On her “phone” (my calculator) at the beach…beautiful!

Oh my gosh, where to begin? It’s the end of December and we’ve been at the cottage having a glorious time. It’s crazy to think it’s been 2 years since we were here and waiting by the phone…knowing we’d get “the call” any day and Katie wasn’t yet a reality in our lives. She is so beautiful, happy, funny, chatty, strong, kind, musical, creative affectionate, adventurous…seriously, I can’t get over her and what a joy it is to have her in our lives!

We moved last month…finally out of the one bedroom apartment and into the top two floors of a semi-detached home. What a great way to end the year! Katie loves running from room to room and has adapted beautifully to what she calls “my new home”. She has her own light-purple room lovingly painted by Tim and sleeps there…for at least part of the night. Tim and I took the plunge and got a King sized bed so we could all sleep better wherever she ends up. Sleeping is still up and down but over all it’s MUCH better than everything we went through last year! I don’t even want to chance writing it but she hasn’t had a night terror in months (shhhhhh).

It was a whirlwind to move out of our place but we were very fortunate to have some extra “Katie help” with our very own Mary Poppins (Jenny) available by chance to hang with her adoring fan. Jenny was Katie’s first regular babysitter in our home who could put Katie to sleep and is apparently the only person permitted to braid her hair. Jenny really helped turn things around for me and my sanity this past spring! Β Stress management has become my biggest challenge πŸ™‚ Β Freeing me up just a wee bit more to get work done and take a little bit more care of myself…yes, I went to yoga!!! Since then Katie has welcomed several babysitters into her life and usually (eventually) will have no trouble saying goodbye to me with a smile and a smooch….bless her heart for that, it feels like a little gift every time it happens.


Driving the tractor at the apple picking place near the cottage…even more fun than last year!

Katie’s language has exploded since my last post. I can’t even keep up. She says so many new things each day that I can’t always understand her the first time it rolls out of her mouth…if I ask what she has said she impatiently states “Katie say…” and then repeats it for me slowly (as in “duh Mom!”)
Her first sentence we heard back in March was “New park, no meow meow”.
She’d gone to a new park with Jenny which did not have a cat like the other park πŸ˜‰ Some cute Katie-isms past and present… she continues to use Y as L and likes to say she wants ” a yot, a yot, a yot!” of whatever looks good. “All day, so yong” (all day so long if she wants to do/wear something for a long time). Watermelon was and still is “mano mano” (?), she says “Aka” as thank you or you’re welcome. She began counting some time ago…in her own mixed up way but with perfect cadence in her voice. Whatever number she lands on we knew it was meant emphatically to be 10! I knew she was starting to understand what counting meant when I handed a couple of tissues back to her in the carseat and she looked at them and said “two!” (proud mama). That was months ago. Now she is rattling off many full sentences in a row and can pretty much say anything she wants to express in her own way and she loves it! I have found the whole process of her language development an absolute miracle to witness.

She insisted on helping..really!!!

She insisted on helping..really!!!

HO SING! has been a favourite Katie expression of ours. It means “whole thing” and cracks me up because it sounds like a Chinese emperor or something. If you are handing her just a piece of something she insists on having the ho sing! One difficult afternoon I was trying to leave the house when Katie was supposed to be napping and staying with Tim. She wouldn’t have any of it and was inconsolable. I tried to put her in bed next to him and reassure her that she could sleep on mamma’s side of the bed, have mama’s pillow, wear mama’s shirt, etc while I was gone but then sobbing, she jumped into my arms saying “No! Mamma HO SING!”. She wanted the whole mama.

This year at Rosh Hashana she learned how to say “Shana Tova” (Happy New Year) and did so repeatedly with pride and excitement. We managed to attend a Rosh Hashana service and she associated the phrase with being in that room I guess. When we attempted to attend another service on Yom Kippur she wasn’t interested in going at all and repeatedly, loudly screamed for all to hear “No Shana Tova!” (not quite as proud mama).

Fun in the red wagon on the bridge at the cottage.

Fun in the red wagon on the bridge at the cottage.

Katie continues to adore being at the cottage! Throwing rocks in the water is endless fun and truthfully I couldn’t think of a more blissful place this summer than sitting on the beach while she contentedly tossed the rocks in with a plop. Her Aunts and Uncles and of course cousin Ty Ty came to visit again this summer and we had an amazing time with them. Katie really knows them now and built strong relationships even though they all continue to live so far away. We also had a beautiful visit with Tim’s parents, Grandma and Grandpa, up at the cottage. Katie loved swimming with them in the pool and learned to blow bubbles and do big jumps off the side. They came with boxes of perfect Katie toys to engage her and help her get to know them even though they live far away. They also managed two wonderful visits to Toronto. We went to the Zoo to see the giant Panda bears πŸ™‚ Katie is so happy when everyone she loves is together in one place!

