Sunday, August 3, 2008

Stay Tuned...More Posts to Come

Good News! A couple of new posts have been added below. I know it isn't much but is it a start. More to follow!

For those of you who have been checking in and have been disappointed that nothing new has been posted, please stay tuned. Unfortunately, we have been a bit side-tracked and are still trying to catch up.

There are some great posts coming such as Dinner with Bob & Linda, Father's Day, Medical-Merry-Go-Round updates, Willow's 1st NJLHS meeting, her 1st Independence Day, meeting Dixie and Joe, her baptism and meeting some of the Marshall relatives (Laura's side of the family - finally!).

Thanks for checking in and our apologies for the delay.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

June 14th: Play Date with the Walshes

Cheryl and I met while I was working at Standard Register and what began as a business relationship grew into a friendship. When we first met, she was still single and Michael and I were just a couple. Over the years, we have shared the joys of Cheryl's marriage to Mike, the birth of their first child Lindsay, the ups-and-downs of our adoption and the pending birth of their second child (due in July) not to mention the myriad of daily life and work stuff.

Never one to miss out on a party (or to throw one herself), Cheryl suggested that they stopped by our house on their way to a birthday party in the area. They arrived bearing sub sandwiches for lunch and a busy box toy for Willow. (Lindsay was very generous to give this to Willow from her own toy supply.)

In return for Lindsay's generosity, Willow shared her baby doll and Bounce 'n Spin Zebra with her.

Then they both worked on one of Willow's puzzles together.

Willow had a wonderful time playing with Lindsay (and of course, we enjoyed seeing Cheryl and Mike). We all are looking forward to more play dates with the Walshes once the new baby arrives and things have settled down a bit.

P.S.-Baby Leah Walsh was born on Tuesday, July 29th. Congrats to the Walsh Family!

Friday, June 13, 2008

June 13th: Dinner with Bob & Linda Gleason

For a number of years, we have been involved with the New Jersey Lighthouse Society (NJLHS). It is here that "pharoligists" (also affectionately known as lighthouse nuts) gather to pay homage to these sentinals of the seas in general and to New Jersey's sentinals in particular.

As we moved through the adoption process, we shared our progress with members of the Society who are not only fellow lighthouse lovers but who have also become friends. Within a few weeks, Willow is going to attend her first NJLHS meeting and we thought it might be nice for her to meet some of our fellow lighthouse lovers/friends before the meeting so that she could get some idea of what her new family was getting her into! Tonight, Willow met Bob & Linda Gleason.

Bob and Linda are a wonderful couple and in addition to sharing the love of lighthouses, we share a particularly intense but very rewarding weekend together while volunteering at Barnegat Light State Park during the annual New Jersey Lighthouse Challenge®.

With Willow all dressed up and ready to go, we headed off to the local Perkins where we met up with Bob and Linda. After a lovely dinner (which really seemed more like breakfast since I had been dying for pancakes for a couple of days), we all came back to the house and played for a while.

Together, they stacked some blocks, played with a puzzle and read a book.
Willow had such fun that she cannot wait to meet with them for dinner again! (And she truly appreciated seeing a friendly, familiar face at the meeting. Thanks, guys!)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

June 12th: Play Date with Gran & Willow Meets Jan

After I stopped working and long before we left for China, I have enjoyed a weekly "date" with my mom. Now that Willow is with us, Thursdays have become "Play Date with Gran".

This week, Willow sat in Gran's lap and shared her breakfast with her.

Then they played with blocks in a way I never would have imagined!

This week was extra special because after lunch, Gran's friend, Janet Blam, came over to meet Willow and they played with the Raggedy Ann doll that Gran bought for her because "..every little girl should have a Raggedy Ann doll!" (It is true isn't it? Don't you still remember yours?!)

These are special days for Gran, for Willow and for me. Gran gets to see the changes in Willow from week-to-week. Willow gets to do the things that only grandparents would let them get away with (and that their parents have to deal with when they get back home). And I get to watch their very own special relationship blossom and grow.

Monday, June 9, 2008

June 8th: Willow Meets Uncle Paul & Aunt Jackie

A visit today from Willow's Uncle Paul & Aunt Jackie just about concludes her introduction to the immediate members of the Portée clan (with the exception of her cousin Carolyn who she hopes to meet real soon!)

A little shy at first, she soon warmed up to them and had some fun playing with her blocks with Aunt Jackie.

When block play was over, Willow and Aunt Jackie begin to play with their gift to her, a baby doll that came with her own bottle, changing pad and training potty! (Aunt Jackie was very impressed that Willow knew that the bottle went into the doll's mouth and not her own!)

