Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A New Beginning...

Time and time again I intend to sit down and blog, to no avail. Life has once again gotten in the way of doing what I think I need to do, or at least want to do. It has been over a year since we brought this remarkable young lady home from Kokshetau, Kazakhstan. Hard to believe. It's also hard to imagine what our life was like before bringing her home. Kathryn has adjusted to her new (or not so new anymore) environment, surroundings, extended family, teachers, and of course, her brothers who absolutely LOVE having her as a younger sister. In going back over the blog and reading the posts I see a fantastic journey unfold and culminate in completing our family of 6. All of the paperwork, planning, coordinating work schedules, school, who will take care of the boys while we were gone, the many families and new friends we met while travelling, our sojourn to Heidelberg; it was all amazing and an experience not to be forgotten. Well, ok, I can forget the paperwork.

Last October, the two older boys and I went to Washington, D.C. for a soccer game and had the opportunity to catch up with a couple we shared the cottage with in Kokshetau. Nothing like meeting someone half way around the world and being able to visit again back home. They were the first family we met there and they were kind enough to bring back pizza from Pyramid Pizza resturant our first night there. A very much appreciated gesture after 15 hours of flying time, a short night rest followed by another short flight and a four hour car ride.

Kazakhstan is an amazing country with a long, interesting history. I think about the people we met there and the varied sceneary. The vast, undulating steppes with their beauty and the untammed wind that swept across them. The fridgid face of winter pressed upon the trees in pure white frost.

To the mountains that traverse the Tien Shen mountain range that frames the Almaty landscape. It is a country whose landscape is as diverse as its people. It was all an amazing experience and ended with us bringing home an amazing addition to our family. The sisters, our driver and interpreter, our friend Makhabbat, and the other adoptive families we were able to share the experience with, they were all positive memories we will cherish. The soccer game, the Viola store, Dombra players, the English students at the university, the green market, and of course, Luba the housekeeper.

Kathryn is a beautiful, engaging spirit who leaves an indelible mark on the heart of everyone she comes in contact with. I can vividly recall the first time we walked into the Children's Hospital in Kokshetau. To that little room with four plain walls, a crib, space heater, and a window that looked out into nothing but an out building, some trees, stray dogs, and a dirt path. Kathryn pushed herself up to look at us with her disproportionately large brown eyes and an even larger smile that greeted us. We instantly knew that this was indeed the child that was meant to be a part of our family. She is exactly where she is supposed to be. Her three brothers absolutley love having her as a part of the family and are helpful in teaching her that there is another way to get around other than rolling. And as brothers do, they have taught her the high five and knuckle touch. Two things she participates in with sheer delight.

And so we begin with our family of six. We continue to be busy with all of the kids activities, including Kathryn's at her school. She attends a school that includes both developmentally delayed children and typically developing kids. She is able to receive her theray at school and has teachers that care for her while she is there. It is no exaggeration to say that when we drop her off at school we don't worry at all about what kind of care she will receive. Her teachers are fantastic and absolutely love what they do. It shows. We are so blessed to have that resource available to us in our community.

She is making remarkable progress and, although there is much work to do, she is either close to or has completed some milestones. Holding a bottle by herself, sitting independantly, crawling on hands and knees. Big steps compared to when we brought her home a little over a year ago when she could not roll over or hold her head up for any length of time. Keep up the great work Kathryn, you're going to do amazing things.

Welcome home Kathryn, we love you!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pleading Ignorance

So, I'm sitting here on a Sunday afternoon feeding Kathryn in her high chair. In walks Joseph with a pencil thin mustache and a little spot under his lower lip colored with a black marker. Before I can say anything, he decides to launch a first strike vehement defense .
"I DO NOT know how it happened, Dad, I have no idea how this happened!."

Good thing picture day was last week!

Kathryn is skeptical of his defense. She's caught on quickly.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What's up with that...

This is what Kathryn looks like when trying to get her to say Mama

This is what Kathryn looks like when trying to get her to say Dada

Feel the love

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Post of Pictures

Horsin' around with Dad

Quiet Time

Just hangin out

Michael after his school awards ceremony

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ok, so, it's been a while...

Its amazing how time continues to so easily creep away. It seems like yesterday we were celebrating Kathryn's first birthday and now here it is the end of June. So what have we been up to? Aside from the daily throws of life and work it's been pretty busy.

Kathryn continues to go to physical therapy (pt) and occupational therapy (ot) every week. It is so wonderful to not only see her progress in therapy but also to see just how hard she works during therapy. Her progress is slow but steady. Verbally, she loves to make sounds and hear them repeated to her. She is scooting around the floor and is close to sitting unassisted. She will fully open her hands now and do "clap clap" whenever asked, or whenever she feels the need to make herself laugh. One thing that has been consistant from the first time we saw her laying in a crib in the childrens hospital is her contagious smile and joy to see and be around people.

April brought spring break visitors of Auntie Linda and Claire. The kids had a great time visiting with their Aunt and cousin. Plenty of days at the beach, pool and just hangin out. We had so much fun and can't wait to see them again.

May was the official end of school, sports, and the unofficial beginning of summer. Memorial day weekend was very special as we celebrated Kathryn's Baptism. She has been a complete blessing to our family and its now difficult to remember what life was like without her. The boys continue to be fully engaged with their sister helping out where they can and ocassionally taking turns holding her.

