Monday, February 25, 2008

Happy Birthday to the Best Dad Ever!

"Once in awhile right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale."
Dear Jim,
Thank you for making my life a fairy tale. You are my knight in shining armor. You are my best friend. You are my everything. Happy birthday. I love you more than you will ever know.
"Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be..."
Robert Browning

Sunday, February 24, 2008

"Love" in Stick Figure

Lia drew this picture of the two of us. I might be reading into it just a bit, but I love how the Mama is leaning protectively over the child. This masterpiece beats Renoir or Picasso in our house any day. Pure love.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Early Returns

These are a few pictures I took with the new camera. I wasn't really trying for anything special...just practicing. Lia thought the whole thing was hilarious and we both had lots of fun! She looks so grown up to me in these shots! I'm still trying to figure things out with the camera, but so far I am very happy with it!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Random Cuteness

These pictures are from our first months home. We arrrived home from China on February 17, 2006. These pictures are from spring/summer 2006.

Ready for a walk...Lia's favorite activity those first few months!

She didn't seem to notice that the lenses fell out of her sunglasses...she loved to wear them just like this:

Independent from the start....and SOOOOO proud!

Helping Daddy unwrap his anniversary present!

From the start...and to this day...a Daddy's girl!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Could I Love Him Any More??

Our faithful point and shoot digital camera that traveled with us to China and back (and performed fabulously I might add!) has been slowly giving it up over the past month or so. I have heard rumors that someone may have put it in a bag with a sippy cup full of apple juice... and the no-drip sippy cup dripped on the camera...but as we have a strict " don't ask, don't tell" policy around here, I am neither asking nor telling...and I hope you don't either! ;-)

Anyway...we have been in negotiations for a new digital camera for the past month or so and today Jim came home with this beauty for me

It is definitely a step or two up from our last digital camera and I am soooooo excited about it, but honestly I am a little bit afraid of it right now. And I put all the sippy cups away.

My husband rocks...and hopefully my pictures soon will too!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

All About Lia

Of course, as I mentioned in the last post...despite the spectacular sights and the hospitality and welcome we experienced in China...our trip WAS all about Lia! These are just a few photos of Lia over the 15 days we spent in China. Our time there marked the end of one journey...and the beginning of another one.

Memories of China

It is almost inconceivable to me that our trip to Lia was two years ago. While the focus of our trip was cetainly taking care of Lia and settling into first time parenting, we feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience the beauty of both the culture and the people of China. We have been entrusted with raising one of China's treasured honor we are most thankful for and humbled by . We are so proud to be linked forever to the beautiful country of China through the heritage of our beloved daughter.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

We Heart You!!

Happy Valentine's Day! This is a picture of Lia on Valentine's Day 2006. We were still in China. If you look closely you can see a small bruise on her face. She had it the day we got her and I remember thinking it would be the last boo-boo that she would have without her Mama.

Lia and I had an unexpected day together due to some bad weather, so we made good use of the time and baked Daddy some Valentine cookies. We had the best time baking in our cozy kitchen as the rain fell outside. Lia was beside herself with excitement to show the cookies to Jim when he got home from work. I tried several times to get a picture of Lia with her cookies, but the camera is not working as it should. We are hoping to shop for a new one this weekend...I can't wait!

I hope you all get to spend the day with those you love!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Happy Birthday Annemarie!!

Since my niece, Annemarie is one of my favortie people in the whole wide world and she also happens to be one of Lia's favorites too, we gladly decided to let her hijack the Blog for the day so that we can wish her the happiest of birthdays!
She is one talented gal! She can play the piano beautifully. She dances like an angel. She rides a horse like a champion. And she's one smart cookie! She just came in second in her Third Grade Spelling out...don't get hit by those buttons popping...I couldn't be prouder!
But the thing I am most proud of is her loving and kind nature. She is a wonderful example and helper to her younger cousins. I am so glad Lia has her to look up to and learn from.
Annemarie...we are so proud of you and we love you more than you'll ever know! Happy Birthday Sweetheart!!
Aunt Kate, Uncle Jim and Lia
(Annemarie is on the left in the picture above with her sister Renee and baby cousin Olivia)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Sometimes Dreams Do Come True...or...The Best Day of My Life

