Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Conversation

On the way to day care this AM:
Me:  "It's mocha day, Anna Kathryn! We're going to meet Maggie and Allison after I pick you up from school."  
(Mocha Day, FYI, is our once-a-week outing to enjoy some girl talk and shopping at out local Star*bucks & Tar*get.  We started weekly mochas when Allison was home with Maggie on maternity leave, as a way to help her avoid cabin fever,  and this is Year 4 of the tradition.)
AK:  "All-ah?  (Asking if Allison would be at mochas.) Hoo-ray!"
Me:  "That's right."
AK: "Hooray!  Mah-mah?"  (Maggie)
Me:  "That's right."
AK:   "Hoo-ray!  Mommy?
Me:  "That's right."
AK:  Sucks Bobo.  No hooray whatsoever.  

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Last year at about this time we were sitting on the tarmac on Washington, D.C. on the last leg of our trip home from China, praying we would be home soon (we later found out our flight delay was due to the demo seat belt-- you know, the one they use during the safety info?  Was missing and had to be replaced.)  

Anna Kathryn had just become an American citizen upon crossing through customs, but I'm afraid the moment was kinda lost on all of us.  I was desperate for a real American Starbucks mocha, Mark was desperate to get us all on the last plane since time was tight, and AK was desperate for a chance to wiggle and not be confined to a plane seat or lap.  

After 30+ hours of travel, at the end of a two-week "trip of a lifetime" and having survived the transatlantic flight with a very mixed-up 11 month old baby-- we were so ready to be HOME.

We arrived at our home airport to a Welcome Home party like no other!

I'd joyfully welcomed Maggie home 2 years earlier, and of course had read plenty of blogs with accounts of other families' homecomings--- but ours was wonderful.   Family and friends galore. Especially considering our flight was late and it was midnight before we landed... that's when you KNOW that you are greatly loved, when folks will spend their whole Saturday night hanging out at the airport for you.  

Here's a bunch of homecoming photos I didn't post on my travel blog because I was too jet lagged to bother last year.  Thanks for tripping down memory lane with me and the Snickerdoodle.  

And then it was time to go home... to begin the next part, together.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I wish I could quit you, grad school

I just spent waaaaay too many hours of my weekend and have stayed up much too late tonight finishing a totally mediocre paper for the MLS degree I hope to get before I am 87 years old.  

Ugh. I loathe homework.  That's one reason I became a school library media coordinator, which is why I am slogging through graduate school.  Which is called irony, I believe.  

On the other hand, BIG congratulations to my husband who just received his diploma for his Master's degree the other day!  (He refused to go to graduation so they finally just mailed it to him.  No matter, it's the real deal and he earned every bit of it.)

I'm so jealous!  And proud!!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Toddler Parenting FAIL (and the rest of Forever Family Day anniversary)

So this weekend it finally hit me that Anna Kathryn is into EVERYTHING and cannot be left alone for even one minute or else disaster will befall us.

Little Miss Curiosity, lunging for the camera

Just last week I could leave her playing in the living room (or dumping out a drawer in the bathroom, more likely) while I dashed into the laundry room to move a load of towels, or into the kitchen to check on dinner, or something like that.  We've child proofed the house so we're good, right?  And it's an open floor plan of only 1600 sq. feet so it's not like she's far away from me at any moment.  Generally she follows me around the house as I do things anyway, but lately she's been adding a dash of independence to her big girl skillz. 

Apparently I am also a slow learner in the supervision category of motherhood.

Yesterday, I was doing a load of her clothes, which means everything needs to be blasted with at least 3 different stain removers.  My laundry room is A.) teensy and B.) has horrible lighting, so I usually do this on the dining room table where the lighting is good.  I had a brand-new, BIG jug of color safe bleach out on the table, and stepped away for maybe a minute when Mark called out to me from the bedroom.  

Did I mention one of AK's hobbies these days is climbing up into the dining room chairs, and sometimes the table too?  Oh, and she's suddenly back to putting everything in her mouth again? 

