Sunday, December 30, 2007

Diggin' Out

Am I the only one who simply cannot wait to take down the tree and subsequent trimmings on or about December 26? As I write this I think it sounds ummm...rather scroogy but I can't help it. We are having dear friends over for New Year's eve and I do understand that some people like to remain festive up to an including January 1. Weaklings, I say. Weaklings without minor OCD and clutter issues.

When I asked for a little muscle help to put the tree away for the love of God so I would not need mental health pharmaceuticals to help me deal with the Christmas carnage around here the Muffin man gently suggested we leave the decorations up for the little party. Oh, you know me better than that, "It all has to" "You have issues, he states." "Yes, I know." I reply. "Now put down that newspaper and get happy wrapping that tree up." He simply shook his head this year and did not even batten down the hatches for a good argument. Smart man.
So, I've been digging out for the last 48 hours...popcorn tins have hit the recycle bin. Stray pez dispensers have been neatly stored in the candy basket on top of the refrigerator. The myriad of Christmas crafts and paper cards have been tossed. I had to wait until Ava was distracted for that one. And finally as my piece de' resistance the left over Christmas night cabernet sauce for filet mignon has been flushed down the sink. Bye-bye bits of yummy wine and butter heaven. Oh yes I forgot, table linens are dancing in various stages of unrest around the Maytag in the laundry room.

And yet...I am nowhere near back to normal. The toy mongers are following me around the house barfing Pet Shop pieces and Webkinz. Baby doll bottles appear wherever I step with a bare foot. New stuffed animals appear on door knobs hung by their necks with colorful silk scarves. This is the stuff of true life Blair Witch Projects.

Would you believe that this was a scaled down Christmas? Each child received a few toys from us...we put nothing on credit and instead focused on craft projects and time spent together. Oh yes, and some pretty damn fabulous meals. But alas, the childrens' stuff is still running the household and windows and doors are bulging. We may have to crack a window to release pressure before March.

Signing off for now. I'm headed downstairs to eat the last of the cookies so the Santa tinplate can be stored away for another 11 months.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas

A very Merry Christmas and peace in the new year from us to you!

Ava scored the awesome new leopard jacket. (obviously from her very cool auntie and cousin who love to shop) Livi sports the grin of a gal who's just eaten plenty of tiramasu!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Teacher Gifts

It's teacher gift time here. I love teacher gift time. I read an article in the paper recently about what teachers like to receive most and least. Believe it or not homemade gifts did make it amongst the top of the list. (Probably because those being interviewed had too much class to say Cash is King folks.) I have the utmost respect for teachers and wish that I could gift them what they most deserve during the holiday season...a big fat raise. But I can't, so I'll sew.

Ava was instructed to ask favorite colors of her three teachers. She attends 2 schools for kindergarten and has 3 teachers who are in the room at all times as luck would have it. One teacher stated green and one professed blue as favorites. They are getting the blue and brown striped bag on the far left and the fern green and dark brown on second from the right. They are large enough to be considered tote bags for lugging papers back and forth to the classroom but small enough to be used as everyday handbags if they so choose. Her wonderful 1st year teacher is getting the holiday hipster bag in the center with the beads hanging from the bottom and long tartan plaid handle. I am gambling on a 23 year old wanting a black velvet holiday bag? Something got lost in translation with Ava and I'm unsure of her favorite colors.

This might also be the reason I can't figure out which boy in her class is giving her lovely handmade necklaces. I'm suspicious there might be a 5 year old love triangle brewing though. More on the juicy details when I get the facts straight.

Olivia's Mom's Morning Out teachers are getting the brown floral bags. One is very pregnant and I thought she might like a diaper caddy. See second from left. It is a clutch and lifts open to store 2 diapers and a package of wipes.

It is perfect for storing in the car or taking into a restaurant when you don't want to lug the gignoramous diaper bag for a 1 hour trip. I use mine ALL the time. The little matching bag on the far right is for the other teacher in the room. I have no idea whether she is a teal and brown fan...I was debating whether it is a good idea for someone I hardly know...but was told I was overthinking the situation. Who me? Overthinking something as insignificant as a teacher gift for a woman I hardly know who sees my child all of 4 hours a week? Probably guilty as charged.

There they are in all their glory...our family's thank you to the teachers in our lives. We respect your patience and talents! Happy Holidays Teachers.

I'm signing off to make a wristlet for my hair stylist... I see her tomorrow and mama needs a chic bob.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Chillin' Out

She's waiting patiently for the bed linens to be washed and dried and put back on the bed.

Yes, she's bellied up to Elmo. And yes, those are her arms propped nicely up behind her head.

Rainy...cold...December day, no worries.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Elmo Rules Hannah Drools

Scene: Cul-de-sac kitchen.
Time: A few weeks ago.

Ava: (With hand on hip.) "Ugh, Mom THAT is soooo like OVER." she said referring to her sister's toy blocks when I suggested she pick them up and build a castle.

Me: like over. "Ava, Did your zip code change to 90201?"

Ava: "Huh? No, mom it is 46....." (My five year old can be quite literal, it is sometimes endearing even in the throws of hip swinging and improper English.)

Me in mental note to self: "That Hannah Montana and all those other crappy teeny bopper shows are sooooo like outtta here." Fur sure.

And that is how Elmo got promoted. Or perhaps he got resurrected from the ever mounting dvd collection collecting dust in our tv cabinet. That...and Liv has suddenly realized that Elmo = baby crack. Gotta have it, will beg whine and steal to get it.

There was no official indoctrination with pinky swear or small blood draw stating that Hannah Montana is officially out (so like, over) at our house. There was not even a 20 minute soliloquy that mama so loves to procure expounding on the evils done to society when 5 year olds act and talk like 16 year old valley girls who drive little red Audi's of their own. No, that would invoke a little too much 5 1/2 year old drama. And like the chick from the Black Eyed Peas states, "You don't want no drama." No, mama don't want no drama.

Hannah's exodus was quiet and without fanfare. She left the building and playroom twirling in her too short pleated skirt complete with 1980's footless tights that my daughter will not be getting for Christmas. Elmo and all his talk of being a good friend, proper hand washing techniques, and all the animals in the world that make him happy have swooped in at 5:15 pm each day. Two little girls who simply will not grow up too fast watch happily while using wooden blocks to build castles. The truth of the matter is that the newly imposed "No, Hannah" rule was in fact a little dicey the first few days...but then like all bad habits we simply supplemented with another bad habit and all was fine back at the ranch in no time at all.

I, in turn can make a dinner in peace. I am also rewarded with a soon to be 6 year old who speaks like a soon to be 6 year old.

Elmo rocks our house.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Private Kindergarten Post

Here it is as promised:

I no longer like private kindergarten. I love public school. Or, I love our public far. Ava has a delightful 12 year old teacher...this is her first year and she is so darn eager to do a great job...that simply said, I love her and her glue smelling, glitter decked, overly English labeled classroom. She has taught my kid to read, has her in a leadership role helping other children, and has her prepared to spew off more Spanish learned in 3 months than she has learned Mandarin in 3 years of rote learning at Chinese school. I heart public school.

Public kindergarten in my township is still part time. You can of course pay to send your child full time but tax dollars still pay for 1/2 time. This is of course short lived and full time Kindergarten will more definitely be state wide mandated by the time 2 year old Livi gets to school. (Another issue worth debating if I ever sit down long enough to gather random thoughts.)

