Thursday, November 30, 2006

Putting up the tree

After sitting outside for nearly a week, we decided it was time to bring the tree in and at least put the lights on it.

Sophia being a natural born helper wanted to get in on the action. This proved to be challenging at times since she managed to get the cords really knotted up. Still, it was so wonderful to have her around to knot things up.

New Hats

Colin's Mom knitted Sophia three new hats. We think she looks adorable in them!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Update on our Vietnam Adoption

Every day, I go the mail box with equal parts excitement and dread. I keep hoping that we our 171-H will show up. We were finger printed the day before Thanksgiving and if this was San Francisco, I know it would be arriving any day now. Alas, we are in Michigan, and there is just know way how much longer it is going to take.

We have actively started working on our dossier and suspect it will be completed and ready for authentication by next week. The 171-H, of course, might be lagging behind, but in the meantime, I'll keep going to the mail box, all the while, holding my breath.

If we actually do get the USCIS approval soon, there is a good chance things will move along in the near future. Vietnamese New Year, Tet, is being celebrated at the end of February this year, so that very well might have an impact on how this unfolds.

Unlike Sophia's adoption, I have not allowed myself to start to decorate Keenan's room. I guess it's just that I have been on this roller coaster ride before and am not eager to set myself for the sadness I felt every time I went by an empty crib. I did allow myself to buy the bumper for his crib, but it is stored for the time being. Once we have our referral, I'll probably more inclined to start nesting.

So I guess the update is; things are moving forward, then they are not, then we are waiting for something to move forward again. I know, big surprise!

In the meantime, here is a picture of Sophia practicing opening her Christmas gifts.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Rocking Horsin' Around

While we were still living in California and long before we got our referral, I found this neat rocking horse on Craigslist. I picked it up for a song and was couldn't wait to see Sophia on it some day.

When we first arrived back from China, Sophia wasn't the least bit interested in her little chestnut horse. If I tried to put her on it, she made it abundantly clear she wanted off, immediately! I have to admit I was a little disappointed, however, I took comfort in the fact that she seemed to adore its live counterpart, Mambo.

This week, out of the blue, she started to go over to the rocking horse and pat it. Then last night while Colin was putting her to bed, she decided she wanted to ride it. Colin helped her on and when I came into her room (I had been cleaning up toys in the living room), I found Sophia contentedly rocking away, completely unassisted! As a rider, the thing that amazed me was her perfect form. She was utterly balanced and even had a perfect leg position.

It was my turn to put her to bed tonight. She started off her bedtime with a, not so subtle, request to wear her squeaky shoes we had purchased for her in China. She had recently discovered them and even though they are summer shoes, she takes great delight in squeaking all over the house. Tonight she yanked them out of her shoe rack and brought them over to me and sat down, holding up her feet. Since she was already in her feet pajamas, it was a little challenging to put them on and Sophia thought it was hysterical watching me struggle. After I finally pried them onto her feet, she took a few laps around her room and then patted the horse and tried to climb on.

I helped her on and she started rocking away. Tonight, her leg position was less than perfect since she has decided to wrap them around the horse's neck. Nonetheless, she has a lot of fun. Fortunately, I was able to snag the camera and document the moment.

Christmas Tree Photo Challenge

Donna's (Double Happiness) latest challenge is Christmas Trees. We found a 'you pick and you cut' farm 30 minutes from our house and we dragged my mother-in-law, Marz, and Sophia to find our perfect tree. There is something very sad about cutting down such a beautiful tree but since we have made it an annual tradition the past three years, we wanted to continue this family outing in our new home town.

Last year, we made our trek to Santa's Christmas Tree Farm in Half Moon Bay on December 8th. I remember the date simply because it was the day Colin was recalled to United. The news was on our answering machine when we returned from our outing. I couldn't believe we had missed the call but it was great news all the same.

On that day, I also remember Colin and I talking about Sophia and saying that next year (this year), she would have her first visit the Santa's Tree Farm. We couldn't wait to bring her. Due to our move, it didn't quite work out that way, but we had fun nonetheless.

p.s. Yes, in the photos, Sophia is drinking from her bottle. Apparently, she was not impressed by our tree selection. No matter, I think it is beautiful!

We finally brought our tree inside and took lots of new pictures, but Blogger wouldn't let me add any more photos to this post. Therefore, I am putting them on a more recent post.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving 2006

For us, this Thanksgiving was all about family. We were so grateful to have Sophia now with us. We also had the good fortune to have Sophia's Grandmother, Nana, and Opa with us to celebrate our first Thanksgiving with Sophia in our lives.

In a L-Tryptophan stupor, Marz and Colin snuggle for a nap. Well, Colin's bad cold might have contributed to his fatigue. Now Sophia has the cold, that is going to make for some long nights which means that Kat will be really tired.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Autumn Days

This week, Donna of Double Happiness posed another photo challenge with the theme of Autumn. Of course, some of the photos you are about to see may look familiar, but I love to join in the fun, so here they are:

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

6 Months since we met Sophia

As difficult as it is for me to fathom, we first met Sophia six months ago today. She was put into our waiting arms and we could hardly believe how lucky we were. Sophia was less impressed and immediately started to wail and continued to do so for the next hour, or two.

