We had a great Easter weekend. Pastor Jonathan delivered a wonderful message about the true meaning of the cross. Our church had a powerful illustration about taking our sins to the cross and leaving them there. Each person wrote an unconfessed sin, thanks to Jesus for His sacrifice or something of that nature and stuck it to one of 4 large crosses set up around the church and then we took communion. It was amazing to see all of those sins stuck to those crosses- never to be remembered again by God! Being washed clean like that is such a liberating feeling- one that only Jesus can provide!

We celebrated Easter Sunday by going to service at noon with another great message from pastor Jonathon and then dinner at Aunty Kathy’s. 

A couple of weekends before Rachael, Lily and I went to visit Grandpa Krantz. He has Alzheimer’s Disease and is in a nursing home. He does not speak or respond to people very much but Kevin’s Mom visits him quite often. We drove down to N Canton for a visit. He seemed like he was interested in Lily- we could see he was watching her and looked almost happy. When it was time to leave I held Lily up to him and asked her to give Grandpa a kiss good-bye. She did her usual kiss- sticking her tongue out! and Grandpa kissed her back! It was so sweet!

Enjoy the pictures! 

Happy First Birthday!

February 21, 2009

I can’t believe my baby is one already! The last couple of months have just flown by! She is just an amazing child- she has absolutely completed our family. It is hard to remember a time when we didn’t have her. Those 3 1/2 years seem so far away- almost like they happened to someone else. God has blessed us so amazingly these last two months by bringing her into our lives. We are so thankful! The kids all have a great relationship with her- it is so wonderful to see how much they love her and how much she enjoys spending time with them , too!

Lily has been a very busy girl since we’ve been home. She is crawling everywhere and getting into everything! She is much busier than my other three kids or I am having serious memory lapses. We know that last part is true for sure but she is also making up for lost time, I think! I thought I had child proofed our home- that is until she started playing with electric cords, finding tiny pieces of plastic to stuff in her palate and ripping up magazine and newspapers and chewing on them. No wonder she isn’t eating too much solid food yet- she’s full of fiber from the paper! Lily is actually eating much better lately. I think her stomach bug/ear infection made it hard to eat. She loves fruit and grilled cheese but we discovered that she does not enjoy birthday cake- especially getting her hands messy with the icing. She had quite a digusted and distressed look on her face when she put her hands in her cake and then cried when she tasted it. Can she really be my child? LOL! I honestly expected that she would not like it as she is still just beginning to taste new foods and has not had much food with sugar in it. I’m sure in time she’ll be hooked on sugar like the rest of us!

She looked absolutley beautiful in her pink dress for her party! We had quite a few friends and some family over for her party. She got some adorable clothes, lots of books, a few fun toys, a beautiful picture frame with her birth date, adoption date, her Chinese and American name engraved on it. She also got a nice silver chain with the Chinese “love” character on it. She did pretty well and was not too overwhelmed. She loves to be handed off to lots of people so she get to visit with everyone. She met her Krantz cousins, Justin, Kyle and Larissa as well.

Lily has also learned some sign language- she can sign “more,” “all done,” “yes” and waves hi and bye. She gives kisses when you ask now (usually with her tongue sticking out!) and seems to understand quite a bit of what we are saying to her. Best of all her first word was “mama!!” I think she is brilliant of course!

Enjoy the pictures!

News from home

February 2, 2009

I wondered if I should continue posting- after all- most of our friends and family are pretty informed about how we are all doing. After some prayer I decided to update here and there just in case our story might resonate with another couple or family out there. I just didn’t want to come off as though my life is any more special than anyone else’s out there!

We have been thrust right back into our day to day life with the added bonus of a sweet and very active and curious baby! She is much busier than I ever remember my other 3 kids being! Still eating paper and plastic- but also learning to feed herself. She tastes almost everything but lately has started making disgusted faces at almost everything we feed her and often tries to spit things out- especially VEGETABLES! We’re still working on the food part- I guess it will just take time. Since her cleft palate is so large she ends up with food packed up in there and has to sneeze to get it out. I think some of the foods might be more uncomfortable than others- like the acidity of peaches- so she is more apt to refuse those foods that might sting her nose when she sneezes- very understandable. We are also haivng challenges with sleeping. We are working through them but some nights she is up 4 times. Usually twice for a bottle. I think she is not getting enough calaories during the day- something we will discuss with the pediatrician. I tell you- it’s rough at times dealing with sleep deeprivationas a 43 year old! But she is so WORTH IT!

