Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bloggin' Break

It's time for a minor bloggin' break
for just a little while.
No musings and no updates
and no pictures of my child.

No need to fear. It won't be long.
...or it might - I just don't know.
I'm just giving myself the gift of time
to focus and to grow.

So as my baby starts to walk,
and even talk and use a spoon.
I'll take notes and pics and videos
and share them with you soon.
MTL '09

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Party

Well, I have to say, I was proud of myself for not getting "out of control" planning Gianna's first birthday party. Not that there's anything wrong with an Extravaganza, I just know how I get when my ideas are bigger than my abilities, time available and energy level. I firgure that if I started out big, then I'd not only wear myself out (and make my husband miserable), but I'd be setting a precedent.

So it was fairly simple - no real theme...just pink, white a black color scheme to match her dress and hat. My mom said it wasn't simple - we had way more food, dessert and drinks than we needed, but that's small potatoes in my book. Maybe now I can just consider myself a "recovering over-planner and perfectionist." Everyone came with the exception of one family who was traveling. The party was from 1-3pm.....evertyone stayed til after 4pm. That's a pretty good sign.

Gianna was passed around, played with, enveloped, stalked, overstimulated - and managed to survive it all with a tremendous amount of grace and little fall-out. She was such a trooper and was so happy, with no melt-downs. Couldn't ask for better.

The practice cake turned out better than the actual cake in terms of looks. The biggest snafu was that one of the layers collapsed like a pancake the night before, so I had to re-bake then night before. I decorated an hour before people arrived, and it wasn't level...but it was done. (You see how good I'm getting in overcoming my perfectionism?) It actually tasted great.

I did make some awesome cupcakes from scratch, too (I'll share the recipe later.) And cakeball lollipops - which were the surprise hit of the dessert table. That was WAY more fun than I expected. I always liked to cook, but who knew that I'd enjoying baking as much? Hopefully by birthday #2 my skill will have improved.

Even though her first cake experience was on her actual birthday, we did it again for the party. It was almost more fun watching the reactions of the guests.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

An Ode and A Song

I'm not done with gathering b-day pics, but until then I just had to post about "An Ode and A Song," --- two of the most special gifts Gianna received.

The first gift is from my dear friends' nine year old daughter, Lilliana. I am (and have always been) completely smitten with this child.

She's deep, spiritual, brilliant, pure, creative and just plain precious. She writes poetry and wrote a birthday poem for Gianna. (Click to enlarge) And if that wasn't enough - my friend Michelle came to the party with her guitar in tow because Michelle's daughter, Jessie (18), wrote Gianna a song. A SONG! Geez Louise -- I mean, really...who gets a song? I've got decades on this baby, and I don't even have a song. Well, that is if you don't count my brother's colorful rendition of "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria" from childhood. But I'm thinking any song that involved me being flushed down the toilet shouldn't really count. I'm just sayin'.

Jessie couldn't be at the party, so her mom performed the song and had all the kids play percussion, with boxes of uncooked rice, beans etc. Gianna was mesmerized and everyone else was so amazed. It was priceless. Michelle even printed and framed the Lyrics for Gianna to hang in her room.
Jessie is another one of those amazing kids, who has a deep soul, sweet spirit and she OOZES talent and creativity. She and Michelle came over this week and sang the song so I could video them both. Here's Jessie and "Gianna's Song."

We are blessed beyond measure to have the friends we do.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Birthday

Well, I had big plans for Gianna's actual birthday. Iain was off of work and I had the whole day scheduled (overscheduled) in my mind. Maybe the park for a walk and picnic, a trip to Lafayette to the zoo, a romp in the water fountain. All nice little birthday activities. It would be so special.

What did we do, you ask? Nothing. Nada. Zippo. And I'm glad. She needed rest and so did we. We stayed home all day and played and in the evening we drove into town to have supper with my family. Her first lasagna. Yum. Thank heavens my mom cooked. I initially thought I'd cook for everyone. Silly Mommy, what were you thinking?

Here's Gianna ON her special day.

And here's a little montage of the little munchkin's first introduction to refined sugar. (I can't believe I made it a whole year without caving in. Lots of pressure in that department.) She was tentative at first, but then.....