Ava is a kid sponge and is full of confidence...she has always loved the academic and social parts of preschool. She gets quite saucy when home staring at her unused toys. She loves television and I completely admit to caving on too many occasions letting her zone out in front of the tv rather than listening to whatever ranting and raving she can come up with while bored at home. This is why we decided on supplementing regular public school kindergarten with the private program that is supposed to be arts and literature based rather than beating ABCs and 123s into her little head. However, the teacher who developed the program 15 years ago at arts and literature school up and quit 2 weeks before the school year started. School hired new teacher and she is fine. Yes, fine...nothing terrific...nothing personal, I am sure she is a nice enough person if I ever had the opportunity to say more than 3 words to her.

This is verbose but leading me to my winter of discontent with arts and literature private school. I signed up to be room mom for the class and have offered on numerous occasions to volunteer. Teacher has bitten on my offers to help with class not one time. I was very open and honest when I signed up that I have a 2 year old at home and she is NOT ready to be shipped off to co-op babysitting and is thus attached to my hip. They said fine, no problem while making goo goo eyes at my sweet Liv. So, I filled out the mountain of paperwork getting my $30 background security check while running to the local police department myself and then sending in a fat yellow envelope asking for yet more proof I am not an axe-murderer or child molester. (Keep in mind the school knows that I have been fingerprinted by the local, state and federal governments 2 times in the last 5 years due to the adoptions.) Copies of my last fingerprinting in 2006 would not suffice for the school, they must have yet another fingerprinting to allow me entry to the school or to drive children on field trips.

Last week I volunteered for a field trip. I was told that I couldn't volunteer if I insisted on taking Olivia with me. Couldn't I find a babysitter? Well, no...I have no family in town and the Muffin Man is a little busy working outside the home in order to pay the mortgage. On a side note I did try to swap kids with another mother a few weeks ago and Liv just about lost her marbles during the attempted handoff. If was not pleasant and Livi will be riding my hip until her 18th birthday or her first date, whichever comes first.

Mrs. Arts and Literature explained that I could not be "in charge" of walking children around a museum while watching Olivia too. I get this. I'm ok with it. You can't have parents watching rambunctious 2 year olds AND be responsible for extra 5-6 year olds. I explained that I would drive separately and would have no official duties but I'd be happy to just be another adult to help out where needed. Then Mrs. Arts and Literature says that won't be allowed since it might not be fair to the other parents who actually got babysitters for their younger children and sometimes parents are late for field trips and she doesn't want to have to wait for anyone who is late. What? This is the rationale...don't want to possibly offend a parent who got a babysitter? You are expecting parents to be irresponsible and late for functions? At a kindergarten field trip?

Ok, last week I had my panties all in a twist over this. I've now calmed myself a wee bit. But I did call the PTA president and calmly explained that they might want to review their room parent and field trip handbook for next year. Nowhere does it state that younger siblings will be banished from any and all activities and paying $30 for a background check is completely a waste of time for any parent wanting to help out unless they want to come alone, you will not be allowed to do ANYTHING with the class unless you are ALONE. I also explained that driving separately to a public place cannot be technically banned for a parent with a younger sibling. It is a public place after all. In the same breath I mentioned that I personally would not do up at the field trip uninvited just to see my little darling stare at Native American art for the sake of just being an asshole. But you never know...your policy might not keep the next parent away from a public place on the day of said field trip. Policy that cannot be enforced is usually not a good idea. PTA president said she would take it under advisement.

In the end, I could take Ava out of this program. But perhaps that would be knee jerk and overly dramatic and there are only 5 more months. The class isn't horrible or is just well...ok. Nothing outstanding.

I'm researching Montessori schools for Liv.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

In My Head

I've been writing in my head. Really, almost everyday I get a fleeting thought about something that I might like to sit down at the computer and write about. And for oh, I don't know how many days, I didn't. But now I do, here I am. For what's it worth I've been busy.

On Nov. 25 I went to a Pink Evita party and sold 28 hand bags. One month before Christmas. And I promised them to everyone and their mother in less than 2 weeks. So, the shit and lots of colorful material hit the fan and I spent 9 days in cul-de-sac captivity sewing up bags. Then I got the idea (yes, I got it from a friend not while dreamily thinking up new and fabulous design ideas in my uninterrupted sleep) to add little lobster claw beaded charms to all the handbags that have zippers. Super, more work and another idea to draw out the process of finishing the bags and delivering them on time. Oh, but they are uber cute. Pictures to follow when I get off my butt and snap a picture.

You might be thinking that some fairy or commercial cleaning and decorating service came into the house to clean and decorate the joint for the most festivious season of them all while I've been locked away in the sewing room? You'd be wrong. I have dirt left over from Halloween. I found proof upon discovering a skittles wrapper in Ava's room yesterday. Let's be honest, adding Christmas dirt onto Halloween dirt endears us to no one. Present company not excepted. This morning Liv and I had no formal plans and took to digging the place out. I cleaned for 2 hours downstairs alone and it looks presentable...not great mind you only presentable. I'm not sure what possessed me but several puzzles, two cookbooks, and a 14 year old builder grade toilet paper holder bit the dust. I danced a jig while Livi bathed herself in episode after episode of THE GOD-like creature us mortals call ELMO. In case you were wondering...she is his biggest fan. She spits upon Dora, and thumbs her nose non-chalantly at those Backyardagains. ELMO is her homeboy, she needs a tee shirt to prove it.

What would possess a normal average American family to think it a good idea to put away a blender in a remote cabinet before cleaning it? It must have been the Muffin Man. I found it today in the recesses of a kitchen cabinet which has probably been without human touch for over 8 months to a year with mystery brown stains. We can hardly blame this one on the children either, like we normally do with all other embarrassing quirky tidbits. But to my knowledge it is a household rule that anyone under the age of ten living here does not on a regular basis use the blender. Here is the really weird part...the cup part of the blender was squeaky clean...the base was growing some new form of Penicillin. Thank God for small favors like Clorox wipes. One blender down 10,000 feet of baseboards to go. (We all know the reality of the situation includes that fact that I will certainly lose interest in those Clorox wipes, they will once again fall out of favor and I will be writing about adding Easter dirt to Christmas dirt in a few short months.)

Aside from mystery stains and Elmo sightings we are all ultimately fine in the large scheme of universal and quantum wellness. We are of course contemplating setting up a tree. And perhaps a few stockings. It's an idea anyway.

Oh, one more thing to get you completely caught up. I decided to skimp on the family budget and try to take the girls' holiday picture by myself after I got them dressed in cute matching holiday outfits. How hard could it possibly be to get only 1 fabulous photo of a most cooperative almost 6 year old and a tame and docile 2 year old? Costco has holiday greeting cards 50 for $15.99 after all. Snap on.

For the love of God, I needed a glass of wine the other night after trying desperately to manage the 26 hour delay on the overpriced hunk of junk Minolta and my 2 squirming children. I guiltlessly helped myself to an over sized glass of stemless vino rather than plunging my fingernails into each of their eyeballs.

Here is the picture..this is after 60 shots and doctoring it up on photoshop. Mediocre...I'd say. (Not the children, the photo.)

If you know us in real life you will be receiving a hard copy courtesy of Costco's photo department easy template services in a mail box near you on or about Feb. 2nd.

Next update could include why I might quit Chinese school, why I no longer like private Kindergarten or other yet to be named bits of holiday cheer.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Olivia Xi GeGe is now officially two. Technically she has been two since the 12th. I am just now getting around to pulling myself away from the day to day management of home, hearth, and Pink Evita business. (Not necessarily in that order...there is some tending to the home and hearth that is quiet desperation of some windex.)

