleep at naptime, but in the evenings it is very difficult and I realize she probably has some trauma related to falling asleep (like, for instance, falling asleep at a government office and suddenly being with new people who don’t speak your language- which is exactly what happened the day we received her). So, we have some work to do here. But all in all, she is a great sleeper when she is asleep!

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Super thankful to Lauren Clark Photography for all of these images we will treasure. She shot this lifestyle session for us and I was amazed at the images she was able to get with all the crazy we handed her.

announcing Lissa Anglin presets!

PHOTOGRAPHYlissa-anglinComment

Have you ever have a goal that keeps getting put on the backburner again and again…and then finally one day you just sit up and DO THE THING? This is that thing for me.

For years- literally- I have wanted to develop (haha, pun intended!) some presets for Lightroom:

Tried-and-true presets for photographers like myself,

AND

Fun, trendy presets for moms, bloggers, and photographers like myself. :)

Ya’ll, I couldn’t be more excited to share with you

my new line of presets!

The first collection I’m calling the Essentials Collection.

This preset pack contains two tried-and-true presets- my signature COLOR and BLACK AND WHITE. I use these presets to edit my own work and have tweaked and tweaked them over the years to get them juuuuuust the way I like them.

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My COLOR preset adds just enough POP and saturation to make your image stand out without being overly edited. My BLACK AND WHITE preset keeps it LIGHT and BRIGHT with plenty of CONTRAST.

Check out some before-and-afters:

 

The second preset pack I’ve made is called The Autumn Collection.

These presets were inspired by all things autumn and give your images that warm, cozy feeling! There are 7 presets included in this preset pack:

Cinnamon Sugar, Crisp Air, Maple Leaf, Apple Cider, Cozy Sweater, Harvest Ale and Pumpkin Spice.

These presets are great for bloggers or anyone who wants to give all of their images a similar vibe.

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Here are some before-and-afters:

 

SOME F.A.Qs ABOUT PRESETS:

• These presets can be used on a computer running Lightroom OR Lightroom mobile (the app for your phone). The computer app costs $10 a month, BUT the mobile app is FREE!

• If you are wondering how everyone gets their Instagram feed to look so great, THIS IS HOW. THEY ARE USING PRESETS ;). Really, though- presets are easy to use, and make your editing time much faster.

• I have a handy-how to that you will receive if you’ve never used Lightroom before! It’s not that scary! We also have a great Facebook group called Moms Who Snap where you can ask questions/learn.

I have SO ENJOYED seeing the #lissaanglinpresets photos floating around the internet and can’t wait to see more! If you have any questions about the presets, feel free to contact me.

cruisin' with kids • our family's tips for those really big boats

LIFESTYLElissa-anglinComment
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So it's been far too long since my last post- but not for lack of content! In the past month, we've spent two weeks in the mountains of New Mexico (one was family camp at Glorieta- that post is coming soon!), delivered 3 gorgeous weddings to newlyweds, and road tripped to Galveston where we boarded a 5 day cruise to Cozumel and Progreso.

We all had a blast on the cruise and Shawn and I deemed it an overall success, with a few stressful moments thrown in there for good measure (because it's not a real family vacation if there aren't a few screaming toddlers). 

This was our 2nd Carnival cruise- our first was when Knox was under a year old, so this one included 2 more kids and required a lot more of us as parents. We were aboard the Carnival Valor which made port in Cozumel, Mexico and Progreso which is on the Yucatan peninsula. We traveled with my parents and my youngest sister, brother-in-law, and my niece who is 17 months. It was extremely helpful to have extra adults willing to help feed a kid or take them for a walk if they were getting restless!


Before You Go:

• Book your excursions! We waited until a couple of weeks before we left to do this and we almost missed out, because some fill up fast. 

Cozumel

Cozumel

In Cozumel, we'd selected a "beach" excursion that included lunch and a sea lion show. While the property was nice (Chakanaab), the time it took to actually get on the beach (after a bus ride and tour of the property) was way too long, and once we finally got there, it was densely populated. Plus, the restaurant and bar with our included meals was quite a walk- making it tough to watch kids and eat. 

