Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Santa Claus is coming to town......

You better not cry... you better not pout - so far so good!!

Okay. Maybe Pouting is acceptable..........
(is this not the saddest face in the universe?)

Full out hysteria is also an appropriate reaction!

Today we had the obligatory Santa visits the daycare. So our daycare Creamy Clouds was visited by the big man himself with two actual elfs! The event was just as loud and hot as you can imagine and my own b├ębe was just as hysterical as the next. The toddlers were just not that into Santa. Not really a surprise - since the last time we attempted Santa - it was a full-blown NO-GO. Oh Well - its a good thing Santa comes late at night while we are all sleeping and therefor no hysterics are needed!

[Total non-sequitur: I can NOT stand music on random sites... it is usually lame and too loud. I all sites with music had an off button right near the top of the page! I did visit one page lately where the music was not only non-annoying but gave us an idea of a song to use on our video from China - Clay A's Love of my Life! It bring tears to my eyes every time I hear it because the love of my life is without a doubt sleeping a few feet way - and so is the other one.)

We still have a ton of things left to do to prepare for the holler-days. I mean Holidays. I have all this cooking to do and a few more gifties to get... I hate when I have a party and I don't have a gift for each person. The kids are done - but I need a few more things for the grown-ups. Also need to finalize the menu. DH asked what we were going to do to celebrate the Year of the Boar in February. OMG! Is he kidding me or what? Then I thought about it for a while and maybe we will do a LITTLE something - since it is so close to our Family Anniversary (the day we met/received/adopted our little bundle). I am going to figure things out but I know I will make a ton of dumplings to mark the occasion! Not even done with this party and the next one is staring me in the face - not to mention the large party we will have in March!

Our paperchase is going well. Papers of all kinds are flying all over the country. I love my agency - they are so nice!! A couple that we traveled with has also decided to join us in the pool and I believe we will both get DTC together again! Won't that beat everything! Two kids from the same exact part of the world... we are so lucky!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Decking the halls....

Well, this is what it is all about isn't it? We put the tree up last night whilst EFP was snug in her bed (sugar plums or not) and when she got up this morning.. there it was - only half lit! Yes, that is correct about 900 of the 1800 lights would not light! We knew they worked but for some reason the plug configuration was eluding us. We did finally figure it out with a little help from the answer line... and just about the time to lights were lighting the washer stopped washing! Ho Ho Ho. Anyway, EFP likes putting the ornaments on and she tells the kitties "NO!!" with pointy finger when they approach the tree. We have only unbreakable ornaments for the first 3 feet of tree - luckily I have a nice combination of handmade unbreakable and the like for the bottom and we have anchored the tree to the slider behind - so hopefully my priceless collection of crystal snowflakes will survive both cats and baby.

The chase is certainly on! I am surrounded by paper and I am feeling the pressure to be done. I feel much better this time though... not anxious or worried in any way - well, at least for the parts I can control! I am anxious that the various agencies we need to deal with (USCIS, SCPD, SBUMC, etc.) will do what they must in a timely fashion so that we are in a good position for March. What kind of hoot will it be that we are DTC (dossier to China) on March 11, 2007? Same day we were for EFP and now two years later - plus my Mom's birthday.

Well - I must get back to the reams of paper enjoy the festive pics!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

We've done it now!

Uh Oh! What did we do? Well..... you are hearing it here first: We have started the paperchase for our second child! Officially! Woo Hoo! I guess.

This is not how I was hoping this would go actually - but those of you playing the home game, China released a set of new restrictions for adopting parents and they are quite different than those operating when we went for EFP. So first I cried, then I crunched, cried some more, crunched some more, decided I never really wanted to retire, cried and then I got in the Behemoth and went home. When I informed my poor unsuspecting DH of the changes... to his credit he didn't even blink, he just said "Well, I guess we better get cracking then huh?" Is it any wonder I love this guy?

