Sunday, October 30, 2005

You Want A Mini Van?

Oh, we have a serious problems here. I am talking monumental style issues. Apparently I have taught my daughter nothing in the last three years. Want to know what she asked me for today?

A minivan. (I dramatically clench my hand over heart here.)

After spending the last 10+ years swearing up and down that I would never own a minivan..just can't cave to that level of "my life in suburbia as a preschool chauffering, tap dance watching, Elmo Sings The Show Tunes listening" reality. My kid tells me she wants a minivan, she likes red and thinks we need a door that slides instead of swings. What? Is this because I have sent her to the conservative preschool run by the Lutherns? If so, I'm backing out next week and researching tree hugging montessori.

How could she for just one minute want a minivan over our Black Beauty? A 1999 bad ass black Dodge Durango. It has a slight dent in the front bumper which makes it look even cooler...sort of like Black Beauty is snarling. (Ok, the truckster is paid off and fixing the dent would cost me a minimum of $500, oh and not to mention the fact that I will have to competely own up to the fact the dent was my fault. Just can't go there.)

Note to my van lusting gal:

Oh no, my sweet little suburbanite. We will not be opting for the minivan just yet. Beauty has a few good years left in her. And you obviously need a lesson in not being sweetly enticed by the thought of DVD on the road. Or the fabulous sliding door. No, my pet you will just have to deal with...cds. Yes, music only. I know it is so "yesterday" for you contemporary 3 year olds but Barney and Dora will have to tough it out at home...alone!

And to think that I was the mother who thought she wanted her children to have their own opinions and thoughts about life and cars. Well sorry, I gotta pull the plug on this one.

Take A Seat And Wait A While

Ugh oh, word on the street is that the wait for kidlet number 2 might have just gotten a little longer. How long? Who knows. Hopefully only 1-2 months longer? Maybe it is an evil rumor and we will indeed get that early January referral. (She says hopefully.) It would after all be nice to get home before some freaky bird flu hits us. I'd like to go on record here saying that I NEVER liked birds to begin with. Can't get within 30 feet of an aviary. The promise of only 6 months to wait for baby's referral seems like it might have been a little too good to be true.

Take another's going to be a while.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

China Doll and Doe In Headlights

This week I played the role of "doe caught in headlights" and my daughter played the roll of "china doll". We did not get to visit any cool theater or stage for this little show, it all happened in the parking lot of the local library. She doesn't even like dolls for heavens sake.

We were minding our own business schleping the handful of dvds that Ava borrowed on this week's trek to the library back to the car. I hear some lady's shrill voice say "Hey, you got a China Doll too." Oh God, I knew where this was going. This lady is apparently the grandmother of a child adopted from China. She must think it is cute to call her grand-baby China Doll and so therefore refer to my empowered smart dynamo the same way. Wrong.

Let me pause by saying that as an adoptive parent of a Chinese born daughter this is not the first out of bounds comment I have had the pleasure of fielding. I have about 3 years of experience under my belt. You'd think I'd be pretty saavy to the goofs out there in the world who think that because I do not look like my child they have every right to say inappropriate and offensive things. You'd think I'd have a repetoire of snappy or educational responses to these unwelcome chance meetings in public places.

Damn it if I did not freeze up horrified this time. I stuttered something utterly stupid like, "Oh uuh yes." I was practically running away from this lady hoping my daughter did not hear her reference to China Doll. But I know better, she's almost 4. She's so quick and never misses a verbal exchange beat. Her father and I can't even fight in front of her anymore, not even "nice fight".

I slunked back into the car. Hating myself at that minute. You are supposed to be her champion, her mentor, her role model for all things virtuous and right. For God's sake, I've attended Jane Brown seminars, I belong to racism list serves, I've read Yell-Oh Girls where was I? Why the hell did I run? Why did I not just say what I know is our truth? She is a girl, not a China Doll. China Doll objectifies this wonderful child. This stupid old lady did not really mean harm, but gees I could have chosen to kindly educate right?

We pulled out of the parking lot and I felt crummy. Super "I've let my girl and myself down" crummy. So, I drove for a few more minutes and then pulled the car over. I turned around and said "Ava, when that woman called you a China Doll how did that make you feel?" She was slow to answer, "Ok, I guess." I told her that was fine but if there is ever a time when someone uses cute made-up phrases to compare her smart self with and it makes her feel sort of bad inside it is just fine it speak up and tell them it is not ok to use those words." Ava responded, "But I do like my Disney princess dolls, Mommy." (Oh, crap when did this get so hard?) I responded, "Yes, I know sweetie but dolls are just toys they are not human like you. Sometimes people make judgements (does any three year old know that word?) about other people just because of the way they look, not by getting to know what is on the inside of that person. I want you to expect people to get to know YOU before making a judgment and comparing you to something like a doll." She responded, "Ok Mommy, I will." Oh gees, racism and ignorance sucks!

I learned a lesson. Maybe Ava and her sister won't want me to stop and "educate" the world on my soap box in every parking lot. But I'm not running away next time. I'm not taking away my girls' power in the interest of not making waves when the next ding dong approaches us unsolicited. What will I do? I'm not sure yet...each instance is different and responses should be dealt with accordingly. I just know we're handling it differently next time.

Good thing kids don't kick you in the butt every time your parenting skills show how they are "in the making".

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Old Lady In The Shoe

I was pleasantly reminded yesterday how stange and wonderous the Universe really is. No matter what you believe in as far as God, Universe, Allah, or Buddha or something else it doesn't matter, sometimes there are just little things in life that make you turn your head and say...hum. Well, how do you like them apples?

The story of Mrs. Shoe creates one of these instances in life for me. It makes me understand a little more about the power of irony and coincidences...there aren't any coincindences.