Feeding the seagulls with Grampy ;-)

Feeding the seagulls with Grampy πŸ˜‰

Katie’s musical journey continues to be a joy to watch. She has attended many music classes with me when I have had to teach (more than I wanted to this past year). Generally she didn’t seem interested, wanted snacks, wanted me, roamed around disinterested but wow, has she ever absorbed everything! She began to sing the Hello and Goodbye songs at home in her own way. It took a little while to recognize them at the beginning but I knew what she was going for. Now she sings “Hello to Mama (or ?) everybody see you”. Not quite how it goes but I think I like her version better πŸ˜‰ She now leads music class at home with anyone who will participate and her intonation has really dropped in. She sings the 5-1 interval perfectly and “speaks on a tone” like I do when I teach. She does a little warm up like we do in class and blows my pitch pipe to get started then tucks it under her tush like I do when I teach. It really is amazing to me that she’s picked up so many nuances since she didn’t appear to be “paying attention”. I remind music class parents of this all the time πŸ˜‰ Now when we go to class just for fun (when I don’t have to teach) she is much more involved. She brings her Baby Chen Chen doll and mirrors what I’ve done with her. She has the best time and so do I πŸ™‚ She continues to love singing Happy Birthday (formerly happy Ba Ba) and making Happy Ba Ba cakes in the sand…with candles and everything!

On a walk with cousin Ty Ty...the bond growing ever deeper.

On a walk with cousin Ty Ty…the bond growing ever deeper.

We hadn’t listened to the CD that I’d made for Katie in China for many many months. It used to be a regular bedtime thing but we moved on to me singing some other lullabies for her. On a challenging car ride to the cottage back in the summer I decided to put it on and see if she’d fall asleep. When the first song came on (Evermore), she said “Mama!” She recognized that it was actually me singing…that was a gorgeous moment for me. If you haven’t heard Evermore and you’re a family with an adopted child, see if you can fine it online. It’s beautiful! Sung by Alison Krause and it’s part of a children’s book/CD combo and called Dog Train. I’ll see I can post it somehow.

Katie’s favourite activities include painting, drawing, now cutting with little scissors, baking and cooking in both her real kitchen and fantastic play kitchen from Auntie Judy and Uncle David. Singing, playing her keyboard and dancing, and swimming are current faves. She loves to help do anything! Rake leaves, wash the car, vacuum, wash dishes, do laundry…honestly, we didn’t bring her to Canada to do our housework but love that she’s so willing to dive in. She went through a huge phase of playing with clay – she called it “balls” and would mime rolling the clay into a ball between her hands so we knew what she meant. Hours of clay!!! She enjoys going for walks and being outside, her growing confidence at the playground has been a joy to witness. We haven’t had much snow here yet but she can’t wait to “fall in the snow” (backwards into snow banks) like she did last year. Unfortunately, she tried it last week when we had only a light dusting and didn’t realize it wasn’t enough for a soft landing on a hard surface 😦

Walking GG in her daily wardrobe of choice...at least she's promoting my classes!

Walking GG in her daily wardrobe of choice…at least she’s promoting my classes!

Boo boos and bandaids have been a fascination – her dexterity is so amazing that she has been able to fully open a bandaid package, unpeel the bandaid and place it on a boo boo (sometimes one of mine) without tangling it up. She has done this for months.

Halloween…a tiger πŸ˜‰ Watch out for the roar!!



We finally have Special K’s passport…yippeee!! The final piece of the paperwork puzzle. Not, however, without further struggles at the government office over what her real name is and what should appear on the passport…sigh. Hopefully we won’t have to go through this every time we renew it.

SK has generally always been comfortable with receiving affectionate but now she is actively giving it…hugging, smooching, stroking my face in the morning like I do to her and snuggling with abandon….well, we suffer through it! Yummy doesn’t begin to describe it πŸ™‚ How beautiful to see our affection reflected back to us. When she gets out of the bath and I’m trying to put some lotion on her she insists on having some to put on Mama. She thinks it’s hilarious. I feign a protest while secretly savouring the moment as her little hands are gently rubbing it on my face with deep care and concentration. She’s a champ in the bath, pretty much washes herself or at least insists on trying. She rubs her hands together making suds with great skill! We have come such a long way since our first bath together which ended with both of us in tears.

Out for Chinese food...Silly Dada!

Out for Chinese food…Silly Dada!

