Saturday, September 20, 2008


Also, please check my sister in law's blog - The  for great video of Andrew and Audrey...

This has been an eventful week!  We had a visit from Andrew's Aunt Kristen and Cousin Audrey.  Audrey is 10 days younger than Andrew, so the house was quite lively.  It was fun watching them play together.  Audrey likes to share, and she introduced Andrew to one of her favorite snack foods - Veggie Booty.  She would take a snack out of her cup and put it in Andrew's mouth.  She would also push Andrew around in the walker/rider toy.   Audrey watched Andrew and I play catch, and Audrey picked up the game before the week was out.  They also climbed the stairs together.  We had 'races' - sort of- up the stairs.  We even went to Baby Boot Camp - which is an exercise class for moms.  It was located in a park on a beautiful day, and it was nice to get out.  It was nice observing Andrew through all of this - he always knew who his mom was.  He is even in the habit of crawling to me and pulling himself up by my pants.  Audrey and Andrew had a good visit.  Andrew is actually a bit better of a sleeper than Audrey - admittedly Andrew is doing a lot better in that department lately.  So, here are some pictures of our week:

Andrew checking Audrey out...

Here is Audrey in her "I eat Tiger (Clemson), and my Veggies" T-Shirt (I had to post this one)!

Audrey pushing Andrew...

Andrew and Audrey watching Baby Einstein (the only way we could get a good picture of them together).

Kristen with Audrey and Andrew (we switched places so I could get my picture with them, too, but this one turned out the best - it is quite hard to get babies in sync with a camera)...

Audrey and Andrew playing with Tupperware.

As you can tell, we had an eventful visit!

On another note, we had to take Sebastian the Cat to the vet this week, and it turns out he has some form of skin cancer.  He had a bad looking spot above his eye removed, and we hope to learn more about this diagnosis next week.  Our cats are a part of our family, and have helped us through some really tough times.  We are praying that the removal of this lesion will resolve the problem (our vet seems to think so, but he is still researching things a bit).  I remain quite hopeful that Sebastian has many lives left.  He is such a smart kitty - the type that I am convinced understands everything we are saying and has a higher level of communication than most felines.  Here is our precious kitty - we hope he'll be okay
Andrew is doing well, and we feel so blessed to have him in our lives.  Thanks for checking in on us this week!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Andrew's Helmet

Andrew, both an aspiring athlete and musician...

Here is Andrew, ready for college football:

As I mentioned in our last post, Andrew got his helmet 2 weeks ago.  He is adjusting to it well.  We still have to tweak the shape of the helmet a little, as it falls down too close to his left eye.  It's a bit difficult trying to make meaningful eye contact when the helmet is so close to the eye, so we will try to get the helmet corrected this week.  Andrew will probably have to wear the helmet until sometime in December, which all things considered isn't too long, although I will be glad when it comes off - snuggling with him can be a bit difficult with a helmet.  The goal is to correct his head shape a little.  He has quite a flat head in the back.  I didn't even realize it too much until I saw a picture of him recently.  So we are hopeful that the helmet will make things a bit better, although I completely love him regardless of the outcome.

This week saw Andrew's first cold and first injury.  He had the sniffles for the past few days and today he injured his upper gum while standing in his crib.  It was a bit of a difficult day for us both, but it ended well with a fun bath time and a fun Baby Einstein 'calm down' time.  I have to learn not to get too anxious about everything.  Sometimes I still get 'worst case scenario' in my mind.  I have to balance that out a bit.  But we have only been home 6 weeks.  Andrew certainly is gaining weight and getting bigger and stronger.  He loves to climb the stairs with increasing regularity.  He also is starting to enjoy my reading to him, although right now I am just trying to get him in the habit of sitting and letting him hear my voice.   He isn't exactly picking out books for me to read to him quite yet :).

This week we will have a visit from my sister in law Kristen and my niece Audrey.  We are certainly looking forward to this visit.  We also have to take Sebastian the Cat to the vet, as I think he will need minor surgery.  So, we should have a busy week!  

Saturday, September 6, 2008

What a week!

Many more pictures below!!!!

This has been quite a week!  On Wednesday Andrew got his helmet for his head.  Because his head is flat in the back, he will be wearing a helmet for the next 3 to 4 months.  This should help reshape his head a bit.  I was really dreading Wednesday because I wasn't certain how Andrew would react to his helmet.  I guess his response was fairly typical - we kept distracting him with toys until he became a bit more comfortable with the helmet.  But Wednesday night was a disaster.  Andrew woke up 4 times in a 2 hour period - all before 9:30 at night.  I took the helmet off and decided to try again Thursday.  But Andrew wasn't finished with me yet.  It took 4 hours for us (me) to get him back asleep.  The boy was wired!  Then he started playing games with me.  My wrists were so sore (they still are) that I finally just put him in his crib, and he would spring back up, giggling.  It was like our first night home on steroids. The upside was that he slept until 8:30 the next morning, but I was so out of sorts my sleep wasn't quite as good.  Fortunately, the next night he did much better, and I think he has accepted his helmet and can sleep comfortably with it on.  Although every night I go to bed nervous that I will hear that little cry.  I have to relax a little more.  

Andrew is doing really well otherwise.  It is amazing.  I know this is hard to imagine, because we often think babies come by these habits naturally, but Andrew will now crawl to us when he is upset.  He pulls himself up by my pants and wants to be held.  He also does not like his pack n play.  He will cry until I pick him up, and he is magically happy again.  For adopted babies, it can take time to develop these types of behaviors, because they have never had consistent care where these types of attachments could be made.  Of course, I now have to figure out boundaries, meaning I have to get my shower in somehow, so he has to stay in his pack n play for a very short while (and it right outside the bathroom door, so I can see him and talk to him).