Here's a little history about Mrs. Shoe to set the stage. Mrs. Shoe lives next door to me. I call her Mrs. Shoe not because she is a Jimmy Choo wearing goddess. No, more of the old lady in the shoe who had so many children she didn't know what to do fame. Mr. and Mrs. Shoe have lived next door for ten years. In the last 12 years of Mrs. Shoe's life she had successfully pumped out 6 little slippers. My husband is one of 5 children (4 boys and a girl) and we used to joke that he had moved next door to his parents, 25 years ago. She is a veritable mini-shoe factory, living next door to the barren dessert where shoes aren't thought of naturally. Rather, they are imported from China. All of the kids in her Shoe run my yard, in my garage, in the street but that is not the point to this story.

Mrs. Shoe is somewhat neurotic. Ok, she has 6 kids dashing about, who wouldn't be slightly looney in that situation? I mean she's really certifiable. She is incapable of listening to another adult for more than about 6 seconds before she opens up and starts spewing off who knows what about her life, kids, horrid husband (her term, not mine) or her holier than thou church. Mrs. Shoe is somewhat fanatical about her beliefs in her church. Which was fine with me, until she felt the need to try to "save me" from the hedonistic existence of my rather laid back approach to church attendance and non-literal intrepretation of the good book(s). I would say as fanantical as Mrs. Shoe is about getting her butt to confession, I am just as fanatical about NOT BEING FANATICAL.

Back in the old days when I held employment outside of Chez Ava Mrs. Shoe would sometimes stalk my mailbox waiting for me to drive home from my Big Blue corporation. At first I felt a little sympathy, she was after all a stay at home mom with at that time 3-4 kids. She had a husband who was pretty much non-existent except for chow time and obviously at times when another little slipper was in the making. Besides, she only had a bunch of church ladies to whoop it up with. It was when I was speaking with Mrs. Shoe on those nights that the trouble started. I would attempt to talk about Big Blue things, she would return with diaper talk. Yuck. She constantly asked me when main muffin man and I would settle down and make our life just like hers. Gag. I started to travel a lot with Big Blue. Time went by and as she pumped out another kid, we struggled for just one. I mean really struggled, a lot of wasted effort and tears on my part beating my head against a wall trying to have a baby. She offered that maybe I just needed to attend her church and do some praying so that we would be granted a child. (I tried to hide my furious deviant thoughts.)

It was on one of those dark days that I walked outside for the mail. Mrs. Shoe saw me and also headed for the mailbox too. She asked me where I'd been. Working and traveling out of the country I explained. She asked me where. I told her 3 weeks in Australia. (It was fabulous, by the way.) Then she said IT. Something I will never forget for the rest of my life. I was mean spirited in a way I hadn't thought possible for grown adult neighbors.

She explained to me that God gives us all gifts. Some people are good at some things and some people are not so good at some things. Duh? Yes, she told me that apparently I was good at work. She was good at having a family and surrounding herself with the children who love her. Maybe I should just be happy with that, since it seemed that I was good at work but not the other. See what I mean? A) she's just that dumb or B) she could be the lowest scoring human being to ever take the Emotional Quotient (EQ) test or C) all of the above. You vote.

That was the beginning of operation bear down the hatches...the neighbors are OUT. Things are much better several years later. We have a non-verbal understanding with the Shoes. Pleasant 2 sentence or less conversation and no more than once a month.

About 6 months ago Mrs. Shoe stopped by for her 2 sentences. Main Muffin Man and I locked glances the minute she left. He said, she's done it again...bun in the oven. Surely not, I said #6, no way. He said, yup I know it. He was right, in the next 2 sentence conversation he had with her a few months later she stated how everyone one of those little mini Shoes was praying for a baby girl this time. She couldn't possibly be having another boy, she stated. On and on about how there would be no bedroom space for another boy in the house. We have contemplated leaving secret Century 21 business cards on the door step. Big houses, go north.

I learned yesterday that Mrs. Shoe had a healthy baby boy last week. My darling little girl, who hasn't quite mastered the art of social finesse yet, piped right up and told Mrs. Shoe and her brood that she was getting a baby too. A baby sister!

It took everything I had not to start rolling around on the front lawn, laughing until I cried. I could have kissed my little tactless wonder! I laughed all the way home. Ava laughed too, but in that way that little kids laugh when you laugh and they have no idea what the joke was.

I'm at a place in my life now where I am happy for the Shoe's. A healthy baby, what a gift. I hope they see it that way too.

Oh and back to the universe and it's irony.

Imagine an old lady in a shoe with so many boys she didn't know what to do.

She lives next door to a little girl from a far off place, where for little girls there often isn't enough space.

Oh, there's plenty of room here, come home, rest and live happily my dear.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Fluffing Up The Nest

Why do parents Nest? When I had my first child I was naively convinced it was because we would love this little mite so much that we would only want the best for her. Everything had to be perfect. A freshly painted nursery (that she could eventually draw on with purple magic marker), clean kitchen floors (that she could throw the contents of every meal all over), newly installed baby gates (that she could easily scale, but keeps the dog nicely penned up), a new Maytag Neptune (to have Mommy ruin lots of baby clothes in) etc..etc...

This time being a BTDT parent you'd think I'd know better. No fluffing necessary. We own every imaginable baby gadget needed. We have a Maytag. The nursery is still a delightful shade of baby blue with garden theme including 108 pickets to make an attractive fence. It also has adorable bunnies and flowers.

What more could a little girl currently living in an orphange somewhere in China really want or need?