Nonetheless, my precious wittle "w"one...turned two last week. We began the day with making cupcakes for her Mommy and Me play group which includes our beloved twin friends whom we met in China the same moment we met Liv. Of course there is also her BFF Mei Mei. Each and every time we get in the car Liv shouts "Mei, Mei?" which means do I get to play with Mei Mei? Being the slacker mom that I am we whipped together a few cupcakes and frosted them on the way out the of course the frosting melted into a gooey glaze by the time we got to share them. I considered making up a story about how Olivia's cupcakes were frosted with the newest form of sheer fondant that the had to offer but secretly thought no one in their right mind would buy that coming from me. Kudos to the other mom's for tactfully neglecting to mention the mess.

Then I realized I pretty much had NOT ONE OTHER THING planned for the blessed event that marks the auspicious occasion of my dear daughter's birth.

What is a girl to do? Go to Build A Bear. When in doubt...there is always build a bear.

The girls and I headed off to the mall as a special treat for Olivia's birthday with specific promises of one small bear and one small (aka cheap) outfit for said bear. These specific instructions were mostly for Ava's complete understanding and comprehension of the trip to the mall. But perhaps that goes without saying.

Take special note of the size of that bear. It is not small. Apparently Build a Bear knows nothing of the words tasteful and in moderation.

They both got big bears. Is it weird that Ava looks more pleased with the whole birthday trip to the mall than Olivia?

Everybody gets a bath immediately upon being born yes?

Bears born at the mall do. In a sad turn of events the super bear drying machine scared the bejeezus out of Olivia and she had to move quickly into the bear clothes section of the store.

With bears in tow we then chose to eat chicken nuggets at the food court. A birthday feast to befit the occasion.

Back home at the ranch...there were left over cupcakes. Slacker birthday cupcakes, but cupcakes.

It turns out when you set the bar low...everyone is happy with a melted cupcake. That is my tidbit of wisdom for you today.

And that was birthday number 2...Olivia style.

Maybe next year she will get a pony.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Make A Left Onto The Cul-De-Sac

Johnny's Rolling MeMe of Doom has made a left and is now at my driveway. Here are the rules as I understand them.

1) Read the meme that was dumped assigned to you. Answer the questions.
2) Add TWO new questions to the list. Answer those questions.
3) Forward Dump this onto the next blogger victim (and list their name and link to their blog).
4) This series will conclude when we get 50 questions - so yes, it's 25 bloggers in the chain.
5) Please make sure that the next victim in the "link" doesn't have a password protected blog.
[Optional 6] Update the links so people can follow along (this is similar to the method I used in the Why China series).
[Optional 7] When you see an update, down the chain, update your own page with the new questions and answers.
[Optional 8] Copy these micromanaging instructions into the top of your meme post.

1. What secret/surprising/personal goal (that is realistically achievable within the next 15 years) would you like to fulfill?
I'd like to expand my wee little bitty handbag business into a storefront and run it with some friends. We'd be happy and comfortable while filling our souls with creative work every day. I'm completely fine with keeping my "dropped out" status in corporate America.

2. Can you list an event in which you made a last minute decision or guess that significantly changed the path of your life?
In 2001 I found out that I was in remission from breast cancer. In an overly dramatic and tearful display I made my husband promise we would never again try fertility and we would adopt a child. We attended an adoption meeting at a church several weeks later after I heard an advertisement on the radio. I wore a wig. On the drive home we easily agreed that we would send in the application money to start an adoption from China. We never researched agencies or programs. 18 months later we were on a plane bringing Ava home. Then in 2005 we did that same thing and brought Olivia home. It never occurred to either one of us to read up on cancer recurrence rates, or adoption agencies, or countries or domestic vs. international. After I strong armed him into the decision we simply lept with closed eyes, wounded souls, and open arms. It was the best decision we ever made as a couple.

3. What is one unrealistic goal (but your total secret dream) that you would love to come true, but are pretty sure it won’t ever happen?
Oprah calls me and says I must be on her show since I've lead a pretty interesting life so far. She likes my handbags, she thinks I'm talented and she secretly reads the blog. I politely decline saying I don't need the publicity I'm very busy woman. However, I'd be happy to have dinner with her in Chicago at the restaurant of her choice. She pays of course. We have some wine and good conversation, then I happily come home.

4. Who has had the most influence on your life and what did they teach you?
Probably my parents and their teachings of leading a life rich with family and kindness towards others.

5. You are on a deserted island. You are stranded with someone from any point in time for 2 months (they are coming to rescue you but are busy right now). Other then family/friends/naval engineers, who is it?
The Dalai Lama is too busy? Are you kidding?

6. Name and describe 3 things on your mind lately. Is there any particular reason why you’re thinking about a particular thing?
Did I make the right decision in putting Ava in full time Kindergarten? She's very tired. And sort of whiny. But loves it. She's more clingy than normal. I worry about her at school.

Is Livi speech delayed, or simply laid back? Shouldn't I just relax about it already, she is using more words?

Is making almost 100 handbags too many in 3 months for a part time job?

7. If you could go back to one moment in time and change it, what would the moment be and what would you change it from and to?
I think I would rethink how much I spent on a pair of jeans yesterday. Seriously, no regrets in the large scheme of life . Everything is right in its own time, it is not time well spent to Monday morning quarterback your life.

8. What is your biggest pet peeve and is there anything that you can do or not do to stop other people from doing it?
Don't you think the word actually is overused? It is driving me insane. I do it and I cringe. Why does every other sentence need to start with the word actually? The neighborhood kids do it and Ava does it. Poor English or over use of slang iritates me.

9. Who has been the most influential teacher in your life and why did he or she have such an impact on you? Have you sent them a note?
Mr. Brixus in 7th grade. He made me feel smart when I needed it. He made me feel normal when I wasn't. When I was in his class I loved learning. No, I never told him thanks. I moved and have no idea how to contact him. I did ask a very old friend what became of him. She told me he fell out of favor with that Catholic school when he obtained a divorce. Their loss, hands down. I hope he is happy in whatever he is doing.

10. What three things do you regret not learning to do?
Play piano.
Learning more about how to take care of a car. My husband does this for me and I think it a little lame.
I wish I had tried to teach my mind to be a little more analytical in school. Math and physics were difficult for me. I never valued how those skills can open doors to other types of learning later in life.

11. What is your biggest fear?
Sometimes I get a twinge of worry about a cancer recurrence. I'm not afraid to die but I do not want to leave my girls before they are self sufficient adults.

12. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
More patience. I can be pushy and driven in a slightly obnoxious way. I don't want my kids to get that from me.

13. What is the answer to life, the universe, everything?
Love, not romantic sappy love. Love is non-judgment and peace for all people.

14. If you knew, beforehand, that the wait for your child from China would take this long and drastic a time frame, would you still go through with it or would you choose another country?
We waited 13 and 12 months respectively after log in for our girls. It would be easy for me to say we'd do it all over exactly the same no matter what...but I'm not sure we would if we had to wait 3 years for a baby.

15. What is one food that most people like that you do not like at all?
Tomato soup and juice. Love fresh tomatoes, hate the juice and soup. It's weird.

16. Name one place in the world you would love to spend at least one month visiting?
Yueyang, Hunan China and Yangxi Guangdong China.
Machu Pichu
New Zealand
Northern Ireland
Obviously, one place is simply not possible for me. I have serious wander lust and would pick up tomorrow and travel.

17. What book have you just finished reading and why did you pick it up? Would you recommend it to others?
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. She is hysterial and I loved it. I bought it because I'm a sucker for spiritual journey books.

