15 Months!

Today, Kylie is 15 months old!  And guess what she is now able to do???

She's crawling!  I think she could all along, but she's just now feeling comfortable enough with us to prove it!  She doesn't go very fast yet, but she's getting around.  And she loves to walk with us holding her hands.  She is cruising and standing up for several seconds on her own so I know it's not long before she starts walking.  We've have had a couple great nights of her sleeping in her crib and we've all gotten to sleep in our own beds.  We are definitely headed in the right direction!


What I've Learned About Me!

So, I thought at nearly 38 years old (gasp!), I knew myself pretty well, but the whole China trip and being at home for a month has really taught me a lot about myself.  Some good and some not so much.  Some things I already knew about myself but never verbalized or forgot.  But in the vein of being transparent, I thought I'd share what I've learned about myself.

1.  I am fearful.  Not all the time, but I realized with Kylie, I would sit, wound tight as a watch, waiting for her to cry at night or in the car.  So much so, I would feel sick to my stomach.  That fear put me in a bad mood and kept me from leaving to go out with her (for fear she would melt down).  I remembered (after a while) that fear isn't of God and Satan was using that fear to literally paralyze me.  More on how I'm dealing with this later...but it's getting better.

2.  I don't like change.  My boss Sherri is probably shouting a big ol "AMEN" to that one!  My personality is such that I don't like change and I will fight it until I know it is inevitable.  At that point, I will accept it, adapt and sometimes even become an advocate for it.  When I know it's coming, I deal.  But I will tell you...I would just as soon turn and turn the other way.  There were several times during this journey that I had musings about driving until I hit the coast.

3.  I don't do the early years of babyhood as well as I imagined I did (or remembered from when Jenna was born).  I guess it's a little like child birth in that it's so painful while you are in it, but after you are through it, the joy of the child wins out and you forget the pain.

4.  I worry.  A. LOT.  I think this ties in with number 1.  I've always known I was a worrier, but having Kylie has highlighted that I'm a super worrier!  I worry about her and worry about Steve when he's with her.  I worry about her palate surgery coming up in July.  I worry about going back to work.  I worry about finances....I worry...Yuck.  I'm pretty sure the Bible says a little something about worry.  :)

5.  I had gotten lazy.  I used to think I had no time to get everything done.  Now that I REALLY have less time, I find that I can manage to be VERY productive when I know those few free minutes have to be used or else nothing will get done.  I guess going forward, I have no excuse.  Although, I do have all day every day at home now.  In another few weeks, that will be changing.

6.  I am prone to be a complainer.  If you have been here for any length of time, you have already figured this out.  Even if I'm not complaining out loud, I might be in my head.  :)

7.  I really, REALLY miss my time with the Lord when I don't have it.  This is a good thing.  I guess when you have to solely depend on Him every day to get through, you miss that fill-up.  I have been able to attend church service every week since Easter and I love it.  It's what I need for sure.

I'm sure there is way more lessons about myself to be learned but this is what is glaringly obvious.  Not all of them are happy and I'm not proud of some, but it is what it is.  Shedding light on my shortcomings might make it a little easier for me to try and overcome them.  So, if you see me anytime soon, remember I DO know how imperfect I am. 

Me and God...well...we are working on it!


First Family Pictures!

About 2 weeks ago, I saw some wonderful family pictures on a friend's facebook page.  I inquired about the photographer.  Turns out, it was her neighbor who was getting her photography business rolling and she had a GREAT deal.  So I FB'd her and miraculously she had an opening last Friday when Jenna was out of school for teacher in-service. 

I had no idea how Kylie would do since she doesn't really smile on command yet.  Not to mention towards the end of the shoot would be getting close to nap time and I didn't really know how she would do and how long we could push her.

We met just down the street in our little town.  Who knew there were such neat places for photo ops right in our back yard!!!!
Family pic sans Katie
I didn't like any of the ones of me close up, but I wanted to include one of us together.  I love how Steve looks here.

Sisters!  They really do love each other so much!!
Family pic WITH Katie!  There were cows in the field to our right, so it was nothing short of a miracle she looked at the camera at all.

This is by far, my FAVORITE photo of the shoot.  It absolutely captures Jenna's personality.  Oh how I love this girl!