Well, let me tell you. She needs baseboards re-painted, family room re-painted, master bathroom shelves cleaned and organized, kitchen pantry shelves re-painted and spices re-alphabetized. Since we are talking alphabetization, (is that really a word?) all of the family room's cds need to be re-org'ed preferably in abc order by musical category. Obviously the kitchen floor needed to be repaired - check- done this week. Scrapbooks need a little updating so that ALL pictures taken before baby's referral should be appropriately pasted onto colorful paper in date order. Hallway closets have about 1 ton of junk that should be packed up and shipped off to Goodwill. The family last will and testament should be updated so that Ava will legally have to share the .06 we have left after the big trip with her little sister. Hmmm...anything else? Yes, go through desk pen collection and weed out the non ink producing losers and deposit into trash.

Here is what I know now. Nesting is really about getting all the stuff done around the house that adult humans (at least the ones with exclusively X chromosomes) instinctively know they will have absolutely no time to complete when taking care of that adorable little mite full time. When March 2006 comes around I will have to wait....about another 3 years... before contemplating fixing up the nest again.

I'm off to see about whittling the family pillow collection down to about 20 pieces each. Don't ask, it's a main muffin man problem.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Yesterday's Glum

After yesterday's glum worries about all things fearful related to little family of 3 becoming big family of 4, I had this weirdo dream. Honestly it might have been prompted by the killer sinus headache from hell that started promptly at 2:36am last night and is still lingering even after too many Advil to count.

Wow, this must be rivetingly interesting reading...sinus headaches...banal worries of an adoptive mother blah blah blah....

Perhaps the dream explanation will be more enticing, doubtful but maybe. In the dream I was at a meeting. I left to visit the ladies room. (All the good stuff happens anytime anyone leaves a room for you know what.) I come back and a friend who is also at the meeting is crying, really wooping it up crying. I stop and ask what is going on here. I turn around and there is a lady that I don't know who says that she is from my adoption agency and she has news for me. Me? Yes, she says that because we are second time adopters with the agency and since we are such good and loyal clients (Ha) that when they had one open slot to move someone ahead in the referral process they chose us. They have a referral for us. What? I am not expecting a referral of a child for over 2 months. Well, she says they can do us this HUGE favor and give us our daughter early.

I paused and had mixed emotions since we sort of "internet know" a few families we will be traveling with and want to travel with them. But then, hey a referral!! I will go with the flow. Then I ask to see my baby. More heinous crying around the room. Everyone seems to be in on a secret that I have no idea about. (Just like when that rat fink of a teacher Mrs. Taylor told kids in my ninth grade English class that I failed a test before she handed me my red marked paper letting me know the bad news.) The lady at the table who has my referral wants to show me lots of pictures but not of my baby. She is trying to distract me. I insist, what about this baby?

She proceeds to tell me that the baby is from a place called Fujian and all the babies from there have significant special needs. My baby will probably have kidney failure. What???? I sort of freak out...demanding the paperwork and making quick plans to get this referral info to a dr. for opinions. What about this little kid, is she in pain? Then, oh boy look out. I start to freak out on the adoption lady. How is this doing main muffin man and I a favor moving us up in the referral process? I ask her if she had not chosen us and just let us be with the other June DTCers would everything worked out ok? Oh yes, she says. They will get perfect referrals in another 2 months from places like Guangxi and Jiangxi and Hubei and Hunan.

Then I wake hearing Ava standing beside me telling me she pee'd through her nightime diaper. (Which is supposed to be guaranteed not to leak. Grrrr.) Ahhh, it was only a dream. A bad dream but only a dream. I have never been happier to change sheets and fix the morning obligatory PB&J for Ava.

I couldn't shake the memory of the dream or the headache all day. So, I decided to take Ava to the local drug store and buy a few little items that we might need for the big trip. Retail therapy can cure almost anything. Ava got fancy new hair clips out of the deal. I got piece of mind that we are going to China and not under huge duress. It was only a dream after all.

Tomorrow it is all sunshine and roses around here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Grunt Work and Deep Thoughts

I'm not sure why long hot showers and tedious manual labor seem to get me thinking above beyond my usual thoughts of "what's my next snack" and "I hope I don't actually have to cook it" and "oh gosh, I hope Ava isn't drawing on the walls" or "I hope she isn't pounding the crap out of some other kid since she isn't with me right now".

Today I decided that I would rip up and repair the genuine simulated wood laminate flooring that we have had since 1996 when we built the house. This project is only about 5 years overdue. The flooring looks really lame. They are nicked and gouged especially in the high traffic areas of the kitchen. Of course this a big second choice. The first choice would be the natural stain real wood maple flooring that I have had picked out for over a year now. It is so pretty I can hardly stand it. Of course the $8500.00 price tag would impede the whole go to China to bring home kidlet #2 scenario that we have masterly planned. So, adopt kidlet #2 or get maple floors? I'm sort of embarassed that I even thought for one second about the choice. But you should see these yummy wood floors.

This post isn't really about maple flooring. As I was using some pretty hardcore tools like a heat gun and razor cutter that main muffin man practically forbid me from using I started to think about fear. I got started on this because I think he was really afraid that I would burn my finger off with his heat gun. Or worse, leave a gross hole in the floor after a failed attempt at ripping up floor strips. You'd think that any man would be turning cartwheels after his wife offered manual labor to fix kitchen flooring. Nope, and it isn't like he was beating his chest grunting and volunteering to do it himself. I've been throwing hints for over 3 years now that this needed to be done. We even had the adhesive for this little project since we thought we might attempt the fixing 2 years ago. He just did not want me to get my little labor party started. For fear of what? The unknown I guess. I think that the yucky floor was somewhat unsettling for him, but at least it was familiar. Ahhh, the familiar.

