one month together.forever.

One month ago today, Kate AnNing was given to us.  It always amazes me that one moment you don’t have a child, and then the next minute she is yours forever.  I guess it probably feels the same when you give birth to a baby, but it’s just so strange to be handed this child that you don’t know and suddenly go, “O.k. — you’re ours.”  Strange, but wonderful.

To say that we love Kate would be an understatement.  Sophia said it best a couple of weeks ago.  We were walking through the grocery store and Kate did something really sweet — I can’t even remember what it was.  But, Sophia looked at me and so sincerely said, “Mom, I love her so much.”  I said, “I know you do, Soph.”  Then she said, “No.  I mean, you know how much she loves me?  I love her so much more than that, and she doesn’t even know it.”  Wow!  She so gets it.  How blessed I feel that Sophia was able to participate in every moment of this adoption.  She understands the wait.  She understands the hurt that Kate feels.  Most of all though, she understands the unconditional love we feel.

It’s so hard to get a good picture of Kate right now because she just won’t cooperate.  I tried to snap a few pictures today. I didn’t think I got any good ones because she was too worried about Lucy at the end of the front porch.  But after looking over them, they really turned out kind of funny.  It’s the many faces of Kate!🙂

The “I’m trying not to smile” face…

This is the “you can’t make me do this” face.

Keeping an eye on Lucy.  We wouldn’t want her to get too close!In Kate’s opinion, Lucy is a lot of fun when she’s playing with Sophie and Ella.  Not so much fun when she gets near her.

This is what I got when I asked her to smile.  So silly!

Starting to get upset…Lucy is inching closer.

Ella’s attempt to keep Lucy away from Kate…

An update on Miss Kate coming in the next few days!

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch {Ella}

We made a very hard decision over the summer not to take Ella with us to China.  I really wanted her to go, but we had two things standing in the way:  1)  She doesn’t enjoy even a 1 1/2 hour car ride, so we couldn’t imagine a trip that takes about 24 hours (door to door) and 2)  Ella is a momma’s girl, and we weren’t sure how she would handle someone else getting my attention.  As hard as it was to leave her, I know that we made the right decision.

Ella spent weekdays with Matt and Kelli who not only kept her in her school routine, but treated her to time at their farm and have two girls who kept her entertained (Thanks, Lili & Maia!).  She spent long weekends with my family in Richmond where she either stayed with Nana/Pop or Beth/Jed and enjoyed time with “the boys” (Wes, Wyatt, Walker, Caleb, and Parker).  She enjoyed a trip to the Newport Aquariam with Caleb and ran in a Popsicle Race with Lili and Maia.  She told us that she ran in a marathon.  1Ks seem that way to little legs!

I left a small gift for her to open each day, and we Skyped each day also.  I think that those things helped her as well.

Here are some pictures of what she did while we were gone.  If you click on a picture, it will take you to the slide show where photos are larger.

Matt/Kelli/Lili/Maia, Nana/Pop, Beth/Jed/Caleb/Parker:  We love you all!  Thank you for giving Ella a fun and memorable two weeks!

Two week update

Yesterday marked two weeks with Kate.  Here is an update:

Adjustment to our home/family:

She’s doing great!  She loves Sophia and Ella and is playing well with them.  She is beginning to want us to hold her where before, she really didn’t.  Over the past couple of days, she has started calling Tim “Daddy” and me “Momma”.  We had tried hard to go with “Mommy” simply because it’s different from the word she called her foster mom, but she seems fine with this.  She understands some of our routines already.  For example, when I start setting the table, she is climbing into her booster.


She has really turned on even more since we’ve been home.  She loves to make us laugh.  I think once she’s settled in more, she is going to be a very happy little girl.  We are already getting lots of smiles and giggles.


Many of you have asked how we are communicating with her.  This is at times easy, and at other times very difficult.  More or less we use a lot of sign language and gesturing as we emphasize key words.  This worked for me as a classroom teacher with ESL students, and it’s working great with her.  Sometimes I feel like we are playing charades, but it’s working!

Tim and I know a handful of Mandarin words, so we’ve also used these basics we know (water, milk, juice, bathroom, I love you, etc.) to get us through the first two weeks.  We learned a little of this through Chinese lessons a few years ago, but most have come through Sophie’s “Jade Goes to Chinese Kindergarten” DVDs.  :)  Sunday night, Soph said, “I don’t know how she understands what we are saying, but she does!”  It’s simply the result of a three year old brain (think sponge) and the fact that she’s hearing English 100% of the day.  It’s not like she’s taking a one hour class each day.  I agree though, it’s amazing where she is at this point with language.  Some words/phrases she recognizes include:  Daddy, Mommy, Ella, Sophia, dog, Lucy, shoes, bye bye, let’s go, potty, drink, eat, hungry.

