Monday, December 7, 2009

What's for Dinner?

Mad New Skills

I'd like to take a minute to congratulate myself for teaching her this oh-so-cute skill. I guess she really is paying attention. Hmm. Guess I'll have to start watching what other skills I might be teaching her as well...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"Life as Usual"

Lately, life has been a bit of a struggle for us. Although Mia brings us more joy than we could ever have imagined, we've had to face many difficult circumstances since our return from Ethiopia. The biggest by far is that Travis' dad is now on hospice care at home, and among his many responsibilities to photography, youth ministry, and school, Travis is trying desperately to spend as much time with his father as he can. Likewise, I've been spending a lot of time at home with Mia, an adjustment in itself for a once career girl. I'm not exactly sure what "life as usual" looks like yet, but one area in my life that has suffered tremendously is my walk with God. I'm almost ashamed to admit how dry a valley I've been in lately. Going to Africa was certainly a life changing, God-filled experience. If you've followed my blog for awhile, you might remember my post from our last night in Ethiopia. I meant every word of that entry, but as time goes on at home, I feel my heart becoming more calloused to what I saw and experienced. I feel as if life in bountiful America is sapping God's spirit away. No more.

Tonight, I leave you with a video that truly describes the things we saw. Yes, there is poverty. Yes, there are a staggering number of orphans that need forever families. Yes, there is disease. But there is also hope and joy that doesn't come from any kind of material possessions or status or power. Their identity isn't wrapped up in where they live, what they do, or what they have. Their joy is found in the Lord our God, and I confess that I want to be out of this dry land and back into His presence.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Our First Halloween

I've been anticipating this Halloween for months now; it was so exciting to finally have a child and join in the trick or treating fun. After we made the rounds to all the grandparents, we ended up at my Dad & Marilyn's and trick or treated with our niece and nephew, Cassidy and Will. I have to confess that we only made it to 3 or 4 houses before we turned back; who were we kidding? The candy was all for us anyway! But it was fun to show off our adorable little penguin.

She's already a ham for the camera!
Trick or treating with Daddy
Mommy loves her penguin!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Why We Love Baby Einstein

I recently heard about a class action lawsuit brought against the Baby Einstein Company (now part of the Disney conglomerate). Parents were suing because they felt the Baby Einstein DVDs hadn't made their kids any smarter. Apparently they won because you can now receive an exchange or even refund for some of your DVDs. Yes, only in America can you sue because a DVD didn't make your kid any smarter...couldn't have been the lack of parental interaction, could it?
In our house, though, we love Baby Einstein. I'm not sure it is making Mia any smarter (how could you really measure this anyway?) but she loves watching it, especially the puppets (as shown in the video below). We love it because it's the one thing that will totally entertain her by herself for a few minutes, which gives Mommy and/or Daddy a break to wash bottles, eat lunch, whatever. And really, anything that makes her giggle like this had us at hello (or bonjour, hola...)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Look Back: Arriving Home

In order to make up for our lack of recent photos, I thought I would leave you with a special video of our arrival home from Ethiopia. We were overwhelmed when nearly 30 of our family and friends met us at the Indy Airport, and it is certainly an afternoon we'll not soon forget.