Lily loves to dance to those musical toys- she looks a lot like the gopher from Caddyshack- adorable! She has also learned to clap. She was watching basketball with Daddy the other night and saw lots of people clapping so she tried it. Now she claps for herself all of the time- waiting for us to admire her with a gigantic smile on her face! I fall in love with her more and more each day! Rachael, Ryan and Nathan are all so good with her- it is so neat to see how much they are bonding with her, also. Ryan tells his 13 year old friends all about her new exploits and you can see the look on their faces “dude, she’s just a BABY!” but he loves her and really enjoys spending time with her. It’s so cool to see! Rachael helps a lot during the day- babysits for short intervals -like when Mommy is desperate for a nap! Rachael loves to make her belly laugh. Nathan is so sweet with her- making her laugh and helping her walk across the room or eading her a book until she grabs his hair. I have a feeling that she will walking in no time- look out world- here she comes!!!

We went to a fun activity night with our church at the Strongsville Recreation Center. Lily had the most adorable bikini on- the only one in the place! She crawled around in the shallow end of the pool for a very long time- sticking her face all the way in and LOVING the water! We only got out because she was so tired. We only got a few pictures because the camera kept on shutting down- I think that there were so many people swimming that there was a lot of extra humidity. She seems to have no fear of anything- not the water, the vacuum cleaner, the dogs or the stairs. I hope this is a good thing- I know I will have to be extra vigilant in watching where she goes when she starts walking!

We also got to enjoy a very late Christmas with my youngest sister-in law, Colleen, Eric her husband, their two teenage boys (CJ and Zach), Jerry Morgan (Eric’s Mom) and my mother-in-law. We had a nice meal and watched Lily crawl all over Aunt Colleen’s house. She got lots of fun presents including one noisy one that she is enjoying (thanks Grandma Krantz !!). We also took turns grabbing tiny pieces of Christmas wrapping paper out of Lily’s hands or her mouth depending on how quick she was to stuff it in her cheeks! Ryan, Rachael and Nathan were equally spoiled. Kevin’s oldest sister, Kathy unfortunately got stuck in some bad snow and had to go back home. We hope she’ll get to meet Lily soon. She hasn’t met Kevin’s brother’s family yet. We are all so busy.

Right now I think she is fighting a second ear infection. She had one the Tuesday after we got home. Anti-biotics took care of things but babies with cleft palate tend to have fluid behind their ears which can easily get infected. She has had a high fever since Friday night (it’s now early Monday morning) she is also coughing, not eating any solid foods and not sleeping well at night. We were at Akron Children’s Hosptial half the day on Friday meeting her Ear Nose and Throat doctor, an audiologist, a speech therapist, a social worker and a cleft care nurse. They noticed she had fluid but no infection. I find it very ironic that children seem to get sick over the weekend. My other 3 did that, too. Anyway- we will be off to visit her new pediatrician later today as soon as I can get an appointment.

The paper/plastic obsession is getting challenging! I had to call a friend who is a Physician’s Assistant over the other night. Lily had something stuck in her palate that I could not get out alone! Rachael had to hold her hands, I was holding her head and a flashlight and Mike had a pair of tweezers. Let us just say that Miss Lily does NOT like being restrained or being poked at! We finally got part of an Oreo wrapper out- it was stuck was deep in the top- thankfully she did not choke. Now I am becoming obsessive myself about picking up all the little things that she likes to snack on!

Ryan and Nathan are both participating in basketball. Kevin is coaching Ryan’s team and Nathan is playing with Upward- a Christian organization that I am quite impressed with. I am sad that I missed his first game due to Lily’s illness but he is really enjoying it. He has discovered that he is a good defensive player and that those players have just as much value as the guys who score a lot of points. Rachael is busy with homeschooling. She is very artistically creative- she likes to make clay sculptures and design things using fabric also. They are all growing into such neat young adults!

Kevin is beginning his busy season but has been a very helpful husband as I am trying to adjust. He does laundry, washes dishes, h0lds the baby, gets the kids on the bus when Lily has a hard night and in just generally all around wonderful. sorry ladies, he is NOT for hire! LOL! 

We feel so blessed by God! Although life is more hectic than ever each day is such a gift! We feel that the verse from Jermiah 29:11 has really come full circle for us “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” When we think about what He has done for us in bringing us this beautiful family we cannot help but be in awe of His love and grace! We pray that you see the blessings He bestows upon you as well!

