Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Chatting It Up With The Agency Folks

My agency called last night. It was not a call about our adoption, I truly did not expect a call about the baby but I admit to being a little off guard when I saw the caller id. Apparently they wanted to link up information about Chinese Culture Camp this summer to their web site. Oh, fabulous...the extra linkage might bring in a few more able bodies to camp. Great. Then she asked if she could use my name as a contact name.

Nope sorry, not the main volunteer gal this summer. I'm happy to direct you to the right volunteer brigade but me, no no. I'm getting my baby in the next batch right? Way too busy with the newest bambina to be dishing about Chinese fan dancing for 7 year olds right? I'll be freaking out adapting to mid-western time in August right? I'll be ferberizing a child late this summer right? I'll be immensely busy dressing her in obnoxious lady bug outfits by September, right?

Want to know what she said? Probably not, I'm telling you anyway.

"Well, yes I do see here by your paperwork that you are LID June 16th. And, while we do hope to be calling you late in June or early July (early July? Hasn't she followed the last six months of trends where referrals are announced late month...) we just don't know for sure." But it all looks promising, but no guarantees. Yes, I do hope we can call you with a referral, ugh ugh ugh."


What? Hello, breathe out loud sweet agency chickie. This is my second time around the high school track ok? The CCAA has processed up to and including June 15th, Muffin Man and I jumped through every hoop and landed in the garden of communist eden on June 16th. Unless they process 10 minutes into the 16th and we are 20 minutes into the 16th we are getting a referral next month. Capiche? I'm thinking that this is shall we say a "sure thing"? Since we've been sitting over there in Beijing for 1 year and are at the very top of the stack, how could we not be referred the one and only best child for us the second time around? Sweet, eager to sleep but yet to be officially named, cutest higher than average IQ makes her own clothes baby of the year is merely a formality at this point. Might I add she and I are communicating telepathically and will be united in bodily form in a matter of 8-9 short weeks. RIGHT?

Apparently my agency is handing out no guarantees.

I think that this gal was taking her "tell that client nothing" training to heart. Or perhaps she had to deal with the 67th family jumping on the stow-away to Vietnam or North Korea ship this week. Perhaps she was tired....of dealing with folks like me.

Ok, but my money's still on June. And, I don't want to hear from the folks that remember my money back in the March pool either. Once again. Pick up a stack and match it for heaven's sake.

And, for the record I want a newer pollyanna'esque China coordinator. I want a little sunshine blown up my butt. I've waited long enough for sunshine. Speaking of which more pool pictures soon.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Well, it was a hot one

It was a Memorial Day filled with fun in the sun here at the old homestead. Ava was busy alternating between a new (for us) neighborhood pool and the whale. She is pictured here in the whale. She is riding the tail, while the whale spits sprinkly water over the driveway.

Ah, fun in the sun. This is where we'll be all summer.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Still a Wall Flower

The CCAA has finished the review of the adoption application documents registered with our office before September 30, 2005.
The CCAA has finished the placement of children for the families whose adoption application documents were registered with our office before June 15, 2005.

As luck or the evil powers that be would have it our paperwork landed in Beijing June 16th, 2005. Yes, we missed the big dance yet again. We are destined to sit in the bleachers sneaking spiked punch and picking cocktail weenies out of our teeth one more month.

I decided this morning after hearing the news that instead of driving by this place and simply throwing wads of cash at the front door like usual, I would stop off and enjoy the smell of fresh mulch. Apparently our contractor thought we might want to re-use the corroded old door handle on one of the new doors in the addition. Aucontraire, mon fraire.

See the new addition? Nifty eh?

No no, old corroded door handles simply will not do for the playroom addition that cannot get too precious. (If I can't bring home a precious baby, well then bricks and mortar will have to do even though they won't fit nicely in the baby bjorn.)

Besides, in for a penny in for a pound with this project. Although, it's more like in for a penny in for a crispy new Andrew Jackson. But who is counting? Really, who is counting? I've lost track and can't count that high.

Serious retail damage will only do in times like these. We are now the proud new owners of Venetian Bronze levered door handles with matching dead bolts (sold seperately of course) for the two doors. No high shine brass for this family of cul-de-sac'ers no sir, hand rubbed venetian bronze. Don't be fooled, venetian means made in China these days. This is ironic because it is the only thing I will be getting from China this week.

Oh, the picture hardly does this little beauty justice. You will have to stop on by next week when they are installed. Maybe I will take my picture next to them, drooling. I love them that much.

In conclusion to today's post I must question will Ava ever get the chubby cheeked wrinkly armpitted little sister of her dreams? Will her mother ever find Pottery Barnesque Venetian Bronzed drapery rods to match the new levered doors but at a discount?

