Sunday, October 29, 2006

Fresh Air

This is us. The kidlet parts of us anyway. This is us getting out for a spin around the neighborhood. It was taken a few days ago before the heavens opened up and dumped buckets and buckets of rain on us. You think they looked a little saucy then? should see them now that they've been inside for 2 solid days. I stand corrected, the rain stopped this morning and Ava literally ran for the garage door as it opened shouting "A little fresh air!" I haven't seen her since. I am assuming that she is not playing in traffic or tossing Halloween candy wrappers in the neighbors yards for sport.

She knows this "fresh air" term because with her babyhood, we got a lot of fresh air. She knows Mommy gets wiggy if we don't get some fresh air every day. (I think I like the idea of homebodydom more than the reality of it all.) During Ava's baby days we were out clubbing it around town. She she thought sleep was for the weak and feeble minded. Sometimes we'd pack it up and party with the beautiful folks downtown. We considered getting a VIP lounge chair with an open bar of milk and animal crackers. Ava in her ever so gentile and subtle way let me know that we would not under any circumstances be staying at home baking cookies playing with the truckload of toys that had been lovingly purchased during her adoption wait.

And then came Liv. She is fine with a little fresh air. But she can just as easily breathe stale old banana cereal scented air as well. It really doesn't bother her. So, in attempts to buy her undying trust and love, I mean form a secure bond, we have been tethered to a 2 mile string which does not even reach the beltway. We can only go as far as a one quart ziploc bag of cheezy bootie or organic teddy snacks will take us. And that is not far. Yesterday she looked up at me, smiled and explained that she was simply doing her part to save oil for our nation and it's dubious future. Next week she will probably want to trade in the SUV for a VW bus. Peace dudes.

The big compromise each day between running like a greyhound chasing a furry bunny and staring at the walls until they do indeed turn a paler shade of green is "a little fresh air". This is Ava speak for let's blow this taco stand. It happens each day at approximately 4:15pm. She chooses a bike or a scooter and Olivia is dutifully bribed with scooby snacks to ride behind in a stroller. We walk until either we run out of baby snacks or Ava proclaims her legs to be too tired to bicycle any further.

I feel like I am just following along on the ride as I watch the back of Ava's head on the bike and the tip top of Olivia's in the stroller. Step after step. Mailbox after mailbox. It has occured to me these little bouts of walking "fresh air" are somewhat metaphoric for our life right now. Ava leads the way abounding with authority. She clamors for new changes and challenges. A simple stroll will never do for this kid. Make it interesting, raise the training wheels. Olivia toddles happily behind stopping to complain only if food is not plentiful and comfortable sleep is not within a 2 minutes of her happy crib sanctuary. She tolerates the "fresh stuff" but only under the canopy of her stroller turning her head occasionally to make sure I am still there.

Me? I am just using every shred of energy to keep up on the walks and taking a big gulp of fresh air in between avoiding the cracks in the sidewalk.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Ba, Da and No Ma Ma

Our local 1st Steps therapists stopped by last week for a little sit down with Olivia. Liv decided to take a developmental therapist for 200 and speech therapist for 400 since we aren't getting lot's of chattiness here, unless you count Ava's incessant loud spelling of every word she sees. " L-O-W-E-S Does that spell Old Navy Mommy?", she asks. I answered their questions (the therapists) as honestly as possible while desperately trying not to focus on the inch of dust under the armoir. I tried not to look supremely lame as they asked numerous questions that I had no idea how to answer. "Does she initiate play with you or other family members?" "Will she drop one toy to pick up another?" "Will she shift a toy from one hand to another?" "Does she show signs of frustration when someone takes a toy from her hand?"

Here's the deal..."All I know is that yes, she gets mighty pissed when she gets bonked on the head with a toy causing her to scrape her chin on the coffee table. Does that count for anything?"

Oh hell, I watch this kid for a living and I honestly didn't know the answer to some of these questions. I felt a little like the innocent guy who gets blamed for the murder early on in the Law and Order episode. "Don't look at me, I'm just her mother. I only watch this kid about 16 hours a day. What do I know? Is anyone going to make dinner, I'm starved. I have no clean underwear. Who is bringing snacks to pre-school this week? Can someone PLEASE bathe that old dog?" I am tragically distracted and paying no attention to anything unless it screams at me or it stinks so bad I have to bust a move.

