Saturday, March 27, 2010

Happy Referralversary!

One year ago today at 12:20pm, we received the most long-awaited phone call of our lives. I can still hear Terra's precious words in my head. "Sarah, I have some good news. This is your referral call!" I can't believe it's been a whole year, and at the same time, it feels like a lifetime ago.
Although Mia's birthday will always be special, I think that our referralversary will always maintain more memories, for me anyway. It's kind of like my "labor" story, as I can still recall every detail of the day. (Read more about the day here, if you like.) I often recount her referral story to Mia, along with her "story" and the details of her adoption. I still can't make it through without crying, but I hope that hearing it over and over again will make it familiar and easier for her to ask us questions as she gets older.

Dearest Mia,
This is the very first time I ever saw your sweet little face.
You have certainly grown by leaps and bounds in the last year! You were a teeny tiny 6 pounds in this picture. But even teeny tiny, you changed Daddy's and my life in the biggest way. Although waiting for your referral was hard, we had no idea that the most difficult wait lay before us. Now that we had seen you, all we could think about was how to get to you. Every month that passed brought us new pictures of you; we loved watching you grow and develop, but we were so sad that we weren't there to see it. We know and take comfort though, my love, that God was with you every step of the way. He has never nor will ever leave or forsake you.

May Updates

Finally, on August 17, we held you in our arms for the very first time. It is also a day that will forever live fresh in my mind.
I couldn't believe that after all those months of waiting that we were finally together...forever. You were very excited to meet us, too. When they brought you out, I remember that you kept kicking your little legs and blowing us precious raspberries. So much drool for such a little girl! We loved spending time in your home country, seeing the orphanage that you were in, and learning more about Ethiopia. We promise to take you back one day.

The first time Mommy fed you a bottle.

The day we brought you "home" with us.
They dressed you in one of the outfits we sent in your care packages!

On the bus in Addis Ababa. You were a pretty good traveler, considering you had only met us a couple of days before.

It has been seven months since we brought you home, and every day is a new adventure. You certainly keep Mommy on her toes! You started walking at 11 months, and are now running everywhere! It is so fun to see you learn new things, and although you are claiming more independence, you still love and need your Mama, and that makes my heart melt. You, my love, are the best thing that has ever happened to me, and your Daddy and I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful daughter. It's quite amazing the draw you have on people; we can't go anywhere without someone stopping us to talk to you. Many stop us to tell us how lucky you are, but it's us, baby, who are the lucky ones. You make our life more complete and we are so thankful that you are in it. I can't wait to see what the future holds for you and me.

With all my heart,

Emilia Jane, 13 months
22+ pounds

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thoughts on Motherhood, or Lack Thereof

I feel like lately our blog has been kind of drab. I'm not sure if it's just the busyness of mommyhood or maybe the lack of good material, but it just seems boring to me. And if I think my life seems boring, I can only imagine what the rest of you are thinking. (Or maybe you're not because you've given up on me!) So I'm taking a break of my account of Mia's little life for some of my own thoughts. Don't worry, I don't have too many of my own these days.
The other night after we had the little one in bed, I sent Travis to the Blockbuster while I made dinner. Although I would have preferred going myself, I did not want a grilled cheese with macaroni and cheese for dinner (my husband loves starch so much I think he might turn into one someday), so off he went. I braced myself for yet another horror film (he is a horror junkie) or some indie film (which is sometimes a coin toss). He surprised me with a film he thought I could relate to: Motherhood. I wasn't sure if I should be pleased at such thoughtfulness or irritated that he was gone for over an hour on such a small errand. (Turns out he was also having wallets printed for Mia's birthday party at Walgreens.) I decided to choose appeasement.
So we sat down with our sausage and broccoli bow tie pasta and watched Uma Thurman make her way through a day in the life of a New York mother. The first thing I said to Travis after it was over is, "I'm exhausted just by watching her have a family in New York City." I mean, really. Life in the city looks romantic and fun, but try living in a five floor walk-up when your daughter forgets her backpack for school, carrying your elderly dog down 4 times a day to use the restroom with your 2 year old son on your back, or riding your bicycle around while shopping for party supplies (and a cake!) for your daughter's 6th birthday party. No thank you. Life in the suburbs doesn't seem so bad after all...
But more than that, I was struck by Uma's character's struggle with life after motherhood. She's what I would call a power-blogger, blogging multiple times a day about thoughts on her role as a wife and mother, but always feeling trite and glib, and never original or thoughtful (hmmm, sounds familiar). So she decides to enter a contest to win a weekly column at a mom's magazine; all she has to do is write 250 words about what motherhood means to her. The only catch is that she only has about 8 hours to complete the task, and it happens to be the same day as her daughter's birthday party. I won't give too much away in case you happen to see it, so I'll stop my synopsis there.
So here's my take away: I am not alone. Although I happen to read a handful of blogs with mothers that manage to blog nearly every day and have some kind of relevant, thought-provoking post (how? how do they do this and get anything else done?), I am not alone in that between laundry, cooking nutritious meals, playing peek-a-boo, telling Mia for the 100th time not to touch the DVD player, wondering if I've provided her enough stimulation today, remembering to let the dog out, and maybe a shower that all original thoughts that used to occupy my cranium have been crowded out.
Will they return? I hope that one day, they will. One thing is certain; this blog will be more interesting or it will die trying.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

It's My Party

Warning: the following post contains a ton of pictures. I mean, when it's your daughter's first birthday party, how can you just choose a couple?

