Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Update on Caroline

Caroline is saying more words in English these days! She can say 'button, book, balloon, eat, momma, and mamaw' without being prompted. She can repeat the words 'thank you, orange juice, and Jesus' when I prompt her. She still speaks long sentences in Cantonese. Caroline seems to be understanding what it feels like to be 'full' at mealtime. She no longer stuffs herself, and doesn't get stressed at the end of mealtime, easily handing her finished plate to me....that is HUGE. Caroline is getting more comfortable around my basset hound Higgins and lately she has been giving him kisses....she still doesn't like to get kisses from Higgins. Bathtime is getting better and better. Caroline has fun in the tub now....another HUGE bit of progress. She has gained approximately 5 lbs since Gotcha Day. She now weighs about 23 lbs and can wear most 18-month size clothing and a size 4 shoe. She sat through her first concert last night....the IWU Women's Chorus......Caroline didn't make a sound and seemed to be mesmerized the entire time. I continue to feel blessed beyond measure.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Caroline's First Studio Photo Shoot

Caroline survived her first studio photo shoot. Last week I got a call from Sears telling me that I had won a free 10 x 13 portrait with no sitting fee. Of course, it was a ploy to get me in the studio so that I'd spend alot of money on a 'package'....well, it worked. I took the bait. I thought the pictures turned out pretty nicely....better than I expected. Here is a sampling of the pictures. So now the pressure is off to find a photographer....for a couple of months, at least.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Caroline's Bedroom

Yesterday, I put up a small Christmas tree in Caroline's room and decorated it in butterfly ornaments (surprise, surprise). I put the tree up two years ago in her room...I didn't put it up at all last year... but for 'some' reason I was a bit more excited about it this year. I also got the changing table put together....thanks to Mark H....... and Caroline's bed is pretty much done. I'm including pictures and a short video clip of Miss C.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Caroline is Saying So Much...and I Don't Understand Her

In the last few days Caroline has become more verbal. I would equate it to speaking complete sentences.....of course her sentences are in Cantonese, so I don't know what she's saying. Yesterday and today she has been telling Mom and I a story of some sort. She has included hand gestures that are so sweet. I'm so profoundly proud of her for displaying such a beautiful means of expression, yet so sad that I can't understand her. I'm determined to videotape her, but she tends to 'clam up' when she sees the video camera, so I've got to be sneaky about it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The New Adventures of Caroline

Today, the IWU Music Division faculty had a party for Caroline and I and we enjoyed food and fellowship with them. Caroline even decided to show off a little bit. I took her to my office for the very first time and she immediately went to the piano. I think she looks pretty natural at the piano. This week we also made a trip to Riley Hospital in Indianapolis for an appointment with a pediatric opthamologist. Her right eye 'wanders' then she is able to bring it back into focus pretty quickly. Good news from the doctor is that her eyesight is normal and things look good. He thinks that her eye will improve with time. He called her condition 'exotropia' and didn't seemed too concerned. We have another appointment in 3 months and if she hasn't improved, then she will either wear an eye patch over the good eye to strengthen the weak eye, or she might need surgery....either way, it can be treated. PTL. The other two pictures that are included on this post were taken by my cousin Ashley while we were in Kansas City.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Halloween with the Cousins in Kansas City

We have just returned from our 'Meet Caroline Tour' with family and friends in Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois. We were gone for 11 days. Caroline got to spend her very first Halloween in Kansas City with her cousins Zane, 8, and Zacalen, 6. She was a butterfly (surprise, surprise) ...notice her 'squeeky shoes'......and sort of got the hang of how to do the trick-or-treating thing. For awhile she wanted to stop after each house and inspect the treats. And, she was holding up the 'pack' of trick-or-treaters, so she had to be carried to most houses. She had a good did I.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Meet Caroline Tour

Currently we are in Kansas City on the 'Meet Caroline Tour.' We are staying with my aunt and got to spend time with several cousins over the weekend. They are all falling in love with Caroline. Over the weekend we attended the baptism of my little cousin was a beautiful ceremony. I look forward to next February when Caroline will be baptized. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the attachment that allows me to download pictures to my computer and then to my blog. If I'm lucky, I can get one of my cousins to give me a cd of some of the pictures of Caroline.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fall Pictures

Thanks to my next door neighbor Nate Larson for taking these wonderful pictures yesterday afternoon at Matter Park. Nate and Dawnelle, and their daughters Halle and Kenzie went to the park with us. They will be moving in November and we will miss them.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

