She’s walkin’…

Li is now walking! As of yesterday evening, we now have a walker! Right after dinner, Li took a tentative first step and we happened to see her doing it… so we encouraged her a bit and she just took off! Within the next few minutes, she had gone on half a dozen little journeys around our living room, each time with a little encouragement and each time into the waiting arms of one of us. The look on her face each time she did it was incredible: a huge excited smile and big laugh. It was so cool that all three of us happened to be around and were all there to experience this with her.

This is something that we’ve known was coming. She was close a couple of times right after we got home from China, but then kind of backed off. The past couple days we could feel that grip on our hands continually loosen as we walked with her, so we knew it was close.

Deb made the comment this evening that it is still a bit surreal to glance up and see her walking around or walking across the room…

(And, yes, I know I’ve been horribly deficient in posting anything lately. That’s just one area where I have been horribly deficient, I promise. These past couple weeks have been filled to overflowing — with no end in sight — but I will try to squeeze out some time in the next couple days for an update. I did manage to get some short video segments on my camera of her walking last night, so I’ll try to post those, too…)

Week 2: A Tough Week for Li

Kind of a tough second week for Li, with more lows than highs…

  • She came down with a stomach bug early in the week that necessitated a scaling back of her diet, lots of diaper changes, and lots of laundry. She shared it with Deb, it would seem, on Tuesday which made for a long day for all of us. By Wednesday afternoon, though, she seemed to have shaken it and was feeling better.
  • Late Wednesday and early Thursday, Li just didn’t seem to feel good. As best we can tell from the symptoms, she was dealing with a slight reaction to her MMR shot a week earlier — not all that uncommon but obviously not all that pleasant either.
  • Li, Deb, and Grandma StewartShe met one set of her grandparents on Friday (that visit having been postponed from Tuesday for obvious reasons) as my parents came over for the day from Twin Falls. We weren’t really sure what to expect from her. She was pretty quiet and slow in the morning, still dealing with the aftermath of the shot the previous week. After her mid-day nap — not yet a regular occurrence — she seemed to be feeling better, and had a great afternoon with all of us. We went out for Chinese food at our favorite local place and she loved it.
  • Li woke up unhappy at 3am Saturday and aside from sleeping fitfully for a couple of 30 minute-ish stretches didn’t sleep again until collapsing somewhere around 10pm. Every little thing resulted in what looked and sounded like a temper tantrum (kicking, screaming, arched back) that would go on for (in a couple cases) an hour or more. We’d love to know what was wrong, but we have no way of getting into her little head to find out. As best we could tell, there wasn’t anything physically amiss. This was the toughest day yet for all of us since we got her, and was all the more unexpected based on how she was Friday afternoon and evening. At one point or another during this day, all of us except Ian, was in tears from frustration, anger, and/or exhaustion.
  • Sunday started with a 6am wakeup, but she was generally happy. Li showed no inclination to go back to bed and was happy to play with toys in our bedroom for an hour or so as we dozed and finished waking up. She ate well at breakfast and then promptly fell asleep in my arms after breakfast for an hour and a half nap; given Saturday, we were reluctant to try to put her down and just let her nap in our arms. She woke just in time for a quick snack before church — her first time there — and she did great at church: she seemed to like the music, wanted to walk a bit during the message, and lasted until the very end of the service by which time she was getting a little antsy. She was a bit overwhelmed with all of the attention and new faces, but dealt with all of it pretty well. She had a great afternoon, with a bit of a nap in the stroller during Mom’s walk (the weather has finally turned a bit warmer!) and enjoyed being outside while we got a bit of yardwork done. Ate well at dinner, a good bath, books, and then she went down to sleep with only a minor squawk or two. (It’s nearly 6am as I am drafting this, and she has only fussed a couple of times during the night, making this the closest we have come to a full night’s sleep so far.)

This will be an interesting week to watch, as I head back to work on a half-day basis and it is going to be a busy week with Ian’s parent/teacher conferences, soccer every day (including a tournament in Pocatello next weekend), Deb’s folks visiting on Tuesday and Wednesday, and all of us continuing to move toward some sort of regular pattern of life.

A Full Week

It has been a full week — our first full week since coming home from China with Li — and it has, in fact, been a full week. We’re starting to get the routine down, and she’s adapting well (and, so are we, actually).

Ian and Li exploring a Lego bucketBy the end of the week, Ian seemed to feel like school was much closer to being under control as he got closer to being caught up. It has involved (and will continue to do so for a few days) going in early for make up sessions with one of his teachers. It was also his first full week of soccer, with training sessions on three evenings and two matches this week. The return to soccer seems to agree with him — probably the combination of getting outside a bit, the exercise, the competition, and the teamwork. And he still found time this week to squeeze in a bit of quality time with his mei-mei (little sister), sharing one of his own loves with her.

