Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Inhale At Your Own Risk

If there is anyone out there reading in blogland who does not currently have children I want you to stop. Only for a minute. I want you to get up from your computer and go immediately to your car, for one big inhale. Just one, it won't take long. Go ahead, I'll wait....

Did you go? I will bet you five bucks it was heaven compared to my odiferous fun wagon. These are the good old days for anyone who has yet to "tote the toddler" on a full time basis.

Someday I am going to invent something that allows us to capture good smells. Maybe like a smelly scrapbook of sorts. An olfactory album, it is a million dollar idea. I could whip out my olfactory album just when I need to remember I once had a life that did not include 4 day old milky sippy cups and barf before morning coffee. I fantasize about my car smelling like expensive leather attache bags and a pricey detail job. At this point I would settle for one of those tacky little Yankee Candle thingies you hang from the rear view mirror. It's that bad.

Back to my offensive smelling kid taxi. A few days ago my poor little kidlet up-chucked the entire contents of her breakfast and maybe some of the previous night's dinner while in route to the mall. I thought I was diligent and cleaned it all up. Three days later I entered the car...we'd been driving main muffin man's nicely cleaned rig around all weekend. He pretty much refuses to come within 6 feet of my car these days.

Upon opening the door I was sure that some animal had up and died in the backseat. Then I was unhappily reminded...barf incident. Oooh yeah.

Ooh my, colorful flashback. University of Pittsburgh, 1987 freshman dorm elevator. Some ridiculously low IQ'd walk-on football player and his band of brothers had used the elevator for their personal porcelain goddess one Saturday night. It was weeks before the air started to clear, and believe me I lived on the 15th floor and was held completely captive...I remember.

So, I spent an hour with clorox wipes, the car seat manual to tell me how to get the damn upholstery off without using scissors. Since I just bought a new carseat I would like to use it for more than 6 weeks. Yes, and I got intimate with a big bottle of febreeze too. I made wasn't perfect but hey the car is 5 years old and I've been toting Miss Smelly Pants around for 3. Let's be realistic.

As I was struggling to put the car seat upholstery back together I remembered my father suggesting an engineering degree like his. Grrr. Why did I never listen to my parents? Ten minutes pass, I started to curse myself for not trying harder in physics or math or whatever might make this easier. Another 5 minutes, and I start to curse the idiotic engineers who work for the car seat company. Come on people it's a car seat. Do we all really need master's degrees to be able to re-assemble the thing?

Later that afternoon Ava and I are back in the car. She has fallen asleep and I don't have the heart to wake her. So I roll the windows down, pull into the garage and leave the inside door open so I can hear when she wakes. Half an hour later I hear, "Mommy, Mommy come get me."

She looks up at me in horror. "Mommy I pee'd the car seat when I was asleep."

Fabulous. Calgon...where are the Calgon people? And will they babysit, a little light car cleaning perhaps?

Oh well, I am now going to call the Graco people and offer my consulting services for $50 an hour to help people learn to take apart and re-assemble their carseats for cleaning purposes. I will also throw in a lesson on:

1. the best way to nurse a bruise on your head after hitting against the wall in frustration
2. new ways to curse under your breath so small children do not learn 4 letter words and finally;
3. creating Zen moments in your life with a 3 year old

Anyone with a currently great smelling car want to sign up for consulting services?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The "Not So-Secret" Stash

"Hi babe, whatcha doing?", I say.

"Nothing, Mommy I am a beautiful princess.", she says.

"You sure are. Do princesses eat candy?", I ask.

"Yes, but I'm not eating candy now.", she says bold faced and smelling like a tootsie roll.

"Really, are you telling me the truth?", I say right before I start a giggle that will erupt into hysterics momentarily.

"Nooo.", she says sheepishly. Then hoping her pugnacious grin will win me over, she quickly moves her hand to cover the "secret" hiding place of stashed candy wrappers.

"Babe", I say. "You've seriously got to become a little more crafty and inventive when it comes to pulling one over on your old mom."

"Yeah, can I watch Mary Poppins now?", she says.

Do you see what I am dealing with, here?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Being A Pilgrim

Word Reference. com defines the word PILGRIM

pilgrim, a noun: someone who journeys in foreign lands

In 2002 a little girl made a very long journey to a foreign land. It was foreign in its sights, smells, and sounds. It held two parents who loved her before they knew her. But even though it held wonderful opportunities, the journey required giving up a land of birth, a heritage. One that is rich in tradition and local color.

I wonder if most people would conjure this picture in their minds when they read the definition of pilgrim?

When this picture was taken my little girl was 10 months old and had been home from a long journey only about 6 weeks. It was taken on Thanksgiving Day 2002.

