Saturday, January 30, 2010

One Sweet Moment

Britton and Lia Kate in one of their sweeter moments.

Friday, January 29, 2010


This is another picture I've been meaning to post. When we got back to our hotel room after getting Lia Kate on Gotcha Day, we found this special Barbie doll waiting for us! It is a tradition at the White Swan Hotel to give this special edition "Going Home Barbie" to all adopting families who stay there. Mattel makes this Barbie just for White Swan families. Can't wait to give it to Lia Kate some day!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lia Kate's Gotcha Day Clothes

I have been meaning to post this picture for awhile. Remember when I said that they tend to overdress children in China? This is what Lia Kate was wearing when we got her. ALL of this on her little tiny body. This is how it went -- she was wearing the orange shirt underneath everything, then the red sweater, then the thick shearling-lined vest, then the super thick pants and coat, socks, and shoes. Great choice for Vail, not so great for Miami (it was about 70 degrees the day we got her). When I started undressing her it was like opening a present, wrapped in a present, wrapped in a present ... the sweet girl was burning up. No more crazy layers for you, sister!

More Bath Fun

Two in a tub is a lot more fun!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sleeping Beauty

Lia Kate is tolerating her car seat much better these days. She hated being in the car seat at first ... it was such a new thing to her and she did not like being out of my arms. But after a few car rides of non-stop screaming, she finally calmed down and is even, dare I say, liking car rides these days. She usually falls asleep by the time we get home, too.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Follow These Blogs

Two families -- friends of ours -- are in China and will be meeting their new children soon!

This family goes to our church and have been in the process to adopt their son, Fisher, for nearly two years. They will finally get him on Tuesday. Fisher is from the same orphanage in Inner Mongolia that Hamilton (adopted by a family in our church several months ago) was from. Fisher shares a birthday with Britton, too!

This family is with the same (awesome) agency we used and will be meeting their daughter in just a few hours! Their daughter, Caelyn, is from the same orphanage as the daughter of our friends -- Laurie and Brandon -- that we met in China. Did you get all that?! Laurie and Brandon's daughter, Avery (in China we called her YaYa), is the same age and was roommates with Caelyn in their orphanage. Soon they will both be Americans and will only live a few states away. What a small world?

So excited for both of these families soon to be welcoming precious children into their arms!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Gotcha Day ... a Month Ago Today

December 21:

January 21:

I look back at pictures taken on Gotcha Day and hardly recognize the little girl in my arms. She is a happy little girl now with such life in her eyes. So thankful for this precious child and for all the changes she has made in just one short month! Her sweet and happy disposition (like giving her brother kisses in the bathtub last night) make me look forward to all of the joys we will share with her in the coming years. We feel so blessed.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Four Week Progress Report

So, they put Lia Kate in our arms just four weeks ago yesterday. I cannot believe it's only been four weeks. To be honest, it feels like much longer than that. I guess the early days of crying/sleepless nights/sickness have a way of doing that. We are in a much better place now and I thought I'd write a post on all the things she is doing these days ...

* She is an excellent mimic-er. She can mimic to a tee about any face you do. She also loves to try to get people to mimic her. Her favorite thing to do is to nod her head forward. She also clicks her tongue or smacks her lips trying to get people to do the same.

* She can repeat all kinds of sounds (ooh, oh, ah, eee, ay, ba, ta, da, ma, hey ...)

* She already has English words! I wasn't expecting this for a couple of months given her young age and institutionalization. But she calls me "mama" now and she says "uh oh" all the time. I took her to church for the first time on Sunday and we stood at the very back. I was feeding her crackers to keep her quiet when she dropped one and said "uh oh, uh oh, uh oh." So cute. She is also working on "dada" and "doggie" and "hey." She can say the latter three but she isn't yet using them purposefully.. She also babbles all the time. For all I know, she could be speaking in Cantonese!

* She waves bye bye.

* When I say hello she puts her hand up to her ear as if answering a phone.

* She gives high fives.

* She is beginning to understand what I say as evidenced by her following directions.

* She loves bathtime. This was quite a surprise as she hated baths for the first three weeks we had her. Now she loves them. I'll take that.

* She plays peek-a-boo. She started doing this in China and it's so cute.

* She smiles up at me so sweetly ... especially when I give her a bottle.

* She has started giving me kisses. I say "kiss" and she leans forward and kisses my lips. Tonight she kissed me and said "mama."

* She loves to sit in my lap and play with my hair.

* Much to our surprise, she is a great little walker. The orphanage told us she could walk, but she only took a few steps here and there in China. When we got home, she instantly began walking room to room. So, yeah, they were right.

* She has actually become a great little sleeper. Granted she is sleeping in our bed, but she is sleeping through the night -- usually a good 12 hours -- and sleeping in most mornings until at least 8:30. We are definitely seeing the payoff of having her sleep in our bed ... she is becoming much more secure and happy and she goes down SO much easier than she did at the beginning, and she isn't waking up all through the night now either. We will work to get her in a crib down the road, but for now we're all glad to be getting lots of sleep!

