Saturday, July 29, 2006

Nesting Then and Now

When I was bringing my first daughter home I would say that some artificial adoption hormone kicked in and I felt the need to fluff up the nest. I painted about 3000 sq. feet of wall space that summer of 2002. God forbid that 8 month old child have to see builders paint, oh no only Sherwin Williams Arts and Crafts collection Buckram Binding for my baby. She has, by the way yet to notice and its been 4 years, damn it. I'm still politely waiting for her to one day look up from her frozen waffle and calmly state, "What a lovely shade of light straw you selected for our home Mommy."

I think I honestly thought if I made some slight upgrade to the crib, she'd be happy and I'd be the "better" mom. That must be why the better "crib" is now being held together with Muffin Man's creativity and a few extra euro style screws. Ragazzi Italian crib my ass, I should have gone to Goodwill and popped the 1700 clams in the 529 plan.

Jump ahead 4 years and I'll give you the real skinny on nesting for been there done that parents. It has absolutely nothing to do with being a better or cleaner Mommy. It has to do with the fact now you know that if you don't clean it, paint it, or landscape it NOW it ain't gettin' done for another 3 years. You think it looks grungy now? Whooo wait until it has a layer of rice cereal added.

This explains my Saturday antics. Early this morning I easily convince my better half a trip to Lowes is necessary to landscape the back portion of the yard ripped up earlier this season due to the addition of the new playroom. He eagerly hops on board since it includes a family trip to Lowes and he is all about dragging Ava and I through every aisle, I exaggerate not. Extra time and energy is spent in the grill aisle. He casually works in how we are eating off rust since his grill hasn't been upgraded in 7 years. (Whatever buddy, we are going to China and that's your grill this year, asbestos or not.)

We purchase 15 bags of stained black mulch and various perinnials that are marked 50% off. It was only 95 degrees here today so working our asses off outside was pleasant! I realigned my c3 and c4 vertabrae planting copious amounts of hosta, lambs ear, and butterfly bushes. He followed behind with mulch. It was a symbiotic dance of husband and wifely team.

Then I realized that all the toys in the house needed to be cleaned and re-organized. Muffin Man begged me not to move any furniture because when I decide to clean toys, usually it means a trip to the chiropractor when furniture gets moved from point A to point B...for whatever reason. Oh, pisch I tell him, "Keep mulching something." Inside I make sure to carefully measure the new playroom for a train table that has been sitting idle in Ava's room for over a year. Ottomans are lifted overhead, chairs are hoisted into the kitchen. That train table will fit or else. Since the Muffin Man is now hiding out in his workshop refusing to play any more reindeer games, I decide to lift it all myself. Yes it fits and yes I'll be calling the chiropractor at 8am Monday.

I sit down to chill a bit and have a Saturday glass of vino while corn on the cob cooks. Since I have no time for a nutritious dinner for my clan, corn on the cob will do for Ava and I. Mulch Man will probably stab something that was bovine 24 hours ago anyway, ugh. He's on his own.

I sit and breathe deep in my productive day. I'm sipping chilled chardonnay watching my child's renewed interest in the moved toys. I revel in the fact that in 6 short weeks there will be no more home improvement for approximately 3 more years. The time it takes to grow a child into "entertain yourself for an hour" maturity.

Then I look up....damnit if the crown molding doesn't need repainting. Now there's a job for tomorrow.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Yipee, New Pictures!

The orphanage sent new pictures! Oh, how I love them so.

Happy Day.

I know I'm biased and all but that's one darn cute kid.

Wow, she likes those links. That's a few pictures with toy links in her hand now.

I'm off to pack more links!

Still Waiting...

Still waiting for our updated photo of little love Liv. Still waiting on official TA. Still waiting for the willpower to turn down Edy's Rasberry Chocolate Chunk Slow Churned Ice Cream 1/2 the fat. (1/2 the fat my ass)

But in better news the agency called yesterday and they think we will receive official travel approvals next week. The following Monday at the outset, always with the disclaimer clause.

When we first got the referral I was a mad-woman researching the orphanage and region where Liv currently resides. (Did you notice I can't exactly say live, instead choosing reside? Where does Liv live? It's weird, perhaps we should have gone with Vivienne, then at least it would have been Where does Viv live? I live with a preschooler, can you tell?)

Anyway, I couldn't get enough of the video of the orphanage and the pictures of her current digs. I was compelled to see her through the eyes of another parent photographing her big white room with the metal cribs. I stared at the nanny photos willing their eyes to be kind and their souls to be sympathetic.