Today, (2/7/08), we celebrate the second anniversary of the day we met Lia. Although I FELT like a mom from the moment I laid eyes on my sweet girl on referral day, nothing can ever compare to the emotions I experienced when I held her in my arms for the first time. Although I have re-lived the day a thousand times over in my mind, I have never taken the time to write down what the day was like for me. I want Lia to be able to read this someday and know....KNOW! what an incredible gift she has been to me, her daddy and her entire family.

We were up early on February 7th. We had to fly from Beijing to Shaanxi, Lia's province. One of the most poignant moments of the day for me happened in the early morning darkness in the hotel lobby. Although the whole travel group for our agency consisted of around 60 families, we were divided into Province groups depending on where our child was from. Two of the families in our large group live very near to us. Although we had not known each other previously, we were thrilled to meet through the shared experience of our adoptions. All of our babies were from different provinces and as I hugged my friends and wished them safe travels, I knew that when we met again in Guangzhou at the end of our trip, we would have our new daughters with us. After talking for many months about this moment, here it was.....and it was overwhelming and surreal. I was literally overcome with tears and emotions and our day had barely begun!

For some reason, our plane from Beijing to Xi'An, the capital of Shaanxi, was delayed by a few hours. I remember that the airport was very crowded. After the many months of waiting, those few hours in the Beijing airport seemed to last an eternity. Once we were in the air though, it was a short flight to the city where Lia was waiting for us. My prayers on our flight revolved around Lia. She had to make quite a journey herself, about three hours by car, to meet us in Xi'An. I prayed that she would not be scared. I prayed for her caregivers as they prepared to relinquish her care to us, I prayed for her birth parents and I prayed for the children left behind in the orphanage. I also prayed for wisdom and strength to know how to comfort Lia in our first few days as a family as we all got to know one another and began our lives as a family of three.

We did not have much time to get settled once we arrived at our hotel in Xi'An. Because of the flight delays, we had just enough time to do some basic unpacking and assemble the gifts for the officials and the nannies. We were soon on the bus on the way to the Civil Affairs Building. Our Province group had 10 families. I was so glad that it included some veteran moms and dads. Although I am sure they were nervous, I so appreciated the kind words and reassurances that all would be well.

The Civil Affairs Building was impressive from the outside. Inside, however, it seemed damp and cold. There was a ping pong table in the lobby. Hallways were lit by single lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling. The babies were waiting on the seocnd floor with the orphanage staff members who had traveled with them. As we walked down the long hall, I suddenly heard the wail of ten scared babies. I remember grabbing Jim's hand, completely overwhelmed and unable to speak.

We crowded into a large office with all of the families. The babies were sitting on long tables off to one side and the nannies that had made the trip with them were sitting behind them. Since referral day, I had had a recurring fear that I would not be able to pick Lia out of the group of babies...and, well, that's exactly what happened. Jim picked her out right away. She was the only baby with a bottle in her mouth. Occasionally she would shake her head back and forth (and I only make this comparison to fully explain!) like a dog, letting the bottle shake by the nipple. Additionally, she was shredding a roll of toilet paper to tiny pieces. In the scant information we received in our referral packet, it had mentioned that she "liked to rip paper". Jim was insistant that the baby with the toilet paper was Lia and I will never forget him whispering, "Likes to rip paper. Likes to rip paper!" in my ear during the introductions of the orphanage personnel.

