Saturday, September 30, 2006

Fall is here

In Michigan, the air has turned crisp and the skies are grey. I'm sure we are in for a long winter, but we enjoy the change of seasons and it is quite a contrast from California.

Sophia hams it up for the camera...

While installing shelves in the garage, Colin adds the baby monitor to his tool belt.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A few more thoughts about our trip

I wanted to apologize to all of our friends who we just visited. I looked back at the photos and realized that we hardly got any pictures of the adults! I think it is mostly because Sophia refused to get close enough to any adult to actually take a photo (well, she did allow Kimberley to hold her on the last night of our visit, but it was such a surprise, that we missed the photo op).

We had such a marvelous time on our trip. We appreciated everyone's hospitality and it was very comforting seeing old friends and having everyone finally meet Sophia. We look forward to our next visit.

Sophia is now routinely saying "Da day", "NaNa" (mama), "Bb bb" (bye bye), and "uh oh". She ate like a horse while we were traveling and I suspect she has easliy reached the 19 pound mark as a result. Mercifully, she appears to be back on a east coast sleep schedule.

The highlight of the trip was the Mei Mei reunion in Southern CA. I don't think I have ever seen her quite so content or confident. Somehow, she seemed to sense she was around her sisters and she couldn't stop smiling. Which in turn, meant that we were smiling. We are so lucky to have this little girl in our lives.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Southern California Mei Mei reunion

We finished our trip with an amazing reunion with Sophia's Mei Mei's from Southern California. The turnout was incredible and we could not believe how much the girls had changed and grown. We were all so much more relaxed and settled than when we were in China and it made for a fun time. I'm not sure the girls 'recognized' each other, but I'm sure there was recognition and it seemed to make all the girls happy, especially Sophia.

Bill, Kelly and Jane

We got lucky and got to see Donna, Andrew and the girls again! Sophia and Tuesday joined in for the fun.....

14 days on the road can tucker a girl out.....but it sure was fun.

Visit with Tuesday, Kimberley, Chris

Tuesday and Chris

Colin helps out on some educational computer games

Two little tired Zhanjiang girls

Visit with Cat, Robin and Mason

Peek a boo with Robin

Sophia checks out Mason's Tinker Toy plane

Sophia models the beautiful outfit that Cat and Robin gave her

Tinker toy girl

Northern California Mei Mei reunion

While we were in Northern California, we were lucky enough to attend a reunion picnic with some of our China travel mates. Sophia got to see some of her Mei Meis and had a fun time mooching food off of their families (refer to the picture of Sophia begging Anne for watermelon).

And we got to see Donna and Andrew, recently back from China with their new addition, Maddy. Maddy and Gwen were so cute together, unfortunately, Gwen would only give us a view of her pigtails.....

Moving on.......

We just got back from our trip to California and here are some long overdue photos of Sophia and friends.

We started out visiting friends in the Bay Area. Sophia got to meet Cameron, Faye and Merrick. Sophia was in good spirits throughout the trip but she decided that it was a good time to cling to Mom and Dad and not let ANYONE else touch her, much less pick her up.

During the trip, I turned in my equipment to the police department and cleaned out my locker. It was strange to be in the locker room as a visitor, but it was also good to close the door on that chapter of my life.

We greatly appreciated the hospitality and generosity of our friends. It was wonderful seeing everyone. More photos to come, but I will have to seperate them on different posts.

Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11, 2001

It is hard to believe that 5 years have passed since that awful day. On September 11, 2001, I watched the TV coverage almost non-stop for 2 days, I hardly slept or ate. In the years that have followed, I have studiously avoided any coverage related to 9/11, it was simply too painful. Yet, for some reason, the other day, I felt compelled to watch some of the documentaries. I was startled by how much I remembered and how watching the footage felt like being transported back in time. I shed a lot of tears. When I could watch no longer, I checked on Sophia before going to bed. As I stared at her little sleeping form, I was jolted by the thought that she was in our lives as a in-direct result of the events of 9/11.

There was a wonderful line in the movie "Grand Canyon." One of the main characters muses that everything good and bad in the world are sometimes so close together. I have never forgotten that line and it seems to apply to us when I think of 9/11 and its impact on our family.

I wrote the following a year ago when I started this blog. It helps to explain how, for us, the good and bad were so very close that day.

September 11, 2001 - For me the day started like many others. At the time, I was flying for United and was on a layover in Chicago. My report time was very early that day and I had not slept well. When my alarm went off, I rolled out of bed and made my way to the bathroom. I was exhausted and distinctly remember looking the mirror while I was putting on my mascara and wondering how I was going to get through my long duty day. Chicago-St. Louis, St. Louis-Denver, Denver-SFO. I consoled myself by remembering I was scheduled to dead head (ride as a passenger) between St. Louis and Denver, I would catch up on my sleep on that leg. I had no way of knowing how much of my life was going to change on that day and how truly long it was going to be.

