Adoption Interview

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Hannah absolutely LOVES her gymnastics class. She asks to practice her moves all the time. She's really into doing forward rolls and learning how to jump. I actually have her doing both on video. Kyle took her to class today and he said they were even doing the wheelbarrow. I haven't seen her do it yet, but I can't wait to try it out after she wakes up from her nap. She also loves doing all the stretches that go with gymnastics and I like it because it gives me an incentive to stretch too.

Here's some videos of Hannah singing. They aren't her finest performances, but she seems to clam up anytime we get out the camera and then all she wants to do is listen to us sing and then maybe, just maybe she'll chime in with a key word here and there.

This first video is of her helping sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat. It's one of her favorites since we also sing it at gymnastics while we are doing stretches.

In this video we are singing The Wheels on the Bus, but Hannah keeps wanting to sing a different verse than I'm singing! I guess only her favorite verses are worthy enough for her to sing!

Ok, it's been a month since I started this post. Our computer crashed and we had to have it in the shop for quite awhile. I vowed to not go too long in between posts and have to write novels again, but this time it wasn't my fault!

Hannah continues to love to read her books. She will often sit by herself and read them out loud or read them to me if I ask her. She has several books that she has every single page memorized and can say at least the key words or ideas on each one! It's so neat to hear her reading and see that she's actually saying the right thing for the right page. It doesn't take her long to memorize a book either. We can check a new book out from the bookmobile and she will have it completely memorized (if she likes it of course) within 2-3 days worth of reading! It's amazing what the human brain can do. Along with her reading books, she's still doing a lot of singing on her own. She will just randomly break into song while she's playing. It's very cute.

Lately she has been extremely stubborn and has been getting lots of time outs. Her two biggest offenses for getting time outs are hitting and refusing to say excuse me. The other day she was so dead set against saying excuse me after she burped that she actually asked for her time out mat! Today she was at it again and had 4 hysterical timeouts in a row before she finally relented and said excuse me after Kyle told her that she wouldn't be allowed to leave her room until she said it. She's going to be a tough teenager I bet. It is interesting to see her personal take on discipline though. For example, she saw her friend Evelyn get in trouble one day and get her hand smacked. Now if she sees the pets or any other child misbehaving she will smack her own hand and say "BAD!"

Hannah has been really interested in counting and has now mastered counting aloud from 1-3 and can occasionally count to 4. Usually though she skips straight from 3 to 5. She doesn't really know what the numbers mean yet, but she loves to point to each thing as she counts them out and enjoys the praise she gets when she says the numbers in the correct order. Today she really made me laugh. She was playing with her Whinnie the Pooh piano and she hit the key that says, "One, 1 egg." As soon as she heard one she immediately finished the sequence by saying, "2,3. Yeah!" and clapped for herself. She cracks me up sometimes.

Even though it's not officially Christmas yet, Hannah has received a few gifts already. One of her favorites is a tea set that has characters from her favorite movie, The Backyardigans, on it. Hannah is absolutely obsessed with the teapot and all the fixings that go with it. It came with the pot, 2 cups and saucers, a sugar bowl and spoon, 4 bracelets, a tiara, a ring, and a purse. After only 2 days we managed to lose 3 of the 4 bracelets and Abby chewed up the tiara pretty good! I actually think that the bracelets are not lost, but that Abby ate them given the state of the tiara when I found it on the same day the bracelets went missing. Then, yesterday the last bracelet went missing. The missing pieces to this set really bother me because I HATE for things to go missing. I take a complete inventory of all of Hannah's toys every night and look for and always find (except for that darn cow's butt from the fridge farm! that still haunts me!) anything that isn't immediately visible. Anyway, Hannah loves this tea set and plays tea all the time. One day I caught her having a tea party with her monkey. The monkey was wearing the tiara and she was pretending to make him drink the tea. The funniest part about this whole thing is that she calls the teapot a "peapot." She can say both the word tea and the word pot, but when she puts them together she ALWAYS says "peapot." It makes me smile every single time.

We were pretty worried about putting a Christmas tree up this year because we thought that Hannah would be really crazy about it and pull ornaments off and break them or knock the whole thing over, but we shouldn't have been worried at all. She has been awesome about it. She is VERY interested in it, but she mostly just looks or touches the ornaments gently. To be safe we only put non breakable ornaments that we weren't worried about her tearing up where she could reach and any breakable ones that we just couldn't bear to go without at the top. We left off all of our glass bulbs :( and any ornaments that need hooks instead of string. One of Hannah's current favorite pastimes is to point to each and every ornament on the tree and tell me what it is. She calls this "Ooking" AKA "looking." She also loves to have us ask her where a certain ornament is and then she'll point it out. It didn't take her long to have pretty much the entire tree memorized! Once again, there's that amazing human brain at work. Another funny thing that has come up this Christmas season is that Hannah thinks that Santa Claus is Noah (from Noah's Ark). In Evelyn's Noah's Ark the Noah has a long white beard and Santa has a long white beard, so I can see her confusion, but it's still pretty funny. She gave her gymnastics teacher a good laugh over that one!

Lately Hannah has been really interested in peeing in the potty. She loves to come to the bathroom with us and say, "Pee in potty." She is quite intrigued by flushing and really wants to give it a try, but so far I've been telling her that only big girls and boys and mommies and daddies that pee in the potty get to flush. Hopefully this will give her some incentive to go once it's finally time to start toilet training. Other than a keen interest in the potty, Hannah doesn't show any of the other signs of toilet training readiness so I'm definitely not going to push it. She's so stubborn that I could see things going horribly wrong and her holding it for a week or something if we tried to teach her before she was really ready!
Over the past few weeks Hannah has developed a bit of a crush on Evelyn's daddy, Jason. Whenever he's around Hannah wants to be near him and when he's not around she asks about him. She says his name in such swoony voice and then sighs longingly afterwords that it sounds like a schoolgirl with a HUGE crush. She stretches out the "A" sound and gives the first syllable a really funny inflection. If she doesn't get over this soon it's going to give Kyle a complex I think!

Hannah is getting really good at recognizing people from their photos even if they are older photos and people have different hairstyles, wearing glasses versus contacts, etc. She has her very own photo album that she loves to flip through and name each and every person she sees in the pictures. I have several people who aren't in the book yet that I need to take some current pictures of so don't be surprised if you see me coming at you with my camera the next time I see you!
A couple of weeks ago we had a really big snowstorm come through that dumped about 10 inches of snow on us. Kyle was so excited to take Hannah out and go sledding or at the very least play in the snow. We got Hannah all bundled up in her snow pants, mittens, parka, hat, and snow boots and then took her outside only for her to decide that she wasn't quite sure about that stuff called snow. She liked the look of it, but really didn't want to touch it or walk in it. In the end she came around a little bit, but it still took longer to get her all dressed up to play than she actually spent outside playing in the snow!
One of Hannah's favorite jobs at the moment is giving the dogs treats when we put them in their crates. She loves to yell for them and then close the door and give them a treat once they are inside. When she calls for them she says, "Abby! Pum! Ella! Crate!" That "pum" is come in case you don't speak toddlerese! She hears us giving orders to the dogs so much that the other day when Kyle was watching her and she wanted me she called, "Mommy, Pum!" :) Here second favorite job is helping Kyle give the Christmas tree water. She knows where we keep the cup and will go get it, take it over to the sink for Kyle to fill it up, and then run back over the to tree and lay down and look underneath as Kyle pours the water into the tree stand. Then she puts the cup back where it belongs and waits impatiently for the next day when she can do it all over again!
Ok, I have lots more updates, but I'm going to go ahead and post this one and then make the rest of the updates a second post so people don't get too bored reading this all at once!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Arky Arky