But now it is 4 weeks later and I can't do it anymore. The walls of the room seem too white, the cribs seem too hard, the nannies seem too foreign. I'm pulled to go meet her in person, and yet my feet are stuck in bureacratic concrete. My head is in the clouds and my heart is with her. It is surreal to be in love with a little person I've never met. How can you really be in love with another in a circumstance like this? Can it be true? I suppose it can if you believe her to be yours and you to be hers.

Since I'm stuck, and I've already eaten the rasberry chocolate chip ice cream maybe I will go see if our document case will fit inside the backpack for the plane ride. That would be productive right? Or maybe I will go count more ziploc bags. I've decided to pre-separate all the money into piles according to when we will need it and then package in snack sized baggies for the money belts. Now that's a party waiting to happen.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Here A Ziploc - There A Ziploc

A public service announcement for my faithful readers, all 2 of might want to buy stock in ziploc baggies this week. After my last 2 trips to Target I am sure they will be valued higher in the next quarter postings.

I now own every single ziploc size known to man. I have zipper locks, slider locks, and old fashioned squish together locks. Some of my ziploc baggies even have Scooby Doo on them. Nothing like a Scooby Snack to brighten a girl's day, I always say.

Everything that we will be taking to China will be prepackaged in a ziploc and labeled with a Sharpie marker. What am I doing? I'm obsessed. I have ziploc disorder. I caught myself fantasizing in the check out lane that perhaps I could wrap Ava in a ziploc bag on the plane and then let her out in Beijing. (I could save on Airborne that way.) And this made me chuckle, out loud, at myself. I can be very easy to entertain.

When I looked at this...

I really had to question my own personal sanity level. What is the deal with the 18,000 ziploc baggies? I honestly have no idea why I have felt the need to stuff every single item that will be making the trip into a plastic baggie. But let me tell you if my plane goes down like the Titanic, I won't be needing a personal flotation device. I think that that diapers double wrapped in the new 2 gallon size might keep me a float until help arrives.

I've also doubled up on Wet Ones. Normally I am not a germ-a-phobe type of person. I have germ-a-phoby friends, and you know who you are, but I usually subscribe to the "You eat a pound of dirt a year anyway, so why worry?" school of thought. It is not uncommon for my kid to be eating at the table only to realize that she has kid dirt smeared all over her sandwich, we take in in stride. However, all bets are off when taking a 4 year old and a 9 month old around the world in 80 days. Which is the new rumor stating how long we will have to shop till we drop on Shaiman Island for anyone following Rumor Queen.

Go ahead and look for me walking up and down the streets of Guangzhou in a few weeks. I will be the one wiping my kid's hands and popping the used Wet Ones in a semi-used ziploc bag then looking for the nearest Chinese landfill to make a deposit.

And I wonder why people of different nations sometimes roll their eyes at American weirdos. Go figure.

Monday, July 24, 2006

4 Weeks Since Liv's Referral

Today marks the 4 week point since we have been referred the amazing little love that I call Liv. At first I was a little concerned and disappointed in myself since I felt as if I were going through the motions of signing paperwork, shopping medical reports around to anyone with a medical degree who would read them, tossing my cookies at the thought of leaving Ava home for the trip, asking my saintly father to make the trip with us, and then freaking out at the thought that we were indeed taking Ava with us. I felt as if I was going through the motions but not connecting (as much as a mom in America can connect with her baby in China) with her. I was not pining away as I burned the midnight oil desperately longing to feel her the way I did with Ava.

Now four weeks later, I'm dreaming of her. I wonder if her little head will smell like Ava's downy skull did 4 years ago. Will her little armpits be wrinkly? Will she have a little pudge on her legs? Will she be traumatized at the sight of us? Does anyone pick her up when she cries? I've dreamt that we went to China and she was 17 months old, which freaked Muffin Man out but I didn't care. I've dreamt of her birth family, waking teary eyed.

I can feel her sitting in the baby bjorn on my chest. I want so desperately for her to trust us, to reach for us when she gets up in the morning.

I just want to get on that plane. Forget the bureucratic garbage, fine I'll stay 3 weeks or 3 months. Send my TA. The Chinese and American governments know WAY more about us than anyone would care to know.

Oh, now I remember why I've always said the wait for referral is the pinprick. The wait to get on that plane is the deep cut. Some one has my baby. And it isn't me. This is a primal ache.

Tune in tomorrow for packing follies and ziploc madness.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The playroom is done

In all the excitement over the last few weeks over here at suburban casa de cul-de-sac I have shamefully neglected to post some pictures of our little home addition project. It's done, finally and it is divine if I don't say so myself. Which is a good thing to think when you are sporting a nice home equity line bill, yes?