So many things have changed since that day. I resigned from my position as a police officer, we moved to Michigan, bought a house and set about getting to know Sophia better. I look back at photos of us in China and, in some ways, she seems like a completely different girl. True, she is still a spitfire and has the greatest variety of facial expression I have ever seen, with the exception of Jim Carrey perhaps. But she no longer seems so sad. She smiles constantly and can't wait to tackle each day. Sophia is so full of unbridled curiosity and confidence. She loves to celebrate her achievements and when she masters a new skill, she looks up at us, claps her hands together and says 'yeah'!

We have watched her learn to crawl, pull herself up, stand, walk, run and now, she even walks backward very rapidly. She says a few words; da da, mama, nana, dock (dog), ott (hot), baba (baby), sock, toe, yeah, and her all time favorite, 'uh-oh'. She loves to play on her baby grand piano and play with her toys. She now demands the music be turned on (repeated banging on the media cabinet) and is full of joy when Colin dances with her. She hugs us, kisses us, and even will blow us a kiss when one of us leaves. She actually pets the dog quite gently, tickles his feet, and tries very hard to kiss the horse's nose.

She will try almost any food but is starting to have an opinion about which ones she would prefer to eat. Pizza, home-made chili, yogurt and avocado rank as top favorites. She hates our attempts to wean her off the bottle and pouts furiously when we hand her the sippy cup. Most of the time, she will eventually drink from it, but she lets it be known that she is only doing it because she felt like it.

Now that the air has turned crisp, Sophia LOVES spending time outdoors. She will go to our front door and tap on it, and then turn around to make sure that we saw her request. She eagerly holds out her arms to get into her puffy jacket and will start to move her feet really fast because she is so excited at the prospect of helping to rake leaves.

Speaking of helping, she truly does want to please. Sophia is in charge of feeding Marz twice a day, with a little help from us of course. It cracks us up, because she will deliberately drop a kibble or two so she can say 'uh-oh' and then bend down and pick it up in her hot little hand. When she has emptied the food into his bowl, she will triumphantly return the empty scoop to the dog food bucket and even closes the cabinet door. When we bring out the vacuum, she is transfixed. She follows us everywhere and even pulls the cord along, even it means tripping one of us. She is starting to help put away her toys and valiantly attempts to wipe her tray after she is done eating.

As I mentioned in a recent post, she is starting to have quite a temper on her. When she doesn't get her way about something, she is apt to throw herself down on the ground, flailing her arms and legs. We work very hard at choosing our battles wisely. We believe it is important for her to have clear boundaries and limits but we want to be careful not to crush her sense of self and attempts at independence.

I think perhaps that is one of the most difficult things about being a parent-achieving a balance between setting limits and encouraging independence. In my line work, all too often I saw the results of parents who made the mistake of placing a greater emphasis on being their child's friend, rather than his or her parent, with disastrous results. And I saw the counterpart too, children who rebelled from the stifling influences of super controlling parents. We hope that we are navigating through this minefield with delicacy, determination and sensitivity, but I guess no one ever gets it 'just right'.

In all those months of waiting, is everything what we expected it to be? Yes and no. I think it is easy to fantasize about having a perfect family and having everything just 'click' into place the moment a child is put into your arms. The every day gritty reality of it is something quite different. The sleepless nights, the poopy diapers, and the temper tantrums are not always my idea of perfection.

The hardest thing to get used to is the routine. Get up, diaper change, feed Sophia, change Sophia, dress Sophia, run, take a shower, play, feed Sophia a snack, diaper change, play, feed lunch, diaper change, play, feed snack, diaper change, feed dinner, play, bath time, read bed time stories, then you start all over again the next day. Colin and I have a running joke...he just says 'Groundhogs Day', and I know he is referring to the movie where Bill Murray relives the same day, over and over again. There is quite a bit of that in child rearing. Although our routine may be the same, Sophia rarely is. She usually has something up her sleeve and it ensures that life is rarely dull.

I became a stay at home mom and I don't regret that decision for a moment. Do I miss working? Sometimes. I miss some of the people I worked with and miss having adult conversations on a regular basis. However, I get infinitely more satisfaction playing with Sophia or teaching her a new skill than I EVER got from writing a traffic ticket. I know I made the right decision for me, for us. I still have a strange feeling when I come across photos of me in uniform. I worked very hard to become an officer and I was proud to be one. But I'm equally proud to be Sophia's Mother.

In regards to Colin, he was so afraid that due to his work related long absences that Sophia wouldn't know who he was. Nothing could be further from the truth. She adores him, gets sad when he is away and is totally ecstatic when he comes home. He is an amazing father and Sophia would be the first to say it, if she could say all the words.

