Wednesday, July 25, 2007

What Happens with the Girlfriends....

...stays with the girlfriends (unless, of course, your mother has a camera and a blog)! How absolutely cute are these outfits that my mom made for Kate and her girlfriends?!!! To die for, they are. We were sad that Taylor wasn't with us today for the great demonstration of cuteness and attitude, but the girls did their best to carry on. (Although, let it be said that Taylor is the Queen of 'tude -- and damn cute, too.)

Grandma rocks and all the girls say thank you! All the girls are absolutely ADORABLE in their outfits and all loved them, except for Emily who was only in the mood to wear either her bathing suit or birthday suit. She's the one who later decided to strip and wear the curtains, calling them her "tutu".

Note to Caroline, mom to Emily: No Spring Break for Emily -- EVER. hee hee hee

Here are "the girls" (aka Kate, Abigail, Emily & Ashley) in all their glory:

Above: Abigail, sporting the shirt from "Grandma Judi" -- what Kate's grandma is known as from the other kiddos.
Above: Emily thinks, "Thanks and everything, but you can't make me wear the outfit!" (Minutes later, she was naked and pulling curtains over her saying, "my tutu.")

Above: After Kate's foot touched Emily's leg, Emily pushed it away. Kate shoved back. Then they gave each other this priceless look. They all but said, "she's breathing my air."

Above: Kate and her mussy hair, after swim lessons. Still pretty damn cute, if you ask me!

Above: Sweet Abigail

Above: The girls pretend to nap. Notice that Kate and Emily (far right) leave a gap between them. Apparently, they're not over their little tiff.

Above: Ashley, the beautiful

Above: Trying to create a "flower" -- Easier said than done.

(And yes, that is a book in Kate's hand.)

Above and below, from left to right: Kate, Ashley, Abigail, Emily

Above: Ashley and Emily practice their ballet moves.

Above: Kate, put the magazine away already!!!!

Above: "Pardon me, Miss, may I take your plate?"

(I snapped this photo before saying, "EXCUSE ME, what the heck are you doing?!!!!")

Saturday, July 21, 2007

So far, so good!

Kate and I both woke up after a full night's sleep and so far, things are looking up. Thanks for your nice comments and thoughts. I'm also so very grateful that those days are much fewer and far between than they used to be. Kate has really come a long way (and so have I)!

And for your viewing entertainment, here are a few pics from a recent swim lesson with her teacher, Miss Karen. Miss Karen is so good with Kate and is teaching her many survival skills. The real bonus, to me, is that all of her motor planning improves the more she swims. I think it's something about having to use her whole body in the pool. Also, she's getting so much stronger -- thanks in large part to all the swimming.

Friday, July 20, 2007

One of those days

Good God, but today was one of "those" days.

Little Miss woke up before 6am and could not be convinced to cuddle with Mama & Papa -- even if we put a favorite show on. She was loud and crashing and demanding and well -- wide-awake.

By 9am, she was tired and way-cranky. I was trying to get a bit of work done, so I pretty much ignored her. Bad move.

At 9:15am, I look up and see about 9 puzzles and their various pieces strewn about the livingroom. She had also taken all the diapers out of their bag and crayons out of their boxes.

Hello?!!! You are 3 years old now -- no more of this.

We put on our swimsuits, me thinking that she needs to be physically worn out. Just getting the livingroom picked up and her into her swimsuit is painful today. She's hitting herself, screeching, etc. Every screech equals a time-out, so it takes us a while to get to the pool that's about 10 feet away.

At one point, she looks at me, screams her head off and then says "aye, aye" (bye-bye) and puts herself into time-out. If Kate had more words, I'm pretty sure that she would have cussed me out and then put herself into time-out.

Right back atcha, kiddo.

11:45 we come in from the pool and a sheriff is knocking on our door for the second time this week. Kate is naked, I'm soaking wet, but I'm grateful the puzzle pieces were at least put away at this point.

Over the next 20 minutes, the sheriff and I have a conversation about some guy who cloned my mom's cell number (which is on my family plan) and then used that number claiming to have information on an abducted person from Wisconsin and how she was dragged across the country and was in my house. Um, what?!