18. Share a relatively quick and easy recipe for Fall. One pot/dish recipes given extra credit.
Back to #10. Can I add learn to cook better?

19. Would you rather be financially well off, but unhappy, or a happy person who is always in need of money?
I have a friend who is divorced and she jokes she will marry for money the next time around. It sounds all well and good but we all know truly happy people don't need tons of money. Just enough. Sign me up for happy.

20. What is the most comforting sound in the world to you and why?
The kids laughing together. Although the ocean tumbling is a close second.

21. What is your all time favorite book? If you aren’t a reader, what is your favorite movie? And why?Favorite book?
Too many to name one. When I was a young girl my favorite book was a Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. But I have read so many great books since then. There is simply nothing better than losing yourself is a wonderfully written story.

22. Share one of your most cherished childhood memories.
For a short time we lived on the Mississippi River in a small town in Iowa. There was family down the street with 13 children. My brother and I spent so many carefree days running up and down the bluff that overlooked the river with all those kids. We put pennies on the train tracks to see them flattened. We hunted for Indian arrowheads and collected frogs and toadstools. We walked ourselves to the local pool and back again when it was near dark. We even walked to the local Dairy Mart for ice cream when we could get $.75 from our parents. It was easy living.

23. What are you paranoid about?
Losing my child in a public place. I have overreacted so many times when one of them strays only 10 feet from me. I almost couldn't read Deep End of The Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard it was so emotional for me.

24. What trait of yours do you MOST hope your children will carry on?
Love of books, of course. Also, critical thinking on matters of most importance ie...spirituality and personal integrity.

25. What’s your guilty pleasure?People magazine at the pedicure salon. Heaven on earth people.

26. What would you buy if you had a thousand dollars to spend on yourself?
This sounds rather materialistic, but shoes good shoes. And then some fabric for fun sewing. And then a pair of fine leather boots.

27. Help me update my your favorite artists, and then your favorite song that they perform.
I'm so lame in this department. I have Black Eyed Peas on my ipod. That is the only band that makes me feel a little cool when I listen to it. Are they cool anymore? Who knows.

28. What is your favorite charity?
Susan Komen. Half The Sky. And...Ava just brought home this amazing program from school for Heifer International. We put a few cents in a box everyday and it tells us all about how the money will go to buy livestock and farming supplies for people in need around the world. Teach a man to fish. . .that is a cool charity.

29. In The Shadow of the Wind, there is a beautiful passage that says “few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart.” Do you think this is true, and if so what is your “first” book and why.
This is unromantic, but no. I am passionate about books and I simply cannot remember my first book. I do remember reading Charlotte's Web as a little girl and crying and crying when Charlotte died. I loved that book. I guess it was the first book that found its way to my I'll change my answer to a resounding yes, it's true.

30. What is your favorite wilderness hike and why? (You knew I was going to ask this-if you aren’t a hiker, you can modify it to drive by landscapes or whatever speaks to you.)
Taquamannon Falls, Upper Penninsula Michigan. It took my breath away. Does the Great Wall of China count as a wilderness hike? That was also pretty damned rock'in.

31. What were/are your nicknames? Do you like them?
When I was little kids at school called me Klutz. It rhymed with my maiden name. How unfortunate that I was the tallest kid EVER and not terribly graceful.

32. What was your first concert? Your most recent?
Van Halen.
Polka Boy at the local Rathskellar. Those dudes can jam. :)

33. Have you ever done someone the dirty? I mean really, foully, badly wrong. And would you do it again, and why?
I bet I have but I don't think it would have been intentional. I don't consider myself mean spirited.

34. If you found out that the universe HAD been created, and you could ask the Creator one question, what would it be?
Why are Men from Mars and Women From Venus?

35. What were your dreams as a child?
I remember wanting to be a lawyer. But it was probably because I thought my parents wanted me to be a lawyer. Then there was a time when I wanted to be a famous dancer in New York. Which I'm not sure where that came from since I never really danced beyond 8 years old.

36. What can you do better than most people?
Oh, lots of things. See #12 and the obnoxious stuff.
I have an eye for colors and textures. That hasn't made me my first million or anything but it is proving helpful in my old age.

37. What's your favorite bird and why?
Oh dear, here is where I have to admit that I have a deep seeded bird phobia. My dear friend has a few in her house in little cages and I simply cannot understand it. I have to breathe deep and self talk the walk in her living room. I sometimes have nightmares about chicken feet, it truly creeps me out. I hate bird feet. However, I am learning to relax a bit about it and I do like watching the bluebirds and cardinals in my wooded long as I can focus on their bodies and not their feet.

38. When/where did you last go camping? I've never been on a real overnight camping trip. Does a lower end Marriott count? I would like to try it. The older I get the less fussy I get. I could pee on a tree.

39. Is there something that you feel you should love doing with your kids but you really don't enjoy at all?
Ok, I don't really enjoy playing imaginary stuff with the girls. I like board games and reading but I dread when they want to play house or Dr. I avoid it like the plague.

40. What home improvement project is next on your list? Something as small as changing a light bulb counts.
We are adding cabinet door knobs after being knob'less for 13 years. This is a major event in our lives. When it is done I'll have to share a picture.

Red Hot n' Rollin': Johnny(1,2) -> Our Journey to China (3,4)-> 3D’s Adoption Journey (5,6)->Waiting for Pumpkin (7,8)->Two Kayaks (9,10)->Watch Our Family Grow (11,12)-> Our Journey to Little Maple and Back (13,14)-> American Family (15,16)-> Chicago Mama (17,18)-> The Further Adventures of Spacemom (19,20)-> Mrs. Figby (21,22)-> Mortimer’s Mom (23,24)-> Mimiboo (25, 26) -> Sopapilla (27, 28)->Jiangli (29, 30)->Beeb (31,32)-> FD Chief (33,34) -> The Daily Grind (35, 36); Different Dirt (37, 38); Twoladybugs (39,40)-> Forks and Chopsticks (41,42)

Forks and Chopsticks has been kind enough to play along next. Check her out soon.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Genie and The LadyBug

All's well that ends well. Most importantly I, I mean the girls scored large amounts of Almond Joys and Kit Kats.

In a flurry of post 45 minutes until we leave for Halloween party madness Ava whipped herself in to that genie costume, wearing only the headband. She paused only long enough to ask if I would FORCE her to wear her hair up. I replied, "No dear, when have I ever FORCED you to do anything with the exception of that hepatitis shot in 2006?" in my very best Mommy Dearest voice. I quickly followed, "You don't have to wear the head thingy...and don't answer that previous question, it was rhetorical." Again, she rolled her eyes at me. If I only had a dime.

Meanwhile back in the nursery, Olivia was happily tossing halloween costumes around the room like Gatsby in his dressing room. Ava and I chided Olivia into choosing a costume in our awful sugary voices. She chose ladybug over the Panda. (Mental note to self: Panda costume definitely goes into the TO BE SAVED plastic bin in the attic for future grandchild torture.) Or, if you send me an email I will ship it to the next victim free of charge.

Then we paused in all our grandness for the annual Halloween photoshoot.

The rest of the evening went off without a hitch. Ava went to trick or treat at our friend's house while her father walked the kids around the neighborhood. Livi stayed glued to my hip somewhat overwhelmed and overstimulated by all that is Halloween nowadays. I ate 2 bowls chilli, Livi ate pizza and sugar coated marshmellows by Cadbury. Did you get any this year? They did not disappoint. Livi stole 3 on the way out.