She's a Multi-Tasker

Caroline is trying on Grandma's shoes while attempting to rearrange the placement of the kitchen stools.
Here she is running her 'corn-popper' sweeper while talking on her new play cell phone.
I've decided that Caroline is a multi-tasker. Caroline is feeling more and more comfortable around the house. The last couple of days, when she has talked on her 'cell', she is definitely speaking Mandarin...... and it sounds like she is chewing someone out....what I would give to know what she is saying! Caroline is also understanding more and more English, though not speaking it....except to say 'Momma'......and today she said 'balloon'....we still have several helium balloons in the house from our welcome home gathering. So, every time that she points to a balloon, I say 'balloon.' She can speak it now. Sweet has never been so good!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Welcome Home Caroline Party

Yesterday, a couple of former students hosted a "Welcome Home Caroline" party near the university campus. It was wonderful to see several former students, many of whom now have children of their own, as well as several friends. Amber and Sierra did a terrific job of planning the party...the decorations were lovely and the refreshments were delicious. You will also see a picture of Caroline in her new 'party dress' I needed an excuse to buy Caroline a new dress! Sierra sang 'When Love Takes You In' by Steven Curtis Chapman while showing a slide show of my China trip. Then, Mom read a 'Letter to Caroline'.....which amazed me because Mom doesn't like to speak in front of people....knowing that, I appreciated her reading even more. What a nice day! Thanks Amber and Sierra....thank you Jennifer for your involved. I love those girls!

Who Needs Toys?

While in Mom's closet last night, Caroline found one of the circular belt hangers on the floor. She picked it up, took the hook off and put the circular belt on her head (notice the red thing on her head). She then went to the empty tote that was sitting on the floor in Mom's bedroom and climbed in. Who needs toys? She thought that she was pretty darned amusing, as you can see by the pictures.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Doing What She Loves Best

Eating one of the Gerber 'Toddler Meals'.....not a drop was left when she was done.

This morning at breakfast......rice cereal with peaches. She's pretty proud of how she feeds herself. Again, every drop was gone by the end of breakfast.

Caroline is sitting in her new chair that was hand-crafted by Dick Johnson from Westminster Church. This is one of her favorite 'hang-outs'....sitting near her 'kitchen' and reading the newspaper. If the TV is on, she sometimes sits in her chair and watches TV with her hands perched at her waist. She is so cute to watch.
I thought I would include some pictures of Caroline doing what she loves best......either eating or sitting and reading. Sometimes I have to turn the newspaper around so that it is not upside down, but nevertheless, Caroline loves to look at newspapers, magazines, or books. I can't get her to sit still long enough for me to actually read a book yet, but that will come soon, I think.
Yesterday was a traumatic day. It was her day to go to the pediatrician to be poked and prodded. I dreaded the day. As I expected, Caroline started screaming as soon as the nurse started to measure her head. I tried to make this 'trip' as fun as possible, but I think Caroline has too much 'baggage' when it comes to hospitals or doctor's offices. She spent the first few weeks of her life in a hospital being treated for congenital syphilis....she is fine now and has been cured for quite some time, but she just goes bonkers when she sees anything that resembles a nurse or doctor. She got four shots and had blood work done. The fact that we had to wait TWO HOURS to see the doctor didn't help matters. But, it is over.
I plan to make an appointment with the International Adoption Clinic at Riley Hospital in Indianapolis so that they can do a 'post-adoption assessment.' I want to get their perspective on her eating habits as well as her overall health and development. I also plan to make an appointment with a pediatric eye specialist in Indy. Her right eye strays occasionally, but she immediately pulls it back in to focus. I can tell that she sees well based on the details that she notices, but I'm thinking there is something sort of treatment that should happen.
What a blessing Caroline is to me. I still can't believe that she is my daughter and I'm her Momma. I am so fortunate to have her and she is an amazing blessing to me.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Shower for Caroline

Caroline is the center of attention

Notice that Caroline has a cookie in each hand.

We received some lovely and very generous gifts.

Caroline and I with Happi Stoffel and her mom Bekki Johnston, who hosted the shower.

