Sunday, July 29, 2007

Here We Are

In all of our glory. Do you like the raccoon eyes on mama? Seriously if this sinus crushing summer does not come to an end soon and bring low humidity and 60 degrees for my wounded little sinus cavities...I might have to resort to more expensive under eye cover up.

Tomorrow is the very last social worker visit for us! Yipee, bringing the end of the seemingly endless check writing extravaganza to adoption related personnel known to visit the cul-de-sac. Yep, we're movin' on up to possible check writing to speech pathologists and pediatric dental officials.

We are required, it appears, to provide the kind folks at the Beijing office matching kids to families photographic evidence that we are indeed NOT axe murders and really do provide unlimited fruit snacks and 10 trillion trips to the Toys-R-Us. Of course I looked at my calendar yesterday, realized I'd have to provide the darling family portrait, did not have a picture of all four of us together and had to beg an old travel mate at the reunion picnic for a photo. She happily obliged and consequently I will not be seriously reprimanded,. Like last time when social worker showed up to collect photos with Starbucks in one hand and files 2 feet deep in the other hand.

Do you think Beijing will care that I have sinusitis and Livi simply would not keep the matching bows in her hair? There was nothing explicitly written in the adoption documents about matching hair bows, although I took the unwritten implication very seriously with my first daughter. Ava Jing and the Muffin Man appear fetching nonetheless don't you think?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

On Attachment or Personality or A Bit of Both

The thing is Olivia is attached to me, the Muffin Man too. She adores him, really adores him. She trusts me, I know she does. When she sits on my hip she feels like she truly belongs there and I feel her relax. When she cries we pick her up and she stops. It seems like a normal progression of the attachment cycle where baby has need, need is met by one who loves her, baby is soothed. She never rejected us the way Ava initially rejected my love and attention. (Looking back Ava was bonded to someone at her orpahange, she had to have been. It was a smaller facility and her early behavior truly spoke volumes for some broken but loving relationship with someone we will probably never know.) Secure attachment is something we have worked pretty hard at the last several months. We did not stray too far from home the first six months because she would shake and seem withdrawn after a big outing in those early months after returning home from China. Now she is much better and seems to enjoy outings where even large groups of people congregate. She is engaging and laughs when she is surrounded by other children. Our friends are even beginning to comment on her "coming out of her shell" and "isn't she so much more outgoing than she first appeared to be?"

But there is this one little issue that is nagging at me a bit. Olivia has a serious distaste for grown women other than myself. She likes little women, meaning girl children, and she tolerates teenage women especially if they act like little women and get on the floor and play. This is all fine and I'm happy she shows some wary behavior around strangers or almost strangers. That seems completely normal to me for a 20 month old. The part that makes me tip my head a little bit is that she knows no stranger when it comes to men. She will approach strange men and hold her arms up to be picked up just like she's known them forever. She will even go out of her way to approach strange men in public places, often straying further from me than her usual 12 feet radius. She will act coy and stare at them, then slowly approach them but always moving in for their attention. Luckily all of the men she has approached would not touch a baby they did not know with a ten foot pole without express written consent. I sometimes wonder why she seems to have a much lower tolerance for grown women than men. Why does she not feel that inate stranger fear that she feels with women?

It think it is easy to make light of this situation and simply joke "Oh, she'll be one to watch at 16," completely downplaying the behavior as nothing to worry about. On the other hand it is also pretty easy to go down the slippery slope making this an adoption issue related to the fact that she probably did not experience a true loving and nurturing relationship with a female figure in her life until she was 9 1/2 months old. She obviously lost her birthmother quickly. Her nannies at the institution kept her very clean and fed enough that she was not malnourished but after seeing numerous pictures of the room and hearing how many children to nanny would surprise me if any secure bond between small child and caretaker were truly to take place. This is not to say that no child does not form a secure attachment at Yangxi SWI, I would not presume to make that assumption. We have all heard those stories of 50 children in a room and a nanny breaking down in tears to see that one child go home to forever parents. I'm just saying in my daughter's case, I saw no evidence of that. It's a harsh reality, but a reality of her situation nonetheless.

I share this information publically with some trepidation, I do not want to share my daughter's personal information too easily. On the other hand I also believe there is no shame or anything to be hid or to shy away from in the post instutionalized adoptive community when it comes to behaviors which may or may not be related to our children's precarious beginnings.

Ultimately I am resigned to watching her with the sharp and critical eye of a mama who loves this little kid without abandon. If she continues to show more and more signs of normal attachment, leaving behind some of the stranger behavior...we count our blessings and move on bowing to her strong resolve to heal and her strength of human spirit. If things go further awry, there is always outside help.

Wait, watch and learn.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Shock and Awe and She Hopped The Crib

There is something creepy about a lean long limbed 20 month old who walks the back ledge of sofas on her tip toes. There is something downright weird about a child who can wedge her toe in a 1/2" strip of wainscotting to hoist herself up 3 1/2 feet to a seat ledge. When other toddlers are ambling around carrying tubby bellies and roly poly legs my 20 month old is running through the house gracefully skipping from room to room in attempt to hide from her 5 year old sister. If you catch her out of the corner of your eye while distracted making dinner it appears as if she only touches the ground every other step or so.