On a side note, Kate is tearing our house apart.  I know, I know, I said she’s organized.  Here’s the problem:  Everything here is new to her.  She doesn’t know what things are, where they go, what our expectations are, etc.  She just gets stuff out and moves it from one room to another.  It doesn’t help that we are unorganized right now — laundry is piled up everywhere, China souvenirs are everywhere, and basic household chores aren’t getting done because I’m too sleepy to do them.  If I could get myself organized, she would probably pick up on our routines.

The latest — She apparently removed my wallet from my purse last night or this morning.  I have no clue where it is.  Normally, I’d say to a three year old, “What did you do with my wallet?”  Can’t do that in this situation.  Guess I’ll just keep looking.

Kate is doing so much better than I dreamed possible.  That first 24 hours were so stressful and upsetting not only for her, but the three of us as well.  I’m so proud of her.  She’s so brave for going with the flow with a group of strangers.  I can only imagine how much better things will be two weeks from now!



Pictures and Jet Lag

I got pictures added to each post last night!  It took awhile, but it’s up to date.  Enjoy!  Sophia will work on hers as soon as rejoins the land of the living.

Yes, jet lag has hit us hard.  We did well on Saturday, but hit the wall about noon on Sunday.  Tim fell asleep at 11:30 a.m.  I kept my eyes open until 12:30 p.m. and then napped with Kate.  When I woke at 5:30 (oops!), I couldn’t figure out why Tim hadn’t woken me.  Because he was still asleep!!!  In the meantime, Ella and Sophia had fallen asleep as well.  Of course, I was not at all tired enough to go to bed last night.  I finally fell asleep at 3:30 a.m. only for Kate to wake me for the day at 3:50 a.m.  Twenty minutes of sleep — oh my!

Today, Kate, Ella, and I laid down for a nap at 1:00 while Tim was at work and Sophia was at school.  At 8:00 p.m., we were finally able to get Kate to wake up.  Sophia crashed for the night at 5:30.

I think I could get back on schedule fairly easily, but I’m forcing myself to be awake when Kate is awake, and she generally sleeps only until about 4 a.m.  UGH!  This needs to improve soon!

Home Sweet Home

Goodbye, China!

Kate enjoyed her remote a little too much. After accidentally calling for a flight attendent once, I had to catch it and turn the call button off multiple times.

Twenty six and a half hours after checking out of our hotel room, we arrived home. We ended up later than expected for a variety of reasons. We sat on the tarmac in Hong Kong for an hour prior to leaving, had to wait forever for our luggage in Chicago, got delayed in customs in Chicago causing us to miss our flight to Lexington, and sat on the tarmac for another 53 minutes after boarding our second flight. Our 6:15 arrival ended up being 9:50 with an arrival time at home of midnight. But you know what? None of that mattered when we saw the group of family/friends at the airport. It was good to see everyone, to be back in the US, and especially to introduce Ella to her new sister. Thank you to everyone who came to the airport and waited it out for us! We love you all!

Our girls together at last!🙂

Our ride home was really sweet. Sophia and Ella entertained Kate and had her saying everyone’s names before we got home. Beth left us snacks and a cooler of drinks in the car, so we ate and talked and laughed. The three girls made plans to all sleep together in Sophia’s bed their first night, but after I turned the lights out, Ella had a meltdown. She had missed Mom and Dad and just wanted to sleep with us and cuddle. So, that’s exactly what she did. Lights went out at 12:30 a.m. and were back on by 4:30 a.m. because Sophia and Kate couldn’t sleep. In an attempt to stay awake and get on a regular schedule, Sophia played three soccer games on Saturday. Tim said she looked jet lagged on the field, but hey — she was awake!!!

We all went to bed about 9:30 Saturday night and managed to stay in bed until shortly before 5 a.m. Better! Kate was the first up again.

Our girls are doing great together, and Kate is adjusting very well. She still has grieving episodes a few times during the day, but those usually occur when things get quiet and she has time to think or when she’s going to sleep. The rest of the time, she’s running around here playing and laughing with Sophia and Ella.

