Friday, June 29, 2007

Growing up

Many changes are happening to Sophie already! Yesterday Sophie began to sit independently! We are so proud! We clap and clap for her but she still not sure what the loud noise is about. I am sure she will catch on soon.

It is hard to explain what a transformation my life has taken in the past few weeks. I'll try though with the following.

Top 10 Ways Brooke Is Different (in ways she said she would not be mostly)
1. Going to bed early. Two recent encounters show this. Leslie called me at 9:30 pm and I was completely dead asleep. Jesse and Nick stopped by at 9 (not unusual) and I was already asleep!
2. I do not know the date at all.
3. I have not picked up my daytimer since we got home.
4. I have not been to Starbucks AT ALL. This is a depressing one. Sorry Poplar Plaza friends.
5. Drying my hair? What is that?
6. My hands always smell like milk.
7. In my car there is a Veggietales CD playing.
8. I don't think about my next meal so much as her next meal (I love food so this one is weird)
9. I call Josh during the day to tell him ridiculous things that Sophie just did.
10. I have been watching HGTV during her naps. AAUUGGHH!

So the mommyness begins. I guess it was about time.

Ok, a couple more Sophie pics for you.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sunday is different at the Ray household...

Most of the time on Sunday night I have that sinking feeling that I did not use my weekend to finish all the stuff I have to do at home. Laundry, swiffering the hardwoods, dusting, etc. Tonight it dawned on me that not only could I do it tomorrow DURING THE DAY, but I'd also get to spend the whole day with my beautiful new daughter! What a great feeling!

Today we took Sophie to church for the first time. We got there a few minutes early (to early service no less) and she was looking adorable. For some reason we forgot to document this occasion, I have no idea why since we are documenting every little move she makes usually. Anyway, she was pretty good during the singing but everytime it got quiet (i.e. during a prayer for the Lord's Supper) she felt she needed to make her presence known. Josh and I both took her out for periods of time during the service. But overall, a successful first attempt. I'll have to photograph her in the little dress I got her. SO cute.

For those who are really interested in a Sophie playbyplay, Sophie also tried a squash/corn combo baby food tonight. Here's a little of that for you below.

I also want to say thanks for all of the support we have received regarding the "rule" we have set up about holding Sophie for now. She absolutely LOVES people and will love to jump into anyone's arms as soon as she gets the chance!

On to more photos:

Bathing in the sink

Another Cubs game with Dad

Eating the squash/corn stuff (She loved it obviously!)

Friday, June 22, 2007

#1 People Pleaser

"You don't have to apologize, you're the parent so you decide"

These are wise words from our good friend and pediatrician who knows me too well.

It is hard to please everyone. I am an especially ridiculous people pleaser. This does not really jive with parenting, I am learning. I have to do what is best for Sophie. Of course, that means that other's opinions may not coincide with ours. Therefore, the people pleaser in me is conflicted... do I do what is best for Sophie or please others?

I am not making much sense. Here is the current application. We have decided, for reasons based on our research about attachment and bonding in adoption, to only let our close family hold Sophie for a ?while?. This may seem silly to some. However to us, it is the best way to ensure that Sophie learns that Josh and I are Mom and Dad and we are here to stay. Once we see some signs in her behavior that she is getting this down, we'll ease up a bit. But for now, that's the deal.

So, I hope when you see us, you'll touch her, love on her, speak to her. So if you ask to hold her, we are going to say not right now, I'm sorry. Oops, see I'm apologizing already. :) Thanks for understanding while we learn to be the parents.

Ok, so here's some more pics. A couple with clothes on, I realized most of what I've shown people she only has on a diaper!

In her Baby Einstein exersaucer

In the Bumbo - not sure how to sit in this yet

reading with Mom

Go Cubbies!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


It is starting to sink in that we are parents now. It is amazing that in the last 2 weeks I have traveled to Africa, met a complete (ok, not complete but mostly) stranger who is now our daughter, signed some papers that said so, and then came home to a brand new life. It is totally a blur! But a good blur. We are having a blast with Sophie. Her personality is very vibrant. She is very happy most of the time. She is always very focused - when she wants something she works hard to get to it, or she looks very intently at it if she can't actually get to it herself. She loves to play on her tummy, and schooch around to get the toy or whatever that she wants. She can be kind of loud when she's mad, and even louder when she's happy. She is a HUGE hit with all the family. She is the first grandchild on both sides. All the family in town have been sitting in a circle around her to just watch her adorableness. Proof is above. If she's asleep we just all look at what we call "SophieTV", aka our video monitor. There is a tiny screen that shows the view of the camera positioned just above Sophie's bed. We can watch her every move and we love it! She has been so tired during the day, understandably with jet lag and whatnot, so her naps are sometimes long. It is not uncommon to hear a family member say "Oh I think she's waking up!" excitedly, and for the rest of us to gather round hoping its true. We can't wait for her to get up and be with us again!

In getting ready for Sophie's arrival, I have been doing a lot of reading about bonding and attachment in the past year or so to prepare me for this time. Also I have several "guides to parenting" about the first year of the baby's life. I have read books about adoption and post adoption blues, just in case. ha The interesting thing is what I couldn't have read about, and if I had read it, wouldn't have understood. There is a certain miracle that is occurring between Sophie and us. Our blood is not the same, our skin isn't the same. But we are family. She is one of us already. I know that not all adoptive parents feel an instant love toward their children when they meet them for the first time but it grows over time as you get to know each other. For me, however, I can honestly say that I loved her the moment I saw her and it keeps growing everyday. This morning, she was awake at 3:30 am, hungry (still working out a schedule, actually that's an understatement) and after I gave her her bottle, she was just in the best mood. I knew I could have put her in her crib right then and she would have gone back to sleep, she's really good at that. But I just wanted to look at her and play with her and sing to her. So for about an hour, I did. I cannot believe I actually think those activities are fun, but they really are. I just love being with her. And I think she's beginning to love me too. It is one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced.