And my sweet hubby just uploaded the video. (It's a little dark at first, with the exception of the papparazzi flashes.)

Stay tuned for more birthday fun: the party, the ode, the song (yes, she has her own song!)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Ta Da!

I'm a Big Girl Now! (remember that little commercial jingle?) Yep. Our little baby girl is moving into The 'Hood.....Toddlerhood, that is. She standing and taking steps, but who really knows when she'll walk? It could be minutes or months. You know how that goes.
This afternoon, just before we got hit with a mega-storm, we were outside in the backyard for a bit. Here are a few scenes. (I should post what our backyard looks like after the storm - it's like a hurricane hit.)

And in other news. We're overcoming our texture issues regarding food. Tonight she had chicken, carrots and beans with a little leftover mac & cheese (the gross kind in the baby food jars -- yuck!) NONE of which was pureed. No gagging. Just a happy baby. Thank heavens.

As I was feeding her I thought to myself, "I need to let her try self-feeding this week." I figured I'd wait til the weekend when Iain could witness the mayhem. Gianna figured differently. When I got up to turn the crockpot off, I turned around to find that I had left her bowl just a little too close to those pudgy fingers. That little monkey was feeding herself. I couldn't believe she was doing it on her own. Granted, her other hand was squishing around in the bowl, but she had food on her spoon and she was eating. Baby girl's growin' up.

And yes, I'm aware I haven't yet posted birthday pics. I'm slow. They're coming. It was wonderful, but we're still recovering from the festivities. She's fine -- WE are still in a semi-coma.
P.S. I just realized that this is my 100th post. I think I'm gonna throw myself a party. No. Wait a minute - I just threw a party. Too much work. I'll have to settle for a pat on the back and nice hot bath. That'll do just fine.

Friday, July 03, 2009


Today is Gianna's "Gotcha Day." Many adoptive families celebrate their child's birthday as well as their "Gotcha Day" --- the day we Gotcha (got you). For some, it's the date they met their child (that's us), for others it's the day they went to court, and for others - the day their adoption was finalized.

On her birthday, we'll celebrate Gianna's life; on her Gotcha Day we'll celebrate becoming a family. It's actually a bigger deal for Iain and I since we weren't there when Gianna was born, nor did we even know about her. She was an absolute surprise....up until the very last minute. From the time we got "The Call" until the time we came home with her - only 4 and a half hours past. Some people think that 9 months isn't long enough to prepare for a baby --- try 4 and a half hours.

In observance of this special day for our family, I thought I'd share the story of how it happened. The following is the email I wrote in July of last year informing our friends and families of our BIG NEWS. (Our closest peeps knew before then, but we didn't want to make it public since our failed adoptions happened only 3 months prior.)

CHRISTMAS IN JULY - Adoption Update

July 8, 2008

Dear Friends and Family,

Well, last week I had every intention of sending out an email to update everyone on how we were doing in the aftermath of our failed adoption of Maddie & Collin. I was going to tell you about our journey toward healing. I was going to tell you about the amazing vacation to a resort in Cancun that Iain and I took which served as our "adoption band-aid." I was going to tell you that we were in discernment as to what our next step would be in this crazy adoption process in order to further our quest to grow our family. Well, that's what I WAS going to tell you. Apparently - God (once again) seemed to have another plan.

What I AM going to tell you will probably come as a complete surprise to you. (We're STILL in shock and no, I'm NOT pregnant.) Iain & I have become the parents of a brand-spankin' new baby who turned one week old today. You read it right. Iain & Maria are the parents of a brand-new baby!

Better news: It's official!!! Both birth father and birth mother have signed their surrender of parental rights.

Even better news: IT'S A GIRL!

Very Best News: She is in our home, in Iain's arms, as I type this.

Most Amazing News: We got to pick her up from the hospital when she was 2 days old!

She has been with us since Thursday night (July 3rd).We know that you will understand why we've waited to share this miraculous event until it it was official. Even though we've been busting at the seams for almost five days just dying to share our news.....it was really important to us to refrain from taking everyone on yet another crazy roller coaster ride - especially if things didn't go according to plan. (Been there, done that.....don't care to go down that road again!)