So is it what we expected? Perhaps not all of it, but since Sophia became a part of our family, in so many ways, our life has become better than either of us could have imagined.

Colin and I are not perfect and neither is Sophia, but we fit together perfectly, and that's what counts.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Show me your belly!

Sophia has recently become fascinated with lifting up her shirt and rubbing her belly. She then wants everyone else around her to show her their bellies. Kat won't cooperate, but Colin doesn't mind. Then again, his abs are worth showing.

Sophia was so tired after all her belly rubbing, that she decided to hang out on the 'man chair'. So dubbed because it is the most comfortable chair EVER and Colin named it such in an attempt to stake it out as his. Kat responded by insisting we purchase the matching love seat, which she proclaimed was the 'girl chair'. Of course, as of late, the only 'people' that have been lounging in the 'man chair' are Sophia and Marz and when Colin is home, he commandeers the 'girl chair', we're not quite sure why (hint, it does happen to face the TV).

Monday, November 13, 2006

Have you ever......?

Have you ever come to a moment in your parenting where you start to feel like you are the WORST parent in the world? I have just arrived at one of the moments and, I have to say, I don't much care for the feeling!

What do I owe this existential angst to? Suffice, to say, our daughter was apparently recently abducted by aliens and now we have this Sophia clone who bears little resemblance to our sweet little girl.

This Sophia is extremely moody, cranky and opinionated. Her opinion generally centers around a central theme "I want what I want, and I want it now, and if I don't get it, I'm going to give you a preview of the terrible twos". Keep in mind, she JUST turned 16 months!

I am trying so hard to be patient and unflappable, but I keep checking my watch and ask myself, "how many hours until Colin gets home from his trip?"

What is really odd, is that she will go from being this Alien clone, to the sweetest little girl in two seconds flat. Leaving me reeling, asking myself, "what did I just miss?" Trust me, I'm grateful for those sweet moments because they remind me what an amazing little girl she truly is.

So why do I feel like the world's worst parent? First of all, I don't understand what has brought on Sophia's fiery flashes of temper and being one my own harshest critics, I naturally assume it must be something I am doing wrong. Secondly, although I love Sophia more than I ever imagined possible, I have to admit, that when she is in a full blown tantrum, I don't much like her. Now wait, before, everyone jumps all over me, I am going to emphasize that I LOVE my daughter and wouldn't trade her for the world (so cliche, I know), but we can love someone and still not like their behavior. So perhaps, I should be more specific, I love her, but I don't always like her behavior.

When she is hitting me with her head, or biting me (as she is prone to do when she is teething), I find that I would like to tele transport myself to some remote tropical island, far, far away. As hard as I try to not take it personally, there are still times that I do.

So what makes me think that I can handle a second child? Well, in the calm after the storm, Sophia comes up to me and throws her little body around my leg, asking to be picked up. And after I pick her up, she will lean into me for an unsolicited kiss and then tucks her little head into my shoulder and clings to me for dear life. It is in those moments, I realize that I must be doing something right and I hope that I can do that same something right with our little boy to be.

p.s. For those who posted comments earlier, I apologize, but when I deleted the double post, it deleted the comments too.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Tearful Ladybug

Donna of "Double Happiness" has posed a new photo challenge. Pictures our little ones crying. Those photos are surprisingly few and far between because when those moments arise, we are usually too busy trying to stop the tears, rather than reaching for our camera. Still....there have been a few moments that have been immortalized in film. Well, digital.

The picture below was taken on Halloween. It is a sharp contrast with the photos above, which were taken when we purchased the outfit in September.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Day at the Zoo

We had the opportunity to go to John Ball Park Zoo today. Kat had not been there since she was six years old. It was wonderful seeing our little girl see animals she had only seen in books. It was a beautiful fall day and even the monkeys cooperated for our photo op.

Monday, November 06, 2006

All About Hats

Circa May 2006 "Hats? I don't think so!"

'Double Happiness' Donna at posed another photo challenge this week, photos involving hats.

It is ironic considering just hours ago, I told Colin that our daughter has had a change of heart about hats. Before we had gone to China, I had gotten some really cute hats for Sophia to combat the summer heat. She would have none of it. Like Donna's Gwen, we only managed to keep the hats on long enough to snap a quick photo.

Well it has been pretty chilly in Michigan and we have already experienced a few days of snow and perhaps that helps to explain Sophia's sudden change of heart. Or perhaps it was the cute little peach hat that her Grandma knitted her. Either way, she is now fond of hats.

How do I know this? Well, first of all, she now keeps them on. More importantly, I took Sophia outside to play yesterday and I realized that I had forgotten to put on her hat. She was halfway down the walkway when I grabbed it from the house and called her name. She turned around and saw the hat in my hand. Her face lit up like a Christmas tree and she ran toward me, thrusting her head out for hat placement. After it was on, she patted her head to reassure herself it was on securely and then promptly returned to the task of finding her toys.

Yup, there is no doubt about it, our little girl is changing a little more every day.

Fall 2006