Saturday we had Andrew's first swim lesson.  He had a blast!  I was running a minute late, so I just plopped him in the pool with me without any transition time.  After a bit, he was splashing away.  We sang songs, chased rubber duckies, attempted bubbles (he was still in the splashing stage so we will try bubbles next week), and practiced getting out of the pool.  The 1/2 hour flew by.  It was fun to see him enjoy himself so much.  And we met Claudia, a 19 month old who was recently adopted from Guatemala.  It was nice to have another adoptive family in the group.  And it is so wild to see him so comfortable in water.  I think back to our first night in Moscow with him and when I tried to put him in water, he became as stiff as a board, hands clenched, and eyes as big as saucers.  He has come quite a long way since then.  Anyway, here are some pictures:

Andrew chasing the ducky (sort of):
Andrew practicing getting out of the pool:
Here we are posing after the lesson:
And then Saturday afternoon, Andrew met his Sumwalt cousins.  They have been so patiently waiting to meet him, and Saturday was quite special.  He still has many more Sumwalts to meet, but today was a good start.  It was so neat to see his cousins dote on him.  I am so happy that Andrew will get to experience the love his extended family has to offer.  The newest cousin is set to arrive in October, so he will have cousins of all ages to play with.  Now we need to get his cousin Audrey Cox down for a visit.  They are only 10 days apart, so they are super close in age.  Anyway, here are some pictures from our visit Saturday:

Caroline and Andrew by the window:

Here is Andrew with Caroline and Claire (if only Andrew had looked at the camera...):

So, that is it for the week.  We have to go back to the helmet therapist Monday so he can get his helmet adjusted a bit.  Right now it sort of crops his eyes too much.  Other than that, we hope to hang out at home.  Andrew is learning to climb stairs, so we might be in for another busy week!  I hope everyone has a great week!


Monday, September 1, 2008

One month home

It is hard to imagine that one month ago we boarded a 12 hour flight from Moscow to Atlanta with Andrew.  It is amazing what one month at home will do.  When we first met Andrew on June 4, he couldn't sit up without assistance, and at almost 1 year of age one physician put his verbal skills at 4-5 months.  Now, it is all we can do to keep up with him around the house.  He isn't walking yet, but he is quite the crawler, especially when he sees a cat he can grab.  And he is walking a lot more with assistance.  And as for his verbal skills, he is verbalizing the sounds mama and dada, although we aren't quite thinking he knows what he is saying yet.  

When we arrived in Atlanta a month ago, we had two memorable encounters.  One was with an American/Russian flight attendant.  As we neared Atlanta, she came up to us, kneeled down and stroked Andrew's hair while asking us questions about him.  At some point in our conversation I mentioned we looked forward to sharing Andrew's Russian heritage with him.  The flight attendant had a sad look on her face and related how difficult things can be in Russia and how he will have lots of opportunity with us.  Later on, at the airport customs area, another American/Russian lady who lived in Denver and was returning from a trip to Russia approached us and Andrew.  She asked us lots of questions as well.  She gazed into Andrew's eyes and kept saying 'God bless you' to us.  

I won't forget those encounters.  Russia has a special place in our hearts.  I don't mean to imply anything through these stories except that we encountered some very special people along the way, and were amazed at the support we had, even from strangers.  Although I know Andrew will have many opportunities with us as parents and in this country, I think Vernon and I are the truly blessed ones.  Although this month has been difficult on some level (introducing a 14 month old to a new life isn't simple), it really has been so easy on other levels.  Maybe that is our unique perspective given everything we have been through, but Andrew is adjusting well.  Going into adoption, we were prepared and educated to deal with almost any kind of situation.   And I don't want to say after 1 month that we are coasting, because that is not the case.  Andrew just seems to be doing well for right now.  We continue to take it one day at a time.

And as for today, I took Andrew with me on a 5k road race.  This was after I taught my 5:45 am weight training class at the Y, so I am a bit tired now as I type this update.  Andrew enjoyed the run, and I did, too.  I didn't overdo it, as I haven't run much lately.  When I run I try to target someone else running who I think I can beat (just a touch the competitor).  And believe me, I don't target those tall, lanky, power gel guzzling sort who look like they could be on the cover of Runner's World.  I identified another lady in a baby jogger just like mine (except hers was ugly orange - sorry, no offense to anyone - I'm just a Gamecock fan).  I catch up with her by mile 1, but by mile 2 she passed me.  As she passed me, I overheard someone running next to her talking to orange baby jogger lady about their last 1/2 marathon.  I decided maybe I wouldn't beat orange baby jogger lady after all.  I haven't done a 1/2 marathon in over 4 years.   I then target an elderly male runner (don't laugh, there are some great older runners).  I wind up passing elderly male jogger and right close to the finish line, wound up beating orange baby jogger lady, too.  Although my time was nothing to brag about.  I just enjoy running and finishing, with little competitions along the way to make things interesting.

I guess I'll leave it at that for now.  I have a Costco update that I will share later.  Thank you all for your support - especially this month as we have Andrew home.  We feel the attachment parenting style that we have been educated about as adoptive parents is really paying off.  This month has been nothing short of amazing.  We look forward to many more months and years ahead.