During our long wait (13 1/2 months for referral) for this amazing child I was often plagued by a song written by Roma Ryan and recorded by Enya. I say plagued and I mean it. I would drive in my car and be compelled to hear the song on cd. I could not stop myself from playing it over and over. And over and over. I knew it was sort of a compulsive weird thing...but could not stop. I called it my "pilgrim fix". When the cd would play I would stop at #7 Pilgrim and hit repeat until I got to my destination. It is as if I was pulled to these words.


Pilgrim, how you journey
on the road you chose
to find out where the winds die
and where the stories go.
All days come from one day
that must you must know,
you cannot change what's over
but only where you go.

One way leads to diamonds,
one way leads to gold,
another leads you only
to everything you're told.
In your heart you wonder
which of these is true:
the road that leads to nowhere,
the road that leads to you.

Will you find the answer
in all you say and do?
Will you find the answer
in you?

Each heart is a pilgrim,
each one wants to know
the reason why the winds die
and where the stories go.
Pilgrim, in your journey
you may travel far,
for pilgrim it's a long way
to find out who you are...

Pilgrim it's a long way
to find out who you are.....

I haven't thought about this song for a long time. It has been three years since my little pilgrim came home. Earlier this week though, I was jolted back to the place where I revered pilgrims. I attended a Thanksgiving preschool sing along where the children were dressed as pilgrims and indians. Of course, the preschool probably had the English pilgrims of 1620 mixing it up with the Native American Indians in mind. But I was emotionally delivered back to to safety of my car and Enya's haunting voice singing about "one way leads to diamonds, one way leads to gold, another leads you only to everything your told. In your heart you wonder, which of these is true: the road that lead to nowhere, the road that leads to you."

I watched the kids sing about giving thanks for "the things I need, and the sun and the rain and the appleseed, Amen."

Even though we are American/Chinese American as a family, I know there are many types of pilgrims.

Of course I am mindful again about the next pilgrim. Traveling to foreign lands. What will she have to give? Will she find the answers? Will she find the road that leads to "You"?
I hope so.
Thank you Ava, and your little pilgrim and indian buddies for reminding me about the true meaning of Giving Thanks and all that entails being a PILGRIM.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Turkey Fest

Ok, I did it. Citrus stuffed turkey, chorizo stuffing, garlic and sour cream mashed potatoes and almond green beans. Oh yeah, and a pumpkin pie that I cheated on...I bought it at Costco.
Nice champagne too. Oohh.

Hey, it was yummy. Thank goodness it only comes round once per year. Mama is pooped out.

Guess who else had a little too much fun? Poor little Ava is now sick. My official diagnosis is chest cold. Sick and whiny this morning but better after a little Mortrin and Robutussin. Oh yes, marathon Noggin cartoons is helping a lot too.

This means no Christmas tree lighting ceremony downtown tonight. Super bummer. Perhaps we will have to pick a movie and ride the couch a little longer.

Aahh, let the holiday festivities begin.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Mars and Venus Go To The Grocery

Kidlet is out whooping it up at Gymboree and what do her parents do? Why go grocery shopping together of course. Yeah, I know doing a little whooping it up by ourselves at home sounds like a better option, but we needed a turkey. Priorities, sigh....

So I hop in the car with my 4 sheets of double sided chicken scratched paper with all things needed to make turkey fest 2005 a success. We arrive, enter the store and I give him a stern look, we are here for business, no goofing around. "Are you with me?", I ask. He answers, "Yes..I don't know what you are talking about".

We travel successfully through produce. He even helps me find tomatoes and lemons. Good start. Then I feel him straying. He says, "Hey, we haven't had romaine in a while, I'll get some for dinner." Ok, I say attempting to keep peace, although we are here on the turkey fest mission. I am not in the mood for, "Oh these exotic mushrooms look interesting."

I finish selecting fresh herbs for the turkey. I turn to ask him to get some green beans. He's gone...grrr. Where is he? I get the beans myself. I then have to wander looking for him for 5 minutes only to find him playing with the live lobsters. He says,"24.99 a lb. for chilean sea bass, I could buy a car for that." I say, "focus dear, we have a long way to go."

We enter Meats...he is a major carnivore. I attempt to engage his obsession with meat and channel it into 1 1/2 lbs. of ground turkey, a real turkey, and 1 lb. chorizo sausage all IN THE CART. I am not successful...I turn my head for one minute and he is weighing his options with ham. We then need to have a 4 minute family meeting about why we are not having cheap salty ham for thanksgiving. Go pick a turkey...damn'it.

Once again, I direct the conversation to turkey selection. He has a definite opinion, but it is not the one on sale. We compromise. But, then he feels the need to closely examine the display of oysters...definitely not on the list. Then he informs me that we need tuna cans filled with oysters for a snack tonight. I say NO, that is disgusting. I have to tell him why restaurant quality Oysters Rockefeller is not the same thing as grocery store canned oysters. Unbelievable. I win this round, good thing because the little disgusting cans are $6.59 each. He had 4 cans in his hand before I talked him down.

