Saturday, November 20, 2010

One Year Later



Savannah as Mulan and Shelby as Dorothy for the Carnival at our Church on Halloween!!


Savannah and her cousin Hannah on the playground. Savannah is about 4 months older than her. They are adorable together.




Savannah is still all SMILES!!



The kids took a picture of me after I got the job!!



The weekend before I got the job, we went camping for the weekend. It was just me and Aiden and Shelby. Mike and Savannah got sick the night before. I went solo but had lots of help since we were going my Dad and his friends. The kids went tubing and Aiden got on the knee board first try. He's a natural


Well, as you can see it has been about 1 year since my last post. I guess you can say that a lot has changed since that last post. We are all 1 year older for sure!!
As I reflect on what was going on, I'd have to say a lot. Savannah had just turned 2 and I was struggling with homeschooling Aiden and Shelby. Mike was hanging on by a thread at his job. Our life was full of so many unknowns and I felt like a mouse on her wheel. There was no way off the wheel. Everywhere I turned, it lead to the same place. It's really frustrating to always feel like your treading water.


What was God doing or planning? There are many days that I wish was one of the Israelites on their long journey to the promised land. God did some amazing things to show them where to go and he provided all the way. However, they did have to move forward and trust in him in order to see he direction. He didn't part the Red Sea until they put their feet forward. It wasn't until they trusted him that he parted that sea.


That is exactly what I did!! In January, I quite homeschooling and decided that I was going to go back to work. It was crazy at the time! The kids start a private school while we were waiting to see if Mike was going to have a job or not. God gave us exactly what we needed during that time. He provided financially to have the kids go to school and Mike did not lose his job.


While being home with Savannah and enjoying our last months as a stay at home mom, I decided to take the HR Certification Exam in order to help in getting a job. The next four or so months were very busy with going to an preparation course one night a week and then studying in my spare time. I loved going to class one night a week. As soon and Mike got home I ran out the door. To be in a room with adults talking about HR issues that I love was energizing.


In June, I passed my test! Then two weeks later, I got a full time job. Summer was over before it started. It was so sad, but exciting at the same time. Since then, life has been a real challenge with how to juggle the life of a working mom. Since, the kids go to a private school, we have a long commute. It takes 1.5 hours to drop off and another 1.5 to pick up. Mike shares in the driving so that one of us doesn't have the burden.

It has been about 5 months since this craziness has started and we are getting the hang of it. The kids are doing great in school and Savannah loves preschool. She says the funniest things. You don't expect to hear the things that this little girl says. Her words are bigger than size in so many ways.

We look forward to the new challenges ahead of us as we search to buy our first home and keep saving money. I have to keep reminding me of my favorite verse.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. -Jeremiah 29:11

We wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving next week! Hopefully, I will be able to update sooner than a year from now.

God Bless,
Jennifer


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SAVANNAH!!






Here were are on Savannah's 2nd Birthday. Birthdays are so special to us. Not only are they special for the individual child but as a mom and dad. It is a wonderful time to reflect on the day they were born and what was going on during that time in our life. Each child has brought me something to remember and not one child was a like.


Aiden was our first and biggest!! He initially was thought to have Trisomy 18 or Downs Syndrome due to a cyst that was found on his brain. That was cleared up by an amnio. I was sick the entire pregnancy and gave birth to a 9 pound baby 3 weeks early. During the delivery, he broke 3 ribs and his collar bone. There's Aiden in a nutshell.


Shelby, she's my miracle as well as my angel. I wrote all about her on this blog, but I'll give a really short recap. During my pregnancy with her I was diagnosed with cervical cancer and choose to wait for treatment until her delivery. The wait for her delivery was filled with prayer that she would wait to be delivered, since I had a tumor removed from my cervix, and that the cancer would not spread. She was delivered via c-section 5 weeks early and I underwent a radical hysterectomy right after delivery. That day, I became cancer free!! She was born at 6.8 lbs. So much for a preemie!! I guess I have big babies.


