Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The World Needs a Million More Kate's


Just a few reasons why...

1. She brings unfiltered sunshine into the room with a flash of her smile.

2. She leaves your jaw dropped to the floor with disbelief of all you can do without the fingers you THOUGHT you needed.

3. Those eyes. Those lips.

4. She's eclectic, totally spunky and as bohemian as a toddler can get. That's just plain funny.

5. She lives to make you laugh.

6. She wakes up happy and stays that way all day.

7. ALWAYS glad to see you and always glad to smother you with hugs and be your girl.

8. Tough. As. Nails.

9. A brave resilience through all the changes in her short little life is simply amazing.

10. She's absolutely fearless and determined, ready to fly at any given notice.


The world needs more of really, really does.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


in the photos I take of Leah, I catch a glimpse into the future and see what she will look like when she's in her teens and twenties. Can you see it too?







She's changing from a very cute, healthy baby/toddler with the most pinchable cheeks into a beautiful little girl. She's sassy, ultra smart, funny, so sensitive and has the kindest heart. She loves her "babies" (stuffed animals), wearing her hair in fancy styles, listening to Hannah Montana and Taylor Swift. She's adjusted to the change of having a little sister, and has rose to the challenge of being a good example so her little sis learns the right way. I'm in absolute crazy love with her, so very proud of her.


Today, she starts her new pre-K class, and before I know it...she'll be in college. I want her to spread her wings and fly, but WHOA!! Slow down're going too fast.

Back from the Beach...

and it was all that I wanted it to be for our newly-formed family of four. Much needed R & R, bonding time for all of us, lots of sunshine, laughter and absolutely beautiful memories made.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lucky me.

I could write all sorts of stuff about counting my blessings, and looking at those beautiful smiles every day of my life...but I'll just get to the point.






I mean, SERIOUSLY happy.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Splish Splash


This is the most awesome water table ever!

I got this at Costco before we even got Kate's referral, just gambling that she would be of the age to appreciate it. Oh my goodness, does she ever! The water runs through the faucet without having to connect it to a hose, it comes with dishes and pans to "wash" and it is the perfect size for our deck. What's not too love...I mean, look at that little face!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I love this wall...


and these girls...



with every single ounce of my soul.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Too Much...

Well, I took a little vacay from blogger to tend to my new life as a working mother of two. I left you hanging, sorry about that. If it makes you feel any better, my camera USB cord broke, so nobody got to see any pictures, except for sorry little mobile phone photos like this...


Lots of wonderful things have happened in the past month, but it's just too much for one here's a few of the highlights...


Kate is blessing our lives and brightening our days with her million watt smile. She's truly beautiful, inside and out. She's a little firecracker too.
S-P-U-N-K-Y. And oh, so sweet.


My brother is a proud new daddy of a little guy named Jack.


She's 4 now. My baby is growing up. Sniff. Sniff. She's really busy with lots of playtime with her cousins and her new friends at preschool, but thankfully, still drops everything for cuddle time with Mommy.

And finally, I get this...


and this...


plus, some new photo editing software, and a couple of accessories, like this...


Tomorrow. I'm stalking the UPS tracking site.

Life is good.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Kate's Homecoming

On Thursday morning, we finally reached what we missed so much after two and a half weeks away...home. there anything better than your bed? Precious little Kate was greeted by family and friends that got up early on that morning in the rain, wow. Holly & Brad, Carolin, Kelly...we love you all so much, thank you!

This trip was really hard, I'm not gonna sugar coat it. In the short time span of our the journey, we logged thousands of miles on 10 separate airplanes, stopped in several countries and states along the way toting two children under four. It nearly did us in.

Here's a funny TMI, that wasn't so funny at the perfect little angel (that would be Kate that I am referring to this time)....who rarely had anything but smiles after we got to know each other in China, decided to have the mother of all meltdowns during a security checkpoint in the Guangzhou airport as we were leaving for Japan. She was terribly upset because I had the nerve to put her in the stroller earlier when she had wanted to walk, but since we needed to get past security and on to our gate to make the next flight, there was no time for dillydallying. So she was letting us HAVE IT and doing a fabulous job making it known to everyone in the airport her displeasure. When I pulled her out of her stroller at security to walk through the detector, I noticed she didn't smell too hot, so I turned her over to discover that she has poop all the way up her back.