Of course - our decision is NOT as sudden or panic induced as this sounds - we had been thinking about it, considering waiting children and well, there is the whole foster care certification so we have been talking about it for a bit. I had hoped to have a bit more time as I would like EFP to be a little older and an only for a bit longer before a second permanent child arrived. The new rules mean there will probably be a bunch of panicking paperchasers climbing out of the woodwork at this time. We plan to get our paperwork finished pretty quickly and since I still have some docs left over from last time I am feeling pretty good about this part. Our home study should go well and also pretty fast. I feel good about even the wait this time - since really we need it to be long in order to have our heads examined at length. No, seriously we need to save some money for the process and come to some other decisions about stuff - but we already know in our hearts that there is another child waiting for us in China. I think I have surpassed happy right into the delirious zone! But to be fair it will be a long wait and we still have a mountain of paperwork to get through. The best part of this whole thing - as I discovered tonight, but really already knew, is that I get to journey with friends. Every step of this road I will be accompanied by real friends - who are already sharing in our happiness and joy. Once again we join the ranks of the families in waiting and we are in great company!

It will be a few months before our paperwork is in and then we have an 18 to 24 months wait for our referral. I think that would have killed me the first time - but then when we started last time we expected a very short wait... not so much this time. I will be grateful for the time. I may even learn another thing or two about patience!

I wish I could say EFP was on board - she will be I am sure, but for now I can't even so much as LOOK at another baby or toddler without her protesting. Even her best little buddy J is not allowed to get hugs in front of EFP.

So here is my favorite little (well-circulated) anecdote about not exactly meaning to start another adoption!

Have you ever noticed that you hear all the time about "accidental" pregnancies, but never about couples who experience "accidental" adoptions?
Can you imagine:

Honey, sit down. I have some news for you.

What is it?

Well, I don't know how to say this, so I'll just come out with it. I went out to the mailbox today and ... well, we got an I-171H.

A what?!? An I-171H? As in, we're going to have a(nother) baby?!?

It looks that way.

But how? We've been so careful! I put away all the blank I-600A forms. Didn't you hide our home study update?

Of course I did. But don't forget, there was that one night...

What night? (pauses) Ohhh, that night. But it was only once. We were just messing around. I didn't print clearly. I didn't even use ink! (pauses again) But it was kind of fun.

It was, wasn't it? I'll never forget how cute you looked getting your fingerprints.

So now we've got our I-171H, eh? But that doesn't always mean you'll adopt, does it? I mean, shouldn't you see the agency or something, make sure every thing's okay?

I already did.


I'm five documents along.

Five documents! And they're all notarized, certified and authenticated okay?

Just great. There was one small scare when the agency couldn't see the Notary's middle initial, but it showed up just fine under the magnifying glass.

Thank God. And you, honey? Are you feeling okay?

I'm feeling fine. As long as I know you're happy about this.

Happy? I'm thrilled! It's always a shock at first when something like this happens, but of course I'm happy.

Wish us luck and come along for the SECOND Adventure of a Lifetime!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Walking, Talking, Counting and Feeling Fine!

