Sweet Sisters

After people ask how Ella is adjusting, the next question is always, “And how is Sophie?”  Wonder what would make anyone think that Soph would have a hard time with this?!?  Could it be that everything has centered around her for the past four years!??!  🙂 

Really…she has done very well.  We had a rough week two weeks ago, but things seem to be much better.  Even on her “I’m not getting enough attention” days, she is thrilled to have Ella as her sister.  Our biggest problem seems to be that Sophia forgets that she isn’t Ella’s momma.  We have to remind her that sisters are helpers and not in charge. 

All of that said, Sophia really is a super helper.  She is great about keeping an eye on Ella if I have to step out of the room.  She loves to feed her and help me get the diaper bag ready.  Her all time favorite activity is scooping the formula and shaking the bottle.  I’m not sure what’s so fun about that, but hey…if it makes her happy!

Sophia’s best gift to us so far with her sister was convincing her that taking a bath is really not all that bad. Ella finally warmed up to the idea of sitting in the bathtub rather than standing and screaming after she saw how much fun Sophia has in there.  She now hikes her leg up trying to get in and join Soph.  It’s hilarious!

Enjoy the pictures of our girls.  We are having so much fun watching them get closer each day.


Ours for a Month

It has been a month since a screaming baby named Vy was placed in our arms in Long Xuyen, Vietnam.  She has now transformed into our sweet Ella ThanhVy.  Here is an update on how she is doing…

*  Thanks to all of you who were so worried about my feelings when Ella wouldn’t have anything to do with me.  It was hard on me, but equally hard on Tim.  I don’t think I ever posted about it, but the plane ride home was CRAZY!  She would not let me hold her at all.  When Tim would go to the restroom, she would scream the whole time until he came back and got her.  Needless to say, other passengers were looking at me like I was a bad mom.  I was so embarrassed.  The good news…we are far from that now.  Ella loves her Momma.  She goes to us equally and often times even prefers me over Tim now.

*  She is doing better with family, friends, and strangers, but it really depends on the mood she is in at the moment.  Sometimes she will let others hold her while other times she screams if anyone makes a move toward her. 

*  She says  “Hi” and “Momma”.

*  Ella loves to wave.  All you have to do is say “hi” or “bye” and she starts waving.  She also loves to play peek-a-boo.  She will hide under a blanket or behind her hands.  Again, we just say “peek-a-boo” and she starts doing it, or sometimes she will start at dinner out of the blue as if she knows it entertains us.

*  She is signing “more”.  While she knows the sign for milk (reacts when we do it), she isn’t signing it on her own yet.

*  Ella eats well.  She is eating chunky baby food and some table food.  She definitely prefers the table food.  The one thing that has surprised me is how dependent she still is on milk.  She needs a bottle probably six times a day.  When I say “needs”…there is major screaming if she doesn’t get it.  I tried a sippy cup last week.  She pressed her lips together and refused.  She ate her entire dinner with nothing to drink rather than try the cup.  When I gave her a bottle following dinner, she downed it.

*  Her fifth tooth is coming in. 

When we were in Vietnam, Bella (Joy’s 4 year old daughter) kept asking when we were going to take Vy back to her home.  At one point she even told me, “Vy doesn’t act like this when she is at home.  She’s happy there.”  While I was glad that there was  a happy girl hidden somewhere in there, it made me sad that Bella had seen the happy side of Ella when she was at “home” and we had taken her from that.  I’m so happy to report that we now know the happy “Vy”.  She is a sweet, funny little girl. 

Ella on November 17, 2008


Ella on December 16 and 17, 2008.  (It’s hard to catch this girl for a picture as she’s always on the go!!!)



We love you, sweet girl!

One Month Ago Today…

we were on our way to Vietnam. Attached are some last photos of our trip that I want to remember.

The first moment we saw our baby girl…

Her first home…


Sweet faces we won’t forget…


Other sights from our trip…



Until next time, Vietnam!


A Different Way of Life

Tim and I aren’t exactly world travelers.  Our only two trips outside of this country have been to adopt.  We love the good ol’ USA, don’t enjoying flying, and are perfectly content touring the 50 states; however, both of these trips have been good for us.  I am reminded that not everyone lives the way I do, and that’s o.k.  On our way to Ella’s province, we really got a tour of the rural areas of Vietnam.  We saw many, many people living in very simple shacks.  These people didn’t work outside the home.  They had a simple service they offered (such as bike repair) or a fruit from the backyard that they sold.  I can’t even imagine the minimal amount of money they make each month.  But the interesting thing about it was that they seemed very content merely surviving and spending their days hanging out on stools in front of their homes with family and neighbors.  Tim pondered the whole situation and reminded me that while we have much more in America, people work a lot and don’t seem as happy/carefree as many of the people we saw with nothing in Vietnam.  I will end this post with some pictures of our two weeks of a different way of life.


Hair dryer that looks like a vacuum cleaner = bad hair day.  I brought my own hair dryer along, but the voltage was so low that it didn’t work any better than this one.  My thick hair has never taken so long to dry!



Drinking the milk from a coconut is very popular in Vietnam.  While we had no trouble finding pop to drink in Vietnam, it didn’t taste like it does in the US.  Not nearly as much sugar as we prefer!  At the grocery, it’s hard to find American products, but we did run across a package of Oreos.  I was shocked to taste them and realize they too were missing the usual amount of sugar.  And we wonder why we’re so fat in America! 