So, as I was on hour #2 of slowly lifting old floor strips in large chunks with the heat gun I started to question myself. What I am afraid of? Obviously it is not the kitchen floor. But I am afraid. I am afraid of unknown things centered around our new daughter's adoption.
  • I am afraid that I will rock our little 3 person boat by bringing on 4th little person.
  • I am afraid that Ava is serious when she says she'd rather have a big sister than a little sister. (We think Liv will be somewhere near 12 months)
  • I am afraid that Olivia will be a champion sleeper like my first adorable kid, plugh. Right. I am having to invest in super strength dark circle cover up since she still rarely sleeps all the way through. Sleep deprivation does not agree with me.
  • I am afraid I will not be able to do another 3 years of neverending gymboree classes and zoo trips and walking the mall halls for entertainment. (I know this sounds horrible it is just that when you do matter how great 18,000 times a week it can be tiresome.)
  • I am afraid she won't be as healthy as Ava was and is.
  • I am worried that I might completely lose my adult identity with a new one, after only losing 80% with the first.
  • I am afraid my main muffin man will balk at tiresome child duties leaving me on the edge.

Ok, that is what I am afraid of. Said and done. Hmmmm. Not so bad after putting it down. I'm still afraid but just like my kitchen floor it will all turn out ok if we worry about the things we can control and not about the things out there in "can't change it" land.

I guess for today I will choose to believe that our lives with 2 kidlets will for the most part turn out like the kitchen floor today. Not all new and shiny, but comfortable and just good enough.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Party Schrapnel

Now what would make any self respecting educated adult want to subject herself to 5 screaming 3-4 year olds for 2 hours? Then feed them all sugary cupcakes? Add to the idiocy rigorous cleaning for 2 hours before the little goblins come to the door. Hello, when will I learn that you clean after kiddie karnival not before? But then, oh the horrors if a goblin Mommy would see my dust bunny collection that I am keeping just to see how high they will actally stack up before falling. (I am hopeful they might get so high and then blow out the front door one of these days.)

See, this picture? It is evidence that I am one of these ridiculous suburban house moms raising her hand to volunteer her patience for all things heinous.

There were two types of kids at this party. And the evidence is right here in the picture. If nothing else, 5 playdate friends and their mothers serve to educate any hostess in the fine art of humanity in the icing vs. cake argument. Aparently, Ava has friends in both categories. Look at the picture...really. Someone actually ate the cake and not the frosting. I believe this will lead to character flaws in the future, possibly filling our future prison system. It should be stopped in anyone under 5 and therapy should be sought out immediately. If I hadn't been so busy running the 3 rings all at one time I would have made a mental note of who the icing offender was. Hey, I know my kid has "issues" which I won't go into here and now but gosh...she will gladly attack the top of any cupcake any day and that makes all of her other unfortunate human flaws just downright lovable. She is her mother's daughter when it comes to downing massive amounts of spreadable sugar in one lickful.

Ok, someone please email me or verbally thrash me the next time I think it will be "cute" to have a holiday party for the littles at chez 'ding dong. When it is my turn to be volunteer craft queen for the month, please remind me that the local park is always there ready and waiting for me to use my tax dollars.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Mystery Solved

She does have a fruit snack fairy. But he doesn't look like Tinker Bell.

I cracked the case at dinner last night using my best Jerry Orbach from Law and Order impersonation. I used the casual but light hearted wise cracking approach that Lenny used to use. She caved under direct interrogation. "Daddy gives them to me." Simple as that.

Apparently when I wasn't looking she simply snuck downstairs to her father's office and asked for about 4 bags of fruit snacks. Easy as that.

Now why he thought it might be a good idea to give a 3 year old 4 bags of fruit snacks in one day...well, that is another mystery on my list to solve. Since we all know it is no mystery that fruit snacks are candy loosely disguised as something in the fruit section of the food pyramid.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Fruit Snack Mystery

This is a picture of a fruit snack wrapper. It is the third fruit snack wrapper I have found in the house today here at chez Ava. We have a little mystery on our hands since I have not actually approved or dispensed any fruit snacks today. For Ava these little blue baggies contain the holy grail, her equilavent to gem colored gummy diamonds ( they appear to be this girl's best friend).

She has had a little love affair going on with these Welch gems since she was 20 months old. It all started when we headed out on a little road trip to Chicago and I thought I would pack a few bags for the road, to diverge a bit from her normal organic spinach salt and puffed air snack. She took one bite of one fruit snack and her eyes glazed over. Her little 20 month old eyes danced, a perma smile appeared and her chubby little fingers had a death grip on the rest of the bag. She then proceeded to beg me for them the rest of the trip. She had them all eaten on the first day. I vowed to abstain from them since it seemed to insight OCD behavior in my daughter. But here I am 2 years later still talking about fruit snacks. I seem to sometimes get weak when she is not with me and I buy them thinking of her.

Back to the mystery. Yes, obviously I have them in the house. But they are in protective custody. About 6 feet above Ava's eye level in the pantry. They are only released from witness protection on preschool days to miraculously appear in the lunch box. (My silent confirmation to her that Mommy loves you, baby.)

So where the heck did she get 3 bags today? Does she have a secret private custody stash of her own? Does she have fruit snack fairy? I asked her but she won't budge, she knows if she fesses up...end of fruit snack heaven.

I guess I will have to put my Law and Order detective skills to work and get to the bottom of this most perplexing mystery.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Hint #453 Your Child Is Too Old For Nightime Diapers

Last night I sort of hurried through the nighttime routine with Ava. Teeth brushed 2 minutes, chase her into her room 30 seconds, hop into bed 20 seconds, pick out a book and read that book, 5 minutes. Kiss kiss, quick prayer, lights out, Mommy's tired. And, it was was past her bedtime. (Oh, sometimes I feel guilty about rushing the routine, especially when bed and separation are not her fav...but did I mention I was tired?)

