Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Happy Birthday, Opa!

Here I am eating my favorite food, a banana, and sending you birthday love and kisses. I hope your birthday is fun and Oma makes you a really good dinner. If you were here, I would share my banana with you. I'm counting the days until we meet. Mama has told me all about you, though, so I already love you. Get here soon! XOXO

PS: We just sent you a little package today. It probably won't arrive until Friday, though. Sorry it's late!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Doctor Appointment!

Kate's doctor appointment went very well today. Dr. Alvarado wanted to see her before her 18 month well-baby checkup to check on her weight and development. Here's the scoop:

Height: 31 inches (no change)
Weight: 19.5 pounds (+1.5 pounds -- still not on the weight chart, but getting there)
Bloodwork: Kate is slightly anemic, so we're starting on vitamin drops with iron.
Shots: Three -- Kate screamed bloody murder but perked right up when it was over.
Development: Dr. Alvarado thinks she's doing quite well -- a very different baby than he had seen a month ago. Last month, she was tracking as a 9 month old. Today, he said she was more along the lines of a 12 month old, so he is very pleased. He expects she will catch up nicely, and doesn't want to pursue any interventions yet. Things like her body stiffness and language delays will probably take care of themselves as she continues to explore and be confident in her environment.
Other: During the appointment, Kate cruised around the office, tried to play ball with the doctor and checked out every nook and cranny of the place. The doctor thought this was just great!

Next appointment: January 6th (We're taking bets on her weight.... I'm saying 20.75 pounds).

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Leaps and Bounds!!!

Above: Kate's first experience with paint. She was not excessively impressed, but there were moments of brilliance. The bids begin at $2500. :-)

Kate's motto should be "leaps and bounds" because that's how she's progressing. For the record, here are some of the things that she is now doing that she couldn't / wouldn't do in China. These have all happened within the past two weeks:

  • Holding her own bottle.
  • Getting into a sitting position.
  • Scooting around on her butt.
  • Pulling herself into a standing position.
  • Standing alone.
  • Walking 4 - 5 steps (she can walk more, but she's not confident yet).
  • Feeding herself (not with a fork or spoon yet, but she's mastered shoveling in the grub with her hands).
  • Turning book pages when asked. (Hooray, says Mama the English teacher.)
Although she's behind developmentally, I can't help but think that such rapid progress indicates that she'll catch up soon. Way to go, Kate!!!!

Some other notable moments / achievements:
  • Kate has discovered the toilet paper roll. Mama knew it was coming, but hoped it would be a while. Oh well -- at least she knows how to dress for a toga party!
  • Kate knows what "nose" means. And now, when I say "noses," she gives Eskimo kisses. (This is a vast improvement over the teething, drool-filled kisses she had been giving.)
  • Kate has outgrown her first outfit! Since she's not even on the chart for weight yet, this is a very good thing. Tomorrow's doctor appointment promises to be good, though, as Kate has DEFINITELY gained weight. We've been feeding her very healthy foods, and she can pack it in!

Foods she likes: PRETTY MUCH ANYTHING!!!
Her favorites -- bananas, Mama's muffins, vegetable crackers, cranberry jello.
Odd things that she likes: Eel, pickled ginger
What she still isn't into: Beverages other than milk, diced meat.

Music "notes":

Kate is so tuned in to music (pun intended) that her head tilts and she starts humming and dancing to even very quiet background music. She loves to play her rattles to the beat of whatever she's listening to.

Loves -- Mozart, Little Feat, Billie Holiday, Jimmy Durante, Norah Jones, any piano and all bluesy music. She also really likes Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man." Go figure!
Dislikes -- None that we've found so far, although she's not into the "kids" (e.g., "The Wiggles") music as much as we thought she might be.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I'm Ready for My Closeup....

Grandma and Grandpa Puschmann visited over the weekend, and wanted to celebrate Kate's 17 month birthday with a photo shoot, then a visit to the park. Kate thought the photo shoot was relatively amusing, but preferred the park and visiting with Grandma and Grandpa.
Make sure to scroll down to see the awesome photos from the park.
Do you think Santa knows my new address?
Please hear my prayer and bring me some hair (although I'm sooooo cute without it). They think I'm an angel.... Just wait 'til they see me at bedtime!
I'm getting tired of this outfit and these silly poses!
I wonder if I can grab all these flowers before Mama can stop me....
Darn, I'm Cute!Finally, they've captured my true spirit.

FUN AT THE PARK -- and Mama's favorite photos:

Friday, November 25, 2005

Soooo Thankful and Ready for Christmas!