Savannah, well she has a wonderful story of her own. Actually, her story is bittersweet. She was born November 24, 2007. That is the estimated birth date for her. They estimate that she was four days older on her finding date of November 28, 2007. In 2007, she was born on Thanksgiving day. To be honest, I can't think of a better day be born. That Thanksgiving for me was a challenging one. It was another Holiday season without our Savannah. We were approaching a wait of 3 years at that time. Each Christmas, I told the kids that she'd be here for this Christmas and it would come and go. This time it was, not this year maybe next year. Every Thanksgiving, we take our photo for our Christmas card and I decided not to send cards. It was another year without her and I didn't want to send them and be reminded. That was our last photo taken as a family of 4.



While I'm having my poor me pity party, across the globe is a young mother dealing with something quite different. She's joyfully and sadly delivering a sweet smelling baby girl. She's being forced to make a terribly difficult choice. I can't imagine the four days she had with Savannah and what it must have been like for her. I hope to believe that she held and kissed her as tears fell from her eyes. Her moments with her ended when Savannah was left at a gate across the street from her orphanage and found by a guard shortly after. We will never know the circumstances of how Savannah came about, but I do know that God gave us a very special little girl to love and raise.


The love for her began the day that I was told by the doctors that I was not going to be able to have anymore children after the birth of Shelby. I love having a very different story for each child and I wouldn't change anything about them. My life is not my own it is God's and this is what he planned for me. I couldn't do any better if I tried.




Happy Birthday to my sweet baby girl! I'll leave you with a few photos of Savannah's Birthday.





This is a great photo. Look at the excitement over what her present it. Actually, she doesn't even realize what it is. She just loves to open presents. When she sees presents she yells BIRTHDAY! BIRTHDAY!!




Here's she is showing of her Bitty Baby. Actually, her Fisher Price Little People won for the best present. She got a little playground and minivan. She sat on my lap with her baby and the minivan putting the little people in and out in and out.


Yeah, for cupcakes! She loved the cupcakes. She was embarrassed when we sang to her so it was hard to get a photo of her looking into the camera. She knew to blow the candles out.




Yes, we are eating with a fork. She has to have a utensil at all times. She does really well too.

Friday, November 20, 2009

She's Almost 2!



Well, our little miss Savannah is almost 2 years old. Tuesday is her actually birthday. We can't believe how much she has grown and changed since her 1st birthday. She has learned to call Daddy "Mike" instead of "Daddy". Everything is "Why?" , "What happened?" or "I found it". She will come up to you holding something and telling you that she found it. It's the funniest thing. Overall, her vocabulary is amazing. She repeats everything we say. She calls herself baby in photos and started saying "Zannah" when she see's herself. It is adorable!!

I also have to report that she is potty trained. I started very early with her. I wanted to have is done by 2 and is has been about a month since she started to finally tell me when she had to go. Otherwise, we spend many hours on the potty adding it all together. I wondered when she would realize that if she told me we wouldn't have to sit there forever. Well, she finally got it!! It was a dream come true.

She loves her babies, and can do wooden puzzles all by herself. That amazes me!! Aiden and Shelby were not into puzzles at all. I'm glad I didn't get rid of them. I found some Fisher Price Little People in the garage that she loves. The other 2 didn't care for those either. She calls them "people" and likes to play with them. She'll be getting a little pink house and car for her people for her birthday and Christmas. I looked high and low for this little house and finally found it on Craigslist. I had no idea how crazy people are for Fisher Price, Little People toys. Especially, once they retire. The shipping on Ebay was crazy!

Her favorite person is still DADDY!! He's #1 in her life. I love it!! The excitement when he comes home is just priceless.
I'll leave you all with a few recent pictures. Hopefully I will do another post next week for her Birthday.
Watching a little TV with her big brother.
Just before the craziness at the Harvest Festival.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wow!! An Update!

Wow! Where has the time gone? Life has been busy chasing a toddler while, homeschooling, working at church, running the kids to and from and just keeping up my duties as a mom and wife.

So, I bet you are wondering how our little Savannah is doing. Well, she is amazing. Look at how much she has grown since that day she was put in my arms. She's the busiest little girl. Always on the go. When I head grab my keys and head for the door, she lights up with excitement to leave the house. She screams at the door, if she is not going with me or Mike out the door.

Her vocabulary is amazing. This weekend she said "apple Juice and what's that". Normally, she says one word at a time other than "good girl". That has been a favorite along with apple for quite awhile. Some words she knows are mommy, daddy, Aiden, Shelby, nite-nite, bye, hello, bite, mine, yah, cheese, Amen, baby, up and nose. There might be more, but I can't think of them. She tries to repeat a lot of what we say.

