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August 28, 2008

Gearing up...

Although Chris and Emma don't officially start school until after Labor day, it's been a week of gearing up for school. Chris has been back at his school in work meetings and Josie has been attending her daycare all day. I'm happy to report that she is making HUGE improvements. She isn't as tearful when she gets dropped-off and she's been eating and interacting with the other toddlers. Her sleep schedule is still hit or miss at night. Some nights she sleeps straight through, other nights we're up with screaming and crying episodes that can go on for hours...big yawn. On the nights that she's out of sorts, we're back to co-sleeping (not Mommy's favorite choice) but I'm in survival mode with my crazy schedule at the University.

Emma had her 5th grade school pictures and open house yesterday. It's going to be a busy year of juggling school, religious education classes, soccer practice/games and the normal chaos of packing lunches and completing homework. Despite my anxiety of managing everything, Emma's excited about school start-up. She even has several of her friends in the same classroom this year.

Happy Labor day weekend, everyone! I'm hoping to catch up on some much needed sleep.

August 24, 2008

It seemed like a good idea at the time...

Prior to Josie, Emma and I used to spend part of each weekend doing some type of craft activity. Let's just say, crafting is not quite the same with a toddler. Emma wanted to work on her scrapbook and I thought painting in her highchair was a safe enough activity (notice how she is dumping her cup of water into her paints). Thank goodness I remembered to put a paint smock on Josie before the festivities began!!

August 21, 2008

Major Kudos

How many husbands would take their 10 year old daughter back-to-school shopping...ALONE? My hubby did and gets MAJOR kudos for taking on this amazing feat. Not only did he do ALL the clothes shopping, he also did the lunchbox acquisition, the knapsack purchase and checked off the school supplies list. Since returning to full-time work, my life has gotten much more complicated. This balancing act is definitely tipping towards insanity right now. I can't wait until it's October and everyone is used to their work and school routine. Chris returns to his school schedule with meetings next week and his full-time schedule after labor day. I'm going to miss his Mr. Mom status.

In other news, Josie didn't cry all day at daycare yesterday. She was tearful, but it didn't last the entire time. However, she didn't nap and she didn't eat lunch or snacks, so she was starving at dinner last night. She actually slept ALL night long (a first in weeks) because she was so tired. Maybe daycare will be a good thing afterall :)

Have a great weekend.

August 18, 2008

China Ghosts

My patient husband is trying to put down a crying Josie who refuses to give into sleep, while Emma and I are spending some quiet time reading in my bed. I just finished another fantastic book, China Ghosts: My Daughter’s Journey to America, My Passage to Fatherhood by Jeff Gammage. One of my favorite sentences in his book is from the epilogue, “Adopting a child from China puts you through a transformation, gathering you up from one place, spinning you around, then setting you down somewhere else, facing backward. It changes your life in ways you never could have foreseen.” (page 237).

Josie’s adoption is an emotional journey of extremes. It's a place where utter joy is paired with sheer exhaustion on a daily basis. Here’s a child who can smother me with kisses/hugs and then wake up screaming in fear hours later. It’s not anything I could have prepared for prior to our adoption. It’s just something that I'm continuing to work through. It’s made Chris and I stronger and better parents. Connecting with other adoptive mothers, and my blogging support group is what saves me on a daily basis. I also appreciate how my coworkers continue to be sympathetic to my sleep deprivation and ongoing Josie stories.

Chris and I recently met with our social worker to compile information for our six month post-placement report. In preparation for our meeting, we had a list of questions that needed to be answered. It gave us an opportunity to sit down and reflect about the last five months as a family of four. It’s been a whirlwind of activities, emotions and milestones. We both came to the same conclusion. If we were younger, and the adoption process wasn't so long, we’d adopt another child with a medical condition. It’s been a life-altering experience and we are more enriched because of it.

People often tell us that Josie is so blessed to be a part of our family. Chris and I both quick to respond that Josie has blessed us more than we could have ever expected. Now, if we could only get her to sleep through the night and understand that daycare is actually a good thing, life would be GRAND in the Kenward household.

August 17, 2008

5 month sister anniversary

As of August 16th, Emma has officially been a big sister for five months. Although we have our moments of jealousy and frustration, the girls adore each other. The age difference is far bigger than Chris and I ever wanted, but we couldn't be more in love with our girls'.

In honor of our five month Josie day, I've gone through some of my favorite sister pictures from our China trip and compiled a very short video of the girls taken our first 24 hours after we received Josie.

Emma helping feed Josie on our first night together

Nanchang Day 2 with Josie

Nanchang Day 3 with Josie

Playing with dolls in our White Swan Hotel room

Sneaking in a kiss at the White Swan Hotel breakfast buffet

Navigating stairs with Josie at the White Swan Hotel

Every night before bed, Emma insists on "one more kiss" which turns into "several more kisses" on her sister's head. It just melts my heart watching this bedtime ritual. Happy five months, Josephine Xue Kenward!

August 12, 2008

Popsicle, anyone?

Before we jump into popsicles, I have to ask my blogging support group to think positive thoughts and float a few prayers in our direction regarding Josie and daycare. She's decided that she doesn't really enjoy daycare. The previous session last week at daycare was too good to be true. This week, she knew what was up the moment Chris pulled into the daycare parking lot. We then paid for her unhappiness with fitful sleep and the return of night terrors. She will continue to have a few more practice sessions until the real-deal starts up the end of August.