Stay tuned. More later.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Laundry...same girl, old tricks

In April 2003 there lived a little kid who liked to take a ride in the laundry basket now and again.

She thought she'd invent a game. It went like this. Mommy would fold. Ava would unfold. It was a race to see who could do their part more quickly.

When Ava would lose, she'd climb into the folded laundry basket and help by stomping it down, her version of permanent press.

Mommy, never one to back down from a challenge, decided to cover the little game player up with folded clothes and pull her around while putting it all away so that the house roof would not pop off stacked too high with laundry.

We won't show this seemingly laundry choked child picture to child protective services.

Now it is May 2006. Same kid, same laundry basket.

Hey, is this thing shrinking?

Nowadays, the laundry basket is an airplane cockpit. Who has time for the old un-fold game?

But she does reserve the right to teach the game to any little sister who might be coming her way.

It's payback for not being fast enough on the un-fold quick draw back in April 2003.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

To Keep Me On My Bloggie Toes

I got tired of chartruese green for the bloggy look. What would Freud say about people who love colors like chartruese green? I decided to mess around with the look a bit, since a gal can only take so much bright. Into each life a little neutral must fall now and again.

I picked another boring background and wiped out all settings in the process. Lovely. Come on bloggie spot...give a girl a third warning pleeese.

Why are there no fun lilac, eggplant, or indigo backgrounds? Oh yeah, this is free. Those who do not pay should not complain as much. Really though, I wonder if they have a suggestion box? Maybe they could go to the same place that Microsoft error reports go.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day At The Spa, er Chinese School

Yes, it would be nice to be at a spa sitting in warm lavender smelling mud...dreaming of my Queen for the Day pedicure coming up in 30 minutes but alas it was not meant to be. Don't get me wrong, my darling preschool painted petunia flower pot, homemade card with droopy paper flower springing out and delightful new cedar bird house for the backyard have me swimming in gratitude. Today, I'm a lucky woman. I have everything I've ever really wanted.

Reality hit today when I marched my 4 year old off to Chinese School, aka the Sino Pressure Pit. Today's class marked the last day of the school year. One full year for Ava and I in two classrooms; she learned to count to 30 in Mandarin, several songs, a few calligraphy characters, almost every body part, and a smattering of light conversation; me, 8 weeks of perfect pronounciation of each pinyin vowel and consonant followed by 4 weeks of an even lighter smattering of pleasant conversation. Wo jiao Perrin. Wo cong meiguo lai.

Overall, I've been pretty pleased with our classes. Admittedly, I struggle philosophically with Ava's teacher. She is a sweet young gal who married and moved here recently. She is unapologetically teaching the traditional Chinese way. Children sit, children study, big test at end of semester. Funny business is not tolerated. Ava is all about the the funny business, so you can only imagine it hasn't exactly been a match made in heaven between teacher and student. I think Ava has done tremendously well keeping up with the bigger kids in class. I've not pushed her at all to study as her teacher suggests to the parents. When she wants to play naming body parts or counting or singing songs we play. When she doesn't...we don't practice. My reasoning being that I do not want to burn my four year old out on formalized classroom education before Kindergarten starts. Ava surprised me this week by easily rattling off counting 1-30 in perfect Mandarin with tones. I thought for sure her teacher would give her a nod. Again, not meant to be. After test time teacher told me Ava disappointed her, not being able to answer all the questions. I was a little disheartened. I guess my expectation of what a young four year old should be expected to accomplish is different than the traditional Chinese way. In the car I told Ava that she did not have to attend teacher's class again in the fall if she did not choose to, we would try another class. We have the summer to think about trying new options at the school.

What an education this year at Chinese school has been. I've learned how hard some parents push their children in the name of academic success. I 've seen a glimpse at how hard first generation immigrants have to work when they arrive in a new country. I've seen cultural differences and have first hand experience in how hard it is not to judge with my own personal values. I've had moments of wanting to walk away from the school and it's people...too different and not comfortable for me. I've had moments of making new friends and seeing people reach out to a greater Mandarin as a second language community bending to be flexible for our needs. I walk away from this semester wondering how we will fit into the mold next semester.

It's Mother's Day. I wonder what my daughter's Chinese birthmother would think of how my daughter and I spent our day together? Would it mean something to her that we are making an attempt to keep something Chinese in our lives? Or would she feel more "culture is as culture does, don't look back"? Would she be happy with what Ava has learned, like I am? Or would she too want a child to be pushed to be the best, the winner, awarded the prize?

We are thinking of her today since she was and is the first mother. I suppose that is what what really matters, all this other stuff is just life filler.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Might We Get This Show On The Road?

