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.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

She's Registered

Remember this day? Me too, head splitting that it was . Today was register the adoption with the state without legal representation part 2. I used all the cheat sheets given to me by the nice bureacrat on the last visit. I collected every scrap of paperwork given to us in China proving Olivia was legally adopted with the consent of one very democratic but inefficient government and one communist and yet oddly sweet tempered government, topped the stack off with a legaleze petition, formal order, and one bit of triplicate 3/4 sheet of paper for which I have no idea how it added to the integrity of the stack but I was told it was "very" important. At least it added interest since it could not be filled out with a computer, it had to be typed on a dinosaur typewriter. IBM Selectric...pass the nut mix at that party.

Liv and I marched down to the city county building one more time with low expectations but bright with hope of further progress. I was stopped while getting out of the car by a man asking for a quarter. I obliged... hoping to create good karma. Liv was excited because she got to take her new stuffed monkey and she knows after all that by completing this task she will have legal right to her $.50 of inheiritance to be shared with her sister. (Don't spend it all in one place, my darlings.) Spread the bubble gum money out making it last; remember that when I am gone.

We arrived 2nd in line to meet with the Commissioner. Apparently he had to approve my petition before he would allow me to kevetch with a clerk who might ultimately press the go button. I explained that the Commissioner had already looked at my paperwork last time I arrived at this taco stand and surely I could just proceed to the clerk station. No go, said the secretary with the nose ring and lovely tats. You must wait your turn and get the coveted rubber stamp. So we did, we waited 1 hour and sure enough upon seeing him we actually got a rubber stamp on our documents. I couldn't believe it! We did it, Liv and I registered her adoption with the state all by ourselves. And it only took 3 rice cakes, one cup of soy milk and one package of yogos worth of time.

Then Liv picked up her monkey and stinky pink blanket and dragged it all the way down to the clerk's desk. Ms. clerk took all of about 6 seconds to happily process us. She hit the go button as I wrote a check for $10 to the State Dept. of Health. The probate court apparently will send the processed info to the State Dept. of Health so that they can kick off a delayed state birth certificate. They provide this service since they are a rocking happy bunch of state funded employees. And, honestly they must have warmth in their hearts after all. We in turn should see a birth certificate in a mailbox near us in about 4-6 weeks.

It took everything I had not to take that $600 I saved in legal fees and march right on over to Nordstroms for fall shoes.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

First Days

Today, like many when you are parenting was a first. First day of Kindergarten. Let me spoil the mystery by saying she did fine. Better than fine, if I am truthful. She hopped on the bus without even looking backward. It never occurred to her that she would be leaving the protective arms of the mother who loves her beyond what the English language would allow in prose. She climbed the all too big bus stairs, waved and disappeared until 2:45pm when she was deposited safely back to me in the same fashion...descending the too large stairs with a too large backpack strapped to her tiny frame. Her only comment, "I got a Hersey's kiss, Mama. It was great!" Then she immediately started the verbal campaign to play with her version of American Idol, Jessica, who is ten. But Jessica completed her first day of 4th grade and already had homework.

All day I thought about September 17, 2002. Why this day? It was the first full day of parenting Ava. It happened in Changsha, Hunan China. She was 1 day shy of eight months old. I loved her but I was forcing myself to love her. I think I knew I would eventually love her without forcing myself but September 17th, the first full day I was truly forcing myself. She cried...a lot. She cried every minute she was in the hotel room. Or, that is the way I remember it. She cried every moment I was in charge of holding her in the hotel room. Although this picture proves me incorrect.
The Muffin Man was over the moon with the whole meeting Ava business, but I was freaking out. I remember when this picture was taken I was clenching my teeth hoping she would not start screaming again. The cups seemed to help keep her busy for 2 minutes. This photo must have been shot 1 and 1/2 minutes into the cup adventure. I really don't like this picture, we look so happy and we were not. She was probably fine although exhausted. I had been a parent for about 24 hours. She had been a child with forever parents (however lame) for 24 hours. I honestly thought, I have survived cancer and corporate jobs, and 11 years of marriage and yet, I'm not sure I can survive one more day of parenting. It was too overwhelming, too stressful. This little child needed more than I could give her. She deserved more than me. She was drop dead gorgeous, she was a survivor, she was perfect in every way...I was not. I wanted to look into those soft brown cashmere eyes and connect. But we did not. I knew it and she knew it.

