Friday, January 27, 2012

Happy Birthday to the Babies of the Family

2 years ago today, a woman somewhere in the Jiangxi Province of China gave birth to a healthy and beautiful little girl.   For some reason unknown to us a decision was made by this woman, her husband and/or her in-laws, to abandon the little girl.  Although it is against the law to abandon a child in China the person that left the child took the risk of choosing a safe public place where the baby would be found quickly.  The infant entered the Shangrao Social Welfare Institute and was named Ling Wan Han.  We all know this beautiful, precious girl as Natalie Wanhan.

Today on her birthday I am sending loving thoughts to a mother and father in China who will never know this amazing child.   It is a bittersweet feeling...I feel sad for their loss and for Natalie's loss but so grateful that they gave Natalie life.  They must wonder what became of the newborn baby they abandoned.  I wish that they could know how loved Natalie is by her Mama, Baba, grandparents, Auntie, teachers, classmates, family, friends and of course her sidekick Louie.

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One of Natalie's birthday presents is the shirt she is wearing to school today which reads "Anyone who thinks diamonds are a girl's best friend hasn't met my Newfoundland"

Louie just turned 4 years old a few days ago.
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Another of my January Birthday sweeties joins in the love fest
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Natalie is all bundled up and ready for school.  She will probably be running around all day pointing to her shirt and saying "Doggie!  WOOF!"
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Happy Birthday My Dear Gary, Natalie and Louie!  
I love you all so much and I'm grateful for every day that I spend with you!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Celebrating The Year of the Dragon

After celebrating Chinese New Year five times without our daughter, the celebration this year was a revelation to Gary and I.  Seeing the festivities through Natalie's eyes made it so much more fun for us.  The Year of the Dragon is considered to be the luckiest in the cycle of 12 zodiac years.  Considering that it is our first full year home with Natalie it definitely feels very lucky to us.
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Natalie was too excited to be still for photos.
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The celebration we attended this year was an international one - not just Chinese.  We got to sample many different cuisines.  Natalie's favorite thing was the noodles - surprise!  Her second favorite was a Korean rice cake which you will see her holding in the video at the end of the post.
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The event took place on 1/20/12...exactly two months after the date we arrived home from China.  It is amazing how much all 3 of us have changed during that time.  Gary and I are both wrapped around Natalie's little finger and delighting in all of her smiles and laughter.  We, like most parents, think she is the most amazing child in the world.

Natalie has come so far out of the shell that she was hiding deep inside when we first met her.  She still wants Mama and Baba close by (which is a sign of good attachment), but she is becoming a little more adventurous and more friendly to new people.
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Natalie's very favorite part of the evening was the entertainment section that featured Irish Dancers.  The edited video below is more about Natalie's reaction to the dancers than the dancing itself.  I'll have to make another video of the full dances.  They were so fun to watch. Natalie definitely thought so - she was clapping, cheering and at times doing her own little jig.  At the very end of the video you can hear Natalie shouting "Yay!"

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

First Play Date

Natalie has had one "First" after another in the last two months.  A few days ago she went on her first play date with one of our little neighbor friends who showed her the ropes at a local playground.
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Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Girl and Her Newf

Over the years Gary and I have raved about what a sweet, gentle giant Louie is.  Since Natalie has come home she has put both Newfs to the test with her often overly exuberant behavior.

Katie has made it clear that she does not care for Natalie's toddler antics, so we are making sure that the girls are only together when Natalie is calm and with one of us right beside her to monitor their interaction. I think that after Natalie has a lot of coaching about how to be respectful to dogs she and Katie will one day be good friends.

Louie, on the other paw, is very accepting of anything Natalie can dish out.  We are working on teaching her to pet softly, not pull hair and to play nice... skills that will also help her in daycare.  While those skills are being practiced Louie makes the perfect Guinea pig.  He is so laid back and really is like a 130 pound teddy bear.  I think Louie likes having his very own little girl.
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Natalie loves both of the dogs.  The first words out of her mouth most days are "doggie" and "woof".  She wants to know where Katie and Louie are and to give them a good morning pat.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Love From Paris (aka the front porch)

Until a couple of weeks ago Natalie never paid attention to her clothes.  As long as they were comfortable and kept her body at the right temperature she was content.  Now she is starting to have opinions about her attire and sometimes will pick out her own shirt to wear - usually something with an animal on it.  At bedtime she loves to wear her owl or her monkey pjs.  Everytime she see them she squeals and dances around with excitement.

During a recent visit to Target I pulled this little dress off the clearance rack (I'm going to have to teach her to love a good deal as much as I do).  When Natalie saw it she said "Oooh, Oooh, Oooh" and reached out her hands to touch it.  She loved it so much I thought we should have a little photo shoot to mark the occasion.
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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Natalie & Her Great!Grandmother

Right after Christmas, Natalie, her Auntie Leah and I drove to Mulberry, Arkansas for a visit with our Aunt and Uncle, their children, grandchildren and our grandmother.

During all of these years of waiting for Natalie introducing her to her Greatgrandmother is one of the moments I was most looking forward to sharing with her.


Natalie's visit with her Greatgrandmother was so special.  They took to each other very quickly.
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Natalie enjoyed catching a ride on her Greatgrandmother's walker.
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Natalie's GreatAunt gave her some ribbon toys to pay with.  When she started playing with them I asked her if she wanted to me to hold her dolly.  She shook her head no and held Dolly out for her Greatgrandmother to hold.  If Natalie gives someone her special Dolly that means she really likes them :)
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Grandmother made Leah and I beautiful aprons.  Natalie didn't seem to be paying attention when we were trying them on, but the next day she grabbed a cloth shopping bag and put the handles around her neck and started smoothing out her "apron".  Our extremely observant girl doesn't miss anything.
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What a wonderful visit with a big group of our amazing family!  We enjoyed seeing everyone.  Natalie made herself right at home.  She seemed to know we were with family.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012: The Year of Natalie and the Newfs

Today begins our first full year with our sweet Natalie.  She brings so much joy and laughter into our lives every day.  Of course since she is a toddler so there are also some frustrating times for all five of us.  However, the wonderful moments far exceed the difficult ones.  We adore and love her so much (as you have probably already figured out by reading this blog :)

When Auntie visited recently I was able to walk both Katie and Louie while she pushed Natalie in the stroller.  It was great fun... I wish she lived closer so we could walk together every day.
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Natalie watches everything we do and tries to imitate us.  This is her attempt at putting Louie's harness on.  She also tries to tell the dogs to sit and points her finger at them in an attempt to get them to lay down.  In a few years they might actually listen to her.  She certainly has the authoritative tone down pat.
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We wish you all the Happiest New Year Ever!

Love, Charity, Gary, Katie, Louie and Natalie
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