A big thank you to Nana Hillcher and her family for hosting us on Thanksgiving. We enjoyed spending time with Grandma and Grandpa Braun, Kay, Harold and Heather, Laura, Ryan and Billio.

Kate had a blast entertaining everyone, using their cell phones and receiving unprecedented love and attention. Scott and I enjoyed watching all of it and eating a full meal while it was hot.

Today, Kate meant Santa -- or at least one of his representatives. Let me say that, come time for his performance review, I think he'll be out on his keister! He didn't smile, talk or even try to set her at ease! Kate was so excited about him and approached him with smiles and baby talk. On his lap, when she saw that he was colder than a statue, she started to fuss. Santa asked Mama to make her smile. I wanted to say, YOU might want to start acting a little jolly yourself, fat man. As I was trying to be polite, I refrained.

Grandma and Grandpa Braun are heading back to Michigan until late December. We can't wait to see them again. The outfits and toys are really neat, but the hugs, kisses and attention are AWESOME.

The rest of the weekend will be with Grandma and Grandpa Puschmann (mama's mom and stepdad). We're looking forward to the zoo and lots of TLC.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


I know, I know -- you've all been waiting for updates. You've probably been thinking -- "hey, you're not working, why can't you keep up this website?" Well let me tell you, I HAVE been working. And working much harder than ever before!
Message to students: Read below and see why you DON'T want kids until you have had your own fun, are happily married and are somewhat patient. Being a parent is the best thing I know, but it is tiring and frustrating at times. And you know there's only ONE way to make sure you don't get pregnant....

7am -- Awake to giggling or crying (depending on Kate's hunger)
7:20 -- Bottle time
7:30 -- Make breakfast and feed it to Kate fast
7:45 -- Wipe off the food that Kate has spit out onto me
8:00 -- Hold Kate's hand so she can walk around the house and chase the dogs
8:30 -- Book time, blocks time, music time (This is also when she'll play be herself for a half hour)
9:45 -- Attempt to put Kate down for a nap (key word: attempt)
10:00 --Take batteries out of phone so Kate can play with it until she falls asleep
10:40 -- Get her back to sleep after (choose one) the dogs / the door / the phone wake her up
12:00 -- Lunch
12:30 -- Get dressed for the day and read more books, practice walking, try to color, go for a walk, etc.
2:30 -- Snack time, followed by one wicked temper tantrum when Kate is denied a second banana
3:00 -- Sleepy time and occasional nap time
4:30 -- Dinner time and fun time with Papa
5:30 -- Bath time -- a favorite time of day, full of laughs and giggles
6:00 -- Show Papa her repetoire of tricks: cruising along the furniture, making music with her hand drum / mouth / kitchen implements / hands on coffee table
7:30 -- Begin bedtime routine: Read three books, reread Goodnight Moon at least three times
8:00 -- Place Kate in her "sidecar" crib next to our bed
8:30 -- After thirty minutes of crying it out / verbal comforts, etc. we go back in and place her on our bed until she falls asleep. She goes back to the sidecar.
9:30ish -- Night terror -- Kate screams nonstop for 30 minutes, but is still asleep.
10:00 -- Kate wakes up, needs more comforting. If we don't give it to her, she rips at her skin (which is said to be a "comforting" behavior that babies practice in orphanages)
10:30 -- 30 minutes of adult time before Mama crashes to sleep
2 or 3am -- Kate awakes, needs some brief verbal comfort and a few pats on the back. She then falls back asleep.

Sounds tiring, right? You betcha!! But you know what else? It's awesome and she's getting better every day. For a child who has been in three homes (orphanage, foster care, and now here), she's incredibly resilient and is adjusting a little more each day.


Doctor's visit
Kate had her first visit to her new pediatrician about a week ago. She passed with flying colors, as the doctor was impressed with how well she was doing. He said that, while she is behind developmentally, she's much further along than he would have expected. And when she pulled his hand away as he tried to listen to her heart, he said that she was as strong as an ox and would catch up without a problem. His only concern was her weight.
Height: At the 50th percentile
Weight: At the 3rd percentile
Since she's eating like a house on fire, I'm not concerned.

Also -- she has 13 teeth (either in or already broken through) and more cutting through her gums right now. Ouch!

When the nurse tried to give her the TB test, which requires a tiny injection just under the skin on her arm, another nurse had to come in to hold her down. Yep, that's right: three adults vs. one 18-pounds little girl. Can you say stubborn?

Kate returns before Chrismas for a few more shots and a weight check.

Meeting Friends
Kate has had a grand time meeting friends and family. She charms them with her smiles, giggles, assisted walking and tricks -- so much so that they hardly notice the gobs of teething drool rolling onto their clothes (eeewwww.)