Katie is madly in love with Tim and of course considering how their relationship began, this is an enormous source of joy for us all. Dada can do no wrong! I get a giddy, “bye bye Mama, see you soon” if she’s having a special Dada-made breakfast and I have to go out. We both now get many “I love you”(s) now too….again, we suffer through πŸ˜‰

2014 has been a remarkable year. Huge challenges, huge growth and so much joy thanks to our Special K. I guess the challenges haven’t stuck with me enough to write about this time πŸ™‚ On January 2nd it will be 2 years since we “got the call” and on January 5th Katie turns three! Amazing. We are so blessed. Wishing everyone a truly happy and extremely healthy 2015!


Helping Mama lead some songs at a class! Photo by Trina Photography.


Deep in conversation πŸ™‚


Katie’s first ride on a “neigh” πŸ™‚


“Big Jump!”



Pensive at the beach



17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ebfried@sympatico.ca
    Jan 01, 2015 @ 03:56:02

    Thank you Risa ,for your wonder update on Katie. It truly is amazing to see the wonderful strides
    she has made. We wish you all a very Happy & Healthy New Year!
    Barb and Eddie 😊😊

    Sent from ed,s i pad



    • risajw
      Jan 01, 2015 @ 15:42:14

      Thanks Barb & Eddie! I so appreciate you following our story πŸ™‚ I hope you and your family are well and have a super happy New Year! xo


  2. Norman Grill
    Jan 01, 2015 @ 13:26:58


    Thank you so, so, so, much for telling us about Katie. Mom keeps us informed, but you made it so much better. She is beautiful, the pictures are great, my favourite is the one with the dog, she looks so grown up and very much with it.

    Have a Happy New Year, and please keep us posted.


    Auntie Sarah

    Sent from my iPad



  3. heather Rosen
    Jan 01, 2015 @ 15:04:03

    Fabulous update on a very adorable little girl!! Happy birthday and Happy healthy new year!! Keep enjoying! Love, Heather

    Sent from my iPad



  4. Jane Cuthbert
    Jan 01, 2015 @ 16:11:10

    So nice to see your update and pictures of Katie! Keeley and I think fondly back on our meeting in Nanchang. Katie is a Jiangxi beauty.
    Some of your comments brought back memories for me, bath time ( first time yikes!) and playing with clay ( it was hours of fun for Keeley too!) Enjoy every moment! Happy New Year to you all!


    • risajw
      Jan 11, 2015 @ 02:26:57

      Hi Jane,
      So great to hear from you! Thanks so much for following the blog. I’d love to see recent pics of Keeley. We recently came across the one I’ve got with the girls together…seems like yesterday that we were in Nanchang…but not πŸ™‚ I am truly enjoying every moment. I hope you are both well and doing the same. Wishing you a very happy and healthy New Year!!!


  5. Bette Smith
    Jan 01, 2015 @ 16:16:34

    Thanks so much for the blog. What a way to ring in the New Year! She is so beautiful and I am so happy for you. Can’t wait to visit with her. Bette


  6. Jenny Goings
    Jan 02, 2015 @ 21:45:22

    loved reading about you and your family!


    • risajw
      Jan 11, 2015 @ 02:24:11

      Thanks for following Jenny! Did you ever read the blog post about our MT class in China? It was amazing! One of the highlights πŸ™‚


  7. joan waldman
    Jan 05, 2015 @ 00:25:56

    We are so happy for you that your Katie is such a happy and vibrant little girl, and bringing you and Tim and family so much joy.
    Happy and healthy New Year to all.
    Joanie and Sam


  8. Glynis Ranney
    Jan 06, 2015 @ 03:06:20

    Risa thank you for this fabulous email. It is so amazing to hear how Katie is doing. Hope she’s had a wonderful birthday today – she is GORGEOUS!!! G xoxo

    Sent from my iPhone



  9. Cathrine Martinsen
    Jan 08, 2015 @ 21:28:20

    Hi! My name is Cathrine and i am from Norway (Europa). I have followed your blog for a while. I have a littel girl from Jiangxi province. She is born 12th january 2012 and we got her at the shame hotel as you on the 10th mars 2013 πŸ™‚ Her name is Anna.


    • risajw
      Jan 11, 2015 @ 02:22:12

      Wow Cathrine, that’s amazing! We must have seen you at the hotel at some point. Thank you for your note and for following the blog. How is Anna doing? I hope all is well as you approach her third Birthday!! All the best, Risa


  10. Cathrine Martinsen
    Jan 22, 2015 @ 10:47:43

    The first days in Nanchang was pretty stressful. We met several adoptive parents and talked with a few of them . In the beginning we had more than enough to become familiar with Anna and what needs she had. There were probably many things in Nanchang that we did not experiense. Anna is doing very well . She is a lovely little girl with a strong will . In August 2014 she started kindergarten. She likes it there very much:-)


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