We head off towards stuffing. I decide he can exercise his culinary muscle here and choose a flavor for the bread crumbs. He completely sees through me and does a by pass move heading for the salad dressings. I say we already have 4 types of salad dressing at home. He reminds me that we don't have garlic cesear with parmesean bits. I glare at him "my head is going to spin and pop off" if you don't stay WITH ME.

He retaliates with "You are going to make potatoes for dinner tonight right?" I now know he is enjoying this little torture session. I say no, unless you go get more potatoes. He mentions that we have potatoes in the cart. HELLO, those are for Thanksgiving, the whole reason we are here. He volunteers to go get another bag of potatoes...good thinking I say with a sneer. I pass the children's drop off room and silently wonder if you can drop off your 40 year old husband.

We rally in the check out line. He grumbles about having to wait because there is one whole person in front of us. This person has decided to pay with a check. Apparently my husband did not even know that you could still pay for something with a personal check. I silently wonder if he should run for public office, he is so out of touch with some things. I mention that Britney Spears is going to leave her husband, or that is what the Star says anyway. He says, "Britney who?".

In the car he says, "Wow, how long has it been since we've been to the grocery store just you and I?" Probably about 3 years, since Ava came home. "Ok, that was fun", he says.

I am seriously worried we will become even more pathetic in our old age, when the kids are grown and gone. He will still want to accompany me to the grocery, just for blood sport.

And that is why Mars and Venus can only go grocery shopping together once every three years.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

A Little Help Now From The Workshop...

This will be our first Christmas where Ava "gets" it. No doubt about it..she completely understands the whole bit where Santa will visit and leave presents. And she has quickly made it her mission to embrace the fact that she might have some control over what to ask for this year. Gone are the days of more interest in the box than the toy. Oh no, she's got a list and has checked it twice. She is hoarding the Toys R Us Big Book and has placed the Target toy book in the bathroom magazine rack. She sees something that catches her fancy and asks for "The List" to be pulled down from the refridgerator to be immediately updated. (I need to teach her MS Excel soon.)

It is not even Thanksgiving for heaven's sake.

I'm finding myself nostalgic for that stressful Christmas morning where she did not understand that certain gifts were for certain people. So she proceeded to just rip into everything and if a family member thought that gift might be for them, well it was up to him or her to quickly speak up. Aahh, those were the days.

She wants this. Ridiculous, I say. And I am pretty sure that the Lets' Annoy Mommy (LAM) factor might be sort of close to a pitiful 10 so I am reluctant. Plus, the Furby box says it is for ages 6 and up. Not for my almost 4 year old, right?
(Oh gosh, Ava just snuck up behind me and asked why Furby was on my computer. Aack...don't want to sanction Furby sightings.)

She also has interest in this. Now this is an interesting one. Although it is part of the dreaded Barbie collection. (As sort of a new age feminist type, Barbie is not my fav. )

Main Muffin Man almost had a kitten when he found out I broke down and bought a Barbie for Ava this fall, he laughed so hard I thought I saw a tear. But I find it a little less objectionable since it could theoritically promote fantasy play. It would be low on the (LAM) scale since it does not talk.
Pegasus might be in our future.

So wow, this is a whole new level of parental stress. Finding gifts that SHE wants, fit in the budget, and won't annoy the heck out of us adults.

Does anyone have Santa's cell phone number? I might need a personal consultation.

Note: I insisted that Ava's Barbie purchase be Brunette Barbie and African American Barbie. I know, I know I'm nuts. Especially since she sort of asked for the blond one.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Help, We're Squished

I am the family adoption file.
I've been sitting here in denial.
To see our little squished self, you'd really have to stare.
Help...move us to the matching room, we need some air!

Perhaps I am collecting dust.
Ignore me if you must.
Just pick me up, move me along.
Move me two inches, or I'll need a bong.

These families have kept me company long enough.
My file backing is weak, not tough.
Pick me up, move me to the top.
No more delay, dallying, or talk of stop.

I am the adoption file sitting here in the CCAA patch.
I've been here long enough, make us a match.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Swimming In Letters

One of the greatest things about watching a kid grow is to see how knowledge changes their world. All of the sudden Ava is facinated with reading letters. We have magnetic letters stuck to the refridgerator, two sets in fact. We needed more vowels.

She is obsessed. We now play the Spell It game. Which consists of her naming a word, me spelling it to her slowly, and she finds the letters on the fridge. She then arranges them in the correct order...making the word. She thinks this is an absolute hoot.

Recently Ava found the foam letters that have been sitting on a basket by the tub for a year. Now she wants to play the Spell It game in the tub. She gets very frustrated with me when the bubbles make seeing the letters difficult as she searches for her perfect letter. Last night she proudly yelled "I'm swimming in letters!"