We were the ninth family out of 10 to receive our baby. I was thankful that the families ahead of us were ushered out of the small office as they received their babies. It had grown very hot and quite chaotic as the babies were so confused and scared, each crying louder than the next. Finally they called our name and we moved forward to receive Lia. They handed her to me and she immediately started to cry and reach for her nanny. I was able to walk with her a little as Jim signed some documents and she seemed to like the small stuffed bunny Jim's mom had sent for her. Truly though, those first few minutes and even the hours following were a blur. We thought we were just going to meet the babies and travel back to the hotel, but in fact, we had to get pictures taken and fill out quite a bit of paperwork. It was draining to say the least. I could tell that the nannies were very attached to Lia. They kept coming up and taking her or talking to her. One nanny filled her bottle with hot water from the coffee maker to show me how to make her formula. I felt so stressed at that moment because I was so grateful to all of the nannies for their care and obvious love and I didn't want to offend her...but that water was just too hot to give to Lia! Luckily Jim's brother Joe, was able to convey that somehow and they added some cold water to it.

After completing the paperwork, we boarded the bus to go back to the hotel. Lia fell asleep on the short ride, as did many of the babies. I think everyone was just glad to have a moment of relative peace and quiet in a cool place. Lia woke up soon after we got back to the room. I felt so sad that she had fallen asleep and awakened in a strange place with people she didn't know, but she settled down fairly quickly as we quietly let her explore some toys on a blanket on the floor. We got a smile from her very early on when she tried cheerios for the first time.

We took our time peeling layers of clothes off one at a time. She came to us with three layers of clothing, although the outer layer was very heavy...kind of like a quilted snowsuit. Lia seemed to enjoy her easier mobility as each layer came off. She tolerated a sponge bath (barely) and was fascinated by the fingernail clippers as I trimmed her nails. She did not cry much that first night as I think she was just in shock. She went to bed easily and slept for 10 hours straight. I think I got up every hour or so just to check on her and as Jim and I waited for her to wake up in the morning, I remember thinking that she was such a good sleeper... silly, novice Mama that I was. The gods of sleep must have been rolling on the floor laughing at that. Just for the record, I don't believe I have waited for Lia to wake up one day since then!

It was an overwhelming, emotional, unreal, exhausting, exhilerating day. It was a day that seems like a lifetime ago....but is so fresh in my memory I can conjur up the sights and smells in a flash. It was a day that I first saw the face of an Lia Nanette.

It was the best day of my life.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Happy Happy!

Lia had just turned 1 a week before we received her referral. She was 14 months old when we brought her home. It made me so sad to have missed her 1st birthday that I just decided we would celebrate her 1 1/2 birthday in July 2006.

The invitations read:

Put on your party hat and get ready for fun!
While dear Uncle Sam marks the big 2-3-0
our own Yankee Doodle is turning one...
and 1/2!

Lia's first birthday passed without fanfare
while she was still in China
So now is the time to eat, dance and laugh
and ring in her 1 and 1/2!

Not Seuss worthy for sure (little is!) ....but we had a lot of fun and luckily our families are fairly tolerant and always ready to have some fun!!

One of my Favorite Pictures!

The two loves of my life. July 4th ,2006. It just doesn't get any better.

More from the Past

On February 7th, we celebrate two years with Lia. I will be posting a lot about our time in China over the next few weeks, but I also want to post about some special events that occurred in the two years that she has been home. I guess you could call it "A blast from the past"...which sounds funny since Lia is only 3!

Anyway.....these are pictures from Easter 2006 and 2007. We travel to see our parents on the major holidays and enjoy spending time with cousins and other extended family. I love that Lia is growing up with the same holiday traditions that I did. I can't beleive how much she changed in a year! In the first pciture she is with her Nana and Papa and her cousin Olivia. In the second picture, from Easter 2007, she was a little freaked out by the Easter Bunny (and frankly...can't say I blame her!) but did tolerate a quick picture.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Happy Groundhog Day!!

Maybe it's the Nursery School Teacher in me, or maybe the fact that I originally hail from Groundhog Central.....but I LOVE to follow this little prognosticator every year. In case you didn't hear......Phil saw his shadow and we are in for six more weeks of winter!!