We hope your Halloween was filled with peace and joy in this of all seasons. (I'm gearing up for December, what can I say?)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Will We Get Treats?

T minus 45 minutes until Halloween trick or treating and party festivities begin.

I just called Ava to the computer to look at Jeannie. I offered to perform hair miracles to complete the ensemble. No takers. She isn't interested and only wants to wear a new stretchy headband. Come on. I even dangled the prospect of a little pink lipstick...again no takies. She needs to finish a puzzle. Obviously I have not talked up Halloween up enough around here. I have not dangled enough fun sized Snickers. We may have a Genie that has no up-do and green vampire teeth...did I mention she is interested in wearing green vampire teeth with the pink Genie costume?

Vera Wang she is not. Independent she is.

Now the little one. Verdict is still not in. I have the not so popular but adorable and handmade Panda (see last post) ready and rearing to go. As a back up we have borrowed ladybug. Pre-nap time she expressed interest in stomping on both costumes with dirty shoes. Not so much with the final decision. She must get the complex nature from her sister.

We are dangerously close to wearing orange tee shirts...all three of us and heading off to friend's house for chili. But I'm not panic'ing yet. Someone will get their skinny little butt into a costume if it is the very last thing I do as a mother...mama needs chocolate.

I'll report back later with pictures no matter how gruesome.

Monday, October 22, 2007

You Can Dress Me Up

Way back in 2004 I made a panda Halloween costume. I slaved to make sure this thing was perfectly warm for a cool October 31st evening in the Midwest. It had black and white faux fur with the best darn red sequin obnoxious bow I could muster. Every panda wears a red bowtie right? Nothing but the cutest for my little panda bear. What self respecting Chinese 2 year old would not wear a panda costume?

Well, that self respecting little 2 year old was Ava. The kid threw the biggest hissy over the thing and practically missed trick or treating due to the fact that perhaps she felt a wee bit silly in the thing. For the record I whipped out a piece of snickers bar and said if you wear panda there will be many more of these in your immediate future. Ava, being pretty damn smart with a wicked sweet tooth to boot...hopped into that panda costume toot sweet.

Then it was 75 degrees out that evening and she refused to wear the panda hat, made of cheap satin and fur. Being that Ava and I always compromise she wore the damned thing running from house to house while sweating off about 6 lbs in the fur costume. I casually explained it was never too early for a good mother to teach her daughter something about how to manage water retention. The poor little mite came home in her fur costume after running from house to house shouting Tricks and Treats not caring one iota that she was sweating on neighbors doorsteps stopping only when Skittles were offered.

Here we go...panda costume take 2.
Now who looks reluctant? And she's the perfect size for the genuine simulated panda fur imported from the nearest discount fabric house.
This costume must have some feral stink that only 2 year olds can smell.

When you are automatically smells like Downy and seems the like cutest damned thing since fancy pants on a 12 month old. She is definitely NOT wearing the hat.

It seems like she's contemplating the thought of possibly opting out of panda and going with fairy wings and a tutu.

She looks deliriously happy to be with panda. She just doesn't know about Snickers yet.

I'm calling my friend to ask if we can borrow the size 2T ladybug costume. Hmmmmgh.

More costume trials and tribulations later as I wrassle with the fact that my 5 year old is insisting on wearing a genie costume which shows huge amounts of bare midriff. And she looks pretty darn great in it. Will I be the complete prude and make her wear a white tee shirt under the costume?
These are the things that keep me up at night nowadays.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

No noise

My house is completely quiet. I can hear the ticking of clocks. I didn't even know we had clocks that tick. This is how out of touch I am with quiet. I am loving it...and I'm slightly unnerved by it. I'm aimlessly walking throughout the house picking up my family's ill placed shoes and returning them to shoe trees in their rooms. I'm using this time to fantasize what life would be like if I had more time in the quiet like this. Someday I will visit an Ashram in India to give myself enough quiet time to choke a chicken.

Ava is at school, perhaps on a field trip perhaps not. Picking pumpkins in a mid-western corn/pumpkin field in the rain does not sound like a smashing good time to me...but hey, perhaps her 21 year old teacher is more energetic and saw fit to let the 15 kindergarteners hop the bus to pumpkinville. Is it evil of me to secretly pat myself on the back for declining to chaperone that one?

Liv is at mom's morning out/preschool. Yes, we continued and last week she turned a huge corner in the "preschool is not infact hell" saga. When I casually explained to the director, as we were about to quit, that if only there was a male teacher perhaps she would transition easier.

For whatever reason, Liv is not too terribly keen on new women she meets but honestly hasn't seen too many men she doesn't instantly fall in love with. Yes, I've repeatedly asked her pediatrician and a developmental therapist about this quirk and they do not seem to think it implies an attachment disorder for which we could later regret not seeking treatment for. I hope they are right.

Ms. Director quickly perked up and said, "Well, with your permission I could bring Mr. Roger in the room." Mr. Roger is a retired police chief who works at the church doing music ministry for children. He has a special needs daughter and has a special place in his heart for little kids. I quickly said let's give it a shot. Last week when we arrived at preschool there was Mr. Roger, a white haired gentleman in a tie. He wears a tie to preschool. With her two female teachers and the director watching from behind Liv jumped out of my arms into the strange Mr. Roger's lap. I shook my head and sighed. She wimpered a bit as I left but when I picked her up there was a glowing report, everyone, including my little Olivia was all smiles. Ms. Director met me at the door and reported that Mr. Roger only stayed 20 minutes and then transitioned out of the room. Livi was happy the rest of the day complete with eating at the table and participating in playtime and crafts. Today at drop off she again leaped into Mr. Roger's arms with no crying. Ms. Director summed it by saying in all my years of doing this I have never seen anything quite like it. I turned on my heels and said, "Yes, Olivia can be a complicated woman."

Oh, and the Muffin Man is out for the day on business. So there is no chatter from his downstairs office. Despite my pleas for him to use his headset..he still insists on gracing the entire house with his booming voice while talking widgets. When Liv starts speaking in sentences I'm sure she will be selling tools to reps. from Kansas City quoting pricing increases and forecasting trends.

There you have it, that leaves me...on the cul-de-sac in my state of quiet rumbling from room to room picking up shoes. For another hour. Until I start the process of picking up little people to come home and litter my floors with shoes and crackers.

Excuse me while I go get some quiet food. I want nothing that crunches to ruin the quiet. I'll sit in a chair alone, with no one using my legs as their launching pad to sit on top of errr...I mean next to me. I think I will choose the chair that is next to the ticking clock and count my 53 more alone quiet minutes.

Friday, October 05, 2007

It's October...

and that means it is Breast Cancer Awareness month again. Shouldn't I as a 7 year breast cancer survivor be over the moon with appreciation when I open every mail circular and it is advertising their undying (sorry) support of the dreaded pink disease? I go to the grocery store and now see that EVERY other company carries their label with a pink ribbon proudly stating that they do indeed support breast cancer, and I see that many friends and acquaintances are walking in this run/walk for life? Shouldn't I be more enthusiastic about this? Didn't I perhaps possibly gain something from one of these large corporate sponsors and their research dollars as the decision was being made about which sort of chemotherapy would give me the best possible chance to live past 35?

Maybe, maybe not.

But I can't help looking downward and feeling slightly sad when the graham cracker company I buy from now is "on board" with their full support of breast cancer and they have the pink ribbon on the box to prove it. It's easy to fly a pink ribbon...