Hannah has been having an absolute blast with the toys that we borrowed from Evelyn for the week. Sarah and I decided that we ought to do toy swaps with the girls so that they don't get too bored with their own toys and then will be more excited about them when they return. This past week we borrowed Evelyn's Noah's Ark and her dome playhouse. Hannah absolutely loves them both. She sits in the dome and reads books, plays with the cats and even pets the dogs! It has a little door on the front with a working doorbell and Hannah loves to push it and say, "Ding Dong!" The ark has been a huge hit too. She loves the animals that go with it and can now name them all. She loves to put them into and take them out of the ark over and over again, line them up on shelves, and even pretend to make them eat out of her nesting cups! The best part about the ark is that she's become interested in the story of Noah in her Bible and now also loves to sing the song Arky, Arky. When she ask for the song she says, "No-nah, Arky?" The verses are pretty complicated, but she loves them and listens closely for her favorite words and chimes in with them at the right times. It's so cute to see her doing it.

Hannah continues to take an interest in helping do household chores. She asks to dust almost every day. It's gotten to the point that I've set up a special swiffer duster just for her to play with because she's so obsessed with it. She still likes helping feed the pets and has now graduated to actually scooping the cat food out of the cans. She'd love to do the dumping part too, but she's not quite tall enough to do that yet. She also loves to help with laundry. Her favorite part is pushing the baskets full of dirty and clean clothes to the appropriate place in the house. She chants, "push, push, push" as she does it too!

Gymnastics continues to be a blast for both Hannah and I. She's learning so much there. It's amazing. One day she just sat down on the floor and started doing some of the warm up exercises and calling out the correct positions as she did them. It's neat to see her doing the pike, straddle, tuck routine all by herself. :) She's starting to attempt forward rolls by herself ( I always have to correct myself when I say somersault since apparently that's not the appropriate gymnastic term!) and to do the table top which is apparently a precursor to the back bend. It's kinda like the crab walk thing we used to do in gym class at school. Today she tried to do her handstand all by herself, but just couldn't quite walk her feet all the way up the wall to the vertical position, but she did managed to wedge her feet against the wall so that she was at a 90 degree angle and support her body with her hands that way which I thought was cool. She really likes her teacher and will now go to her willingly for just about anything. She even gave her a spontaneous hug today! We actually found out the other day that her teacher attends the same church that we've been trying out and Hannah is in the nursery with her daughter! It's a small world I guess. It's been awhile since I started this post and Hannah can now do a forward roll all by herself. She is so proud of herself every time she does one. I caught her doing it on tape yesterday and she kept wanting to do more and more of them and for me to take a "picksher" so she could watch it on the camera afterwards! It was so cute. She's also started to try to jump, but all she can really do is do toe lifts. She bends her knees, balls up her fists, and pushes up with all her might, but her feet never leave the ground! I'm sure she'll be hopping around everywhere soon since she loves this gymnastic stuff so much and it's one of the skills they are working on. If Miss Heather says to do it then Hannah will try her hardest to do it!

Hannah is quite good at her shape sorter now and likes to branch out with it now and pick out all of one shape and put them all in before she moves onto another shape. She won't say the words for them spontaneously yet and she can't point the right type when we ask, but she can definitely tell which ones go together and group them that way. She's really interested in their colors right now, but at the moment everything is green to her. Maybe she just likes how that word sounds! Who knows? She's also been using the blocks for stacking and making towers. So far her record is a tower 3 blocks high. She's almost managed 4 several times, but just hasn't been able to do it yet. She is so funny when she's stacking though. She lays down and gets this serious look on her face and moves her hands so slowly and carefully. Its like she's playing Jenga or something!

Hannah is now pretty much an independent eater. I'd say the only thing I haven't let her try to feed herself if soup. She could probably do it, but right now I'm too scared to give it to her. Unfortunately, soup is one of her favorite foods so I'm still doing my fair share of feeding! I'd say she's pretty much mastered the art of using the spoon. We haven't introduced the fork yet, but so far she's been able to do everything she needs to do with the spoon. I love that I can put a bowl down in front of her filled with food and she knows not to just pick it up and dump it. Don't get me wrong, accidents still happen like when she's chasing around a piece of greenbean that just won't get on her spoon and she pushes the bowl right off the tray in her attempt to corner the greenbean, but all in all she's a pretty neat eater. I'm definitely grateful for that. I've seen pictures of some other babies feeding themselves and it's not pretty. Right now one of Hannah's favorite library books is about babies learning how to eat and she thinks it's hysterical that the babies have food all over themselves. She can basically quote the entire book, (there's not too many words) and calls it the "oh, boy!" book because the first two pages say, "Oh, Boy! What a mess!" She likes to tell me on each page where the babies have managed to get the food-on their nose, chin, hair, etc.

Hannah did something yesterday that shocked me. I've been working with her on getting her to try to tell us when she's wet or has a dirty diaper, but she hates having her diaper changed so she says no everytime we ask her regardless of whether or not she needs to be changed. Well, yesterday when she woke up from her nap I walked into her room and instead of saying "Hi!" like she normally does she said, "Stinky, wet diaper," and then grabbed the front of her diaper. It was as clear as a bell. I was so surprised. I said, "Hannah do you need your diaper changed?" and she said yes. I took her to the changing table and sure enough her diaper was really wet and it was poopy. I praised her over and over for telling me about it. So far she hasn't done it again, but it's a start anyway.

We had been having a really good stretch of bedtimes and naps with Hannah, but now she's started waking up in the middle of the night. Sometimes it's easy to get her back to sleep. I just go into her room and lay her back down, cover her up, and turn on her music and leave. But other times she just will not go back to sleep and cries for a half hour or more. She's also started using stalling and manipulation techniques to get us to pick up back up out of her crib. She's been telling Kyle she has a stinky diaper when it's hardly even wet and then when Kyle picks her up and checks she's got what she wanted which is to be in Daddy's arms and then she refuses to go back to sleep. She starts talking about stuff in the room, asking for food or drink, or even saying that something hurts. Today she fell asleep in the car when we were coming back from having lunch with Kyle. She stayed asleep when I brought her into the house, but I didn't want to lay her down in the crib with her parka on so I tried to take it off of her. Well, the sleeve got stuck on her arm and I ended up waking her up. When I saw that she wasn't going to immediately go right back to sleep (even though she's only napped for 5 minutes or so) I went ahead and started her naptime routine. I turned on her humidifier, read her a story and sung her two songs. Then I put her down in her crib. She wasn't asleep and had no intention of going to sleep. She screamed for 30 minutes as I listened on the monitor and then started saying "stinky, stinky." I hadn't changed her diaper before I put her down so I thought there might actually be the possibility that her diaper was dirty so I went in and changed it. It wasn't dirty and it was barely wet. She'd tricked me just like she does Kyle. I put her back in her crib and she screamed hysterically (her I'm super mad cry, not a sad or scared cry) for another 30 minutes while I listened on the monitor and then started saying, "hurt, hurt" in a pleading voice. I ran into her room thinking she might have got her arm or something stuck through the slats of the crib and she was standing there looking absolutely fine. I asked her what hurt and she said her teeth. I wasn't convinced, but I got out the oragel anyway. I told her to lay back down on the crib and I'd put her medicine on her. Usually if her teeth really hurt she's so relieved when we tell her that we're going to give her some medicine that she immediately stops crying and opens her mouth. This time she was obviously hoping I'd pick her up out of her crib to apply the medicine because when I said lay back down she started to scream again (she'd stopped crying the minute I walked in the room). I put the oragel on her gums just in case and then walked back out of the room. She screamed for another 20 minutes before finally falling asleep exhausted. The doctor had no advice to help us with her sleep disturbances and we are really out of ideas. We've given several different methods of teaching Hannah to go to sleep on her own a try over the last year and none of them have proved effective for Hannah. There are times that I worry that she has some sort of a sleep disorder and that I'm being cruel for trying to force her to go to sleep when she just can't do it. I know first hand how hard it is to deal with a sleep disorder and I would hate to think that I'm hurting and not helping Hannah with our current sleep strategy, but really it's too hard to tell if a toddler has real sleep problems or not. UGH! I really want to help her, but we just don't know what to do. Nothing has helped a bit.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Important: Please Read (Part 2)