Not to be outdone, here's one (the only one) of Kylie by herself.  Turned out GREAT.
So, if you are local and want more information about our photographer, just click here and tell her I sent ya!


Our Daily Schedule

I'm not sure anyone really cares about our schedule, but I want to remember it, so I'm posting it here....of course, come the end of May, all this will change because I'll be going back to work.

Kylie usually wakes up between 7-8am in the morning.  Depending on who is in her room with her, she plays quietly for 10-30 minutes...whoever is sleeping in her room, the other one gets up at the crack of dawn (like 5:45am) to get Jenna ready for school.  A  lot of times, I do the early shift with Jenna because it's what I'm used to.  So, whoever takes her to school is out the door by 6:20am and back in the drive at 7:30.

Kylie gets a diaper change first thing in the morning.  She used to be soaking wet but now that the big 10 oz night time bottle is gone, she's not as wet anymore.  Some days (again, depending on who is sleeping in her room), she'll go ahead and get her clothes changed too.  We feed her as soon as we get downstairs and we try to get her breakfast going no later than 8am because it helps us keep the rest of the day on schedule.

After breakfast, she'll usually sit happily in her high chair (more progress!) long enough for me to clean up the kitchen...her dishes, load/unload the dishwasher, Lysol down the counter etc.  Then when she gets out of her high chair, we'll turn on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (one of the only shows she'll 1/2 way pay attention to!) and she'll play by herself for maybe 30 minutes-1 hour.  That time is getting longer and longer, which again, progress!

When she's over playing in the exersaucer, it's usually time for another diaper change and we'll change her clothes if we haven't already.  Sometimes I play with her upstairs in her room.  I'm trying to read to her now, although she's not interested.  She plays and I read.  I read out of her Jesus Storybook Bible (or Jenna's old one), a Dr. Seuss book and then another Bible story.  When we are done up there, we'll come downstairs and either hang out outside or eat a snack etc. 

Depending on our schedule, she'll either take a 45 minute to 1 hour nap about 10am (also depending on her rising time) or she'll wait until after lunch and take about a 2 hour nap.  We try to feed her a snack about 10 or 10:30 and then depending on her nap, she might have lunch about 12:30 and then nap until 2 or so.  That is a little fluid right now...but it's usually a quick morning nap and then long afternoon nap or we skip the morning nap and take a really LONG afternoon nap.

I've been holding her for her nap and just catching up on my DVRd shows.  But very soon we hope to transition her to her crib or pack in play for naps.  That would free me up to catch up on my 2 Bible studies that I'm desperate to get caught up on!

She does LOVE the movie Annie (which is totally ironic!) but usually enjoys it more when she's riding in Steve's truck.  It's hilarious to watch her watch it.  And like so many other littles, she sure does love the Hot Dog song from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

She is now eating whatever we have and if it's not appropriate, we have tons of Gerber Graduate snacks and meals.  She LOVES Chik Fil A.  She can eat a 4 nugget kids meal in its entirety.  I have grown to love that place!!  :)

She drinks water, grape juice, and 2% milk.  She does NOT like whole milk.  She likes sweets and those little cookies for toddlers.  She does not seem to like goldfish, so we are going to have to work on that!

Her absolute favorite things is the bath.  She loves splashing, playing and squealing.  I can't wait to get her into the pool this summer.  She is going to be a fish like Jenna.

In general, she only cries if she's tired (sleepy or of what she's doing).  I usually try to keep her entertained in the floor just so she will be happy to give me a few minutes of quiet time.

So that's our day.  Some days are a little different depending on whether one of us has something to do.  Steve does a lot of the playing when I have stuff that has to be done.  Like I recently had to fill out some stuff online so he watched her and kept her occupied.  When it's laundry time, if Steve's not here, I'll just take her upstairs with me and sit her in her crib to play and I'll separate or fold laundry in her room.  I'm just figuring it out as I go!


Here we are!

I know it's just been a few days, but I feel like I haven't blogged in forever.  The days seem to be long, but ironically enough, flying by.  I want to document a little about what's been going on with Kylie...

