Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Year in Review

Merry Christmas and New Year: From our hearts and home to yours, we wish you God’s greatest blessings and peace this Christmas and New Year’s Holiday Season! The following are our brief reflections on the amazing journey God gave us in 2009. Enjoy!

January: Twelve months ago, we started our 2009 journey by traveling north for Ty’s palate surgery at Shriner’s Hospital in Chicago. We love Chicago! After the surgery, we had the longest two weeks of our lives with daily syringe feedings and arm restraints. A huge thank you goes out to Amy’s mom, Audrey, (you rock!) who lovingly flew up from Austin to help get all of us through this challenging time.

February: We rejoiced that Ty’s palate surgery was a huge success with a return trip to Chicago! His mouth had healed beautifully and he celebrated by beginning to consume everything! - especially broccoli, peas, cauliflower, brussell sprouts and asparagus!

March: We had a great time with Amy’s family from Texas during their early Spring visit. We travelled to Arthur, IL to see “everything Amish” in this local community and eat at the famous, local restaurant – Yoder’s Kitchen.

April: We celebrated Easter with Troy’s dad from Iowa, Dan. Dan was a huge help as usual with some new house upgrades during his visit! Thanks Dad! You’re the greatest!

May: We celebrated Ty’s Second Birthday (May 01) with a 2-in-1 Birthday Party on May 10. The first part of the party celebrated his First Birthday that we missed while he was still and orphan in China. The second part celebrated his Second Year of Life that he now enjoys with his forever family. We thank Troy’s mom, Sharen, our family and friends that came to party with us!

June: We travelled for vacation to Mo Ranch in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. We enjoyed time with our extended family, the sunshine, pool and Guadalupe River during our visit. Troy conquered his fear of heights by walking over the big catwalk bridge pushing Ty in his stroller and we witnessed the ranch maintenance workers catch a big rattlesnake on the road near our cabin.

July: We celebrated the Fourth of July with Troy’s Dad, Dan on this annual summer visit and golf outing in Central Illinois. Troy completed his third Lakeside Triathlon on the shores of Lake Decatur on July 5th.

August: We travelled on back-to-back weekends to Kentucky (regional thriathlon competition)and Ohio (organic church conference). We shopped at a huge international market called Jungle Jim’s in Cincinnati and Troy swam a mile down the Ohio River completing his first Olympic distance triathlon with his friend, Scott in Maysville, KY - the hometown of Rosemary and George Clooney.

September: We celebrated the 1st Anniversary of our “Gotcha Day” on Sept 16th, the day we received Ty from Chinese orphanage officials at Mama Mia’s Italian Restaurant inside the Crowne Plaza Hotel located in Downtown Zhengzhou, Henan, China. We capped the month by traveling with Amy’s parents to The Great Pumpkin Patch in Arthur, IL so Ty could pick out his annual Halloween pumpkin.

October: We had a great time as a family during “Boo at the Zoo” Night at Scovill Zoo in Decatur. Also, Ty had a fantastic evening with his neighborhood friend, John Brevin, trick-or-treating on Halloween Night. Ty was dressed as a Train Engineer and made us crack up by saying “Choo Choo!” when people answered their doors.

November: We celebrated Thanksgiving by travelling to see both of our families on back to back weekends in Texas and Iowa.

December: Ty now has two new girlfriends – Dora the Explorer and Ni Hao Kai-Lan. He is especially fond of Kai-Lan and the Mandarin Chinese that she is teaching him. We had a great Christmas with Ty. He enjoyed seeing that Santa drank all the milk he poured, eaten the cookies he baked and taken the carrots for his reindeer. We rounded the day off by starting the new tradition of having an Open House from 3-6PM for all our neighbors and friends. It was a great day!

The Reason for the Season: Finally, as the year draws to a close and 2010 is about to begin, we would like to thank our Lord, Savior and King, Jesus Christ for all our blessings these past 52 weeks. We thank Him for being born in manger as a common human being so he could relate to common people like us. We thank Him for growing up to be our Savior, dying on the Cross, taking away the debts we could never pay ourselves and opening the door of the Kingdom of Heaven to us forever. We thank Him for being our King who lives, reigns and gives us victory over any circumstance in life, especially hard economic times. This is the true reason for the season and foundation for celebration! Peace and Love to all of you!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

An Evening With Baby Aaron

Go back to the early 1980's when Cabbage Patch Kids were the rage. I highly desired a black, bald boy CPK, but my grandfather refused to buy me one, so hence, Baby Aaron Michael. His name was Skip Barnaby, but by the power of adoption, he was renamed, Aaron Michael. Now fast forward to 2009, Aaron Michael is my son's new friend. Ty is fabulous Daddy full of hugs, kisses and stroller rides. These picture came from the "Calgon...Take Me Away" day. After a day that truly tested my patience, I thought an evening walk to see the neighborhood lights was a great remedy. Obviously....NOT! Who knows what was going on in the little guys mind and body, but we couldn't do anything right. He cried the entire time....from getting our coats on to our evening walk. It was a gorgeous evening and I was sure it was the fix to a crazy day, but....he proved me wrong.