She is doing great and we are settling into a good, little routine. Every day is a bit different and challenging, but, to be honest, most of those challenges come from a certain little two-year-old boy! Hope you enjoy the videos.

Monday, January 18, 2010

So Much Fun

You can see how much fun life with two is around here!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bathtime 'Round Here

Lia Kate went from totally hating baths to totally loving them. Just like that. And she loves water being dumped over her head. It is so fun to have a child who enjoys baths. Britton is very hot and cold with them ... no pun intended. Anyway, here is a peek into bathtime with our two tots. (Just a disclaimer on Britton's hair ... he had just woken up from a long nap and had some serious bedhead!)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lia Kate's Heart

Lia Kate's first cardiology appointment was today. You may remember that we adopted her has a special needs child because of her heart defect. Her heart condition is called a VSD (ventricular septal defect) which means she has a small hole between the ventricles of her heart. Sounds scary, but VSDs are quite common and either heal on their own or require surgery. We were glad to get in so quickly with the Children's Cardiology group and I am glad to report that we had a great visit. She had an EKG and Echo today, though she did not quite cooperate for either, and the doctor told us he believed her VSD was of "no consequence." Because she fought and moved so much during the Echo he couldn't see her VSD well enough to measure it. But he saw enough to tell us that it is small and is in a location that shouldn't cause any problems. He said this kind of VSD is more common among the Asian population. He expects that she will never need surgery for it, that it will continue healing on its own. He also confirmed that all other structures of her heart look perfect.

Because he couldn't see her VSD as clearly as he would have liked and because he didn't have Lia Kate's previous Echo report from China, we decided that we would see him again in March and we would try the Echo again when, hopefully, Lia Kate is more settled and secure and won't fight so darn much. If the next test confirms what he saw today, then we will just see him once a year to monitor the VSD size.

We are thankful for this good report!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Life (so far) With Our Girl

Finally, both kids are down for naps at the same time ... I don't know how long this will last so I am jumping at the chance to update the blog! It is very hard to update this regularly when I am either exhausted or am holding baby girl in my arms.

We have had quite an adjustment these last three weeks (yes, we've only had Lia Kate for 3 weeks now!), but things seem to be going very well. I say this on the heels of a very rough night, though. Despite the bad night, today has been fabulous. And this is the first time, in fact, I've been able to get Lia Kate asleep at the same time Britton is napping. Things are looking up and up and we are making progress every day.

Our biggest struggle has been sleeping. Lia Kate is a good sleeper, once she gets there, that is. However, she really fights going to sleep. We knew that sleep problems were very common among former Chinese orphans, so we were at least prepared (kind of). It is understandable that she would feel most insecure at night as nighttime at the orphanage was probably very destabilizing with different caretakers coming and going. As long as she is in my arms, she feels comfortable falling asleep, but we have not been able to get her to sleep in her crib. It doesn't matter how asleep she is, she will wake up as soon as I lay her down in the crib. So, we have decided that, for now, it is best for her if she sleeps in our bed with us. We are her security, and at a time in her life when she is extremely insecure, it is the least we can do.

So in our bed she is ... and we are getting better and better at sleeping with her ... it has not been easy, but I have been sleeping better and better each night (Danny usually makes his way to the guest bed sometime in the middle of the night). Once Lia Kate is asleep, she will usually sleep 10 to 12 hours, so we are grateful for that. It has been a learning process for me to figure out how to get her and Britton down at the same time. Today has been our first successful day at getting simultaneous naptimes. Of course, as I sat down in the den to start this post, Lia Kate started coughing, which woke her up and then she started crying, and then her crying woke Britton up. So, now I am back in our bedroom, lying down with Lia Kate, who is asleep again. But, I can hear Britton talking to himself through the monitor. Ahh well ... this is our life!

We have gotten some excellent advice from the counselors at the International Adoption Clinic and they have given us advice on how to help Lia Kate feel secure enough to one day move into her own room. Hoping to have Lia Kate sleeping in her crib in her own room six months from now, but we'll see.

We had our first appointment at the International Adoption Clinic on Monday and it went well. We met with the counselors for about an hour and they told us it looked like the attachment process was going well. Lia Kate has definitely attached to me, and even though it is not a true attachment yet, she is learning that we are safe and that, most importantly, we aren't going anywhere. All her life, she has dealt with change and abandonment ... even if most of that "abandonment" was simply a staff of nannies that changed and/or was inconsistent. It will take a long, long time of "always being there" for Lia Kate for her to know we truly aren't going anywhere. This is another reason we believe that co-sleeping with her is important. It is not what we wanted to do, but something we realize is important to do now so that we don't deal with significant attachment issues down the road.

We also saw the pediatrician at the Int'l Adoption Clinic and she told us that Lia Kate looked good except for the fact that she was malnourished. I knew she was small but she looks healthy to me so I wasn't expecting to hear "malnourished." She is only 17 pounds, 4 oz. at 17 months and is no where near being on the U.S. growth charts! She falls in the 5th percentile for height and head circumference, so her weight definitely needs to catch up at least to there. She is the size of an average 9-month-old in the U.S. I am working on feeding her lots of high fat/good fat foods. Lia Kate would eat anything in China, but has already started to get a little picky here. I am feeding her often and doing three bottles of whole milk a day. Hoping we see some significant weight gain when we go back to the Int'l Adoption Clinic in a month. Here's a pic showing how tiny she is (the top she is wearing is a 6-12 month) ...