Now onto the fun stuff...

One of Josie's first English words when we came home from China was "popsicle". She must ask for a popsicle at least ten times a day. That child would even eat a popsicle for breakfast if we let her (which we don't).

Her favorite popsicles are the ones that come inside a plastic sleeve, but she doesn't like to hold the sleeve unless it has a wash cloth around it. I'm not sure who started this habit...Daddy...but it's pretty darn funny.

By the way, prior to her open-heart surgery, her lips often turned blue due to oxygen issues. She recently had a blue popsicle (Mommy was at work at the time) and when I came home, I freaked out thinking she was having a heart problem. Whew. Gotta love that blue dye.

Have a good weekend, everyone. You might even enjoy a popsicle or two.

August 11, 2008

Josie’s Cardiology Appointment

Josie had her cardiology appointment this morning at the Western Michigan Pediatric Cardiology Associates. The whole family went to Josie’s appointment to show support. Josie did amazingly well. She didn’t shed a single tear. She even allowed herself to get weighed without throwing a tantrum. She now weighs 23.5 pounds. She didn’t even mind getting hooked up to the EKG machine. What a night and day difference from our last post-surgery appointment (back in May) where she screamed the entire appointment and refused to leave my arms.

Dr. Lacina can hear residual backflow of blood from her narrow valve and at some point in her life, she may require surgery to replace the valve. For children with her heart condition (Tetralogy of Fallot), it’s not unusal for them to need a valve replacement later in life. The doctor isn’t worried and is very pleased with her progress. She’s hitting all her physical and developmental milestones and we couldn’t be more excited at the changes we’ve seen in our little girl since surgery. She doesn’t even need to go back to the cardiologist until the spring. Woo hoo!

August 9, 2008


Over this past week (especially since reading Silent Tears) I have found my mind wandering back to Josie’s orphanage and Josie’s birth mother. I’ve recently made contact with our guide in China and asked her to tell the orphanage nannies that Josie has undergone her open-heart surgery and is now healthy. Our guide reassured me that she did make contact and they were pleased to know this information. I want to believe it matters to them, but I don’t know. More than anything, I felt like I needed closure on that part of Josie’s life.

We will never have contact with Josie’s birth mother, but I wish I could tell her so many things. I want to tell her that her child is alive and her child is deeply loved by so many people. She is now healthy and strong and smart and beautiful. She’s more than anyone could ever want and our family is now complete.

August 8, 2008

Olympic Celebrations

The opening ceremonies were shown this evening. What a proud moment for the People’s Republic of China to share friendship and celebration with the world. Enjoy the olympics, everyone. Let the games BEGIN!

August 7, 2008

Josie's first day at daycare

Josie attended daycare for a few hours this morning without Mommy, Daddy or big sister staying with her. Although she was a bit sad during transitional activities, she did very well overall. Josie will have a few more practice sessions before her regular schedule kicks-in the end of August.

Next Monday, Josie attends her cardiologist for a follow-up appointment. We're looking forward to a clean bill of health. She's doing so well and we're hopeful that her ultrasound and EKG look fine.

August 6, 2008

Silent Tears

I've never written a book review before, but this morning I posted a review on Amazon's website for Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in A Chinese Orphanage. When I came home from work yesterday, the book was with the mail. As soon as I put my daughters to bed, I tore into it. At 1:30am, my husband wondered why our light was still on. I couldn't stop reading. My own silent tears flowed down my cheeks all night long. Kay Bratt is an amazing writer. This is a must read for parents adopting from China. I now have a much better understanding on some of the behavior that Josie displayed when she first came to our family. I'm so proud to be her mother. She is an amazingly resilient child and we are so blessed to have had the opportunity to adopt her.

August 4, 2008

Pool fun

This has been quite the summer for pool swimming. Emma has mastered the art of handstands & flips and Josie just wants to keep up with her big sister. The water park that we visited last weekend, provided very comfortable life jackets and Josie just loved wearing her special jacket. She would have swam all day if we would have let her. She had absolutely NO FEAR of the water (as you can see in the video clip).

It’s been a wonderful summer and I’m so blessed to have had the opportunity to share it with my two girls. Last summer, I was only dreaming and praying about Josie. I'm still in shock that she's actually here. For all those adoptive mother's waiting for your sweet little ones, my heart is with you.

In other BIG news, Josie's first attempt at staying at her new daycare (without Mommy and Daddy) will be on Thursday. Say a few prayers. I'm sure it's going to be harder on the Mommy/Daddy than Josie.

August 2, 2008

Splish Splash

My work took me to the northern part of Michigan and I brought the family along. We decided after my work obligations were done, to upgrade our hotel and stay an additional night. I'd love to tell my readers that my daughters were fabulous sleepers while we were gone, but our sleep issues even followed us up north.

We set the camera timer in our hotel room this morning and took a family picture. Amazingly, we're ALL looking at the camera and smiling.

The hotel that we spent our additional night included a water park. Emma was thrilled and Josie just couldn't get enough of the water. This establishment really knows how to cater to families of all ages. I've included a very short video clip of both girls enjoying the water slides and a slideshow of this weekend's highlights.

Beginning Monday, I'm back to work full-time. No more 20-hour work weeks. I can't believe how quickly the months of June and July flew by. Chris is still home with the girls for another three weeks before he returns to his elementary school. Josie will start practicing with daycare over the next few weeks. Stay tuned for more.