Sunday, December 29, 2013


Jack's first Christmas with us!  It has been sweet in so many ways.  I felt it especially on Christmas Eve:
 Here is Jack (Qian Qiusheng... that's his Chinese name) asleep in his warm bed at home with his family on Christmas Eve.  All I could think of was "In YOU the orphan finds mercy" (Hosea 14:3).  God's mercy and grace on display.

Beauty beyond words.

But I'd like to be honest here and just say that it has also been hard.  Thankfully our families were very patient with Jack.  Patient with fighting over toys, patient with his loudness and awkwardness (because even though we knew what to expect this week, he didn't. It was all new for him so we couldn't expect him to know exactly how to behave in each situation, hence the awkwardness), patient with the fact that he doesn't speak or understand English, patient with his eating and mess-making, patient with him being not-so-gentle yet, patient with his nose running (allergies maybe?), patient with his drooling (seriously, this boy drools like you would not believe, can't quite figure that out yet), and patient with us as we tried to parent in the middle of it all.    As I write this out, though, the parts that were hard begin to fade away.  And what I will really remember from this Christmas is that Jack learned how to give kisses (they are sweet and slobbery and he even says "mmmwah"),  he heard about the King of Kings who came as a baby, he laid his head on my shoulder for the fist time at the Christmas Eve service, he crawled up into his great grandma's lap on Christmas Day, he ate 4 bowls of scrambled eggs at the Harmon brunch, he was so happy he couldn't hold in screams of joy at Uncle Mikey & Aunt Emily's dog, and he was in the first ever "Harmon Cousin" picture.  Be still my heart!  The hard things melt away and all that's left is a picture of grace and mercy and beauty.

And with that, I'll leave you with a few pictures of Jack's first Christmas home:
About to eat Christmas morning breakfast!

A stocking from Granmama & GranD

Lisa's family

 Jack and his Great Grandma.  So precious!

 Jack and GiGi (his other great grandmother).  I can't get enough of seeing him with them.  It's just too good to be true.  

 Matt's family

 Cousin picture!  Daniel, Molly, Jack, Leah, and their cousin Addie. Love her so much!  Our kids have another cousin on the way, too.  Baby Elijah is due in March.

 Granddaddy & Jack

Grammy & Jack

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


One month ago today, we stood in the Civil Affairs office in Chongqing watching Sarah & Gregg meet their daughter as we waited for Jack.  And then he walked through the door.  Like that, the year long wait was over!  He was with us.  There was one less orphan in the world.

Two intense wonderful weeks in China happened.

Two intense wonderful weeks at home happened.

And suddenly it has been a month and we we have his stocking on our mantle and his name on our tree.  There is one more Harmon in our family.

I told family and close friends how we would need a lot of grace as we interact with them over Christmas.  We may have fighting children, it may be loud, it may be crazy, it may seem out of control.  But I am realizing that it's not just this adjustment time that we need grace - it's long term.  Living life with 4 kids, one of them being a boy coming from a hard background, we just will need your grace.  We need you to love us through our messy parenting as we muddle through it.

Jack is doing really well, y'all.  All things considered, I'm amazed at where we are now.  But, we are still taking things one day at a time. When I think too far ahead, I get overwhelmed.  As we tackle each day one at a time, though, it is do-able.  Sarah (the same one who we watched meet her daughter while we waited to meet Jack) wrote a perfect blog post talking about bonding and how it just takes time.  You can read her post by clicking here.  In short, we absolutely love Jack but our relationship with him isn't as deep yet as with our 3 biological kids.  There is much we don't know about Jack and when he speaks in Chinese we can't understand him.  There is distance between us that isn't there with our biological kids.  And Jack is starting to trust us, but he doesn't fully trust us yet.  He doesn't know for sure who we are or that we will care for him We can see the fear in his eyes sometimes.  And, you know what, all of this is okay!  We have only known each other for four weeks.  We are learning more about each other every day.  And honestly, I couldn't be more happy to be falling more deeply in love with this little guy.

We are learning life as a family of six.  And it is great.  It's also hard and exhausting, but we are so glad to be walking this road.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Medical Update

My favorite picture of the week:
 The boys were having snack time. Daniel put a cheerio over the vent (which was blowing out warm air) and the air blew the cheerio up in the air. Both boys started laughing so hard!  I let them do it over and over for a while because it was so sweet.  Bonding over air blown cheerios.  You don't need to speak the same language for that.