In her battle with the stroller, she had made herself human toothpaste.


Holding my stinky, screaming child, I walk under the security detector, and get flagged to have one of those really fun extra security probes. Except I don't know it at the time because I don't understand Chinese and my child has poop all over her, so I walk through quickly, concentrating on finding a bathroom and move on with my life. Luckily for me, there is a bathroom less than 15 feet away, so I get to the bathroom and look up to see I have 5 Chinese security guards surrounding me as I attempt to change my daughter who is now writhing in tears and anger and definitely won't be sitting still for a quick diaper change. I realize that I am now a security risk in communist China. Really peachy.

After 15 minutes and the battle of the century, I finally get Kate cleaned up and changed. I'm sweating, worn out, embarrassed, horrified at her tantrum and wanting to pause the whole scene so I can quickly skim some chapters from a book on handling the "terrible two's" temper tantrums in public. Leah can be dramatic, but has yet to produce a performance like this, so I was totally unequipped to know what to do.

I look down to see I am covered in poop. The guards have looks on their faces that you don't need a Chinese translation book to figure out... "Ewwww....that's just gross."

I have it on my shirt, in my hair, on my body, on my pants, on my shoes...everywhere. At this point, our plane is getting ready to board in 20 minutes which begins a journey of 15 hours in a slender, silver tube with recirculating air. And I still have to go back with all my new friends and do a security check with poop all over me.

Thankfully, they made it quick.

After I got Kate changed and out of the bathroom, she instantly was her happy little self, like the last 20 minutes had not transpired. Figures. That's motherhood for you.

Enough about that, this is about Kate.

She is home and I think she knows it's for good. And after two full days of exploring her new nest, she is having the time of her life, and so are we. The next chapter has begun.

The photos above are provided by our wonderful friends, Brad & Holly.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Almost Done

Two weeks ago, we started our journey to China, and now we have only a few days left and just one more item to check off on the adoption checklist before we head home. Today was the medical exam, required by the U.S. Consulate, and it went as expected for little Kate. She's not really keen on strangers, so I knew she wouldn't like being poked and prodded very much.
We know one thing....

Her lungs work.

Other than that, we are having fun haggling with the shop owners, picking up some awesome treasure for the girls to have for later in life, playing hard on the playground, and spotting all the stunning brides. Guangzhou is a historical city that looks very similar to Savannah, Georgia with beautiful courtyards. On every corner, there is a bride and a groom having their photos done prior to their weddings. So gorgeous!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Oh, The Games We Play

We flew into Guangzhou early yesterday afternoon, and have now set up camp at the Victory Hotel for the remainder of our time in China. We really like our hotel room--- it's a Japanese-style suite with a separate sitting room, which is great for the girls to run around and play. This is especially important today, as a steady rain has set in and dampened (no pun intended) any thoughts we may have had of going to the pool or walking around the area to visit the various shops.

Not to worry, though... we are continuing to use this time together as another opportunity to let Kate get to know us better. Kate loves to tease, and she created a game that she likes to play with us--- sort of a staring contest, where she tilts her little head forward while still staring at you with a very serious look, then quickly raises her head up and screams while she smiles. We played it for 10 minutes straight last night, and today Melissa was able to get a brief session on video. Also, be sure to check out Leah putting on her Mommy's makeup in the background.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A smile goes a long way

Shawn...It's hard to express how nice the people have been to us over here. I guess a smile is the universal language, and we've exchanged many with the locals over the past week.
However, out of all the nice people we've met,
three have made a particularly deep impression on me.

The first is a shopkeeper who operates a small kiosk near the bridge in the park we visit every day. Today I found out his name is Lee (which is my Dad's name, and Leah's namesake--- pretty cool, huh?). He has humored my feeble attempts to communicate in Mandarin and has been very patient with me. Every day we visit his stand to buy ice cream for Leah and a bag of some kind of potato chip/twist food called "Lonely God" for Kate. I guess the taste is heavenly (Hello? Is this thing on? Please tip your waiters and waitresses). He is a very kind man, giving both of the girls lolipops today and helping other curious park visitors understand who we are and why we're here in China. He even posed for a picture with us and my Western Red Towel... quick explanation: WKU's Alumni magazine encourages alums to take their red towels with them on their travels, then send a picture in for publication. I've never really thought about doing this before--- probably because the most exciting locations I visit on a regular basis are the big towns of Waddy and Frankfort on my drive to work every day, and I'm pretty sure Western graduates have visited there before. However, although I've seen shots on the Great Wall before, I doubt anyone from Western has ever been here, so my sister Jennie and I (also a WKU grad) thought it would be fun to plant the flag here like Neil Armstrong. That's one small step for man, one giant leap for Big Red (you can quote me on that).