Or at least better... there will be daycare in our future - tomorrow even! It seems that our darling's many talents have expanded to include such magnificence as attempting a somersault, running at full speed, screaming the name of any old thing at all - at will, the return of tricky baby... she calls EVERYTHING DADDY (Mommy is not amused!) and can now count to 5 by herself. She is still reciting the alphabet and sometimes she gets past J all the way to P!! We truly have a brilliant baby.. eh?
She has developed a love of Oranges but, only when I peel it, pull apart the sections, de-pith it and bite it in half so she can get right to work on the inside. It's a tough job, but what's a Mommy to do? I am so relieved that she is finally, seemingly, on the mend and eating a bit. I tell you - a sick child is h#ll on earth. Really - I would rather be sick myself that have her sick at all. We had some really scary moments and it will be too soon the next time I hear her sneeze. I hope that her immune system is listening every time someone says to me that she will have perfect attendance once she is in school!
Have I mentioned her addiction to all things dippy? Yes, the new in thing here is sticking food in pools of something.. ketchup, mustard, gravy, applesauce, yogurt, hummus (!!??), both the garlic lovers and red pepper. EFP loves to have a little bowl of something and she understands the whole dipness factor - it is charming actually. Messy but charming. She also has been welcomed to the world of cheese and crackers - though she has not progressed beyond licking the cheese and discarding the crackers. I see in my future another little hors d'oeuvre lover like her big cousin Miss T. Can't wait till she eats spinach dip! LOL
I have also been caught defending myself as a 'real' mother more than once in the last few weeks - I suppose not me so much as all of us adopting parents. I am not sure why people feel they have a right to comment on other people's relationships, but they do. It also makes me wonder what they think about the nature of parent child relationship - do people believe they are so one-dimensional? Based on biology and nothing else? I suppose many people must - of course newborn are singularly dull (no offense to the newly born out there) so biology is all there is those first few months, well that and the exhausted haze that seems to lie over the abode of the new parents. I mean survival of the species demands that there be some reason to keep those little people safe and fed, right? Sure they are cute - also a survival mechanism - but what is there to like? So it stands to reason then that there is just the ONE reason - biological ties. I don't actually believe that there is only that - I am trying to figure out why people think that it is impossible to love a fully FORMED child vs a really really small one who sleeps, eats and poos on schedule . I mean MY child arrived with a personality AND the ability to stay awake for 5 - 7 whole hours at a time! She has been funny since day one, is very sweet and caring, sings and smiles in such a way as the Grinch himself would have to admit a bigger heart in her presence.
In fact it has become (painfully) obvious that it is possible to love a (or, dare I say, a few) children quite a bit - simply because they are. Naturally - I knew I would love EFP even from that first second I heard her name and saw her little face the first time. I mean we had waited so long and wanted this baby so much that we were primed (hmm.. a little like carrying something around for 9 months or so???) and ready - but it was so darn easy. Indeed, today I even went so far as to suggest that I love EFP better than I might have loved a bio child - since I feel so conflicted about my own genetics.... I suspect that it would be easier to be critical of a bio child (seeing your own flaws in a kid and all that) and to want to eradicate those tendencies that drive us crazy in ourselves. I think that in some ways it is possible to love the child as they are - I mean they come with their own innate personalities and we can take no credit for much of it. I mean - I will take full credit when she turns out to be an amazing adult etc. but it is fun trying to figure out what her talents will be - how she will turn the world upside down!
I don't think adoption is for everyone - really. I just knew it was for us and we couldn't be happier or more in love with who our daughter is and how she came to be in our family. I know that I can love any child the universe chooses to be ours (and some that are probably not) because every child deserves the love of a parent - born or adopted. I am thankful I am one of those who knows the importance of loving a child. Not just the ones related by genes.

Friday, December 08, 2006

One Year Ago Today.... (Part II of a Multipart Series)

EFP Referral Photo from 9/26/05

.............we FINALLY received the news that we had been waiting 272 days to to hear "We have a daughter!" At 12:50 pm I got the call from our agency with the first news of EFP. I actually knew the call was coming having spent the better part of the morning obsessively hitting the refresh button on my email - and having heard that one of the other families with our agency had posted their referral, I knew we couldn't be far behind. I actually burst into tears when I read the other referral and then went out into the main suite from my office and was crying to our office manager when the phone rang and we saw the caller ID - we both screamed "This is IT!" Everyone in my office was crying and screaming - should have thought to have Champagne ready for the occasion. The next thing I remember is sitting in my office waiting for the call to be transferred and I CAN NOT FIND A PEN!! Can you imagine? I carefully wrote the information down - crying the whole time. Was given the usual small amount of information: Chinese name, province, Name of the Social Welfare Institute, Height & Weight in kgs and date of birth. I was stunned. One of my collegues took a few pictures we all hugged - and I called my DH (really my sister because he was not at his desk the first time). And we celebrated briefly over the phone.

Here is the post from last year:

December 08
We have a Daughter!
Today at 12:50 pm our agency called with the news that our 9 month old daughter is waiting for us in the DuChang Children's Welfare Institution in JiangXi Province, PRC. We are so happy, excited, and in awe of the whole process! We went, in the space of a few minutes, from being just plain old happy married people to Mommy and Daddy. Our darling's face is still a mystery - we will see her picture next week in our agency's office after all the papers are translated... I am so excited!

We celebrated with dinner (we may actually BE the only people ever to ask for a bottle of Champagne at an Applebee's!) with our good friends who will be traveling at the same time to the same area in PRC to get their first child also! Our daughters are in the care of the same Children's Welfare Institution - AND they were born only one day apart! The girls are sure to be the best of friends! I can't think of a better way to celebrate an evening or better people to spend it with! More later - need to bask in the Mommy glow for a little while.

So now we know - my heart is in DuChang CWI in Jiangxi Province, PRC!