I've been doing a lot of reminiscing about Savannah and our experience in China lately. One reason is because Shelby's kindergarten teacher is in Chine right now on a missions trip and they ministering to children in an orphanage in Beijing. I'm so excited for her to be able to get a glimpse of what Savannah's world may have been like or could have been. We were not able to go to Savannah's orphanage so I'm just excited that she will be able to experience it first hand.

On July 8, it will be on year since we got "The Call". It was the call that changed our lives forever. I was such a wreck, that I had to call back and get her birthday, because I wrote the wrong date on my notes. At this time last year, I was a basket case waiting for the stork to arrive and wondering will it happen before the 4th of July. Of course, it didn't due to the holiday and the weekend. It was the day, that we had waited over three years for.

As I think about "The Call" and our trip, I'm reminded of God's faithfulness to us. We walked forward with the adoption in obedience to God and he has blessed us with the most precious little girl. God prepared her for us in ways that I didn't even know that we needed. I need to remind myself of this in other areas of my life because he truly knows each and every one of our needs. He will always follow through if we act in obedience. The key word is OBEDIENCE. I'm working on that.

Sometimes, Mike and I look at each other and say "Can you believe she's ours?" I have to visit the blog to remind myself that it wasn't a dream and we really were in China picking up the beautiful baby girl born on Thanksgiving Day and left at a gate four days later. All I can say is "Thank you Lord". Thank you for giving her to our family.

I encourage you to browse my old posts of our journey. I still get chills when I read about it. I'll try to post again and add some more pictures.

God Bless,
Jennifer

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

6 Months Ago, Today!

It was 6 months today, when Savannah was put in our arms for the first time. She was just 9 months old and next week she'll be 15 months. At times, I think where has the time gone and other times it is only 6 months. Savannah has truely been a blessing to us. She continues to thrive and change everyday. We look at her little face and see so many changes since August 18, 2008.


The first thing we notice is her hair, it is growing and falls into her eyes. I want to give her a little trim so bad, but I need more hair to make it more off a scrapable moment. Her face has filled out. She's so sturdy and and has a tummy to go with those chunky thighs we were surprised to see. She's fully walking everywhere and likes to climb. A major change is that she eats almost anything and puts everything in her mouth. Her nickname should be "Hoover". It was Thanksgiving when she first discovered her mouth. Since then everything ends up there. I think she is worse than our first two.

Some things haven't changed. She still adores her daddy. She fell in love with him from the very beginning. Her beautiful smile and energy has not changed. She is still just as stubborn as that last night when she did not want to be in her crib and threw a major tantrum to let us know about it. That was a long sleepless night. Still a thumb sucker all the way. It is mostly in the evening when she's going to sleep. Lastly, she is ours forever! That will never change! She's the sweetest thing ever. The kids are sooo thankful that God gave her to us. They are totally in love with her.

Today was a wonderful day! We spent it with another family we met in our travel group. We had no idea they lived so close to us. Their daughter came from the same orphanage as Savannah. There's another family about an hour away that we were hopping see today also, but they were not feeling well. It was just awesome to see the girls together and to talk about our adventure and life after. We can't wait to spend more time with them.

As a way of remembering that moment 6 months ago, I thought I would post the video we have of those first minutes with our precious Savannah. Enjoy!!



video

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Happy New Year!!

Well, this post is quite over due. It was a really busy December for us. It was so busy that we went through all the effort to go to the mountains and cut our Christmas tree down and all it had was lights, an angel and a few ornaments that Shelby made at school. How sad is that. The kids were ok with not decorating because Mike put lights on the tree in our front yard. Little did I know that that was our Christmas tree decorating time. Next year we will have to figure out how fit it all in. Unless we leave our lights up all year.

So, I have a few photos to show a few highlights of our Christmas.


We had the pleasure of seeing Aiden and Shelby sing at Christmas in the park. Savannah and I bundled up in the cold to watch. This performance was just the first of many for the kids. Shelby had her first role as Mary in her Kindergarten Christmas Play.

After the performance, we were persuaded to go on a few rides and indulge in some sweets. I'm not sure what we were thinking at the time. They were high on sugar and one ride led to begging, whinning and crying.