Life at Home

January 17, 2009

Sorry it has been so long since I’ve updated but the last two weeks have been a blur! I was so exhausted the first week and slept whenever Lily did. Kevin went back to work right away but is taking it slow- as much as he is able. The kids are well adjusted to Ohio time, too. The boys went back to school on Wed. but then needed to take Thursday off because they were so tired. We have had really cold temperatures here the last few days (-12 degrees and a much colder wind chill) so they had Friday off school. It has been nice that they are slowly assimilating back to school.

Lily is doing great! We had to take her to the doctor’s the Tuesday after we got home as I feared she had an ear infection and she did. She seems better now. She was not sleeping through the night and sometimes woke 2-3 times a night. I am not sure if it was solely due to the infection, her new room or what. She has improved on the sleeping which has been much better for me as I need my beauty sleep (more so at 42 than I did in my 30’s!) I was completely exhausted the first week. I love having Lily home but it has been quite an adjustment for me getting used to having a baby around full time. Believe me I am not complaining- it has been wonderful!!

Lily saw a doctor who specialized in internationally adopted children last week and had a very thorough visit (2 1/2 hours). She has a few developmental “gaps” due to being in an orphanage but very few! I feel she is doing incredibly well- she uses the pincer grasp, babbles, crawls all over the place, pulls herself up on furniture and has tried to climb the stairs! Lily also has learned to shake her head no (which she does for our amusement VERY often!), waves hi and bye (at her discretion), gives nice wet “Lily kisses” and knows how to give “five.” I know I am a little prejudiced but she is very smart! She is also a sweet natured baby. She hates her car seat but is learning to deal with it as we have run errands and gone to Rachael’s home school classes and Ryan’s basketball games with her.

On Monday we will visit Dr. Lehman at Akron Children’s Hospital to evaluate Lily for her upcoming palate surgery. A team of people will meet with us- an ENT, a surgeon, an audiologist, a pediatric dentist and an occupational therapist. We may also meet with the cranio-facial team at the Cleveland Clinic at a later date as well in order to compare programs and benefits. I am hoping to have her surgery done some time after her first birthday.

We have been blessed by so many people in the last few weeks since we’ve been home. Lots of friends have delivered some wonderful meals to us. The kids say it is like having a restaurant in our house. I am still trying to keep up with laundry, housekeeping and home schooling Rachael. We are taking our time adjusting to the new schedule but it already feels as if Lily has been with us forever. There are times when I forget that she was ever in an orphanage because she has bonded so well with us. The kids still love playing with her, feeding her and Ryan even changed a poopy diaper today (with Rachael’s help.) She willingly allows other people to hold her but prefers Mommy- (yeah!!) Daddy is the fun one in the house- he loves throwing her in the air and doing flips with her- she just laughs and laughs. She will sit on the floor and play by herself, too. Especially if she finds an errant piece of plastic wrap- she loves to crinkle it and then try to eat it! I guess I need to spruce up my housekeeping skills a little (LOL🙂 I call her destructo-baby as she loves to find newspapers and magazines and tear them to pieces. Paper scraps are another thing she loves to try to snack on. In fact the only thing she does NOT put in her mouth is food. I think in the orphanage they must have pushed her seat in so far that her arms were trapped and she was unable to grab at her food- or maybe they just didn’t put any in front of her. When I put food in front of her she just grabs it and then drops it on the floor. She dogs love that! Speaking of dogs we found out that our basset hound Chloe has glaucoma and is blind in her right eye!  She had to see a dog eye specialist in Akron and will need continual medication and special vet care.

We plan to have Lily’s birthday party on Feb. 15th. I can’t believe she will be one already. Time flies when you are having fun!! We are also enjoying many visits from friends and will finally celebrate Christmas with Kevin’s family next Sunday.

More updates soon!

Home Sweet Home!

January 4, 2009

We are finally home! We got home yesterday about 4 in the afternoon. Kevin’s Mom met us at the airport as well as our friends the Psota family! It was so neat to see them! Grandma Krantz had tears in her eyes as she met grandchild number 9 and Rose was beaming! Rose’s Mom was there too with a beautiful pink and purple hand crocheted blanket for the baby! Lily had a hard flight from NY and was quite tired so she cried a little when other people held her and slept all through our lunch with Grandma. I know Grandma Krantz was dying to get to know her better so we will have to visit soon when Lily is actually awake. The older kids regaled Grandma with tales of weird foods and other cool Chinese experiences. We plan to celebrate Christmas with his family some time soon so Lily will get to meet her cousins and aunts and uncles soon, as well.

