Dots & Lightbulbs

Not flesh of my flesh, Nor bone of my bone, But still miraculously my own. Never forget for a single minute, You didn’t grow under my heart, But in it.

Many people who have been touched by adoption know this poem.  It was written by Fleur Conkling Heyliger.  Beautiful!

Yikes!  So much to catch up on!    This was the poem I read at Katie’s Baby Naming ceremony this summer.  We were so lucky to have my siblings, their spouses and my nephew (all currently living abroad) here together for a little while, so we had a very intimate service at our parents’ house.   It felt very important for me to do something to formally recognizing Katie becoming part of our family here at home. Something official…other than the stacks of paperwork.  The process of adoption is unpredictable, so often the opportunity to anticipate and celebrate the coming of a baby gets overshadowed by the risks and unusual preparations.    It was a beautiful service and I’m so grateful to everyone for their contributions and for coming together to make it so special.   Unfortunately Tim’s family wasn’t able to be with us but we have the video and we showed it to them last month on a visit.   It was a wonderful day and made me wish we could have done something much larger to include everyone who has been so supportive along this journey. It feels  incredible to share the joy now that Katie is here!


Checking out the photos of her namesakes…my great, great Auntie Katie and my Grandfather Manuel.


Katie’s Baby Naming ceremony (Brit Bat) August 8th, 2013


  On October 11th,  it was the anniversary of my original Log In Date…the date that “my file was put in the pile” in China and all things moving forward happened related to that date.  This was the 7th LID anniversary to go by since I began the process and how sweet it was to spend it laughing with my Special K instead of feeling at such a loss as to what to do during the unending wait.  She’s here!!!!   And I couldn’t help but think about how that date, though seemingly random at the time, contained the Red Thread that brought us our one and only Katie.  SK is now 23 months and has been home with us for 9 months.


Cuteness at the beach


Our first swim together 🙂


Walking to the beach with Grampy.

I wish I’d been writing more updates since the summer but unfortunately my work situation changed drastically and it was impossible to find the time.   I spent years anticipating Katie’s arrival and gradually setting up my business so that my workload would be manageable once she arrived.  We had a great stretch of about 5 months where I could primarily be with Katie while my admin person (who was wonderful) took over most of the duties.  I was extremely grateful for her competence and dedication but in early September she quit without notice at the worst possible time and left me scrambling to keep my business going with no one to help.  It has put an enormous strain on my family and yes, although I’m doing my  best to move forward we are still really feeling the effects of her departure and I’m still angry about it.    There was no time to hire and train anyone and still get classes up and running so it was an incredibly difficult time with me trying to keep all the balls in the air..and as usual, on very little sleep.  Thankfully, Tim and my parents were able to help with some Katie care but it was brutal.  I realize many people do not have the luxury to be away from work and with their babies indefinitely but I really resented having to be leave Katie for long stretches so soon after coming home with her all because this person’s lack of integrity.  To her it was no big deal to leave me hanging after everything I had tried to put in place.  Life lesson for me I guess.

On to happier things…since I last updated the blog,  Tim has graduated with his Masters degree (Yippeee!!!) and moved in with us so we can be a more settled family.  We struggled for quite some time to find a bigger apartment but Toronto is brutal right ($$$) now so we decided to stay put in my little one bedroom.    Tim is a really good sport for putting up with the lack of space and absence of most of his things which are now in storage.  We are making it work surprisingly well but it’s not easy when both of us often work from home.  Our deck is bonus space in the summer and we loved going out there with SK and looking for airplanes or blowing bubbles.  She loved to smell the flowers, pick the tomatoes and clamber up and down off the lounge chair!


Happiness on the beach!


Our first Canada Day!

We spent lots of time at the cottage this summer and I believe it’s Katie’s most favourite place.  She LOVES the beach with the rocks, the water, watching the birds (“Caw Caw” she says)  and she can now climb the stairs in a heartbeat and paint rocks like a pro.     We saw friends and family throughout the summer, slowly introducing her to everyone…such fun!  She had her first Canada Day and my emotions surprised me…it had never meant so much to me. Every day I think about writing down the details of everything that’s happening with Katie.  She is astonishing!  Yes, of course I’m just like every other mother…in awe!   So…here are some highlights from the past few months:

Special K’s Obsessions:   Dogs barking outside and sirens going by.  She hears them long before we do and gives us a good “woof woof”.  Lip balm!  Open, close, put some on Mama, Dada, and Katie’s cheeks.   Kleenex boxes!  Grab and remove all possible kleenex before Mama notices.   Dancing!  Climb up on the headboard to the clock radio behind the bed, push as many buttons as possible until music begins and then holding onto the headboard shake hips side-to-side (it’s a bit “bump and grind” which worried Daddy just a little.)

