Tuesday, March 9, 2010

6 months later

Last Sunday we celebrated 6 months of being a family of four! It seems like we have always been a family. Rita's transition has been beyond anything we ever hoped for.

In celebration of our 6 month anniversary I am doing a post. Yes, I've been a total slacker with posting. I've been busy with 2 very active girls!

Obviously I can't post all the amazing things that have happened in 6 months so I am going to talk a bit about Rita's personality.

She is happy, happy, happy! She is sunshine-on-a-stick! She is the most joyous person I have ever met. When she wakes up in the morning she gets so excited about identifying everyone in the family. She points to herself and says "Reeee-aah!" Then she does mommy, daddy and Lucy. And she laughs, laughs, laughs! Then she does it all again.

Rita has been going to daycare 1 or 2 days a week. It took her a while to get used to it, but now she loves it. I think her favorite thing about school is singing songs. She gets VERY excited about singing! She sings "Twinkle Twinkle," "ABCs," "Wheels on the Bus," and "Moon, Moon, Moon." She REALLY likes "Moon, Moon, Moon."

When we pick her up from school she gets crazy excited to see us! I've never seen anyone get so excited about anything! Hugs, kisses, more hugs and kisses! She squeals "mommy!" over and over. Even 6 months later she still gets that excited to see us. It's awesome.

She is becoming quite a talker. And eater! She is a two-fisted eater. She gets ridiculously excited about food, junk food in particular. She is finally starting to try some vegatables as well as a bigger variety of fruits, but she would eat nothing but chips and candy if we let her.

Her first full English sentance was "I want more." That was quickly followed by "Lucy did it." She blames her sister for everything. Her 3rd sentance was "Mommy tooted." I have no idea why.

One of my favorite things is putting her to bed. We have about 30 - 40 minutes of uninterupted Rita-Mommy time. She loves to read "boops." We have fun reading the Sandra Boynton books. Then she likes to play "Patty Cake" and "Peekaboo." Then we sing songs. Lots and lots of songs. When we finally get to singing "Billy Boy" she lays her head on my shoulder and starts to go to sleep.

When we first got home from China I could put her in her crib and walk away. She would put herself to sleep without any books or games or singing. I guess I "untaught" her to put herself to bed but it is totally worth it. We have the best time at night-night.

Lucy and Rita are awesome sisters. They play and they fight. Rita is very physical and defintely has the upper hand. We are teaching Lucy how to dodge a direct hit. Lucy loves to dance, and it is very funny to watch Rita try to mimic her every move.

Rita also mimics everything she hears. She loves to "God bless us"after we sneeze. She's very quick with a "please" and "thank you." and "you're welcome." We haven't intentionally taught her any of this - she just repeats whatever she hears. With gusto.

Its been an amazin 6 months. It truly feels like she has been in our family forever. She is the perfect addition. I really, really want to post more pictures but can't get the blog to do what i want it to do. *sigh*

Thanks for reading. Maybe I'll post again in another 6 months.

Monday, October 12, 2009


When we were going through the final processes, especially the fundraising, I continued to have a certain song in my head. It was running through my brain almost constantly. One week I mentioned it to my friend Anna. She told me that she often had that same song in her head when they were heading to Vietnam to bring home Jasmine. So... I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised when we went back to our church for the first time since China and this was the song they were singing when we walked in.

What kind of God would do this for me?
Victory. Grace. and Mercy!
He is so special. Simply Incredible.
He IS incredible.
An incredible God deserves incredible praise.

He IS so incredible. He does miracles every day and so often they go unnoticed. But He really outdid Himself with this one. I love it when God makes himself and his goodness so obvious that you just cannot deny how He loves us so. Now that we have our huge miracle I am happy to sit back and watch all the tiny little miracles He has in store for my family. Praise Him, praise Him. He IS incredible.

Now, I'm going to post a ton of photos of my miracles. Yes, I am still dressing them alike. Can't help it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Beautiful Girls

I am too tired and sick to write anything clever, but my girls are SO beautiful that I have to post photos!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Rita starts school

Having fun in the kitchen!
Heading out to school.

Matching outfits - Lucy's choice!

Rita has 3 days of "school" under her belt. The first day wasn't so bad. She had visited the school before during Lucy pick-up and drop-offs, so she seemed comfortable. Once she got to her classroom, she got distracted fairly quickly. By the time I finished her paperwork, she was not crying and she was checking things out. I was able to slip out the door.
When I picked her up, Ms. Dani (her teacher) had made a beautiful photo book of her first day. There were photos of her outside, playing on the slide, getting ready for her nap. (She only napped for 15 minutes, but its a start) She was not crying in the photos, but she definitely wasn't smiling either. It is going to take some time.

All the kids in her class look HUGE! They all look so much bigger and older than Rita!