It was so great to come home. We walked up to the front door with a welcome home sign from our friends and neighbors. When we walked in the door we saw that the Duber family had decorated the whole house with streamers and signs and some chocolates for the kids! It was so special to read all of the little notes they left for us. Another neighbor friend, the Knaggs had put pizza in the freezer, eggs, bacon, juice and milk in the fridge for us and the Cleary family left an adorable Christmas tree ornament with all of our names on it. A few minutes after we got home Karen H. came by with a bunch of beautiful daisies and they stayed to meet Lily and visit for a few minutes- which thankfully turned into an hour visit! We cried with joy at being able to share our Lily with them. Then Janet D. and her family by and I cried again- are you catching the theme here?! Lots of happy tears!!! I was so overwhelmed at such a special homecoming, at feeling so loved and cared for by all of our friends -it was just amazing!!

Lily slept most of the day yesterday and then was up from about midnight until 4 am. Kevin had gotten a couple of hours sleep before that so he stayed up with her and then came to bed when she drifted off at 4. she woke up again at 7 this morning- all smiles for me! I had a full night’s sleep- what a blessing I have in such a loving and gracious husband!!

Everyone really wanted to go to church today so we were off for the 10:30 service. I wanted to see my church family and to show off the baby a little, too! She wore her hot pink Chinese outfit which got a lot of comments. Everyone was so welcoming and happy to see us and her- I just can’t express how much we love our church family! Here, I go, crying again! Pastor Jonathan announced our arrival during the service as well and the whole church (probably close to 1000 people in that service) all welcomed Lily and us home! It was so good to hear the word of God and to worship our Lord freely again! We were stopped by so many people to offer congratulations which was an enormous blessing! The Wolfe family came by with dinner and to visit this afternoon. They brought Lily an adorable Asian baby that looks just like her! We visited and they watched our slide show of almost 500 pictures and asked all kinds of questions about China. Kim has arranged meals for us for this coming week which we so appreciate!!! We are all still tired- although not as much as we thought we would be. Lily feel asleep for the night (we pray!) around 8. She had only 2 short naps today so I think she may wake for a bottle but that’s about the only reason she’ll wake- she was exhausted but still very happy. She hardly cries at all- we have been blessed by the Lord with such a happy and easy going baby!

I hope to hear from the other 11 families that traveled with us, soon! I find myself praying for the new families often and wonder how everyone is adjusting. We so loved getting to know them all and seeing their families grow. One of the Pastors who adopted another baby close to Lily’s age (Mei Ling) had a small dedication service for the children before we left Guangzhou. It was so special to have him pray over the children and talk about God’s plan for their lives and for our lives as a family. He recognized that the Lord had predestined us to be there at that very moment with these exact children even before the beginning of time and how incredible a privilege it is to be given this blessing of a child through adoption. He also spoke about the new graft into our family tree and how that graft might impact hundreds of other people through each unique adoption story. We then went to the families we felt led to pray with and prayed a blessing over them. It was such a beautiful and personal time! 

I want to thank each one of you who posted on the blog- it helped us feel connected to you and to home! It was great to read about your excitement and joy for us! I’ll post some home coming pictures once we download them. Happy New Year to you all.

Blessings, Karen

Almost Home

January 3, 2009

25 and a half hours after leaving the our hotel in Beijing, we have arrived at our hotel in New York.   The flights went as well as marathon flights can go.  I can highly recommend flying Lufthansa.  The seats were totally adjustable, included a massage feature and the ability to recline almost flat.  We had our own entertainment system with video on demand and video games.  Lily had a bassinet on the first leg, but she only used it for an hour or so.  They were all reserved on the second leg, when she was tired, so she slept while being held for the majority of the flight.   Rachael, Ryan and Nathan handled the journey really well, but were extremely tired when hit JFK airport in NY.  It took us awhile to clear immigration as Lily required a few extra steps, but she is now officially a US citizen.  The kids were looking pretty beat as we hung out in the waiting area, but they seem to get a shot of adrenaline as we left the airport and it became very clear we were finally back in the USA.

When we told the cab driver where our hotel was, he said “That’s a little China town over there”.  Excellent, just what I was hoping for.  So here we are in a Sheraton hotel near Laguardia airport, with Chinese artwork and dragon shaped door knockers, surounded by Chinese restuarants and other businesses with signs written in Chinese.  Aaaaasgh!!

But we found an Italian restuarant that delivered, so all is not lost.  Hopefully we will make a smooth transition back to eastern standard time and at least get some sleep tonight.

See you all very soon.

Hello from Germany!

January 2, 2009

We are waiting in Germany for our flight to New York. We arrive in NY around 7 p.m. and stay over night. We cannot wait to get home! Please pray for Lily as she did not sleep well last night and not much on the plane either. Consequently, neither did I. My sinus infection is still bad but Kevin’s cough has improved quite a bit. Ryan is coughing a little but the other kids are doing well. See you soon!