Today was an excellent day......Caroline attended church for the very first time and we were the guests of honor at a baby shower hosted by Bekki Johnston and her daughter Happi Stoffel. They are neighbors as well as members of our church. We received very wonderful gifts from everyone. We SO APPRECIATE the outpouring of love from everyone!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

New "Stuff" at the House

Michael, Mark, and Nash assembling the 'kitchen'
Caroline playing with her new kitchen.

Caroline in her new winter attire in the new Jeep Stroller

Ready to take her first ride.

We have received two very nice gifts in the last couple of days. Thank you Michael, Sarah, Nash & Mark for the 'Homestyle Kitchen' that you delivered to the house and assembled last night. Caroline has already prepared several 'meals' in her kitchen and has 'fed' Mom and I several times.......she LOVES it, and so do I.

Thank you, Anne, for the very big and wonderful 'Jeep' stroller that we will use on a daily basis as long as the weather cooperates. I actually took it out of the box and assembled it myself today. Pictures will show Caroline in her new winter coat, hat, and gloves as we are about to take our first outing in the stroller. It even has an iPod attachment....again, LOVE it.

Caroline keeps verbalizing more and more. She is more fun than I ever imagined....I don't even mind it when she has her occasional meltdown. We get passed it as quickly as possible and move on.

Our biggest struggle at the moment is bath time. She literally screams when we get ready to take a bath. She loves taking a sponge bath when she can sit on the edge of the sink and have her feet in the water. I have no idea about this one....I'm hoping that when I get a 'toddler bath' that maybe she won't hate it as much.

Her 'cute factor' rose today when she starting giving 'high 5's', then gives a very big smile. I am also mesmerized by watching her play at her new kitchen....she stirs her spoon in the little pan then 'eats' from it. I love to see that she can pretend.

I'm so excited to go to church tomorrow. This will be Caroline's very first time in church, and I am so looking forward to sharing the love of Jesus with her....something that would not happen if she were to stay in China. I'm hoping that I can hold it together when I take her up to the front of the church for her very first children's sermon.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

HOME: A New Daughter, Lots of Purchases, and a BUG!

WE ARE HOME! We've been home since about 12:45 am on Thursday, Oct. 1. Let me begin by offering some humble thank-you' Jim and Sue Sonnefield for taking time to drive us to the airport on Sept 16 and picking us up when we returned. I also want to thank Myrna, Amanda, Lauren, Mark, and Mackenzie for meeting us at the house when we returned. What a nice surprise! Thank you to Heather for making the drive to O'Hare to greet us...that meant more than you can possible know. Thanks to my sweet cousin Ashley for posting on my blog for me while I was in China. I emailed all photos and texts to her and she took the time to post them. And my biggest thanks to my dear, dear friend Anne for making the trip to China with Mom and I....we could not have done this without YOU. No words can really express my gratitude to Anne....truly. I know there are more people to thank...but this will get things started.
I not only brought home a most precious daughter, lots of fun 'stuff' from China, but a nasty bug that was being passed around several people in my travel group. I'm very thankful that I waited until I got home to get sick. At least I could suffer in my own house! I am just now starting to feel human again after 4 days. I hate it that I had to miss church this morning. I was so looking forward to taking Caroline to church for the very first time. Well, that will happen next Sunday.
Things are going well here at home. Caroline is adapting well. She is sleeping pretty well.....she tends to wake up at around 2:30 am....I'll rock her back to sleep....then she wakes up about 4:00 am wanting to play. I understand that it will take several days for her (as well as Mom and I) to get adjusted to the time difference. Caroline continues to eat like a little piggy. I took her to the doctor on Friday because she has a cold.....we survived that visit. She thoroughly enjoys her new 'squeeky' shoes. These are shoes that purposefully 'squeek' when she walks. These shoes have encouraged her to walk...and walk...and walk. That's a good thing considering the fact that only days ago she refused to walk at all.
Caroline obviously has had experience with a TV remote. And, she thinks that she must get in the big recliner in order to work the remote. Since I have two remotes for the family room TV, I've taken the batteries out of one of them so that she can play with it. Also, she knows about cell phones. I gave her one of my old cell phones that I can still charge up...but it is not activated. She punches in some numbers, then puts the phone up to her ear. The big thing is that she has said 'Momma' twice. And she actually sings to herself....quite a nice little singing voice if I do say so for myself. She's playing peek-a-boo and is waving to everything in the house. Today, she found a little 'suitcase' (purse size) that she has carried around the house and waves to Mom and I. I've got to get this on video. Caroline is a wonderful miracle and blessing in my life. I praise God for her every day.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Last Day in Guangzhou

Today was our last day in Guangzhou, and the only official business was to pick up Caroline's immigrant visa and passport.  I also have the official envelope to present to the Customs agent in Chicago.  Caroline becomes a U.S. citizen when she passes through Customs...amazing how that happens.   

