Sunday, June 29, 2008

Preserving Vacation III

The last pages of vacation. I think I'm not used to putting so many pictures on one page, so my pages turn out more simple than I see them in my head. But by the time I put three or four pictures and a title, I'm pretty much out of room. I like my collection of vacation pages, though.

First a two-page spread ...



Then a page of Cate and Milla together ...

Cate & Charlotte


Cathy and three of her four daughters came to visit for a little while this afternoon. They live in Alabama, so I hadn't gotten to meet Charlotte, who is six days older than Cate and also was adopted. Cate shared her toys with Charlotte and her two sisters, even her Magna Doodle, which is a popular toy around here. And I'm certain Cate had more fun that the expression in this photo seems to say!

Red Letters Campaign: Gotcha!


Do you have any tips / advice / suggestions for your "Gotcha Day" for people preparing to travel to pick up their little one. This could include things that made your day special, an easier transition at home, etc. Tell us what worked (and what didn’t) for you.

For our family, our "Gotcha Day" was Cate's birthday. We had been going with the birth mother to appointments since she was 25 weeks pregnant. We had built the kind of relationship with her that made her feel comfortable inviting us to the birth. So she called us when her water broke and we headed to Bloomington, Indiana. Later that night, Cate was born. And very early the next morning she was in my arms for good.

We got her.

What worked for us: We adore the birth mother, and not because she literally gave us the baby we had prayed for. We adore her, especially her sweet spirit and her bravery to live life even in the midst of yucky circumstances. All of this to say, developing a personal relationship with the birth mother worked for us, and I believe it worked for her. We respect her that much more and feel bonded with her that much more because she wholeheartedly let us into her life. It helped me, a soon-to-be mother, feel like I was part of the preparation story. I heard my daughter's heartbeat and knew how she was growing. I saw her, thanks to the ultrasound machine, twice before I met her.

These preparations, for us, helped us transition because we were as emotionally as invested in the pregnancy as we could be without physically being pregnant. Plus we knew that what we were doing by bringing this baby home was the right thing for us and the right thing for the birth mother.

For the first eight nights of Cate's life we were away from home. The first night we were in the hospital and the next seven we were at the southern most edge of Indiana waiting for people in Frankfort, Ky., and Indianapolis, Ind., to give us the green light to go home. We used that time to introduce Cate to family and friends that came to visit us and to bond as a family. Even though we weren't home, Cate was home with us and us with her.

I can honestly say that this process, a deeply personal approach, worked for us. And I wouldn't change a thing.

I do know that our next adoption might be different. Because every adoption is. But I am thankful for the experience we had, for Cate's story. And I'm already praying for the next adoption story we'll have as a family.

One Cate, Two Kate


There are people, scents and sounds that will always make me feel at home, regardless of where I really am. Katie is one of those people. She is home to me. Our friendship has spanned awkward teenage years, falling in love for the first time, having broken hearts, making decisions, eating more Hometown Pizza and drinking more Dr Pepper than probably ever was actually necessary, laughing at nothing, crying at anything, talking about nothing and everything at the same time, living next door to each other, living hundreds of miles away from each other but managing to grow closer, making really terrible fruit smoothie drinks, getting married one year apart on the same weekend, sending each other cards on birthdays and for no reason, visiting each other's homes and now having babies. Well, almost, her little guy is expected at the end of August.

Katie is home for me because I can sit really close to her on the couch and never feel like my space is crowded. We can talk everyday and have more than enough to say. Or we can talk every few weeks and feel like we just talked yesterday. She senses when I need to be encouraged, even from the other end of the state. She knows all my faults and loves me that much more.

So, enough about us, and on to Baby Boy, and the family shower yesterday. Well, family and me. That pretty much sums up our friendship. She's like family to me too.


Everyone, including Cate, was impressed with the "Wee Block." You know baby boys, and their tendencies to pee just as the diaper comes off!


Cate helped Katie, and proceeded to check out all the gifts, especially the toys ...




Cate also came away with several new friends.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bargain hunting


Fridays have become good mornings to yard sale for Cate and me. I noticed her reading the book we bought for Luke yesterday, but by the time I was able to snap a picture, she noticed me so she looked up. We also bought that toy in her lap. You put the stars on the pole and it lights up. A dollar well spent for Cate's entertainment.

Preserving Vacation II

More vacation pages I've finished this week ...





I definitely like the pool pages better than the beach pages. Any suggestions on improving the beach pages? I thought about just starting over, but I kept looking at it, thinking something would come to me. So I added buttons. But that still don't satisfy me.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Made You Smile

Yes, Cate, you did. You often do.



