Sunday, October 29, 2006

All my happiness

Posted by Picasa This is what all the fuss is about! This little face and thousands more like it. Maybe the face is a little browner or a little whiter, maybe the hair is curlier or blonder or maybe older and maybe it comes with a few matching faces - maybe the child is a boy. Adoption has been in the news alot lately thanks to "The MAterial One. " I don't think that the root of what she and her DH did are actually evil - I guess I just feel that there are questions that need to be answered in terms of flouting a number of regulations and laws. Is it always OK to use money or position to get one's heart's desire? What if it comes at the expense of another human? Do I get how ironic that is - given that my own heart's desire came at the expense of a birth mother cruelly forced to abandon her child - MY CHILD. EFP is ONLY my child because she was unable to be someone else's child. Would I wish the other alternative on my precious child - that of a lifetime of institutionalization and little if any real love? No, I do not and will not concede that she (or any child) would be better off living that way. The particular child in question (not mine, the Material One) would most certainly have faced a life of abject poverty and some amount of institutionalized care with (maybe) periodic visits from his bio relatives. Is the child better off... maybe. I would not want to be the one who has to explain all this to him in some years when he is old enough to read. When the child is old enough to understand part of his story and not the subtlety of what happened - when he finds out all the particulars of his birth, abandonment and eventual adoption. I can even imagine the day where some kids in a schoolyard torment him with the idea of his being taken from his birth country and transplanted to wherever it is he lands finally. Reading about his poor illiterate father and impoverished birth circumstances.

I think about that all the time about my own family. I mean I know all the ugly circumstances there are to know about how I was born, what this is to know of my family's uglier moments and I accept them - I worry about what EFP will say when she realizes all there is to realize about her life, how a birth mother left her at the gate of the children's welfare institute. That it was her gender and nothing more that made the decision for her parent(s) to part with this beautiful, smart, healthy absolutely amazing baby. What will she think of the circumstances of our adopting her? Will she see it as robbing her of her birthright - the land and culture with 10,000 years of history stacked against her. Where less than 100 years ago feet were still bound to make virtual prisoners of her fore mothers. Will she think of her adoption as I think of it - that I wanted to be a mother and she had none - so I brought her home to love and care for? That I really do think that being in a family is better... and that I thank whatever powers there are in the universe for bringing me THIS child? How could I not?

I don't know what the eventual outcome of all this will be. There are many voices against international adoption - many that say countries should work harder to identify and support families within countries to adopt those children that can not be cared for by birth families and that only rarely and under exceptional circumstances should children be adopted out of the county and culture. Frankly - I see an end to the racism and hegemony that permeates this planet with international adoption that is probably the best reason to continue the programs - indeed to enforce the Hague Convention and send all kids who can not be cared for by birth families into other countries... how can you possibly hate the people who made your child? When you know that it is possible that the family of your child is still there... don't you think that there would have to be some measure of peace if some part of the world's children were being loved and raised in other parts of the world - or is that the Utopian in me showing?

See the hard part is looking into that face - thinking that someday she may regret MY choice when no matter what I will never regret mine. It's tough - people tell me how lucky SHE is to have us - and I say no, WE, her parents, are the lucky ones. The world is lucky to have this amazing child growing up in it.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A sad end to a promising start

Being cryptic is not my usual MO - but bear with me. A few readers will know what this is about and those who do not - can either read between the lines or put two and two together and be very close to where we are.

DH and I have re-started the process to become foster-adopt parents. We have been attending classes and doing a mound of paperwork. Maybe, gentle reader, you have deduced that from earlier hints. We are a few weeks away from completing the process and being certified. Yes we have literally put aside every other project in order to devote all our energies to making sure this happens. It has been a rewarding experience and I am really looking forward to being at the end. It's actually been more fun this time and as I mentioned to a friend earlier this evening, I am enjoying being somewhat free of the shame I felt in my unorthodox upbringing and it's attendant mishaps.

To have managed to get this far and be free from the effects of what I perceived to be others judgment of my choices or life path is a precious gift indeed. I am more able to see that this path is one I was meant to travel and although there are times I am aware that my DH has had to travel these winding roads with me, he has actually been as committed as I AND when recently offered an out to all this - did what he usually does: namely, surprised me by saying that of course we would not take the 'easy' way and give up. He said we are in this for the long-haul and somehow this will all come out right. My experience says that any thing I have gained has been hard-fought and proves to be worth is all in the end. As for what to do with all the other feelings circulating... well, aside from some anger about how badly the situation was managed I am doing OK. I truly believe there will be another child in my house before too long. I don't know how or why but I know that much - in my heart.