 Our coordinator took the group to the Pearl and Jade Market one more time as well as Shamian Island.  We had lunch at Lucy's and headed back to the hotel.   Caroline took a nap and we did some packing.  As I write this I'm still hoping that we can get everything packed.  We did buy an extra suitcase for Caroline.  It's full.   

 TODAY CAROLINE WALKED ON HER OWN WITHOUT HOLDING ON TO ANYTHING!!  She is crawling, walking, giggling, acting silly and imitating me.  She is making 'kissing' sounds and I taught her how to blow a kiss.  She is starting to act like a 21-month-old.  To me, she looks like a different person than she did a week ago.     

Today's picture was taken at Shamian Island in Lucy's.  She is doing what she loves to do - EAT.  The next time I post on the blog we will be at home in Marion, IN.   Our flight leaves tomorrow at 12:35 p.m. and we'll fly through Seoul, South Korea, then to Chicago.  Jim and Sue Sonnefield are picking us up at the Chicago airport at 5:30 on Wednesday.  I hope we have some friends and family greeting us at the International terminal of the airport...Asiana Airlines.    

It's been an amazing journey, and we'll be glad to get home. 

Monday, September 28, 2009

Oath at ACS and River Boat Tour

Today was a LONG day.  We had to stay in our hotel room this morning to wait while my coordinator (David) took all of my important paperwork to the American Consulate.....if there was a problem, I would receive a phone call.  When the phone rang my heart jumped out of my body....but, it was just David telling me that all of my paperwork was fine.    
We had our group picture at noon.....Caroline doesn't pose well with big groups...but we made it.  Then, at 3:00 we traveled to the American Consulate to take the oath.  This was the culmination of such a long process and it was very emotional.  I doubt that I will be able to talk about it without tearing up.  Adoptive families stood, raised our right hand (most of us were holding our children) and repeated the oath.  At the end I cried like a baby because Caroline is now truly mine.  She is absolutely my daughter.  *tears in eyes right now*    
At 5:30 we went on a River Boat Cruise on the Pearl River in Guangzhou. We didn't really enjoy the food, but the cultural experience was fun The big story here was when the food came.  Caroline was sitting on my lap because there were no 'baby' chairs.  They brought a traditional Chinese bowl and spoon with noodles and rice.  I started to feed Caroline but she took this spoon and started to feed herself.....she then took the bowl off of the table.  I tried to put the bowl back on the table but Caroline became hysterical.   She evidently thought I was taking the food away from her.  We ended up putting the bowl in her lap. She then ate from that bowl for the rest of the evening, barely getting any rice or noodles on that spoon.   I tried to help scoop rice on her spoon.   We all realized that this is how she was used to eating.....probably given a bowl of noodles or rice and told to feed herself.  Then, they probably took the bowl away from her when she was still hungry because she wasn't able to get much food on that spoon.   I think that this particular type of bowl and spoon reminded her of her life before adoption.   Learning more every day about this precious girl.  I love her so much.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Our Day in Pictures

Today has been a good day.  We started the day with a leisurely shopping trip to Shamian Island.  Mom, Anne, Kristen, Caroline, and I took a cab to the island.  We ended up at Starbucks (again) for a snack.  This afternoon I met with the other adoptive parents and our coordinators David and Elsie at the hotel to complete the seemingly endless paperwork that had to be done in order to get Caroline's immigrant visa.   While I was doing that, the girls all took a nap.  We ended the day with dinner in the hotel with another adoptive single mom from St. Louis and her little one.   Oh, and Caroline stood on her own today and started immitating sounds that I was making.  Caroline makes significant progress each and every day.
First time for Caroline to open a book.
Caroline giving us one of her sly smiles.
Evidence that 'Aunt' Annie fed Caroline whipped cream from her
frappucino at Starbucks. Caroline liked it.
Anne, Kristen, Chris, Gerry, and Caroline at the White Swan Hotel
on Shamian Island.
Caroline wearing a didn't stay on her head
very long but she looked cute in it. The hat is a bit big, so
hopefully, she'll grow into it.