Tuesday, August 18, 2015

3 Years!

It has been 3 years since we adopted Katie!  Everyone is always telling us how much Katie has grown.  She is talking quite a bit and she is super funny too.  Potty training...ugh.  We took a long break and are back at it.  One more year of preschool and she will be ready for kindergarten.  Therapy is going well and it looks like we are on track.  It's been so long that Katie has been with us that it doesn't even come to my mind and it isn't something I even think to bring up in conversation.  To me adoption is part of her story but it does not define who she is.  Regardless, now that she is 4 we do try to explain that today we are celebrating her adoption day to keep this as something she is aware of.  However, she kept thinking and saying that today was her birthday!  Haha.

At the playground. Katie loves to wear dresses.

3 year gotcha day picture

Monday, August 18, 2014

2 year Gotcha Day

It has been 2 years since we adopted Katie.  She has come a long way and we try to focus on the positives and not worry about the rest.  After a year of speech therapy services, we were not satisfied with the progress (or lack thereof) so we switched her to another therapy organization where the philosophy is around more of a holistic view of the child, where gross motor is connected to fine motor as well as speech.  Over the summer, we ramped up to 3 days a week of speech, physical, and occupational therapy.  In the last few months we are seeing progress in Katie's speech.  She is still pretty "floppy" but I think her core strength is improving with summer swimming and riding her tricycle, as well as everyday activities like having her climb into her car seat.  She started a new preschool program and we are hoping this environment will also stimulate and reinforce what she is learning in therapy.

Potty training is a challenge!  We have been working on it for a few months and #1 is going well but #2 is not!  God must be teaching us to be very patient as we try to avoid #2 accidents at home.  She doesn't like to tell us when she needs to go so this has been a project.  Hopefully someday we can look at this and laugh...not yet though, ack.

I still am amazed at how well the older kids are doing with Katie.  It was a natural fit from the day we came back with her and I know they cannot imagine life without her.  She is being so much better about not whacking her siblings and she is also calling their names and trying to help them out by doing things like bringing them their shoes when it is time to leave the house.  It's pretty cute I must say.

Adoption is the hardest thing I have ever been through from start to now - from paperwork, home studies, travel, more paperwork, adaptation at home, and continued challenges where you wonder what is normal and what is more of an issue that you have to deal with in the future.  I find myself in a constant state of worry about what long term concerns may exist that I am not even aware of.  I did not realize Katie would need all the therapy she has or have reactions to dairy and sometimes other foods.  I didn't know she wouldn't sleep through the night for a year, I thought that was just my newborns.  Adoption is not for the faint of heart.  And I am not discouraging anyone from adoption because I have no regrets.  It is both a selfish (I want more kids) and selfless (I am giving myself to you) act.  You have to go into it with eyes wide open.  It won't be easy.  You accept what is unknown and you have faith and patience.  You may have many, many sleepless nights and poopy diapers and be trying to teach a big child how to walk and talk and eat solid foods after being constantly rejected.  You see other kids her age and fight not to compare her to other kids her age, because it's not fair to her.  You give and give despite the temper tantrums.  You watch your child run to strangers and get scared she won't attach.  Then you notice she hovers near you, it just kind of sneaks up on you one day when you realize it.  Then there are the cuddles, she plays with your hair, and she smiles a ton.  Wow, this kid is...happy!  There is that day, 2 years after going to court and promising to take good care of your daughter, that she looks at you and utters the magical words, "Mommy, I love you."  Yep, Katie said that to me today.  I am feeling like one proud mom who is blessed and loved.  Yes, it is hard.  Yes, it is worth it.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Today is the last day of 2013.  Katie has been home for nearly a year and a half.  She is two and a half years old.  This year has been very busy with lots of exciting developments.  Katie started going to a montessori based preschool program, which has been very helpful in her speech development.  Though she continues to be delayed, she is working weekly with a speech therapist and I can tell that all of our efforts are paying off.  She is starting to say our names and ask for help, as well as saying yes, no, and thank you.  It's pretty funny how she will say thank you several times in a row.  :)

Attachment and bonding has also improved.  Katie is a very spirited toddler, and there are times I feel like I am at my wit's end with chasing her around the house and pulling her off her brother or sister.  This is the first child I have had with this type of temperament and it makes me feel like a newbie parent as I try to figure out the best way to manage.  But the last few months have brought a lot more cuddles, hugs, and kisses along the way that help make us realize that we have a very special and very smart little girl.  As she continues to improve in her speech, we believe it will get even better.

So how is the family doing?  We have done a lot of fun stuff this year such as going to Orlando for spring break, spending a long weekend at the water park, playing in the pool all summer, and having quality time together and with our extended family.  The kids have taken on more chores in the house (who hoo!) and just finished another season of basketball.  Next is more basketball along with guitar lessons and the continuation of 4H, children's church choir, and cub scouts.  I'm sure I am forgetting something.  As you can surmise, we keep everyone very busy around here!  We have started a new tradition of weekly family meetings to keep up with everything and talk about what we can to accomplish as a team.  We just started this about a month ago and it has been useful to stop once a week for 30 minutes and take an opportunity to educate our kids as well as get feedback from them.  

We are keeping busy at work as well.  Mike got a new job this year and it has been a blessing for him, as it is a job he has had a goal to achieve one day, and he did.  We are all very proud of him.  I continue to chug along and have traveled a lot for business this year - Houston, Chicago, Ohio, Kentucky, and Georgia are all states I have visited this year, as well as Ontario.  I hate being away from the kids but it is nice once in a while to get out and see some other places.

Wishing all of our loved ones a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Celebrating Gotcha Day!