My baby is so amazing and wonderful that there are no words to describe how incredible she is or how being her Mom is just my best of everything. I am not feeling deprived or that EFP is in anyway lacking. Indeed, it is because she is so amazing that I feel ready for the last piece of the puzzle that is our family.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Pumpkin Love

This is the pumpkin of my dreams Mom!

Hey, Tigger you look taller in person!

So many pumpkins, so little time!

This is what I left when I went to Philadelphia, and got trapped in the airport there! The conference went well. It was eye-opening and productive and I think I may have made some career decisions that, frankly, I have been putting off! I ran into people I had met before and had a very interesting conversation with someone from the west coast. I also think I got some very good ideas about a sub-topic for my dissertation. It's funny, when I am home in my real life the the thoughts of my academic life are so far away. Then I get in a room with some very smart people and I feel like I need to be up there with them. I also was privledged to listen to a most enlightened speaker Dr. John Hope Franklin a most inspiring speaker and person. I mean when you consider that he is only 2 generations from a runaway slave - and yet attended Harvard, it is amazing and makes me feel like truly if you want it bad enough, you will find a way. I believe I will read his new book. I probably should have bought it at the conference and waited to have it signed - but there were so many people and I don't like crowds, plus I understood that he was only going to sign a few books and I probably would not have gotten a signed book anyway.

Today as tired as I was - I dressed up the empress in her first halloween costume and we headed over to the farm. It was COLD and WINDY! SO we didn't last as long as I was hoping - but EFP had a great time as you can see. She was so impressed with the field of pumpkins, had no fear of the 6' tall Tigger, and got up on the stage and performed like the little star she is! She even attempted the chicken dance. What a little ham I have. (*big cheesy grin on my face*) She ate a knish and a cookie for lunch and was quite the little flirt with a friend's 6 yo. We had so much fun and left the park with a goodie bag! We enjoyed it tremendously!

Then we headed over to DH's library because somehow my house keys got separated from my car keys. DH's associates got peak at our darling in her halloween regalia. She really did look cute and liked seeing daddy as surprise - perhaps we will do that again and bring daddy some nicer lunch than what they have in the vending machine!!

EFP's sleep schedule is a little off thanks to her having to accompany DH when we retrieved me (sans bag I might add!) at the airport very very late. She slept for 2 hours between 4 and 6 - I wasn't going to let her but the poor baby was so sleepy. The airline did deliver my bag today and more or less when they said they would which was nice. I still don't really understand how an airline can just up and cancel a zillion flights! What exactly do they think people will do? Some people rented cars and drove home - the airlines actually sent some people home by bus. I almost had to do that - would have gotten home even later than I did. It's one of those infuriating things about life. So tonight she wanted to party until 10 pm - not tired really. Now she is happily sleeping and tomorrow I will wake her at a decent hour to nidge her back to her normal sleep time. I believe I am working tomorrow - so boo hoo for me!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bye Bye!

Mommy is going bye bye for two whole days! For the first time since we adopted our darling - I will be completely away. When I wrote the proposal to present at a national conference (long ago in a galaxy where I was not yet a mom) it seemed like a good idea! It is a good idea - but Oh MY! It is hard to leave my baby! I am sure she will be fine - really. (sniff sniff WAIL!) She and Daddy have come a long way since those early days and now that DH is on afternoon day care pick up - the time they have spent together (sans Mama) has really brought them closer.

I am just nervous about the whole thing. I have tried really hard during the last 8 months to only be out of the house once a week - two tops. This week was an exception in every way. Long days in the office (oh, and I got locked out today! Everyone went to an event while I was facilitating a training), a class that DH and I have to take related to our project and leaving the house pre-dawn Thursday to return long after the cows have come home Friday. I am sure that leaving my baby is more to blame for the absolutely abysmal mood I have been in - but the phases of the moon are not with me either. I have been just weepy and cranky and (well... b-tchie) if you must know.

I suppose there are people for whom an apology won't suffice... somehow I will figure it out and make amends where necessary. Even I have a bad day now and again. There are big changes on the horizon and that is not usually within my comfort zone. I like to know alot about what is coming, so this is relatively uncharted territory.

In the meantime my darling is sound asleep safe in her room. My DH snoring away - I just finished getting packed and getting her little duds ready for the next few days. I had to finish putting together her costume for the party on Saturday and I was finally able to find a long sleeved black shirt she can wear under her rather skimpy costume.