Colin also started his day in Chicago, where he was based. He worked as a pilot for United. He was scheduled to take the plane from Chicago to St. Louis and then on to Denver. For the first two years of our careers at United, we had both been based in Chicago, but in all our travels, we had never met.....until September 11th. I was assigned to greet passengers. While waiting for the passengers to board, I checked in with the cockpit crew to see if they wanted anything to drink. I immediately noticed the first officer. I remember thinking, "he's cute" but then reminded myself I had vowed I would never date a pilot, let alone marry one. When Colin requested his third glass of orange juice, I just handed him a carton and said something cheeky like, 'will the carton suffice?', my version of flirting.

Our plane landed as scheduled in St. Louis. Unbeknownst to us, just as we were touching down, hijacked United Flight #175 had just struck the second tower. We were not aware anything was amiss until we went to flight operations. The t.v. was on and we could not believe what we were seeing. As events continued to unfold, we were transported to a local hotel because our captain had the foresight to realize there would be no more flying that day. While we were checking in, we watched the big screen t.v. that had been moved into the lobby. As I watched the first tower fall, I could not comprehend what I was seeing. At first, I had absurdly come to the conclusion that just the top of the tower had collapsed.

During the days that followed, I saw very little of Colin. He had a cold, hence the multiple requests for orange juice, and although I had the occasional meal with other crew members, Colin mostly kept to himself. By the third or fourth day, I had cried so much I had run out of tears. But after watching the surreal events unfold, I had this quiet resolution in my mind, I needed a job that was more meaningful. That thought would evolve into me becoming a police officer mere months later.

In the meantime, my family was desperate to see me. The captain needed to return to his home in Texas to deal with a family crisis. He rented a car and prepared to leave. With his departure, our crew would now be stranded. My parents lived in Michigan, so I decided to rent a car and make the drive to see them. By chance, I saw the captain in the lobby as he was checking out. I told him my plans and he asked if I would mind taking Colin along with me since Chicago was on the way. The answer, of course, was yes, and Colin and I embarked on the 8 hour drive. We talked about everything under the sun and I thought to myself, "I am really having a great time talking to this guy". I was laughing for the first time since that awful morning. As we got closer to Chicago, I found myself driving slower and slower, not wanting the conversation to end. When he got out the car in Chicago, there was an awkward silence. When he did NOT ask for my number, I quickly jotted it down and thrust it at him anyway. He now swears he had my company file number and had planned on contacting me that way-hmmph....

Literally, as I walked into my parents house, the phone was ringing and it was Colin calling to see if I had gotten there OK. My Mom says that at that moment, she thought, 'aha, his guy might be something special', she was right. Several days later, when United was flying again, we met in O'hare, in between our respective flights. When we sat down to talk, Colin asked me if I had any pictures of my horse, Midnight. Now I thought, "aha." A couple of years before I had told my Mom that the right guy for me would be interested in my horse, whom I adored more than any man I had ever met.

Many things followed that 'aha' moment. But here is the short version: In March 2002, I became a police officer in Northern California, Colin continued to fly for United and he transferred to SFO so we could live together. In May of 2003, my beloved horse of 20 years passed away. Two weeks later, Colin and I embarked on our first adoption, our 6 year old Border Collie, Skye. In July of 2003, after 4 years of working for United, Colin got furloughed, along with thousands of other United employees.

February of 2004, Colin got offered a job in Chicago. We had a dilemma. I told him I would not move to Chicago unless we were married. In March 2004, Colin proposed to me under a ski lift in Lake Tahoe. I said yes (of course). We planned on a summer wedding, but then decided we would get married while Colin was in training in Florida. On April 25th, 2004, on a beach in St. Augustine, with a small group of families and friends (and Skye as our ring bearer), we got married. A better job opportunity arose for Colin and we stayed in the bay area.

Fast forward to the summer of 2004. Colin and I decided we wanted to add a child to our little family. We talked about adoption first since neither one of us could have imagined loving Midnight or Skye any more than we did, even if we had been their biological parents. However, because I was hitting the far side of 30, we decided we would first try to get pregnant and then adopt a second child. It seems we were not meant to get pregnant and we made the easy decision to adopt. We submitted our paperwork to Accept in April 2005.....and here we are, waiting................

Updated, September 11, 2006. We are the proud parents of wonderful and beautiful, Sophia Mingci. We are incredibly happy that she is in our family and has added so much to our lives. That being said, 9/11 is still an incredibly painful day to think about. And yet, it was also a pivotal day in our lives, and for that, we are grateful for the small amount of good that came of it. It's true, sometimes good, and bad, are quite close together.

***In memory of everyone who lost their lives on 09/11/2001 and to the families and friends who lost their loved ones.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

A Taste of Fall

We bought some new plants and Sophia wanted to help. She started by handing us the plastic plant information cards.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Halloween dress rehearsal

Halloween is Kat's favorite holiday...she couldn't wait to get Sophia's outfit. Unfortunately, Sophia was less than enthusiastic about this dress rehearsal.

****Rest assured, no children were harmed during the filming of these photographs. She was all smiles moments after the hood was pulled back.


We are settling into the house we bought. It is the first house either of us have ever owned and it sure feels great. Still lots of projects to ahead, but at least all the boxes are unpacked!

My Mom painted Sophia a wonderful mural and Sophia loves it. When we hear Sophia is awake, we come into her room only to find her walking around in her crib, studying her mural.