How This All Came About:

At 6pm on Thursday night we got a call from Marcia at NLC. (I had already scheduled coffee with her to let her know we'd be pursuing additional adoption avenues.) She started out by saying, "What are are y'all doing?" I told her that we had just pulled into my parents driveway for supper. She said, "Well, do you think you could change your plans?"

"And why would we do that?" I asked tentatively?

"Well, I'm at the hospital looking at the most precious baby....and she's yours if you'll have her."

Baby?......Girl?.....No flippin' way. (In my head, I imagined a bi-racial baby boy.)

She went on to tell us the birth mother's situation (I don't want to give too many details since it is a closed and local adoption). Her family was supportive of her decision to place the baby for adoption and so was the birth father's family. The birth father had signed over his rights that night but the birth mother had to wait five days after the birth to sign her surrender. By law she would be required to have 2 hours of counseling. So, the tricky decision that night was......do we pick up the baby now hold our breath for a few days....or do we let someone else care for the baby until the mother is completely signed?

When I asked Iain what he wanted to do, he replied, "Let's go pick up our daughter." (still gives me chills!) And so we did. We got to the hospital at 9pm, signed the power of attorney, went to the nursery and laid eyes on our daughter for the very first time. It was magical. She's teeny tiny (5lbs 3oz) with light brown hair (with a little blond and a touch of red thrown in for good measure.) She even has the most intoxicating dimples! We signed some paperwork from our attorney.The nurses gave us some paperwork and asked if we had any questions? Are you kidding me? How am I supposed to think of questions 10 minutes after becoming a mother?

By 10:00 pm we were leaving the hospital and (you're gonna love this) I got to be wheeled out in a wheelchair with my baby just like all the other card-carrying moms! That's when I knew it was real. It was surreal. It was mystical. We could hardly get her little 5 lb body in the car seat. SO tiny!

We have been hibernating at home with this precious little creature for the last few days waiting for the official news....and tonight at 7:20pm we got it. We are officially the parents of Gianna Elyse Lewis. (Pronounced Jee-AH-nah). The Name We have chosen our boy and girl names early on in the adoption process. We liked our boy name (still not tellin') but I really felt like God chose our girl name. I came across the name Gianna several times in a short period of time, one being in an article about a family in Kansas who was pregnant with a baby girl who didn't develop a kidney and only lived a short time after birth. They named her Gianna - and it sounded beautiful to me. It was a touching and inspiring story of an amazing, faithful family. I was curious if Gianna was a saint name, so I did a little research and found an amazing story about St. Gianna Beretta Molla.

The short version of the story is that Gianna, a young Italian woman, wife, mother and physician who (while pregnant with her fourth child) discovered she had a uterine tumor. She endured the painful pregnancy even though doctors encouraged her to abort. The baby was born healthy and Gianna died a week later. The Church lifts her up as a model of selflessness, heroic virtue and is a patron of Pro-Life. The name Gianna means: God is Gracious. We knew then, that would be our girl's name....and it fits her beautifully.

And here's the icing on the cake:

As Iain & I were driving to the hospital, I was thinking and let out a huge gasp/scream and my poor husband slammed on the breaks. "Oh my Gosh, Iain," I said, "you're not going to believe this?"

After making me swear I would never do that again while he was driving...I told him what I had discovered:

Last fall when we finished our adoption home study and paperwork, I brought our completed adoption profile to Marjorie at New Life Counseling. I remember it was October 1st, 2007 (Feast of St. Therese), I went to Mass and when I returned home I wrote an email to friends and family letting you know that we were finally were finished with our part of the process and all we had left to do was wait. The exact quote was, "We consider ourselves officially expecting!"

Well, wouldn't you know that 9 months TO THE DAY after I sent that email exclaiming the we considered ourselves "officially expecting".....Gianna Elyse was born......July 1, 2008. That was my sign that she was meant for us. No question about it. I knew this like I knew my own name. This baby girl was born for us.

What happens next? In the next week, we'll go to court and we'll petition for "placement." It's not a scary court thing....just a formality stating we intend to adopt this baby. For all practical purposes she is ours......but in the State of Louisiana adoption take a year to finalize. There is virtually no way she can be taken from us at this point. We are a family.Prayer of thanks!