Chankanaab in Cozumel

Chankanaab in Cozumel

Progreso, on the other hand, was surprisingly great. We'd been warned there was a 40 minute bus ride both ways to the resort where the beach was, but that turned out to be a great nap time/applying sunscreen time for our kids. We ended up at Hotel Reef where the beach was beautiful and not too crowded. There were several food stations with delicious Mexican dishes and waiters who were very friendly and efficient at bringing drinks. After hanging out at the beach most of the day, we got in one of several pools to wash the sand off and swim before it was time to get back to the bus. 

• Get passports for everyone. No, you don't necessarily need passports for kids while traveling on a cruise (birth certificates will work), but it sure does make getting trough security easier. Plus, now you can easily travel with your kids anywhere! We had to jump through some hoops to get Lucy's passport (she still doesn't have a Social Security Number!), but thankfully it came in time and was a lot more convenient than hauling around her original adoption decree. 

• Download the Carnival App (if you're cruising on Carnival) The app is great and not only lets you see what's going on around the ship, but is the best way to communicate with your group. The chat function is $5 per device and worked pretty well for us. There were a few quirks- like keeping the app running so you don't miss messages- but overall it was great.

• Download music, videos or apps for any devices. Unless you pay for service on the ship, you won't be able to access any of your normal apps, etc. We chose to not bring the kids' iPads on the ship, but it was really handy to have our normal bedtime playlist downloaded when it was time to put kids to bed.

This is our room- with kids in bed. Liv and Lucy are in the upper left bed (you can see I wedged lifejackets between the bed and the wall because I was worried someone would wiggle out and get stuck- haha) and Knox is in the upper right. It was a little crazy, but our bed was very comfortable!

This is our room- with kids in bed. Liv and Lucy are in the upper left bed (you can see I wedged lifejackets between the bed and the wall because I was worried someone would wiggle out and get stuck- haha) and Knox is in the upper right. It was a little crazy, but our bed was very comfortable!

• Consider booking two rooms. Ya'll, I knew our room would be tight, but when we walked in with our luggage, it was laughable. Of course, we booked the smallest interior stateroom and really- it is ingenious how they have fit in a king sized bed with two twins. We made it through the week, but it was definitely tight- and now we know we could live in our utility room for a week if we had to (yikes!). Next time, we'll be going for the adjoining rooms so Mom and Dad don't have to worry about someone rolling off their bunk onto them. :)

• Don’t fall for the soda upgrade. Sodas aren't included in your cruise price, and in the weeks before you go alcohol and soda packages are heavily marketed via email. We really expected to be dealing with children begging for Sprite (we don't usually have it at home but do allow it on vacation), BUT they never even asked about it because there are several delicious juices and milk available at all times for free. 

• Check your phone plan. Most companies include Mexico and Canada free (turn on service while at port). This is a great time to check for important texts/emails for free without paying for the pricey-yet-slow internet on the ship.

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• Make a daily budget. We set a budget for ourselves every day and it really helped us enjoy the cruise and not stress out over money constantly. You will need to budget $65-70 per person in gratuities (no, it's not optional).  This will hit your account the last full day- read up on this before you leave so it's not a surprise. 

• Call a few weeks before the cruise for free upgrades. We did this the first time we cruised as a family, and my sister did it this time with the same result. She'd called Carnival to check about cribs (yes, they provide them), and they offered her a free room upgrade since there were available rooms and it was close to the sail date. Wish we would have given it a shot this go-round!


Packing:

• Kids' arm and chest floaties. We have these PuddleJumpers and this Speedo one (this one is great for Lucy since it has shoulder straps- the others tend to slide down on her). They provide lifejackets on the ship, but we utilized the kids' floaties in port as well. They were really nice to have on the beach- especially since the girls wanted to play in the sand and wade in the water a bit.

• Peppermint oil for nausea. I used this a ton while I was pregnant, and it still works for me (not pregnant!). Simply inhale it or apply it to your chest with some carrier oil, like coconut oil.