The 2nd and 3rd day were actually tougher than the first. She knew what was going on and she was not happy about the drop off. There have been so few times where she has cried for me. It was really, really hard to walk away while she was reaching out to me. I wanted to take her back and call in sick! Normally I would "console" myself by promising to leave work early to pick her up. But I knew I had a full day and wouldn't be able to get her until 6:30. Both times I picked her up she was pretty upset. The teachers told me that she does well during the day, but that she starts getting upset around 4:30 or 5 when other mommies start picking up kids. Next week we will have to find a way to get her earlier.

Today, Saturday, we finally got some family time at home! Lucy and Rita and I baked muffins. Then Rita went grocery shopping with me. She didn't want to sit in the cart, but eventually she got distracted and stopped crying. She didn't cry again until she saw the Pringles. It wasn't enough for her to eat pringles. It wasn't enough to hold the can. She needed to hold the can and eat directly from it. I think she ate almost half a can. That's approximately 50 pringles. That can't be good!
When we got back, Chris took the girls fishing on the boat. They had a blast! Then Lucy made fruit salad while Chris and I made dinner. We had a really good time at dinner. Rita clearly knows that we are her family and she is a part. She loves it when we are all 4 together. She is less and less Daddy-attached every day. She and Lucy are so funny together. It is so great to see her happy and laughing and running around the house. I think I have photos to post. Then I'm going to bed. Having two kids is exhausting.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Lucy and Hannah - reunited!

My beautiful girls on the beach!

It's been a long journey...

Rita joins other China Girls to celebrate Moon Festival


spending time with Michelle and Steve at O'Hare

Lucy with some dancers at the airport

settling in for a LONG flight

Passing the time with friends at the Hong Kong airport

Rita LOVES to swim

We've been back in Orlando for over a week now, so its probably time for me to do a post! (Although I continue to be shocked, yet grateful, that people take the time to read this blog!)

Should I even talk about the 14 hour plane ride home with 2 children? Actually it wasn't that bad. We totally trashed the back row of the plane (row 61!) but we made it to Chicago safe and sound. I expected that Rita would spend the entire flight on Chris's lap. I was pleasantly surprised about 6 hours in that she decided to have a little Mommy-time. She is always willing to play with me, but rarely wanting to sit on my lap. I cherish every moment she chooses to share with me!

We were very surprised to find Steve and Michelle waiting at the Chicago airport to greet us. They drove 3+ hours up from Indianapolis to give us a grand welcome. Unfortunately, I was a bit distracted when I saw them because I was searching the airport for the PERSON WHO TOOK RITA'S PASSPORT! We had taken the coveted and irreplaceable "brown envelope" through all the checkpoints. We finally got it to its finally resting place and were waiting for our names to be called. Finally we heard our name and approached the desk to get Rita's passport. It was gone. The guy behind the desk says "Huh. Someone must have taken it." WHAT?? I was pretty freaked out. I thought he had lost our entire packet! Panic. Turns out that the only thing taken was Rita's Chinese passport and visa. Eventually we figured out that a) we did not need it to leave the airport and b) it was taken by another family in our group by accident. It has since been mailed back to us. Whew!

The rental car place did not have the car seat we requested so I sat in the backseat with Rita on my lap as we drove to my parents. It was the best ever! (Aside from me being paranoid about getting in an accident or being pulled over.) By the time we got to Mom and Dad's, Rita and I were best friends! It was so great for me to get to carry my new daughter into my parents house. It would have been fine if Chris had carried her, but it was really special for me to do it. She was in a GREAT mood when we got there. She was doling out kisses and hugs and headbutts by the dozen. She was charming, to say the least!

Rita got to meet TONS of relatives over the weekend. We went to Lake Geneva to celebrate my parent's 80th birthdays. Even though we were really tired and jet-lagged, it was a great weekend. We actually managed the jet lag better this time than we did with Lucy's trip. The only "complaint" I have is the baggage management. Yowzers we've got a lot of stuff! I could happily go another year without packing or unpacking another bag! (Unless there is a cruise involved.)

One of the highlights of our trip (for me) was a girl's afternoon out. I got up early to go to Clare's (my "niece") baby shower, I got back around 12:30 and my family was still snoozing! When Rita finally woke up, we didn't let her see Chris. Lucy and I took her on an outing with my sister, niece and mother. She did great! Again, I got lots of lovin'. She is definitely a monogamous girl. If she is with daddy, she does not want anyone else. Turns out, if she happens to be with me (no daddy) she only wants me. She will still flirt and play with others, but she won't let anyone else hold her or push her stroller.