Still want to post about our trip, but that will have to wait. Sophie is waking up! Gotta run.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Pictures of Sophie Finally

Sorry for the lack of posts! We have made it home and while our bodies are not sure what time it is, we are doing great. Thanks for all your calls and for meeting us at the airport and for the prayers! We feel them.

Here is just a taste of the (many many) pics of Sophie that have been taken so far. I promise when I can think straight and have a little more sleep I'll post all about the amazing journey we've been on.

Sophie cannot wait to meet all of you! :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Message from Marka (Brooke's Mom)

* This message is from Brooke's mother, Marka...Please read the post below for a new post from Brooke! *

BROOKE CALLED THIS MORNING AT 4 a.m. our time!!!!!!!!! She said that the internet is so slow there and that there are several families there, all trying to use it and it's just been impossible to get to it. Same with the phone usage...she had only 8 minutes on the phone!!! So, we talked as fast as we could...and of course, I've thought of lots of questions since we hung up the phone...but mostly it was so sweet to hear the happiness in her voice.

The best news is that it has been all wonderful!! Sophie is a happy baby...full of wonderful expressions just as her pictures have shown...beautiful...sweet...not too tiny but is long as we had observed from her pictures...very well-taken-care-of and loved by her nannies...even sleeps good!!! They have not gotten full custody of her yet...they are at the Embassy today (Tuesday) finalizing her immigration. She has a little cold and is running a fever, Brooke said...but she is still happy and isn't fussy at all. Brooke sounded wonderful...said that it had been an amazing experience...all of it.

She said that Josh had been great with Sophie and was just wonderful with her. They have spent a lot of time with her at the nursery there and are sooooo looking forward to getting her 100% of the time which will be tomorrow (Wednesday).

When we hung up the phone from that wonderful conversation, we just fell into prayer, thanking God for His provision of this precious child, for the safety they've had on this trip, and for the pure love and happiness that we heard in Brooke's voice. Thank You, God our Father!

Marka and Norman

PS: Brooke & Josh will appreciate some privacy at first in order to settle into their new life with Sophie when they arrive home to Memphis. However, they told us before they left that if anyone wanted to come to the airport on Saturday for their arrival, they are welcome to do so. Several people have asked...and I have been telling them they are welcome to come. They arrive in Memphis at 3:12 Sat. We will be (briefly!) greeting them as they come out of the restricted area...before they go down the escalators to the baggage claim (where we usually greet the Belize kids).

Officially A Ray!

Hi everyone! This is our first chance to post! There is email access at the office but we haven't had a chance to use it! We just came from our Embassy appointment with Sophie and we are officially her parents! We stopped at the Hilton to reconfirm our flight and to use their email which is a lot faster. We can't send pics even if we get over to the office because the connection is pretty slow we hear. And we dont' have our camera with us right now because you couldn't take it into the Embassy... So you may have to wait till we get back to see her!

As for Sophie, she is amazing and sweet and so precious and those eyes are just as beautiful in person. We love her so much!!! She is doing so well. She has been well taken care of and well loved here. The bonding is going well we think.

Love to all - please keep us in your prayers on the way back (Friday-Saturday).

Thursday, June 07, 2007

We're here!

We made it! We are of course jet lagged, but are about to go to bed.
It's 11:00 pm here. We are staying at the Hilton tonight, then on the
guesthouse tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

TMinus 10 Hours

I actually had to ask Josh if I am using this phrase correctly. The bags (4) are packed and we are merely a few hours from our departure. Tonight we ate supper with our parents and they prayed for our trip. It was a lovely sendoff. Speaking of prayer, several of you have asked about our prayer needs. Thank you for asking! Please pray for our safety and travel. You can pray specifically on Saturday morning, when we will first meet Sophie. Also, we had a slight snafoo (sp?) with our immigration paperwork that seems to be worked out now but you are welcome to pray that there are no hitches at our Embassy appointment (I believe on Tuesday). And, mostly, you can pray that we will be able to begin the bonding process with our new daughter!

We are so thankful for you all! Hopefully we'll be able to post as we go (thanks to Jesse).

Sophie's (nearly finished) nursery

If you care. ha

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Sophia Ray

I like typing her name. Several of you have asked me recently where I fall on the Sophie/Sophia debate. I have been calling her both names interchangeably for awhile. I never meant for this to be confusing. However, I am such a nickname person, so I think we will mostly call her Sophie. However when writing it or saying it we may sometimes say Sophia. But we're not mad if you call her Sophie. When she's a teen she'll probably want to be called Sophia Yenenesh and that will be fine too. :) I think that's a little much for a baby, though.

We got some little magnet letters as a baby gift and we put them on our fridge. And spelled out her name on it of course. Love it!

We have basically 2 and a half more days till we have to get on a plane. We have yet to put anything in a suitcase, although we will be working on that tonight. Thanks for all your encouraging calls and emails and prayers. We feel so supported!

Still working out posting on the blog from Ethiopia. I think we can do it but I am not sure pictures will be possible. I will try though!

Friday, June 01, 2007

New pictures

I have to give credit to our agency... the packet we received today about Sophia was amazing! It told all kinds of information about the Care Center and about Sophia herself: her schedule, her habits, likes/dislikes (likes baths/dislikes being out in the sun for long periods:), and lots of new pictures! We leave next Wednesday from Memphis at 9:20 am. This weekend we'll be doing all kinds of last minute stuff. Today is my last day at the office, so I'll have most of Monday and Tuesday to work on packing.

I am so in awe of these pictures! I feel like I am really getting to know her better through them. Hope you enjoy them!