Strolling by the river in Stratford.

Strolling by the river in Stratford.

Her feet!  Constantly taking shoes and socks off, checking out her toes and wiggling them on cue when we get to the page of her favourite book.   When she is falling asleep in her crib beside our bed I will offer to hold her hand but she usually gives me her foot to hang onto instead.   Sheep!  Repeatedly watch the crazy video of a rabbit who herds sheep to the tune of Raw Hide…she appropriately calls it the Baaaa.   Birds & Buses & Planes!  Anything that zoom by or flies high in the sky she can spot a mile away.   Hair Clips!!  As many as possible go in and out of the hair all day long.   Belly buttons!   She’ll show you hers if you show her yours.   Beeping your nose! and pointing out other parts of your face whenever we cuddle.  Helping!!  It’s shocking to me how much she likes to help me do anything and also share (unless you are heading towards “her” sandbox, swing or slide.   Books!!  Finally SK has discovered a love of books and will cuddle up to look with me.   Our most favourite night-time book is called “On The Night You Were Born” by Nancy Tillman and still makes me teary when we read it.  A beautiful book about being the one and only YOU! SK is and always has been obsessed with page that has the ducks.



Katie loves to draw and steals my printer paper any chance she gets to scratch out an inspired bit of work with her crayons.   She is very attached to her “sucky” which is the little jacket she was wearing when she came to us and has been in her bed since our first night together.  I thought the smell would help her feel more comfortable… it went straight into her mouth and is now her personal soother.  It gives me such peace that she finds it so comforting.   It’s a soft quilted cotton fabric,  common in Chinese clothing so I went to Chinatown and bought something similar just in case something tragic ever happened to Sucky!  She has taken to “Surrogate Sucky” just as well and now insists on having both…sigh.

Katie continues to adore her daddy and Tim was thrilled when SK finally allowed him to carry her on his chest in the Beco!  It was a huge step.  She still loves her bath, still loves Tyler to bits and her love affair with Greta continues to grow.  Now Katie walks along with us when we take Greta out and insists on holding the leash.



As of this writing, her words include – Mama, Dada, Greta, bubble, turtle, yeah, a strong NO, a very singsongy Hello, Bye Bye, BiBi , her version of Grampy, boot, noodle, her version of cupcake, baby, snow and a variety of entertaining animal sounds.  She will now try to imitate almost anything we say…it’s so exciting to see her realize that everything has a name.   About 2 weeks ago SK began singing…really singing to the point where I could recognize one of the songs from music class. It is beyond adorable and she can do some of the actions that go with many of the songs.


Finally…Tim gets a chance :-

We go to  music regularly but Katie is a child who doesn’t sit still and appears to be totally distracted as she wonders around the room,  rearranges the mats and redistributes instruments from person to person.  She won’t sit with me or participate much at all.  Well,  as I’ve explained to many Music Together parents over the years,  you would be surprised at what a seemingly distracted child is absorbing,  and now it’s been proven to me first hand…everything!   Katie is spontaneously singing intervals and songs and is having so much fun singing to herself all day.   The funniest thing is her musical response when she finds something  lost or does something great.   “Tadaaaah” she sings loudly.  Apparently I do this all the time,  as  well as  something she has picked up that sounds like the fanfare after a big reveal in a magic show.   It’s hilarious and extremely musical.

 Katie has developed her greeting wave in stages…for a while everyone got a hello wave, especially Greta and it was a very big, enthusiastic, full-armed wave.  Then one day it just switched to this delicate, sweet little finger wave (all fingers at once) with her hand up close to her face…adorable.  Now it has become a combination of either a soft little finger wave with the fingers gently wiggling or a side to side wave.   She gives them freely and will blow kisses if she decides she like you 🙂 For quite some time we enjoyed her version of pointing which was an arm reaching straight out but all her fingers pointing straight down.  There was something so cute about it because she was emphatic!  She would look straight down her arm to give it extra intention 😉     Slowly she found her pointing finger and now bosses us around with it constantly.