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• Swim diapers AND a reusable swim diaper (like this one). We did not know prior to the first morning that there are NO DIAPERS ALLOWED- NOT EVEN SWIM DIAPERS in the ship's swimming pools. We were lucky that Lucy is close to being potty-trained and just took her swim diaper off- but this rule is strictly enforced by some lifeguards (not-so-strictly by others). If I had an infant, I would definitely bring a reusable swim diaper like the one I linked above so they can take a dip in the pool on ship days, AND disposable ones for port days. 

• Storage-sized Ziploc Bags. These were super handy for all sorts of things- but I was glad I had extras to keep dry clothes, sunscreen, and phones from getting sandy and wet in the beach bag.

• Snacks. We stock up on Z bars and Clif bars- they are our favorite travel snack since they don't get crushed or melt easily. You really don't need many snacks (there is PLENTY of food on the ship), but these came in clutch on port days or if we were just not at a place to get kids food and needed something quick for them. My sister made a good habit of grabbing a few cereal boxes from the buffet line (the individual-sized boxes) in the morning and those were great (free!) snacks too.

• No towels needed. There are plenty of beach towels provided in every stateroom, and if you need more they will bring them to you. You can take these with you to port and as long as you bring them back, it's free. You can also check out towels at the ship's pool area if you don't feel like dragging wet towels in and out of your stateroom.

• Insulated cup for coffee/water. I drink coffee all day (yes, really) and there were a few times we really needed water but there was none to be found (on the beach mostly). I was so glad we'd brought our favorite insulated mugs to keep our coffee hot and our water cold. 

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• Baby carrier or harness. Surely I am not the only mama who booked a cruise and then had a kid-goes-overboard nightmare...or two (yiiiikes!). We had this harness from when Knox was a baby and we totally used it on the ship with Lucy, who has a history of running off. I also carried Lucy in our trusty Tula carrier during embarkation, debarkation, and on the long walk on and off the ship at port. It was so nice to give her a place to rest and I loved having free hands.

• Signs or decals for stateroom doors. I saw lots of people bring decals or signs to hang on their stateroom doors, and thought it was a smart idea for kids. I would avoid using anything with our names for safety reasons, but having a picture or symbol that kids could recognize could be really helpful if someone gets lost and can't find your room.

• Umbrella stroller. My sister suggested this one- and I agree- a small umbrella stroller (anything larger would be too much for many of the tight spaces on the ship) would be helpful if you have a sleeping infant or one who does not like a baby carrier.

• Kid's water bottles. We carry one of these for each kid pretty much everywhere we go, and they were super handy on the beach in Mexico when we weren't about to give them water from the restaurant to drink. We filled these each morning in the ship's restaurant with ice and water. 

• Travel-size dish soap and small dish brush. This is just one of my travel norms that has paid off many times. We use them to wash our water bottles and mugs, and have even treated stains in clothing with it. 

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• Card games, wiki stix, board games. The last day of the cruise we busted out some fun goodies that my mom had brought for the kids and just hung out in the restaurant- out of the hot sun. The kids loved playing with wikki stix and some modeling clay. I saw several families playing card games or board games, too.

• Cheap flip flops. To keep from overpacking, I try to keep it to 2 pairs of shoes per person. After this trip, I'm adding cheap flip flops to that rule. During our last day at port, Knox's shoes went missing. We're not sure if they were stolen or just buried deep in the sand, but either way, we left without them. I was glad he had another pair of shoes to wear, but wished I would have brought some cheap flip flops to take to the beach/pool since he didn't want to wear swim shoes. 

• Silicone wedding ring. These are inexpensive and worth using instead of your actual wedding ring. Please, listen to the girl that lost a diamond while ziplining in Puerto Rico (thank goodness for that warranty!). I have these rings

• Tampons/Feminine Products. Trust me, you don't want to have to buy these in Mexico (sketchy) or on the ship (super expensive).

• Probiotics. Just to keep everything regular while you binge. I use Young Living probiotics for myself and heard they just came out with kids' gummies! You're welcome.