The second friend we met was the guy who runs the paddle boats. We have played on the paddle boats for the past several days, and when we showed up today the smallest bill I had other than about 23 yuan in loose bills was a 100 yuan bill (the ride costs 40 yuan for all five of us). He did not have change, so he accepted the 23 yuan rather than not letting the girls ride, and he didn't want to take the 100 yuan in full. We paddled around for awhile, then tried to dock but all of the slips were full and our friend was nowhere to be found. Fortunately, we saw a series of steps on the opposite shore than came down to the water, so I put the boat against the steps and the girls all got out and we agreed to meet after I docked the boat. I wish you could have been there--- it was truly an astounding display of nautical skill, the likes of which haven't been seen since Columbus' time. After dropping off the girls I paddled back to the dock and found our friend again, who created a spot for me to tie up the boat.
I tried to pay him again, but he politely refused. I felt pretty bad about this and told him I would get change and return, although he seemed to be telling me that it was OK. I found another kiosk nearby and was able to break the 100 yuan bill, then returned to the paddle boats. He again refused the money, but in English pointed to some chairs and said, "Please sit." He sat down next to me, with a big grin on his face, and we began talking to each other about anything and everything. I pulled out my handy-dandy "Just Enough Chinese" pocket-sized book with English and Chinese characters, and we pointed and talked to each other for 10 or 15 minutes. It was pretty amazing--- two men from very different backgrounds, neither speaking the other's language, that fate had thrown together for a brief period of time to become fast friends. It may sound funny, but I was deeply touched by this man's gesture... so much so that I had to write it down like Doogie Howser on this little blog/diary so I could remember the details, although I know I will never forget the experience.

The last friend I will mention is a gentle old man we met yesterday who speaks very fluent English. After awhile other people came up to Melissa and Jennie and began speaking to them, so this man and I found ourselves speaking alone. After talking about our families and homelands, he looked me in the eye and said, "The world is getting smaller, and China and America are good friends.
I hope to see you again one day."

I hope so, too.

Daddy Day in China.....

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it is worth repeating that Melissa and I are extremely proud of how Little Bitty (Leah) has adjusted to her new life on this trip. It's pretty hard to start sharing the spotlight with someone else after ruling the roost for the better part of three years... kinda like how Arnold probably felt when that little redheaded kid and his Mom Dixie Carter moved into the Drummond household in the later years of Diff'rent Strokes (OK, bad analogy, but I thought it more fitting than using the example of Oliver, the kid who started showing up in later episodes of The Brady Bunch. I mean come on... did anyone really like that kid? Who was he, anyway? Funny what things you think about after being in a hotel room for over a week).

Anyway, she has been great, but that doesn't mean that she hasn't had her moments of wanting some undivided attention. Therefore, yesterday (Monday), Leah and I headed off to the local park for some quality father/daughter time while Melissa put Little Bird (that's become our pet name for Kate) down for her nap. Back home we call these "Daddy Days," which we usually spend together every other Monday on my day off while Melissa is at work, and we always look forward to spending some time together to just talk and play. If you've ever met Leah, you know that she is 3 going on 30--- we have to catch ourselves sometimes to remember that we're talking to a 3-year-old because she is so insightful and mature for her age. Thank goodness for Google, otherwise I wouldn't know how to answer half her questions. It makes me wonder how Mom and Dad ever did it for me!

We had a great time, walking through the paths and looking at the beautiful flowers, eventually ending up at a small amusement park with a carousel and helicopter ride that spins around while playing a pretty catchy little tune. Since it was Monday morning the park was pretty deserted, so we had the run of the place. Next, we stopped at the paddle boat rides and were one of only three boats out on the river. Finally, we visited our shopkeeper friend near the bridge (I'll write more about him in another post) and bought an ice cream cone, then headed back to the playroom at the hotel for more fun.

What a kid. What a morning. What an honor to be her Daddy.