Then 10 minutes later..."Mommy, Mommy." She's standing at the top of the stairs. I yell, "Ava go back to bed." Normal. Then she says, "Hey, you forgot to put my nighttime diaper on." I lean over to main muffin man and proclaim, "Crap, she's right." Run upstairs and rush through most of the routine over again...inserting diaper on.

When I came back downstairs I glumly state to my husband, she's old enough to be completely potty trained during the day, she's old enough to read most of her letters, she's old enough to shuffle ball change, and know when I forget the diaper at night. this a sign we should be working on no diaper at night?

He says, "Well, what does it say about that?" What could he mean? "You know the books or people who know about this sort of stuff", he says. "Oh, yeah right this was probably item #453 listed in the raising a kid manual that I accidently left in China."

He sees no humor in my lazy wit and gets quickly back to My Life With Earl. I decide this diapering at night thing is a chore that seems too difficult on the behavior modification chart for me this week. She happily slept through the night...I should NOT complain.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Don't Forget Those Scented Plastic Bags

I just have to save this one for Olivia before I forget. I admit I am a China stories junkie. They are very popular right now and some are quite good because the parents either A) did not forget their sense of humor or B) just have good writing skills. I also lurk on the national group where you can go read all the chatter of families who have the same log in month as you do. It is sometimes same old same old but sometimes down right hysterical. Ok, mostly never hysterical so this is why I must remember this one.

Some one started a thread about the top 3 things you will be taking to China with you on your adoption trip. Ok, seems helpful right? Some lady actually wrote this...

Ok besides the things everyone else is including(cameras, laptops, toys, cheerio's etc), here are some things on my list.
scented trash bags

Yes, ladies and gentlemen there is one lady out there in the heartland of America who will be traveling all the way to China to pick up the daughter of her dreams and the very first thing she will be packing is scented trash bags. Oh, wouldn't the Hefty people love to get ahold of that one. Maybe I will do them a huge favor and email them so they can design a sappy commerical around an actress pretending to be an adoptive mom flying all the way to China AND remembering to bring along a 2 week supply of SCENTED TRASH BAGS.

Ooh, people kill me. Someone, (NOT ME) needs to tell this lady she will most likely be staying in a 5 star hotel or 2 while in China. And believe it or not 4-5 star hotels will take the trash out for you. Heck, even the Motel Six takes the trash out for heavens sake.

Oooh, I can't wait to see what everyone else is bringing. It is wonderful to get this sort of entertainment payoff after spending WAY TOO MANY hours in front of the computer reading China Adoption stories.

Note to self: bookmark her site and remember to see how the whole trash bag scenario works out for her.

The Great Pumpkin

I was gently reminded this weekend that there are no pictures of Ava's adoring father and my better half on our little blog. Gosh, how did that happen? Did I get wrapped up in my own little world and my daughter who is a constant appendage dangling from my leg or hip and forget about anybody else? Hmm.. how unlike me to be a little centered around self. (You can stop laughing now if you are reading this and really do know me.)

Yes, here we are this weekend about ready to take our annual family outing in search of the great pumpkin. (Notice that Brian and I have matching orange shirts. We did not plan this. It appears that we are turning into one of those married too long couples that can dress at separate times and come out of the closet matching.) It is a scary phenomenon that really should be studied by someone at Harvard.

My dad was visiting and decided to brave the midwest's version of Disney in the pumpkin patch too. It is really a nursery/landscaping company that seems to have studied all things Disney and turns itself into a hyped up fall festival that is a total dream for the
under 6 set once a year.
(Ok, perhaps I am just jealous that I am not the one who dreamed up this money making scheme disguised in the form of a $2.00 walk through the balloon haunted house, $4.00 popcorn bags and $5.00 balloons.) Hey, we live in America all the more power to the capitalists right?

But they did deliver on a promise of a real hay ride out to find the great pumpkin. Fun was had by all, even the cynic. And I did get the priceless shot of my dad, muffin man and my babe. So, I cannot complain. Don't tell the Disney pumkin people but I would have paid even more for this great picture that will forever conjure up memories of a great day with the fam and my delightful dad.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

She Takes After Her Father

He snores, she snores.
We all want quiet more.

Honestly, you would not believe the large sound that can come from this little 16lb dog. You'd swear she's had a nasal obstruction accident or something. In this picture she indignantly raised her head off the illegal cushion. (Everybody in this house thinks that it is dog abuse to insist that the dog stay on the floor but me) She's staring me down because I had the nerve to wake her whooping and gutteral snore sounds.

After listening to the snoring symphony last night from main muffin man, I'm in no mood to cave into the soulful stylings of the grouchy pooch.

By the way she learned this snarly little look from her father too, I recognize it from when I push him to wake him from his regular snore fest at 2am.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Performance Review

I have been invited to a few annual performance reviews in the past. I've even received a little bonus at the end on one or two in my day. I did think that since taking my business elsewhere to stay at home momville, I would not have to do the formalized performance review schpeel.

That was until I started doing business with Ava. I think she was looking to check in yesterday. We sat down to work a new Hello Kitty puzzle together. 100 pieces, big stuff. Ava is carefully moving the pieces around to organize them on the carpet. Then she casually looks over to me and says, "So mom, how do you think things are going? You know with us."

Yikes, the last time I heard this I ended up "single" in the 9th grade.

I took a minute to compse myself. And said, "Well gosh honey, I think things are going pretty well with us. We have a pretty great life, you know with the puzzles, snacks, preschool, Daddy, tap dancing etc...." "How do you think things are going?"