• Bucket/Shovel for playing in the sand. Our kids played in the sand 90% of the time we were at the beach and even used them at the pool on the ship. These were a little annoying to carry around, but worth the few dollars we paid for them for the amount of entertainment they provided.


On the Ship:

Real life- this is what most of my photos of the three of them look like :)

Real life- this is what most of my photos of the three of them look like :)

• There are lots of freebies! Check the daily schedule to see what is being offered that day, and even if it sounds a little lame, show up. We had a ton of fun at the trivia games and shows. There were cooking demonstrations and art and jewelry presentations (that boasted free champagne!). They even had a Dr. Seuss parade for the kids. All free!

• Take advantage of the childcare. Truthfully, I intended to snub the childcare on the ship, assuming it was a sad, lonely place full of disgruntled workers (sorry, my mom-judgement is harsh sometimes), BUT when we boarded the ship, they told us we needed to go register the kids whether or not we were planning to utilize the childcare area and services. I was totally surprised to see a very cool, clean, brightly colored space with an underwater theme and friendly workers. They walked us through the facilities and their procedures- which were very safe, clean, and totally age appropriate for our kids and told us that anytime we had kids there that we'd be given a phone that they could use to reach us. We ended up taking the kids almost every day because they enjoyed it so much- and they even ate most of their dinners with the childcare program (called "Camp Ocean"), which meant we got to have a peaceful, adult dinner every night. They served kid-friendly food our kids loved- and the same childcare workers were there every day, actively involved with them. This was a major win in our book!

• Wear your swimsutis and apply sunscreen first thing in the morning. This may seem super obvious, but our family just doesn't tan...we burn (well, Lucy is our exception). But, applying sunscreen before we even left the room was super helpful because without fail, the kids wanted to get in the pool right after breakfast. Which leads me to my next tip...

• Hit up the pool first thing in the morning to snag the good chairs! This may seem silly, but trust me, it will pay off about 1:00 P.M. when the pool is packed and you still have a prime spot in the shade to watch your littles while you drink your piña colada. 

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• FREE Room Service! I'm usually too cheap to order room service during hotel stays, but Carnival offered free room service until 10 PM to staterooms (you can get it for a small fee after hours as well). There were actually door tags in our room where we could order what we'd like for the next morning. We were able to select what we wanted delivered, pick a delivery time and set it on our door before 10 PM. Then amazingly, the next morning we had hot coffee delivered for us and bananas to tide hungry kids over until we made it to breakfast.

• Don’t stress about what your kids are eating/not eating. This is one vacation rule I've adapted this summer and it has been a great thing for my mindset. We battle "how many more bites" from at least 1 kid at almost every meal, and it wears on Shawn and I both. Since food is readily available 24 hours of the day on a cruise, we chose to just not worry about what- or more importantly how much- our kids were eating. No, they didn't just eat ice cream the whole time- but we definitely had it for breakfast on the last day!

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• Keep bedtime routine. Our kids were exhausted every night, but somehow when their heads hit the pillow, they still wanted their normal bedtime music. We had downloaded our bedtime music playlist on Spotify and brought our bluetooth speaker which were really handy. 

• Unpack when you get there. Like I said, our room was TIGHT. I unpacked all our suitcases and utilized the drawers, cabinets, and shelves in bathroom. It made getting ready and keeping the room organized much easier. I laid kids' clothes out paired in outfits and made a shoe drawer the kids could throw their shoes in. We hung a giant laundry bag (purchased at Ikea) in one of the closets and all dirty clothes went there. When it was time to pack up, I just filled one suitcase full of dirty laundry and it was so nice to just dump it in the laundry when we got home.


At Port:


• Cash is king. You need cash for tips and spending. Yes, many stores will take cards, but if you take an excursion you will need cash for tips.

• Keep passports with you always. Never, ever leave your passports on the ship while in another country. Yes, it may be annoying to keep them safe in your beach bag, but you do not want to have an emergency in another country and have no identification.
 

Just a biiiiiit windy on the top deck!

Just a biiiiiit windy on the top deck!