Just playing with my camera settings. It doesn't exactly capture the image I was wanting to get, but I still like the results.

And another image that was striking.

My boy and his baby.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

May your day be filled with much joy and peace from Him, Jesus Christ. We are enjoying a light snowfall and getting ready for an afternoon open house with drinks and desserts for anyone who wants to stop by. More pictures to follow of this brilliant day and season!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"Calgon...Take Me Away!"

I LOVE my son, but he truly pushed me to the limit today. My training/education/job is in child development , especially prenatal-3, but theory and practice where put to the test. I know through disorganization comes organization and we are experiencing a major "touchpoint" . Something great is about to happen, but....everything else falls apart. We have regressed in potty training and Ty wants to be a "baby" this week and wear diapers, he is waking up at night and wants to sleep with us, he is whining constantly after being told, "Mommy only likes to drink wine, not hear it!". AAAAGGGHHHHH! At 7:30 this morning, I was saying, "I know it has to be 12:00 somewhere in this world. Give me my pinot grigio!" After putting him back to bed and sleeping another 2 hours, the day didn't get any better. His world was falling apart. Any tips on how to deal with whining? While making dinner, I sent Ty and dad to the basement to paint a picture. I am going to create a "No Whining Zone" sign using his artwork. The little guy is a Picasso these days!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Our Rock Star

We knew Ty was musically inclined when we saw him tapping his fingers to the beat on the radio while in his car seat just days after arriving in the USA. We enrolled him in Kindermusik last winter (We are going to do it again in January!) when he was 19 months old and he was in love. He will turn any surface into a piano and pretend to sing and play. Praise God we had a friend who gave us a keyboard and drum pad her child out grew. Luckily I came across a garage sale that had kid musical instruments for sale and was told "all they need is new batteries". Well, only 1 out of the 3 worked with new batteries and thankfully it was the guitar. Ty has seen others play and he took to it like he knew what to do all along. This little guitar plays ~4 songs and has a laser in the opening to strum to continue playing the song. I am REALLY tired on the songs, but it brings him great joy. In fact, he will bring out his guitar to play during house church while we sing. His music doesn't exactly go with ours, but he is bringing his contribution to the group.

Pure joy!

Look at that stance!

Taking a seat on the fireplace for a little finger picking slow song.

I hope you enjoy this little ditty!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Rocking Cousins

We flew down to Texas for a long weekend before Thanksgiving for my parents annual Thanksgiving celebration. It is has been a family tradition bringing my mom and dad's side of the family together, in addition to friends, for approximately 26 years. We were trying to determine the number of years we have been doing this , but determined it was usually so my uncle who is now a retired pilot could join us with his wife and dogs, since he usually had to fly over Thanksgiving.

We have not been down to this celebration in several years and made the point to go this year, especially since we had a few relatives and friends who had not met Ty. In addition, Bryan (my brothers son) and Ty got to spend a little extra time together. It has been fun to watch the two of them develop a relationship and play together beyond parallel play. The rocking chairs were a great hit as they shared snacks and rocked back and forth together in unison.

Bryan is sitting in my chair that I had growing up and Ty is in my grandfathers chair.

Many memories were had in my rocking chair. I remember watching Mr. Rogers at 4:00 each afternoon as I walked in from school on our Curtis Mathis T.V. that you had to manually turn the knob with great strength to change the channel.

I wanted Ty to be able to have my rocking chair here in IL, but the likelihood of anybody driving to/from Texas to bring it was rare. Plus, it is nice for my parents to have extra for the grand kids. Now Ty has his own that can be a new heirloom.

Missing Glasses

Mr. Potato Head seems to have lost his glasses, but they have now have been claimed by silly Ty. Despite being on the small side, Ty pushes through to enjoy all the new sights to be seen.

Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa in Texas, Ty has been enjoying his early Christmas present, an Amish made rocking chair.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Trains...Choo Choo!

The Daddy was gone on a weekend work retreat , so Ty and Mommy explored new territory. Ty has been in love with trains since we live in Corn Syrup Production Country. I must say they are now an exciting encounter instead of the annoying "I am stopped by a train on my way to work" disturbance. So we went to a railway museum and rode the train into town, had lunch at a local joint, toured the glass blowing gallery very carefully (not recommended with a toddler) and a few other stores all before catching the train back to our starting point.