This month, we celebrated our one year anniversary of gotcha day with a cake! The last year has flown by so quickly. Traveling to Poland is starting to feel like a distant memory. Katie has grown and developed so much. Her fine and gross motor skills are on target and she is eating well. Her biggest challenge is speech at this point. Katie is babbling and we can make out some words, but we are starting speech therapy services through our county early on services since she is behind on both expressive and receptive speech. As a mom I worry but we have faith that more speech will come. Right now we are working on kissing. I am trying to teach her how to make a "kissy face" with her lips puckered up so I can kiss her. More ways to bond. :)

Katie is a very smart little girl. She knows how to undress herself, so after a mishap in the crib that resulted in a wet mess during nap time, she sleeps in a onesie! She loves to imitate her brother and sister so she likes to read (or at least flip) through books and color and plays with Legos (with supervision, of course).

She is also fearless! I am amazed at how fine she is to jump in a pool and go underwater, popping right up like it is no big deal! I can see her becoming quite the athlete.

Bonding is going well. The kids all blend together so naturally. It feels like adding Katie to the family had no negative impact - it was a very fluid transition. I'm not sure what to attribute that too but I am so grateful for it. My oldest regularly states how glad she is that we adopted Katie. It warms my heart to hear her say that.

The biggest challenge we have these days is juggling 3 kids at one time. We certainly have our exhausted days from chasing, chauffeuring, and care taking. I know some people wonder why we would add to our family when we already had 2 kids who are older and getting more independent. I get the comment that our life was just getting easy, why make it hard. Maybe we are crazy but I honestly can't see us having it any other way now. It is hard to remember life before this little one was in it.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Katie is 2!

It is hard to believe, but today we celebrated Katie's second birthday.  For us, it was our first time celebrating a birthday with her.  I cannot believe how fast time is going.  It has been nearly a year since we met, and 9 months since we have been together.  Right now Katie is hitting those "terrible 2's".  If something does not go her way, it is a full blown tantrum!  The other struggle now are the constant illnesses that she has been suffering from.  I'm not sure if it is the climate change or there are more germs around, but this cold and flu season has been tough on her with a grand total of 3 stomach flus and several cold/fevers.  She is having a hard time again with sleep and general crabbiness because of the illnesses, and I think combined with her difficulty to communicate (still babbling, we have no idea what she is saying) I can tell she is getting frustrated that we don't understand what she wants.  We hope summer brings a change for the better so we can have our happy Katie back!

We celebrated Katie's birthday today with a small party and what I was most excited to share with her was the American tradition that is normally part of a 1st birthday party celebration.  I'm talking about when the birthday child gets their own cake to go nuts on with their hands!  Of course, Katie wound up being so dainty with touching her frosting, but nonetheless, it was fun to be able to celebrate this milestone as a complete family.

The other fun tradition I have started is a reenactment of pictures.  I noticed that I had a picture from the day Katie and I met, as well as a picture from gotcha day, that look nearly identical.  I am holding Katie in the exact same position and I am wearing the exact same top in both pictures.  So I have decided to take the same picture every year on Katie's birthday.  I wore the same top this morning and we completed our reenactment.  It will be so neat to take these pictures every year and watch our ages progress.
The day that we met, in June 2012.
Gotcha day, September 2012.

Our 1 year picture!  May 2013.

Happy birthday Katie!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Happy New Year

It has been busy but I wanted to post some pictures and share the latest on Katie. It has been 5 months since we have been home and nearly 6 months since gotcha day. I feel like Katie is finally very comfortable with us at home. She is developmentally on track with doing everything a typical 21 month old would be doing. We have her on a good schedule. Some days she can be quite sassy but for the most part, she is a very happy little toddler. Her brother and sister are so good with her. It warms my heart to watch them interact so well together. Katie got to meet a lot of family during Christmas holidays and we finally got her first haircut, which she sat so well for. I still cannot believe that Katie is with us. I know we are so blessed. Life is very hectic but in a good way. I will be sad the day our house is quiet! Here are some pictures of her out and about.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


It has been a crazy few weeks.  Katie had a welcome shower last Saturday, hosted by my good friends. Unfortunately, I have no pictures to show and I missed the first half of the event.  The morning of the party, I tore my calf muscle playing tennis and wound up at urgent care in a wheelchair!  Thankfully, my mom and mother in law took Katie to enjoy her party and later Mike drove me to the party and literally carried me inside.  I can say that the last half of the event was lovely!  My good friend Joanna is from Poland and her mom made many Polish favorites of mine.  It was good social time for the 3 Polish women there as well as me and my friends.  And Katie had a great time too.   It was so nice of my friends to recognize Katie's arrival with her own special shower.

Another first: Katie's first illness.  Somehow we didn't get sick in Poland, even though we were exposed to a nasty cold that most of my relatives had.  Katie wound up getting the stomach bug right before Thanksgiving, and the illness spread like wildfire.  Every single one of us got it, except Mike, and unfortunately many extended family members got it too.  Quite the welcome to Thanksgiving for Katie, being in a petri dish of stomach bug!  Yuck!

Now we are all on the mend.  I am off crutches and able to putter around the house.  I recently worked on cleaning up our adoption paperwork.  I am not joking when I state that I filled an entire garbage bag with paperwork related to adoption.  We researched so many programs and agencies that I have paperwork and articles about everything you can think of.  And of course, there is the documentation you have to get together for your homestudy, dossier, and agency.  Looking at the pile gave me pause to reflect on how much we did to get to this point - yet, I don't think of it that way.  I can't believe that God blessed us with her.  It was worth every piece of paperwork to have her here.  Ours forever!