A beautiful walk in Wildwood near Stratford.  Daddy makes a memory.

A beautiful walk in Wildwood near Stratford. Daddy makes a memory.


Checking out the river in Stratford.

We finally got to spend some time with Katie at our place in Stratford…we call it the “house with the swing” because we have a wonderful swing on the front porch which is one of my very favourite places in the world. How incredible it was the first time we all sat on the swing together as a family.  We were very fortunate to enjoy some extended time there with Tim’s parents when they visited this Fall.  Katie had a truly fantastic time with them and gave them the full Special K treatment.  We still treasure all the beautiful pictures Tim’s mom drew for Katie (she is an artist) and I know that it really kicked off her current passion for her crayons!  Both Grandma and Grandpa showered her with love and affection.   My parents also came for a visit and we enjoyed our favourite Stratford activity of walking along the beautiful river and visiting the ducks and the swans.  There is a priceless dance of excitement that goes along with spotting the ducks 😉

Truckin' down the street at home

Truckin’ down the street at home

Watching SK connect the dots as she grasps the details of her world is thrilling.  She’s so smart!  As my sister likes to say about her little niece…”all the lightbulbs are on”!

I will start to work on the next blog post now that it’s actually December and I may find a little more quiet time as work slows down.  There is so much I want to include.    This last stretch has been truly incredible as we have watched the full “Special K” personality emerge along with her ability to communicate with us so well.  She teases us, teaches us, shares with us, plays with us and snuggles us with an astonishing confidence, charm and loving trust.


I will not sleep and you can’t make me!

We are so blessed with this little being….now if ONLY she would SLEEP!!!!!


10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cindy
    Dec 15, 2013 @ 03:56:39

    She is something!!! We feel so lucky to have her. She is a great addition to our family. I can’t wait to beep her nose in person!!


  2. Norman Grill
    Dec 15, 2013 @ 04:54:57


    Thank you for this beautiful update of Katie. Your writing is wonderful, made me a little weepy to see how lucky you all are. I get lots of news of Katie from mom, and just love to hear about her.

    take care and give Katie a kiss and hug.


    Auntie Sarah

    Sent from my iPad


  3. Risa Hoffman
    Dec 15, 2013 @ 12:51:32

    Thank you, Ree! I love your updates. She is truly a very lucky little girl! Can’t wait to see her again! Maybe a quick lunch in the new year! Give her kisses (and Cheerios) from Auntie Risa! Xoxo


  4. Fauna
    Dec 15, 2013 @ 14:36:34

    I forgot how much I missed your blogs and the updates on Katie. Thank you for sharing such personal stories, it’s like we are with her as she explores and grows. I look forward to seeing you and Katie soon.


  5. Barb Steinberg
    Dec 15, 2013 @ 21:38:43

    Risa, your writing evokes the true personality and antics of this beautiful, happy, healthy and bright little gem. These blogs will be such wonderful memories for Katie to hold on to forever.


  6. Bette Smith
    Dec 16, 2013 @ 20:43:37

    Thanks again for including me in your blogs. This one is exceptional. It is a struggle for anyone with a new child, even if they gave birth. She is beautiful and I am so happy for the whole family. Hope to see her soon. Love Bette Smith


  7. Susan Craig-Olsen
    Dec 19, 2013 @ 02:37:07

    So beautiful! Love to you and Katie!


  8. Ed & Barb Friedman
    Dec 29, 2013 @ 18:31:13

    What a beautiful blog ! We wish you, Tim& Katie a happy, healthy, New Year& a wonderful life together ! Barb & Eddie

    Sent from my iPhone



  9. Jane & Keeley
    Jan 07, 2014 @ 01:13:17

    So nice to your Katie update. She has really changed from our first meeting in Nanchang, her personality really comes through your post and your pictures.
    I had to smile when you wrote about her singing, Keeley still sings whenever she is on her own, doing a craft, going to sleep.
    Enjoy every moment with your precious girl


    • risajw
      Mar 10, 2014 @ 17:46:08

      Hi Jane,
      Just about to post again and realized I never said thanks for your lovely note. I hope you and Keeley are well!!! I love when I come across the photo of both of our girls. What a lovely meeting he had in such a far away place 🙂 Sending hugs! Risa & Katie


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