Kate has met her dog girlfriends, aunts and uncles, other kids from the FAC (Families with Asian Children) group, and mama's other kids (her students -- and I forgot my camera!!!). She loves them all.

So, mama, these must be the ones you warned me about....

A Small Grouping from Brevard's Families with Asian Children Group:

Left: Kate and Emily. Emily is from the same province, is 12 days older and almost exactly the same size. We tried to get them together at the FAC meeting, but when Emily saw her mama holding Kate, she wanted nothing to do with her! We'll try again next month.

Cruising and Standing
In China, Kate would walk along the bed a little bit and when she was holding both of my hands (or Papa's hands). Well -- things have changed. She will use any surface to cruise along independently and will also walk quickly just loosely holding one of our hands. She's getting ready to walk, which means we better get ready to run.

On Thursday, she stood up for about 15 seconds on her own. She groaned and giggled the entire time, absolutely frozen so she wouldn't fall. It was very, very cute!

Eating / Not Eating
What Kate LOVES to eat:

  • Bananas
  • Mama's homemade muffins (yes, I actually baked) that have pumpkin, wheat germ, raisins, pineapples, wheat flour, apple juice, and cinnamon in them.
  • Yogurt -- plain or flavored
  • Squash

What Kate has no use for:

  • Juice
  • Water
  • Pasta (except orzo)
  • Anything if there's a banana in sight
  • Turkey, chicken

Sleeping / Not Sleeping

Kate's sleeping is improving, but it's less than stellar. I am able to get her down for a morning nap on a regular basis now, but the afternoon nap often eludes us. We're at least having quiet "resting" time in hopes of napping. Nighttime sleeping is improving slowly, but her night terrors persist. With a consistent routine and time for Kate to truly know that this is her forever family, we believe these will fade away within six months (hopefully!).

As you can see, however, Kate will catch "cat naps" here and there. This is becoming more infrequent as she gets better with a schedule. I also think that the teething doesn't help the matter, as she will wake up and stick her hand in her mouth to rub her gums.

One of the few times that Kate has slept in her crib:

Thank-You Notes are Coming!!!

Please know how touched and grateful we are for all your well-wishes, gifts, cards, etc. So many of you have spoiled our daughter and us. As soon as I can, I will be writing individual thank-you notes for the wonderful gifts we've received since our return home.

Thanksgiving Plans:
Over the Thanksgiving Holiday, Kate will get to spend time with the grandparents, and also -- hopefully-- to meet Aunt Mary. We'll post pics of the happenings sometime next weekend. We certainly have much to be thankful for.

Among our blessings are each of you. We hope you have a wonderful holiday and remember that you are loved.

Love to you all,

The Lucky Ones

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Happy at Home (Well, mostly happy....!)

After late flights, delayed flights and having to reschedule flights, Scott, Kate and Melissa arrived home safe (if not sound) Sunday night, near midnight. The flights were, well -- they were AWFUL. Kate was fussy and the flight attendants did not want Melissa walking around with her -- THANKS FOR NOTHING, Continental Airlines. As a result, Kate cried for hours and the rest of the passengers whimpered in their own private hell.

The good news is that we are home and happy. Kate is still on China time, so she and Mommy have not been getting to sleep until 6am the past two days. Kate seems okay with it, but mama's getting pretty cranky. We're hoping that tonight will be better.

Papa went back to work today, so he looks pretty rested. :-) Actually, all three of us were sick on the flights and afterwards, but seem to be doing pretty well now.

Kate LOVES her dogs, especially Gracie. Gracie likes her okay, and Cassie hasn't really paid much attention to her. Kate also loves her room (thanks Grandpa for the beautiful floor), her toys (thank you EVERYONE), and thankfully -- her carseat (thanks GANG).

And, now, some pictures for your viewing entertainment:

Kate HaiYang Braun -- New American Citizen

Proud Grandmothers

Kate's reaction to Mama asking her to go to sleep early tonight
I don't think so, silly mama!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Heading Home!!!

We are sitting in Hong Kong's beautiful airport counting the minutes until we head for sweet home Florida. China and her people have been wonderful, but you know what Dorothy says: "There's no place like home."

We can't wait to see everyone and can't wait to get Kate on a schedule. She was up all night with a sick tummy, and we're praying that it's over. If not, please pray for the poor people sitting with us.

Love you all and see you soon,

The VERY Lucky Ones

Thursday, November 03, 2005

more photos

1. The river at night
2. Dad & Kate napping
3. happy Kate.
4. The wine shop(Tim the Green Turtle should open a store in China).


3. From room window.
4. windoow cleaning chinese style.