Saturday we "officially" celebrated Mia's first birthday. We were joined by most of our family (ahem, Uncle Jon?) and a few friends in our church's new community room. It was the perfect space for such a party, and I thoroughly enjoyed not having to clean up my house for the event.
The theme of the day, as you can see, was spring with an emphasis on chicks. Mia's nursery is accented with birds, so I thought it fitting that we continue the theme, especially as this will probably be the only party I get to pick. If you've noticed my new Sarah's Sweets button to the right, you know I recently launched my work-at-home business. So yes, I did make her cake and cookies, and it was the most fun and relaxing cake I've ever done. I've had the design planned for about 5 months (I'm a bit neurotic), but the cookie idea came just a few weeks ago. I made matching chick cookies for our guests to take as favors. If you want to see more pictures, just go to

This kid was all smiles when we sang "Happy Birthday." She loves music!

I didn't actually make her a true smash cake, just a cupcake with a tiny bit of buttercream. I know, I'm a mean mommy. But she came down with a cold the day before her party, and I didn't want to sugar her up too much. You can tell in her eyes that she wasn't feeling too hot.

Eating cupcake with Grandma Audrey and her brand-new (not even one month old!) baby cousin Atticus.

With Grandma Hutton

She wasn't too sure what to think of all her presents. I think she had more fun with tearing up the tissue paper. In her defense, she received a ton of clothes (as in, she has more spring/summer clothes than me!) and just a couple of toys. While I'm thrilled, I know that clothes aren't nearly as fun to open as this age.

Her very first Cubs hat from Uncle Matt.

She loves her cousins and her Grandma Paschall!

Every girl needs her sunglasses. If only I could keep these on her. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Week's Worth of Change

So we're into our second week as a 12 month old. Last week, I will admit, was pretty rough. I'm not sure if it was our check-up at the doctor (with a finger stick by a somewhat rough tech), another round of shots at the health department, or the lingering cold weather and subsequent continued hibernation, but Mia was pretty grumpy and definitely has learned how to throw a good tantrum. To complete the week, we had an awful night's sleep Saturday night with what appeared to us as fear of her crib. I've been told night terrors can start around this age, but there was something not quite right about her screams that left us both uneasy and unnerved. I kept wondering if she was remembering something from her past that scared her, and so I did the only thing I could think of at 1:00 am: pray for a spirit of peace. Having never done this before, I'm never sure if we're dealing with "normal" child development issues, adoption issues, or both, and so I tend to always err on the side of caution.
Thankfully this week has been awesome so far for both Mommy and Mia. I'm not sure what's made the difference, but it seems like she has grown up so much in the last 7 days. If you'd told me a week ago that I'd be feeding my daughter pot roast with carrots and potatoes, I'd have called you crazy. But that is, in fact, exactly what's happened. Last Friday, Mia began refusing all baby food. I could sense this growing independence coming, but I was not prepared for it to happen all at once. I'm not sure anything has given me more anxiety than food. I wanted to make sure she was eating healthy, well-rounded, non-processed, and mostly organic foods, which, if you didn't know, is extremely difficult to do on a budget! So after a quick crash course and consolation from my go-to mommy advice friend Shari, Mia is now eating all table foods and all by herself. She'll still let me feed her applesauce, oatmeal, and yogurt, but that's about it. Our big girl has eaten sunflower butter sandwiches, green beans, pot roast, carrots, potatoes, four cheese ravioli, a variety of fruits, macaroni with red sauce, and even macaroni & cheese from O'Charleys. There's no stopping her now!
We've also gained tremendous strides in her gross motor development. Our wobbly and somewhat timid girl has taken off...literally. It just a week's time, she's begun running around the house, chasing after Hank, and never, ever stops. Not even to watch Baby Einstein anymore :( This does make life a bit more complicated for Mommy as I can't go anywhere without a little shadow, but I just can't get over how much fun this age is. The other day I walked out of her room for just a moment, and when I returned she had her Belly Button book out, her shirt up, and was pointing to her belly b. I mean, how cute is that? I've been told it only gets better, but right now I just want to hit the pause button. Not forever, of course, but just for a moment. It's going by way too fast...