Yikes, I hope that was helpful- because it ended up being super long. I'm just writing the blog post I really wanted to find before we headed out. Happy cruising!

My mom bought the girls these sweet dresses in Mexico so we had a very quick photoshoot. There were 4 other adults watching to make sure no one got too close to the rails and about 186753 outtakes, haha!

My mom bought the girls these sweet dresses in Mexico so we had a very quick photoshoot. There were 4 other adults watching to make sure no one got too close to the rails and about 186753 outtakes, haha!

one month home • lucy fei

Adoptionlissa-anglinComment

We've been home from China a little over a month and it's time I do an update on our Lucy Fei. 

All in all, she is doing excellent. I have consistently been surprised at how well the transition has gone. The little girl we received on April 16, 2018 is so different the little girl who lives in our home today. Her eyes are brighter. Her smile is more authentic. She is beginning to really show us her sweet and silly self. That's not to say there haven't been many rough spots. 

I'm writing this so that I will be able to go back- but I also have a few other purposes I want to be clear about:

1) I want others in the adoption process to get a real-life picture of what one family's experience looks like. It comforted me so much to read others' accounts before Lucy came home.

2) I want others who may be interested in adoption to find some answers- possibly to questions they didn't even know they had. There is nothing special or extra brave about our family. God called us to care for orphans and this is just simply how we have responded.

3) Please, please don't miss the God-story in this. Without Him, this would be a very different story. He is THE reason we have/had hope- the reason our girl is home with us now- the reason we are functioning as a family!

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Physical Health:

If you've been following along for a while, you know that we adopted Lucy through China's special needs (sometimes called "waiting children") program. More on that here. So, we knew that Lucy would have some type of special need (one that we had pre-determined we were ok to consider) when we first viewed her file. We had a 72 hour review period to consult doctors and then make a decision on whether or not to pursue adopting Lucy. We consulted with 3 doctors- two who are international adoption specialists and review files like this all the time, and our pediatrician, who was also familiar with the process and had reviewed children's files for adoption as well. Their opinions were extremely insightful and helpful. Each one went over every detail of her file, which included documentation of hospital visits, blood work, and a statement on her finding place. 

Our Lucy was born prematurely and was diagnosed with two forms of Congenital Heart Disease- PFO and PDA. Beyond that, she seemed to have been a very sick baby- there were many hospital visits listed during her first year of life. Of course we googled her heart defects, and it seemed (from our uneducated perspective) that they weren't a huge deal- the internet (where everything is true, haha) even said that both of these types of defects can heal themselves.

We did have one problem- we had no updated photos of her- just one mug shot style photo of her head at 1 year old. So there was no way to tell how she was developing with her heart defects. We requested updated photos from her foster family but our agency told us that we may not get any photos before we needed to make a decision because of the city Lucy was in (updates apparently did not come quickly from there). So we waited and prayed. 

Miraculously, we received updated photos and videos the very next day- and they showed us a beautiful, smiling, running, walking, playing little girl. It was amazing! After sending the new photos and videos to our doctors, each speculated that Lucy's heart conditions had already healed themselves. So, we felt much more confident and chose to pursue her. 

I have not shared about Lucy's heart condition until now, because we wanted to have her looked at here at home first. In many cases, there are additional, non-documented issues that a child may have, and we were prepared for that. 2 weeks after arriving home, we took her to the doctor where she had a thorough well-check. You guys, there was NO HEART MURMUR. Our pediatrician said that there was absolutely no indication that she has any heart issues at all at this point. Of course, we are going to keep monitoring her- I am fully aware of all the signs of cardiac distress and I'm sure it will always linger in the back of my mind- BUT all we know is that God did a miracle- again! Praise the Lord!

I can't finish this portion without saying, though, that even if she hadn't received a clean bill of health, it would have been ok. Seeing her now, in our home, as part of our family...we would do whatever it took for her. And we will! 

Language:

This is the number one question we are asked about- so much that it makes me laugh a bit. My sarcastic self wants to respond, "well, is your 2 year old quoting Shakespeare?!" Ours sure isn't.