We are filled with gratitude and love as we are living an answer to prayer. We are completely overwhelmed by God's goodness and are amazed at by the graces being showered on us. I keep thinking of that Rascal Flatts song with the line, "God bless the broken road that led me straight to you." Broken road...you bet. Blessed road......amen!

We ask that you join us in prayer for the birth mother (and birth family) as they grieve their loss and hopefully find the healing and comfort they deserve with this life-changing decision they've made. We also ask for your continue prayers of Maddie & Collin. Although they are no longer part of our family, they will always be part of our heart. We continue to miss them, think of them and love them. And thank you all for joining us in this incredible journey. Your prayers, concern and support of us has helped to bring us to this blessed, joyous day. Keep praying and this story is not over. There's so much I wanted to share, but my thoughts are a little muddled right now.Okay, I'm going to love on my little baby girl now. I know that you guys have been waiting for the unveiling......here is the link to Gianna's first few pictures. http://lewisland.shutterfly.com/pictures/ (You know there are hundreds of them already, but I only posted about 30.)
Maria & Iain (a year ago)

I had a boy outfit and girl outfit all ready to go - just in case we got a last minute call. I brought the sweet little pink girl outfit to dress my baby in. There was NO WAY. It nearly swallowed this tiny little munchkin. So, we just took her home in the little onesie they had her in.
Yep. This is when we became believers in Love at First Sight. I know many new moms complain about having to be wheeled out of the hospital. Not me! It was my honor, my dream, me pure delight!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Exercise Nut

Our active little girl has been quite the exercise enthusiast as of late...

She's been into...
Swimming Flying:
And Gymnastics:

I'm so glad she's so health-conscious.

12 Month Stats

Click to enlarge:

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

Dear Gianna,
Today is the day we celebrate the miraculous gift of YOU. A year ago today you were born - and would you believe that we didn't even know you? And to top that --- we didn't even know about you yet (in our minds, that is.) In our hearts, I'm pretty sure we've always known you. I believe God planted you in our hearts long before you made it to this wonderful world. Isn't that the greatest miracle?
This time last year, Mommy & Daddy were sad that Maddie & Collin's adoption wasn't going to happen. We were healing and tired and wondering if we would ever have a baby of our own. God didn't wonder. God knew. God always knew that you would be our precious daughter. He chose you for us - and he chose us for you. I think He did a pretty great job in His decision-making!
All babies are amazing miracles. You, Angel Baby, were a double miracle. You were the happy ending of our story. You are the happy beginning of our story, too. We have marveled over the amazing gifts that we have already witnessed in you. We know there are a lifetime full of those gifts to discover. We look forward to every one of them.

From the very beginning you were smiling when tiny babies shouldn't be. Not just those gassy smiles that are just as cute, but big gummy smiles that stretch your whole face into an explosion of joy. Sometimes I wonder if we should have name you Joy. You graced so many people with those gigantic, surprising, abundant smiles. What a gift.

We knew early on, that you wouldn't just be ours - many, many people would claim you as their joy, too. And as much as we love you, we are so thrilled to have the opportunity to share you with our family, our friends, our church, our neighbors, our community and people that we've never met who have prayed for you.

Mommy & Daddy's hearts are SO full of love that sometimes we feel they are about to burst. We pray that you, also, will be filled with that kind of heart-bursting love. Actually, you already are because God has already poured all of His love into you. You were even created in His own image. Isn't that amazing?

We feel so blessed that we have been chosen as your parents.. We feel honored to wake up to your sweet face every morning. We are grateful to watch you grow, and learn and come into your own. We look forward to every single day that the Lord gives us together and we bask in the joy that you bring to our hearts.

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl. We pray all of your days of filled with all of the wonder and love you have brought to us. You are special and unique in all the world. Always know that we love you with every fiber of our being.

Big Big Love & Birthday Blessings,
Mommy & Daddy
P.S. We lift up your birthmother in a special way this day. We are sure that her heart is full of love for you and thoughts about you ~ especially today.
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