In the end, she qualifies for no therapy, only a note in the file. A note to call us at 15 months for a speech re-evaluation. It turns out she is slightly speech delayed. But, she got so many points for walking that she isn't delayed enough to qualify for state intervention. (Good thing, interventions should be saved for 16 year olds.) She likes to say Ba and and occasional gullah, gullah. Never a Ma. Oh no, despite my annoying and persistent attempts for a MaMa....nothing.

She celebrated the finality of her 1st Steps visit by walking over to the Muffin Man and pulling a pant leg to be picked up. She popped his hooded sweatshirt string into her mouth and said Da, Da.

This is my reward for changing 3 poopy diapers a day. Da, Da. God love Ava for rushing to my emotional defense and shouting Ma Ma into Liv's face. Man, I love that kid sometimes. But alas, nothing. Only another Da Da.

And Rodney thought HE got no respect.

Friday, October 20, 2006

All Checked Out

International Clinic: Blood work...check
Stool Samples: check
Physical Exam: check
Ears: fluidy but the over dose of antibiotics should knock it out
Growth Pattern Evalution: normal
State First Steps Program: normal enough not to qualify for therapy; also thoroughly impressed with walking skills dancing pony show...duly noted.

Someone has tossed us a ray of sunshine. We are mindfully thankful, as we know not everyone can rest this easy with the gift of health for their new child. Truly...thank you!

Now, what is not all rosy with this child.

Shopping. She doesn't understand the finer points yet. Obviously this child has many lessons to learn from the Master.

I'm not talking about "the let's take an easy stroll over to the Gymboree to see what's on the clearance rack"shopping.

No sir, I'm talking about the kind where we hunt and gather at the dreaded grocery store. Going on a walk to pick nuts and berries would be easier. I'm about ready to get the little one her own cart give her 20 bucks and say, "See you in an hour, babe. Don't spend it all in one place." Might as well since no one on this planet has invented a grocery cart belt that will contain my little 20lb. Olivia. She could be an direct descendent of Harry Houdini. She can escape from anything. The mini baby bathtub, the over priced five point harnessed high chair, the car seat and anything the lame grocery store has to offer to contain your child safely can be ditched quicker than her sister can name that 6 note tune. Snacks will divert her attention for about 60 seconds. Cushioning her with a blanket to cover the strap works for 90 seconds. Meanwhile we are still aimlessly tossing stuff into the cart on aisle 2 with 12 more to go. And what does dear darling 1st born daughter with whom I am forever karmically bound do in this situation? She sniffs weakness in the benevolent dictator and seizes the moment to divide and conquer. She is a little turncoat if I ever saw one. The prize? Fruity Cheerios if you must know. Her Kashi days are offically over if I can't bribe someone to watch Liv while I grocery shop.

We get home, I'm mentally and emotionally spent. Ava has fruity cheerios, Olivia has her health and we have nothing for dinner even though I spent $239.00.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Accessories Make The Girl?

Hello, my name is Liv and my mother never combs my hair. I have 10,000 hand-me down hair bows and yet...nothing. Not one paste on pink frilly accessory. My shirt has soy barf on it. It stinks. But my mom is super tired of laundry so we are learning to live with it and she decided to cook bacon in the house to cover the smell since going to the mall for a Yankee Candle is out of the question. I would rather not sit strapped into anything.

Want to see my sister at 11 months old?

She wore red velvet and dare I say bows. Yes, she had one for each day of the week. I plan to discuss this at the Thanksgiving Dinner table in the year 2020. I hear that kid had bling. Where's mine? Huh, I want to know.

Deep down in my heart I believe hair bows are for poodles.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

One Month Home Checking In

We've been home from China for one month now. For over one month I have been mom to two. I've been thinking a lot recently about what I have to say about my month at home.