Yes, baby you are.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Heat Goes On

Normally turning the heat on in our little corner cul-de-sac of the world would be just about the most boring thing EVER. Keep reading it still might be.

But it is November 16th and my official hold out had ended. I flipped the switch and cranked the thermostat up to 65 today. The heat was so rusty I could smell it turning on in Ava's closet. I'm not exactly sure why but I have been adamant this year about not using the heat. Honestly, I am not usually this much of a Puritan. So why the change this year?

1. I have Scottish blood. My mother loves to say it is our Scottish blood that sometimes makes us a little ridiculously frugal at times. Of course, her people were eating only potatoes at every meal when they coined this one.

2. My non-Scottish father used to play this game when I was a kid too. He would crank down the thermostat and we would complain. He would tell us to get our down vests on and quit complaining. We would tell him that normal people did not need a wool hat to watch tv. He would ask, "Where is your scarf?" In retaliation my mother bought a pair of gloves without fingers that she would sometimes don while making dinner if she was particularily pissed at him. (I find other couple's passive agressive gestures funny, not mine of course. Those are not funny.)

3. I have been suffiently scared by the gas company billboards and commericals urging all customers to get on the budget plan. (Which I know is a secret ploy to get us all to pay more throughout the course of the year. It is a large big brother scheme I've decided.)

4. I have paid $3.20 for a gallon of gas. Ok, today I paid $2.03 but whatever.

5. My friends look at me like I am slightly odd when Main Muffin Man tells them we have no heat. I like that. It makes me feel less suburban, more quirky.

6. Competition...Main Muffin Man keeps threatening to turn on the heat everytime I leave the house. He asks me questions like this out of the blue. "So honey, how much do you think we saved this fall...a whole $8.00?" Then he said this to me when I was away for the weekend 2 weeks ago. "I'm going to turn on the tv, watch 85 football games, and turn on the heat." Wow, some men only aspire to have an affair when the wife takes the kid to Grandma's for the weekend. Keep dreaming big, dear. (As luck would have it it was 65 degrees that weekend.)

So, today we celebrate the end of abstinence and chilly feet. Oh yeah, and the 5 month mark since our adoption papers have "logged in" in Beijing. That's another milestone for us today.

Do you want to hear about how I only paid $34.10 this month for the gas bill? Sorry, I know you don't.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Bribe

This weeked was adoption overload. Even for me. I attended a meeting put on by my agency. It was titled Post Adoption Blues. Uplifting, hmmm. Then Sat. night the Jean McLeod chat. You know the one that sort of made me feel like a heinous mom over the sleep issues. And yet another event on Sun, the over the top Fall Festival. (Sat. and Sun were FCC related and happen only once per year.) Thank God, although I expect these events to be a little more tolerable when I am not the volunteering goob in one more year.

So after the festival of of 10,000 maniacal children running amok I sat down to think. Main Muffin Man and I are so lucky. This little kid we know and love is pretty damn healthy and happy, some could argue well adjusted too. After hearing about serious post adoption blues, and developmental delays, and sensory integration, and bonding and every adoption should be thought of as possible special needs. Aaack, this girl's head was a spinnin'.

So, I have decided not to stress anymore about our little sleep issue, or lack there of. Last week in total desperation I resorted to bribery. No, it wasn't a "rewards system" or postitive reinforcement. It was an old fashioned and truly un-PC bribe. I am not exactly proud of myself or anything. But I'll be damed if it didn't work!

Here's how it went down:

Me: We are all very tired today because you were up a lot last night.

Ava: Yeah.

Me: Do you know why?

Ava: Well, I wanted you to arrange my covers, and then get me water from downstairs and you won't do what I want you to do so I throw a fit.

Me: I know babe, but you have water next to the bed and you are very good at covering yourself up. And you know you can always come tell Daddy and I hello in the middle of the night but then you have to put yourself back to bed.

Ava: Ok. (Insert..this is the 800th conversation like this in the last year.)

Me: Want to try something new?

Ava: Sure.

Me: Is there a new toy you'd love? (Sleep deprivation will cause acts of desperation, it is sort of like the decision drink ocean water if you are stranded.)

Ava: Hmmm... A yoyo.

Me: Excellent. How many nights do you think you should have to stay in your bed and not throw a fit in the middle of the night to earn a yoyo?

Ava: Five.

Me: Wow, that's a lot. How about three?

Ava: Sure.

So that was it. I told her every night if she got scared she could come and get us but then she had to put herself back down. No more temper tantrums.

You know what happened? It worked, I know I am more schocked than you. The fourth day we all marched off to Target as a family for the yoyo. She then decided that a yoyo was no good. We compromised on a Little Pony.

She hasn't asked for any more toys and we are 3 nights plus 3 more! I will not say the kid's a sleeping champ...for then the sleepy bribery gods will strike us down. And I know I deserve it.

