Saturday, January 14, 2012

Happy New Year!

I had fun updating the pages on our blog and remembering back to when I started this blog almost a year ago.  It's amazing to think about how many people helped to bring Kate home.  It was a journey of faith and God continues to surround us with amazing people!  We have the best team taking care of Kate's CP needs and her school is perfect!  We love her teacher, Ms. Julie, and truly can't say enough wonderful things about her!  I thought the More at Four program would be the best for her, but God had other plans when the program was full.  He helped us find Julie who has helped in so many ways!  It's a good reminder to me that my prayers are always answered, although it's not always the answer I thought it would be! 

I will forever be grateful that Brennan was able to travel to China with me!  It truly meant the world to have him along!  I wish his adjustment to having a sister could have been easier once we got home, but hopefully he'll look back at the experience with laughter and appreciation because it forced him to grow and share a little more.  Brennan is such a caring and wonderful person... I always say he's a "work in progress" though.  I love the changes I've seen in him since June.  He's truly learning what a special gift it is to have a sister!

I remember the months of August/September as the hardest months of my life!  Going back to work was tough for everyone- especially Kate because I wasn't with her all day anymore!  We all took our turns falling apart... but thankfully once Kate got used to her schedule everything settled down and life became easier. I wish I would have screamed for help and if asked to give advice to anyone adopting an older child, I would definitely suggest getting a babysitter once a week for "breathing time".  I hope Kate doesn't remember much of this time of her life because her mom was definitely not her best.  If she does remember, I hope she has empathy and understanding for all of us!  If anything, it truly makes me appreciate our happier and less stress free days that we now experience with a lot more thanks! 

Kate has truly amazed all of us!  She has picked up on the language so well!  The other day she learned the very American phrase "duh" and used it often (and appropriately).  She cracks us up with her sense of humor!  She truly is a funny, sweet, caring, and amazing little person!  She is determined and stubborn too- both good things most of the time! 

We took a walk today to the little playground in our neighborhood.  It's about six blocks away and Kate walked the entire way!  I would have never imagined she could walk that far back in June!  I wish I understood how her CP makes her feel though- she's been a little grumpy tonight and so I'm thinking it may be because her muscles ache a little and she just doesn't know or understand that yet. 

They are in the process of designing some new braces for her legs.  The first ones have helped a little but her feet still turn in too much and we still go through a pair of shoes every month because of her toe drag.  Hopefully the new braces will work a little better.  What truly seems to work best for her is exercise every day!  She often practices the skills that Ms. Caitlyn teaches her at physical therapy.  Her newest skills are jumping and trying to balance on one leg.  She's always so proud when she accomplishes one of the skills! 

She still squeals loudly when she is excited!  It is so cute to hear!  Her enthusiasm brings joy to my heart!

Everyday I ask God to help me be patient, kind, loving, and sincere to everyone I meet.  I ask Him to help me be the best I can be in all the "hats" I wear (teacher, daughter, mother, sister, and wife).  I ask Him to help my words be understood clearly and for His arms to be felt around anyone who is hurting or sad.  Finally I thank him for all the blessings in my life and thank him for the health and happiness of my family. 

I don't always live up to my prayer (flashback to September)... but I know He understands and forgives.  For 2012 my New Year's Resolution is to live up to my prayer even better than I did in 2011.  2011 was such a magical year!  So many prayers were answered in such wonderful ways!  I look forward to 2012 and all the wonderful memories waiting to be made! 

Happy New Year!

Family Pictures December 2011

Kate's "Sassy" look
 My brother-in-law, Spyros, took these pictures for us.  We were so excited to finally have everyone together to take the large group picture.  It had been 24 years since we were all together at the same time!

Dave, DeAnna, Norman, Wendy, Dan, Spyros, Kim
Steve, Brennan, Penny, Kate

My mom (Penny), brother (Norman),
and Sister (Wendy)

The kids were pretending to swim...

My step dad, Steve, and his daughter Kim

Spryos and Kim

Wendy and her husband Dan
with Kate and Brennan

Christmas Part 2 (December 25- 28)

 We arrived in Eagle River and checked into our hotel room.  They actually had a little bit of snow which Kate was excited about until her boots got wet- then shd didn't like it anymore.  Silly girl!  We got settled into our room and then headed over to my mom and step-dad's house.  Mom had decorated with all of our "old" decorations including bubble lights on the tree, old ornaments, the train that went under the tree, and other decorations we had growing up.  It was fun looking around at everything!  We opened more gifts and had so much fun talking and laughing together! 

On Monday, Spryos (my brother-in-law) set up his camera and background so we could take family pictures.  We spent two hours with him and got so many great pictures!  It really was the most enjoyable photo session ever- and we got GREAT pictures from it!  After the pictures, we all went to eat lunch at the Tipsy Turtle.  It was really special having all eleven of us together!  We put Kate down for a nap while Brennan and Norman went fishing.  After dinner we all decided to go swimming at the hotel. 

On Tuesday, we drove over to see my grandma Starks.  Brennan and Dave hung at the hotel for a boys' lazy day.  My grandma is 90 years old and amazing!  She was on the floor with Kate playing, walking around the house showing us pictures, and telling us so many family stories.  Kate loved my grandma's doll collection and grandma even gave Kate one of the dolls she had made.  Later that afternoon several people met us at the hotel for an evening of pizza and swimming. 

Wednesday came much too soon though... I packed the car (which was quite the job getting everything to fit) and we headed to the house for a little bit before heading out.  We drove for about ten hours and got a hotel for the night.  On Thursday we drove for about nine hours and the kids and dog never even got out of the car!  They are amazing travelers!  We arrived home late Thursday night and had quite a lazy Friday!   
Opening more presets in Eagle River!

Learning how to play tic-tac-toe
with Uncle Norman.

So happy to be celebrating
Christmas with my brother,

Mom and Norman with some
of his beautiful art work.

Snuggling with Grandpa
Eagle River didn't really have enough snow to play in, which was disappointing.  The suitcase full of snow gear wasn't really needed this year.  Hopefully Raleigh will get some snow this year! 

I finally got around to doing some unpacking and laundry on Friday and Saturday and even started taking some of the Christmas decorations down.  For New Year's we stayed home and just watched some movies.  After all of our traveling, it was nice to spend some time at home. 

Kate was happy to go back to school on Monday and Brennan was happy to have one more day off.  I headed to school for a teacher workday and it was nice to get caught up a little and ready for the second graders again.

We had such an amazing Christmas!  We feel so lucky that we were able to see so many friends and relatives!  We also feel so blessed to share this Christmas with Kate! 

Nap time! 

Wendy and Mom

Uncle Norman was nice
enough to take Brennan
fishing in the freezing

On the computers with Uncle Spyros.

Great grandma's doll collection

Great grandma and Kate
90 years old and four years old

Grandma with three of her grandkids and one of
her greatgrandchildren