Auf Weidersein (I am sure I spelled this wrong but at least I tried!) Karen

Flight Info

January 1, 2009

For Rose and Mom in particular, we will arrive at the Akron – Canton airport via Airtran at 12:20 on Saturday afternoon.

Last Days in Guangzhou

January 1, 2009

Here are  pictures of our last day in Guangzhou, including group photos of our entire travel group and all of the adopted children.  We have gotten to know the other families and their children.  We hope to stay in touch with all of them and especially here how the children are progressing.

We flew back to bitter cold Beijing yesterday.   The flight was a little challenging as the aircraft was designed to seat an average sized Chinese person.  Kevin could barely fit both shoes in under the seat in front of him, his knees were pushing on the back of the seat even when it was not reclined and the headrest hit the top of his shoulders.

We spent New Year’s Eve at the Chinese acrobat show.  It was a very entertaining show with lots of stunts, dancing and special effects.  Even Lily was mesmorized by what was happening on stage.

Everyone in the family is suffering from a cold to some degree.  As a result, we decided to spend New Year’s day in the hotel,out of the cold and  just relaxing. 

We begin heading home tommorow and will be in New York by Friday night EST.  Nathan says he will be happy to be anywhere in the USA. It has definitely been a trip of a lifetime but we look forward to seeing all of you soon. Kevin is taking the big kids to the pool while I watch the baby sleep. He has the flight itinerary somewhere and he’ll post that information before we go to bed tonight.

Blessings, Karen

Shopping day

December 29, 2008

Lily has had a rough couple of nights here in Guangzhou. She had been sleeping so well in Nanjing but she is getting her fourth tooth (upper middle) which I think is bothering her. We also had run out of American formula since she is being such a little piggie🙂 so we got some from another family. Their formula is milk based and we were using soy. Kevin had tried to go to the Chinese grocery store but was unable to read the labels or find anyone who spoke English so we just used the milk formula and I think it upset her tummy a little. We have since gotten some Chinese soy formula with the help of our guide, Amy. Lily was up about 4 times last night crying inconsolably. It is much more difficult to function with 4 hours of sleep in my 40’s than it was in my early 30’s that’s for sure!!:) but it is worth it! I fell asleep around 10:15 tonight but then Nathan came in the room complaining of being stuffy. After giving him some medicine I cannot get back to sleep now so I decided to blog for awhile instead. Lily has been sleeping better since 8 or so tonight which is great but now I’m awake. Oh well- I guess we’ll get back on schedule some time after we get home. We have one more day in Guangzhou and then back to Beijing for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day and then we leave on the 2nd. Our plane from New York lands at Akron Canton airport around 12:45 Saturday.

We spent part of the day shopping today. We met a Christian Chinese man named Jordan who was very kind to us. We bought a bunch of souveniers in his shop. Rachael, Lily and I are getting matching Chinese dresses hand made. They are a beautiful blue with Chinese plum tree blossoms on them. We will pick them up tomorrow. We got the baby a pair of squeaky shoes and two other Chinese outfits to wear. We also bought several “gotcha” day gifts for her. We will give her one to her each year on December 22 as a remembrance of the day we adopted her. The shopkeepers all spoke excellent English and were very good sales people! “come look at this- Oh so pretty for your beautiful baby! Oh- lucky family with beautiful children…” they kept saying. I fell for the lines but still feel like we got a good deal on most of the stuff!

The kids love going around finding funny signs that have been translated into English but missed the mark just a little. Here are a few- have a laugh! I also wanted to get a shot of  a “squatty potty.” I have actually used one, it’s pretty hard to squat down that far but… well enough about that issue! Haha! Tomorrow we have our swearing in ceremony at the Consulate and maybe a little more shopping – if the credit card doesn’t burn up completely by then!! LOL!!

Lily got weighed at her medical appointment and we discovered that she has gained almost a pound in 6 days! I am sure we had an accurate weight before so she is just getting a lot more to eat. I think her nannys took very good care of her. The photo we have of the orphanage shows it is quite new and beautiful. I think they must have done their best to give her time and attention but they could only do so much with so many children. The fact that she is able to sit up, crawl, pull herself up and “cruise” furniture makes me think she did get a lot of personal attention. She cannot use her finger and thumb to pick up small objects but in every other way she is on target for her age which is quite surprising! We’ll get her evaluated at UH but I am amazed at how well she is doing!

Enjoy your New Year’s! 

Love, Karen