Kyle: I am sorry that my first post to Hannah's blog is in response to a family conflict, but I feel like it's time for me to end this debate. Having waited a few days since our initial post on the subject, I think I better understand the opinions of some of our family and friends. As such, I will try to use this post to address some of the questions we have received. Before I do, let me first say that our stance on this matter was not Natalie's decision alone to make, and that I consider the personal criticism of her completely unfounded, inappropriate, and extremely hurtful.

In terms of our stance on Hannah's birth family, it is this simple: we expect acceptance. Period.

This does not mean that they have to be invited to every family function. I agree that this would be asking too much. However, in regard to the event that touched this debate off, I strongly feel that uninviting them without our knowledge was unnecessarily brusk and hurtful, and this is what we are taking stance against, as it shows a genuine disrespect for them as people. Separately from their presence at family gatherings, Hannah's birth family is every bit as much a part of Hannah's life as any other family members. Consequently, we cannot allow anyone to behave negatively toward them, as it certainly does not show the values that we are working very hard to instill in Hannah. Although I do not understand why there is any discomfort in the first place in treating Hannah's birth family like any other part of the family, I am trying to accept this fact.

Please understand that we truly want Hannah to be able to spend the Holidays with her family members (all of them), but don't yet know how this can happen. For the time being, let me personally request that those of you who voiced concerns to us in this matter, especially those that were particularly critical of Natalie, contact Natalie and I directly to discuss your opinions so that this situation does not escalate any further.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

For those interested

For those interested in learning more about relationships in open adoptions, here is an excerpt from an article from Adoptive Families magazine. To read the article in it's entirety click on the link following the article.

A Lasting Relationship
Treat birthfamily as if they were extended family members: your child will benefit.

By Brenda Romanchik

"Open adoption is not designed to make the adults involved comfortable; it is about providing for the needs of a child. Much of the open adoption experience is awkward, especially in the beginning. Many birthparents in the crisis of planning for an adoption, or in the throes of grieving, look upon continuing contact as too painful to contemplate. Many adoptive parents just want to be a family, without the added complication of visits with their child’s birthfamily. Open adoption agreements that are guided by these feelings that occur around the time of placement do not allow contact to ebb and flow according to the needs of all involved, most importantly the child.

Patricia Martinez Dorner, author of Children of Open Adoption and Talking to Your Child about Adoption, encourages us to see open adoption as another form of blended family. In adopting, adoptive parents are welcoming the member of one family into their own. When birthfamily are accepted as extended family members, it gives the child a sense of wholeness. Children in these situations do not have to worry about “splitting their loyalties” between two families, because they come to see their adoptive family and their birthfamily as one. In the early years in particular, birthparents and adoptive parents take up the responsibility of maintaining connection with each other. A toddler or a child cannot carry the burden of connecting his two families. An adopted child whose birthfamily and adoptive family come together in a positive way will grow up with greater certainty. There is a saying that the greatest gift parents can give their children is to love one another. I think this applies not just to married couples, but to all parents.

Putting the open adoption covenant into practice

Treat each other as the family members you are. You don’t have to spend every holiday together, but, at the very least, you should find ways of remembering each other on holidays and birthdays. There is a tendency in open adoption to create artificial boundaries that one would never dream of imposing on other family members, friends, or even acquaintances. When considering the contact you are going to have with each other, instead of asking “Why?” ask “Why not?”

Let the child be the witness.

Ask yourself, 20 years from now, what will my child think of my actions? Too often adoptive parents and birthparents base their actions on reactions of fear, insecurity, or uncertainty. If you think about the contact you have with each other as building memories for your child, decisions will be based on the child’s needs, not solely on the needs of the adults involved.

Be there when it is important to be there.

We all lead busy lives, and sometimes it seems impossible to coordinate schedules and activities. However, as my mother often says, “Ninety percent of friendship is showing up.” Birthparents need to make time to be present at a dance recital or a basketball game. Adoptive parents need to extend the invitations to these events, and to “show up” at important events in the lives of birthfamily members. Have fun with each other. Remember that, in open adoption, birthparents and adoptive parents choose each other for a reason. Focusing on your similarities will help you relax and enjoy yourself."

Important: Please Read

Recent events have necessitated this post. Kyle and I regret that we must draw a line in the sand, but it is for Hannah's best interest that we have made this decision. There have been some among our family or friends that have expressed negative attitudes towards Hannah's birthfamily. They have been referred to as not her "real" family and believed to not have as much right to spend time with Hannah and the rest of her family as her "real" family does. They have been purposely excluded from family gatherings. Though we have tried our best to educate all of our family and friends about open adoption and about the importance of Hannah's relationship with her birthfamily, our efforts have failed with respect to some of our loved ones. We will no longer try to dance around this issue.

Therefore, it is in Hannah's best interest that we make this statement. Everyone who truly loves and cares about Hannah and wishes to be a part of her life WILL accept each and every member of her birthfamily. You may choose not to love them or even like them, but you WILL be an adult and accept them for the important role that they have in our family and be polite whenever they are present. You WILL NOT make any negative or otherwise snide or insinuating comments about them to us or in front of Hannah. We will no longer attend (or allow anyone to attend at our house) gatherings in which Tiffany and Mike and their families are not welcome, should they wish to come.

We regret that it has come to this, but Kyle and I have discussed this issue at length and prayed about it fervently and we know that it is the right decision for us and for Hannah . If anyone wishes to comment on our decision you may send us an email. We will not be discussing this issue any further on the telephone or allow any negative comments on this blog.


Natalie and Kyle

PS. For those wishing to learn more about relationships within open adoption, there is a separate post dealing with that immediately following this post.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

16 Months Old

It's so hard to believe that Hannah is 16 months old already! The months since her birthday have just flown by. When I think about how only 4 months ago she was not walking at all and now she's running everywhere I am amazed at how far she's come. I was watching a video of a new adoptive couple's infant and they were so excited that he was grunting and stretching and managing to put his fingers into his mouth. I remember those days! Now it seems so silly that I ever got all worked up about some flailing around of the arms, but I did. Back then that seemed just as exciting as jumping in leaves and naming colors! It's funny how your perspective changes.

