Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lila's Birthday!

Whew.  These last few weeks have knocked us out!  I've got some catching up to do in the blog world. Here's what's coming in the next few days (hopefully):
1. Lila's birthday post (today!)
2. Lila's birthday party post
3. Christmas post
4. Adoption update post

And we're off!

Lila's birthday was the 16th.  The Husband took the day off so we could spend the day as a family.  We began the day by having a birthday donut for breakfast (I made her have some yogurt first so she had more than just sugar in her) at John's Space Age Donuts.  

a little snot to season the donut hole.  did I mention she had another ear infection?
Lila and Daddy
Lila and Mommy
Later that morning, we had her two-year-old pictures taken by the awesome Jenae Weinbrenner (click here for a preview).  After her nap we took her to see Santa.  If you'll remember, she was TERRIFIED of him last year.  This year she was a little more composed: 
She still looks a little nervous, clutching Lambie and Snuggle with a death grip.
But she was kind of wigged out by the three anamatronic elves that were holding gifts next to Santa, falling head-first into an upstairs window of Santa's house and wielding a hammer on the roof of the house respectively.  Now that I type that sentence, I completely understand her concern.  She kept saying, "Mommy, see those guys?" with this really nervous voice.  The funny thing is she said the same thing about my cousin Jenny's husband James at Thanksgiving: "Mommy, see that guy?"  In her defense, he does have a huge mane of curly hair and a bushy beard.  And also in her defense, those elves were creepy.

Nothing like a little childhood scarring to go with the Christmas memories.  I guess that's whatcha get for a free Santa picture at Bass Pro Shop. 

We ended the day by going out to dinner with Nanny and Pop and Grandma and Great-Pop.  We got her in bed early because her party was the next day.  But that's another post for another day!  

I'll leave you with this:

P.S. A few notes on the video:
1. I must have brainwashed her with all my excited talk of her butterfly birthday party because she started answering the question "How old are you?" with "Butterfly!"
2. Don't you love her little jammin' head bob?  It's very Night at the Roxbury.
3. At the end when she says, "Oh look at that, Mommy!" she's referring to the giant vintage Santa that Metcalf Bank puts up ever year.  Her last words on the video are, "Oh really scary!"  She's a sensitive soul.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

a letter to my daughter: year two

Dear Lila,

Can it really be true that you are two years old?  On the eve of your second birthday, I was heading out the door to run a few errands and I mentioned to Daddy that I wouldn't be back before you went to bed.  As the words came out of my mouth I realized what that meant.  It meant that on the last night of your second year, I wouldn't be the one rocking you and singing to you and praying for and with you.  I think Daddy saw that realization come to my mind because I made a little "oh" sound and he looked at me knowingly.

And then I cried.  The emotion came out of nowhere.  It hit me with such force and clarity and I suddenly found myself scrambling, grasping desperately for more time with your one-year-old self.  But even as I processed these thoughts another thought hit me: my one year old had faded away months ago without my even noticing.  As words became sentences and songs; as toddling became walking and running and galloping and skipping, one-year-old you slipped away.  And I didn't even notice.

These realizations came in the span of a few seconds and tears filled my eyes and dripped down onto your dinner tray as I bent to kiss you goodbye.  You looked up at me with concern and said, "Mommy sad!" and then you reached your little arm up and wrapped it around my neck, pulling me close to you so that our cheeks touched.  Your tender little gesture of comfort just about undid me.

I got in my car and cried all the way to the store, asking Jesus how to manage these strange emotions of loving someone so desperately and wanting to keep time from moving - to somehow absorb each moment more fully.  I thought of a line from Gilead (or maybe it's Home?), when Boughton is bemoaning his old age and complains, "Jesus never had to grow old."  A part of me wanted to make the same sort of accusation: Jesus never had to feel this strange emotional cocktail of longing, desperation, pride, love and gratitude as he watched his daughter age in a matter of seconds.  What must it be like to have eternity in your bones?

And in Heaven, what form will you take, my sweet girl?  Will you be my snuggly newborn all sweaty and folded up?  Will you be my sweet, wordless toddler - looking up at me with learning eyes?  Will you be my precocious two-year-old, caring for me with an arm around my neck?  Will you be some version of future you?  Or will you somehow, miraculously be all of these?  Will love of you even be on my radar in the presence of the Lord?  It seems impossible that the perfection of Heaven would be complete without you to love wholly and perfectly.  But then again, what do I know of Heaven yet?!

You see?! You see what you do to me! You make me into some sort of philosopher trying to solve the great questions of this world.  Lila, there is a part of my heart - a part of my spirit - that was asleep before you.  You have woken this part of me, the part that is reserved only for those who call me Mommy.  And when that part woke up, the rest of me broke.  I will never be put back together.  You've ruined me - in the best way possible.