On Monday we got back on a plane and headed to Orlando. We finally made it to our home around 8:30 pm. Imagine my surprise to find a refrigerator filled with Cracker Barrel food (meatload, corn, potatoes...), my counter covered with snacks (including Rita's favorite - pringles!) and wonderful kid surprises like sticker books and bubbles. There was even fresh fruit! What a thoughtful thing to do! This was the work of "row 2 plus a few", a handlful of wonderful and talented women that I met a few years ago singing with Encore. Gretchen was helping us out by bringing in our mail. She masterminded the whole thing.

In addition, the lovely and talented Shannan had set up our table with matching kids plates, bowls, coloring books, crayons and balloons. Does it get any better than that? Actually, it does! In each girl's bedroom was a holloween tote back filled with tons of goodies. Feather boa (what girl doesn't need that?) stuffed pluto, fairy wings, ballet skirt, jump rope... As I am writing this I am realizing that I don't actually know who did this. Shannan, was this you? I was so overwhelmed (and tired) by all of these amazing surprises that I'm not even sure where they all came from! Seriously, don't I have the best friends in the world??

So, we got home Monday evening and I was back to work Tuesday morning. Uhg. The ad sales must go on. It was such a luxury to stay home with Lucy for the first 4 weeks. I'd give my left arm. Unfortunatley, even my left arm isn't going to get me any days off!

Chris has been staying home with Rita while I've been trying to establish a new routine for our new and improved family. All things considered, I'd say we are doing pretty well. Chris is really ready for Rita to start daycare. I am really ready for a free weekend! Last weekend we journied to Ormond Beach for Moon Festival. It was really fun to see all our China friends, but I could have done without another round of packing and unpacking!

Lucy is handling things like a champ. She is having some regression issues, but nothing we didn't expect. She called me at work yesterday around 4:00. She was crying and saying "Mommy, I need you!" Who could possibly resist that? I went home and gave my big girl some extra lovin'. After that, she was fine for the rest of the evening. She and Rita are hilarious together! Monkey see, monkey do! Rita tries to do everything her big sister does. They are dancing, twirling, booty-shaking little monkeys! They had a really good time playing on the beach together last weekend. We had a full 3 hours of Mommy/Lucy/Rita beach time. I have a nasty sunburn on my back, but it was totally worth it!

Did I mention that Rita pee peed on the potty this morning? She is a genius. We threw a big pee pee party.

Tomorrow is Rita's first day at daycare. Wish us luck! I expect she will be fine after her first hour. I expect I will be a mess the entire day.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Rita and Mommy had a good day!

Lots of encouraging moments today!
1. This morning all 4 of us snuggled in bed as we were waking up (around 4:30). Rita gave me extra snuggles and extra kisses. She let me hold her and play with her more than usual. The key part is that she let me hold her without touching Chris.
2. She spent a lot more time with me at breakfast. Chris went off to get his omelet and she wasn’t too concerned. Well, at least not the first couple of times!
3. She sat on my lap for some photos at the White Swan. I have the photos to prove it!
4. She sat on my lap during part of lunch (at Lucy’s CafĂ©!) Actually, she sat on my lap twice without complaining. Although the second time she was eating apple pie and ice cream so I think she would have been okay sitting on Godzilla’s lap. Hey Mama Rita – Li’l Rita likes apple ale mode too! I’m going to post a photo of this and I don’t even care that I’m wearing my glasses and my bra strap is showing.
5. She sat on my lap a little bit in the cab. Not touching daddy.
6. She got upset when daddy scolded her today. She let me pick her up and comfort her. That was the best!!
7. I took her away from daddy to bring her to the restroom to change her diaper. No crying! Only giggling!
8. Later I took a crying Rita away from daddy (who had had enough!) to the bathroom with me. She calmed right down and thoroughly enjoyed wasting about 3 yards of the hotels toilet paper. Giggling!
9. This evening Chris was relaxing on the bed while I was all over the place trying to get this mess packed. She followed me around like a little puppy dog! It was truly adorable. She had no interest in getting on the bed with Chris.
10. When Chris went down to settle up with the hotel, I bathed both the girls, washed their hair, lotioned ‘em up, and got their jammies on. No problem!
This may all seem minor to you, but it is huge to me. I think she is starting to forget that she’s not supposed to like me. I know that tomorrow it could all change, but it was still a good day. I am looking forward to more good days.
Did I mention her hilarious laugh? She opens her mouth really big and breathes in, making this really funny nasal noise. It cracks me up!
I just spent my very last 52 Chinese yuan on the tackiest “Burberry London” t-shirt you have ever seen! I had to unload the money, plus I don’t have a single clean (or even remotely passable) short sleeve shirt. It has rhinestones on it. It is an XL and it is still tight. I’m gonna be one hot mama wearing that beauty tomorrow!
We need to be out of our room at 5:30 tomorrow morning. I expect tomorrow will be one of the longest days of my life. 3 hour bus ride to Hong Kong. All luggage off the bus for customs, then back on. Luggage back off at the airport. 13 hour flight with 2 tired and cranky girls, plus their tired and cranky daddy. Good times!
I’ll try to post from Chicago to let you know if all 4 of us survived the journey! Thank you so much for reading my blog. Now, feed your children and clean your house. Seriously, don’t you have better things to do?
Love and kisses (not the head butt kind) to all of you!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rita has a passport!