Wow, have you been reading the early rumours? They are seriously pointing to muffin man and I getting a new babe this month. Ava Jing might actually become jie jie. Say it might be true before she changes her mind about carrying a dirty diaper to the pail and thinking that is "cool".

Fine, change my life forever. I'll wait another 3 years before I can watch Katie and Matt again. (Why is she retiring to nightly news?) Good novels can wait for me, I don't need anything but cleaning baby bottles, dirty dishes and endlessly chasing a toddler up and down the driveway in attempts to keep up with neighborly goings on.

More on this to come. I am trying not to freak out about that thing I have been waiting over a year for...spent Ava's higher education money on...and tossed my career into the nearest recycle bin for. I am now ending sentences in prepositions, but who the hell cares...May might be our month.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

LETTERS - they are everywhere

Do you remember when you realized you could read letters? Everywhere you looked there were letters...spelling out words. They were everywhere in the car, in books, at the mall, on toys, even on the refridgerator. I remember that moment when it occurred to me that I could read letters and I couldn't stop...even if I wanted to. I even tried to stop maybe in a misguided attempt to stay young and naive. I was in a car traveling with my parents. The back seat of the station wagon was folded down and I was propped up in the back reading road signs. I was conscious of not wanting to read road signs, but I could nonetheless. Hey, why can't I stop when I want to? I asked myself. Perhaps I was about 6 or 7? I'm not very sure to tell you the truth.

It is happening to Ava now. She reads letters everywhere we go. On walks she reads street signs, she reads the letters off the front page of the newspaper, she likes to follow along with each book spelling out each title, she even watches my coffee mug in the morning. I wouldn't really call this reading because she doesn't seem to be able to phonetically sound out many words yet...she's just compulsively seeing and calling out those letters.

Perhaps this is what kids do before they learn to read? Do most little kids get obsessed with letters? And, why if she is so taken with letters can't she seem to get the hang of sounding out a word since she knows the letters and sounds? I've asked her if she wants to learn or practice the phonics and she always says no. So I drop it, real reading at 4 seems slightly precocious right? I'm sure she will learn when she's ready.

Maybe I'm the one who should do a little reading about the signs of early reading. Completely interesting... watching a child's world open up.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Cosmic Draw Day

Apparently something in the stars aligned yesterday and all of the weird and unstable humans living in my planetary circle were drawn to my doorstep and felt compelled to call my phone number.

At one point I had a lady who arrived unannounced at my doorstep shouting at me telling me my behavior was despicable and unforgivable. (We had a little volunteer gig together, but gees despicable? I've only known her a few months.) I do love that word despicable. Except when it is used in the same sentence with MY name. Wow, I don't think someone has been that mad at me since I was 12 and used a tennis racquet in my foyer to show off my tennis prowess to my brother and took out a Mexican hanging lamp in the process. Or well, come to think of it perhaps Muffin Man has been sort of peeved at me to that extent over the course of our 15 year betrothal...but only once or twice to THAT extent. He's of Irish decent and quick to anger...but quick to forgive and want to discuss dinner plans about 30 seconds after. Back to crazy was so Seinfeld bizarro that at one point I started to giggle...which in case you might not have guessed did not help the situation. Now I know why the folks who invented Prozac are living in palatial mansions with swimming pools. They deserve it. What happened in the end? She decided that perhaps her involvement with said volunteer gig might not be a good fit? Huh, ya think?

Then a few hours later a lady found my home number and called about sending her precious little ones to Chinese Culture Camp. I have been corresponding with this gal via e-mail giving her specific instructions on how to get the kiddies enrolled, it's not rocket science but apparently somewhat distressing should your IQ be below 25. So, everything she was asking had already been spelled out in English via personal email last week. Now for the average parent enrolling your kid in summer camp is a minor annoyance in life. The piece de resistance of the annoyance being that little part where you have to cut the check. Not for this chick. She was completely and utterly baffled by the fill in the blank process. You know the one where you fill in your name and your child's name and contact information? That was a well spent 20 minutes guiding her through which week to choose to attend camp. Then calculating how much was due...utter confusion and chaos. Dropping off the registration form at her child's school on Sunday? Seemingly impossible and most thought provoking on how to get registration form into the hands of volunteer Chinese Community Center volunteer. At one point I had to ask her if she could find the room directly next to the room where she drops her child each week for school. I attend class in that room and offered to personally help her walk the registration form to the appropriate person, since they might not be identifiable sitting behind the table marked REGISTRATION.

Want to know the ironic part? There is always irony in my life. I looked at the caller id upon taking this cryptic phone call. She was calling me from work ...a very large pharmaceutical company.

I tell you it took every thing I had not to ask her to call psycho angry lady from earlier in my day. Now that is one conversation where I'd pay to be a fly on the wall.