First, last Saturday night, she refused her night time bottle of formula.  She was supposedly taking several bottles of formula in China and that's what we did in China, but started introducing some table food towards the end of our trip.  Once home, we transitioned to a sippy cup (it took us many tries to get one that would work with her open palate) but we kept the bedtime bottle.  Early last week we went and bought two big cans of formula at Costco.  Luckily it was the Costco brand.  Saturday night, she took about half when normally she sucks down the entire 10 oz!  Sunday she took about 1/4 and it's dwindled from that.  Last night she took about 3 sips and that was it.  So, looks like we have some extra formula on our hands if anyone needs it!  It's just the Costco brand...

I take this as a sign that she's attaching.  She knows we'll be here in the morning to feed her breakfast so she doesn't really want that bottle.  I was afraid she wouldn't sleep without having it, but she did fine.

So, onto that subject of sleep...last Friday Jenna was out of school so Thursday night, we decided to move Kylie to her crib and alternate sleeping on a mattress on the floor.  This is something several professionals (doctor, social workers etc). recommended.  At the time, we just didn't feel like she was ready.  She also would fight sleep like nuts...crying, turning over, whining.  For probably 15 minutes before she'd go out.  And then she'd wake up multiple times in the night crying out and at the least would have to be patted back to sleep but sometimes even picked up and held for a few hours before she could be put down again.

She slept fine in her crib for several nights and then one night had to be picked up for a couple hours one night.  But the last several nights, she slept right through and didn't make a peep.  Well, maybe a peep here and there but we can SHHH her and she goes right back to sleep.  She wakes up and plays quietly in her crib for probably 15-30 minutes (depending on how early she wakes up).  Even though we've eliminated that night time bottle, she now falls asleep with no crying.  :)  I still hold her while she's falling asleep, but baby steps!  We feel these are all VERY good signs we are making progress!

We had an appointment with the ENT on Tuesday.  She definitely needs tubes and she is tentatively scheduled for that surgery on the 9th.  We feel like there is no reason to wait.  We have a second opinion with a plastic surgeon at the end of May just because we feel like we need that before proceeding with surgery.  Surgery is scheduled for July 23, so we have time to make a change if needed.

I realize I have sounded like a major complainer on my blog lately and I don't mean for it to sound so awful.  Our days are fun mostly...bathtime is hilarious and her laughter is such music to my ears.  We really thought she was very happy and social from the beginning, but she continues to get happier and in comparison to the "happy" she was in China, she's even happier now!  I really am pleased with the progress we are making.  I'll touch on our daily schedule (if it can be called that) in another post.  Right now, she's playing quietly and I'm writing on borrowed time.  

I sure have learned a lot about myself through all this and again, that's a post for another time!


Venturing Out Into Life Again

This past week, Jenna's class had a walking tour of downtown Nashville.  Steve and I thought it might be a good outing for us to join, so we packed ourselves up and headed out.  It was quite a bit cooler than we anticipated, but we had dressed for it.  But as is life with an infant, when we got to the parking garage, Kylie had to have a diaper change.  And during the diaper change in the back of the van (because where the heck else would we do it?!), she put her sock foot into the diaper.  I had brought extra clothes, but no extra socks.  UGH.

So, while we were in the church listening about historical Nashville, Kylie got a little...how shall we say, distracting.  So Steve took off to the Dollar Store to buy more socks.  Even though it was quite chilly, we managed.

We finally finished and had lunch at the farmers' market.  I wish I'd just bought my lunch there.  Some of it smelled so delicious!  But we'd all packed a sack lunch, so we ate that instead.  I managed a few bites of my own while feeding Kylie.
Jenna and her friend Gracie.  As an aside, Gracie's mom and I went to school together since Kindergarten.  That's a LONG time to know someone!


What I Wish I'd Known...

We've had some setbacks the last couple of nights...Wednesday night was my "on" night to be up with Kylie and I laid there holding her thinking about this post.  I hesitate to write what I am about to because I don't want everyone to think I'm just a royal complainer.  But I think had I known then what I know now, things now might be easier.

The way I think, if this post helps prepare someone else for this journey, then it's worth the possible misconception that we would ever go back and change things...

Every free second since they placed Kylie in my arms has been saturated with entertaining, changing, feeding, rocking, dressing, bathing or caring for her.  I have a 10 year old.  It's been a long time since I had to do that.  Even with a newborn, you can at least do stuff while they nap or play in the bouncy.  Not with a child you are trying desperately to bond with.  I wish I'd known.