Just after this picture was taken out travel mate Jeff knocked on the door. He was "checking" in on us. He had just met his daughter Alyssa who is now Ava's LBF (little best friend, from Chenzhou) They were second time parents and their little girl slept, and ate, and cooed and smiled. She even napped. Her mother was completely smitten from minute one. She instinctively knew how to be a great mother. I did not. Although I did make a mean bottle, even Ava had to concede to that. She got the cashmere eye connection that I so desperately wanted. Jeff casually asked if we were doing better. (This was polite code for Are you ok? You seem a wee bit stressed.) I told him we were fine and Ava was perfect in every way but the last 24 hours seemed like 24 years, if truth be told. He stepped back a bit in that Dolton Hotel hallway and smiled a knowing smile at me. He got quiet and said, "Perrin, you have such a short time with her before she grows up. She will be big before you know it. She will be going to Kindergarten in a blink of an eye. Enjoy her while she is so little."

I did not get it at all. I had parented this child for 24 hours and I thought I might spontaneously combust from the stress and he was talking about 5 years of this? I could not conceive five years. I had recently received massive doses of cancer therapy and other emotional therapy telling me to take it one day at a time. How could I do five years? I could barely survive 24 hours. I thanked him politely and closed the hotel room door after making arrangements to meet his family for breakfast the next morning.

After I shut the door Ava cried, and I cried. After Brian got her to sleep (a two hour adventure) I had what I am pretty sure was a panic attack. My Muffin Man held my hand from the twin bed next to mine and told me to breathe, the same way he did after I had a chemo treatment and was afraid I would be throwing up all night 2 years before. He pretty much talked me down from the tastefully wallpapered wall.

The next morning I dug my heels in determined to be a good mother to this child. I would survive until Kindergarten. We would survive until Kindergarten. I didn't come all this way to give up now...and she didn't lose her first parents only to get a pair of sissys. We were in it for the long haul.

It's five years later. We survived. No, we did better than survive, we've had fun. We have loved, throwing caution to the wind. She has learned to trust, I have learned to be and to exist in her presence. It it exhilarating and maddening and a privilege.

Things like stepping on a big bus and going to a new classroom are easy for Ava. She is wicked strong. And she has people skills. Kids follow her. She has more God-given self confidence than me and and all of my girl power circle of friends has put together.

Alyssa's dad Jeff was right. Time has gone by quickly and now it is 5 years since that stressful day in Hunan China. He was my sage....enjoy your baby, before you know it she will be off to Kindergarten.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The State Fair

Wow, what a bunch of vegetarian optimists you are. Unfortunately they would not come within 6 feet of my lovely veggie tray. They are however munching on a dinner of garlic croutons and blueberries as I type this. Sadly enough croutons do not count as veggies even though they are married in some states. And another note: to Ava's new public school lunch room director: tater tots are NOT veggies. And for that matter neither is corn...but I would be willing to let the corn indiscretion slide should I have not seen the tater tot referenced in the Wednesday's veggie option.

Tomorrow is Ava's first day of Kindergarten at public school. As luck would have it we (ok, I) sweated it out all for not this summer waiting to see if they would have alternating day kindergarten so that I could send her to the arts and leisure program next door on Mondays and Wednesdays. The Kindy Gods are with Ava...she got in fine to both. Whew. Now all there is to fret about is her actually going. It is currently Kindergarten eve. She has been duly prepped with her teacher's name, for getting off the bus purposes, and the fact that she will select chicken fingers from the lunch line when she goes through. (Only after promising me that she will indeed eat the veggie side dish option as well.) Yes, I know I am a complete sucker and she will eat the chicken fingers, and the cookie and ditch the green beans since I am 6 degrees from ear shot at home screaming at Livi to get off the kitchen table.