Two officers were at our house at 3am the other day investigating this, thinking that I was harboring this missing woman. It was very, very nerve-wracking to be grilled at 3am for something you are clueless about. I had no idea what was going on, but having a sheriff use his big officer voice with me made me feel guilty anyway. It didn't help that I kept saying "that isn't my phone number" until it dawns on me that it might be my mom's. Of course, Kate was screaming through all of this, the dog was barking, etc.

I'm hoping we are done with the sheriff's department, as our neighbors are probably wondering what we've done. I've also been told to monitor my credit report in case this is the beginning of identity theft.


12:30 Lunchtime -- Kate eats well, we have fun signing different words to each other and I think that things are looking up.

1:30 Naptime

2:00 Kate is whining / screaming / stomping her feet / being a total painintheass and still not sleeping. I'm ignoring her.

2:40Kate wins. I can't listen to it anymore.

2:40- 3:30 Sensory activities, reading, puzzles. Kate's attention span today is that of a gnat and even the sensory activities that normally help are basically useless.

3:30 - 4:30 We watch Winnie-the-Pooh and I say an extra prayer thanking God for television, dvd's and all the other things I said I'd never use to "babysit" my child.

4:30 - 5:30 Back in the pool. I wear her out!

6:00Dinner. Kate eats a ton (she swam a lot) and seems in a good mood.

6:30 Meltdown -- Kate wants more milk (which I gave her), but she can't pick it up unless she lets go of one of the two balls in her hands. I offer to hold one ball for her. This makes her wail. Then she proceeds to put both balls down. I'm thinking, YES! Then she hits herself with both hands, bends over and picks up the balls again. That's right, folks. My daughter will not put a ball down so she can get the milk that she wants BUT she'll put them down so she can hit herself because she's so frustrated at not being able to hold all three things.

These are the types of things that break me some days. You can't speak? Fine. Major motor planning issues? No problem!

Whining / hitting / wailing -- it just wears on my very last nerve.

In an act of self-preservation, I go to the bathroom, shut the door, stick my fingers in my ears and make the very mature statement: "I can't hear you, I can't hear you." Such a grown-up.

6:45 Kate has both balls and her milk. Not sure how she figured it out, but whatever....

7:00 Happy Kate watches Laurie Berkner videos on the computer with Papa. All is well.

7:20 Kate launches into a new hissy fit when Papa tries to change her diaper. "Mama, mamaaaaa, mamaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa."

7:45 Kate whimpers and whines and hits herself when Scott tells her that he is putting her to bed and not me. She should be happy -- he stays longer than I do.

8:15 I'm wrapping up this post and I think Kate is asleep. Please God, let her be asleep and let her sleep through the night.

I know I will. I took a couple of Tylenol PM's and am ready to sleep through anything.

Below is a typical Kate meltdown (and ignore the hair -- she fought the hairdresser so much that the way short bangs were the sad result). Looking back, I remember her having these EVERY DAY -- and a few times a day. I'm grateful that these are not nearly as frequent. This video is from the end of February and Kate has definitely come a long way since then.

What is it that Annie said?
"The sun'll come out, tomorrow.
Bet your bottom dollar that, tomorrow, there'll be sun.
When I'm stuck with a day,
that's gray,
and lonely,
I just stick up my chin,
and grin,
and say,
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow
You're only a day away."

Maybe tomorrow we'll find Daddy Warbucks.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Click on the Picture

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

We Need Your Help!

And it won't cost you a thing!

In order to bring Addison home, we are doing some major fundraising. Our favorite project is two cookbooks we are putting together. Since Scott is a chef and I am a creative writer type, we knew this would be something we could do together.


Here are our two cookbooks:

1. Red Thread Gourmet -- Asian & Asian-inspired dishes, also seeking pictures of your adopted kids / family as well as any "red thread" stories. We would LOVE to have some kid-friendly recipes, as well. PLEASE help us out.

2. Brevard Gourmet: Your favorite dishes from your favorite places
This cookbook is specific to Brevard County, FL. We are just now seeking out chefs, restaurant owners, etc. to get recipes. In exchange for a recipe (or two or three), we are giving the restaurant a bit of free advertising. What a deal!

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE consider submitting a recipe (or getting a Brevard, FL chef to do so for Brevard Gourmet). And we know that life is busy, but we need you to do this AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. We think we'll be far more successful if we have Red Thread Gourmet ready before the Autumn Moon Festival.

