Sunday, January 9, 2011

3 Months a Family!

I can't believe how fast 3 months has flown by- but considering all that's happened in that time, I guess that's understandable! In 3 months we have (among other things):

* Become a family
* Toured China, sightseeing and completing paperwork while getting to know one another- and learning how to be a family (and a mommy/daddy/etc.)
* Flown across the Pacific, leaving behind everything Caitlin knew
* Begun to settle into our new life together here in the U.S.
* Celebrated Thanksgiving and Caitlin's baptism (with all 4 of Caitlin's grandparents visiting from out of town)
* Gotten through Caitlin's surgery to repair her cleft palate, and the 2+ week recovery that came with it
* Traveled across the country, flying from California to Wisconsin, then on to New Jersey, then back to California
Whew- my head is spinning! I can't even imagine what must be going on in poor Caitlin's head.

All in all, Caitlin is doing really well. Tuesday marks 6 weeks since her surgery, and her mouth seems to be about healed. She still had some stitches even up until last week, but as of Friday they seem to be all dissolved. She is back to eating solid foods, although nothing too hard yet, and her sleep issues seem to be resolving themselves. The past week she's been sleeping the night through- what a blessing!

The trip East for the holidays really threw her off and she has been out of sorts ever since. The attitude that I saw after her surgery has returned, and my patience is again wearing thin as I find myself the brunt of her anger. I realize that it is nothing personal, and I am grateful that she feels comfortable enough with me to be able to let down her mask and show me her true emotions, but it's very hard to endure. I know that this is just another passing phase... I look forward to my sweet baby girl returning (hopefully SOON)!

As I wrote to a friend the other day, Caitlin is my dream come true- and then some; but we are not quite to the "Happily Ever After" just yet. However, if things improve even just a little each day, we'll be there before we know it!

In other news, Caitlin continues to grow and blossom each day! It is so much fun to see her accomplish new tasks and goals- and then to witness her self pride in doing so!

She is speaking more and more, although she kind of has her own special way of saying many things. She can clearly say: wow, hi, Mama, and out, and she uses signs to say "drink" and "all done/all gone." But other words have a pronunciation unique to Caitlin, such as "ee uh" means "clean up," "ee eh" means "the end," etc. She still cannot say "Dada," but she definitely knows who Daddy is!

She is understanding almost everything we say to her, and she can follow almost all the simple commands we give (i.e.- "Go get your shoes," "One more," or "Bring me Libby's toy"). She can also identify several body parts. Comprehension-wise, she has a pretty big vocabulary!

And Libby now answers to "Lala," since she hears it ALL the time (Caitlin is very fond of her Lala!).
Today Caitlin tried to feed herself with a spoon! She has had no interest until now, and with the surgery I didn't push the issue since she wasn't supposed to be putting anything in her mouth anyway.
She couldn't quite get the hang of "scooping" and kept stabbing the food instead:
Dumping the food off the spoon before it even hit her mouth:
Giving up- fingers are much more convenient!

Eh, she was proud of herself... We'll keep working on it!

Caitlin adores books; in fact, she prefers books to almost any of her toys. To think that just 3 months ago she didn't even know what to do with a book (except to rip them to shreds!), this is a major accomplishment. And as a teacher, I couldn't be happier! She will bring me book after book, then do this little dance as she excitedly sits in my lap to hear me read it to her. I now have half of the books on her bookshelf memorized.

And she loves music. As soon as she hears any music, whether it be background music in a store, or even music on a commercial on TV, she will start to sway and dance. She especially loves to dance to the music during the "local on the 8's" on the Weather Channel! And the girl's got some moves- I definitely see dance classes in her future!

She also enjoys being my little helper; on top of helping with the laundry, Caitlin closes doors for me, helps to straighten up, helps me carry (very light) things, and helps me take care of Libby. She assists me in feeding her and I've even been letting her walk her! (Libby is an almost 9-year-old, 7-pound toy poodle, and offers no resistance. In fact, she only wears a leash because it's the law!) It is so cute to hear Caitlin laugh and laugh as she proudly walks her Lala down the street!
When she's not screaming at me, Caitlin is very sweet and loving. She loves to be held and cuddled, and she gives lots of hugs. I absolutely adore it when she comes running up to me and wraps her arms around my legs, or when I am standing cooking or getting dressed and she squeezes her way between my legs and the counter and just stands there with me. And my heart melts every time she says "Mama," then reaches up and rubs my face- or puts her face right in front of mine so that we can rub noses. So cute! Those are the moments I dreamed of... and what makes being a Mommy SO worth it!

And so, while the past 3 months have been a whirlwind, full of ups and downs, I am so grateful for all of it. We will continue to wait for the "Happily Ever After," but for now I am completely content to have come as far as we have, and to have Caitlin where she is supposed to be- at home, with her family!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Three of the 5 biggest stressors in life are supposed to be moving, losing someone you love, and having surgery. Caitlin has experienced all 3 of those in less than 3 months...

Only instead of just moving to a new house on the other side of town (or the state- or even the country), Caitlin moved to a whole other continent, leaving behind all that she knew. She lost her home, her culture, her way of life... everything. When we move to a new house, we at least (usually) keep our furniture and precious belongings. Caitlin left her home with absolutely nothing but memories.

And instead of just losing a loved one, and having friends and family to lean on to get you through the tough times, Caitlin lost EVERYONE she kenw and loved- and had NO ONE to lean on but Paul and me, two total strangers to her.

And then she had major surgery, and on top of the pain and confusion that caused, she also lost her ability to eat her favorite foods and suck her beloved thumbs (her method of self-soothing) because of it.

On top of all that, being so young, Caitlin doesn't have the ability to comprehend why it's happening!

(I've been using this analogy to try to explain Caitlin's situation to those who don't understand. It seems to help, or at least it seems to make people think.)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

We toasted in 2011 in New Jersey. We are having a wonderful time visiting with my extended family (who lives here), as well as my parents who are visiting from Georgia, and even my brother and his family who I have not seen in over 2 years since they have been living in Japan. We even got to finally meet my niece (my brother's daughter), who is 2-1/2 months younger than Caitlin. The girls played together nicely and had a great time together!

Opening MORE presents:
"The Girls"- just hangin' out!