Hannah had a good Halloween this year. She wore her Squirt costume again even though it was a bit small on her. She looked really cute in it and had fun passing out candy to all the trick-or-treaters. She loved how she looked in her costume and kept running into our bedroom to look at herself in the full length mirror and say "tur-tell."

Hannah is enjoying talking on the phone more and more lately. She will actually listen to what the other person is saying and answer the questions they are asking her which is kind of neat. It is funny though that if I tell her to tell someone on the phone that she loves them, she automatically says, "Nigh, nigh" right afterwords like she thinks it's time for bed!

At the moment bedtimes seem to be going ok. We did have a really rough night last week where she cried for literally hours during the middle of the night, but other than that there have been less tears and quicker falling asleep times than in the past. I hope this continues. I am ready for her bedtime battles to be over! The daylight savings time switch has thrown Hannah for a loop again. Once again I didn't start adjusting her schedule before the change and then it hit, bam! Now both she and the dogs are waking up at their normal time which is really an hour early and demanding to eat. I actually think it might be the dogs waking up Hannah, but it's hard to tell. Anyway, it hasn't seemed to matter how much later I put Hannah to bed, she still wakes up an hour earlier than I want her too. UGH! Looks like I'm back to being an early bird again.

The other day Hannah went with both Kyle and I to vote (she got to go twice and get a sticker both times!) and she had a great time there. She loved that they were passing out stickers and she gladly wore her "I Voted!" stickers all day long and even stole mine! Something that was very interesting about going to vote was that the vote center was in the building of our old church. Hannah probably doesn't remember going to church there since she was only about 6 months old when we switched churches, but recently a friend we had from that old church passed away suddenly and I had to take Hannah with me to memorial service because I could not find a sitter. We sat in the back and I prompted Hannah many times to be very quiet and said "Shh" a lot. Well, as soon as I walked into the building with her to go vote Hannah turned and looked at me and said, "Quiet, Shh. Mommy Shh." I couldn't believe that she remembered that and that she knew that this was a building where Mommy had told her she must be quiet. Later that evening Kyle went to vote and he took Hannah with him and she did the same thing to him. She told him, "Quiet, Shh" as soon as they walked in the door of the church! She's such a smart little girl.

Today Hannah and I went to visit a friend of ours who has a little girl who is almost 6 months old. We had to pick up some baby items that they had borrowed. While we were there Hannah got very jealous while I was holding the baby. She even went so far as to come over to me, put her hand on my shoulder, lean around and give me a kiss on the lips. She looked so sad. It was like she was saying, "Mommy, don't forget about me!"

Not this weekend, but next we are going to go speak at IAC (the agency we worked with to adopt Hannah) and talk with couples that are currently waiting to adopt at a support group meeting. Both Tiffany and Mike are coming to speak too so we will get to have an extra and unexpected visit before Christmas. I'm very excited to see them both and for them to see how much Hannah has grown since her birthday. When I was talking to Tiffany on the phone the other day to confirm our plans Hannah just jabbered away to her and she talked to Mike on the phone about a week ago. I can't wait to see their expressions when she starts having a conversation with them. That should be so fun.

Hannah is really starting to get interested in pretend play. She's been rocking her baby doll in my old doll cradle and then pushing around her walker while I run the vacuum and pretending she's vacuuming too. She even makes the sweeper sound while she pushes and she pushes and pulls it back and forth just like I do the sweeper! The other day I got her this little barn with plastic animals that go inside it and Hannah has been taking the animals in and out of the farm and making them run around and make their sounds and lay in their beds and pretend to eat and all sorts of other imaginative things. Tonight she was playing in her Tupperware cupboard and she pulled out an empty peach container with out a lid. She started walking around with it tipped up to her lips and was pretending to drink from it like a cup. When she would take it away from her mouth she would kind of smack her lips and say, "Mmm. . Good!" That really made me laugh! It makes me smile seeing her make those connections for herself and to see her engaged in playing solo.

Even though I really like that Hannah can and will play by herself, I'm getting a bit worried about her lack of interest in socializing or playing with other children. When placed in a group of kids Hannah doesn't even really acknowledge that they even exist, not even to go over and take their toy away or anything! If she wants a toy that another kid has she will come to me and ask "Please, help" but she doesn't interact with the child at all. Is that odd? Wouldn't most toddlers just go try to take what they want? Hannah doesn't even seem interested in playing beside them or watching what they are playing. She just takes her toy or book off to the side by herself somewhere and does her own thing. If one of the other kids tries to come over to her either she moves, or cries because they are invading her personal space. I've been trying really hard to get her out to places where there are other kids for her to interact with like at the library, gymnastics, the play place at the mall, but so far I haven't had much luck with getting her to play or even interact with anyone at all.

Another thing I worry about is that Hannah is so sensitive. She cries if another child bumps up against her or even invades her personal space a bit. She gets jealous and seems betrayed when she sees us paying attention to other kids. And, when she thinks she is in trouble she will go hide somewhere and sit and cry silently, just tears and no sounds at all and she looks so sad and hurt that she was reprimanded. We always have to go pick her up afterwords and give her lots of kisses and hugs and tell her that we still love her even when she does something wrong. Is that normal? I really have no judge to gauge Hannah's social development by so I have no idea if all these things she is doing or not doing that I am worried about are perfectly normal and par for the course or if I really do need to be worried and trying to teach her more social skills.

Last Friday Hannah and I went with my friend Kristie to the barn to visit her horse and give Hannah a pony ride. Hannah was a bit intimidated by Jake while she was standing on the ground, but she did eventually pet him a bit and even brushed his legs! BUT once we got her up on Jake she was in heaven. I had taught her to say "walk on" to make Jake go and "whoa" to make him stop and she gladly told him walk on to start him up and then even started saying walk on when she thought he was slowing down too much! When it was time to get off Hannah refused to say "whoa." It was as if she thought that if she didn't say the word then she wouldn't have to get off! All week this week Hannah has been saying "horse, Jake" every time she sees a picture of a horse or one of her stuffed horses. Yesterday she was down crawling on her hands and feet in that old elephant crawl she used to do and was going through the house saying, "walk on, Jake, walk on!" and then neighing like a horse! Last night when Kyle was feeding her dinner Hannah kept saying something that he couldn't quite figure out what it was. He thought she was saying walking, but when he asked her if it was that she said no. Eventually he figured out that she was saying walk on and then she started saying "Jake" and then walk on and horse. Kyle asked her if she wanted to go ride Jake again and she said, "Yes!" She's turning into a little equestrian after all. That makes me so happy!
I don't know why it still shocks me when Hannah communicates her wants and needs to us so clearly since she's been doing it forever, but each time I am always taken aback at how sophisticated her knowledge of what she wants and when she wants it is. For example, today we were outside raking leaves. Hannah was having fun jumping in the piles, digging through the leaves and inspecting all the tiny details of various leaves. After we had been outside for about a half hour Hannah was playing in a pile of leaves about half way across the yard from me. All of a sudden she got up, walked over to me, touched my leg and said, "All done rake. Eat hungry." I looked at my watch and it was 3:05pm which is her normal afternoon snack time. When I didn't pick up the rake and immediately start walking to the house she made her request again, but this time she added her signs just to be sure I understood her. She said, "All done rake, all done. Eat, eat." She signed all done and eat as she was saying the words.

Here are some more videos I managed to get uploaded last night. Enjoy.