I am off to bed - so I can wake up in 3 hours to get ready for the airport. Will check in on Saturday after the party.......... with pics, Promise.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Terrible Twos Indeed!

Now, we know. Sure we thought we had dodged a bullet for all the past 7 months, EFP has been the happiest sweetest baby ever. But now she is almost 19 months old and while I would say that 90% of the time she is still that – occasionally we get a glimpse or as today – a full frontal of what the Terrible Twos really mean! I think this has been building for a couple of weeks now, since the last time she woke up kind of cranky and out of sorts. This morning she was fine till after her nap. She woke from her nap in a ripping mood. She literally did not want any part of wearing pants today. No pumpkins were picked! For whatever reason – she has decided that diaper changes are the equivalent of murder (or at least she screams like bloody murder!) and so she will resist with every fiber of her being – kicking and twisting something a little exorcist-ish on the floor, ottoman, changing table, bed – wherever! I now dread having to change her diaper in a public facility – both for the stares and the safety factor. Those flip-down changing stations are sort of not that stable. Then at dinner (which usually reverses her moodiness) the tacos I made were unacceptable so she threw her spoon at me. GREAT!

Twice today she did corner duty for pitching her sippy cup (full!) at one or the other of the two resident kitties (so far this is the only punishable offense) and I discovered that the so-called naughty step wasn’t working because a. she plays peek-a-boo from the step through the rails and b. she climbs up the staircase which is a recipe for disaster! So I have taken to putting her in the one corner in the hallway. Well – imagine my surprise when she seemed to know EXACTLY what to do!!!!! So now one more difficult conversation with the child-care center. Somehow - someone has put her in the corner already and not told me about it. TERRIFIC! The highlight of the evening had to be when she freaked out completely as the last few drops of water from her evening bath drained away and she was sitting in an empty tub. This is the same tub as yesterday.. the water always drains out and she usually is very happy to be wrapped up in a few giant fluffy towels and carried into her room to be massaged with lotion and then slipped into her pjs etc. NOT this time! No – she freaked out all (wrinkly and blue-lipped as she was) and tried to turn the water back on!! It was kinda funny – she has never reached for the faucets before so I don’t think she really understood. She did really want to help with the lotion part – for the third time today! She will have the softest skin in the USA at this rate. She is obsessed with the lotion bottle and likes me to put a small amount on her hands so she can apply it to her (really really) soft tummy, and feet and nose. Today – I was in for a treat!! I got the lotion on a q-tip on my legs – I was wearing capris.

Seriously – how long do the so-called terrible twos last?? Till she is three? I won’t last – I just won’t make it I tell you!

MKC's Non-Swedish Slow Cooked Meatballs

1/2 Big Bag Swedish Type Meatballs (Frozen)
2 Cans Cream o Mushroom Soup
1 Package Onion Soup Mix (dry)
2 Cans Milk (Skim OK)
1 Cup Milk (skim still ok)

Night before:

Spray inside of crock with non stick spray
In a separate bowl mix envelope of Onion Soup with two cans Cream o Mushroom Soup plus the two cans of milk. Stir to combine - pour into crock cover and refrigerate over night. You can also throw in a can of sliced mushrooms at this point if you like a lot of mushrooms (I did and I do!)

Morning of:

Add frozen meatballs to crock then set slow cooker on low for at least 8 hours.

Half hour before dinner:
add one cup milk stir gently - replace cover cook on high for half hour

Service with buttered noodles and greenbeans/salad etc.

Serves 4-6 with leftovers!

This is the recipe I mentioned - it's my own invention but - it's very like most of the cream o mushroom soup recipes so I can't really take all the credit.

I am also going to adapt my chili (Chili con carne para no frijoles!) recipe for the slow cooker.

The basic ingredients are:
2 lbs chuck steak cut into one inch cubes.
2) 28 oz cans of whole peeled tomatos,
cup or two dry red wine,
garlic (6 cloves minced)
1 medium sweet onion
green and red peppers large dice
masa harina
chili powder
a little cayenne pepper.

I usually serve with rice, sharp cheddar and a little sour cream. Chips and salsa - but of course!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Happiness is a warm crockpot!