Looking cute in his autumn attire, perfect for the cool and windy day.

Ty was enthralled by the entire experience. Like his mom, he becomes really quiet and soaks in the entire experience.

We were off the train on our way to lunch. All the little guy wanted to do was get back on the train.

Seriously concentrating on the next bend ahead.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Family Photos

The annual picture time at church allowed us the opportunity to get our first professional family photo without all the additional sitting fees. I still long for the day to be photographed outside the studio by a professional, but this photo session resulted in some prized photos. We got all of our proofs for free since the above photo is going to be submitted in a contest by the photography service. We will never know if we won, but if we do, you will see this photo in their publications and on display.

Ty was unsure about this entire experience as it was difficult to get him to smile in the posed shots (which is why I do not like posed photos at times), but we got it done and have some precious memories and photos to share.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

This picture is from a house on the main street in Arthur, a local Amish community. The variety of the carvings was eye catching and amazing!

The little train engineer ready to get some candy!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Great Pumpkin Patch

We have the honor of living close to a premiere pumpkin patch that has been featured on Martha Stewart (show and magazine), the DIY network, Travel and Leisure magazine and Country Living. This pumpkin patch is filled with interesting displays, mazes, pumpkins from around the world, farm animals, etc. I am amazed at how creative they get each year to come up with unique and different displays. Ty had a blast running of his lunch from a local Amish restaurant while amazed by all the pumpkins.

Isn't this the sweetest face ever?

Look at all the creations...from a train, to spider, to Noah's Ark, rainbow of pumpkins...

The mums and pumpkin trees are works of art in themselves.

Ty posing outside the Amish restaurant. He found the perfect rock and bale of hay to sit on. Perfect photo opportunity!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rain, Rain Go Away

Ty catching raindrops on his mouth. My son loves to play in the rain and I let him!

Fall is my favorite time of the year...cooler temperatures, carmel apples, visit to the pumpkin patch, leaves changing, comfort food... we have all of that and some rain. This has been the wettest Fall I can remember in my 8 years of living in the Midwest. It is gorgeous one day and gloomy the next. At least it makes for good potty training weather. I am so proud of my son! We are still in diapers at nap and bedtime, but he didn't even want to pee in his diaper this evening when getting ready for bed! After I interpreted "PP Potty" for Troy who was putting Ty to bed, the little guy did his business!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Art in Central Park

Every September brings the juried art show to our local downtown park. This is where we began to "shop" for pieces of art for our house. Our first year in town, we purchased 2 framed prints from Randall Shedd, a photographer from Indiana who started to photograph his own flowers to save gas money during the high fuel prices. His photography is beyond anything I have seen before and I do not even know where to begin to describe it except, "I want it all!" He did put out a calender one year which enabled me to savor a taste of his work each month.

We missed the show last year while we were in China and couldn't wait to expose Ty to this yearly ritual. This was the first year we did not purchase a piece of art as we figured out we had already purchased our favorites from our preferred artists who were present. This year offered a different dimension in the fact that Ty got to be a part of the children's activities. They had a white van that was to be painted as desired. Ty didn't know what to think, but carefully took his time to paint what he could reach. A car was a different subject for him which brought a lot of confusion. He looked at us like, "I am really allowed to do this?" We said, "YES! Go for it!" He was still unsure but attempted to do what he could while it started to rain.

Friday, October 09, 2009

It's Potty Time!

It all started Monday night while in the tub. Ty said "PP" and he peed in an old Nuby cup that he plays with in the bathtub. We cheered and did a little potty dance and told Daddy who was super proud. There wasn't anything on the calender on Tuesday so Ty spent the morning in his big boy underwear and he went potty every time! He has continued this routine while we are at home. We still haven't ventured out in big boy pants, but he does understand the concept. His face lights up and he does his own little dance when he accomplishes the deed. It is too cute! Of course he wants the gummy bear that waits for him at the end. I wasn't going to bribe him with food (stickers and stamps on the hand instead), but the grandparents brought candy from my mom's recent trip to Germany. Ty has been constantly running to the freezer where we keep the candy (we prefer our sweets frozen for some reason) wanting the yummies and I have denied him. Finally I told him he can have a gummy once he goes potty. That was the trick!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Howdy Ya'll!

Yep, we are alive and kicking. My Mommy and Daddy have been busy with life that posting on the blog has been their last priority. They have been busy doing paperwork (along with work and church stuff) so I might have a little sister in a couple of years.