Evenings and nap times with Li are gradually settling down, too, with the extended bouts of screaming becoming fewer and farther between, and primarily restricted to just those situations where she has gotten too tired to be rational (we’ve had a few of those ourselves). She’s sleeping better — not typically through the night yet, but for longer periods — and as a result, we are too. We took the leap yesterday evening of moving her out of our room, where she had been sleeping in a portable crib, and into her own room and real crib. She’s napped there each day this week, but the time or two we’d tried this move in the past had just resulted in screaming. She slept well, but only lasted in there until about 4 am, and since we couldn’t get her to really fall back asleep there, we just threw in between us in our bed and squeezed a couple more hours of sleep in. We had expected this shift to be a much bigger step backward, but so far so good…

The best part of bath timeBath times are a bit of a challenge: she turns into Dash from the movie “The Incredibles” as we lower her into the warm bath water, with her legs going about 4500 rpm and water going out behind her in an impressive rooster tail. We no longer have to have a steady stream of Cheerios being fed to her to keep her in the water for long enough to soap, rinse, shampoo, rinse, but she clearly hasn’t reached the point where she enjoys bath time. This, too, would be interesting to explore in terms of how they did bathtime at her orphanage, as she supposedly enjoyed baths. Her favorite part of the whole exercise seems to be sitting in Dad’s lap, all wrapped up in a hooded towel after the ordeal is over.

We’ve slowly started to introduce her to our circle of friends late this week as well. She clearly does better with low key people (which is understandable, given her parents), does better on her own turf here at home or where food is involved (John and Tiffany at Great Harvest Bread were big hits!). She and Deb went to both of Ian’s soccer matches (or most of each of them) this week, and she seemed to do fine: she enjoyed being outdoors, actually paid attention to the match, and did pretty well with all of the attention. She seems more open to adults than kids, in general, too.

Li had her first doctor appointment — a normal well-baby check — this week, and that was hard. Lots of immunizations (by the time it was over, she looked like a pin-cushion) and they drew blood (it seemed like they pulled about 3 quarts) for a number of additional tests just to check for other possible problems. That was the hardest part, as a parent, to watch: for the first time since we met her, we saw real tears — and lots of them. All the screaming to this point has been all wind and no rain, but there were tears aplenty by the time that was over. It made an impression, because we had to take her back in for the results of the TB test this morning and she clearly did not have fond memories of the doctors’ office.

She’s standing on her own more and more, and for longer periods of time. She took a sort of stumbling pair of steps yesterday, but they were more caused by a loss of balance than a desire to go from point A to point B, so we aren’t really counting that as walking. Those first real steps, though, are clearly not far away.

Li exploring one of our book casesLi loves books. Just can’t seem to get enough of them either. Her favorite right now is a board-book version of Noah’s ark that we read at least 10 times every day — her favorite page is the one where the reader has to howl like the two wolves, roar like the two lions, and trumpet like the two elephants. I don’t know how much, if at all, she was read to in the orphanage or whether she had books there to look at, but ever since we gave her a couple of books early in China, she has been drawn to them. I don’t specifically recall anything in the adoption paperwork where we touched on our love of books and reading as a family, but this is just one more way that God made sure this little girl has, as the Chinese would put it, “fallen into the honeypot”.

So, as week 1 draws to a close on Li’s new life with us and our new life with her, we can look back at this week and offer a prayer of thanks for

  • a really full week together
  • the love and joy this little gift of God brings to our family
  • the kindness, support, prayers, and patience of our friends and extended family as we all adapt

Tomorrow marks Li turning 15 months old and the start of our second week home. We can’t wait to see what this next week holds for all of us…

Slow Return to Normal

Life is in fact slowly returning to something that is beginning to feel like normal. A new and different normal, to be sure, but normal none the less.

Ian is back in school, spring soccer has started up and we have our first league match this evening, most of the snow is now gone (aside from the shaded places in our back yard and garden where we had some pretty impressive drifts pile up over the winter), and we are gradually getting caught up on things around the house. I’m still at home these days, and will continue to be for at least a couple more weeks. I can’t imagine having to go back to work at this point and realize how blessed I am to be in a position of being able to have this time with family.

Li as her smiling, happy selfOur new normal is of course dominated (dictated?) at this point by the rhythm of life with an almost-15-month old little girl. Li, for the most part, is adjusting extraordinarily well: she’s healthy, happy (most of the time), active, curious, learning, babbling away, and definitely eating well. Bedtime and naptime are still tough, but bedtime is in actually getting a little easier, and she’s sleeping better. We’ve finally gotten 6 and 7 hours, respectively, of uninterrupted sleep the past two nights which makes a huge difference for her and for us (although I think Deb and I will need a few more of those to begin to feel like we are not sleep-deprived). She’s eating well, loves to be read to (which Deb and I both find exciting and surprising, because we don’t believe she has been exposed to books before), and yesterday we started seeing her stand on her own for a few seconds at a time.

She’s pretty cautious and shy at first around other people, particularly at first, which is both understandable and a good thing as she continues to bond with us. We’re taking it pretty slowly in terms of exposing her to friends and even to family.

To those of you who have offered your help and your prayers, we say a huge “Thank You!”. You have no idea how much those have helped and have meant (and continue to mean!) to us these past weeks.

Exhausted

Jetlagged. Baby girl not sleeping well. Parents not sleeping well. Today is supposed to be the first sort of semi-normal day again, with Ian starting back to school and soccer practice this afternoon. Not a good sign…