She IS, however, speaking really, really well. We have been told by several speech paths that this is the perfect age to learn a new language. I would say she understands about 90% of what we are saying. We don't speak to her any differently than we do our other children, and having them around has really helped her put together what is going on. There is a lot of monkey-see, monkey-do at our house right now. We do also use the few Chinese words we know, and turn on Elmo in Mandarin from time to time. Knox and Liv love watching it too.

We began with some simple sign language in China and that has really helped us bridge the gap. At this point, she can communicate to us when she wants food or drink, or when she wants something else- and she is even putting together a few small sentences. Granted, we may be the only ones who understand at this point. :)

She loves to sing, and so it has been fun to hear her pick up songs/words in English. The "L" sound is unheard of in Chinese and of course every female in our house, including the dog, has an L name (no, I didn't do it on purpose!). But, she's even started forming that sound in the past week or so. This video isn't great (there is something going on with the microphone on my phone so the sound is awful!), but you can see that she can really say a lot! 

Sleep:

This has been one of the toughest battles we have faced- but even still, we've seen so much progress- it's no longer a huge deal. On the surface, Lucy sleeps great. She has never been super cuddly- which is fine. Chinese culture is not one of tons of physical affection. We have also been careful to leave her her own personal space, so that she doesn't feel violated or overwhelmed. And we were, at first, on high alert for any sensory issues she might have. When we received Lucy, she did not want to cuddle, be held or rocked before bed. Her foster mother told us to just lay her down, and she would go to sleep- which is exactly what happened. Lucy had several "ticks" she uses to put herself to sleep- rubbing her blanket on her palms or chin, for example.

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While we were in China, this was fine- but when we came home, my heart began to break over it. We had figured that Lucy would co-sleep with us for a while just to promote bonding and attachment- but she wanted nothing of that- and we really didn't either, as she turned out to be a wild sleeper. I noticed her "ticks" were getting more extreme in her new home- and she was fighting to stay awake longer and longer at bedtime. 

So one night, I just knew that this was going to need to change. I knew in my gut that this was our biggest opportunity to bond. She had really attached to Shawn (attaching to the father first is very common and great, but can be really tough for adoptive moms like me!), and I just felt like I needed to help her fight this battle. 

I realized that her "ticks" (flinging her arms and legs, tossing and turning, rubbing her chin and hands) were not really helping her go to sleep, but helping her stay awake. I observed her fling her foot over the side of her bed, hitting the metal bed frame and actually hurt herself. There was no reaction- she stayed silent and just rubbed it. My heart broke again. This habit was not ok. We don't hurt ourselves to feel better, or to cope. 

So, I started rocking with her before bed. She hated it at first. We spent a good two hours rocking pre-bedtime for at least a week. It felt so backwards. With Knox or Liv I would have been so excited to lay them down and have them go to sleep on their own. But Lucy needed to trust me enough to fall asleep safely. 

At this point, rocking before bed is something she is happy about. It still takes a good hour most nights. But I love my alone time with her, and she will sing with me to our sleep playlist, which has been a huge blessing. At some point every night, her fight-or-flight kicks in and she fights to stay awake. I have seen her be asleep for a good few minutes and her body literally jolt itself awake. Because of some research I did pre-adoption (the Whole Brain Child is awesome for any parent, adoptive or not!) I know that this is just her brain kicking in to fight, and that it will just take time to re-train her brain. 

It's been a battle for me to not take it too personally. I can't let myself believe that this is about me. She's been through more than I know and it's because of the fight in her that she is doing as well as she is today. So we do a lot of rocking and praying, and crying. I spent a lot of nights in that rocker with Liv, praying for our other daughter across the world- so God's done a lot of work in that rocking chair, and it's not hard to remember His faithfulness while sitting in it.  

Likes/Dislikes:

Daily, Shawn and I shake our heads in amazement at how well Lucy has fit in. God has clearly placed her in our family- in His good, pleasing, and perfect will. We are so thankful. Before we were even matched with Lucy, we received the advice to not make any judgements about your child until they have been home at least 6 months. This has been such a wise and relieving piece of advice- because it has allowed us to just relax and be accepting of her in the moment. I forget constantly that every day, she is experiencing all-new firsts. We can see her get a little burst of joy every time we return to our home after an outing. She is so glad to be back, and she is clearly comfortable in her home now. 