Do I sound cynical? Perhaps I feel a bit cynical about it. I am grateful that lots of money is being poured into research for this shitty disease. I wish more money was being poured into finding out WHY it occurs in the first place. I am also melancholy at the thought that it is taking the diagnosis of 140,000 new American women this year to get the Kelloggs and Johnson's & Johnson's folks on with Susan G. Komen to fight the good fight.

As I was picking up my graham crackers and smiling my "I beat IT" resigned 1/2 smile I thought "wait what about about all those other not so "pink" diseases?" Where is their $50 million dollar corporate campaign? What about every person who is really fighting it today? God, I hope I never forget what it was like to be fighting IT every day.

Then I almost ran into her scooter. I accidently stepped in front of a lovely lady in a ball cap. She had gorgeous skin and a sweet smile. She had only soft peach fuzz in spotty patches along her almost non existent hair line. I stumbled and apologized for my rudeness almost stepping on her grocery store issued scooter with the little basket on the front. She continued to smile and eagerly excused herself. She had taken the time to put on eye makeup. She's the one who October and all the ribbon flying is really about. *

I cringed when her scooter ran out of electric juice in the next aisle. Of all the damned indignity, needing a scooter at the grocery store in the first place when she probably was skipping through 6 errands in a morning a few months ago but then to have the blasted thing run out of juice in front of cereal?

The Muffin Man and I stopped and asked if we could call a grocery store attendant for her. I tried to make a light joke about the store not springing for the Mercedes Benz scooter. Not funny. She said she had a friend with her who could help. We quickly moved on not wanting to draw any unwanted attention. It made me think of the time when I couldn't walk 1 length of the local mall without stopping for a 15 minute rest because I'd just had 4 chemo treatments in 4 months and lost 20 lbs and had about 6 white blood cells to my name.

Later on turning the corner on aisle 16 the grocery store attendant had rounded up a new scooter for the lady in the ball cap. He was gracious and did nothing to draw attention to her needing the scooter he quickly moved her groceries to the new basket. Thank heavens for small favors.

The muffin man and I pushed Olivia to the check out lane, just as we always do. I put the mound of groceries on belt and he took 3 pennies for her pony ride. Just like normal.

That is what I wish the corporate sponsors of the world could do...give each survivor back their normal.

* I completely acknowledge that I have no idea whether this lady is a cancer survivor or not...she appeared that way to me.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Home girls

Since we've had our panties all in a twist over preschool and separation anxiety and sensory integration overload (for both of us) we, ok I, decided that today we would eat nachos and slink around the house in our jammies. La la la...we have no issues and we just want to watch too much tv and perhaps toss in a load of laundry while waiting for Ava to come home, who is off galavanting saving the world and creating peace in the middle east while at kindergarten. But then Liv got yogurt all over her jammies and she had to upgrade to tee shirt and shorts. I however am holding strong and wearing piggie jammies. Loves me my piggie jammies.

Here is what is happening at this very minute on the cul-de-sac. More specifically the nursery on the cul-de-sac.
Toys have been overturned. Home girl has decided that there will be no fun without large mess en masse. She's doing everyone a favor since now we can't see the dirty carpet very well. Good thinking.

Oh, that face.

I occurred to me at the fabric store yesterday that I have become one of those parents who thinks that everything her baby does is just the cutest damned thing ever. Even when she is pulling down large boxes of lighting equipment that goes crash when hitting linoleum. She laughed, I laughed and the sales lady did not. She said something to the tune of "It might help if he was in a cart." He? Um...the pink pebbles hairdo and pink shoes did not throw off an estrogen radar? When did this happen? I was not this parent with my first. It must have happened some time around the first child going off to school and realizing that child number 2 will eventually fly the nest as well. Although, if you are following recent school developments that remains up for debate. Regardless, I am officially annoying and have an equally annoying but awfully darn sweet natured albeit rambunctious child.

What time are nachos served? Ring the bell.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Remember this? Those were the good ole' days. We are in preschool hell or maybe just preschool purgatory.

Does this look like the face of a little child who will sit at the door crying her little eyes out for a few hours waiting for Mommy to get off her fat butt and drive the family truckster back to preschool to spring the little jail bird?
No, but then again she is enjoying some sort of bonus apple juice cocktail which is normally against regulation beverage rules but since it was Moon Festival and all.....

She hates it, preschool that is...she's digs apple juice. I hate the hand off where she screams. I hate the pick up where all the other relaxed looking mothers happily collect their protegee's craft and tired but happy little person. I especially hate the little report card that has Miss Stacy's neat printing which clearly states she ate nothing, participated in no crafts, would not play on the playground and produced a multitude of crocodile tears for effect. Weep, sob, sniff. I have to give the little mite some credit in the tenacity department...she simply will not adjust to preschool. It has been the most tenacious I have ever seen her. The most dramatic, and the most wigged out. For the record she immediately calms down and starts giggling and cooing at passersby the minute she hits my hip. (This does mean I'm not doing permanent damage right?) I just tell my kids I'll pay for therapy later.

I so want to quit. But then I so want her to prove to herself she can do it. Overcome a big fear and learn to adapt, and then realize that the big sunny room filled with toys and crafts and yummy snacks is not in fact POW camp. I've been thinking about why this is so darn important to me. I guess I'm getting older and I'm interested in the stretch, the emotional stretch that is. The one where I try to start my own business, hang out with Chinese parents at Chinese school rather than my normal adoptive parent cronies, etcetera. Hey we all want to be a better person, build character, it gives you more crap to brag about to your grandkids.

But then why should she be interested in that? She's only a bit shy of two. Shouldn't she just get to hang out at the grocery store while pulling cheerios down off the shelf in aisle nine each and every Tuesday morning? Shouldn't she just get to swing the bathroom door open grinning every single time mommy needs a minute alone in there?

We are quitting, I don't care what the overly experienced preschool director thinks of me and Livi.

No, we can't quit after only 5 times. Give it 2 months, that would be the rational thing to do.

No, we are quitting. Gosh, I want to be in 9th grade again when I gave not one extra thought to quitting the flute and the orchestra.

To quit or not to quit that is the question.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sis Boom Ba - Blah

I have nothing of substance against the average cheerleader. Cute, perky, shiny hair, in shape...what's not to love? But I don't....never have. It is a completely unjustified secret (until now) lackadaisical loathe. It is one for which I am not especially proud. Being that I am usually all live and let live etc. To each her own...and let the kidlets be free to be who they really are, never squelch that new age of me.

This is why the Muffin Man was practically doubled over in hysterics last night ready to have a kitten when he guessed immediately what Ava's first choice for after school activity would be. Tried as I might I just could not steer her to italian cooking, karate, baking, mad cap science, chess for champions, or kickball. "Cheerleading", she whooped. (Just like a cheerleader...I observed grumpily.) I tried psychology, reverse psychology and bribery. Nothing worked. "Tell her how cool chess playing scientists are.", I snottily scolded him. He giggled like a school girl and slinked out the back door. Seriously, I am the only one who really parents around here.
So, on Monday night at 7pm I will be standing in line at the school gym with all the other cheerleading wanna-be mothers with $20 in hand to try to be one of the first to enroll Ava in cheerleading. My God, I could tolerate this so much better if she would just concede to hip hop dancing. I've heard through the ever powerful elementary grapevine that after school activity sign up can be very crowded and somewhat competitive. Fabulous. Competitive to get this kid into the class? Where is the ice pick? My eye needs it.