Things have changed - but for oh so the better! Can't post more - too exhausted. EFP has been extremely sick and we have been beside ourselves with worry. Being a Mom is both the best and worst of situations. I am happier than I ever thought possible - and worry more than I ever dreamed. We are both most grateful and humbled by the absolute gift of this amazing child. She is simply a dream come true - and the love of our lives!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Three years ago today...............

Me and my Mom - at my wedding 4/25/1998

............we (my sister, brother and I) lost our mother. It was unexpected in its suddenness and although we knew she was very sick - I think there is no way to really prepare for the demise of your parent. In our case - our only parent. I think she died as she had wished - at home, no doctors or hospital. She was at her computer probably talking to one of the tons of people she chatted with or played games with. One of her online buddies sent a note yesterday - I was touched. There were many who wrote to us three years ago, I saved all those notes - I wished then as I wish now that she could have felt about herself the way everyone else felt about her.

My Mom was a lot of things - perfect wasn't one of them. Smart, fun, kind, a great cook and generous to a fault. As a mom she was loving and could be somewhat wacky at times - sometimes on purpose and sometimes not. She had a great sense of humor and loved the ridiculous - and a good play on words. We could go back and forth at it for hours.. sometimes weeks during brief giggling phone calls back and forth each word getting more and more convoluted.

I suppose some of the things that I remember most are the things that set her apart from the mainstream - taking us crabbing off Babylon Municipal Docks at midnight in the summer heat, so once we got to see a real shark (dead!) that a famous shark hunter dragged into the dock but ultimately had to drag across the sound to be hauled up and weighed - 850 lbs of Tiger Shark! How many folks can say that? Packing us kids up with nets and flashlights (and pepper and egg sandwiches) and a cooler full of some cold drink - listening to the adults laughter and smelling the ocean or bay breeze. Having Mom wake us in the middle of the night to watch a really old movie - Like Raintree County with Elizabeth Taylor or Wuthering Heights with Merle Oberon and Lawrence Olivier. Letting us read whatever we wanted - Including Jaws when I was only 10 years old - way more scary than the movie and I didn't swim for quite a while. How SHE got a tattoo in rebellion when I was 17 - then showed it to anyone who cared to see (a butterfly on her shoulder, I was mortified!) and how impressed with herself she was for daring to do it. I could go on and on - but I won't.

Her incredible talent in making things.... she once created an entire Trousseau ( I only knew about Trousseau because of my love for Victorian romantic novels and was obsessed for a time with embroidering my own) for my Barbie - the one my sister and I shared- out of old curtains (ala Scarlett O'Hara - more on that in a bit) and it was so much nicer than anything one could purchase. How she took me to see Gone With the Wind only AFTER I had read the book - so I would know that the story was different and better in the book. Or how she painstakingly made a true southern belle ball gown, which included pantalettes and a hoop skirt, for a college costume party. Or how she never minded when we used that huge box of old curtains to play some silly make believe game - indeed she encouraged it. How she taught us to sew so we could make clothes for the doll and furnish her cardboard dream house with slip covered sanitary pads and canopy beds made from government cheese boxes. How I think to myself, looking at some doll clothes or craft pieces - as she must have, I could do that, and better! When it comes to craftiness we each inherited some piece of her fingers' magic. Each of us, in our own way, is incredibly creative and talented.

Or how she almost fell on the floor laughing on the day of my 10th birthday when I discovered the dog had managed to eat most of the birthday cake she had made for me while we were eating my birthday dinner. I did not think it funny at the time and was crying hysterically and she (and bro and sis) could not stop laughing - till finally I had to join them, it was pretty funny seeing the dog with all the icing on his face.

How she one time made a care package complete with cookies for my sister while she was away at college - big heart-shaped linzer tart kinds with heart cut outs - she packed them so carefully. I know she wished she could have done that (and more) all the time... but it was fun when she did get to do it.