Everyone talks about working very hard so that your new child will bond with you as his/her parents after being in an orphanage.  No one mentioned that equally as hard is YOU bonding with HER.  Falling in love with a picture of a child an ocean away is VERY different than falling in love with the actual child amidst all the change going on in your and her world.  I wish I'd known.

"Sleep deprivation is used as torture during war."  I have heard that comment from 5-6 different people since we've been home.  Kylie slept pretty well in China.  Who would have thought that would be so drastically different once we got home?  I wish I'd known.

I've had to learn to forgive myself for thoughts I never thought I would think in the wee hours of the morning.  These are thoughts I'm not proud of, but I am listing a few of them here to let you know if YOU thought them, you aren't alone!  Things like, "What have I done to my family?", "I can't do this.", "I don't WANT to do this.", "I wish my life could go back to the way it was before.", "WHY DID I DO THIS??".  Again, sleep deprivation does weird things to a mind.  I wish I'd known.

I never realized how lazy I'd become with a self sufficient 10-year old.  I would come home from work, eat dinner, help Jenna with her homework and then we'd all sit down and watch a couple of shows, surf the net or read until bedtime.  Now, every minute is filled up with Kylie or Jenna.  There's NO time for blogging (which is why it took me 3 days to finish this post), watching TV (explaining my full DVR) or surfing the net (what net?).  I'd do laundry on Saturday or Sunday and may or may not get it folded and put away.  The kitchen sometimes got cleaned up after dinner and the dishwasher sometimes got emptied, filled and run.  It just depended on whether I felt like doing it.  Now, if it is going to get done, I have to do it in between feeding, changing, napping, entertaining.  Oddly enough, I keep the sink empty and the clothes done.  I wish I'd known.

Used to, we'd just pack up and go wherever we wanted.  Now we have to calculate nap time, bedtime and feeding/snack time.  I can't just grab my cell phone, purse and go.  I have to pack a diaper bag and make sure I have what I need to avoid a meltdown.  Getting Katie and Kylie ready to go takes double the time as it used to when we could just call Jenna to get her shoes on.  I wish I'd known.

So many things I wish I'd known.  You just get so caught up in the process that you don't think past getting to the country and getting your child.  I wish someone had told me to think about life after the airport instead of focusing so much on the process.  Seems that it would have been common sense...maybe I'm just old.  It's been too long and I'd forgotten how difficult having a little one is.

Would I really go back to the way things were before?  No.  Honestly, I wouldn't.  Because I remember how hard it was right after I had Jenna.  And now, I love her like nuts and my life would be so empty without her.  Anything worth having never comes easy.  And even though many days I feel crazy and like I'm only hanging on to my sanity by a thread, it's the smiles, laughs and sweet face that make it all worth it. 

I know families whose children have integrated right in with no sleeping issues or feeding issues or discipline issues and I'm very jealous of that.  But I'd venture a guess that even though so many blogs read of the oh-so-happy-times post-adoption, there are more families who struggle somehow and feel alone.  Don't feel alone.  Because YOU AREN'T.  You will get through this.  *I* will get through this (with a little more sleep and a lot more Xanax!!).

In reality, we are doing fairly well.  Life is different.  But we are learning more about Kylie every day and finding our new normal.  I've said it before, adoption is not for the faint of heart.  I think every adoptive family would agree with that.  But it's worth it.  How do I know?

See?  A complete, happy family.  I wouldn't have it any other way


Has it really been a month?

I realized late last night that it has been 4 weeks since Kylie was placed in my arms for the first time.  We have seen definitely progress since then.

I believe Kylie defnitely is bonding with us.  She is still reaching for random friends and family, but if given to them, she immediately reaches back for us.  Sometimes she doesn't reach for them at all.

She is eating like a champ.  She eats anything and everything and has just started to show her dislike for some foods.  She loves to eat whatever we are eating.

She has like 3 new teeth with 2 of them being quite visible on the bottom next to the two she already had and one near the top tooth she has.

We got several of the blood test results back already and everything was as it should be.  We had a test for a common parasite, giardia, which I know several children from her orphanage tested positive for.  We are still waiting on that result, but since she was in foster care, we are hoping she didn't have it.  However, we figure she probably does.  That can be easily treated with medication.