The landscaping bill came in high, so we've mostly decided to skip the $2000 to pop in a flower bed and do it ourselves in all our spare time this fall. Nothing like transfering hosta with a 10 month old on your hip. The Muffin Man is insisting on a gravel walking path done professionally, more pictures of that when it is complete, look for those shots somewhere in 2008.

I present...the new playroom. I know it sort of needs curtains but the windows are so pretty I simply can't bring myself to cover them just yet. When you have lived 15 years with crummy cheap windows and you experience the sheer joy of quality in a window...curtains are not your first priority.

See the "baby" gate? It is really a doggie gate. Apparently cinnamon stained maple somewhat resembles outdoor grass when you are a 14 your old Lhasa Apso. We will have to figure something else out when Liv comes home since it is not bolted to the wall.

All in all it took only 3 1/2 months which included a stamped concrete patio. It is 18'x20' of sheer playroom bliss. I hope the girls will like to play there...a in for the next 20 years.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Meds For Olivia And A Free $20

I admit it, I cut out coupons with every intention of using them. In my mind, I think that this helps my contribution in the family dynamic where I earn not one penny for doing lots of work (in between reading Real Simple at the pool and stopping at Starbucks) and the Muffin Man, a decent man's wage for a decent man's day of work.

But then alas the little coupons sit on the kitchen counter till they earn an objectionable amount of dust and then I pitch them. All the while thinking, "What a good housekeeper am I?".

This week was different. A $20 coupon arrived in the mailbox. All I would have to do is "transfer" 1 prescription from pharmacy near me to Walgreens. I even took the time to read the fine print. Oh yeah, we were getting $20 bucks worth of free stuff for baby.

Off Ava and I start on our adventure. Off to pharmacy near me. We casually and without guilty face drop off two prescriptions for Ava and Olivia's amoxicillan in case some one gets wheezy in China. I announce quietly that I would like to drop this off and have it entered in the computer immediately...but...we don't want it filled ummmm...right away. The sixteen year old pharmacy tech nods. I have to buy Ava a fruit water as bribery to behave at the next pharmacy stop on our journey.

Down the road a piece we pull into Walgreens. With $20 bonus coupon for transferred prescription in hand. Ava spills copious amounts of fruit water on their floor. Not a good start.
I hand over the coupon to the 17 year old pharmacy tech at Walgreens and tell her that there are prescriptions hanging out waiting to be transferred from good service pharmacy down the road. To show my organizational skills I also present her with the phone number. She calls and it has not been entered into the computer. "Oh, right that's because I dropped it off 20 minutes ago before the fruit water incident. But I left strict instructions to enter it pronto." I tell her. She giggles at me. Well, I will enter the info you have but it will be tomorrow before this can be filled.

Not acceptable. Need Amoxicillian today, since I am leaving for China in about a month. Can't you see my reasoning? She advises me to go back to pharmacy near me and ask for paper scripts back. Then come back to Walgreens and they will "try" to honor it as a transfer. Ugh huh, I think. So, how is this better service than pharmacy near me? Oh, right its not, its only $20 free.

Ava and I hop in car to quickly visit pharmacy near me. Ava campaigns for gummy bears for her inconvenience. Right on sister, since you ate NOTHING FOR LUNCH, I THINK NOT!
We meander in and promptly ask for our scripts back. All the while pharmacy techs are conspiring to stick rat poison in our next prescription.

Thirty two gummy bears and 1 fruit water later we arrive back at Walgreens. They ask who Olivia is and why she had no insurance. I calmly explain that she does exist, really she does, but it is not her fault she is living in a Chinese orphanage at this moment with the name Yangxi, GeGe and has not been stripped of her Chinese name yet for insurance purposes. And, no there is no damned social security number yet, she lives in China! They see my heightened emotional state and choose wisely not to tangle with me, offering to process it all under my social security number. Many thanks. When do I get my $20 worth of free size 3 diapers?

I breathe. In and out. What would Buddha do at Walgreens? Would he even attempt to buck the system for a measley $20? Would Jesus stop off at Walgreens for antibiotic cream? Would Allah seek wisdom in flip flops on sale in aisle 6? Its a mystery to me.

Then it happens. They give me the prescriptions for my girls. My girls...did you hear girls, as in plural? I have 2 girls. I have the prescription to prove it. It even has her name Olivia (Muffin Man's last name) . So, then I start to tear up right there in Walgreens, at the sight of Olivia's name on a prescription bottle. Ava immediately sees fit to help herself to the bevy of free diabetes and restless leg syndrome literature folding each piece carefully into Chinese fans. She folds, I cry. People stare.