I needed a kindergarten eve distraction today so I popped the twoladybugs into the car and headed straight for fried oreo cookie therapy at the state fair. It is a once a year indulgence I assure you. Yes, I also made a choice to eat a fried tenderloin for lunch as well. I swear I had never even heard of a fried tenderloin until moving to this state as an adult. The girls...they ate meat on a stick in the form of corn dog. Meat on a stick people...this state has some redeeming factors but really....meat on a stick.

What does one weepy, remember kindergarten eve, mother do at the state fair with two children 5 and under?

Ride ponies. Three dollars well spent. She grinned from ear to ear.

Next, we met up with some friends and headed off to the fishing pond. If you are five the Department of Natural Resources folks will teach you to catch fish. We are serious cul-de-sac people and if this kid is going to learn to fish for something other than what is in the Pepperidge Farm bag it must happen here on the annual pilgrimage to the State Fair.

See Ava in the purple tank top? I was pleased that she scored the hottie ranger sitting next to her. Believe me he was way more interested in teaching her to fish than any old tired momma.

It was immediately after this I decided to throw caution to the wind and eat that double sized tenderloin for lunch....being late thirties has its priviledges.

However, after Livi grabbed my tank top and gave a nice health tug the older gentleman in the yellow was quite attentive I might add.

And what was Livi doing during the festivities?

Squinting in the hot sun strapped to the stroller.

Poor thing has to watch her sister have all the fun. We took a vote and decided the blue gills would not appreciate Liv taking a dip.

The Hoola Hoop contest was next. Both girls seem to show natual talent and being a family member I felt I must withdraw from formal judging duties. This was immediately following the official meeting of Curious George. Yes, the real Curious George, or the one who tours State Fairs. I missed the photo op due to the fact that I was having an indepth discussion of our state's 529 college savings plan with the man running the booth. We got as far as 20% tax credit up to $5000 donation if I roll over from our current plan....and then I heard Livi squeal in utter delight at meeting George. Financial discussion over, don't ask.

We ended the day with a tour of the livestock barns. Yes, barn(s) that was plural. I've already explained that we are cul-de-sac girls. But even I was somewhat softened by the sight of these pink and brown piggies. Did you know they come in this delightful color combination? Me either.

Liv decided to climb the pen. Shocker. At some point I saw this strange woman rolling her eyes at me motioning to this shameful little Chinese kid. How dare she climb the piggy pen and where is her mother? She sheepishly (get the state fair pun?) walked away when I yet again expained to Liv that climbing in with the mother sow might not be in her best interest. Especially with the SOW BITES BEWARE sign hanging in front of the pen. It only took her a long few seconds to figure out who the mother of that Chinese heathen kid was.

So, a good time was had by all at the State Fair. We came, we saw, we ate fried stuff and we sweated. Then we got a lemon shake-up for the road.

Tomorrow....I will be the mother of a school age child. I will certainly blog through the tears and post embarassing getting on the bus pictures. Check back.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Over There

Yummy new Fall the leaves will be turning soon bites posted over there.

Scroll down to see the lovelies.

Veggie Good or Veggie Bad

Which would you vote as the girls' true feelings about the veggie tray?

Veggie good or Veggie Bad? Go ahead, vote.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


I'm not a real blue person either. Ye old twoladybugs is now blue...but it is there. Have I mentioned how happy I am that it is there? My god I am a geek. Unfortunately not a geek with see if you are a geek with perks you would know how to fix bloggy problems without having to stress for 2+ hours and know how to add a way cool bloggy banner. Have you seen all those people who have the coolest of coolest bloggy banners? I have banner lust. I'd rather have a fabulous banner than the pool boy on Desperate Housewives. Perhaps it is time for me to figure that one out. The banner that is, I couldn't give a rat's ass about the pool boy.