We have an ENT appointment scheduled for next Tuesday.  We don't anticipate any hearing loss, but some cleft kids do experience that due to repeat ear infections.  The international adoption pediatrician said her ears looked clear, so she might not even need tubes.  We'll know more next week.

She sleeps most nights only crying out 1-2 times and usually can be patted back to sleep in seconds.  Eventually, we'll move the pack n play to her room and then hopefully transition her to the crib.  Be we are taking baby steps so as not to regress.

I took her to church again this past Sunday.  She did very well, but overall, Sunday was a really unpleasant day.  She was whiny and clingy all day and then going to sleep was horrendous.  But then Monday was great!  She was happy all. day. long.  And it was just a good day. 

Kylie hates going to sleep.  She fights it and screams and cries both at bed and nap time.  My only guess is that she is grieving.  Unfortunately, there's not much that we've found that can help with that.  We just pray it gets better with time.

Today, we loaded up and drove into downtown Nashville to do a walking tour with Jenna's class at school.  The day ended up being overcast and cooler than we thought, but we did it and it wasn't too bad.  This made me proud because it's like we accomplished some milestone.  We didn't let the fact that we have a new baby in the house hinder us from doing something that was meaningful to Jenna.

And if you read this far, I'll leave you with a few photos from the last few days...

Lest you think she's always happy...


There's NO Place Like Home

I have never missed home like I did while I was in China.  I missed Steve, my house, my bed, our food, people who spoke English (and/or understood English) and non-smoking places.  The first Sunday I spent in China, I was able to Skype with my Lifegroup.

And I nearly cried.

To see their faces...the people I love so much.  They are family to us.  I have never felt about a group of people like I do the folks in my church. 

So, imagine how it felt to walk towards the airport security exit and see this looking back at me...
My pastor is there on the right side of the picture...the lens just wasn't wide enough.  And this picture doesn't include all of our family that were there.  There were more than 50 people waiting for us at the airport.  Of those pictured above, there are at least 5 other adoptive families.  In a church of about 500, that is PHENOMENAL.  The coolest part?  Our pastor's family is an adoptive family.  You can't tell me that doesn't make a difference.  Don't believe me?  How about this...
That's our adoptive families at church.  Well...most of them.  There are SEVEN families missing.

Anyway, coming home was the best thing EVER.  EVER.  E. V. E. R. 

My sweet, sweet friend, Samantha Byers came to the airport to document our arrival.  Every picture on here is courtesy of her.  If you are local and interested in what Samantha does, click here.  Tell her you found her from my blog.

She took 2 CDs full of pictures but here are just a few of my favorites.
So happy to be home and see all those sweet faces waiting for us!

Not sure what to think, but she's already found the camera, which is a good thing.  :)

I like this one because I love the look on Kylie's face as she looks at her grandfather (Steve's dad)
I'm especially fond of the ones where I'm hugging people.  There was no way to capture all of the hugs I got, but the ones that were captured are so precious to me.  Because each face, each smile, represents a life that joined ours to walk this journey with us.  And that is simply...indescribable.
My friend Elizabeth.  This girl has become so dear to me.  She is adopting as well and waiting on her referral from the Congo.  Check her out here.

My friend Jill.  That's her sweet little girl peeking around the side.  I fell in love with her and now Jill and I are good friends.  Jill (and others) have literally provided me with all things baby from PJs to exersaucers!

If you'd read my blog any length of time, you know this girl.  Rachel.  My long time friend and fellow adoptive mom.  She is also awaiting her referral from Ethiopia.  I'd point you to her blog, but well...um.  Yeah.  Just tune in here for updates.  :)
There were so many others, but this is just a snapshot of a few.  Doesn't Samantha rock?  Oh yes...here are some other faves:
That's Kylie meeting her Aunt Teresa for the first time. 
Us and Nana.  Nana looks happy doesn't she!? :)

These are my Lifegroup girls.  There are a few missing which I'm sad about, but oh how I love these girls!

Here we are...the three muskateers and our girls.  Before traveling to China, we hung out nearly every Friday night together.  Jenna is a great help with the littles...Jill's son, Aaron and Elizabeth's daughter, Wylie, are not pictured.  Not too long ago we actually all had a sleep over.  Yes.  We.  Did.
Several folks brought little gifts to Kylie.  For Kylie, who only saw the same toys every day in the orphanage, everything is a cool, new toy.
A sweet little lamb from our friends, the Fowlers, who, incidentally, are in the early stages of adopting from China (SN)!