So it should come as no surprise that I walked out of my bedroom to see AK coated in purple C*lorox 2, along with my table and some of the carpet below.  (Yes, we have a carpeted dining area, and yes, I detest it.)  Sigh.  At least the spots are now gone from that part of the carpet. 

And at least she didn't ingest any of it.  I spent the rest of the day with one eye glued to her doings and chasing her around the house.

So today, I'm loading the dishwasher and AK is of course attached to my leg.  I opened the (locked, childproofed) cabinet to get the detergent, poured it into the little cup, and immediately capped the bottle and shoved it back into the cabinet because I don't want her to get into it.  Forgot to close the little cup... and I turned back towards her (this is just seconds, people) to see her take her fingers out of her mouth and make a horrible face.  

Oh, no.  

After I ran around frantically trying to decide if I should try to make her drink something, find the ipecac syrup (which we do not even have), or just head to the ER, I remembered what 911 is for.  They referred me to p*oison control, where the rather jovial worker assured me that she probably had ingested an extremely small amount, told me to give her lots of fluids,  and that this happens more often than you'd think.  We spent the next 30 minutes eating popsicles and drinking water, and I said a lot of prayers of thanksgiving that she seemed to be fine.  An hour later she was running around on the playground, and she ate a ton of dinner tonight. 

I'd heard from other moms that if the house if ever quiet that usually is a sign that something is up with the kids.  Lesson learned! 

Here are a few snaps from the weekend and our Forever Family Day celebration last week:

Chillin' with Elmo

On the move

Little Mama

Opening her Family Day gifts

We looked back at the photo album that we got of some "outtakes" from her referral pictures and the pictures we were sent in her update last Aug.  She got a big kick out of seeing herself as a baby.  

This was the outfit she was wearing when she was brought to us in Nanchang.  It was a bit big on her last year.  She has grown-- and grown up- so much in the past year!  Love that smile!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Happy Forever Family Day!

It's our first anniversary of our Gotcha Day today!  That was such a whirlwind day...

... from waking up in our hotel in Nanchang and nervously waiting in the room all morning for fear of missing that knock on the door that meant that the babies were here.

The first moment I saw Anna Kathryn and our guide Sally said to me, which baby is yours?  Um, the pressure!  They had two Bo babies, and I knew which one was AK immediately, but was still afraid of picking the wrong baby!  Then, the sweetest moment:  the handover...

Mark delighting in his newest, long-awaited daughter.

The first chance to really look at her, hold her, begin to know her instead of just the idea of her.

 Mark and I got some more time to play with Anna Kathryn while we waited at the various government offices to complete the adoption and do her paperwork for her passport.

After a bottle for AK, lunch and a nap, we were whisked off for all the official paperwork.  Anna Kathryn seemed a bit curious about us, but not overly upset at suddenly being placed in the arms of total strangers.  She had traveled for nearly 4 hours and it had been a big day for her already:  her first trip out of the orphanage, new parents and an afternoon of errands, basically. She was most interested in the toys we showed her and her surroundings.  She loves to investigate and examine everything and that day was no exception!

Now I can look back and see that the look in her eyes was very detached.  She did not melt down or shut down as many babies do when introduced to their new families, but understandably was trying to make sense of this huge transition and change from the familiar to the completely unknown.  She came to us with only the clothes she was wearing.  I can't even imagine what was going through her head, although from the first she seemed to recognize that we belonged to her and she to us.    

On that day, we saw the plans we had made, and the plans the Lord had for us, come together in the most beautiful way.  Just as we come before God and are adopted by him to be his child, though we have nothing to give him but our love and trust-- it was the same for us with Anna Kathryn.  She was just herself.  And she was now our child.  While I loved her from the first day she was a hope in my heart, that was nothing compared to that moment she was placed in my arms.  And it's just grown each day of the last year.  