I strapped Cate in her booster seat and gave her a couple of snacks while I helped Holly move some boxes at her new house. First, I gave her a few of those mini Fudge Stripe cookies that come in those 100-calorie packs. I figured they were little and would be easy for her to eat. Well, the were easy for her to eat, but they also were easy for her to make a mess of. Look at that face!

Then we moved on the Goldfish, but I'm pretty sure she's making sure she gets every bit of chocolate off her fingers!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

No-Bake Cereal Bars

(Although that name DOES NOT do this dessert justice!)

1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup peanut butter
6 cups Cheerios
1 bag (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Lightly butter 13-by-9-inch pan. Heat corn syrup and sugar to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Cook until sugar is dissolved; remove from heat. Add 1 cup of the peanut butter, stir until smooth. Add cereal; mix well. Immediately press into buttered pan.

Over low heat, melt chocolate chips with remaining peanut butter, stirring constantly. Spread evening over bars. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or cool completely at room temperature until chocolate is set.

Makes 36 bars.

SERVING SIZE = 1 bar
EACH SERVING = 360 calories; 12g fat; 2g fiber
EXCHANGES = 3 starch; 1/2 other carbohydrate; 2 fat

On a cooking note, has anyone baked with Splenda? Do you think Splenda would be OK in this recipe? I think I'll try it and cut out some of that sugar. But, in moderation, you should really try these. They're amazing!

Happy (belated) Father's Day


Father's Day was the day after we got back from vacation, so I was a bit of a slacker. I had ordered him three things online: One was in the bundle of mail accumulated while we were gone that we got Monday, the day after Father's Day. Another came Tuesday, I think. The third has yet to come. I have no idea where it is. We went to his parents' house for lunch after church and spent the rest of the day getting settled after vacation.

So, here's a little tribute to Greg, who really deserved a better Father's Day, although one of the amazing things about him is he doesn't care if he's recognized on a particular Hallmark holiday.

Greg is a great dad for many reasons, but these are some of the highlights:

* He can make Cate giggle with little effort.

* He sings to Cate often, including when he puts her to sleep.

* He comes home to eat lunch with us most days.

* He helps. He changed his share of diapers, spooned his share of baby food, put on flowery shoes, and gotten up plenty of times in the middle of the night.

* We can talk about how sweet and beautiful Cate is and every time he glows like it's the first time we've ever discussed her.

* He loves including her in what we like to do, like going to basketball and baseball games.

* He tells Cate he thinks I'm a good mother to her and a good wife to him.

Swimming together


Cate definitely was more about her little pool after our week at the beach and much time in the big pool. Plus Luke was here, so she'll try anything he does. Luke let Cate borrow this plastic slide for the summer, so they had a lot of fun with that. They spent quite a bit of time trying to climb up it.

Speaking of Luke, you can read for tales about him and his sister here.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Preserving Vacation

After receiving a box of pictures in the mail last week, I started scrapbooking our trip to Hilton Head tonight ...




Then a two-page spread of Charleston ...


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Friends


Luke told Cate -- rather "Date" -- all about "Monsters Inc." while we, the parents, played Settlers of Catan last weekend. While the moment is cute, it only lasted a few minutes, at most!

She's taking steps!


I hesitate to say walking, but she's close! She took five unassisted steps on Wednesday, not that I'm counting. And a couple times since she's let go of my finger long enough to step a few times on her own. She really likes the security of the finger, so we've walked lots of circles around our house.

Sometimes she'll just stand in one place ...




... and will either sit down or take steps. This time (above) she decided to take a few steps.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mother's Day documented


I got to use some paper I've had for years, literally, just waiting for the right subject. So I made the photo black and white, which I don't usually do, and it seemed to work nicely. I like when I have moments of thinking outside the box!

I also wasn't planning on doing a Mother's Day page, but the letter was too sweet not to be preserved properly, and in my world that's in the scrapbook.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Red Letters Campaign: Countries


How do I choose a country? With so many choices, how do I even narrow it down? Where should I start?

When we decided to pursue adoption, we knew we wanted to help a baby in this country. Every family has their own reasons, but we just couldn't get past the fact babies here need homes too. When people in general think about adoption, I think the focus almost automatically goes to other countries. And, yes, babies there need homes. No doubt about it. But there are babies here too, and that's where our heart has been. Thankfully, God leads people's hearts to different places so babies around the world can be blessed.

Milla: Three Years Later

Another comparison of my family's two Hilton Head trips. Here's Milla in 2005 ...



And then three years later ...