When I got home from the store, I snuck into your room to look at you.  And soon, I found myself lifting you out of your bed and carrying you to the rocking chair.  You blinked sleepily at me and then snuggled into my chest and we rocked for a long time.  I held you and kissed your forehead and brushed your hair out of your face.  I prayed for you and whispered your Bible verse to you.

This is what I prayed:

Thank you.
For the time you have given us with this sweet girl.
I know that each year, each minute is a gift and that there are many moms (some dear friends of mine) who have already known the last minutes with their babies.
I do not take that for granted.
Please, please, please, give us many more birthdays with her.
Put in her heart a unique love for you.
May she recognize your voice when you call her by name.
Help us to train her well, to love her well, to know her well.
Thank you.  Thank you, Lord.

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl.  I love you so much - even if you disobey me and insist on growing up.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A conversation

Former student (now a third grader): Hi, Mrs. Kautzi.
Me: Hi, Chad. (not his real name)
Student: Mrs. Kautzi, my uncle would want to hit on you.
Me: sputtering, stammering, mumbling something in disbelief
Student: walks away oblivious to my befuddled reaction

I assume this is a compliment, but there is a small part of me that worries that this kid is just a couple years shy of a sexual harassment case.  There's also a small part of me that thinks he doesn't know what it means to hit on someone.  I hope?

Sunday, December 11, 2011


I had a few adventures last Tuesday.  The first of which was a visit to the American Girl Store with the families who won our raffle.  It was such a treat to get to be there when the girls picked out their dolls.  Most of our tickets were purchased by families who attend the school where I teach, so it didn't surprise me that both winners were former students of mine!  But what was a fun surprise was that the two families who won have daughters in the same class who are best buds!  Stella and Elena were in my class last year and they are just the sweetest girls.  Both girls were so excited, and both made the comment that they were even more excited that the other one won.  I'm telling you - these are sweet girls!

Lila and I had a blast helping them pick out their dolls at the store.

From left, Sophie, Stella, Lila, Elena, Natalie and Lydia.
Sophie and Stella picked Josefina and Natalie and Elena picked Rebecca.
 Then the girls and their moms invited us to join them for lunch to celebrate their dolls and Natalie's birthday!
Lila's looking a bit disheveled, no?
Right from lunch, I dropped Lila off at my parents' house for her nap so I could go to the airport to help Aaron and Heather welcome Arthur home!  Here's where the real adventure began.  

Initially their flight was supposed to get in at 4:30, but they changed flights and were now coming in around 2:00.  I called Eric around 1:30 to have him check their flight status because I didn't want to get there too early and have to pay for parking.  However, he soon informed me that I had the opposite problem.  Their flight was early - estimated to arrive at 1:37! Ack!  

I nearly didn't go.  I pulled into my parents' driveway at 1:40 and told my mom I thought I would miss them if I went.  She convinced me it was worth trying to get there so I got in my car and prayed I would make it in time.  

**Dad, don't read this next paragraph.  I usually don't speed or text while driving.  Extenuating circumstances.  No need to scold me, k?**

It took all my willpower to not speed recklessly.  Meaning, I did speed.  Just not excessively.  When I saw the sign that said 3 miles to KCI, I texted Heather, "I'm coming!  Hope I don't miss you!" A few minutes later, as I took the airport exit, she texted, "Oh no! We're just leaving!" I called her:

Me: What do you mean you're leaving?  You're leaving the airport or you're in your car already?
Heather: We're just pulling out of the parking garage.
Me: Ahhhhh! No! I'm here! I'm here!  I'm passing the terminal signs!
Heather: We could pull around...
Me: feeling very selfish and thinking to myself, "Yes! Please!" 
Heather: Okay, we're pulling back around to Terminal A - we'll pull over.
Me: Oh! I see you! I'm pulling up behind you!

The next few minutes were some of my more tearfully hyper moments.  I gushed over that perfect boy and resisted the urge to stroke his sweet chubby cheeks.  I blathered on about how thankful I was that they waited for me and how sweet their boy was.  Arthur just blinked up at me with those big brown eyes and with each bat of those eyelashes I saw bits of my future flutter through my imagination.  Then I got back in my car and drove back to my parents' house, giddy as a school girl.  

Mere seconds would have told a different story.  I might have missed them entirely and then I would have driven back to my parents' in a disappointed funk.  

All this has, of course, made me daydream about the day when we bring our baby home.  The chaos and delirium of an airport welcome after a 20 hour flight.  The excitement of introducing our son or daughter to all the people we love mixed with the sheer terror of transitioning an overwhelmed infant to a new life.  But the bottom line is, I can't WAIT until one of you is making poor driving decisions on your way to nearly miss us at the airport!  I! CAN'T! WAIT!!