I finally mastered one recipe in the new slowcooker swedish meatballs!! Using frozen meatballs no less! I served it with noodles and mixed california veggies and there were only yum-yum noises at dinner tonight! Finally! I had tried a few other recipes and so far they were not big hits... I had no recipe books though, so I remedied that and although this is my own version of Swedish Meatballs I think I followed the basic idea I got in the book. EFP surely like the little meatballs and, of course, the noodles. She is much neater at the table these days, though she has her moments when noodles go flying and it is still more messy than I would like.

We are very excited that a young friend of ours will be visiting again soon. We were delighted to host a small informal dinner (okay, it was pizza) for her last Monday and we are hoping this will be a regular occurence. I would even go so far as to say that we would love it if she were here every night for dinner... very soon!

So there are great goings on here at the Empress's everyday palace. I have discovered I am no good at selling items on Craig's List! I listed three things and so far I have only gotten one email and that was just a stupid question. I have been hoping to get rid of the futon in EFP's room to make room for a twin/daybed for our little visitor. I want her to feel at home whenever she is here, so I thought a nice new bed with her own choice of linens would be a good start. But - the Futon has to go. I do waver back and forth - it's really quite comfy and does provide a nice big bed for guests to sleep in - but I think its important for kids to have a bed of their own. SO the quest for a new home for the Futon goes on. I suppose if push comes to shove I will put it on the grad student list at work and some lucky student will be able to claim it. Its a really well-made futon so I can't imagine someone wouldn't want it.

We are otherwise in our usual mode - everything is crazy and we are running at full gallop all the time.......... and you should see how big our smiles are!!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

When the moon......... in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars.................

An appropriate opening for this week when the Chinese celebrate the Moon Festival. As I mentioned previously we celebrated the Moon Festival at a local park with tons of our friends! It's a great time to reflect on our ancestors. I have been reflecting on mine - well, at least my Mother. She has been on my mind quite a bit - both for those things she did and those she did not. I miss her but the happier memories are starting to rise to the surface and I am grateful for that. This time of year is a time to give thanks for the gifts our ancestors have given us - I am thankful for the resiliency that seems to be my gift. My DH also seems to have received the gift of resiliency and hopefulness also. When you see the moon - it's the same moon that our foremothers saw and they too looked with hope and dreams. It's the same moon I saw while I waited for the person who whould change my life forever - and she may also have been looking at the moon. Is it a coincidence that Goodnight Moon is her favorite book?

I also reference some other mystic happenings. It's not that I have switched to the 'other' side - I am still the usual skeptic I have always been. Somtimes though there are clear signs that the path I am on is the correct path. This has been one of those times where my path is clear. I may be nervous and a little unsure of myself - but I have been saying something for the last 2 weeks that I think bear repeating and is more than a little applicable these days.

"Just because something is hard (and there is a chance your heart will be broken) doesn't mean you shouldn't do it."

Indeed, everything worth doing is hard in one way or another. I was speaking with someone about buying a house - how the process is so complex and is harder than you think it possibly could be. When we bought our house - it seemed like the hardest thing I had ever done... till we adopted. Now - I know what hard is. I had thought that the process of obtaining a mortgage, where one feels like they are under a microscope and there is a certain amount of being judged 'worthy' or 'unworthy' that is inherent and stays with you for a while after you assume that incredible financial committment. But honestly - I did not know the first thing about scrutiny till we entered the adoption process.

Oddly enough - in baring my entire life to virtual strangers on both sides of the world - I have been able to once and for all rid myself of some demons that have haunted my progress over the years. Stemming from a childhood where some of the most important lessons were absent - it took me a litte longer to figure out what everyone else seemed to know. When I returned to school and completed my masters and entered the PhD program - I sort of figured out everyone (to some extent) is just trying to figure things out. I haven't met too many (though there have been a few) people who knew exactly where they fit in this world - what their special gift was. I am not sure I have found mine either - so I try to be helpful. I do know that I am not afraid anymore of the hard things, or being laughed at or even falling down while taking a leap of faith. I described our journey to become parents as a real leap of faith - faith that I would be able to withstand the scrutiny and invasion of my privacy that was necessary to the process. Withstand the judgement in the face of my own fears as to what kind of Mother would I be - it is hard (though not impossible) to remain positive when you are afraid SOMEONE else will say you are not capable. Thankfully, I did stay in it - it was hard but I did it anyway. And the rewards are a bounty and also an unlooked for gift of joy and a true connection with motherhood. I never knew how much I was capable of loving another person... unconditionally and completely. I had some glimpses when my niece and nephew were born - since I do love them to the moon and back, but it just isn't the same as when that love is reflected back at you as with my child. All the love I give her is reflected back to me... same for her daddy.