No surprise here-- Mark coaxed the first smile from our stoic little baby!

Unlike most families, our "harmonious period" was just a few hours instead of the usual 24 hours.  This is supposed to give the adoptive family a brief time in which to get to know your child a bit and note if there are any unexpected issues.  However, due to the holiday (we traveled during the Mid-Autumn Festival) we got AK a day later than planned, so the whole process was compressed into a few hours.  She arrived in our hotel room just after 11 am and we were done around 4 PM with all the paperwork. 

 I was so excited and emotions ran so high I remember few details of the afternoon, but we truly had no concerns and answered "yes" confidently when asked by the notary if we found our child to be "satisfactory".  The two things I remember distinctly is the feel of her gums as she chewed on my finger as we careened through the crazy Nanchang traffic in the van, and the elation and relief when Sally told us that the adoption was final and we were officially a family!

We didn't attempt a bath the first night but we did change her out of the sleeper she had worn all day and put her into clean jammies.  Before that we played a bit on the bed.  She seemed to love the freedom of no clothes-- and all the attention!  She was relaxed and reasonably content, and fell asleep in my arms soon after we took this picture. 

What a day!  Scary, exhilarating, hectic, joyful.  If you want to read more about it, my post from our travel journal is here.  

Today we had a fairly regular day.  I had a ridiculously crazy day at work, Mark had to work late, and AK and I met Allison for our weekly mochas and shopping at Target.  I spent several moment throughout the day remembering last Sept. 16 and wiping away a tear here and there. Every day I am so thankful and grateful for the gift and blessing of being Anna Kathryn's mommy.  

We plan to celebrate as a family tomorrow.  Tomorrow morning is our one-year post-placement visit and we took the day off, so we have a family outing and then dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant planned for the afternoon.  We bought gifts for future Gotcha Days in China, but AK is too young for them just yet, so this year she is getting the DVD "Big Bird in China" and the book "Moonbeams, Dumplings, and Dragon Boats.

And here is our Snickerdoodle, one year later:

Happy forever family day to all of our travel buddies today!  What an amazing year of blessings we have had!!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

One Year Ago, Yesterday

China, here we come!

This time last year Mark and I were embarking on the greatest adventure of our married life... our journey to China to adopt Anna Kathryn.  We left our home on September 11 and arrived in Beijing on September 12, weary from travel, somewhat nervous about what lay ahead, but so excited to at last set foot in our daughter's homeland.   We were mindful of the sad anniversary of the attacks on America but not particularly anxious about flying on that date.  After 2 1/2 years of the tedious adoption process, and several additional years of trying to build our family, we didn't care when we left for China as long as it was sooner rather later!  We were SO ready to meet our girl! 

This year I find myself thinking daily of "what-we-were-doing-this-time-last-year" and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I'd LOVE to make the trip again.  During all the years of waiting not only did I anticipate the joy of finally being a mom, and holding Anna Kathryn at last, but I really couldn't wait for The Trip itself.  I love to travel and getting to explore another country is so much fun.  Although the trip certainly had its stresses-- becoming a new mom in a foreign country is not for wimps!-- it was an amazing way to learn about China firsthand. 

 I feel so lucky to have had the chance to experience some of AK's birthplace and heritage, and to gain a greater appreciation of her homeland, during those few short weeks.  We are already praying that we will have the opportunity to return with AK someday so she can experience China for herself.  

I still sometimes have to give AK an extra squeeze, just to reassure myself that she's here with us at last.  The days of tears and barrenness are past.  The uncertainty of  The Wait is now a dim memory.   The past year has truly flown by-- can't think of a better (if hackneyed) way to put it. Being AK's mom is the joy of my life and raising her is a blessing and privilege I do not take for granted.   

September 13, 2008
Touring Beijing and the Great Wall was amazing (there is no other word to use, seriously) , but the best part of the trip was still ahead...

Isaiah 43:5
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you; 
       I will bring your children from the east 
       and gather you from the west.