This one is of Hannah carrying around a plastic bag. She loves to carry bags, purses, or anything else she can loop over her arms around the house.

These next two videos are of Hannah practicing using her spoon to scoop up fruit out of a bowl.

Here are two videos of Hannah playing with the loose corn at the pumpkin patch.

Here are several videos of her petting the animals at the pumpkin patch.

Here are some videos of Hannah supposedly resting when she had pneumonia. I'll let you be the judge of whether or not this constitutes resting!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Adoption Blogs

Most days the fact that Hannah was adopted doesn't really even enter my mind. She's just my daughter and taking care of her is a full time job that leaves me little time to think of anything else! However the past few days I have been thinking about adoption a lot because it's been brought to my attention several times recently. The other day at gymnastics was the first time in a long time someone has mentioned how big Hannah is and how small I am. Her teacher asked if Kyle was big and if that was where Hannah got her height from. I explained that we had adopted Hannah and that both her birthparents were quite tall and that was it. We didn't really get a chance to talk much about it since the kids really needed constant supervision on the equipment. About a week ago I got an email from a perspective adoptive couple that were checking out agencies and wanted to talk to us about our experiences. So, I sent her a short email with the cliff notes of our story and our phone number if they wanted to chat or ask questions. Then yesterday we got an email from our agency asking if Kyle and I would come in with Tiffany to talk to some waiting couples at a support group meeting they were having for couples who have been waiting. We felt honored that we were asked to come speak again, but wonder how much help we will be. For us, adoption has been very easy. Hannah has the greatest birthfamily ever and we feel so lucky to have such a close relationship with them. It's been easy, natural and just plain fun to have an open adoption with them. Not every couple that does an open adoption ends up with as close of a relationship with their birthfamily as we do though so we don't want to get all those waiting couples' hopes up. Then again, there are a lot of families that do have just as close of relationships with their children's birthfamilies as we do so I suppose it's good for the couples to hear both sides. I follow several blogs maintained by families who have either adopted through our agency or are waiting to adopt from our agency (sometimes both!) and it is always awesome to hear the stories of others just like us. In the beginning the blogs are almost always the same. They focus on the adoption, but then as I've watched these kids grow up over the internet the blogs have always followed the same pattern. They turn into blogs just about kids-not adopted kids, just kids who have lives just like every other kid. I think that's something that people who haven't been touched by adoption don't always understand. Adoption is a thing that happens and then it's done. Hannah isn't adopted, she WAS adopted and now it's done and she's just Hannah. Maybe that doesn't make sense to those outside of adoption, but I know all my fellow adoptive parents will understand exactly what I mean. Anyway, what I meant to say in the beginning is that its fun to see how all these other couples have journeyed through the same legal mumbo jumbo, heartaches, and joys as we have and now are able to just focus on being mommies and daddies and to be caught up in all the day to day joys of being a parent. The blogs also make me thankful for the relationship we have with Mike and Tiffany. Some of these couples aren't able to enjoy much contact with their birthparents either because of long distances or wishes of the birthparents so it makes me so grateful that Tiffany and Mike live close and that I can always call them up to chat whenever I want. Reading about visits with birthparents on these blogs always makes me smile because I know how great it is. Okay, enough of my rambling. If anyone is ever interested in reading about other people who have open adoptions just like us, check out the links on the side of my blog. I have several links for blogs of other couples from our agency and they are always a good read!

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Next American Idol

It looks like Hannah's on the road to trying out for American Idol season 25! because her newest favorite thing to do is sing songs, sing lots and lots of songs. All of a sudden it is like she has had an explosion in her memory and she now knows the words to more songs than I can list here. Sometimes she just sits around and sings all by herself spontaneously and sometimes she wants us to sing and she will sing along. At other times we can be singing to her and all of a sudden stop in the middle of a line and she will finish the lyrics for us! It's like she's a contestant on Don't Forget the Lyrics! Today I caught her twice singing to herself. Once she was singing Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes while looking at the correct page in one of her books that has the lyrics to the song on it and the other time she was singing Peas Porridge Hot Peas Porridge Cold. We are going to try really hard to get a video of her singing because it is just amazing to me all the lyrics and melodies her little brain can hold already. She even recognizes some of her favorite songs by the instrumental music only and can pipe in with key lyrics at the right time such as the "Toot, toot!" in She'll be Coming Round the Mountain.

As far as other updates, she has lots and lots of new words even since the last time I posted. It seems she learns dozens more each day and then immediately works them into her repertoire. Her newest words are sticker, yucky, ghost, "how are you doing?" Penny, bib, leaf, Ernie, outside, loud, peek-a-boo, alright, ok, trash, push, hungry, noddle,Jason, and drink. More and more often she is stringing 2 and 3 words together to express her thoughts such as "More bread please" "Yes please" and "Ella barking." She's using her color words more and more and recently picked out an orange leaf at gymnastics and said "orange" and then later that same day looked at a piece of peach that was on her plate and said, "orange" and then picked up her purple sippy cup and said "purple." A few days ago I caught her "reading" the grocery ads. She was pointing to the pictures of all of the different foods and naming each one, "milk, bread, juice, apple, banana, meat."

At the moment the letter M has her fascinated. She's been turning to the M page in her alphabet book and saying M over and over again and pointing to the letter M on her mat and saying "Mmmm" Mommy. Every day it's the same thing. She wants me to list all the words that start with M and tell her the sound that M makes so that she can repeat after me. Besides her alphabet she's been counting a lot on her own. She lined up 5 rocks in a row the other day and then pointed to them each one by one as she counted 1, 3, 5, 8, 10. Right now she loves to do the sequence of 1-3-5 for some reason. Each time after she says 5 she cheers!

Our trees have finally started dropping their leaves and Hannah has really been enjoying playing in the piles of leaves I've raked up. The other day she "helped" me rake up the leaves and then gleefully spread the pile back out! She loves to cover herself up in them and to hear them crunch under her feet or in her hands.

Hannah really likes her gymnastics class and has learned many new skills. She's practicing somersaults, log rolls, hanging from the bar, bouncing on the trampoline, jumping, walking on the balance beam, and even handstands! She loves to play on all the equipment and even lets her teacher, Miss Heather, help her do some of the moves.

Now that it's cold outside and we've been running the heat we've noticed that Hannah's room stays pretty cool at night. Since she's too big for sleep sacks this winter we finally got up the courage to let her sleep under a blanket. It was a tense couple of nights for me, but I think I've finally got used to the idea of it. She certainly seems warmer to the touch when I go in and check on her.

One funny little thing that Hannah says that only Kyle and I get is when she wants something she says "tight." This stems back from when she was much younger and wanted to hold or touch something that we didn't want her to touch. To distract her from the unacceptable item we would give her something else and ask her to hold it tight for us and not let it drop. This kept her busy and away from whatever we didn't want her to touch and made her feel special that she was helping us. Now "tight" has become the universal "I want it" word! It makes me smile every time she does it.

We've been working hard to instill good values in Hannah and to teach her about God and Jesus. We read her bible to her and we say prayers together every night and try hard to remember to pray with her at her meals although I'm not always great about that because meals seem so rushed when she wants food NOW. We also pray for people who need our prayers. One day when Evelyn was sick Hannah kept asking about her and I kept telling her that we couldn't go see Evelyn because she was sick. I said Hannah, do you want to pray for Evelyn to ask Jesus to make her better and she said "Yes," and immediately folded her hands and said, "Eva, Amen" It brought tears to my eyes. I was so proud of my little girl for showing compassion and concern for her friend. Several times that week she spontaneously prayed for Evelyn and even now she still sometimes just stops what she is doing, gets quiet and folds her hands and then says "Amen." I have no idea what she's praying about, but I'm glad that she's at least learning that prayer isn't just a at meal and bedtime thing, that we can and should talk to God all throughout the day.