8 Months and 2 Months Home

Tomorrow my baby girl will turn 8 months old! It's hard to believe 2 months have passed us by. We've been busy the last few weeks; Travis is back in school after a brief hiatus, we've both been photographing families for our new church directory, Mia has been growing like a weed, and just this last weekend popped through not one but two bottom teeth! We actually didn't even know they were coming in; she has a habit of keeping her tongue stuck out, so it wasn't until last Friday when Travis made her laugh that he saw white shadows looming beneath her gums...No wonder she'd been getting us up at 5:30 every morning! Although we don't go back to the doctor until next month, here's a look at her growing statistics:
Our chunky monkey just keeps on growing! I don't have an official weight from a doctor's scale, but when I weighed the two of us last week at my in-laws, the scale read 19.5 pounds! I also measured her with a sewing tape measure and she was around 26". We're all the way into 6-9 month clothing, and I even had a 12 month outfit on her yesterday (thanks Leslie!)
Well, as you might have guessed from our rapid growing, Mia loves to eat. She finally figured out the spoon/tongue thing, and opens wide for just about any food I give her. The only thing she's balked at so far is a mashed up avocado...can't say I blame her there. To date, she's tried sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, pumpkin, green beans, peas, bananas, apples, pears, blueberries, yogurt, and apricots. I'm actually going to try to make some of her food this week as we're going through the jars quickly and I want her to try a variety of foods. Although Earth's Best has more variety than other brands, you can quickly exhaust the options. We've also cut down some of her formula during the day feedings (from 8 ounces to 6) and increased our table food. She also loves drinking from her sippy cup, but Mommy still has to help hold it if she wants to get any water and not air.
We're definitely getting stronger every day. She sits up entirely on her own, can stand with some assistance from me, uses both hands in coordination, is almost clapping and waving, and is starting to play peek-a-boo herself. We still hate tummy time and have yet to roll over (either way), although I'm pretty confident she could do it if she really wanted to. She's been so close a dozen times, and I keep trying to give her opportunities to do it. I'm not sure she'll ever crawl, but you never know.
This is a big one, and probably the thing we've struggled most with since we've been home. Mia has finally gotten the hang of our routine. She normally wakes around 6:45, takes a bottle at 7, naps from 9-10:30, eats again at 11, afternoon nap from 1-2:30 (pushing for 2 hours here), eat at 3, and then down for the night after a bottle at 7. Teething has of course altered our mornings for the last week, but we're hoping our early mornings are on the way out. Sleeping through the night is hit and miss. I would say she goes 2 out of 7 nights in a week. The hardest part about her night wakings is that she's usually wide awake, and we have to convince her that she really is still tired, which is not without its frustrations and tears.
We seem to be doing well in this department, but it is still a huge obstacle for us all. Mia spends 98% of all her time with me, and apart from the few days we worked on the directory, we have done all of the feedings, changings, baths, and nap/bedtimes. She definitely seems to recognize us both and has begun tracking us, especially me, if someone else is holding her. Even though I think we've made great progress, it's important to us both to keep taking baby steps. That means limiting those who hold her, not passing her around, especially in new places, and continuing to provide all the care. I know this is difficult for many to understand as it appears we're all doing great, but what I want to stress to people is that although she's adjusting well, we have only had her for one-quarter of her life. Three-quarters of her life has been spent away from us; up until that point, she had a variety of people caring for her and honestly had very little opportunity to attach securely to one person. When we came along, we were total strangers who took her out of everything she had ever known, flew her halfway around the world, and now give her our (almost) complete attention every second she's awake. There are moments when I panic that she doesn't realize who I am (I understand this might seem like a silly fear to some, but please understand that in adoption, it's not), but we get through them and keeping going

Sorry for the lost post and the lack of'd think with a photographer for a mom and dad that we'd have some new pics to share, but what can I say? I am looking forward to the holiday season. Mia's going to be a penguin for Halloween, so check back and I promise new pics soon.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fall Festivities

Every fall when the air starts to get cooler and crisper, I'm always anxious to make our first trip to the apple orchard. Nothing says fall to me more than cold apple cider (the real stuff, not the watered-down version you can buy at the grocery store), caramel apples (with nuts!), and pumpkin patches. The last couple of years, though, were bittersweet for us. As much as I love the start of the holiday season, it left us feeling empty seeing the other families enjoying such magical times together. We were desperately longing for our baby girl, to share these experiences with her, to watch her face light up at the new sights, smells, and tastes.
So this year I felt it completely apropos that we took Mia back to the orchard my parents took us to as children. Although it's not quite as picturesque as it was then (part of the orchard was sold to a housing development), it was certainly nostalgic and brought back memories of my own childhood. I can't even tell you how much joy I felt in sharing this new experience with my own daughter. I'm sure that next year she'll be able to appreciate it a bit more, but I'm trying hard to relish each and every moment now. She's growing and changing so quickly, and I know we'll never get these moments back.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