She seems to love our house and having so much space. I’m sure she lived in a small home in China, and she’s only known our hotel rooms for the past two weeks. She ran around the house giggling when we got here Friday night. We didn’t show her the play room until Saturday morning for fear we’d never get her in bed Friday night.

She is scared of our dog, Lucy. Her foster mom sent some notes to us, one of which was to let us know that she’s scared of dogs and cats. She has watched Lucy through our back door, but won’t get close to the door. She tells us when she sees Lucy, but has no desire to get close to her. When Tim was bringing in groceries this morning, Lucy came in while the door was open. Kate went nuts — screaming, crying, and running. Lucy was not even near her. Yes, it does seem that she’s scared of dogs!

On another funny note, while Tim and Sophia were at the grocery this morning, I was doing laundry. I hadn’t seen or heard from Kate for a few minutes, so I sent Ella looking for her. About that same time, my home phone rang. It was my mom saying that Kate had just called her from my cell phone. She spoke to Nana in Chinese. Oh my! This girl is going to keep us on our toes!

Our house is crazy loud at the moment. Really, that’s how it’s been for the past 36 hours. It sounds more like we have eight kids instead of three. I guess it’s just the excitement in the air. It’s good to be home!

Sneak Peak – Pictures of Kate

I am dying to share pictures, but WordPress and I are fighting tonight. I don’t know why my pictures aren’t uploading like they normally do. Because I really need to be in bed instead of doing this, I’ve just added two. One is on the “Gotcha Day” post from Aug. 27. It’s literally minutes after meeting Kate. The second I put on “The Difference a Day Makes” post on Aug. 28. I just wanted to show you what she looks like when she’s not a crying mess. That’s one of the only smiles we got that day, and it was because she was playing with Bella June. I’ll add the rest when I get home. 🙂

We’re Done!

We had a great last day in Guangzhou. We finished buying Kate’s China gifts. I put one back for each year until she is 18. Not that they are huge gifts, but it does take a lot of time and planning. I will give her a gift from China on each birthday, wrapped in red. I also bought her enough Chinese dresses to make it to age 8. Other than that, we did some souvenir shopping. This can be tricky with weight limits on luggage. I think I made it work though!

More brides on Shamian Island

More photo shoots on Shamian Island

Sophia bought a hair pin. This store owner offered to do her hair, so they pulled up a stool and did it right in the middle of the store. Soph loved it!

The finished product

Then they asked Kate if she wanted her hair done. She was in heaven! Eating ice cream and having her hair done at the same time! Does it get any better?

All done!

The girls and Tim spent some time swimming while I packed. Kate’s visa and consulate approval arrived at the hotel at 4:30, so we headed out.

Saying goodbye to room 618. We will miss you, China!

So sad to say goodbye to Grace and Kathy. They took great care of us in Guangzhou!

Remember how I was happy that we were taking a van rather than the train? Well, the van was pretty miserable too. Our driver was downright erratic, and the traffic was terrible. I don’t even know how to describe how bad it was. He swerved in and out of traffic the whole way, slammed on the brakes, let on and off the gas so that we were constantly slowing down/speeding up, played music from the early 80s and sang along,…you get my drift. Sophia and I were both feeling car sick, and of course you know how badly Kate does in a moving vehicle. Let’s just say that I was so thankful when we made it to the hotel without anyone throwing up. At one point, I thought to myself, “Maybe we could offer for Tim to drive and this guy just join us for the ride.” A matter of minutes later, Tim whispered, “I wish I could have rented a car.” Seriously…it was miserable. Sophia announced to us that it was the worst three hours of the trip. It kind of made the 15 ½ hour flight from Hong Kong to Chicago not seem so bad though.

As we were nearing the hotel tonight, Sophia said, “I want to go home.” I’ve asked her several times over the past two weeks if she wanted to go home, and she said no each time. But, here we are – she’s done. I said, “What if I told you that we could climb The Great Wall tomorrow or go home. Which would you choose?” She said, “Go home.” I said, “What if I told you that we could go to Hong Kong Disneyland tomorrow or go home. Which would you choose?” Again, she said, “Go home.” I said, “I’m with you, sister!”

We’re done. We miss Ella terribly. We want you all to meet our daughter. It’s time to be home. Thank you for following our journey. This is not the end of my posting as I have a TON of pictures to share. You’d like to see if this kid we’ve talked about for the past week and a half is real, right?! As soon as I can wake myself Saturday, I’ll start putting pictures up.

Next stop:
Lexington, KY – 6:15 Friday night. Woo Hoo!