Here are some videos of Hannah I finally got uploaded. To see the video just click on the link.

Here is Hannah hiding in the entertainment center.

This is when Hannah first learned how to say the word "more" and not just do the sign. She is asking for "more please" grapes.

This video is of Hannah when she first started building with her blocks. She makes much more elaborate creations now, but I haven't got her on video lately.

This is Hannah playing her harmonica and rocking in her chair.

This is from our PA trip. Hannah was reading her books in the car.

This is Hannah kicking her ball around the house.
In this video Hannah is using a spoon to feed herself some of Daddy's homemade chilli.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Off and Running

Now that Hannah is pretty steady on her feet, she can really put some speed into her traveling. It's definitely safe to say that she is now off and running. This new found speed however is a bit hazardous to her health. She's constantly running into walls, doors, pets, and just about anything else you can think of because she can't slow herself down fast enough to avoid a collision or because she's moving so fast that she misses her turn! Yesterday she took a serious header outside on the sidewalk and has a big bruise and road raspberry to show for it on her cheek. Really she's falling and conking her head so much that I'm worried they're going to think we are abusing her at her well baby appointment next week!

WARNING!!!! THIS POST IS RATED PG FOR BABY NUDITY If you think you might be offended by the following pictures then scroll through quickly!

Lately all Hannah wants to do is play outside. Back when it was unseasonably warm we had been taking multiple walks a day, going swimming in her pool, and playing in the rocks pretty much all day long. We spent very little time inside. Now that it's cold Hannah still wants to be outside just as much, but I've had to rein her in a bit because I don't want her getting sick. She already has a bit of a cold and cough and I'm scared it might progress if she gets too chilly outside or sweaty while she's playing out there.

Speaking of colds, I'd been giving Hannah this cough suppressant/decongestant per doctor's orders and today I read in the paper that they have pulled all infant cold medicines off the market! The one we had been using was on the list as well as just about every other kind I saw in the store. I'm taking Hannah into the doctor today to talk about what to do about her discomfort now that there are no over the counter meds that are deemed safe for her to take. It's quite scary to know that I've been giving it to her for the past few days and now the FDA says its not safe for any child under 2 years old!

I'm back later this afternoon and Hannah's doctor's appointment was an adventure. The doctor heard wheezing in Hannah's chest and suspects a possible case of pneumonia so he sent her to have a chest x-ray done again. This time I watched through the window as the 2 x-ray techs struggled to get Hannah into the baby torture device. Once it finally seemed as if they had succeeded it turned out that they couldn't latch the thing because Hannah was too big for the device! So after she was all worked up about that they wanted her to sit perfectly still on a little step stool with her back up against the film and hold her hands above her head. Yeah right! Like that ever had a shot at working! Then one of the techs came out and said,"Mom, is there any chance you might be pregnant?" I said, "Um, no," and she immediately handed me the lead apron and had me come in and try to help them hold Hannah still and in position. It took several sets of failed x-rays before they finally got two usable shots of her lungs.

It's been over a week since I started this and here is an update on Hannah's condition. The chest x-rays were inconclusive and Hannah's wheeziness continued to increase so the doctor ordered a second set of x-rays. This time we had one of the same techs that was present during the previous struggle so there was not even a suggestion that she go in the baby straight jacket! Hannah remained fairly calm (of course there was a lot of crying, but not too too hysterical!) since they gave me a lead apron right away and there was no power struggle with the techs. It only took them 5 x-rays to get the two usable ones they needed instead of the 12 it took last time. This set of x-rays did end up showing that Hannah had fluid in her lungs so she got another bacterial pneumonia diagnosis. :( They started her on azythromiacin right away so hopefully that will knock it out. She also had her well baby (even though she wasn't well!) check up and shots the day after the x-rays and the doctor said we had a healthy and happy little girl. After listening in on one of Hannah's conversations with her favorite nurse while standing outside the exam room door and then watching Hannah's problem solving abilities as she opened one of their childproofed cabinet doors in the room, he was finally forced to concede to the fact that maybe Hannah's communication and problem solving skills were a bit above average for her age! As far as her stats go, Hannah had lost a pound in the week since she first went to the doctor for her cold that ended up being pneumonia so she weighed in on Thursday at a slim 25 lbs which is in the 75th percentile for her age. The doc said not to worry since she'd been off her chow a bit because she was feeling yucky. Her height was 33 1/2 inches tall which is past the 99th percentile for her age. Her head circumference also maxed out the 99th percentile for her age. When her weight was plotted against her height (not taking into account her age) she was in the 35th percentile. She's turning into a tall and skinny little girl. Besides being tall and having a huge head, she's also got big feet too. Her newest shoes are a size 6 1/2! Getting back to Hannah's sickness, she has learned one new skill from all of this and developed an odd addiction as well. The good new skill is that since she's had so much snot in her nose and she hates for us to use the bulb aspirator on her to suck it out she's learned to blow her nose-sort of. Her new addiction is Vick's' Baby Vapor Rub. Hannah absolutely LOVES to have it rubbed on her chest and back and asks for it by saying, "cream" almost every time she is on the changing table. It's just about the only way we can get her to hold still while we use the aspirator. We tell her she can have some cream when we are done and then she grudgingly complies and starts asking for cream as soon as we stop the snot sucking!

Getting back to playing outside, Hannah is so cute when she is playing outside. I remember last spring when I was worried she'd be a city girl and not want to play outside and get dirty. I shouldn't have worried a bit, because she has no qualms about getting dirty outside. She digs in the flower bed, piles rocks up on the sidewalk and fills her pockets with them, picks flowers, and splashes in the water and then gets grass and mud stuck all over her body. While we were in PA, Kyle's aunt gave us an old Little Tykes toddler swing that they had for us to use with Hannah. Kyle just got it hung up earlier this week and Hannah has been LOVING going out to swing in her own yard and not having to go to the park to get her swing fix! The only problem, if you could call it that since Hannah doesn't seem to mind at all, is that since none of our trees have a level branch low enough to hang the swing from Kyle had to improvise and hang the swing with ropes that are not the same length. Because of this the swing doesn't swing straight back and forth. It twists and turns as you push it. It's a bit unconventional, but Hannah still loves it. It's too funny to see her try to decide when she goes outside if she wants to ride in her swing or play in the rocks. It's a tough decision since she loves them both so much! Lately Hannah's had a new outdoor obsession that has rivaled the rocks for top spot on her "to do" list. She's enthralled by the neighbor's flowers. They have some mums and some other kind of fall flower that I have no idea what they are, but they are pretty and Hannah loves them. She sees them from the window and asks to go look at them. We take one step outside and she's after them like a rocket. The problem is that they are across the street so I really don't want her just running off towards them. Since she's so obsessed with those flowers I've used them to try to teach her colors and she's been really interested in that. The flowers are red, purple, and orange. She has actually used those colors spontaneously for other things and it was actually the right color. Besides red, purple, and orange, she also knows blue and green. While she doesn't always answer with the right color when we ask her what color something is, she always answers with a color at least. I think she understands what we mean by color, but can't always identify the right one. She knows red, blue, green, purple, orange, and yellow are colors at least. I think that's a good start. Besides the flowers, another new outdoor pastime she's found is filling her shirt, pockets, and pants up with rocks. She grabs huge handfuls of rocks and drops them down the back of her shirt or shoves them in the cuffs of her pants. Then, when it gets uncomfortable, she wants me to fish them out. Of course as soon as they are out she's busy filling her clothing back up again! Her interest in the rocks has been at least somewhat educational, however. She loves to hand me handfuls of rocks and watch me drop them one at a time back into the flower bed as I count them. She then takes her own handful and copies what I say as she drops her own back into the pile. Her favorite numbers to say right now, in addition to the old stand by of 3 are 11 and 13. She always gets this goofy, pleased with herself smile every time she says 13! Yesterday she was out enjoying the nice weather and playing in the rocks and she picked up a rock that was much larger than the rest of the rocks in the bed and said "big" and held it up for me to see. I said, "Yes, Hannah that's a big rock." Then she put it back down, picked up a smaller rock and said, "Small." I was so proud of her. I really think she's actually learning the concept of size and what those words mean! The other day she said big and small together and used the arm gestures we use while she was looking at the right page in her Nemo Opposite book, but I just thought she had the page memorized not that she really got what big and small meant, but I think I was wrong. I think she really gets it. She did the same thing with open and closed and hot and cold last week too. She amazes me every day at the amount of new things she learns.