America's Next Top Model

Not me, of course. The gorgeous brown eyed little girl! It's hard to believe that she turned 7 months old last week. She's growing up so fast right before our eyes.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

How One Month Can Make Such a Difference

It was one month ago today that we were in Ethiopia, standing in anxious anticipation, waiting for the moment they would bring out our daughter to us. One by one, the other families in our travel group met their long-awaited children. And finally, it was our turn. It honestly seems like just a moment ago and at the same time a lifetime ago. I feel like Mia has always been part of lives; I simply cannot imagine life without her. She is our daughter. Adoption is truly a miracle ordained by God.

Here are some new pictures Travis took of Mia yesterday at the park. He had the honor of taking our goddaughter Gabby's 3 year pictures, so Mia and I met them after her nap. The girls were so cute together. It's neat to see how much Gabby has grown; it seems like yesterday she was Mia's size! Happy 3rd birthday Gabby!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Labor Day Weekend & Catch Up

I've been intending to get these pics up all week, but time seems to have escaped me, along with my camera that was forgotten in Travis' Jeep! We actually had a great weekend. Mia was a rock star with her naps. Saturday was pretty low key with a first time visit to Papa and Grandma Paschall's, which was good because Sunday Mia and I went to the Bowen family reunion (my mother's side) and she was introduced to almost her entire extended family! She took an hour and a half nap in the morning at home, and then slept for 2 hours in my Grandma's guest room! I couldn't believe it! I kept telling my family she was a horrible napper, and then she goes and makes a liar out of me. Oh well. My favorite part of the day was introducing Mia to her cousin Brady...they're only 26 days apart. Check out the photos my cousin Samantha (Brady's mama) took of them cute!

Brady and Mia

Mommy and Mia at Grandma and Grandpa Bowen's house

Monday was a holiday for Travis (yeah family time!) so we all three ventured out to Target for, what else, but more formula. Afterwards we made a brief appearance at Alex and Amie's cookout and (bonus!) also got to play with Kenton, Emily, and Gabby. Gabby was a bit camera shy, so no pics of the two girls yet.

Mia was fascinated in trying to pull Alex's facial hair!

And she loves looking at ceiling fans and lights with Amie

Wednesday was the big visit to Riley's International Adoption Clinic. I just have to express how much I *loved* the clinic and Dr. Keck. Really. I will be writing a thank you card to them...that's how much I loved it. She checked Mia out very thoroughly and spent almost 40 minutes with us, answering any questions we had and going over everything. Thankfully, she proclaimed Mia to be pretty perfect (not like we didn't already know that ;) She weighed in at 15 lbs 8 oz., up over a pound in 2 weeks. Her weight is in the 50-70 percentile, but she's not grown any longer yet. Dr. Keck said she was amazingly healthy and developed; her muscle tone is great, but she told us Mia will probably walk before she crawls because she hates tummy time.

Also, Mia started babbling more this week and has added "blah, blah, blah" and "da da da" to her vocabulary. It's so funny to listen to her in her crib in the mornings; she just jabbers away! Unfortunately every time I break out the video camera she clams up. Maybe I can capture her unaware soon. It's totally cute. We're also back to catnapping (so much for rock star status). But she's also getting a front tooth in (I feel it!), which I think is contributing to her recent fussiness the last couple of days. She pretty much just wants to be held all afternoon.

This one's just because I think she's so darn cute! (It's a little out of focus, but who cares?)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Meeting Mia

Well, it took me a little longer than I had planned, but I guess that's all part of being a mom now. Here is the video of us on Meetcha Day, August 17, 2009, the day we had been anticipating and anxiously expecting these 2+ years.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Another Week, Another Post