Jack's medical check-up was today.  I asked lots of questions. Some had answers, but some just didn't and remain unknown (scars, etc).  But the bottom line is that in general, Jack is doing well.  We are still dealing with runny nose/congestion.  And we will have a cardiologist appointment in the new year for his heart issues.  But, the bones in his chest wall are of no concern to our doctor. Purely cosmetic.  We go back in a month to discuss vaccinations and Jack's cognitive progress.  The doctor thinks that in a few months, though, Jack will be on a regular well-child schedule for doctor visits.  He doesn't think any of Jack's issues will be lingering ones. Overall, sweet for this mommy to hear!

Some other favorites from this week:

Jie Jie means sister. She choose this shirt to wear to preschool one day this week.

 Jack's shirt. :)

 A moment of sharing trains.

And this is only the beginning of all the brother pictures we will have of these two boys.  Grateful beyond measure!

Friday, December 6, 2013

One Week Home

We've been home for a week.  In some ways, it's hard to believe it has been that long, but in other ways our trip to China feels like so long ago.

So, how are we doing?

We all have mixed emotions and are still processing our new normal.  We are still feeling jet lag (which feels like it will never end) and are very tired.  I'm trying to remind myself that it will take a couple of weeks (possibly months?) to get our bodies and our house back into a good routine.

There are many hard things right now, but I don't think it would be helpful to list those out.  We are muddling through the hard things, praying that God would use them for good.  There are also many great things!  Jack is home!  He is getting medicine he needs (for sinus infection, ear infection, 3 infected rashes) and he has a more extensive evaluation next week.  He has a backyard that he loves!  He gets cuddles, snuggles, and kisses all the time.  We are a family of 6 now!  We are looking for beauty in the small things - and there is so much beauty!

Jack is so cuddly and snuggly.  He was made to be in a family, y'all.  He seems happy here in our house, but we haven't ventured outside of it much.  When I took him to the doctor, he called two men "baba" (Chinese for daddy) so he still doesn't quite get it yet.  He wants to be held a lot (which makes Daniel want to be held) so my arms are very full.   

Daniel & Jack.  My heart was nervous and anxious about this relationship while we were in China.  It still is. I see sweet moments of love between them, but there is also a good bit of arguing over the same car/train/truck.  Daniel keeps pointing at him and saying "this is Jack, mommy, this is Jack!" and will do sweet little things for him.  Jack sees some value in Daniel because he copies him a lot.  But, Jack doesn't have any concept for brother (or family at all) so it is going to take a while for "brother" to sink in with him.  Right now, they don't hesitate to push and shove to get the car/truck/train they want away from the other one. I have hope, though, in the One who made both of these boys and knew they would be brothers before the beginning of time.  He is the one who will knit their brother hearts together.  I'm so excited for Jack to learn that a brother isn't like his friends at the orphanage who are there one day and gone the next and who were competition for food and toys. A brother sticks with you for a lifetime with love that is big!  

The girls.  They are doing great!  They still have some jet lag issues, but overall are doing great.  They are truly the best big sisters these 2 boys could have.  Molly is happily back at preschool.  Leah is going to New Life Camp a couple of days in the next few weeks.  They are both back at dance class.  They are just doing their thing.  I love that we sit at the dinner table and talk about China.  I love that we have those sweet memories together!

Some fun moments from our first week home:

 First time trying popcorn.  He was so excited about it, but then he didn't like it too much. He only ate 2 pieces.

 Daddy and the girls made pillow cookies (cookie on the outside, brownie on the inside - yum!)

His first time playing in the backyard.  JOY!

The boys trying to play together. :)

He loved seeing our truck and car.

Love this boy 

 He sucks his thumb a lot.  It calms him so much.

 These sweet brothers are only 2 weeks apart in age.  Because of that, we've been able to see up close and in person the difference between being in a family and being institutionalized.  Jack was in a "good" orphanage but he was just a number there.  We love that we get to love on him and see him grow and thrive!

First snack time with all 4!

 First time eating mac & cheese. He wasn't sure what to do with it. He looked at Daniel, then...
 We've had some trouble with food, though, and had to buy some baby food. He eats that up every time.  Mashed meat and mashed vegetable at its finest.  But, we've made some progress with food.  So far, two sweet friends have brought dinner and look at this boy. He ate every bite we gave him of what they brought:
 Ms. Suzanne's soup!

Ms.Meghan's spaghetti!

My friends must be putting some extra love in their cooking because so far he eats their food far better than anything I have given him other than baby food!  Meals are bringing us life right now.  They are fuel for our bodies and hearts. So thankful!

As I write this, Matt is feeling sick, so I'm not sure what the next week holds for us.  We appreciate you continuing to pray for our adjustment time, our health, and that our eyes would be fixed on Jesus (the only one who can give us real hope).