Thanks to those who have already submitted recipes. You rock.

Please visit our websites: and

Thank YOU!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Guilin Girls Playdate!

We had the great fortune of visiting with one of our travelmate families yesterday. We haven't seen Keith, Kathy and sweet Ami since November, 2005 when we were all in China. How fun to catch up on the happenings and see how Ami has grown. It was a great joy to watch the girls play together, too. We also got to meet Keith and Kathy's oldest son, Jay -- who is as nice as he is handsome!

Ami is two months older than Kate -- can you tell they are both from Guilin? For sure you can tell they are from southern China, such petite things -- and both so dark. People are forever saying that Kate is Vietnamese (this comes from Vietnamese people) and I'm sure that she might have some Vietnamese in her as her province is just north of Vietnam. It was interesting to see that Ami is just as dark and does not live in sunny Florida (they are from NY).
Here are my favorite pics from the day:

Below: Kate and Ami find an '80s video game that has credits in it. Look at Kate's terrified expression in the first picture, then Ami's sheer determination. Too funny!

Below: Fun in the water!

Left to Right: Keith, Ami, Melissa, Kate, Scott, Kathy

Is this too funny, or what???

Finally, my favorite picture of the day. Ami's pose and the light just worked perfectly together! Of course, her sheer beauty doesn't hurt either....

Keith and Kathy -- Thanks so much for letting us know you were in town. It was GREAT seeing all of you. Ami is a sweetheart and she sure has a great older brother. We hope we get to meet Cole next time.
Hugs and love from The Lucky Ones....
Scott, Melissa & Kate

Friday, July 13, 2007

The IEP is signed, sealed and delivered, baby!

We had Part II of Kate's IEP (individualized education plan) meeting yesterday morning. The closer I got to the building, the more my stomach dropped out from under me. I was dreading it. I was afraid that it would be contentious, afraid that I wouldn't have the courage to fight for my daughter enough, afraid that we'd have to book a Part III. I was just AFRAID.

For those of you who don't remember, here's the post about the first IEP meeting that was less than stellar: First IEP Meeting

When your child needs an IEP -- especially when it comes to one-on-one services such as speech -- you go in asking for the moon and then are grateful to get one twinkling star. It's just the nature of the beast. Well, let me tell you -- we got nearly everything we asked for.

Here's the deal:

  • Kate will be in a classroom specifically for Speech and Language Impaired (SLI) children - Mondays / Wednesdays / Fridays (which means we still have our Tuesdays & Thursdays together to do playdates with friends and just have mommy & daughter time)
  • She will receive 30 minutes of occupational therapy per week (for fine motor skills -- lacing, beading, drawing -- abilities that lead to a child being able to write, especially)
  • Kate will receive 30 minutes of physical therapy per week (to focus on gross motor skills such as climbing, hopping, riding a tricyle, etc.)
  • DRUMROLL PLEASE.............................
  • 90 minutes of one-on-one oral-motor speech therapy. That means that she will see the speech language pathologist everyday she's at school for a one-on-one 30 minute session. We were fully expecting to settle for twice a week and knew we'd have to really fight for it. We were FLOORED to see that they recommended 90 minutes per week. Kate's Early Intervention case manager told us afterwards that she's never seen 90 minutes before, and thought us being a thorn in their sides in the first meeting paid off big time.

Let me say that everyone was gracious and on their best behavior at this meeting. It was so much nicer than the first and I truly believe that Kate will blossom at school.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Hearty Congratulations To...

Chloe and her new family!
Abigail is going to make a great big sister and Kate can't wait to come over and play with both girls. Of course Cindy and Russ (pictured below) are going to bless their new daughter's life with love, patience, humor and adoration. They are great parents -- which is why they are Kate's godparents and will be Kate's guardians if anything ever happens to us. Chloe is beautiful -- she is just perfect! Go wish the happy family your best Journey to Chloe.
Abigail and family on celebrating two years together. It was two years ago yesterday that they became a family of three. Seems like yesterday, seems like forever. Abigail loves to read, do gymnastics, has a wicked right arm, is sweet as the day is long, and is whip smart. I think she's going to be an engineer! Read more about Abigail at Journey to Abigail.