Then I pay the co-pay. Since it was clearly stated in the fine print that the $20 may not be applied to Medicare or co-pays. Ava and I boldly march to the baby aisle and pick up one package of size three diapers for $15.29. Since after this drama we must spend every penny of the $20 so I let her pick out 2 coloring books for China. She's happy, coloring books, 17 gummy bears left (she counted) and about 3 ounces of fruit water. Well earned, in my opinion.

I think in the end we will have to go back to pharmacy near me. It holds less emotional baggage after all is said and done.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Calling All Guangdong Families

Apparently there is some whoohaa circulating around that any family adopting from Guangdong Province (that is us) and who will be traveling to Guangdong Province after August 1, 2006 (that is us) will be required to stay an extra 5 days in Province since processing the passport and visa is no longer possible simultaneously. Come on. Really?

Yes, really. In an unprecidented move the Chinese Government has shouted RALLY and seems to be interested in studying the art of science of efficient organizational work flow habits, a 5 day seminar taught by the United States Government. Prior Six Sigma or Project Management Institute (PMI), designations optional for this week long retreat.

This could make the trip closer to three weeks rather than 2 weeks? Come on. Really?

Yes really.

I know that roughing it at the White Swan is not really roughing it...unless you count the part where 4 weeks later you open the Master Card statement, but I am going to go on record that I am not pleased. Muffin Man is not pleased, although seems to be rolling with the punches. This is scarily a-typical for those of you who know and love the Muffin Man. He can be notoriously Type-A.

When I casually dropped this bomb on my dad (who has signed on to be the designated official playmate for all 4 year olds also tagging along), he said "More time at the pool, with Ava Jing. No worries, I am retired."

Uh huh.

Are they looking for a family to break the official record for most money spent on Shaiman Island purchasing silk jammy sets and granite stone carvings? (If you know us personally, now would be areally good time to place your China import order. Be specific, I'm frazzled.)

Apparently we will be first in line trying to break the dubious shopping record with a possible 12-13 days in Guangdong Province + 2-3 in Beijing.

Perhaps there will be a Six Sigma master manager who thinks this as ridiculous as I do and pulls the plug before Aug. 1 2006.

If not what the heck, I'd probably fly to the North Pole to visit Mr. and Mrs. Claus if I thought I could meet my baby and bring her home safely.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Listen To What You Are Saying

Monday was doctor visit day. Dum Dum Dum....

Since deciding to take Ava with us to China last week we have been in a flurry of activity changing up the plans to make sure that all is fine with what it will take to bring along a 4 year old on a two week adventure across the world t0 adopt her little sister.

Just updating the plan for 4 Chinese visas rather than 2 has believe it or not taken quite a bit of time and energy. My scatter-brained mommy adoption hormones kicking in is probably not helping the overall situation either to be honest.

It occurred to me late one evening or early one morning to be exact, that perhaps I should run Ava's big trip by our pediatrician. Taking the 4 year old to China, better make sure she doesn't need a booster or something. Since I'd been meaning to stop by her Dr's. office anyway to beg for some samples forthe trip why not make a morning of it and bring Ava?

I've been a little stressed about taking her, I'll admit. I will also admit to being even more stressed about leaving her. I have even sort worked my proverbial panties in a twist over the whole thing. Do we, don't we? Now we are going..crap, what now? What if she won't sleep and melts down in a completely hysterical fit during the adoption ceremony? What will people think? Will Muffin Man and I be able to keep it all together? Will my dad hate me forever after two weeks with all that us US? I mean two weeks with US is quite frankly...a lot of US.

I'm exhausted just from worrying.

Now, Monday morning comes along presenting parenting dilemma you tell your 4 year old that a Hep A shot is most probably in the cards or not?

I waited until she flat out asked me, "Mom, what are they going to do to me at the Dr.?"

Crap, I chose not to advertise but I sort of make it a point not to lie to her. I casually explained that I wasn't sure but she might need a shot to protect herself while traveling.

Let's just say the waterworks started and it was made very clear that a shot was not her idea of a good time. In the vertitable words of the Black Eyed Peas..."You don't want no drama mama."

I immediately launched into the "it does no good to worry about the things in life we have no control over speech". It is wasted energy, I explain to my doe eyed weeping 4 year old. Let's live in the moment I tell her, right now at this very minute cartoons are on and all is good, let's enjoy the moment. "We get nothing from worrying about theA future", I tell her as the Doodlebops sway in the background.

At that moment I stopped, she stopped and the unmade bed stopped spinning. Ahhh hah, wait who needs this speech? Who is the one who has been doing the real worrying in this house? Me. Obviously, I needed to hear someone say it.