Guess what? I no longer qualify for speech services! Unheard of coming from a child born with cleft lip and palate, but Mommy and Daddy agree. They are going to let me see Ms. Linda once a week until I am 3 and then decide from there. Ms. Linda says I do not sound nasally, I can make all the appropriate sounds for my age and I am on target both expressively and receptively in language. My articulation is not great at times, but gets better each day.

My grandma and grandpa just visited from Texas. Mommy has lots of cute pictures to post from our trip to the pumpkin patch. I had so much fun looking at all the different animals, pumpkins and chasing Daddy in the corn maze. By the way, I can now say "Daddy"! I still call him YaYa at times, but I have come a long way from calling both my parents "Mama".

Time for my mommy to get to bed. Talk to you soon.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

1 Year Ago Yesterday...

This was my look as I walked into the restaurant and saw my precious child of God. He was the first kid to arrive and beat us to the restaurant. You can see more about this day here.
It was so hard to control myself and not rip my son out of the caretakers arms.

I remember we had to wait, and wait (at least it seemed like for me) for "the moment". Patience is not my best virtue and I so badly wanted to hold little Ty.

The poor little guy had no idea why these people were crying and taking all these pictures. And this crazy lady was once again trying to capture his attention.

...finally in our arms, but so scared.

...we became a family of 3! It was such a surreal day that is hard for us to put into words. We said that Ty was "so good and didn't cry." Looking back at these pictures, our little guy was so scared. Look at his stiff arm, he barely wanted to look us in the eye and he has no idea why this crazy lady kept rubbing his back. Thanks to our travel mates, they were able to capture these pictures.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Year Ago Today...

Troy admiring Ty at the Chicago airport.

... we left for China to pick up our little Ty. Today has been a very emotional day for me as I reflect about Ty's story this past year, but my heart was also left in China. A friend put it so well. "Amy, it is like you were in labor and you are reliving your experience." I fell in love with the country and its people. I know one day we will go back to pick up our daughter.

I remember waiting at the gate to board our plane in Chicago. There were a few American families in the minority of Asians. You wondered, "Are they going to China to get their child?" We noticed a few had already connected, but we were too shy to join in. We justified our feelings, "Maybe they are with another agency." But we were wrong. We all met up with Helen, our Beijing guide at the airport. We were so exhausted after traveling 24+ hours and couldn't wait to go bed. We went to bed starving, eating only cereal that I had packed for Ty. But we had the best coffee ever that morning at the Holiday Inn Downtown Beijing.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fun With Ms. Linda

Ty has has weekly speech therapy starting this past April. It has been amazing to think he has gone from a sign vocabulary of maybe 25 signs, saying 2 words (Mama and No) and now having a vocabulary of over 50 signs and 100 words! We give a bunch of the credit to us working with him through songs, books, talking to him and plain old play, but Ms. Linda, our speech therapist has been a blessing. Ty runs to the door when Ms. Linda comes over to play and helps her bring in the toys. Ty radiates with joy and excitement when she comes over and loves to play with her toys. It is "play with a purpose" and he strives for the sounds/words we want him to say. Ty is so engaged with Ms. Linda's toys that we do not want to duplicate them at home so he will look forward to her visits.

Ty found the Mardi Gras beads at the bottom of Ms. Linda's bag and dumped them out on the floor. I am not sure how Ms. Linda uses the Mardi Gras beads because Ty went silent due to being so engrossed. Ms. Linda and I sat back and watched him play. By the way, it was at the end of his session so we were not concerned with him being mute.

Ty seemed to be starving during this therapy session and helped himself to a snack of almost gone puffs.

I love the look on his face with all the crumbs!

Ty helping himself to a little tea!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Round 2

We got word today that our application to begin the journey for another Chinese Waiting Child was accepted. We have requested a girl between the ages of 0-2. The current wait for a girl with minor special needs is approximately 18-24 months so the timing is right for us. God knows who our daughter is and we patiently wait (and put together our dossier) while we continue to cherish our little Ty who has been the greatest blessing!

Monday, August 24, 2009


Ty likes to tumble at home so we enrolled him in toddler gymnastic classes at our Y. They were offering a buy one get one free deal so the price was right, but the timing may be off. While he participated in the class, he didn't show the same joy and excitement to go each week as he did KinderMusik or even BabyTALK Times at the library. The teachers were college students home for summer break and were wonderful with Ty, but he was missing that spark. So we are going to wait until he is 3 before we enroll him again. I have noticed a true gymnastic center is offering a free trial class so we might check that out to compare the two. We want to encourage Ty's gifts, but want him to have fun too. At this time, it looks like we have a singer/musician/dancer on our hands.