It has been quite a lot of at home time, much more than I am used to. This is mostly because it is a butt load of work to get two kids in the Durango to head off to a fun filled hour of roaming the aisles at the grocery store where the 10 month old is climbing out of the cart every second because she-just-will-not-sit-in-the cart-seat and the 4 year old is either discussing why people choose to be buried in the ground and why can't we see angels and why can't WE have Fruity Cheerios when EVERY other preschooler this side of the Mississippi gets Fruity Cheerios, they are healthy you know...and what would happen if Olivia ate one of the dust bunnies in the playroom, would she barf green? Our healthy dose of at home time is also partly due to the fact that 10 month old Olivia is happy and engaged, bright-eyed and even sometimes bushy tailed at home. When we are out too much, she pops a thumb in her mouth looks at her feet and seems to emotionally fade a bit. So, we stay close to the barracks. Really close, as in if I don't go to the post office or the bank for even a 30 minute ride in the 'burbs to see the land of the living...I tend to need pinch so I don't find myself banging my head on the kitchen floor.

Oh, I know this is the first leg of the "adoption adjustment" period. I have lots of experience adoptive parent friends who say "The first 6 months suck, they really do. Just buck up feed and diaper the kid and 6 months later before you know it, all will be fine."

Here's the thing, some moments are hard but I wouldn't say the first first month has sucked. How is that for setting the bar high? Some moments are quite frankly brutal. Some moments are so cute and exciting you are overly emotional crying because your (yes, that is YOUR) kids are the damnest cutest kids in the world and you are so grateful to be a part of whatever cutie patootie thing they are doing. Then later that same night you haul off and get close to verbally assulting your child because she and her friend hid one ballet shoe and you have absolutely no time or patience for hunting for a ballet shoe at 9pm. Then you go to bed feeling like a really crappy parent, because good parents are more patient than that. But wait, the 10 month old giggled wildly while her sister tickled her armpits only 2 hours ago, so you can't be the MOST horrible parent in the world.

So what is the message here at one month home after completing adoption number two? I guess I want to say it is a roller coaster. It's not the same roller coaster I rode for 12 months reading the Rumor Queen and obsessing over adoption videos set to Iz's version of Over The Rainbow. No, I've finally stepped off that coaster but I can't seem to leave the park. I think that is part of the message, part of the lesson...just because you achieve something big in your life doesn't mean you are done. You still need to get up and walk around the park. I'm still here, trying to figure our whether I should hop on the River Rapids ride or climb Everest. Which one will be more settling to my stomach? I honestly don't know. I might be wandering the park for little while longer. I guess this is what hapens when you buy the "ticket is good for life" you know.

Someone pass the cotton candy.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Come Again, How Many Vials Of Blood?

In most internationally adopted kid's life there comes that doomed day when she must innocently follow her mother or father off to the local international adoption clinic for dum dum dum...a quick prod and general testing.

Yes, this sounds par for the course in any 10 month old's life right?

This day was yesterday for us. She pretty much set the course for telling the infectious disease Dr. what she thought about the whole deal by pooping twice while in the room. He barely winced at the aroma giving him extra bonus points which he needed since he has got to be about as old as some of my older underwear. She checked out fine and he proclaimed her a "keeper". I'm not kidding he said she should be a keeper, ugh ok. Would he ever tell any proud parent to send her back to China in a box? He explained her ears and sinuses looked gross and prescribed yoghurt to protect her stomach since yet another round of anti-biotics are necessary to stop the incessant goo that runs from her nose.

Then he sent us promptly off to the hospital next door for blood work. I've sort of had myself worked into a lather about this stick and run episode for weeks now. This is probably since I still hear Ava's wailing in my sleep from when she presented a non-bleeder elbow four years ago. The phelobotimist (is that a great title or what?) took one little peek at her wiggly stringy arm and called up to pediatric nursing. They came down and asked how old? I said, "ten months". They said, no way we like the newborns. So, Olivia and I followed up with "who is going to get the blood from this kid"? The overly pregnant phlebotimist called an emergency room nurse from next door who agreed to take a shuttle from next door to attempt the feat.

I called the Muffin Man at home while hyperventialing into a paper bag asking him to pick Ava up from preschool since we were going to be a while.

30 minutes later the emergency room nurse, who should be annointed, got 6 vials of Livi blood from a whrithing and heaving infant. She was sweet enough to ask if I was coping alright since I was crying black mascara all over my daughter's pink outfit. Thank goodness it's washable.

