Monday, August 31, 2009

NZ: Visiting Cassie & Zac

We were all excited to see Cassie and Zac. They have been in New Zealand since February. It was fun to see where they live and see glimpses of their lives on the other side of the world. We saw lots of beautiful, beautiful scenery [which you'll see more of in coming posts ... ], did fun things [again, you'll hear more ...] and really just enjoyed being together.

NZ: Being There with a Toddler

Did you have fun?

Yes. The whole trip was fabulous.

How did Cate do?

Well, since you [at least some of you] asked ...

Other than a couple tired breakdowns on the way there, Cate was excellent. She is somebody I would take on a trip across the world again. She ate well. She slept well. She entertained. And she liked seeing sheep.

She talked about planes being high in the sky most of our trip, especially whenever she saw one. And, well, she pretty much just talked. About everything.

Speaking of planes, once she got to sleep those couple times on the way there, she was fine. And on the way back, she slept [an estimated] seven hours of the 11 1/2-hour flight from Auckland to San Francisco. Then she napped the next morning for the majority of the four-hour flight from San Fran to Cincinnati. When she wasn't sleeping on the plane, she was probably snacking, watching Dora or Winnie the Pooh, coloring or reading books.

I should mention that while we were actually enjoying our time in New Zealand and not trying to get comfortable on a plane, Cate also was enjoying herself. Many times while we were there -- site-seeing, driving from one place to the next, eating, hanging out -- I appreciated my go-with-the-flow daughter who finds ways to develop new routines in new places.

She slept in our room on her own bed [except the two nights I let her cuddle with because she was scared of the wind] the whole time we were there. It worked well, but I didn't anticipate how it would affect her once we got home. She's mentioned wanting to sleep in our bed/room, but we've nixed that idea and reminded her that her own bed is fabulous. Both Cate and I have had a hard time falling asleep these couple of nights we've been home, but I'm sure we'll gradually get back in our our "normal" routine.

So, here's to no regrets to traveling with a toddler to the other side of the world.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Day That Never Really Was

I traveled in time today. Or, really, it was yesterday. Or maybe tomorrow.

It's all really confusing.

We boarded a plane in Cincinnati on Friday afternoon and a couple connections and about 24 hours later we were scheduled to land in New Zealand. On Sunday local time. It's Saturday at home. But, really, we had no Saturday.

Technically, we gain the time back in a couple weeks when we fly east across the International Date Line. But, again, that's really confusing, especially when thinking about the fact we fly back into San Francisco on Friday afternoon (Pacific time) and don't get on plane toward home until Saturday morning.

If you want to think about our time travel, this Time Zone Converter may help. Short story: New Zealand is 17 hours ahead of Central Time.

23 1/2 hours

[It's Sunday, Aug. 16 in New Zealand, as I type this ...]

Getting here actually went smoothly. It just took 23 1/2 hours, including a 12-hour, overnight flight across the Pacific Ocean. But we made it, and I'm functioning better right now than I expected when I realized the stewardess was serving me breakfast at 3:30ish New Zealand time.

Anyway, looking back, Cate was excellent. She had a couple breakdowns when she was ready to sleep but couldn't quite get comfortable or give in to whatever was holding her back. Like yesterday on our flight from Cincinnati to Los Angeles ...

Yes, that was my daughter screaming a little past the half way point of our four-hour flight. And, yes, I felt bad for the passengers around me. But I had absolutely no idea what to do, except hold her and let her get over it. She cried for Daddy. Then when she eventually had Daddy, she cried for Grandmom. I'm fairly certain that had Grandmom had her, she woudld have cried for someone.

A plane neighbor offered a small notebook and pencil. "Could I offer this? Maybe she'd like to color?" I politely told her that I brought plenty of toys and that my daughter was just tired. My worn-but-still-useful L.L. Bean back pack was stuffed with toddler entertainment. That's not what she wanted. I tried to tell Cate she wanted sleep, but she didn't believe me at first.

I just held her and rocked her and pleaded with her to calm down. The tears eventually slowed, and then stopped. She gradually quieted, and I felt her arm go limb. Finally, to sleep, to finish the nap she started hours earlier on our way from Louisville to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

In less detail, the 12-hour flight from Los Angeles to Auckland started out rough. I started freaking out because while having low blood sugar I thought about scenarios that involved an awake toddler. She needed to sleep. I needed to sleep. And once we both did, all was better with our little world.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thursday's Thought

I borrowed this picture from my sister's blog because THAT'S WHERE WE'LL BE THIS WEEKEND! Cassie and Zac live in Palmerston North, New Zealand, and we're going to visit. We leave for Louisville today and our plane leaves from Cincinnati on Friday afternoon. After spending some time on the north island, we're going to head south -- a sort of vacation within the vacation.

OK, one more picture ... until I'm back with my own pictures in a couple of weeks!

Look closely, those are windmills that power the area.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Worth Repeating Wednesday

A little different approach, but, hey, it's worth repeating. I was listening to music while packing for New Zealand when this song came on. I'm letting make an impact on my heart.