This morning at 9:00 am we supposedly had a US Consulate appointment. Because we are working through an agency, we do a bunch of paperwork that allows the agency representative to attend the appointment for us. Then all the parents go to the Consulate the following day to show their faces, take an oath and get the baby's passports/visas.
Turns out, we didn’t actually have an appointment. According to Amy, our guide, AWAA sent a request to the consulate for 9 appointments and they approved 8 of them. Ours was not approved because of some missing paperwork. I am guessing that the missing paperwork was Chris’s fingerprints since there were some complications with those. I did receive an email from our agency that our appointment was approved. I double checked. I’m not sure why they told us that we had approval. Obviously someone wasn’t paying attention. It all worked out okay though. According to Amy, in all the years she has worked for AWAA, this has never happened. However, the US Consulate still allowed her to submit our request for the passport/visa. Amy must have told me 4 times how lucky we were. (Once again, covered in grace.)
There were two other families that had some issues with their paperwork. It was pretty scary because if the paperwork isn’t exactly right you can be turned down for a passport/visa. You are still the legal parent of that child (that happened on Tuesday) you just can’t take them into the US. Amy definitely earned her money today! I am happy to say that the entire group finally got approved. This is NOT something that you take for granted!
Normally we would go the consulate the following day to do the oath, but they had us come this afternoon. It was nice to have the security of getting the passport a day early.
I was freakishly emotional at the Consulate. I cannot remember if I was like that with Lucy or not. I’ll have to go back and read my Lucy blog! I’m guessing that I was. I kept looking around and seeing all these families who have been through so much to bring these children home. Some of these families have been in the process over 5 years. Each has their own story about what they went through and how they came to the decision to adopt. There were old families, young families, families with multiple kids, rich families, poor families, single parent families. And the children were just as varied. Some were older and had been waiting for a family for a long time. Some were tiny little babies (whose parents had been waiting a long time!) There were cleft babies, heart babies, boys, girls and one young lady (about 9 or so) who was in a wheel chair. I wondered what her story was and how she came to her family. I can tell you that her family looked awfully happy to have her! Anyway, I just found the whole thing very emotional. And I couldn’t help but think about the thousands of children who will never have families. Even knowing that, this process is so grueling and so long that I know in my heart we will not do it again. It’s not that we wouldn’t be happy to parent 3 children (Although we’ve got our hands full with the two we’ve got!) we just don’t have what it takes to go through it again. And, we’re old.
Miss Rita is doing very well. She has finally figured out how to give kisses without incorporating a head butt. However, you never know which is coming so you have to be prepared. She also likes to grab my nose to see what noise I will make. Considering the state of my nose these days it can be pretty painful, but I make noises anyway because I love to see her laugh!
She laughs a lot. She is a funny girl! She and Lucy crack each other up. Rita is doing great with me. She easily lets me change her diaper and dress her. She plays with me in the room without any concern as to where Chris is. She lets me pick her up and put her down, sometimes with the occasional hug. She gives me TONS of kisses! But she still won’t let me carry her, or push her stroller or sit on my lap on the bus or during meals. Chris is clearly her main man. I’m not hurt by this (the kisses make up for it) but I am a tiny big concerned. The hardest part is that she won’t let me comfort her when she is upset. It is really tough to see your baby cry and not be able to help her. Even though Lucy was letting me carry her at this point, we didn’t totally bond until we spent 4 weeks at home together while Chris went to work. This time I will go right back to work while Chris gets to spend two days a week with the girls. This certainly isn’t going to advance my case much further! However, there is nothing I can do about this except trust and be patient. Poor Chris is worn out.
Lucy and I did a quick mommy/daughter shopping trip this afternoon so she could pick out souvenirs for Miss Rita and Mr. Cha Cha (her teachers). She needs alone time because she is constantly competing with Rita for our attention. I let her get a pair or squeaky shoes. I had a weak moment. But she was SO EXCITED to get them! She was so proud as she squeak, squeak, squeaked her way around that store. I am pretty sure that everyone else in that store wanted to choke me for letting her wear them, but I’ll never see them again. They live in China! We’ll let her get in a couple good days of squeak, then we’ll remove the squeakers.
Last thing. I have to tell the cutest moment of the day. Rita was napping but it was time to wake her up. Lucy crawled into the crib and gave her a kiss on her cheek. Rita opened her eyes, and then gave a big smile. Then she sat up and immediately lunged at Lucy with a big head-butt kissy. Both girls started giggling.