Emily and family on celebrating two years together. It was two years ago TODAY that they became a family of three. Emily and Kate are from the same province, but different orphanges. They are our sweet Guangxi girls! Just like being from the same province, Kate and Emily are both Wiggles fanatics and have the dance moves down. Emily is an exquisite ballerina, loves the color purple, is a chatterbox and is very determined to figure things out herself. She will be a great problem-solver! Read more about Emily's adventures at

China's painful and complicated loss is our great gain. These two girls are beautiful in so many ways and have not only blessed their families, but us as well. It is a joy to watch them blossom and I can't wait to see what their future brings.

To celebrate, we joined the happy families for a Chinese dinner and watched the mayhem ensue both inside the restaurant and outside afterwards. So much sweaty fun!

Inside the restaurant antics:

Begins with Emily wearing her napkin.

Abigail joins in with her rendition of napkin peek-a-boo.

Kate, always one to do it a little different, just plops the napkin over her whole lead and shrieks with laughter. We get several looks from the patrons, who decide the girls are more funny than they are annoying. We agree.

Not pictured: Kate greeting each and every person in the restaurant as we made our way to the table, Kate running behind the sushi bar to hug the sushi chef, Kate stealing food of Cindy's plate, Kate throwing herself back in the chair when I gave her the evening's medicine. Are you sensing a theme here??? Oh well, she's full of life and that's what matters the most.

And then they went outside:

Emily, Kate and Abigail are transfixed by a scrolling LED sign.

The girls keep Caroline (Emily's mommy) running. Three squealing, laughing girls are just too much fun! (And a bit of trouble!)

Abigail and Emily sing "Bear's Now Asleep," including all the choreography. Very cute!

Kate cons Russ (godfather and Abigail's daddy) to lift her up so she can touch the LED sign. She had him hold her there for a good five minutes. He's more patient than I am!

Emily and Abigail wish each other a Happy 2nd Anniversary. (How sweet are they?!!!)

The highlight of the night? Abigail declaring for the restaurant to hear, "Daddy, I have to go poopy. YAAAYYYY!"

My Monkey

It's the silly times like this that makes motherhood so awesome.
Oh how I love my silly monkey.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Go Kate, Go!

Our daughter never fails to astound us with her determination, sticktoitiveness and all-around passion for life. It takes Kate longer to learn some things -- especially anything requiring motor planning (which covers most things in toddlerhood) -- so when she does learn it, it's because she's worked longer and harder than any of her peers. And it means we celebrate BIG TIME.

Kate started jumping yesterday! We have been actively working on this for well over a year and SHE DID IT. Her tiny little feet barely cleared the floor, but she did it -- several times.

Funny part is, she did it because she was having a MAJOR temper tantrum and I looked at her and realized she was jumping. When I pointed it out to her, she quickly changed her demeanor and was VERY excited.

GO KATE, GO! We are so proud of you -- not because you can jump, but because you keep trying. You rock.

Adding Addison

A big thank you to each of you for all your well wishes. We are so happy to be adding to our family and look forward to posting the story of how this all came about (Melissa just needs to sit down and write it).

A quick note on the process, as it is slightly different than what we went through for Kate:

6/10/07 Saw Addison's picture and read his description. Realized that the word "leukoma" was NOT "leukemia" and requested his file. We learn that Addison was born with PDA (a flap in the heart didn't close upon birth) and received heart surgery less than a month ago, in addition to having a leukoma (meaning: white covering) and ptosis (droopy eyelid) over his right eye.

6/11/07 Began researching Addison's special need, wrote questions, prayed, worried, brought his information to doctors, sent out emails to specialists. The doctors were not worried at all about the heart issue, but the motor development issues could be a concern. To say the least, this scared us as this is Kate's big issue.

6/12/07 -
6/15/07 We talk, think, pray, wonder, etc. as we await updates on Addison. We are concerned about his motor development, but also realize that delays are common in children in these situations. We are trying to be open but realistic. On the one hand, we think that his delays would make perfect sense considering he needed heart surgery and that oxygen wasn't getting to all parts of his body perfectly. It made sense that walking, running, etc. might not be up to par. On the other hand, we know what it's like to live with a child with motor planning issues: well worth it, but a huge amount of work.