I apologize that this update is turning into a novel. Hannah just has so many new accomplishments and has done so many neat things that I just have to tell you all about it! It doesn't help that it's been several weeks since I've actually had a chance to sit down at the computer! Here's some more new updates in no particular organizational structure!

Hannah has taken to moving the pets out of the way when they are keeping her from doing what she wants or going where she wants to go. She will push them aside while at the same time saying, "excuse" just like she does when she burps! It's very cute and I like that she does it spontaneously because it tells me that she actually gets it and is not just doing something on our prompting. She continues to help with all the pet related chores and has graduated from handing me the lids to the cat food cans to actually putting the lids back on the cans. She gets so excited when she gets to do her part! She's also started putting the dogs in their crates. When I say, "Abby, Ella, crates!" Hannah yells, "Abby, Ella" and then goes over and waits for them to go into their crates and then shuts the doors on them! She also likes to help me put the dogs out and she'll yell, "out pups" when they are running to the back door to be put outside.

Hannah is now quite good at using a spoon to feed herself and can even scoop up solitary movable objects like a piece of peach or a pea with her spoon and manage to keep it on the spoon all the way to her mouth! That's a huge hooray for us because if she can feed herself then we just might be able to actually eat our food before it gets cold sometime in the near future!

Yesterday, even though she was sick and shouldn't have been exerting herself quite that much, she taught herself how to climb into and out of the climber by scaling the outside wall and shimmying through the window! She was using some serious upper body strength and coordinating her hands and feet to just the right places to step and grab in order to accomplish her new skill. She was quite the little monkey. I actually managed to get some of it on video once I was satisfied that she could do it and wasn't going to break her neck in the process!

Last year for Christmas Heather got Hannah this Finding Nemo purse. Up until a few weeks ago Hannah never really showed much interest in it. Now, however, she carries that thing with her all over the house and loves to stuff things inside of it. She'll put her baby keys inside of it and her credit cards and then put her arm through the loop and wiggle it up onto her shoulder and strut off just like she's on her way to the store! I hope this isn't a sign of things to come, I don't want a shop-aholic toddler!

Hannah has learned the names for all the Whinnie the Pooh characters on her piano and just the other day she finally noticed that my sunglasses have Pooh on them. Now, whenever I have my glasses on, she reaches up and touches the small picture of Pooh and says, " Glasses, Pooh!" like it's the most interesting and exciting thing she's ever seen! It hasn't seemed to lose it's appeal yet. Speaking of learning the names of characters, for her birthday Hannah got a bike that had stickers of a Nickelodeon show called the Backyardigans on it. We'd never seen the show since we don't get Nick so I had no idea what it was about or what the characters' names were. Well, Hannah has always wanted us to tell her what the animals are. There is a moose, hippo, penguin, kangaroo, and this other pink animal that I have no idea what it is. Hannah's favorite was the moose. Well, the other day when we were at the bookmobile Hannah saw the cover of a DVD of a Backyardigan episode. She immediately started saying "Moose" and gesturing at the shelf. I decided I'd check it out for her and we took it home and watched it and Hannah was enthralled. The characters sing and dance almost the entire time and the story lines are cute and the animation simple. Hannah listens intently and sometimes even repeats back what the characters say. In her favorite episode some of the characters pretend they are part of a motorcycle gang called the Do-Gooders. They go around helping everyone and say they are rough, tough, and nice. They always say, "Grrrr!" after they do anything and Hannah just thinks that is hysterical! Every time they do it she turns to me and says, "Grrr!" right back. After a few days of watching through the video (there were 4 episodes on it) Hannah started to ask to watch it. She would gesture at the DVD player and say, "Moose Mu." It took me awhile, but I finally figured out she was asking for her Moose Movie! Now that we've returned the DVD to the libray she still asks for it and seems sad when I tell her that we had to take it back! Oh, another thing about the Backyardigans. Hannah's favorite character before we watched the DVD was the moose, but after watching the movie her favorite character became the pink thing that I don't know what kind of animal it is. Her name is Uniqua and everytime she would come on the screen Hannah would say "Neeky" and point at her. It is very, very cute. Yesterday we were grocery shopping at Walmart and Hannah spotted on an endcap a set of toddler dishes and tableware that had the Backyardigans on them. She started saying "Moose, Neeky, Bird" and pointing back behind her and trying to turn around in the cart. I stopped walking and asked her what she was talking about and she repeated her words and then pointed to the shelf and I saw it. She's got such good eyesight! I ended up getting them to hold back for her for Christmas. I put them in the cart when she wasn't looking and hid them under some groceries! She's not ready for a plate and metal fork just yet, but it won't be long.

Hannah has been very disappointed, now that the weather has turned cooler, because she can't swim in her pool anymore. Because I've been lazy and haven't deflated it yet, she can see it on the deck and asks for it almost daily by pointing at it and saying "Splash." After many times of me telling her that it was too cold to splash in the pool she has started answering herself by pointing at the pool and saying, "Splash, no, cold" and then looking at me with a sad look on her face. I've really got to get that thing put away so she won't have to keep being disappointed.

One of Hannah's favorite parts of her bedtime ritual we added only recently, but it's about the only way we can get her to start getting ready for bed without a tantrum. She absolutely hates going to bed and will run away from you if she thinks you are going to try to put her to bed or she will start stalling by asking for a drink, another book, to eat, or anything else she can think of. Fortunately for her, Daddy is a big softie and a huge pushover so she usually gets away with a certain amount of stalling when he's on bedtime duty since he wants to spend more time with her anyway! I just reread what I wrote and I still haven't told you what Hannah loves to do at bedtime! She loves to pick out which pajamas (or jammies as she calls them) she's going to wear. We give her two choices of temperature appropriate jammies and she studies them for quite awhile before finally settling on the ones she wants to wear. It's quite cute to see her examining them.