I helped my sister plan and Children's Christmas Tea at our church. It was a great even for boys and girls. Of course we dressed the kids up and they enjoyed the sweets and adorable puppet show. Savannah was adorable in her Christmas dress.
Merry Christmas!! This kids were soooo excited about their gifts. We opened them Christmas Eve instead of Christmas morning. It was so relaxing for us. We took our time, stayed up late, lite a fire in the fireplace, had hot cocoa, and watched Santa Clause 3. It made Christmas morning so much easier for us. They had stockings and it kept them plenty busy.
Savannah was actually sick Christmas eve with a stomach thing. So, she wasn't eating much. The next day she was fine.

The following Sunday after Christmas, we had Savannah's baby dedication. It was kinda crazy to do right after Christmas. My nephew joined us since he wanted his Daddy. Savannah's uncle is our pastor, so it is really special to have her dedicated by him. My niece was dedicated right after us by her grandfather. We wanted to have them dedicated on the same day.

The next day, we headed for Pismo Beach for a few days to visit Mike's parents. It was Christmas #2 for the kids. They headed straight for the tree reading the letters on the gifts. We had a great few days and enjoyed the beach. It was like spring. It was Savannah's first time exploring the wet sandy beach and water. She had a great time with Mike and we were able to take a few cute pictures.
As much as we enjoyed the time off and all the extra sweets, I'm so happy to begin a new year. I finally feel like we are settling into a routine with Savannah. It was really hard comming home and then hitting the pavement running. I've come the realization that my day doesn't end until 9 or 10 pm. In this case, after midnight. As much as it tires me, it brings me so much joy to see the smiles on their faces when they play with their new little sister. I wouldn't change that for anything. Savannah brings so much to our lives that we would be missing out if we weren't blessed with her.
It is a blessing to know that God knows what is best for us. Even when I don't understand, it brings me peace to know that I'm not in control. So, what is next for the McManus Family in 2009? Well, I have a list of things that I want to accomplish, but I think I will leave that up to the boss.
Have a Wonderful 2009!
God Bless,
Jennifer

Monday, December 8, 2008

Milestones for Savannah

These are just some cute photos of Savannah at home.


Savannah in the dishwasher. Yes, there is a knife right there. We were watching her and wanted to take a picture. We don't normally let her in the dishwasher, but she heads straight for it when I'm doing the dishes.


It looks like she should be saying "Touchdown". I have no idea what was going on, she's just adorable.


We are holding our own bottle now. This is the first time she held the bottle. She does a lot better since this photo.


What child doesn't like french fries? Well, my friend Judy was right. There's plenty of time for them to learn to like them. She now loves them. We have no issues trying to figure out what to do with them these days.

Savannah is doing wonderfully in her new home. We are all so blessed to have her as part of our family. Thank You, God for giving us another child to love.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas Tradition

It is a tradition for us to Cut our Christmas Tree each year. The last few years we have been able to do it as a big family with Jennifer's sister and brother's families. It is fun to take our photo and each year there's been a new baby added to the photo. This year we have two new babies. My niece, Hannah and our baby Savannah. This isn't the best photo due to the direction of sun, but with this many people it is hard to get a photo taken period.





Savannah with Mommy on her first experience hunting for the perfect Christmas tree.


Our family with our perfect tree.

The kids helping daddy cut the tree down.

Strong daddy taking the tree to the car.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cracker Alert!!!

I can not believe it! I was really hoping that the Lego in the mouth would be the start of something that would lead to Savannah putting food in her mouth. Well tonight was that night! I usually give her a Gerber puff or cracker to pick up while I feed her. Usually she just throws them on the floor and get tired of picking them up. It is a short lived game to her. Tonight was a different story. When I was fixing dinner in between putting food in her mouth, I noticed that she was chomping on the cracker I gave her. I ran to get my camera to document this amazing moment. I was afraid she would stop, but no way.

It was cute to watch her try to the get the little piece of cracker left in her hand into her mouth. She'd start to bite into her hand and arm until she just gave up and went to the next cracker. She just left these little pieces that she would rather throw on the floor than try to figure how to get it into her mouth and still hold on to it. Soon she will realize that she will have to let go of the cracker if she wants to eat it. She even tried to pick up a piece of carrot and put it into her mouth. What a great dinner time!

Yummy!!


Hmmm! How do I get this piece in my mouth?


Yummy! Yummy!

Our First Thanksgiving

We spent Thanksgiving with Mike's parents and sister in Pismo Beach. Prior to leaving, Savannah was not feeling well due to more teeth comming in. We are not sure how many, but she's got a mouth ready for more teeth. This was our first road trip and overnight with Savannah. We were unsure how she would do in a strange house with people she doesn't know while not feeling well.

Well, she did great!! The dogs didn't bother her and she felt right at home with everyone. The car ride was a little difficult towards the end of the drive. On the way home she cried for 30 minutes. It drove the kids crazy.

Overall, we had a nice Thanksgiving. It was also great to reflect on her start in life. Last year her birthday fell on Thanksgiving Day and she was found abandoned four days later on the 28th. No matter what day her birthday falls on, Thanksgiving will always be a special day for us. We are very thankful that God choose us for her parents and protected her as she was born and left at the entrance gate.

Here are a few photos of our first Thanksgiving with our Chinese Princess.


Oma bought her a walker that plays music and lights up. She dances to the music. She's not really interested in walking, but she will get there. I'm not really ready for her to be walking anyway. I still want her to be my little baby. I need more baby days.


Finally, she started to chew this Lego. This was her toy of choice for the 2 1/2 days. After our Thanksgiving dinner, she decided it was time to investigate further. Until now, she NEVER put anything in her mouth. Especially, the piles of Legos that were all over the floor. Watch out!! Time to pick up! This will lead to food going into the mouth really soon.



Nap time in Oma's arms! She doesn't usually fall asleep in arms, but she was exhausted. It was the perfect opportunity to have some bonding time with her Oma.


Here's a group photo of Aiden, Shelby, Savannah and their two cousins. Very challenging to get Savannah to cooperate. Not too bad!

This is the best we could do for a new family photo as a family of five. I have no idea why we are all looking different directions. There was only one camera.
Now that Thankgiving is over, time to do some Christmas shopping!!
God Bless,
Jennifer



Monday, November 24, 2008

Savannah Turns One!!

Today is Savannah's first birthday. This day last year was was Thanksgiving Day. We don't know for sure if she was born on this day, but that is what they estimated her birth to be. Four days later she was left at a gate at the entrance of an Institute across the street from the orphanage that later became her home. What a blessing to be able to celebrate her first year even though she has only been with us for a few months. She has been in our hearts for 3 1/2 years.

So, here's an update on her birthday and how things have been going. We had a family birthday party a few weekends ago to celebrate Savannah and her two cousins who share a November birthday. My family has a lot of children, so we have to group them together. Otherwise, we would be celebrating every weekend.

Savannah has been feeling off the last two weeks. She wasn't a happy camper for her birthday party. For the first time, she wouldn't let me leave her sight. She just whined and cried for me. The sound of my voice even upset her. She was not content with Daddy. This is a big time first because Daddy is her #1. She's better, but waking up screaming around 3 and wanting to hang out. Not what we want to do at 3 am. I think we are back on the teething track. We'll see how tonight goes.

Otherwise, we are all adjusting well. Savannah continues to get heavier and heavier. Meal times are still challenging at times, but much better. She's all over the house. We are constantly, closing doors and finding way to keep her out. Today, she kept sitting on the dishwasher while daddy was trying to load it. The kitchen is where she wants to be. She's always picking up little things off the floor and keeping them in her fist. She doesn't have a clue how to feed herself or put anything in her mouth. I try to put her hand to her mouth, but she doesn't open her hand to put the food in. She has figured out how to put her fingers in get the food out of her mouth. She's smarter than she lets on to be.

Aiden and Shelby still adore her. The honeymoon period has not ended yet. They still want to actively participate in mothering her. Aiden wants to almost as much as Shelby. On many occassions, Aiden has asked If I would leave Savannah at home with him and Daddy so they can watch her. He doesn't think I should always have to take her with me. It is very cute that he wants her to himself.

I better close and tend to bedtime. Have a blessed Thanksgiving this week! We have many things to be Thankful for. I can finally say that I'm thankful to have my baby girl home from China.

God Bless,
Jennifer

Happy Birthday Savannah!

Savannah

Music