"Oh, great Mom just thought I'd ask."

I think that there is a 70 year old lady hidden in my 3 1/2 year old's body.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Knockin' Off The Attitude

In our house the benevolent dictator, that's me, knows that I cannot make my loyal subject, Ava, nap on demand. It isn't for lack of trying...on both of our parts. It is just that this kid has too much to do and see in any given day. She has officially outgrown the nap, heck she's almost outgrown sleep altogether.

Now, the benevolent dictator has in the naps place instituted the kingdom policy of; dum dum dum...quiet time. It is not Ava's favorite time of the day, because she says it is boring with no one to play with. This is by the way her biggest problem nowadays and well, you know what they say about that.

Today Ava steathily broke out of quiet time, headed for lower grounds; the kitchen, and dove into the private stash of cheese nips. Royal justification for beheading at castle Slowey. She was banished to God forbid, a room filled with toys and books for more quiet time. She was not pleased and let me know for about 5 minutes until she settled in and decided to build a city out of Little People.

20 minutes later I hear. "Hey Mom, I've knocked off the attitude!"

She's playing quietly and my side hurts from a royal laugh.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Mei Mei's Adoption Time Line

We worked so hard to get the big stack of paper to Beijing's China Center For Adoption Affairs, CCAA that I don't want to forget how it all came to be. I guess these are the sorted details of a paperwork pregnancy.

2/1/05 Send initial application to FTIA
2/7/05 Request Perrin's birth certificate from New York $58 yikes
2/7/05 Request Brian's birth certificate and our marriage license from Pennsylvania $10,
cheap State
2/22/05 Perrin's medical exam
2/23/05 Brian's employment verification letter done
2/24/05 Financial paperwork outline done
2/28/05 1st Meeting with Homestudy agency
3/11/05 Homestudy home visit
3/16/05 Perrin's criminal history check
3/18/05 Brian's criminal history check
3/21/05 Brian's medical exam
3/31/05 Homestudy is done
3/31/05 Submit I600a with homestudy to BCIS in Indianapolis
4/6/05 Get 8 documents IN state sealed at Sec. of State office
4/15/05 Receive invitation to be federally fingerprinted
5/2/05 Go to BCIS to be fingerprinted
5/20/05 We receive I-171H in mail - this is preapproval from US Gov't to travel to adopt
orphan child!
5/21/05 Send I171-H and remaining documents to Chicago's Chinese Consulate for
6/1/05 Get all documents back from Chinese Consulate
6/2/05 Overnight bag goes to FTIA with our completed dossier
6/3/05 We are DTC! But get a call from FTIA...I forgot my unemployment letter. Did not
know I needed this. Scramble...write to bank for downtown Indy from State Seal...Overnight to Chicago for Chinese
6/4/05 FTIA calls and the document I missed is minor they will send to China without it
6/10/05 I get the document back from Chicago Consultate and overnight to FTIA
6/16/05 We are notified that 6/16/05 is our official Log In Date at CCAA in China.

8/11/05 We get the coveted "Brown Envelope" from the US Consulate in Guangzhou, China. This letter says they have received our paperwork and are ready to see us take the oath to be Mei Mei's parents when we get to Guangzhou.

October 2005 - The six month wait is unofficially extended to 7-8 months.
March 2006 - Still no referral at 9 months. The official timeline has been extended 9-10 months.

Sleep like a baby?

The person who coined this phrase obviously never had a child. Or perhaps his wife did the night time routine.

She looks like she is having a pretty good time here right? Not too terribly stressed by the fact that her mean parents would prefer that at 3 1/2 she would sleep the whole night here.

Wrong. It seems to be her mission in life to spend as little time as possible in the wee hours of the night in this position. This has been her mission for 3 years now and she is holding the candle. A little recap of our night...sleeping like babies.

1am - I am wakened by Ava standing at my bed. She says "Put me back to bed." I decide to stand firm.

1:05am I tell her we are not doing this anymore and she is welcome to come in and check in with us and give us a hug but no more "tuck ins" in the middle of the night.

1:06-1:15 Screaming our her our her room.

1:20am She reenters our room to give me a hug and an I love you. Great...put yourself back to bed.

2am Thud, her little feet hit the floor again. She enters again. Mommy...Mommy...Mommy she yells at me. I ask if she is sick or hurt. No, she says. Go back to bed. She stomps her feet around in anger for a while.

3am She once again enters our room. She proceeds to tell me that she can't straighten her blacket out right. GO BACK TO BED and do your best I tell her. She screams in anger again.

3:10 Silence...I get up to see what must be the matter...She is actually in her bed apparently asleep. Said blanket is perfectly placed on her body. Interesting.

3:11 Main Muffin Man is snoing up a storm, I contemplate starting a new novel. Then think better of it.

8:20 am I go into Ava's room to see where she is in her REM state. She lazily rolls over and says, "Mom, can you stay with me while I wake up slowly? I like to get up slowly." Ummm hmmm. I say as nicely as I possibly can.

Somebody, tell me that she will outgrow this!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Flu Shot

So, is it better to be the parent who honestly tells her child the truth about everything , including that the day's agenda includes a trip to the Dr. for a flu shot? Or is it better to be the parent that sort of withholds juicy bits of truth in the interest of keeping household peace?

This was my dilemma this week. After 2 weeks of Ava and I coughing up various shades of green stuff (sorry this post will be graphic) I decided that since we will be A) traveling internationally and B) bringing a new germ monger into the house this winter (our darling new baby Olivia) I simply do not want to have to deal with any more creeping crud than absolutely necessary. It is only the beginning of October after all...1 bout of the gasping green goulies is enough in this household per season.