Since she doesn't have to see me go sign her up I might take my old basketball, university diploma and dusty old corporate id badge while standing in line. How's that for live and let live?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Chatterbox

This morning at the breakfast table Ava asked the meaning of her Chinese names. I explained that the character for Jing that she was given means quiet and the character for Tang that she was given means sweet. She thought about it for a minute and then said, "quiet, really?" "Yes", I smirked. She thought about it for another minute and then quickly blurted out, " That doesn't really fit, I am not very quiet. I am pretty sweet though, so that one fits." A human life left unexamined is not a human life worth living, yes?

She then went on to observe that perhaps Liv should have been named Jing and she in turn should have been given GeGe, which means princess. Always love a gal willing to laugh a bit at herself, or then again I'm not entirely sure it was a tongue in cheek comment. Welcome to the world of Ava.

This was all interesting and in my opinion a quite fitting observation in Ava Jing Tang's part.

Olivia Xi GeGe, the happy princess remains a quiet one. Unless I have the audacity to move from room to room attempting to do laundry, then she is quite verbal, but in a whining sort of way that seems not Cantonese, not Mandarin, and certainly not English...although very almost 2 years old universal high pitched WHINE. (As in, you are not right next to me and I am in complete fear that by tossing a load into the dryer you will mysteriously disappear from my life forever and honestly I don't care all that much about clean jammies so stick nearby Momma for God's sake.)

Although, perhaps I am not being completely fair in judging Olivia's language development. We have had a huge breakthrough this week. She is now officially naming Ava. She looks right at her and calls her Vava. Which is pretty darn close if you ask me. She even points to the window when Ava is gone at school and says in a clear question, "Vava?" Meaning where is my five year old playmate?

Her language development, which has been professionally evaluated 2 times now and scores somewhere on the low but functioning normally range, remains a complete mystery to me. Why is it that she almost always gets the first 2 letters of a word and cannot get the last part even it it is only 1 more letter? Watch is wa...wall is wa...ball is ba....bus is ba....daddy is da....but mommy is mama. As you can imagine almost everything that comes from her is ba or wa or da...but rarely finishing a word. The speech therapist says this all counts as complete words and don't worry. Hmmm....I'm still not sure.

Perhaps I just got too used to having my Ava Jing chatterbox haunting my every move. I knew at every given moment what she was thinking, add in a touch of her dramatic and dogmatic self and there wasn't much mystery. With Liv, I sometimes pause at how unnerved it makes me to be living with this little short human who understands every last word we utter...but cannot in turn respond verbally.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Back Pack Management

I have two daughters. Between the two of them they are attending 4 schools, if you count Chinese school on Sundays. I'm not exactly sure why I thought this many schools would be a good idea when I was planning for scholarly excellence this past spring. Apparently I need to re-read my back issues of Real Simple magazine for a refresher as I am sure they would not advise this many halls of excellence.

Each child has a backpack or tote bag for each school. Again 4 bags for 4 schools...2 kids. One of which is not even 2 years old.
I'm going to the hardware store for a peg board from which to hang them all just as soon as I can come up for air from the Kindergarten newsletters. I have three on my desk as of right now. Apparently Ava's teacher needs to write one as does her principal. Could they not get together on this and save a tree?

This is quickly turning into a time sucking warp trying to keep up with which school is having the spaghetti dinner fundraiser and which one is having the ice cream social. Who is selling entertainment books and who wants me to spend $12.00 on a roll of Christmas wrapping paper. Never mind filing away those darling macaroni works of art. By the way those hard macaroni droppings really create a nice puncture wound when stepped on at 3am while trying to go to the bathroom. Consider yourself warned.

You know what peeves me the most? This is a tad off the subject but I must stop for posterity's sake and mention that Ava's public school is requiring $69.75 to borrow books. Yes, $69.75 and yes borrow at public school. I'm not getting this one. It's Kindergarten, and I already sent in the appropriate list of school supplies. What part of and old mimeographed alphabet worksheet costs $69.75. Am I going to call and complain? Oh no, I'm determined not to be the problem parent until 2nd grade.

So, each day after school I peer over my child's head to inconspicuously gaze at how much paperwork is in that bag for me to read and consequently write a check for. Managing this is a part time job. Which in itself wouldn't be a big deal since I'm not exactly full time occupied cleaning floors and popping laundry into drawers. Oh, how I pine for my old cleaning lady of bygone years. I am however in the throws of heating up over at Pink Evita. Which is good news. But getting a wee little business up and running is proving to take a little more time than I had originally anticipated. I sort of thought 2 hours during nap time and a small business could run smoothly. Oh, the naivete. I'm feeling so darn green, what with the booking of Design Your Own parties for the fall, (5 thank you very much) sending invitations to hostesses, sewing bags, looking into expansion opportunities at boutique stores and changing a diaper in there....well I could quite possibly get in over my head. Dare I suggest?

But then, I have so many ideas in my head for Pink Evita. I get love struck at the idea of creating a business my way. Breathe and ride the wave...that's my new motto.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Not So Much With The Preschool

Olivia attempted preschool this week. Technically, I suppose you could call it Mom's Day Out (MDO) since she is still shy of two years old. And how much schooling is there really in a 4 hour time frame once a week for a 22 month old? I like to think of it as Mommy's little sanity time, they should probably be up front and just call it that.

If hamsters had MDO perhaps they wouldn't eat their young. This is why every Mommy I know, or at least the sane ones who will admit to needing a short break now and then clamor to the good churchly types eagerly signing their little darlings up for MDO asking of one morning a week is all they have. I've known some who don't go to suck down 13 vicodins and slowly stroke their hair in front of their master bathroom mirrors saying "pretty" over and over and over. Seriously, I don't want to hear from you in the comment section if your child did not attend any school at all until late the late preschool or kindergarten.

Liv went in just fine and even smiled a bit for the teacher. Great I thought, this is easier than Ava's first preschool experience. I skipped out of the building while turning my cell phone on and sticking it in my pocket. Then I thoroughly enjoyed 3 hours and 45 minutes of no whining, no sticky hands, and no cute little smiles from a little girl who insists on stomping around in her sister's shoes while depositing them in strange places throughout the house leaving me to utter every bad word in the book looking for that damned elusive shoe when we need it.

I arrive at pick up bright eyed and bushy tailed. Then I hear Liv from down the hall. It is not a happy sound. Apparently she cried on and off the entire time. She enjoyed sticker time and outside play but that was about it. She calmed down the minute she took her place on my hip. Then she waved bye-bye to all the MDO kids. We plopped down in the car and she sorrowfully sniffed her way home while signing ALL DONE. Oh gees, Mommy guilt. Mommy guilt as the ice pick is stabbed into my heart.

But then one first time MDO does not a preschool career make. We will try again next week. Sniff Sniff.

Friday, August 31, 2007

On August 28th....

I left a place called Yangxi in a province called Guangdong, China. It was clean and the aunties took pretty good care of me. They fed me, they changed my diapers, and they even let me play with some little friends.

See, there I am third from the right. Cute as a bug's ear, yes?

But I didn't have a forever family. I sort of wanted a Mom and a Dad and a big sister. Presto...on August 28th...they all appeared in a goverment building to come meet me. It scared me. They looked and smelled funny. But not in a ha ha way. More in a "Universe, You have got to be kidding me way."

Here I am meeting my sister and my mom last August 28th. I was less than pleased with my situation. But that was before I realized they have good snacks.

It's a whole year later.

Here I am celebrating my one year forever family day with candles. My mom likes candles. She let me pick these three candles out at the Hallmark store. (I confess, my sister had to help me because I was a little cranky since my mom and I were in a tiff over being strapped into the stroller.) I voted no, she voted yes. I'll let you fill in the rest of the story.