A China doll made over at Jiayin Designs, from our friends the Varners and the Strothers (Strothers are also an adoptive family...Nepal).
And I'll wrap this up by leaving you with the last two favorites....
Have I mentioned how much these girls already love each other?

Our very first picture as a family of four.
Thanks to Samantha for providing this wonderful keepsake!  When you have traveled for 24-30 hours straight, it is hard to remember who you saw, what you got, and who you hugged.  If you are interested in seeing the entire group of pictures, click here, go to proofing and enter the password, "Homecoming" (remove quotes, case sensitive).

If you like what you see, spend some time in Samantha's galleries and then contact her to find out when she can turn her lens on you and your family.  :)


Despite our busyness being fresh home with Kylie, we managed to carve out some time for Jenna to color eggs!  Kylie was too young to enjoy it, but Jenna sure did!  Now, what to do with all those eggs???

And even though the Easter Bunny was really late in shopping for Easter gifts, she still managed to get three baskets thrown together...

Easter was also Kylie's first church debut!  Because Steve plays in the worship band, he had to leave much earlier than we did.  I managed to get myself, Jenna and Kylie up, dressed and fed AND to church on time!  I called that a huge success!!!

I even had time to get a shot of us girls before we left.
Kylie did a great job in church.  Steve met us at the car and carried her in.  Of course, lots of people gathered around to see this child they had prayed for so much.  Eventually we put her in the Ergo with me.  She really enjoyed the music and just looked all around.  It was like a breath of fresh air to finally be among the people I love so much after being gone so long.  I truly felt filled up and after the last month, I surely needed refilling!!

Kylie fell asleep after the music and slept almost the entire service.  I could not have asked for a better first Sunday at church and it's one I will always remember.

Us girls came home after, but Steve had to stay and play for the second service.  I managed to keep us all clean in our pretty clothes until he made it home so we could get a family picture.
Here we are...our first (kinda) photo as a family of 4 (and 1/2!). 

Then it was off to Uncle John and Aunt Debbie's for the Taylor Easter gathering!  They were all excited to see Kylie again!  Cousin Beth, who was a HUGE help in our fundraising efforts was not able to be at the airport when we arrived, so this was her first time meeting Kylie.  Her son Jackson wasn't too sure about her.  But they did take some pics together...
And they hunted eggs...

And so did Jenna....not too old to be left out of the fun...and these eggs actually had chocolate in them!  YUM!!
It was great to be out and about and spending time with family...remembering the REAL reason we celebrate Easter.  Plus, we got the chance for Kylie to meet her big brother...
I'm not sure what either of them really thought of each other, but Chase has always loved his little sisters.  We are trying to find a time for big sister Micah and Gage to meet Kylie for the first time...I can't wait...Micah is such a great Mom...she has impressed me with how much she loves Gage. 

It was a great Easter. 


What's next? Oh yeah...Easter...

So, we had a rough first week home, for sure.  We made a lot of rookie mistakes and got way less rest than what a person needs to function as a sane parent...but finally, things started to turn around just in time for Easter. 

The Thursday before Easter, Steve and I ventured out to Jenna's school Easter party.  It was actually held at a fellow student's house right here in our little town.  Kylie screamed most of the way there in the car seat but once we got there and loaded her into the Ergo, she was better.
Jenna was very excited we were there...because obviously, she was a big hit with the new little Chinese sister.  She enjoyed hunting eggs...
There was yummy food but the most fun was with the silly string fight.  I thought that would be a disaster, but it ended up being really fun for the kids.  Kylie was asleep by this time or else I would have partook myself.  Many of the adults did...
It was lots of fun and we enjoyed getting out.  We took Jenna home with us after, so it was nice to have her home a bit early too.

A few days earlier, we went to see some of Jenna's art which was on display at the high school and to watch her perform in the 4th grade chorus.  It was really Kylie's first outing and Steve carried her in the Ergo.  She did well...

And just so I don't forget, Jenna got her report card while we were in China.  We had told her she MUST do well if she wanted to go.  Her report card?  STRAIGHT As.  That's right...my girl worked so hard...I was so proud.  Now, if we can ever get caught up from the work she missed for the week and 1/2 she was out...