Live in the moment. You only have now. Worry is fear. You have nothing to fear.

My baby endured 4 shots 1 hour later to make sure she is safe from disease on her long journey. She was brave, shedding a tear only at the end. She's a good example for me. We both marched out of that Dr.'s office wiping away tears. We are one step closer to peacefully meeting our baby.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Bottom of the 7th, Change The Line Up

We have news. We've changed the China lineup. I've had 18 months to think about how exactly this trip would play out and here I am searching the bottom of the Disney backpack for passports at 3pm today swearing like a sailor when I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for.
And I wonder why my child doesn't have perfect elocution manners.

These pictures, which were not staged by the way, sort of sum it up.

Here we have baby Olivia's nursery. Also known now as packfest docking station #1. One giant obnoxious ladybugesque suitcase, check. One Nissan bullet thermos, check. Massive amounts of junk in no particular order, check.

You didn't look closely enough, there is one more thing going to China.

While googling frantically this afternoon on how to get my hot little hands on a 10lb. or less stroller that would accomodate a 4 year old I hear, " I'm stuck in Livi's suitcase."

I casually stroll into the nursery to find this. One stowaway. Ran for the camera and it's official, she's going.

I know you must be thinking I am completely and absolutely nuts, or on drugs, or gluttonous for punishment, or the largest spineless sap known to exist in the 21st Century...taking a high strung back talking 4 year old around the world to experience sibling rivalry in a 23 sq. foot room for 2 weeks in a communist country where we don't speak the language. Throw in must show up for gov't appts. on time with a smile on our faces for good measure. Well, yes it appears I am all of those things. Except for the drugs, I can't seem to find a Dr. to prescribe the good stuff I would like. So that leaves me with gluttonous and nuts. I think there is something riding casually on my 2nd X chromosome that suggests, "Ideal candidate for anxiety producing descions which may or may not cause loud head banging and skreeching at spouse."

All kidding aside sort of, it only took one short session of my emotionally challenged 4 year old to tell me that she was having dreams of being left behind for good at Grandma and Grandpa's for me to turn the tables and stick her in the China Line Up. (Although, being left at Grandma and Grandpa's house for good never hurt her uncle and I. And for the record they give out ice cream these days. This was part of the 1990's improvement plan at Casa de Grands, they also got cable.)

Of course, this little knee jerk 11th hour idea has been brought to you in most part by Grandpa. His name is Frank and he will probably be mentioned at the Vatican by Pope Benedict for agreeing to sign up for operation Take Care Of Ava's Needs While In China. Hopefully this will mostly include water saturation at the White Swan Pool in Guangzhou. We can only hope for the best.

In the end, I'm somewhat ver'clempt and still all the while anxious. Yet, she will be with us, her forever family when we meet the newest member of the forever family. I guess that is what forever means here.

Does anyone know how to score some serious anti-anxiety meds?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

A Word From The Couch

I'm firmly planted on the couch. To be technical I have moved from my desk chair to the couch and back again a few times. It is 5:15pm and I'm in my jammies.. still, late not early sadly enough. I'm wearing a lovely teal blue head band that officially belongs to my daughter. Pretty. Ava has informed me that I have coffee breath and my feet are dirty. How can they get so dirty being in the house all day? I've comtemplated the mound of laundry that is now taking over the little room at the end of the hall. Not motivated enough to fold anything mind, just contemplated it. God, I wish you got points for thinking about house work.

Ava was a bear yesterday. Overstimulated and overtired, somehow her evil twin Sabrina bionically morphed into that cute litte body and decided to argue with everything sentence I decided to speak. Perhaps overtired describes both of us. Are we are coming down off of baby Olivia cloud nine? There is only so much adreneline that can carry you through a week. My gosh, that little kid is still the most beautiful little nugget I could have ever imagined but I think I wore myself out contemplating the newness of her arrival.

I suppose it did not help the situation that the very day we received Olivia's picture the planets aligned and 7 workmen showed up to install the new hardwoods in the addition and in Muffin Man's office. Since only one gentleman spoke any English at all communication was a little rough. Somehow my high school Spanish has been completely forgotten since attending Mandarin classes. Hola, amigos...Wo jiao Perrin. Completely ridiculous. Ava and I tried to stay out of their way...but as luck would have it I wanted to see my new babe's picture and nothing was tearing me away from the computer.

So, perhaps all the excitement of the week has done us in. I'm sure a little fireworks will be enough to perk us up!

Next week, apply for visas and narrow the packing lists down to the best 20 or so.