Uncle Zac

My family went to Hilton Head three years go. So Milla was 18 months old, about five months older than Cate was this time. There were definitely some similarities in the trips. One of those constants was Zac.

When we went in 2005, Milla learned how to say Zac, and spent a lot of time having a little crush on her aunt's boyfriend. She's still fond of him, as is Cate. So I thought I would show you a couple pictures to compare.

Here's Milla and Zac in 2005 ...


And here's Uncle Zac, still popular in 2008, now with two nieces ...


You'll see Zac's Livestrong bracelet on his wrist in the 2005 picture and in Cate's hand in the 2008 picture. Well, Cate played with it on the way home, and I think it's still in the car somewhere. Cleaning out the car is on my to-do list today, so maybe I'll find it.

Doing the Charleston


Greg and I took a day trip to Charleston, S.C., while Cate hung out on the beach and by the pool with Grandmom, Aunt Cassie, Uncle Zac, Uncle Kevin and cousin Milla. It was nice to get away for the day and see some sites, but, I've got to tell you, I was really ready to get home and see Cate. We have our first overnight away from her planned to celebrate on sixth anniversary in St. Louis in August.

But back to the story at hand ...

We went to Charleston. Greg got a speeding ticket on the way there, but the officer so kindly reduced it to "only 76 dollars." That's what he said. Anyway, Greg considered it his souvenir.


We went on a boat tour of the harbor. Great cities are built along the water, and when one isn't, like Lexington, I get sort of disoriented. Anyway, Charleston is a peninsula with two rivers joining to make a harbor. Then the harbor goes out into the Atlantic Ocean. Just for the sake of fun facts, Charleston also had the first daily newspaper.

I was rather obsessed with this bridge ...




From the boat, we got a fairly close view of Fort Sumter, pictured above. It was especially neat because we'd just seen Fort Jackson, one of the sites that attacked Fort Sumter, thus beginning the Civil War.

In addition to the bridge, I was visually obsessed with the houses and buildings in Charleston ...



Sunday, June 15, 2008

The beach!


We spent the past week at the beach, specifically Hilton Head Island, S.C. The seven days there went entirely too fast. Most of our time was spent on the beach or at the pool in the backyard of the house we rented. I probably should clarify that we is more than just the three of us. My parents, brother, niece, sister and brother-in-law also went. I'll let the following pictures, and there are many pictures, do most of the storytelling.


Aunt Cassie out-napped Cate on the way there! She started out by demonstrating how to nap, and ended getting pretty comfortable herself. Cate isn't used to having people in the backseat with her, so I think she felt obligated to entertain. That's OK because she slept great (both at naptime and overnight) once we were there.

I'll just tell you that Cate was all about the beach. She loved the water, both the pool and the ocean. She liked to jump the waves or be thrown into them as they were breaking on shore. Obviously, we didn't let go of her while playing these games! She crawled on the sand without hestitation and enjoyed exploring.








Cate wasn't so sure about Aunt Cassie wearing her sunglasses!


I absolutely love this picture of Greg and Cate. I think Cate's sweet spirit really shows through.


Cate wanted to walk. We started the week giving her both our hands to hold onto, but she ended up just needing one finger. She's very close to walking!




Greg and Cate are posing at the top of the Harbour Town Lighthouse. And here's the lighthouse itself ...



MORE BEACH PICTURES ...


This is the path we took to get to the beach. The house we rented was just the second row of houses from the beach.


I'll start by telling you that we don't know these people, but I loved how all five of them were sitting in identical chairs reading. Speaking of reading, I did my share. I read "Betrayal" by John Lescroart, "The Dive from Clausen's Pier" by Ann Packer and "The Girl Who Stopped Swimming" by Joshilyn Jackson. I also started "The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold.







I love morning walks on the beach -- and, no, that's not a terrible description of my interests for a personal ad! I really do. I love how the beach is quiet and close to empty. So Cate and I, and usually Mom, and one time Greg, went on walks. One morning Milla went with us, and GREATLY enjoyed pushing Cate!



ON TO THE POOL ...










From the pool, we could see this big window in the house, so Cate and Milla liked to wave at whoever was outside when they came down from their naps. I caught Milla playing Peek-a-boo!

MORE OF MY FAMILY ...







Cassie and I unknowingly put on the same colored shirt. We thought it was picture worthy, and then noticed the sign that was going to make it into the shot!



The guys enjoyed Kevin's Wii. It was the first time Dad had played.


Cassie and Milla are good at making funny faces!

COMING SOON: Greg and I took a day trip to Charleston, so I still have some pictures to post from that.