So, take that parenting experts...I'm officially lowering all standards.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Things Only Your Mother Would Do For You

This is slightly at your own risk.

I was in my downstairs bathroom the other day minding my own business. I hear Ava start to screech and quickly she appears trying to open my door. She says, "I have to go now!" I tell her hurry up and run upstairs to go, Mommy is not done with the downstairs potty. She starts to whine saying she couldn't possibly run upstairs she has to go NOW.

I yell for Main Muffin Man to intervene and help with this little situation. Nothing.

I quickly finish my business and let her in. I help get her situated.

Twenty seconds later she says, "Oh gross it stinks and I want to go upstairs to go potty!" I tell her no go, she is already here, Go.

She ignores me, hops off and runs upstairs. Twenty seconds later I hear, "Hey Mommy, I need help. Hurry."

Who's zoomin' Mommy?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

My Brush With Fame...Maybe She's Related To Kevin Bacon

Tonight I met Jean McLeod at an FCC function. Jean is an author and reknowned speaker here in adoption land. She spoke about adoption parenting and homeland trips at our little soiree. Very interesting.

I must say she is a wonderful speaker if you are thinking helping to bring her to your town. But, as with most adoption talks I attend I end up feeling like the horrible adoptive parent at some point or another in the the lecture. Jean touched on sleep and the internationally adopted child. She apparently has a new book coming out in early 2006. She said that the first 45 pages deal with sleep in internationally adopted children. Whoooppeee I am not the only poor sucker dealing with sleep issues. Is our answer there? I will have to wait until Feb. 2006 to find out.

I tried to sneak an answer at the meeting. She casually suggested an adoption therapist. Oh God, where do you find an adoption therapist to help with the primal adoptive wound in my mid-western city? That is a task for tomorrow. Tonight I am alternating between taking in adoptive issues and dealing with my night waker. Which I learned that I should no longer be mad at....I should be meeting her need. Ok, until 3am...then I am done.

Friday, November 11, 2005

5 Years After A Tough Fall

I was driving in my neighborhood today, it is a beautiful fall day here. I had the car window down smelling the last bits of peak fall season. Maybe it is the way the trees looked or the wind was blowing. Maybe my unconscious mind is pre-programmed to remember the five year milestone.

I don't think of cancer much anymore. But it was on my mind in November 2000. I was in the middle of recovering from 2 surgeries and had completed a second round of chemotherapy to kill all cancer cells located in my right breast. Of course the chemo was killer enough to kill a few good cells too... thus the bald factor, dehydration, extreme fatigue and the very raw upper and lower Gastro Intestines. Oh joy.

I think it has been about 5 years ago this month that I had a little breakdown and dramatically told Main Muffin Man he must get on board with adoption or I didn't know what I would do. (I know it might sound a little weird that I wasn't even in remission and I was already making the adoption plan.) Having a baby the old fashioned way was not working very well for us before this little doom and gloom pickle. I needed light at the end of the tunnel...a promise of a bright future. He easily agreed...telling me "Just get better, we'll do anything you want after you get better."

I went to our first adoption meeting sporting a wig about 5 months after our family meeting/emotional brow beating session. How many parents can claim that one? (I never was one to do things exactly like others, but I admit this was a little over the top.) These days I worry more about my oncologist giving me the stern lecture if I gain a pound or two from visit to visit than some horrible news.

It is the sights, smells and sounds of fall each year that remind me about what a lucky duck I really am. I know that things could have turned out differently. But they didn't and I get fall each year as a reminder.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Am I addicted?

This morning my monitor died. Thank goodness it was only the monitor and not the guts of my little home office. I won't bore you with the details or anything but 12 hours later I am $250 poorer and the owner of a new monitor. Sad.

Let me just tell you during my panic filled day I realized I might be addicted to my computer. When it was down I started to panic. How will I pay bills? It honestly did not dawn on me until about 3 hours later that my local bank could probably help me with that situation if push came to shove. I will I edit my photos? Can't crop and sepia color without my computer!

Then I thought, I will pay, I will pay to get this issue resolved. I have to read my blogs. I have to read my blogs. Sending the damn thing to a black hole in Memphis for a monitor fix is NOT an option. Unfortunately in today's disposable society it turned out not to be an option for me anyway. The thing was ca-put. Done, finito, BROKEN.

So what is my point here? I don't know, but thank God the new one works fine.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

One More Thing

I forgot to notate that my brilliant, ladybug loving and mystical little girl stuck a Disney Princess Doll shoe up her nose today. It had to be "surgically" removed by my fingernail in the Joann Fabrics parking lot. After a big sneeze it popped out in front of several onlookers who quickly looked away.

