Wednesday, January 11, 2006

January 25, 2006

Happy Anniversary & 3 Month Update!

On January 25th, we celebrated the three month anniversary of being a family of 3! Kate also turned 19 months old on the same day. Is it even possible that we've only been together for three months? I can't begin to imagine -- or remember -- life without her.

Three months ago, we met our scared little girl in the meeting room of the Lottery Hotel in Nanning, China. She had two layers of clothes on -- the first a set of long underwear with yellow dog paws, and on top a sherbert green top and pants. The pants, of course, were the Chinese split pants. Around her neck she wore a toy cell phone and on her back a backpack shaped like a dog's face. She was one of the few babies that didn't cry, but she was definitely scared. We were terrified.

Above: Kate then and Kate now

Over the next two weeks, we became a family. We played with Kate and watched her laugh, we rocked her and watched her stay awake (the bugger!), we fed her, we bathed her, we learned that simple tasks weren't so simple. We also figured out that her foster family clearly adored Kate Hai Yang, for she knew what it meant to be loved -- and spoiled. Our daughter wouldn't hold a bottle, wanted to be carried just about everywhere and certainly wasn't going to use her own hands to feed herself. We didn't mind. In fact, we believe it helped us form a bond, because she allowed herself to need us. What she didn't know is just how much we needed her.

We've been home for less than three months, and our sometimes-devilish-but-always-sweet little girl has grown up so much. It's so exciting and so, so, so bittersweet. I keep telling her to slow down, but she's stubborn and won't listen! Kate is far too busy walking, pretending to talk on her wide array of toy phones, reading her books (she LOVES books), feeding her dolls and stuffed animals with her toy bottle, jamming on her keyboard, dancing to The Wiggles, dancing to any music playing ANYWHERE, practicing feeding herself, practicing throwing food on the floor with glee, using sign language to communicate (whether we happen to be looking at her or not), and using the word "mama" to demand whatever she perceives to be a need.

She claps and smiles when I ask her if she's ready to go to storytime at the library. Her smile is even bigger when papa walks through the door each day. She waves and then signs "papa." Now that she's walking, she spends the next hour following Papa throughout the house. When he shuts the bathroom door, she keeps making the sign for papa (open right hand, with thumb touching the forehead). Of course, Papa can't hear her signing, so she hits her head harder and harder trying to make him "hear" her. She finally resorts to using both hands to make the Papa sign and then smiles HUGELY when he reappears in the hallway.

Kate won't say "papa," but uses the sign for it and will even construct sentences with sign language. Until she decides to vocalize her thoughts, she is communicating well. For example, she might sign "No (to whatever I'm offering, such as food), more milk."

Kate clearly understands a great deal of English. She knows where to go if I ask her if her diaper needs to be changed. She will turn a page in a book, point to (well, actually kiss) the animals or objects that I ask her about, pick up a specific toy that I ask her about, etc. She's just not into saying those words yet, but that will come.

Did I mention she's stubborn? Did I mention that temper?
She's a fiery little one who knows how to turn up the drama over absolutely anything. She knows exactly what she wants and will do whatever it takes to let you know. Our eardrums will attest to this. We're working on mellowing that out a little, but we're convinced that we won't have to worry about anyone walking over her or her ideas. A wallflower she's not. (She's so much different than her softspoken parents. Yeah....right.)

She is one busy chick. And we are two tired parents. And together, we are one very happy family.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Kate's Christmas!

Although she had no idea what the bright lights and the wrapped gifts meant, Kate seemed to thoroughly enjoy her holidays. Despite having a horrible cold and two ear infections, she continued to rally back from crankiness in order to laugh, play and kiss all her toys.

Christmas at Grandma and Grandpa Puschmann's
Kate was spoiled silly at Grandma's house during the holidays. Between Grandma and Aunt Diane, Mama didn't have to do much at all. Thanks! Kate thoroughly enjoyed being with the family, playing and showing off her new walking skills. On Christmas Day, she started walking on her own!

Above: "Really, mama! Get these things off of me."

Above: The bottle in Kate's right hand was a stocking stuffer from Grandma. It didn't leave her hand the entire day! It's still one of her favorite toys!

Above: Kate jammin' on the organ

Above: The bib is part of an outfit that Kate received from Auntie Dorothy. The outfit's too big for now, but the bib is just right. Go Cubbies!

Christmas with cousin Sebastian

Above: Kate with cousin Sebastian. Sebastian is probably thinking, "I hope that girl doesn't try to kiss me -- she's a drooler!"

Below: Kate with the awesome toy that Sebastian gave her. It took a week or so for her to figure it out, but now it's part of the daily routine!

Christmas with Oma and Opa

Above: Kate kissing her new piggy bank, which used to be Mama's piggy bank when she was 3 years old!

Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa Braun
Grandma and Grandpa Braun spent last weekend with us, showering Kate with affection. We had a great weekend visiting, playing and doting on the newest Braun. Kate loved being with them and also thinks the big bear they brought her is fantastic! !
PS: The awesome puppy is from the Seemer family, and Kate plays with "Seemer" everyday. If I ask her, "Where's Seemer?" she goes right to the puppy and both kisses / rubs noses with him. Thanks Jack and family!