It shall be my mission, as soon as I have 1 hour to surf the net for a complete and well written tutorial explaining the finer points of blog banners. I will tackle this as soon as my children are not tossing hotdog bits onto the carpet and grinding them in with their new crocs.

Did I mention that Liv's high chair is toast? Gone'ola. Replaced with $12.00 strappy plastic chair that hooks to the breakfast table chair. No more standing up when meal is done. No more using the chair as a launch pad to swing from the kitchen light. Ha. The 20 month old will not be smarter than dim witted mother. Seriously, the new $12.00 plastic chair that has straps that work is a wonder. Except she is getting back at me for attaching the strap by flinging gooey food all over the place.

Will all of this foddder seem banal when we are fighting over state universities vs. hoity toity private women's colleges? I can only hope for so much.

New Look

Why the new look? It's so pink. I'm really not a pink fiend or anything I am just extremely relieved to get the blog back after wiping it out this morning. I'll worry about colors later after I settle down a bit. I'm not exactly sure how I did this but this morning I tried to edit the side bar and within about 2 seconds I had completely wiped out the html code for the entire twoladybug blog. All I had left was the list of favorite blogs I read ad nauseum.

I've been fiddling with it for 2 hours now and FINALLY figured out that if I upgrade the old html style to the newer easier (for complete idiots) template I would get all my archives back. Ahhhhh...breathe.

In my two hour fit I realized how much of my life the last two years has been on the little blog. Waiting for Olivia, pictures of Ava when she was only 3, getting Olivia's picture for the first time, the TRIP TO CHINA....and on and on.

Seriously, I need to investigate one of those services that takes your archives and makes a cd or paper document for you.

Ok, I know this is probably the most boring read of anyone's life ever. I will now sign off and stop obsessing to relax.

Or perhaps I might read an archive or two just because I can.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

On Social Working

That's it we are done. We had the very last social worker visit for adoption extravaganza 2005-2007. Liv was perfectly cute and engaging throughout the whole meeting. She played happily in the playroom while the Muffin Man and I met with the social worker. Well, honestly social worker and I chatted incessantly and the Muffin Man sat dutifully in his chair not getting a word in edge wise.

I could not stop thinking about Ava's last social worker visit while we were chatting it up. It was much shorter since she absolutely would not sit still or play with the toys during the meeting. Liv is the type of kid who given a room full of toys will see fit to entertain herself for quite some time. It is a sanity saver in my opinion. Ava simply would not do this until she was well over 3 years old and still has to be threatened into self entertainment.

Social worker was delicate with us but did suggest another free state assessment of Liv's speech...or lack there of. No major worries, just keep in on the radar. Yes, I am aware that the 5 year old does speak for everyone including the 20 month old in the house. But then if they BOTH start speaking at me all day everyday what would I do? Kidding, sort of. I called the therapist and she will be here Friday to take our insurance info. Yes, they need their almighty big buck before sitting down with my silent climbing wonder.

I also mentioned the attachment stuff mentioned in my earlier post to Ms. social worker. (too lazy to link it, just scroll down a wee bit) She told me to follow my gut and speak with a developmental psychologist. Wouldn't you know the speech therapist can also send the developmental psychologist out from the state as well. Convenient. I get such peace of mind when I see a tax dollar working for me. Schwing.

In the interest of being a little more conscious of Liv's needs and strengths and all over person hood I've been carefully observing her while Ava is attending dance camp this week in the mornings. Wow, am I ever a nicer less shrill mother only attending to one life sucking but affectionately adorable short person. I mean of course I was probably at the top of my mothering game about 6 months before I met my first child, let's be honest but seriously Liv and I were cooking with oil this morning. We read books, we changed diapers with no kicking Mommy in the gut, we ate about 6 snacks. We both have a cold so we commiserated in front of a chocolate chip cookie. Real bonding happens when chocolate cookies are present.

It was a glimpse of what life might be like around here in another few weeks as the first bird flies the coop for the place where she will learn all she needs to know about life and lunches cost $1.85. The thought of such a life change is exhilarating and overpoweringly hideous all at the same time.