You'd think she'd learn....nope. Then 20 minutes later in Joann's she stuck a leaf down her pants only to discover, that can be downright uncomfortable. It crumbled. I looked for craft paint. I turned around to see that she had "dropped trou" in the middle of the aisle. Picking brown leavy pieces from her underwear. More onlookers quickly looked away.

Do You Believe In Lady Bugs?

Here is a good one for any adoptive family who does not believe in lady bugs, the somewhat sappy unofficial symbol of our daughters adopted from China. I am not lady bug nuts or anything but this incident made me smile.

Ava and I were coming out of the building where she attends Chinese language school. I was speaking with another parent as she played with another child (also Chinese adopted). The kids were facinated with all of the lady bugs that were right there where they were playing. Lady bugs kept landing on Ava's shirt and she was interested in seeing if they would stay with her as she played. When we got into the car she asked if she could keep one that was one her finger. She had that bug for about 15 minutes. She begged me to keep it. I said that if she were very gentle with her she could keep her until we got home. Hey, if the little bug is truly begging to be with Ava, I can't tell her otherwise.

Well, we didn't go home right then. I had a few errands to do. We drove around and Ava gave me the play by play from the back seat as the lady bug stayed right with her. She promised me that she was being gentle and would be a good friend to the lady bug.

Another 20 minutes passed and I had to run into my local Old Navy. I told Ava that the bug would probably fly away in the parking lot. It didn't. It stayed with her even in the store. We walked all over that store. Ava and I stopped at a tee shirt table and were minding our own lady bug business when a woman walked around the same table 2 or 3 times staring at Ava staring at the lady bug. Just when I was about to get very weirded out the lady apologized and said that she couldn't stop looking at us because she is a few months away from getting her baby's referral from China. She just couldn't believe seeing a Chinese little girl with a little lady bug. (I know I know, the cliche is just almost too much to handle. But this is a true story folks.)

She was a nice lady who did not mean any harm. She politely introduced herself. In fact, we are using the same agency. She asked how long the lady bug had been with Ava. I looked at my watch and was surprised that it had been with her for almost 1 hour. The lady laughed and thanked us for making her day.

She turned to continue her shopping and not 30 seconds later...the lady bug flew off Ava's finger. She flew high up into store rafters, gone.

For as attached as Ava was to that little bug she did not even fuss when it left her. She just said that the bug would probably go home home to be with her buggy friends.

Now, my fellow adoptive parents, do you believe?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Who Gets To Go To China?

Someone asked my opinion on the issue of taking first child to China for adoption of second child. Let me just say that I haven't struggled with a parenting issue as hard as this one for a long time. It might be the one that has personally rocked me with self doubt like no other that I have encountered yet in my limited parenting experience. (Looking back, the whole operation baby sleeps alone was tough too though.) Most of the time main muffin man and I discuss issues that affect parenting, make a decision, and then rest with it comfortably. Let's just say I am still waffling on whether it is the right thing to do to take Ava with us or leave her in the capable and willing hands of Grandma and Grandpa when the time comes.

When I read the request to blog about this my first reaction was...ooh no, too personal, too hard. Then like any difficult issue for me I re-thought about the possibilty of writing as therapy. Certainly cheaper than a certified counselor!

Ok, I admit if Ava reads this in 20 years and is super pissed off at us for leaving her behind when she was 4 years old for 2 weeks to meet her sister at least she will know we did not come to the decision lightly.

The Pro's
  • This is her family and she deserves to be there when we experience this wonder of a new child, her sister.
  • She might experience her story on a new level with more understanding if she goes to China.
  • The baby might really appreciate being with another child on the trip.
  • Ava might infact help entertain baby while they play.
  • She would probably get as much peanut butter as she wanted for good behavior bribery, her pro not mine.

The Con's

  • This is not an easy trip. Flights are long, waits are long, you walk long distances, sometimes you don't get to do exactly what you want when you want, sometimes you don't get to eat what you want when you want. When FTIA (our agency) says be in the lobby at 7am for gov't office visit, you get your little buns down there. Grumpy children are not an excuse to skip out.
  • Dealing with sibling rivalry for the first time in a hotel room in China doesn't sound appealing.
  • A child who does not entertain herself for long periods of time here in America probably won't in China either.
  • A child that usually does not sleep all through the night here in America probably won't in China either, especially when jet lagged.
  • A somewhat severe Mama's girl will probably want Mama's complete attention in times of stress or uncertainty.
  • The baby might have slight medical needs, requiring lots of care and attention. Does this leave Ava out, rendering us unable to meet her needs?
  • Can Main Muffin Man and I do it all? A bizillion miles away from home.

Ok, these mounting con's are why we are leaning towards sending Ava to "pleasantville" for 2 weeks. It is not noble or sweet or glamorous, in a lot of ways it is selfish. I ache at the thought of her crying for mommy and daddy should she become temporarily disillusioned with her short term stay. I know it is an imposition for my parents. Decisions for each family facing this must own up to the reality that decisions have consequences. Some good, some hard.