P.S. We had our fingerprints taken on Friday!  We're now waiting for the final approval from the FBI before we can submit our dossier and be placed on the waiting list! We're so close!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmasing our House

Well, the Husband - aka, the "Tree Whisperer" - has done it again.  He found us the perfect tree.  It's so hilarious to see that silly smirk come over his bearded face when he's found "the One."  He's really nice and humors me when I suggest other options, but we always end up with the one that "spoke" to him.  I'm okay with that because the man has a gift.

We bundled Lila up again this year to cut down, er, pick out our tree at Home Depot.

She was just as baffled this year as last by Daddy's shenanigans in tying the tree to the roof of our car.  She kept saying, "Uh-oh, Mommy!  Tree!  Uh-oh!"

She's pointing to the top of the tree she could see through the sunroof.
And then she was equally as bemused when Eric brought the tree in the house.  I guess it would seem weird to a kid who is used to trees rooted firmly in the ground outside.  But once we brought the lights out she was transfixed.  

She "helped" Daddy put lights on the tree.

She "helped" us hang some ornaments - although not before we made the mistake of handing her one of her many "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments and saying, "Here, Lila you can hang your ornament," and then trying force her to relinquish it to it's spot on the tree.  The child was not thrilled about the prospect of handing over anything that had previously been described as "hers."

I snuck it on there when she soon got distracted and starting "cleaning" the lamp with her Snuggle.  She's weirdly into cleaning for being my daughter.  I call her Cinderella.

 Once she tired of her cleaning, she found something else to do.

 Meanwhile, the Husband and I plugged away on the tree (well, I stopped intermittently to document Lila's activities).  And when we were mostly done, we of course we gave her the honor of putting the star up on the top.

By the time we were done it was past her bedtime and she was pretty zoned out.
And now every day we have our very own lighting celebration when she runs out of her room in the morning and says, "Lights on!" and we count to three and then plug them in.  Every day it's the same ridiculously excited response: "YAY!!!" (at the top of her lungs) "Yights!"  Ahh, the simple joys of being two.

I'm pretty excited about Christmas this year because I think the magic will begin for Lila from now on.  She's really into playing with a little nativity scene which I strategically placed on the bottom shelf of our built-ins.  She calls it "Baby Jesus and those guys."  And she puts them to bed every night.  However, it often looks like some sort of twisted Nativity Massacre.  The bink is her signature.  They call her the Bink Bandit.  Okay...I've now taken this creepy digression too far.

Anyway, back to how we've been Christmasing our home.  In lieu of our usuals (I Will, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, You are My Sunshine, Goodnight My Someone, etc) we've been singing Christmas songs before bed - Lila's favorite is Sara Groves' version of Angels We Have Heard on High which she calls "Gloria Song," and Sufjan's version of Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella which she calls, "Hush, hush song."  The other day she was walking around the house saying, "Deo! Deo! Deo! Gloria! Gloria! Deo!"  I tried to get a video, but for being such a show off, that kid is hard to capture on film.  I think because she can't get through a line of a song without interjecting, "My do! Pictures!" Which means, "I'd rather look at the pictures on the camera than recreate that adorable scene for you to document, Mom."

I did manage to capture this though:

You're welcome, Mom and Little Sister.  I know you're the only ones who watch these videos in their entirety besides us.

More to come soon - including the stories of a few adventures I had on Tuesday. But for now I'm busy tending to my almost two-year-old Baby Girl who has yet another cold.  All orifices are streaming and her cheeks are rosy red.  She cries when I wipe her nose because it's already so raw and her hair was plastered to her cheeks with snot this morning.  It's so sad.  And gross.  *sigh*

Thursday, December 1, 2011

And the winner is...

Or as I should say, "And the winners are...!"

Our American Girl Doll giveaway is officially closed!  We had a total of 105 tickets purchased!  Thank you! Thank you!

And like I said on Tuesday, we decided to add a second doll if at least 100 tickets were purchased so I'm pleased to say that there will be TWO winners today!

I'm so nervous!




I'm ready.......

The winners are:
Ticket number 39 - Noel Heinbach!

Ticket number 101 - Heather Whalen!

Congratulations!  I will be contacting each of you soon to find out which doll you would like and where you would like her shipped!  Yahoo!

And to the rest of you - THANK YOU for supporting our adoption.  I know that for all of you, it was always more about helping us bring our baby home than winning a doll.  And for that, we are so very grateful.  Humbled and grateful.

Stay tuned for more info on our next steps now that we have our dossier fee funded in full!  Yahoo again!

P.S. We chose the winners using  We simply entered in our possible numbers and hit generate and got these numbers.  Try it out here.