I promptly called the pediatrician for a flu shot. Now my kid is pretty tough, but I don't know any little 3 year old who would happily skip to the Dr. for a shot. Thus the ensuing dilemma..tell her ahead of time and patiently explain what would happen and why. Risk upsetting her with worry about impending needle in arm. Or simply make up something, whisk her into the office lift her little arm and console later. In my head I am hearing my friend offer her suggestion, she never tells her kid anything until it is a completely done deal. She says this helps with the toddler disappointment factor. And then I am also remembering what this book I am reading says about honesty and bonding and unconditional love. Picture the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other both offering advice.

I compromised, or ehh weaseled. I told her we would be going to the Dr. to get her ears checked for wax. (Which I fully intended to do that too.) She said, "What?" See, this is why I need to get the kid's ears checked for wax. Then I quickly added we would also be there for immunizations. "Immuna WHAT", she said. I skirted the issue saying I only want her to be healthy this winter when baby Olivia comes home. What made me think I could fool my 3 year old with a big word?

Off we went and she did indeed take her shot like a trooper with minimal skreeching. To make sure I was following through with my reason for being at the Dr. in the first place I then asked the nurse to check her ears for wax. No Go. Apparently a nurse can inject my daughter with live flu virus but she needs 4 years of medical school, 4 years of residency and $100,000 in education debt to peak in her ears for a little wax. Strange but true. If I want the wax professionally scraped out I will have to book another appt. and I am assuming pay another $15 co-pay.

I gently explain to my newly immunized child that there'll be no ear check today. She seems fine with the fact that she can get the heck out of dodge and scampers tearfully to the door.

When we get in the car she turns that frown around and says, "Hey, my bandaid is sparkly." I guess I fretted about parenting techniques 101 a little too much on this one.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Real Sisters

I must share this for posterity's sake for my two lady bugs. Yes two. I know I know one is still in China waiting for us, her forever family but she is already a part of the family and we think of her as Ava's sister and our daughter Olivia.

I really did think the dreaded..."Are they real sisters?" comment might come after we were toting 2 little girls around with us. Apparently not.

Here is how it went down. I must admit I can see the humor in life's little moments when people are just plain old stupid, because I am certainly not above a good old fashioned open mouth insert foot moment. But this is a good one.

We meet a lady at a social function. She is immediately taken with Ava, who is in a good mood and turning on the charm. Lethal combination for anyone who cannot keep up with Ava. She asks her how old she is and Ava is way beyond this small talk. She quickly announces to this virtual stranger that she is getting a baby sister. This winter. Her name is Olivia. When Mommy and Daddy go to pick her up she will be staying in Michigan with Gramma and Grampa. Whew! The lady soakes this in for all of two seconds and looks at me and says "Oh, congratulations you are pregnant. Due this winter? "

I think she is a. kidding or b. completely deft. But she is looking at my stomach with a funny look on her face so I am beginning to think it is the b. option.

I politely say no we are adopting again. We will be going to China again this winter. Ava chimes in, "Yeah, babies are in China." I love the way Ava looks at her like she is sooo dumb for not understanding where babies come from. Ava adds, "She is my sister and she just lives in China now, she is coming home to live with me."

So the lady says to me, "You're getting her sister? I did not think this was possible in China." Ok, let's pause. So the lady knows that people who are referred children in the China program are not usually biologically related but she can not deduce that I am not pregnant but adopting? First child is Asian. Then she adds, "But they won't be real sister's will they?"

Oh great I think, my daughter is watching me so this better be good. I simply say, "We are going to China adopt again and the girls will be sisters." Sort of with the same tone and eye contact that adults use when speaking of a jolly old man who travels the world on December 25 to bring presents to ALL of the world's children in one night.

Miss SAT 1600 says, "But they won't be real sisters?" I am running for the hills here, and grabbing a little set of 3 year old hands to come along. I quickly say, "Yes they will." Ava and I make a bee line for the carrots and dill dip.

I have this sinking feeling this won't be the last one of these conversations in my life time.

In The Hatch

Honestly, that is what Ava thought the pumpkin patch was called. I almost split my pants laughing when we left the pumpkin patch this afternoon when she asked, Are my friends going to stay in the hatch?

You see we went for our China Buddies annual trip to the pumpkin patch/apple orchard this afternoon.

It appears that my little "Oh my gosh Mom, there is a fly in my room and I am NOT going back in there..." girl is actually a country mouse after all. Who would have guessed? Not me, unless I saw her eat 3 apples with one hand and toss the wormy ones with the other with my very own eyes.
Here they were 2 years ago. Hanging in the "hatch".

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Birthday Party Girl Posted by Picasa

B-Day Circuit

Wow, I remember when a birthday party involved sitting in the backyard with a bunch of aunts and uncles and grandparents in lawn chairs. Someone made a sloping chocolate cake with drippy candles and everyone watched you open up the obligatory new swimsuit present. I am a July baby after all. Everyone sang an off key Happy Birthday and the kids were then free to roam the backyard and catch fireflys. End of story.

Well, times have changed since the dark ages of the 1970's my friends. All self respecting parents now must cash in the college fund to have an extravaganza. When Ava turned 2 I swung by the grocery on our way to our friends football party and picked up a Nemo cake. The "party" was the held at my friends house during half time. That's right...15 minutes of cake eating for the kids and a present or two and back to the third quarter and that included clean up. Last year when Ava turned 3, we stepped it up a notch. We ordered Chinese take out and actually ate at the dinner table as a family. Wooo Hooo, that's big stuff for us. The three of us had cake and a few presents. Ok, well our days of seeking to counter balance commercialism, and appreciating the simplicity in life are over I am afraid.