Anyway, we picked three candles. The red one is for China, the country that let me go but will always be there for me when I want to go back. The purple one is for my birth family. They gave me life. We are grateful for that. My mom likes purple and it makes her feel connected to my birth mother. (She can be a little sentimental at times.) The peach one is for my forever family. I was tired and so my sister picked peach, since she likes the smell. We will light these candles to remember how grateful we are to have found each other as a family each August 28th, forever. Or until we need new Yankee candles. (I won't pick peach next's overdone a little 1980's if you ask me.)

I am sampling the peach one here. My mom was afraid I'd drop it and break it. She can be a little uptight, but I love her anyway.

Yes, the red one is definitely the best.

I'm happy to be at home now. It is comfy cozy. My parents love me and my sister is the best. She calls me cute and kisses me 100 times a day. I miss China, I miss my birthfamily. I hope they are all well.

It is going to be a good life.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Fit Free Day

Oh, how I wish someone from the local gym has come to my door offering me a day of "fit"ness for free. Unfortunately, fit means big ole' tantrum...Ava style. Classic, no not classic perhaps... rockin' retro, no classic, let's leave it at that. There should be something in Wikipedia it is so awesome.

I am reeling from Kindergarten fallout. Why did no one warn me about the drama, the temper tantrums, the extreme exhaustion that can only be riveled by 29 straight hours of international plane travel, the manic highs of being the one who already knows the stupid alphabet, the depths of disparity at being the one who was third, not first in line at the bus stop? What is it that Bob Costas says via voice over at the Olympics, the thrill of victory the agony of defeat?

Seriously the last time I rode such a rollercoaster I had a $119.00 ticket that read Disney Magic Kingdom on it. If you haven't already noticed, this week has been a bit of Ava centered drama probably initiated by the fact that she is no longer a "stay at home" kid. She is tragically wiped by this whole going to school business. I am jonesin' for a fit free day...bring back the days of too many episodes of Backyardigans followed by a trip to the pool.

Don't get me is the best 7 hours packed full of fish sticks, puppet shows, and printing capitol letters she has ever been privy to. However, she has absolutely no idea how to self regulate. You know, pace herself. As in, Avery is throwing a whopper of a tantrum because her mother had the audacity to drop her off at school but I will be mature and walk away and calmly wash my hands properly like the other 15 kids. Oh no, she must play computer games, read little Matthew a story, run to Spanish class, stop by the gymnasium...and then pause for a moment to pat poor Avery's shoulder. I suspect that Miss Ava is tossing every smidgen of energy at the Kindergarten cronies and saving not one iota for herself.

Translate...she comes home a ball of fire...quickly disobeys or breaks some solidly placed domestic rule...gets tossed into room for quiet time to think about said federal infraction...completely melts down in two year old fashion...and then is asleep in 20 seconds. For 2 hours. (Can I pause and add that my 5 year old has not napped in 2 1/2 years?) At 8pm which is bedtime she is rocking and rolling telling me how great I am and singing my motherly praises while refusing bedtime with a purple passion. 11pm...she conks out. I am nearly to the breaking point while looking at the clock realizing that we have exactly 8 hours before the whole thing starts over.

Here is the issue I am a wee bit stressed about. She starts the other fancy dancy artsy fartsy Kindergarten on alternate days next week. I'm choosing to think glass 1/2 full...the solid structure will be good, no more willy nilly, what are we doing today? Oh god, hardcore everyday school starts on Tuesday. This is temporary adjustment right? Yes?

Seriously, because I think it against some state law to let her stay at home and watch the Backyardigans full time. Or could we get away with that for one more year?

Friday, August 24, 2007

All Prettied Up

I'm all prettied up, in bloggyland that is. In real life I am still sans under eye cover up, scary. The incredible Spacemom lent a hand and poof 24 hours later I am the proud owner of one original blog banner. The niftyiest thing is that the real twoladybugs do dance like that, facing each other hugging in some of their finest moments that is. Which reminds me...must take some pictures of them together. Many a xie xie coming your way, Spacemom.

We worked out a little barter deal. Tit for tat. Isn't barter the best? I swear I get the best stuff through barter. It seems so very civil and neighborly. If only Nordstrom's would feel the same way. I might be able to score these. My cousin pointed them out this weekend and we both simply swooned all moony eyed, we giggled like school girls and then had to move on.
Sad but true. She went to visit them a few days later, just to say hi. Now that is true love.

Speaking of spiffed up, Livi is having her speech assessed later today. I'm sort of hoping she qualifies for a bit of speech spiffing up due to the fact that she has taken to a slow high pitched whine when she can't get her point across. Otherwise known as I want DAT and you are not getting it for me! I am not a mother that does well with whining. Wine'ing, yes whine'ing, no.

I'll report later with how it goes. If she doesn't qualify I'm going to have to spend some seriously boring hours in front of the more advanced sign language dvd's. Hmmmmm....

Thursday, August 23, 2007


I went and got myself an adorable little bob last night. Feels much better a little shorter. Is this blog worthy information? No, not really. No one in their right mind gives a rat's ass about how short my bob is.

While in the chair my stylist, I know that sounds pretentious but that is what they call themselves these days, Hilary, kindly asked about the girls. Completely normal get your hair trimmed small talk. I explained that Ava's hair is getting so much more thick recently and I am having a hard time combing it out each morning. I lick and pat while pulling the comb through, she whines, it's a right of passage if you ask me. I went around 1980-1983 with a french braid pulled so tight from my mother's skilled hand I ironically sported some Asian looking almond shaped eyes. That and a headache from hair follicles pulled to the breaking point. Hilary suggested some super yummy expensive leave in conditioner and I countered that my mother had some of that stuff at her house but it was $4.00 from Pantene. Hilary explained that Pantene was all wax, the curse of wax would NOT touch her perfectly coiffed head. Ok, well Ava is five, I'm on a budget so she can deal with a little wax if you ask me.

Other ladies in the shop started to comment on their hair and hair history, their mother's hair, their aunt's hair and it's thickness and curliness and straightness and when it changed in life, when it went gray, when it thinned, and when their sister got that God awful perm. On and on. I was completely struck and oddly saddened by the fact that I know not one bit of hair history for my girls. I have no idea if Livi's hair will darken or thicken. I have no clue if Ava's hair will continue to show these amazing almost blue streaks from trending to a black satin sheet. She has no aunt that I know of to peek into the future for this bit of information.

On the way home I couldn't help but think this was not my conversation to have at the shop. Ava's birthmother should have been there. She most likely would know exactly how to care for her ever thickening and darkening hair. She would know because her sister or mother probably had that same hair. She would have already known that her family's more adult hair would come in at around age 5 and the thinner finer toddler hair would begin to change.

Driving home, I had this odd conversation in my head with her birthmother. I was explaining the situation with the tight rattiness in the mornings and she was nodding while laughing a bit saying that oh yes her Aunt Ling had that same issue in grade school so her mother used xyz on it and it became this silky gorgeous mane. I nodded sheepishly at her and pulled gently at my straight blond processed highlights silently apologizing. She casually waved her hand at me, knowing I wouldn't have the slightest idea.

Then I approached a red light. I was completely caught up in how strange this imaginary conversation with Ava's birthmother really was. I couldn't decide whether I simply needed to get out more or if perhaps I really was sort of having a conversation with her birthmother. Esoteric and elusive as it was.

In the end I suppose it is just one of those adoption things. It doesn't really matter what happens with the strands on their lovely little heads. Perhaps it was just one mother's wish to belong, to be close and intimate in a way only family can.