There were so many crazy moments - the dog jumping out of the car on the Grand Central Parkway on the way to Nana's, the Llamas at the game farm, our first trip into NYC to see the lights at Christmas, the attacking swans at argyle lake, the four foot tall bunnies, the annual tree decorating (always forcing us to remember that in the early years she did it all by herself on Christmas eve - including wrapping all the gifts and slipping them under the tree) and her admonishments that the tinsel be set perfectly strand by strand, then waking us up by shaking the bells all in the mistaken belief that if she woke us up in the middle of the night - rather than have us wake her in the morning - she would get to sleep later. I don't know that that ever worked out quite the way she wished. Even with the scant presents we got we were always so excited - then there was the year she (stupidly) put Kazoos in all our stockings............ or the year I got puzzle glue but no puzzle. I suppose my brother always managed to come up with some funny way of celebrating.. a smelly boot or a gift hidden in the tree branches. Mom always loved a good gift joke that way. Her desire to make people happy - at least in the way she thought she would make them happy - caused her to stress about it in the worst way, so she never really understood how much happiness she did give. Every Christmas we made Ravioli - hundreds of them. I don't think that I have ever eaten a meal that filled us up as much as her Ravioli. She was capable of so many things - such great acts of love.

I know in every mother's life there are a million moments that are special to her children- I also know that the picture of my Mom is so much more than I can paint. I loved her very much - and I know in my heart that she loved us all. I think she would be proud of all of us and how we are making our way in life - I know she would adore EFP and be proud of our little family just as I know that she adored my sister and her family and as much as she complained about the distance between us, it was only because she wanted to be there everyday with those two amazing children. I know also that she would be pleased that our brother also seems to have found a sense of family and some happiness with his wife and two children.

She had known a great many people, helped some of them in their hard times but hardly anyone really knew her. I know that there are people who miss her - maybe not as much as we do - but miss her a great deal. I wish there was a way I could make her clear to people - clearer even to me. I miss being able to talk with her.... knowing that whatever I said she would be on my side and offer what comfort she had. Tonight I sent DH to the store and had him get a chicken which I turned into soup... at first I thought it was simply because I have been so sick and EFP likewise and that the soup would make us both feel better. I guess I wasn't thinking then (baby really sick and screeching, battling a migraine, gone without sleep for days on end and feeling like I have been run over by a mack truck) that it was because of today's importance. Of course it was. Whenever I was feeling bad (physically or emotionally) my Mom would show up with a pot of chicken soup - if you were my DH she would show up with eggplant (hmmrph!) and all would be well again for a little while.

This isn't the kind of tribute I wish for her - I don't know if I am the right person to do that. I am her first born, therefore the least objective, though it seems right to try. I wish to remember her from when I was really little - in that way that children have of looking up at their parents - we were sitting under a Japanese Maple Tree and it was afternoon... I thought she was so very pretty and smart. What child doesn't think that about their mom? I think it is also the time of year... for me November is a time to reflect and then we head into the holiday season. This year more than ever I feel the weight of my immense gratitude for all I have and yet the unbearable loss - how the one person I most would want to share this with is both the person that made it possible and the person who will never share in my joy.

I can't say all that is in my heart tonight. I am sad - I miss her most when I have questions about being a Mom or when I have some triumph to share about my amazing child. She wouldn't have appreciated my giving EFP a form of her name - but the threads that connect us - red or otherwise - are so long and tangled, and I still feel so connected to her - call them the ties that bind or the fabric of family, or whatever, but I feel my Mom very close to me this evening and I hope she is proud, knows how well we loved her and finally has some peace.

RVK - March 11, 1942 - December 5, 2003

Sunday, December 03, 2006

It's the most wonderful time of the year.........+

Still down for the count - don't let the photos fool ya. Some Empress was up all night teething (and a fever - cuz that's just the way it goes!) I am on the indeterminate list for tomorrow... that is I am still not feeling great and now EFP might have a fever too high to send to care. GREAT! We'll see in the AM. In the meantime here are a few stunning pix of our family!

So they call this peppermint, eh? Well, I like it. I really like it!

Baby - I love the Beads!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

and now for your viewing pleasure

This is my amazing niece Miss T! In a one-of-a-kind handmade Irish Step Dancing Solo Costume - designed and handmade by: None other than MY SISSY! I am so proud of them both! Miss T took several awards for team competitions and will be killer next year in the solos!! This is my sister's first solo dress - perfection! YOU GO WOMENS!

It's the White House - Do I really have to take this call? I mean I am wearing Mardi Gras beads after all!

The Empress chooses her colors carefully and prepares her work surface.

The Empress colors

These images are from this week. I am not posting at the moment I am battling yet another URI and sinusitis. But I can't take the hate mail that there are no new pictures. So here they are! Enjoy and we will be back to our regularly scheduled programming any day now.

Empress Fussy Pants

Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Emperor Big Brother

Lilypie Next Birthday Ticker