Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A New Baby, A FOUR year old, and a Fun-filled Christmas

Where does the time go?  We are about to enter a new year and I look back and think how fast this past year went.  The past 5 weeks have been especially busy here with the addition of another child, three birthdays, and Christmas.

At the end of November we welcomed a new baby, Rowan, into our family.  Rowan was welcomed by his 7 brothers and sisters.  They are all just smitten with him.  Lena loves to sign baby boy and show him off to people every chance she gets.  Her other favorite sign is 'awake,' which she signs enthusiastically any time she sees his eyes open.   She also loves to rub or kiss the top of his head, especially when she is getting tucked into bed.  Having a newborn sibling has been a first for Lena.  She was too young to remember the babies at the orphanage.   It's been fun to watch her be a big sister.  She enjoys carefully watching how to take care of a baby.

 Meeting Rowan at the hospital.
 The kids were so excited to see Rowan the first morning he was home before heading off to school.

 Thanksgiving- Reid's 1st and Lena's 2nd.  We are thankful for both of these blessings!

Last year was Lena's first Christmas, but this year was so much more special.  She just LOVED the lights- lights on our house, on our tree, on other houses, etc.  Who am I kidding?  They all did.  Every house we passed with lights, they gasped and said precious things.  Gotta love the magical joy the holidays create! 

 Some of the kids checking out the lights the day they went up!

In December we celebrated Lena's, Jayce's, and my birthday.  Grandpa Linse decided to make a last minute trip up to Wisconsin from Florida.  He spent two days with us, which ended up being both the kids' birthdays..it was nice for him to be able to be here for their birthdays.  He also got to meet Reid and Rowan for the first time.
 Lena loves her grandpas and this grandpa absolutely adores her!

 All the kids together on Lena's big day!
 Lena proudly showed off all her birthday gifts and held up every outfit to show us. :)

 Lena with her cake (we had a oops on the decorating front, but she didn't care).
 We did two rounds of 'Happy Birthday' complete with ASL and a cool candle from China on the second round.  She absolutely beamed!!

Lena and grandpa with baby Rowan.

Christmas 2013- Lena loved everything about it...from being with family to playing with cousins and from special one on one time with aunts and uncles to opening presents.  

 All the cousins on the Henningfeld side with grandpa and grandma Henningfeld. 
There are 18 of them- 8 of them are ours. :)
 Cousin present exchange.  Lena received her present from her cousin, Nicole, and she gave a present to her cousin, Gina.  She loved her personalized purple tv tray and all the fun stuff she got with it!
 Showing off her Hello Kitty gift!
Christmas morning at our house!


January- Lena started pre-school at the school for the deaf, two blocks from our home.  She loves school and her teacher, Ms. Rene. She had her first dentist appointment, which she was not thrilled about- no cavities though! 

February- Lena celebrated her first Valentine's Day with us and we had our first Chinese New Year celebration to go to!

March- Lena celebrated her first St. Patrick's Day with a bowling fundraiser to help bring her brother, Reid, home.  She experienced dying Easter eggs, searching for her Easter basket, and hunting for Easter eggs.  She also met her Grandpa Linse for the first time. 

April- We were busy fundraising, giving back to others, and we got our letter of approval from China to adopt Reid.  We also celebrated Evan's 6th birthday with a party and a trip to Chucky E Cheese as a family.

May- We had our first trip to the zoo for the season.  We started meeting and getting to know more people in the deaf community, including our deaf mentor to be at a party at Pizza Hut for our sign language class.  We also celebrated Memorial Day and attended a local parade.  

June- Lena had her last day of school for the year and we started going to a lot of t-ball and baseball practices and games for the three oldest boys.   We also started the deaf mentor program. This has by far been one of the best things we have ever done.  I will admit, I was terrified.  God gave us the best mentor we could have ever been assigned.  Courtney is the perfect mentor for our family and she has taught our family sign language once a week since the end of June.  We have learned so much in the last 6 months.  We celebrated dad's 32nd birthday, Landyn's 4th birthday, and her great grandma's 95th birthday.

July- Lena pent some quality time with her dad and brothers while mom and Evan went to China to bring Reid home.  On July 11th, mom, Evan, and Reid came home and we became a family of 9!  We celebrated Elijah and Jonah's 5th birthday, visited with cousins visiting from Florida, and went bowling to celebrate the birthdays.  We also celebrated Lena's 1 year GOTCHA DAY and had a visit from our home study social worker for Lena's 1 year visit and Reid's 1 month visit.

August- Lena and her brothers got to spend the weekend with grandma and grandpa Henningfeld and aunt Renee while mom and dad went to an out of state wedding.  We started getting ready to head back to school and the county fair began!  The kids loved going to see the animals and "dad's barn" every day and the couple times they got to go on some rides.

September- Back to school!  Lena started her first full year of pre-school with Ms. Rene.  She had just 3 other kids in her class this year (two boys and one other girl) as many of the others moved up to kindergarten.  Her teacher said she is the leader and much more interested in what is going on around her this year. We celebrated nana's birthday, took many trips to Pearce's Farm Stand to climb and play on the hay bales, and we celebrated the Ethiopian New Year in Milwaukee with traditional Ethiopian food followed by a trip to the zoo with uncle Ron in tow.   We had Reid's re-adoption at our county court house, visited the apple orchard a few times, and Lena had her first play date with her friend, Katie, while mom took Reid to his transfusion appointment at Children's Hospital.  

October- We went to the annual family fall night at Landyn's pre-school.  The kids went to the St. Peter's fall festival with Rick's family.  We carved pumpkins at nana and grandpa J.P.'s house and went trick-or-treating at a couple of places, where Lena got to dress up in the many costumes nana has, including being a bumblebee, ladybug, and Snow White.   

November- We were busy with National Adoption Awareness Month and Orphan Sunday, creating awareness at our local church and online.  We helped run our church's Operation Christmas Child program. Our 4th baby and 8th child entered the world.  Lena was a big sister to a newborn for the first time and we became a family of 10- double digits!   Things have definitely slowed down and piled up around here since.   We were home in time for Thanksgiving and celebrated at the Henningfeld's.

December- A busy month as you can see from above!  3 birthdays to celebrate before Christmas.  It was a cold and quite snowy month, but we enjoyed a lot of family time!  Lena had her first Christmas program- she had a small part as a 'tree doctor.'  She got to visit with her grandpa Linse and see Santa at the Pizza with Santa event at dad's school.   

2013 has gone by so fast!   It was a very busy year full of blessings!  In the last four months Lena has really grown and changed so much.  She knew a lot of sign language before, but now she is actually using it all of the time and putting words together.  She is initiating conversations and she has become so much more animated with her body and her facial expressions. I really need to video it.  She is learning to fingerspell and write her name and is learning the alphabet and the signs that go with it.  Lena has also become a little bit more girly lately too.  She loves her pink and purple things, her hair bows, dolls, pretend phones, purses (she has become quite the bag lady filling them up with things from around the house), and all other things girly.  She has become a little more emotional and dramatic too and her teacher has noticed. She gets upset quite easily and cries for long periods of times about very little things.  She is very sensitive.  I guess we're getting a welcome to the girl world notice, having been so used to raising boys.   Lena is really loving coloring and anything crafty, along with her brothers Jonah, Reid, and Evan.  She is a true joy and has a smile that can light up a room.  She can charm the pants off of just about anyone- such a cutie!   She has helped us grow as parents in so many ways this year and we have been blessed to watch her grow and change over the year too!