Another week has gone by, and I'd be lying if I said this was the best in my life. Don't get me wrong - I love this kid more than life itself, but I'd also be lying if I didn't tell you this is hard. We're still not napping well, probably a result of 6 months of habit (short naps after every bottle) and also from Mia's very strong will. No naps = one cranky baby. I've been doing as much research as I can on whether or not to let her cry it out (and please, if you have an opinion, I'd rather not hear it right offense, I already feel inadequate as it is), and the jury is still out. Today, though, she only slept for 30 minutes for her morning nap and woke up happy as could be. So after a few minutes of trying to get her to go back down, I gave up and took a drive thinking maybe I could ride her to sleep. No dice. Ah well, who needs a shower or to pay bills anyway? We had our late-morning bottle and cereal, played for a good while, and then started to get crabby again. This time when I started our nap routine, she would have none of it. And the screaming began. When not even picking her up could console her, I just had to lay her down, shut the door, and set the timer on the microwave for 10 minutes (oh, and call my husband in tears). Miraculously, 4 minutes into her fit, she actually fell asleep. I still feel like crap and I'm sure my face mirrors it, but I'm guiltily relieved to have a few moments alone. And hopefully, she'll take a good, solid nap and wake up with that smile that just melts our hearts...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Sweet Potatoes!

She seems to like the sweet potatoes I started a couple of days ago. She wasn't too sure what to do with the spoon at first; she kept trying to suckle it. Tears followed, complete with screaming, until I got some in her mouth and she stopped abruptly with wonderment at the new found sweetness. Today she finally figured out the spoon and actually opened for bites. Although it seemed like just as much came out that went in, I think we're on the right path.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Our Life in Pictures

Since my little one is still not napping well (think 30 minutes spells), I don't have much time for words, but I wanted to share a few pics from our life since we brought Mia home. I promise to blog more about our trip, but for now, enjoy our beautiful little girl!

At the Airport in Ethiopia, waiting to board our 16 hour flight

First Bath at Home! She loves splashing her feet in the water.

Our first cereal. She's not too sure about it...

Look at those tears! Such a drama queen already.

So we had to finish our cereal on Mommy's lap, and after our bottle of course.

Just swingin' in the morning with my Daddy!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

2 Days Home & 6 Month Checkup

Well, we've been home for almost 48 hours, and it has never felt so good to be a mom. I think we're all falling into the swing of things pretty well. We still don't have a good routine down, but it will come in time. Mia is wonderful. Did I mention how darn cute this kid is? She has the brightest smile in the world, and I love making her laugh. It's infectious. She does have quite the temper, though, and can go from happy to mad in approximately 3 seconds flat. We're still not sure if her fussiness is temporary from all the changes she's been through, or just part of her strong-willed personality. We'll see.

We had our first outing (in America, that is) today to see the pediatrician. We were concerned about her very runny nose, but thankfully she is pretty healthy. She seemed to like Dr. Fox, and we found out she's gained almost a pound and a half since we got her! She's up to 14.5 pounds and 24.25 inches long. We were also encouraged to start cereal and then some vegetables; I'm pretty sure I'm more excited about this experiment than she will be. I'll try to post some pics of the first cereal tomorrow.
After the doctor, I was feeling pretty adventurous and she and I made our first trip to Target. I was a little nervous out by myself, but she was a champ. She's not so crazy about her carseat (they don't use them in Ethiopia), but does like to ride in the car so she usually calms down once we get going.
Hank (our boxer dog) is also adjusting well to Mia's arrival. We were both a little worried as he's never really been around a lot of children and is also very excitable. But he seems to like her and often lays down in front of where ever she is. Mia's not freaked out by him at all and giggles when he licks her hands or feet.
Well, I can see my little one is about to wake from her nap and is sure to be hungry. I'll leave you with a another pic from our trip.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Life in Addis

We are headed home tomorrow, and our emotions are as diverse as this country we are in.  I feel exhausted, touched, overwhelmed, and full of love for this baby girl, who without I cannot imagine life to be possible (even in her fussiest and most challenging moments).  But more than just this child, I have been touched by this country and the people in it.  First impressions are sometimes deceiving, and the more time you spend here, the more you see the beauty.  Beauty in the small children who live on the street, begging to sell you some gum or shine your shoes.  Beauty in the old woman who carries down bundles and bundles of branches down Entoto Mountain, day after day.  Beauty in the smile of the woman who passes you on the street with her child tied to her back.  Beauty in the face of the man who stops to give Mia a kiss and tell her how beautiful she is.  Beauty in the faces of countless orphans, whose expectant eyes long for someone, anyone, to take them home and call them their own.  I have been touched in a way I never thought possible, and life will never be the same again.  It is true: I need Africa more than Africa needs me. 