6/16/07 We take a leap of faith -- we already love him and we will find a way to meet his needs. We commit to pursue Addison's adoption and begin the paperwork with our agency, Children's House International.

6/18/07 Received a bit of an update on Addison. At two years old, he was walking, learning how to run, talking (mostly one and two word sentences) and playing with peers. So, it looks like he is relatively on-target developmentally. The "learning to run" didn't worry us, as we expect that there might be some delay (not disorder) as he doesn't have the depth perception a child with two eyes would have. Many of our bigger worries just melted away.

6/18/07 - 6/30/07 Work on application, preliminary paperwork and submit our Letter of Intent. The Letter of Intent is translated for China and talks about how we will meet Addison's special needs, some details about our health insurance, and why we want to adopt him. The agency then writes their own part about why they support us for this child and sends it off to China.

6/27/07 Received another update on Addison. He's tiny! 31 inches and 20 pounds. Now that he's had heart surgery, we have no doubt he'll start gaining more weight. Oh, and he's from Southern China so he's small anyway.

7/10/07 Email from agency saying our LOI (Letter of Intent) was on its way to Beijing. It will be there by Thursday.


Pre-Approval -- If China agrees with us and our agency that we are the best fit for Addison, they will give us Pre-Approval to begin the adoption paperwork process. We are hoping for PA by September 1st. Once we get PA, we get to send him care packages and his foster mother begins the very difficult task of preparing him for this huge change in his life. Our agency is confident we will receive PA, but we will be a bit nervous until then. We weren't going to tell anyone until this step, but we figure the more prayers and positive energy, the better!

While we wait for PA -- We work on homestudy, fingerprints, paperwork, etc.

Here's what we already have:
Certified birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decree (Scott's first marriage).
We've completed about 80% of our adoption education training.
Letters of reference have been sent in.
Guardianship letters have been sent in.
Our photos are ready to go.
Physicals are done, including bloodwork.

What we need to do:
Update autobiographies

After PA, it's time to put the dossier together and wait for immigration to clear us to bring home another child. The magic document is called the I-171H, or the Letter of Favorable Determination.

Once we have the I-171H, we send the dossier to the Chinese Consolute in Texas for certification (or something like that). It then goes to our agency, who translates it and checks it over.

Dossier gets sent to China.

China sends us a formal Letter of Acceptance (LOA) meaning we get to adopt Addison.

We then sign the LOA and await for Travel Approval (TA). The LOA and the TA can take quite a while (up to three or four months for each) or be super speedy (less likely).

Once we have TA, we have to wait for a Consulate date in China (citizenship oath).

We travel about a week or so before the consulate date and get Addison.

So, in summary, here's the process:

  1. Send in LOI
  2. Wait 6 - 8 weeks
  3. Receive PA (hopefully!)
  4. Get fingerprints in order to receive the I-171H
  5. Wait about 6 - 8 weeks
  6. While waiting, bust our butts to have the entire dossier ready to send to the Chinese consulate
  7. Recieve I-171H, send dossier to Chinese consulate the next day
  8. Send dossier to agency, they send it to China
  9. Wait 3 - 4 months for LOA
  10. Get LOA
  11. Sign it and party it up for a little bit while waiting for TA
  12. Wait another three months for TA
  13. Receive TA
  14. Panic because you haven't done anything productive while waiting for TA
  15. Get consulate appointment
  16. Go to China
  17. Let the fun begin!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

What's in a name?

Addison = son of Adam

This is especially thought-provoking when you know that Addison's Chinese name means "an army of angels". It makes me think of a strong young man, who God conceived of at the beginning of time and provided strength to carry him on his difficult journey.

Of course, this isn't why Scott chose it.

Addison is the street we lived on in Chicago.

This is not why Scott chose it, either. And Scott did have naming rights.

(Ladies, you want a second child? Another child? Give your husband "naming rights." It helps.)

So, knowing Scott, this shouldn't come as a surprise:

wait for it....




Wrigley Field,
home of the Great Chicago Cubs,

is located on Addison.

(Wrigley Field is also located on Sheffield, Clark and Waveland. None of those made the cut.)

So Addison it is. It could have been Wrigley.

I hope he likes baseball.