We consoled ourselves with Wendy's fries on the way home. Yes, Olivia is comforted by french fries. We are indeed soulmates.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

How 2 Coke Zero's Will Kick 3 People's Ass

I am d-r-a-g-g-i-n-g. Muffin man is on the road show selling widgets to midgets or something and I am wo-man-ing the front. Which for an energetic sprite like myself, is normally not that much of a dramatic problem. We do have Pinky-Dinky Doo here for just such mama is draggin' emergencies. The only thing is, kidlet number 1 easily glazes over with Pinky Dinky Doo...but kidlet number 2...not so much. (Go ahead and judge the crap out of me since yes she watches copious amounts of tv. But I am a good mother after all since I feel hugely guilty about it.)

About the Coke Zero

When my mom was here helping me drag my ass off the floor for that first week home from China that shall forever been known in history as "the brutal life sucking force that was not with me", she purchased some caffeine free diet coke. It's been sitting innocently in the garage ever since. In my whizz bang state of mind that seems to follow me from minute to minute these days I accidently forgot that ALL diet soda drinks are not caffeine free. Fine, I admit it I had two carmel colored beauties yesterday afternoon. Yes, I now 2 seems like a lot but shit, this mama gig to two sometimes kicks me in the butt and a 3pm Coke Zero is like nectar from the Gods. Have you had this Coke Zero? It is not your average Diet Coke is lovely.

Since there is 1/2 a case of caffeine free coke outside I sort of thought in my mind that this yummy coke free stuff was also caffeine free, otherwise known in my house as drink it until you puke without remorse. Apparently not. I was flying high at 1am. The body was exhausted, mind racing in the Indy 500, apparently that stuff just sends me through the roof. What a strange and horrible feeling. I figured out the whole caffeine business causing sleeplessness at approximately 12:37am.

So, then I started worrying about my exhaustion and patience level with the kids at about 1:15am. It is now 3:30pm the next day and I'm done. Ava is avoiding me like the plague and poor little Olivia is staring me down like a one-eyed wonder. Thank good someone in China thought to send me a napper because that is the only reason I might make it to 8pm. Oh yes, a personal and heartfelt thanks to the gang at Noggin too for making preschool television so great that my 4 year old will NOT step away without adult remote control intervention.

So how does one come down from a Coke Zero high that was still running at noon today? Chamomille tea? Oh forget it, come tonight I'm breaking into the chardonnay and following the kids to bed at 8.

Monday, October 02, 2006

An All American Girl?

Last night the Muffin Man and I settled down to ride the couch and watch the Discovery Channel's special series on China, revealing it's past and possible future. It was well done, there is no doubt about that. It was surreal seeing some of the sights displayed in a large budget documentary when you were just there 3 weeks ago taking your very low budget film. Their pictures of Tiannamen Square did not have the immense green scaffolding or wholly innocent shots of some lady's rear end taken by a well intentioned four year old. The Forbidden City seemed well, more forbidden and mysterious when shot by the experts at the Discovery Channel. They showed no three year old boy peeing on the ground in his split pants.

When the section about making rice in the far Souther regions of China started I sat in awe. The narrarator explained that these people had been farming this same rice field for over 20 generations. "It was in their blood, their destiny their ancestry", he explained." I couldn't help but to think of my little girl in the dirty soccer uniform sleeping upstairs. She plays for team England of all things. Then I was stopped in my mental tracks as I saw my little far Southern China girl sleeping in her Children's Place jammie set with blue stars. Was rice farming her destiny? Or is club soccer with juice boxes and fruit snacks their destiny? What is destiny?

I could hardly sit still as the program went on to talk at length about China's population control and the effect that the one child policy has had on China's first generation of household's with single children. There is a generation of people in China who feel the weight of their parent's hopes and dreams resting on their small shoulders. There is pressure to succeed, pressure to make them proud. An Olypmic hopeful was featured. She is 12 and does not live at home with her family. She gets scolded for slipping off the balance beam in competition. I'm naive , I know but I will not look at the 2008 Olympics the same. I will not cheer for the Chinese gymnasts to win, I will cheer for them to find childhood.

Off I go to the next soccer game. I suppose I will cheer for my girl regardless of whether she kicks the ball in the right direction or not. I will have a juice box ready for her at the end of the 32 minutes. Destiny is a many complicated thing.