Lia Kate also had a lot of blood drawn so that they can run tests and determine what immunizations she has received and what she needs from this point further. She also had an abdominal ultrasound. All children coming from China have one to check for kidney damage from the melamine that was found in some Chinese formulas back in 2008. Lia Kate was just born when word of the melamine scandal hit the news, so chances were she was not affected, but the Adoption Clinic checked to make sure and was in the all clear.

They also set up two specialists for us to go see. One is for the cardiologist and we have that appointment tomorrow. She will have an Echo and and an EKG in the morning, so we will finally know what is going on with her heart. All we know at this point is that all the docs who have listened to her heart via stethoscope can hear the murmur, but it is hard to tell anything about it from listening. Hopefully tomorrow we will know what is going on and have a plan for here on out.

We also are being referred to a surgeon ... appointment in February ... for them to look/remove a skin growth on Lia Kate's neck. (Yes, we've known about it since we first got her file.) By all accounts it is just skin (examinations and ultrasound), but since it is on her neck, we have to have an MRI of it before they remove it. To have an MRI, she has to be cleared by cardiology so that they can sedate her for it. Yes, a lot of hoops to jump through for her to have a minor surgery, but after all this, she will have an outpatient surgery and that will be the end of it.

Anyway, I talked earlier about what a great day we had ... we got up this morning, got Britton to Mother's Day Out and met up with some friends of ours who leave soon for China to adopt their son! (This will be the third Chinese orphan brought home by people in our church in just the last few months.) After that, my friend Sarah Beth joined us for lunch. Lia Kate does so well when we're out and about ... to be honest, we were sitting in the same place for about 3 1/2 hours and she is so happy to just sit in my lap. Then, we went and picked Britton up and introduced Lia Kate to a lot of our friends up there. It was fun and a nice change of pace to us mostly staying at home all day.

I will write more after Lia Kate's cardiology appointment tomorrow. Hoping and praying for good news. As I close out this post, both children are sound asleep. It is definitely sleep, glorious sleep for this mama!

Monday, January 11, 2010

What Are Big Brothers For?

He eyes the bow.

She reaches up and yanks it out -- her specialty.

Her sweet big brother picks it up and ...

... very carefully puts it back in her hair. ;o) After all, what are big brothers for?

Our sweet girl ...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Friday, January 8, 2010

Since We've Been Home

Well, mostly we've been surviving since we've been home. It is a rare moment that Lia Kate does not want to be in my arms and this makes it kind of tricky to post daily to the blog, so please pardon my lack of regular posting. We've been home for a full week now and here are a few things we've been up to.

There has been ...

Lots of learning what it means to have a sister.

Lots of holding and rocking.

Lots of smiles.

Lots of silliness.

Lots of learning how to use a sippy cup.

Lots of playing.

Lots of learning to share toys.

Lots of chaos.

Lots of learning how old we are. (Lia Kate learned this when we were teaching Britton how to hold up two fingers.)

Lots of book-reading.

And lots and lots of totally adorable moments.

More to come...

Happy 2nd Birthday Big Brother!

Two years ago this morning, our little boy Britton was born. We are reminded every day what a miracle he is. But especially on his birthday, we remember all that we have been through and we give thanks and praise for our little boy. You are such a blessing, Britton. I love hearing you say "two" and then hold up one finger!





Happy Birthday Big Brother!

Let me give you a lift!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Full of Personality

Lia Kate's cute little personality is coming out more and more these days. It is so fun to see her becoming a happy little person ...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Our Belated Christmas Morning

Since we missed Christmas with Britton, we celebrated with "Christmas morning" on January 2, the first morning we were back. We woke up, had a good breakfast and opened gifts with Britton and Lia Kate. They were both loving it. Lia Kate loved playing with the wrapping paper and Britton loved opening gifts. It has been a year since last Christmas and his last birthday so I haven't seen him really enjoy opening gifts until now. It was a fun morning and Britton and Lia Kate got a lot of great gifts thanks to grandparents, aunts/uncles, and great grandparents, as the parents have had little time to shop!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Our Happy New Year Homecoming

We had the best New Year's Day surprise when we were able to catch our flight home a day early! We arrived in Birmingham on January 1st at 9:30 a.m. after 24 hours of flying. Lia Kate did *phenomenally* well the whole way home. We expected the worst and were shocked when she handled all the flying like a champ. She slept through about 3/4 of our international flight from Hong Kong to L.A., and during her awake time was happy to sit in my lap and play. She then slept for the entire time on our red eye from L.A. to Atlanta. Danny and I only slept a few hours on the long flight, so we were purely running on adrenaline when we got home. We landed in Birmingham to find a group of friends awaiting our arrival. At the front of the pack was our boy Britton. Such a sweet sight! It was a fun reunion with family and friends. We are so glad to be home!!!

Once we were home ...

A couple of videos...