Uncle Paul became Willow's new best friend when he snuck her some french fries while Mama's back was turned. (She's been a french fry addict ever since the Central Park Zoo. Thanks, Stacy!)

After dinner, Willow entertained us with her musical instruments puzzle; showing how well she can make each of the instruments play "Old MacDonald Had a Farm". (Notice how she looks to be sure everyone is applauding her efforts. Destined for the stage, I think!)

When it was time for Uncle Paul and Aunt Jackie to leave, Willow gave them a wonderful send-off with one of her emphatic and loud "Buh-byes" as they pulled out of the driveway. (This was later confirmed by our neighbor, Carleen, who said she could hear it all the way across the street!)

Willow really enjoyed her time with Uncle Paul and Aunt Jackie and cannot wait to see them again!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

June 4th: Medical Merry-Go-Round, Part 5

Well, now that Willow has qualified for Early Intervention (EI) services from the state, we had our Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) meeting to determine just which services were recommended for her based on the evaluation (May 21st).

Each week, she will have a Developmental Intervention (DI) teacher to work on her socialization and communication as well as a Physical Therapist (PT) to work on her gross and fine motor skills. (Can you tell that this is a government program what with all of the initials involved?!)

Having passed this stage of the game, we now wait to hear from the DI teacher and PT to schedule Willow's first sessions.

May 31st: Two Months & My, How She's Grown!

Where to begin?!

Changes are happening fast and furiously these days! The one that means the most to us is that Willow continues to sleep through the night. Whew! I think our endless days of constant waking during the night are over. (Notice I said constant. I know it will still happen occasionally.)

The one that will mean the most to her and mean more exercise for us is that Willow is walking on her own more and more. She still likes to take the easy way out and crawl or be picked up and carried but she is really beginning to like this bit of independence.

Speaking of which, I have come to believe that when she uses the word, "No." (and what I really mean is when she shakes her head which is quite often) that it too is a form of independence for her. It cracks me up when I offer her something and as she is taking it from me, she shakes her head as if she doesn't want it! Of course, there are times that she really does mean, "NO!"; we are able to discern the difference in her desire by the more emphatic head shaking she uses. We are also trying to add "Yes" to her head movements.

It also seems as if she is really trying use words. (I swear that she said, "red" when I asked her what color the balloon was in "Good Night Moon". I suppose I could have been delirious.) We are having to listen more closely to what she says because her usual sounds - "grrr", "bunn", etc. - are being used to identify other things than just Tigris (one of our cats) and the bunnies and in the right context. Michael and I often have to stop and try to make the same connection that she is. She recognizes things familiar to her such as the logo of a lion on a truck on the highway which amazingly enough looked a lot like the lion walker/rider she received from Aunt Kathleen, Uncle Howie and the girls. Again, as she pointed out the windshield and exclaimed, "Huh", I had to think what she was connecting it to.

Willow's interest in music continues to grow. She will stop whatever she is doing when she hears music so that she can sway and move her hands to it. Sometimes, it looks like she is conducting! (And this could be the delirium talking again but it seems that she is even trying to move to the beat. What do you think? The next Zubin Meta or Arthur Feidler, perhaps?!)

She shows more interest in learning how things work (rather than just throwing the pieces around!) She tries really hard to get shapes into their right places the right way and just loves the various designs she can come up with on the Rainbow Stacker from Aunt Lynn! This has lead to her being willing to spend more time on her own playing by herself. (Yippee! Maybe now I can get something done! Okay; don't all laugh at once.)

Willow has learned to work her Learning Puppy like a fiddle and can find the one song that she wants to listen to over and over and over and over and over... And, after I do "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" or "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" a couple of times she is trying to imitate the movements. We had some challenges with Peek-A-Boo (she would put the backs of her hands over her eyes and then not move them); however, just yesterday, she picked up the "Baby Moves - A Flap Book" from Aunt Valerie and Uncle Rick and when she saw the "Peek-A-Boo" flap, she immediately began doing it right! (Thanks, Val!)

She is also beginning to show an interest in soft toys. Each morning, she will point to a different one in her room and hug it with the biggest smile on her face.

Willow is more trusting and warms up to people more easily. Although she is still reluctant to be held by others at first, she is much quicker with a "hello" to passers-by and makes sure to sound an enthusiastic "Buh-Bye" to announce that she has left a store or restaurant.

I have heard parents say that it all goes by so quickly. That their children change and grow in the blink of an eye. I often wondered how that could be when they are with them 24/7. Now I understand. Willow does so many new things over the course of a day, week, month (or two) it is hard sometimes to remember them all. But oh my, how she has grown.