One exciting new development in Hannah's communication skills is that she has started to sing along to some of her favorite songs and will ask for specific songs that she wants to sing or wants you to sing. She really likes to exercise her control by telling you what song to sing and then saying "all done" in the middle of the song and then asking for a different one. If you don't stop when she says all done she will keep saying it, louder and louder until you finally stop! Some of her favorite songs that she will sing along with are I've Been Working on the Railroad, Patty Cake (she asks for this alot by saying "Backy Cake!" Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes, Jesus Loves Me, Wheels on the Bus, and Who's the King of Me. I'm sure there are several I am forgetting, but I just had a brain lapse and can't remember any of them! I also taught her two new songs the other day that I used to sing as a kid with the partner clapping, Miss Mary Mack and Peas Porridge Hot. She thinks these are great and has been asking me for them alot. For Peas Porridge Hot she says "Peas" and then smacks her thighs. For Miss Mary Mack she says, "Elfant."

Another new communication skill she has learned is adding -ing to some of the words that she knows. Now, instead of saying, "wok, wok, wok" while she is walking, she says, "woking." When she hears the dogs bark she says "barking" and when she sees them eating or chewing on a bone she says "eating" instead of "eat." Also, instead of saying "kick, kick, kick" when she's kicking me in her highchair or kicking a ball she now says, "kicking" instead. Lately her favorite new language skill is to add the "eee" sound onto the end of all sorts of words. Now we have mommy, ducky, doggy, puppy, and daddy instead of the previous mom, dad, duck, and dog. Some of her news words she's added to her vocabulary are monkey, pony tail, color, cream, hurt, pumpkin, mailman, and flower.

Hannah loves her books so much that it's a lot of fun to take her to the bookmobile every other week. I didn't realize how much she actually enjoyed going to the bookmobile until a few weeks ago when she started saying and signing book every time we walked past the Friendship House (a retirement home across the street from us where the bookmobile stops) or anytime she saw a bus (the bookmobile is a long trailer pulled by a dually truck that is a disel and sounds like the sounds the buses make). It's quite hard to explain to a 15 month old that the books aren't always there and that the bookmobile only goes there every other Thursday! I think it's interesting that after only a few months she began to associate both the place and the transportation that brings her beloved books to her!

Hannah is still very interested in letters and the alphabet song. Lately she's been pointing at letters on her mat and asking me to name them for her. I always make the sound the letter makes and say a word that begins with that letter when I point to it and she has started to make some connections. She knows that M is for Mommy and that Z is for Zeke and that Z makes the zzzz sound!

A few weeks ago Hannah went to a pumpkin patch and had her very first pony ride. They had a petting zoo at the pumpkin patch and we let Hannah wander around in that barn and look at the animals and then we went outside just to watch the ponies. We didn't figure Hannah would want to ride since she wasn't very receptive to being on Julie's back (my sister's pony) the last time we were at my mom's house and she's always been one to like to admire the horses from afar and not really even pet them very much. The most adventurous she had ever been with horses had been when she asked to "Pat, Pat, Pat" the horses next door to Baba's farm last month. As we watched the ponies it was evident that Hannah wanted near them and really wanted to ride. She even asked Kyle to ride. So I said, "Hannah do you want to ride on the pony?" and she replied, "Yes!" and gave a very emphatic nod of her head. We got the tickets and when it was her turn she sat up on the horse so tall and proud and while we were waiting for the other kids to get on and we were just standing still she starting rocking forwards and backwards and shaking the saddle horn to try to make the pony go! She had so much fun it was unbelievable. She had a huge smile on her face the entire time and of course there was a tantrum when it was time to get off. I eventually got her to say bye-bye to the ponies and give her pony a hug and a "pat, pat, pat." I'm so excited that she liked riding the pony. I was very worried that she wasn't going to want to learn how to ride. That would have been very sad for me since I've been dreamign about teaching her how to ride before she was even born!

A few days ago Hannah did something that totally shocked me and made me realize how much she's learning everyday that we don't expressly intend to teach her. Every day we go get the mail together and Hannah rips up the junk mail as I read through the good stuff. Well I was pretty absorbed in reading an ad from a politician and I didn't really realize that Hannah had even got up and walked away until I heard the trash can close. I looked up and Hannah was picking up the shredded pieces of junkmail and putting them in the trash. Everyday when she's done with the mail I pick it up and put it in the trash. I asked her, "Hannah, what are you doing?" and she said, "Trash" clear as a bell and walked back over to the junkmail on the floor, picked up some more and took it into the kitchen and threw it away! Ever since then she loves to throw the trash away, so much so that I've already had to stop her from throwing some things away that weren't trash! It's constant vigilance now and we'll have to be sure to take a quick peek in the trashbag before we take out the trash each week to be sure there isn't anything important in there!

A very helpful new sign and word that Hannah just learned is "Hurt." The other day she started signing and saying hurt and we asked her what hurt and she said and pointed to her teeth! She had been pretty cranky so we believed her and gave her some teething tablets. Her mood improved almost immediately. Now whenever she bumps her head or falls down or anything that might cause pain she signs and says hurt. Usually if I ask her where she is hurting she'll tell me where it hurts, we will talk about it and that gets her past being upset about it. It's great!

As Hannah becomes more and more independent there are lots of things that she wants to do by herself and she doesn't want me to help her. The problem is that she can't really do all the things she wants to do alone. For example, she really wants to be able to dress herself. She LOVES to put on socks. She's really getting pretty good at it and holds the hole open with both hands and tries to pull it over her foot, but she just can't keep her grip tight enough to get them completely on. This makes her VERY ANGRY. Eventually she asks for help, but she doesn't like having to ask for it. She's also been working on trying to put her pants on. Yesterday she managed to get both legs into the right holes and everything, but of course she couldn't pull them up while she was sitting down and she didn't want to stand up. We had a pretty big tantrum there, but eventually she let me stand her up and help her pull her pants up and button them.

Speaking of tantrums, we had our first public tantrum a few weeks ago in IHOP. She had been getting pretty antsy towards the end of the meal and really wanted out of her highchair. When Kyle was finished eating he told her she could get out, but that she had to sit on his lap until I was done. She said OK, but of course she wanted down as soon as she was out of the chair. We finished eating and I was packing up and Hannah kept trying to run off and then she just threw herself onto the floor (I had ahold of one arm so it wasn't too hard of a landing!) and started screaming. She's got quite a set of lungs and pretty much the entire restaraunt turned to look at us. It was a bit embarassing, but what could I do. You can't just make a kid stop screaming, especially a toddler in the middle of a tantrum. Tantrums aren't rational so it's not like the kid can stop them either. We just got her out of there as fast as possible and waited for it to blow over which it did fairly quickly and then we got her into her carseat and drove home. Of course she was really sleepy (we were out near her bedtime) which was our fault and she just couldn't handle one more thing so on the way home she completely crashed. We were able to carry her into the house, take her coat off and put her right into bed still asleep. I love that she can sleep through a transfer from carseat to bed. That makes errands so nice because if we run just a bit past her normal naptime I can count on her falling asleep on the way home and being able to just take her to her room without worrying about her waking up and losing her entire nap.
The final Hananh update I have for you is that Hannah has finally masted playing her harmonica. She can now suck air in and blow air out to make the harmonica make music. She loves to play her harmonica with Daddy. The two of them make pretty good music together. It's very cute and I have a video of it so you all can see just how cute it really is! She's actually better than I am at playing it!