My birthday deprived precious one attended two, yes two, birthday parties this weekend. She has been to the land of milk and honey and she's not coming back for the lame 1/2 time show.

First party, Saturday afternoon had balloon animals, hand painting, and amazing goodie bags to take home. (The goody bag was as nice as the gift we brought.) Lame parent moment. The second was, well sheer unadulterated heaven if you were between the ages of 3 1/2 and 6. I mean how could you not have the time of your life at a place called Sugar Buzz? I am not making that is called Sugar Buzz.

So, Miss Ava is working the circuit now. She is carefully weighing her options. Which are somewhat limited as far as venue since she is a January baby. She is oh so careful not to completely commit to any one option when we talk about what she might like to do for her birthday. She is playing it cool, and keeping the door open. She has another 2 invitations taped to the refridgerator for the month of October. A gymnatics party and a build a teddy bear party...ugh. All these options for a kid who comes from a country where they don't traditionally even celebrate birthdays. Everyone just celebrates another year older at Chinese New Year.

Here's to keeping dialogue open. Teach moderation, and the importance of respecting life which is what a birthday is all about right? Oh crap, who am I kidding...she will only turn 4 once and who can resist a sweet plea for a princess for a day party. Might we cave in and attempt the kiddie cotillion? Stay tuned...

Monday, October 03, 2005

Making a Baby Chinese Adoptive Style

When people want to know more about what is happening with their baby once pregnant (other than the obvious sperm meets egg) they have a little conversation with their doctor, who I imagine gives them some colored pamphlets showing in-utero development. At 6 months in-utero your baby gets fingernails or whatever.

When you are adopting a baby from China and you want to know what is happening while she is bakin' in the oven, well you search the internet. Like all modern parents right?

Right now little Olivia is in a stack of papers. Our paperwork is in another stack of papers. We are waiting to meet in the birth canal of paper push-dom. this web site shows where she is. I imagine she is getting ready to move rooms as we have been waiting about 3 months now! How exciting...she is getting fingernails or a brain stem or something.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Dinner With The Yangs

Due to my high brow status as chief flunky in charge of volunteering for all things having to do with Ava's heritage organization FCC (Families With Children From China); last night we were cordially invited to a dinner at the Yangs. Mr. Yang is a very nice man who is in charge of something with the Chinese Community Center here. What, I am not sure of. I probably should be sure of this but I am going with the flow due to cultural and language differences.

They are delightful people and I am honored that my 3 year old and I would be invited to share a meal with them. The other chief flunky, my friend Tracy was also invited and she has a daughter Marg, a little older than Ava. Marg and Ava were fast friends, sisters in Chinese heritage and spunky spirit. I love to watch them fight and make up and be best friends on an hourly basis since both of them have the personality of a pit bull when they haven't napped. I'm kidding. They are sweet children just survivors, enough said. Adoptive parents will understand what I mean.

So, Tracy and I show up at Mr. Yang's house a very fashionably 20 minutes late. Bottles of wine in hand, and ready to practice the 6 Mandarin words we know. Mrs. Yang opens the door. She seems completely surprised we are there, and no Mr. Yang. Oh God, tense guest moment. Mrs. Yang explains that Mr. Yang is at the store and she will be starting dinner soon. Yikes, I quickly offer to make myself scarce in the backyard with the children. Tracy makes small talk over sauteed bok choy. I run scared into the back yard entertaining the kidlets. Can we please open the American Merlot I brought?

All is well, and we were a little early I guess...note to self...look up what is fashionably late in China on the internet. Many more people arrived in the next hour. I mean many! Lots of people. Suddenly, the house smells wonderful. Eel, chicken, noodles, pigs feet, prawns, Canton rice soup, marinated beef all start to meld into one kick ass buffet. My daughter is absolutely having the time of her life. She is reveling in the company of these sweet Chinese people. She seems at home. She coos at the older ladies who compliment her on her appearance, she gives high fives to the men who casually greet her with Ni Hao, Ava Jing. She is a maniac trolling through the back yard and house. I start to relax and make conversation with the people at the party.

Then it happens. She stops in the kitchen and has a seriously goofy look on her face. She coughs and then IT happens. She proceeds to barf up everything in her little 3 year old gut on her new dress and my new pants. (Yes, the cool pants I bought and sewed cool cuffs on yesterday!) I am concerned and MORTIFIED at the same time. I cannot control the projectile vomit. 100 pairs of Chinese eyes are on us and the hostess' table cloth. Why is this happening now?

I pause to tell you that my child has barfed exactly 2 times in her life that I know of. And this was the second time. She isn't a "ralfer" by nature. Perhaps she just got a little excited, perhaps she coughed too much she's had a bad chest cold. Perhaps I am a total numb nut who thought she could bring her rambunctious 3 year old to a dinner party.

Mrs. Yang is the sweetest person on the planet. She offers me a wet rag to clean up her kitchen floor. I quickly say I am soooo sorry we will GO! She touches my arm and says simply, "I'm a mom too, you can't leave without eating. I will get Ava a tee shirt." I look at her amazing 60 foot buffet and really want to eat her spicy prawns. Ava starts to cry at the prospect of leaving for home. I mean real melt down mode, "Pleeease can we stay?" I feel like I am at a church potluck dinner of my youth where the church ladies are "completely offended" if you don't eat.

Long story longer. We stayed, Ava wore Mrs. Yang's tee shirt and ate an embarassing number of prawns. I had another glass of wine and truly enjoyed myself. I even tried pigs feet for the first time. Not because I felt obligated, just because I was having a good time and they honestly looked good. (Perhaps this was the 2nd glass of wine talking.)

I love the Yangs. They seem like family. And not just for Ava.