The boys finished their respective sports the end of May. Daniel's baseball team had the same kids in the spring as they had in the fall so they were able to have some continuity and momentum. They did fantastic! Even though they don't officially keep score in his age group I'm pretty sure they won all their games. Michael's soccer team had participated in a post season competition and finished first place. Joseph finished his first season in T ball and just had fun being there.

We will post pictures as soon as we are able to upload them to the computer. Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Kathryn's First Birthday

Can't believe her first birthday has come and gone. On Wednesday March 11, we had a great family dinner together to celebrate both Kathryn and Michael's birthdays and then took the kids to Cold Stone on the beach for dessert. It was a beautiful night. Kathryn spent the day with Nana so that she would not have to go to day care on her birthday. Thank you, Nana!

Our family celebration was on Saturday the 14th. Everyone came over for a BBQ and swimming. Yes, the kids got in the pool. Kathryn didn't get in because none of the adults did. She is still fighting a small cold but is feeling better.

Michael decorated the cakes for both of them. He drew the pictures and Publix scanned them onto the cakes. He was proud of them and should be! It was so sweet to see him excited about sharing his birthday with his sister! Daniel and Joseph helped with her open gifts and, of course, helped eat birthday cake too! Another first, Kathryn got to see her first shuttle launch.

On Sunday I got in the pool with Kathryn and she loved it! We heated up the hot tub so it wasn't quite so cold. She loved to lay on her back and splash and kick. It will be a fun summer!

Hangin' out at the beach with some Cold Stone!

The Grillmaster. Cooking it up for a birthday dinner.

Michael drew the template for the birthday cakes.

Loving my tasty birthday cake

Michael and Kathryn. Happy birthday you two!

Playing with Nana

Stylin' in my new bathing suit.

Mommy with Daniel and Joseph teaching Kathryn to float.

Kathryn's first Space Shuttle launch. It never gets old.

Sweet dreams, Little Peanut.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Windy City Weekend

After living in Florida for many years, it's always good to go back home to Northern Illinois in the winter for a reminder of why I decided to live in a warm weather climate. As if spending almost two months in Southern Siberia wasn't convincing enough. Ok, it was Fall so it wasn't really THAT cold but it sounds impressive. Anyway, it's always good to visit with family and this time to introduce Kathryn to the rest of my family. It turned out that we brought along some warm weather with us as the temperatures that weekend reached the upper 40's and even into the 50's after weeks of below freezing temperatures. Much to Joseph's disappointment, much of the snow melted but he did manage to make a few snowballs to toss at dad.

Kathryn did wonderfully travelling and meeting many new faces. Of course, everyone enjoyed seeing her and visiting with funny boy, Joseph.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy....

What a month it has been. Dave stayed home with Kathryn until Jan 5th and now I am home with her. Each day I am amazed at how the time flyies by. We are busy just spending time together, running errands and getting Kathryn to multiple doctors appointments. Most of them are just to check everything out and satisfy the pediatrician. We have had to catch her up on her vaccinations as well. She has been given a clean bill of health in almost all areas. We did find out that she is near-sighted and may need glasses. We go back to the otpthamologist in a few weeks to find out for sure. As long as the glasses are pink or purple, Kathryn is agreeable:-)

We continue to feel the blessing of having Kathryn in our family. She has really made the adjustment without any bumps in the road. She has slept through the night since we came home except for the occassional teething incindents. She has 6 teeth now; 4 on the top and 2 on the bottom. Her smile is full of teeth now.

We are trying to make the transition easier for her when I go back to work , so she is now going to day care once a week while I go to work. She will start full time in Feb. Even though she cries when Daddy drops her off (not sure I'm ready for that yet), she is always happy when she is picked up.

She started physical therapy a few weeks ago and is doing great. She is being treated for torticollis in PT one day a week. In the pictures you can see how much better she is able to hold her head up straight then she could 2 months ago! She is a quick learner. For the past 3 days she has consistently rolled herself over from stomach to back when she is not ready to go to sleep or when she wakes up. We are very excited for these milestones. . . as long as she doesn't grow up too fast. I can't believe we are already thinking about her first birthday in March!

Here are a few pictures from this past month. . .

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Wow, here we are and it's New Year's Eve. The time has gone by so quickly. Kathryn and her 3 brothers are doing great. We have had a busy Christmas season and are ready for all the great things 2009 has to bring. We took the family for our annual visit to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. Kathyrn enjoyed the cool, beautiful evening outside and all the lights. The boys mostly enjoyed the rides. Joseph took his first ride on Space Mountain!
We wish all our friends and family a Blessed New Year. Thank you for all your prayers and support over this past year. May all your dreams come true in 2009 - ours sure did in 2008!

Daniel, Joseph and Kathryn at Disney 12/19/08

Kathryn in her new room!

Daniel, Joseph and Kathryn at Church

Maddi, Michael, Steve, Daniel, Joseph and Kathryn on Christmas Eve 2008

Kathryn and Daddy on Christmas Eve

Nana and Kathryn on Christmas Eve

Papa and Kathryn with Nana giving her Winnie the Pooh on Christmas morning.

Maddi and Kathryn - Opening gifts is exhausting!

Kathryn all dressed up on Christmas!

Michael, Daniel, Joseph and Kathryn on Christmas night.