I have also come to understand why some people are reticent to shake that up and add a second child. It's hard to believe that once you have poured everything you have into one child - who becomes the center of your universe - that you could then add a another little something to revolve around. I have a suspicion about this as well - that just as I didn't know what it would mean to love one child and the reality has turned out to be so much more than I was capable of believing for me - that adding a second just increases the love you have to give. Instead of dividing - you multiply. Some friends of ours are already anticipating the arrival of a second child - and I bless them for it. My friend already gets that her heart will grow twice as large with the addition of another incredible child to love. My sister got it... I suppose many many people have figured that out.

Things are going very well for us at this point. We have put our moving plans on hold for a while. We realized that EFP is not ready to leave her butterfly and cloud paradise and she would be so sad if she had to. And since I can't imagine that we could duplicate the walls and art - I wouldn't even try. During the nearly two years we waited we had a lot of time to plan and prepare a glorious setting for our darling to come home to, changing her room would be very hard to do under normal moving the household (short of time and cash) circumstances. I am ok with this decision and while you may be reading between the lines that there is more to this decision than meets the eye - believe me, I will change residences the very minute that it is feasible and not likely to cause irreparable harm to our family.

In the meantime - why not go outside tonight and take a peak at the glorious Moon. Think about how far you have come and how magical the journey has been. Give thanks for your ancestors (the good and bad) for even the bad times have left an indellible mark on your soul and you are a better person for having survived. Look up and make a wish - for yourself and your future self, maybe wish a little peace on your past self. I know I will.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Well you just never know do you?

Here are some very amazing young women! One of them is mine and the other two - well I only wish they were! I adore their Mom and ALL their sisters as well! We had such fun at the FCC-LI Autumn Moon last Saturday!

Here is my climbing girl! She has taken to climbing anything and everything - here she is climbing in and out of her red wagon for the gagillionth time! Notice her March Moonbeam Bib! Once a Moonbeam - Always a Moonbeam!

Sometimes in your life there are moments that just take your breath away. I get that a lot these days. My daughter is so amazing - every day she does something that makes me stop and catch my breath. She is adding words to her vocabulary by the bushel and she is increasingly more agile all the time. She will literally climb on anything and everything anytime. We had an amazing time at the picnic - I think (OK I KNOW) this was the best one yet! It certainly was for us - no more longing looks at other people's babies.. or that nagging feeling like we would never be chasing a little one around.. HA! Boy did we chase a little one! EFP did not want to sit still for a second - unless it was in her wagon while IT was moving! We got to see some of our very favorite people - and we missed some others...

We really had a fabulous time and the weather was perfect - though the park was even dustier and dirtier than last year and from our own experience and what we have heard all the kids were covered in muck and were bathed instantaneously upon arrival home! My own baby was so tired she bathed and wanted to go night-night almost immediately. She had so much fun!

We have been very busy and it is going very well. Unfortunately I can not really discuss it here - I will tell all when I can - but for now - it is a rather intense time and I have been hard pressed to get all the details together. For now we are just asking everyone to keep us in their thoughts and hope that all turns out as it should for all involved. (I only bring this up because if my blogging is lacking in its usual verbosity you will know I am not losing interest - I am just tied up doing important other work for the time being)

We are headed up to Vermont for a few days of leaf peeping and harvest festival attending. We are hoping to take a much needed break for a few days. We will enjoy the company of DH's folks and the fall scenery.

On another happy note - I decided to write a little something about how we decided to adopt from China for the new Love Without Boundaries Book Love's Journey 2 - and guess what? They liked it! They really liked it! So a part of our story will be in this book! With pictures of Miss EFP! Our story will be in a section called Honoring the Heirlooms and it will tell about the connection I felt with my Mom and our baby all during the time we were deciding and waiting for our baby. I am proud to have anything at all in this book - it is a beautiful book and I loved the first one. I can't imagine anything better than that our story will help some children who may never know the love of a family - at least know life. All the proceeds help to fund surgeries for children who may never be adopted from China. We are so fortunate that our precious baby was healthy - and was eligible to be adopted internationally - there are so many who are neither. I think my Mom would have liked to know that in addition to making me the happiest Mommy - she helped some very sick children get well. I will post a link when the book is published.

Here is my little Olympic Athlete! What is her speciality you ask? Well - isn't it obvious? Ice Cream Sandwich Eating of Course!!! LOL

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