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

First Report

We are alive and doing great.  Ethiopia is really unlike any place I've ever been.  The poverty is astounding.  Yesterday we arrived a little late, and it took 2 hours to get through customs.  Needless to say, we were running later than expected and had to literally drop our bags in our room and go (no electricity yesterday).  Meeting Mia was surreal, partially because I couldn't believe we were actually there and partially because we were going on 30 hours without any good sleep.  Today we went shopping in the morning, and then we got to bring Mia back to the hotel with us.  We've been having lots of fun; she is a snuggle bug and a great baby so far.  We gave her her first bath in our bathroom sink and Travis has now successfully changed 2 diapers.  I'm hoping to attach a couple of pictures, but if they don't go through, sorry.  The internet is slower than dial up.  We love you all and can't wait for you to meet her!

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Our Fellow Traveling Families

We're down to counting hours at this point and furiously running errands and doing laundry/packing before our wedding tomorrow, but I wanted to drop a quick line before I forget. Here are the blog links to the other families traveling with us. Most all of them have already left, so I thought you might like to follow their journey as well. (A word of's addicting! You might find yourself thinking about adoption ;)

Gillman Family
Rogers Family
Stackler Family
Corderman Family
Garrison Family
Holland Family

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Procrastination and Butterflies

I really should be packing, or at least trying to check off something on my growing to-do lists (yes, that's plural), but instead I sit on my bed, trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I will be boarding an airplane in just 4 short days to travel halfway around the world and instantaneously become a mother. This morning I woke early with butterflies in my stomach! I feel like a little kid waiting for Christmas morning. It's hard to fall asleep, my mind just won't turn off, and I wake early, knowing each day is bringing us one day closer to Mia.

Tomorrow is my last day of work, at least until December 8th. Friday is reserved for last minute details, like having our car seat installed at the Fire Station, finishing packing, and getting the house ready for our house sitter. We are shooting an early wedding on Saturday (in Greenwood, thankfully), and then Sunday morning, Lord willing, we will be on the 6:00am flight to Dulles International Airport. After a brief layover, we'll board our 8 hour flight to Rome at 10:00am. We stop in Rome to refuel, and then spend 6 more hours heading to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We should arrive at 8:20am on Monday morning (really 1:20am here). After some paperwork and lunch, we will head to the Transition home to meet our baby girl. What a day it will be! I will try to post at least once or twice while we're gone, but I've heard the internet is really slow and we only plan to have power every other day, so we'll see how it goes.

I will try to post again before we head out, but for now, I hear my lists calling...I really should get something done tonight.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

It's Official

We received confirmation from our adoption agency today that we are good to travel! It's a good thing, too, because our plane tickets arrived yesterday from our travel agency. If you look carefully, you can see Mia's boarding pass home (she'll be Bitania until we readopt her in the U.S.).
It's really hard to believe that in just 10 days we'll be boarding a plane to finally go and bring our baby girl home. I started packing for her on Monday evening, and as I sat in the middle of her room, surrounded by sleepers, lotion, pacifiers, and all kinds of baby stuff, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. After all this time, all the pretty baby "things" we've been collecting for the past 2+ years will finally be used; they will finally have a purpose. It is an amazing feeling, but also terrifying at the same time. Our lives are about to change forever, and I, for one, can't wait.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

July Update!

I'm so excited that I can actually share our updated pictures! We just received our July update, and our precious Mia is now a whopping 12 pounds! She has also started rolling over, can bear weight on her legs, and is holding her head up while she's on her tummy. I can not wait to get to her! If all goes as planned, we'll be leaving Indy on Sunday, August 16th and arrive back home the following Sunday, August 23rd.

For now, enjoy the new pics!