Just like when we were working out the finer points of what a time out looks like in our house, we will work this one out too. She says with banal confidence....

Monday, November 07, 2005

Over The River And Through The Woods...

Yes, we've been at Grandma and Grandpa's house. In attempts to prepare for the large scale Operation Separation 2006, we are going to China for two weeks remember, I took Ava to spend some quality time with the Grands. My theory is that if she is very used to 5 star camping at the Grands she won't miss us a bit when we go to pick up Liv. This summer she spent a few days there while I vaca'd in Vegas with my college cronies. She did fine. Mommy? Mommy who? The Grands have super fabulous toys, the never closing buffet to die for, and even better...all the tv and personalized attention a 3 year old could possibly stomach. And she can take a lot, believe me.

I left the Grand's after after her personal bath complete with Swedish massage. (Yes, my mother actually gives her massages after each bath.) She laughs and whoops it up so hard I usually leave wondering hey, where is my gift certificate to Pat's Pleasing Palace of Magnificent Massage?

I packed up camp and hopped on over to Uncle Greggle's, 10 miles down the way. My dear sweet Bro' even gave me his bed to sleep in while he toughed it out on the couch. Two, yes count them 2, whole days and nights sans PBS Kids, PB & J, constant begging for chik'n nuggets, and just general leg tugging hip riding fun.

My God, Bro's house is QUIET. Not, oh the tv's on low quiet. I mean silent. Sort of freaked me out to be honest. He had beer and water in his fridge, giggle, is that the best cliche or what for a bachelor? I ate about 6 Almond Joy's before we went to breakfast....out....each morning. Now that is what I call heaven. I saw a movie, that did not have cartoon characters. Yes, I would recommend Charlize Theron and Frances Mc Dormand in the class action law suit for heinous sexual discrimination flik.

Then, by Sunday I was ready to see my little peanut to see how her weekend was going. (I also had to make sure she wasn't ready to fill out the paperwork establishing herself as a Michigan resident.) We have to save that for when she's ready to qualify for in-state tuition at U of M. You did not read that.

All was well, except for the fact the my mom was a little errr...tired. Ava was happy as a clam, running the adults into the ground. Ahhh well, nothing that 2 days of sleep on a couch watching Law and Order reruns won't cure. Ugh.

In addition to good times with Bro' I got piece of mind that she will be deliriously happy and well cared for when we travel to China. Maybe I need to send my poor mother a gift certificate for a massage of her own though.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A Night With Shel Silverstein

This is Shel Silverstein. He wrote a book called The Giving Tree. It makes me cry. I read it for the first time when we were waiting for Ava's referral. I saw the symbolism in it but was saddened by the boy's continuous need to take and take from the tree. At the time I knew I did not understand the soul rocking pull that a relationship with a child can bring.

Last night Ava found the book in her bookshelf and brought it to me to read to her. I saw it and said, "Oooh, how about Angelina Ballerina?" "No, I like the way this man looks", she said turning to book over to the back cover. (Well, heck I like the way he looks too babe. But that's another conversation.) You have to admit he is sort of a stud.

We read the book and I tried my hardest not to cry. I felt compelled to tell her that the book is not really about a boy and a tree. Did she see that? It's about unconditional love and a parent's compulsion to give and give to the child she loves more than life itself. The tree is unapologetically selfless. Makes you think.

So, just as I was about ready to lose the grip on my waterworks show. Ava says, "I love that book, is that Johnny Appleseed on the back?" Huh? "You know Mommy, I think that is Johnny Appleseed." I answer, "No sweetie that is Shel Silverstein and his picture is on the book because he wrote the book." Let me insert here that I believe Johnny Appleseed has been in the preschool curriculum this month. She was insistent, I was wrong and that picture showed Johnny Appleseed. In my infinite wisdom, and the fact that it was an hour past her bedtime I chose not to argue.

This morning she greeted me with The Giving Tree in hand. Begging me to read it to her. She smiled that silly grin and with a twinkle in her eye said, "Please read me Johnny Appleseed's book that's not about the boy and the tree."

And now I have a happy memory when I see The Giving Tree. Makes you wonder about who's giving.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

What's In A Name?

When main muffin man opened up that great big book of all names baby and pointed to Ava it was like the heavens opened and the sky lit up. It was the end of the great name debate of 2002. I loved it because I thought it was a good child name and an even better grown up, self assured, confident woman name. And there was the fact that it goes with our sort of weird last the names Chloe and Joey but let's just say that would be tragic for the duece. Under all that gruff he is somewhat intuitive and sensitive. He knew that was the name for her, and I agreed. The bonus was that her Chinese name, which we kept as a middle name goes perfectly.