Going to a Vietnamese restaurant was always interesting.  Joy would say, “Do you like fish?  Do you like shrimp? Do you like chicken?”  We would say, “Sure!” and then something that didn’t resemble those things in the US would arrive at our table.  The Mekong Delta is known for it’s “jumbo shrimp”.  I’m envisioning Red Lobster’s jumbo shrimp.  This shrimp was the size of my fist, and I’m not exaggerating!  It was crazy.  I wish I had taken more food pictures.  You just don’t think about it at the time.  Anyway…below is a fish picture.


Speaking of food, I really miss the health department when out of this country.  What’s with the need to prepare food on the ground?  I just don’t get it.  Below is a picture of the “kitchen” on the boat next to us at Ha Long Bay.  I’m glad I didn’t see our kitchen.  I just pretended in my head what I wanted it to look like.


Our room at the Grand Hotel in HCMC was wonderful. The other two hotels that we stayed in left something to be desired.  Below are a couple of pictures from the hotel in Long Xuyen.  Besides the fact that there was no bathtub/shower (The shower head was just in the middle of the bathroom wall.  You had to wear flip flops anytime you went in the bathroom because the place was soaking wet.  Don’t worry…there’s a plastic container to protect the toilet paper!), no top sheets on the bed, no full size bed, and lizards climbing on the walls, we had a lovely stay.  🙂


Tim took a record number of electrical pictures this trip.  He’s feeling pretty lucky to be working at SR rather than for a co-op in Vietnam.  This is what electric lines look like EVERYWHERE.



Who would think that we would actually see a UK basketball game while in Vietnam?!  As we were walking down the street in Ho Chi Minh City, a basketball game on a t.v. in a store front caught Tim’s attention. Imagine our surprise to find out it was UK!  We won’t discuss which game this was or what the score was.  We were just happy to see our CATS!


Daddy’s Girl

Ella has made tremendous progress in the last two weeks in terms of opening up to us.  She is allowing me to hold her and love on her.  She really put on a show Friday night when we got home from Thanksgiving dinner in Richmond.  She was very quiet there, but turned on when we walked in the door at home.  She is most quiet and reserved if people other than Tim, Sophia, and I are around, but she’s usually not screaming crying now when someone looks at her. 

All that being said, she’s a Daddy’s girl.  Can you see the pattern? 





Ha Long Bay

We spent Saturday at Ha Long Bay.  Even though it was very overcast, it was still a great day.  I wish the weather had been a bit better so that my pictures did our trip justice.

There are really no words to explain the beauty of this area!  We were amazed.  Not only did we get to take in the sites of the bay, but we also docked at a cave called The Heavenly Palace and toured it.  It was a great tour!  Other memorable moments of the day included…

*  We stopped at a floating fishing village to “take a look at our lunch” prior to it being cooked.  At one point, the fisherman pulls a huge catfish out of the net, throws it on the dock, and hits it with a bat to kill it.  I was shocked.  He asked me what I thought.  I said, “Do it again!” not realizing that I had to pay extra because that would turn into my lunch.  Joy and Tim quickly stopped me from blowing my money just to watch a guy hit a fish with a bat!

*  While docked in the fishing village, a police boat came by. The boat directly behind it was carrying the Chairman (President) of Vietnam.  Like we’d ever get that close to George Bush in America!  The boat was right beside us.  We were amazed by the reaction of the Vietnamese people.  If the President of the United States came by on a boat, we’d all be fighting to get a view.  They just ignored him.  Tim, Joy, and I seemed to be the only ones on the boat interested in the president.

I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.










We made it!  We had a sweet homecoming with our family at the airport.  I have missed Sophia so much.  She was so happy to see Ella that it took awhile for her to give Mom and Dad hugs and kisses.  She has been very sweet to her.  Ella, on the other hand, has continued her love of Daddy, but is beginning to warm up to Sophia.  It was tough for the first few hours.  There were lots of tears.  Sophie was crying because Ella didn’t want anything to do with her, and Ella was crying because Soph was all over her.  I think Sophie is beginning to find the balance in showing attention, but not wearing Ella out.  I will post a few pictures below from the airport and at home.  I love the one where Ella has her head in Sophia’s lap.  After a long night of wanting nothing to do with Sophia, she warmed up to her and just kind of laid over in her lap.  It was very sweet.


I know that I promised posts from the airport, but my battery ran down, and I had nowhere to charge it.  I still have things I want to share.  Hope you’ll come back as I finish our story!  Thank you for your thoughts and prayers during our trip.  We are so blessed and so thankful.  Thanks for sharing this journey with us!  Now…I’m going to nap.  It’s 2:45 a.m. in Vietnam!

Happy Birthday, Ella!

We began celebrating Ella’s birthday at midnight Vietnam time as we were taking off.  This will be the longest birthday of her life…36 hours!  Happy Birthday, sweet baby!

Free Time at the Airport

We received Ella’s visa as expected this afternoon.  Yea!  We arrived at the Hanoi Airport around 5:00 and don’t fly out until 11:50.  We didn’t have anywhere to go as we had to check out of the hotel.  So…here we are trying to entertain a baby for nearly seven hours before spending 27 hours in transit.  AGGHHH!!!  Does it get any crazier than this?!?!  I’ll be so happy to be home!

So, in all of my spare time tonight, I thought I’d share some memories of Vietnam.  Watch for upcoming posts!