I am not skilled to understand
What God has willed, what God has planned
I only know at His right hand
Stands one who is my Savior

I take Him at His word and deed
Christ died to save me; this I read
And in my heart I find a need
Of Him to be my savior

That He would leave His place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange, so once did I
Before I knew my Savior

My Savior loves, My Savior lives
My Savior's always there for me
My God: He was, my God; He is
My God is always gonna be

Yes, living, dying, let me bring
My strength, my solace from this spring;
That He who lives to be my King
Once died to be my Savior

That He would leave His place on high
And come for sinful man to die
You count it strange, so once did I
Before I knew my Savior

"My Savior My God" by Aaron Shust

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dear Summer,

Cate watching the sun set behind Lake Barkley.

Oh, Summer, where are you going? We've enjoyed you, that's for sure. Ever spring I anticipate you're arrival ... the sunshine and its remains evident by tan lines, cook-outs with kabobs and corn, visiting the lake, swimming, reading more books because the TV is on less, baseball games and vacations.

I've taught my daughter to enjoy you, Summer. She likes be in and around the water, just like me. Her confidence has grown from needing/wanting a noodle to free her to kick around the pool to kicking around the pool toward a noodle. See, look at the freedom and confidence you've prompted ...

Here is western Kentucky, you, Summer, are best met on the lakes. Thankfully, we've been there a few times. We started saw you there in May, and again more recently, cherishing our time together ...

OK, so maybe not every last moment was happy. But we won't remember this. We'll remember the laughs, ice cream treats, walks in humid air and road trips. We got in one vacation, where it was really hot. But different than Kentucky hot. But I guess you, Summer, know all about the different kinds of hot.

But, you know, we're going on a second vacation before you leave us. It's far, far away, so far, in fact, that you won't be there. We'll meet your friend Winter on the other side of the globe. When we return, I think we'll still feel you, Summer, but Fall will be coming, bringing football and corn mazes. And I'm OK with that, even though I'll be anxiously awaiting your return long before you're ready to come back.

Just know, dear Summer, you're special to me. And now to Cate.

Introducing ...
Benjamin Lucas

25 weeks along; 1 lb. 7 oz.

We got to see our son via ultrasound today. It's so neat to see his little fingers and toes and watch his heart beat. Of course, we loved hearing that he (and the birth mom) are healthy and doing well.

Yes, as the title indicates, we've decided on Benjamin Lucas. Lucas is after my grandpa, John Lucas (aka Poppy). We'll likely call him Ben much of the time. And I do have to admit that boy names are much more difficult to come up with than girl names, but I'm really happy with our choice.

I love how God is into details. We first saw Cate at the 25-week mark of her birth mom's pregnancy. Now, same goes for Ben. The process to bring Cate into our home was more of a blessing than we ever imagined it would be, and it's so exciting to witness God doing it again, in some of the same ways, and in plenty of different ways. In the end, God's faithfulness remains and our hearts are able to overflow with joy.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thursday's Thought

Cate on Aug. 2, 2009

Sometimes I see Cate doing something and instantly recall a childhood picture of me doing something similar ...

Kristin at 14 months old (1980)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Worth Repeating Wednesday

If you believe in a God who controls the big things, you have to believe in a God who controls the little things. It is we, of course, to whom things look "little" or "big."

--Elisabeth Eliot in "Let Me Be a Woman"

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Lake Day Fun

We spent Saturday at Kentucky Lake with some friends. Riding the jet ski was fun, but my favorite part was tubing ... Yes, holding on so tightly to the tube attached to the back of the jet ski that my upper arm muscles ached the following day, only to be thrown off the tube into the water with such force that my legs have a few bruises. As strange as it sounds, that's my favorite lake day activity.

Oh, and the family ride on the jet ski went like this ...

Me: Cate, do you want to ride with us?
Cate: (Backing away from us ...) No. No.
Me: It'll be fun. We'll hold on to you.
Cate: No. No.
Me: Oh, come on ... (A friend handed her to me.)
Cate: Ride boat.
Me: Yep. Daddy is going to drive us in the water.
Cate: I wanna go home.
Me: It'll be fun.

(We go on out, although nothing as fast as when I was gripping the handles of the tube. Cate mumbles, and I think it's something about going home ...)

Me: Did you have fun?
Cate: Have fun boat.

Monday, August 3, 2009

7 years ago ...

This collage, featuring some of my favorite moments
as Kelly captured them, hangs in our house.

Happy anniversary, Greg!

Seven years ago when I walked down the aisle to you, I had some expectations of our future. I knew we'd end up in Murray. I figured we'd have kids. And I knew you'd often beat me in any game we'd play.

But I had no idea I'd adore our life in Murray like I do. I couldn't have scripted a better journey to our daughter, who has helped me fall more in love with you. I certainly didn't expect our second adoption to unfold as it is. I've taught you how to be a better Scrabble player, so much so that I can't remember the last time I won, but I've managed to dominate Catan every now and then.

You've made me braver and calmer. Together we've exceeded the expectations I had seven years ago today. And each year gets better and better. Here's to at least 43 more.