From what we can tell right now, Lucy loves music, singing and animals. She is an excellent traveler and has done really well riding in a car seat. We did take a road trip to Dallas and she screamed the last two hours, but she's also a two year old so we didn't worry too much. :) 

She is still getting used to dirt, grass, being wet, etc. Her big sister LOVES to get dirty so as Lucy follows along it has been funny to watch her look questioningly at Liv as if to say, "you're doing this on purpose?!". 

Lucy is brave and will pretty much attempt whatever her big brother or sister are doing, which keeps us on our toes. This also means that she has acquired quite a few bumps and bruises- but it's all in the name of fun. 

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Food:

On of my favorite memories of Lucy will always be carrying her on the street in China while we ate sweet steam buns together- this girl loves her carbs, just like her mama!

She has eaten pretty much non-stop since we have been home. I've attempted some Chinese dishes that she devoured- but then again, she has devoured almost everything we've put in front of her. In China, she was still taking a bottle, which is normal for her age in that culture- but she didn't seem too attached to that practice, and so we were able to stop once we found she could feed herself and drink from a sippy. 

We have had to help her slow down a bit while eating- but all in all, this has not been a point of struggle for us. 

Transition and Siblings:

I've been writing another blog post in my head entitled, "Things International Travel Taught Me About My Children" because ya'll- I had insights on them I never would have had we not taken them with us- but until then, I have to say that Knox and Liv have been great. 

Knox seems to only dealt with a slightly heightened level of "annoying little sister"- which he has handled pretty well, except for a few outbursts. Once we got home we realized it was important to make sure we were giving him time to communicate to us, and that we were checking in with him as much as we could. Being older (he's 7), it's been really easy to push him to the side while we take care of the screaming 2 and 3 year olds. So we've both had individual outings with Knox, which we plan do continue. It's good for us, too!

Liv has had a harder transition, for sure- which we expected, going from the only girl and baby to the middle girl with a sister. She's also 3, which I would argue is harder than 2. Most of the time, she is either playing the Mommy role (taking care of Lucy) or being the baby (having ALLLL the needs). She has been a really great helper, but has thrown her share of fits. However, I have been so thankful for the way she and Knox have welcomed Lucy. They have never questioned her belonging. The only issues we have observed are all things that we'd encounter with any new sibling. They love showing her off to people, which is a little funny and awkward at times. This is ok because Lucy is generally outgoing and friendly. 

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We can already see special relationships building between them all and it blesses our hearts. These little people will be our biggest accomplishment and greatest work.

Shawn and I have had our good days and our bad days in the past month. On our good days, this family-of-5 thing feels totally natural and we love watching our kids just be kids. On our bad days, we are tired of the constant needs to be met, work to be done, and wonder if we will ever have our own personal ambitions (outside of our kids) again. I think that's normal. I can't say that anything we've experienced is any different from adding a biological child- except we are always considering whether or not what we are dealing with (with Lucy) is adoption/trauma related, or just a 2 year old being a 2 year old.

That being said, I am really grateful we had the experience of parenting before we adopted. There have been several moments that I have been reassured that her fits are not the result of bad parenting, but the fact that she's 2 and exploring her boundaries like every 2 year old does. I did a lot of second-guessing myself with our first child, and so I can only imagine that a first-time parent with a newly-adopted child would have a tough time dealing with some of these issues. So, if you know of an adoptive parent who is also a first-time parent, PLEASE go to the extra effort to reassure and support them. There are so many layers of guilt that parents have to wade through- and this brave group of parents need all the encouragement they can get! Ain't nothing more confusing and frustrating than a toddler throwing a fit because you gave them exactly what they asked for. :)


This turned out to be a little long- so if you made it this far, thanks so much for loving on our family! We know that so much of the beautiful parts of this process have been a direct result of God's great love for us and the prayers of our tribe. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts!