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Monday, December 9, 2013

6 months home with MaeLynn!

   Can you believe it's been 6 months since we held our precious, youngest daughter for the first time?!?! MaeLynn has gained 5 pounds and grown 2 1/2 inches since Gotcha Day! Praise the Lord, He has nourished and helped her develop into such a healthy little toddler. I feel like I say this every month but this past month has been full of bonding and laughter. MaeLynn has truly let down some of her last remaining walls and let us love her and experience the joy that this family shares. We have had another blessed month of family fun. We enjoyed a visit from our dear friends, the Bogue's, traveled to Silver Dollar City with the Kennett family, the kids and I started Adventureland at our church, we traveled to Lawrence to visit the Stelk cousins, the family celebrated Chinese Moon Festival and Nana and Papa came to visit! Whew, what a month! The smile on sweet MaeMae's face says it all.
  MaeMae loves to make friends. The scared, shy days of MaeLynn are definitely behind her! My sweet friend, Amy Bogue, and her two kiddos, Brooklyn and Bryson came to meet MaeLynn for the first time. They live in Mississippi. Brooklyn and MaeLynn are about 6 months apart and they bonded over toys and sitting in the backyard watching the older siblings play. It was so precious to watch.
   Silver Dollar City is a quick 2 hour drive from our house and it is one of our kids' favorite places. Lilly will tell you if she could pick a dream day full of activities it would include a trip to Silver Dollar City;) This past month we were so lucky to be able to get away with our kindred spirited family, the Kennetts. If you remember, we traveled to China with the Kennetts and brought our girls home together. Khloe and MaeLynn are besties and had the best time riding rides and playing in the water fountains together. We are so thankful for more memories with this family. 
   Lilly, Fischer, MaeLynn and I have started back to school at Adventureland at our church. It is a structured mom's day out program that teaches preschool curriculum as well as biblical truths. The kids are having a blast. I was a little worried about how MaeLynn would do in a new environment. I was also secretly worried about how I would do away from her!;) We are all doing wonderful. All of the teachers my children have a amazing and I am so blessed to be teaching a class right across the hall from MaeLynn. I can watch through her window at anytime and I get to see her at our music and recess time! Such an answered prayer!
   My sister, Ginger, and her family recently moved to Lawrence, Kansas to take a campus ministry job at Kansas University. We are very excited about the work God will do through them there and we are even more excited that they are a little closer! The kids and I took off during the week for a quick 3 day visit and to see the new house. MaeLynn loved the attention from the cousins. It overwhelms my heart to think that little things like a large family, cousins and even siblings are things that would have never have been a reality for MaeLynn in China due to their One Child policy. We have sooo much fun with our large family!!!!!
   China has so many holidays and tradition, it is really difficult to keep up! However, we are trying our best. One holiday important to the Chinese is the Moon Festival also called Mid-Autumn Festival or Family Reunion festival. It is fun to read the mythical stories to the kids. We thought it fit to celebrate this festival with our friends that have become family, the Kennetts. We dressed Khloe and MaeLynn in their traditional Chinese dresses and ate our own version of moon cake:) 
   We are so blessed to celebrate another month home and another month of acclimating to our new fabulous family of 5! Thank you for your prayers, support, encouragement and love along the way. Here are some pictures from this month....
Our friends the Bogue's, Bryson, Amy and Brooklyn
Bath fun with Brooklyn

   Bouncing frog fun with Khloe Kennett

Spalsh park fun at Silver Dollar City!

First Day of Adventureland School at our church, Fellowship Bible Church, 2013.

Visit to the Stelk cousins in Lawrence, Kansas. Harmony, Caleb, Hope and Hannah Stelk
Yummy cake for Moon Festival!
MaeLynn and Fischer love to tease Papa.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

5 months with MaeMae

   Another month of blessings and things to celebrate with MaeLynn this month. Seriously, do you not get a HUGE smile on your face every time you see pics of this precious girl!?! I know I do!! This month has seemed like such a huge leap for MaeLynn. I know every month she gains a little more trust that we aren't going to leave her and that we love her unconditionally but she has truly started to show more signs of this trust outwardly. As I put her to bed, MaeLynn has NEVER really liked me to hold her where she is laying in my arms looking at me as I sing to her and we pray over her. This magical month of August she has started to touch my face and stare into my eyes with a smile as I sing to her! She even starts trying to imitate the sounds and tones to Jesus Loves Me as I sing. We also get in this little game before I lay her down. I ask her for a bed time kiss and she grunts no and looks away, then I act surprised and give her tons of kisses all over her checks as she giggles. It is such a special time for us and I never want this new routine to end!!!!
   Another HUGE announcement this month is....WE HAVE A WALKER!!!!!! After months of therapy 5 hours per week and lots of confidence building, MaeLynn has taken off. And by "taking off" I mean she isn't just walking, she is toddling so quickly you would think she's been doing this for a long time. She is loving playing chase and being able to come find me when I am somewhere around the house. MaeLynn loves playing with bubba and sissy now that she can quickly get between their rooms.
   Because of this huge development and the fact that we have prayerfully decided to let her go to our church's amazing kids day out program-Adventureland, we have stopped therapy in office and have changed to a Developmental Specialist in home. Our therapist were all supportive and said she is so close to being developmentally caught up to her age. Scott and I believe that as she goes to the kids day out bible school with kids her age, she will continue to catch up. I am excited to be teaching at the church in the kids day out program as well so that if any of the kids need me I will always be there. MaeMae's first day of school is September 9. 
   In other news, MaeLynn has fallen in love with one of Lilly's old all cotton, jersey tshirt feeling blankey. She looks like Lionel off of Charlie Brown and will not part from that thing. It is so sweet how she asks for it first thing when she falls or is upset about something. Mae gets so excited when I hide it behind my back before bedtime and say "whhhhhheeeerrrreeee is BLANKEY????OOOHHHH here it IS!!!". She gives me one of her all over body smiles;)
   This month has been full of family time and fun activities. MaeLynn is a water bug like the rest of the Bennington's so we can often be found at the local splash parks, our neighborhood pool, or out on our boat on Beaver Lake. This spunky little girl continues to settle in to our fantastically funky family of 5 and we are loving every minute of it.....ok well most minutes of it;)
   Please continue to pray that MaeLynn will grow in trust and love for us. Pray for families out there who have love to give and are interested in adopting. Pray that our story will ultimately be used for God's glory. Thank you all for being a part of our journey! Until next month, here are some sweet pics of our China darling...

Our little Superwoman at her best friends sister's birthday party. The theme was super hero's and princesses. The whole family dressed up and had a blast!

MaeLynn loves to try to keep up with her bestie, Khloe. Khloe has some serious dance moves!

Lilly, Fischer and MaeLynn loved visiting Larry Boy, from Veggie Tales, at our local Christian book store.

Daddy attempted to fix Mae's crazy hair like Wolverine. Mae is not amused although she loves the attention from daddy. She is a true princess and loves to dress up and be girlie! You can often find her in front of her many pairs of shoes trying to get her feet in to try on several ones.

Lilly loves to pretend reading books to MaeLynn. Sweet sweet sisters!

MaeLynn things she is sooo big when someone gives her rides on the scooter. Here "Auntie Susan" is so much fun to play with. Since we don't have family here, Susan and her family have taken us in and loved all of our children and Scott and I so well. We adore them!

"Bubba" as MaeLynn and Lilly call Fischer is always willing to play cars and trains with anyone. MaeLynn asks for "Bubba" first when she wakes up in the morning and I get her out of her crib. She has some of her biggest smiles for him. He loves her as any aggressive two year old would...he tries to carry her, pick her up and gives her extra squeezes called hugs that she doesn't enjoy too much but I really do think he has a pure heart behind all of it and adores her. If Fischer wakes up from his afternoon nap before Mae he always comes to me while I fix him his chocolate milk and snack and says he hears MaeLynn waking up, even though she is still out solid in her crib! So cute he wants her up and ready to play;)

Daddy and blankey, what more could MaeMae want when it's nap time??? So precious!

Despite being unsure of this giant panda bear, MaeLynn and Khole had a blast playing at Little Giggles play place in Bentonville and having a picnic lunch. So blessed to have each other!

MaeLynn's speech therapist, Mandy, on her last day of therapy. When we first got MaeLynn is was not chewing or swallowing very well. Mandy has worked miracles getting her to transition to table food and off the bottle to sippy cups all in about 4 months!

Children's Therapy Team office, miracle workers and life changers for MaeLynn. Thank you!

At Fischer's first soccer practice/game he stopped on the field and ran over to give MaeLynn a hug. What a precious moment to catch on camera! She was just chanting "Bubba, Bubba!"
The whole family cheering on Fischer at his first soccer game. Lilly and MaeLynn dressed alike and loved waving the pom poms as we called his name. These pompoms where given to them by their great grandma West and they play techno music as you cheer. The crowd thought Mae and Lilly were adorable.

MaeMae sucking on her blankey. Believe it or not, this is a big step for her. When we first got MaeLynn, she would find comfort sucking on the sleeve of her clothing. She was not ever given her own blankey or paci so she found comfort in lifting her arm and sucking on her clothes. We realized quickly when we got her home that she had to be sleeping in something long sleeved in order for her to actually get herself to sleep! The amazing thing is that the way she sucks on this blankey is the exact same way Lilly used to suck on her blankey. Lilly never took a paci but found comfort in a blankey. This bed time pic makes me so happy and is another sign of her settling in to her forever family!


Saturday, July 27, 2013

4 months post Gotcha Day

 Today marks the 4 month anniversary of the day our sweet MaeLynn was placed into our arms. Tonight I was reflecting on all that has happened this last month with MaeLynn and how much she is growing, changing and developing. It made me start to cry. This amazing little girl has given up her bottle this month (on her own without prompting:( ), taken her first steps between mommy and daddy and worn her first pigtails. So, while reflecting on this I did what any hormonal overbearing mom would do...I went in her room, got her out of her crib while sleeping and gently rocked her and sobbed.
   I feel overwhelmingly blessed to be her mom and to have her in our family. Sometimes it's easy to take for granite how far she's come and how far we have come during our journey to her and with her now. While rocking her, I kept being reminded of the night when I was 16 and my sister shared with our family her summer missions trip in China with FOCUS International and God speaking to me that one day I would adopt a little girl from this country. I could not have ever imagined how beautiful she would be. That when Mae smiles, her whole body smiles and everyone around her is in awe. How much she loves her sissy and bubba and how when she calls me Momma it melts me to the core.
   Oh how I pray that she will grow to be dangerous for the Lord. I pray that God will use her to change the hearts of others through her story. I pray God will equip me to teach her, love her and point her to Him. I pray Scott and I will lead her by example and through integrity. Please pray these things for her and for us as well my beloved friends and family that are reading this.
   Ok, whewwww I want to move on, quit crying and document this amazing month for MaeLynn. It has been busy but amazing;)
   4th of July is one of my personal favorite holidays and this year did not disappoint. My sister and her family and my parents joined us for the week here in Arkansas. Our neighborhood gathered at another location to set off fireworks, let the kids run wild on a wide open lawn with a bounce house and eat lots of great food surrounded by even better company. We had a BLAST!
   The rest of the week we spent on the lake. The cousins loved spending time together and riding on the boat. Our dear friends let us use their boat dock to tie up and we had so much fun visiting with them. They were so sweet to let our family use their jet ski's, paddle surfs and other fun dock toys. All of the kids threw mega fits when it was time to leave (including me;). MaeLynn loved the attention from Aunt Ginger and Uncle Ryan. It is precious to watch her cousins (Hope, Hannah, Harmony and Caleb) fight over who gets to be close to her. One night we even had an ice cream building contest with 3 types of ice cream, 5 syrup toppings and over 9 different candy/cookie toppings. Aunt Ginger won for best tasting and it was certainly interesting tasting some of the kiddos combinations;) What a blessing to have a fun LARGE family:)
   A few days after my side of the family left, we headed to Branson, MO to stay in cabins on Table Rock Lake with Scott's family. We trailored our boat up there to teach the neices and nephews how to knee board, water ski and how to survive a tubing excursion with their crazy Uncle Scott driving;) One morning while I was making MaeLynn's bottle, I turned around to give it to her and found her sucking down her brother's sippy cup with chocoloate milk in it. I tried to take it away and give her the bottle, to which she threw the bottle back at me shaking her head and straining to get the sippy cup back. I knew I had just ruined this little ones transition to "real milk". Oops! What can I say...the girl loves chocolate like her momma;)
We had so much fun overall on this trip! MaeLynn, Lilly and Fischer had a ball with even more cousins this week! They came home asking which cousins they were going to see next, as if our lives revolved around spending time with cousins;) One day we went to Silver Dollar City in the HOT HOT Missouri heat and had a blast wearing the kids out;) We were all reminded how much we love spending time together and are praying that Scott's sister Melissa and her family can move closer to us soon!
   The following week I had committed to travel with Lilly, Fischer and MaeLynn up to my parents house to visit my best friend from HS and a few other people. We were exhausted from the previous two weeks but time with Emily and her kiddos never disappoint. My parents were so sweet and watched the kids one night so Em and I could go out to celebrate her birthday that was earlier this month. Another fun trip in the books;)
   After we got back we had a short visit from two of my favorite girls from KC that were in the HS bible study Scott and I lead when we first got married. I can't believe these girls are seniors in college now! They have been so faithful to come every summer since we have moved here. The kiddos loved their attention and I enjoyed catching up with them. 
   This month MaeLynn has missed a lot of therapy. We were concerned it might slow her development but she proved us wrong. She has gotten more confident while around her cousins and family. She is cruising constantly and has figured out how to pull herself up on almost anything. I even found her trying to go from sitting to standing on her own yesterday! Today she walked from Daddy to me and we burst with excitement. You can see the pride all over her face and Mae even says "did it!!". It's sooo adorable.
   What a big girl our little sweetie is turning into. I just wish I could slow time:( So many people tell me that they block out these years when the kids are young and the fits are often but I have to feel sad for them. I know I look strung out from the outside while chasing my 3,2 and 1 year old but on the inside...this momma is filled with so much JOY I can't help but well up and spill out sometimes;) We are feeling blessed at this season of life here in the Bennington Bunch and pray that you are in your season as well.

                                                 Fourth of July with the family!

                                             Fun on Beaver Lake with the Stelk cousins.
                                          Silver Dollar City with Kasten and Waters familys!
                                                        Fun with cousin Kaitlyn!

 First pig tails!

                                         Loved visiting with Alaina and Allison!
                                                           What a beautiful little girl!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

3 months Post Gotcha Day for MaeLynn

    Can you believe how much our sweet girl has grown and changed even since last month?! I love writing this monthly update and reminiscing on how MaeLynn has adapted even further into the Bennington Bunch. She is just precious!!!!
   This month MaeLynn gained another pound, grew another inch and gained 2 more teeth! She is truly thriving. This month is she continued to develop in physical, occupational and speech therapy. She is now able to get from her belly to a sitting position and from a standing position she can slowly start to cruise around things. She can get to most toys she wants by scooting on her belly or bottom. She is still soo joyful. This month I really feel like she has deepened her trust with us. She seems to have come into her own and realized we aren't going anywhere and we love her. MaeLynn loves loves loves her sister and brother and they all are getting along pretty well.
  Mae met her cousins and more family on the Bennington side. We traveled up to KC to visit family and go to Day Out with Thomas the Train. She soaked up all the attention and Scott and I always love seeing the cousins play. Her cousin Drew even came back to Arkansas with us to hang for a week.
   Next, her Nana and Papa visited for the weekend right before MaeLynn had to go to St.Louis for her big Shriner's hospital appointment. At this appointment the doctors and specialists confirmed that she has symbrachydactyly (limb deformity with no other medical deficiencies). The specialists all thought she was adorable and did not recommend a prosthetic as they believe she will learn to do everything on her own. If she decides later in life that she wants one or needs one for a special activity or sport, then we will fully support her. MaeLynn and Scott traveled to St.Louis together and really bonded. Mae gets soo excited now when daddy comes home from work.
   Following the Shriner's appointment, MaeLynn was dedicated at our church with her friends Khloe Kennett and Ana and Evan Fiet. It was such a special day as all the children that were being dedicated were adopted. MaeLynn was prayed for and loved by the whole church and she looked adorable as always in her yellow frilly dress.
   The rest of the month Nana (my mom) came to help and play. It was so fun to have her and watch the bond grow with MaeLynn and Nana. We did lots of fun things while she was here...went to kids movie, splash park, swimming pool and even traveled for the day to the Tulsa zoo. MaeLynn had her first boat ride and swim in Beaver lake while Nana was here too! Sooo much fun packed in to one month!.....that's how we roll;) hehe It is so hard not to want to spoil MaeLynn. She is soaking up her surroundings like a sponge and she even says "thank you"! We are so blessed and Scott and I are busy but loving our lives right now.

                                 MaeLynn and cousin Delaney at the KC farmer's market

                    Taking a ride with cousins, Noah and Isaiah Bennington, on Thomas the Train

                                                         Bonding with cousin Drew

                MaeLynn and her bestie, Khloe. Khloe and Mae love to feed each other! So cute!

               Splash park with the siblings! Lilly loves wearing matching clothes with Mae

                                                               Spoiled by Nana!

                                                            Jammin' in our jammies

                                    At MaeLynn's baby dedication. Poor girl was exhausted!

                                                            Breathtakingly Beautiful!


                                                        First boat outing...LOVED!

                                                                     Tulsa Zoo