Now, kidlet #2. I insisted that I be able to choose the name since he got his turn and all. Ava campaigned hard for Olivia. I'm not sure where she even heard the name. She was just insistent several months ago that it had to be Olivia. For the life of me I couldn't come up with anything better...that we could agree upon.

I narrowed my list to 19. I posted it on the refrigerator, it sat there untouched for 4 months. Then one night while making dinner, he said "So, what about this name deal?" Ava chimed in, "Olivia Olivia, my sister's name is Olivia." He said to me, "Ok with me if it's ok with you."
I nodded, ok sounds good. She's been Olivia in our minds ever since. But, what if it's not right? What if when we see her little face I don't believe that she is an Olivia or Liv? I know why lots of families don't exactly go public with a child's name before he or she appears in the flesh. They don't want to deal with everyone's opinions and comments. (I've heard a few from my hairdresser and all of the strangers that Ava approaches at Target telling them she's getting a sister yada yada....) But we announced so too bad, can't complain.

A friend of mine brought her daughter home from China this summer. Her chinese name was one of the prettiest names I think I have ever heard. (It is now her middle name.) So, what if little duece comes with paperwork saying her name is something that we think is wonderful? Will I want to break with tradition here in adoptionland and keep her name? Muffin man is against it. (He is part of the conservative school of hard knocks.) He want to make sure our kids are not on the bottom of the heap when grade school insults are being passed out like halloween candy. Noble but misguided? I'm not sure, he might have a point.

I guess we will just sit back and see what happens. It gives me something good to fret about in the months to come.

What do you think about Allegra? I know, I know never ever ask for a name opinion.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Workbook

Just as I, I mean we, no I mean I finished our adoption paperwork this summer my agency hit us with a new requirement. A jumbo workbook to complete before referral, it came complete with cd. aka..too much volume to send snail mail.

This new little requirement that they implemented a few months ago, lucky us, is supposed to help adoptive parents think about all issues related to international adoption and racism and parenting in the multiracial family. When you pop the cd in your computer it is really a mongo sized diatribe about all things adoptive. Then you are supposed to hop on over to the workbook and answer 1000 questions about what you read. Add in a few opinion questions about your family and follow 18 other listed instructions on how to return it to them and BAM you are done with paperwork....until you get to China.

Did I mention that our agency uses this to help them identify which families might need more counseling in the process. Eeek. We all know it will help identify which families might demand nightly Kentucky Fried Chicken and western toilets on the trip.

Oh, I forgot to mention that EACH parent must complete their own version of the workbook. No copying, no looksies off your spouse's paper, no passing notes, and no spit balls.

This is the part that I thought might cause trouble in paradise. You know the part where they are trying to inhibit the control freak enabling spouse from cheating and helping the other "yeah I want another kid but I'm not so all about the paperwork" spouse.

Of course intentifying with the former I proceeded to complete my workbook within days of being asked to do so. I skimmed the 1000 pages and quickly pumped out perfect adoptive parent answer drivel. I followed the 18 steps telling me how to resubmit back to my agency and hoped that they would not notice that it was missing one thing....main muffin man's version of the workbook.

I tried to warn him that this might be an issue. He might actually have to sit down and pump out the paperwork. He puffed up, telling me how he thought it was heinous that he would be required to complete such paperwork. I sympathized sweetly. (Hello, I have chased paper to heaven and back for the last 5 months while a certain little 3 year old that we know and love tugged at my pant leg.) This is the reason that I screwed up and forgot one whole document at the end of the dossier, but that's another story mulled in the depths of distraction.

Jump ahead 2 weeks. We get confirmation from our agency that they received my workbook. Good job darling adoptive parent...but we are still expecting main muffin man's version. Happy reading sucker. I gently inform main muffin man of the sad news. Do the workbook if you want newest little bambina to come home.

Jump ahead 3 months. He finally sits down at the computer...inserts the new and special cd I made for him. It includes labeled "read this first" file followed by "open this second" workbook. Then added in for good measure "Perrin's responses" file. Just in case agency isn't looking and he thinks he might want to be bad and cheat a little.

I quietly pace outside the office. I tell Ava no bothering Daddy, under penalty of time out and no gummy worms tonight. He's done. I offer to "proofread". He declines. I gently offer again. He returns by asking for the email address so he can forward his answers directly to agency. Ugh.

More jumping ahead. We got a letter today telling us "Thanks for submitting your Pre-Adoption Preparation Workbook Completion Record in such a timely manner." Yipee, we are on the A list.

Then they mention how they noticed how I (yes me, not him) seem to be struggling with the whole "Take Ava to China or Take Ava to Grandma's for 2 weeks" while we adopt Liv. was something I said that tipped them off. His answers were apparently not noteworthy and passed with flying colors.

Ok, I can live with the fact that we are on the A minus list. Especially since I'm the one who got us there. Just as long as we aren't on the "complaining incessantly about lack of ice while in China" list.