But now the all the "oh, my that is sort of strange" has now turned into Oh, shit what do we do now?" Exactly 20 minutes ago I left Olivia for a nap in her crib. I was in the next room downloading yummy tunes on my new Shuffle. Then I heard her bedroom door open behind me and a little pitter patter of toddler size 6 feet thumped quietly moving closer to me. I turn to see a huge grin to accompany those feet. It honestly took a minute for it to register, she hopped out of the crib and opened her bedroom door. I promptly told her no, no and popped her back in her crib in denial that she might do it again.

Not 10 seconds later that door opened again. There was no small sound of a thud as the kid scaled the crib and landed on the carpet, I'm presuming she landed on her her feet since I haven't actually witnessed the circus act yet. I heard no screaming related to a broken neck or arm so I'm assuming she's now not only capable of climbing the crib she's also more than proficient. And by more than proficient I'm wondering her her people were feline circus folks.

Seriously, what do we do now, she is only 20 months old? Too young for a big girl bed in my opinion. Do we toss a mattress on the floor and gate the upstairs hoping she doesn't figure out how to scale the stair railing in the middle of the night. I'm more than a little wigged out at the thought of bolting the bedroom door shut for obvious reasons, of course.

I have to go break the news to the Muffin Man, he will be so pleased. Then I guess I'm off to the baby super store to see if those tent contraptions will hook to her crib?

Really, if your kid did this please leave advice in the comments section. I have no idea how to keep the kid down. Would a water squirt bottle work? Kidding.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Middle of Summer

I love summer. I love the pool. I love sleeping in, which I get to do regularly now since Olivia is a champion sleeper, and yes I do appreciate the cosmic twist of events that somehow gave me a good sleeping toddler after Miss Sleep is For Weenies almost killed me in 2003-2004 and 1/2.

But summer can also be a bit of a challenge when you are home with two small children for 1000 hours a day...alone...for days and days and days on end. (So, how many hours of television will it take to rot a 5 year old's brain?) Oh, the guilt of seismic proportions.

Just when I think I can't take on more minute with the 5 year old who needs to know what a blade is, this very INSTANT and the spider"esque" toddler who is literally climbing the walls I realize I only have 4 more weeks of summer before Ava goes to school. Real school, as in takes the bus and all. Then I am weepy and nostalgic for the biting, non-sleeping, counting to 50 in Mandarin 3 year old. Two seconds later I am secretly happy dancing yearning for time alone in the house and what a relief that will be. I am pining for Tuesday mornings when BOTH kidlets will be in school.

Then I am guilt ridden again for thinking such un-June Cleaverish thoughts. Skip forward another 6 seconds I'm thinking screw June Cleaver, she wasn't real, this real momma needs a pedicure and 4 hours alone.

Summer, it's an un-complicated way.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Registering An Adoption All Alone

I suppose this post could be subtitled "That Which Drives Her To Bang Head On City County Building and Eat Old Goldfish Crackers."

For reasons which are purely driven by my very own pig headed constitutionality and the overwhelming desire to save yet another $600 in post adoption expenses, I have ill wittedly decided that we don't need legal representation and I will act as Olivia's legal counsel to file the petition to register her international adoption with the great state we live in hereto and therefore.

I do change her diapers and feed her gobs of goldfish crackers, why could I not act as her official legal council?

In our state most families whose children come from a foreign country and enter on an IR-3 visa (which simply means both Mommy and Daddy were with the little darling shoving benedryl down her little gullet for 29 hours straight on the airplane when she touched down on USA soil) choose to hire an attorney to file a petition for a formal name change and have a delayed birth certificate issued by the state. Completing this task successfully will mean in our case that the ungrateful little mite will get to legally share the $.16 worth of inheritance with her sister when we meet our our maker or, bite the big one.

She will also have easy access to our public Kindergarten when the time comes...and I'm paying enough taxes so she should get the red carpet rolled out after showing her pretty delayed certificate of birth. I was the only mother happily flashing Ava's delayed certificate of birth when I registered her for Kindy this summer. I made the principal comment on the pretty pink seal, I was so excited to show it off. Naturally my second offspring needs a pretty pink seal as well.

Last night I spent $17.04 at Kinkos copying every damned piece of paper Guangdong Province ever graced us with, in triplicate.

I dropped Ava off at a playdate and then popped Liv in the car and we headed off to the State capitol City County Building. We were scanned and then frisked. I think I enjoyed it more than the older gentleman with the wand.

We took a deep breath and marched off to the 17th floor armed with 4 inches of paper and one very cute little pig tailed girl toting a big bag of snacks and stuffed animals. I couldn't help be feel how brilliant we were to attempt what normal petty folks pay big laywers for. Probate we come.

We promptly met with the Commissioner, of what I don't exactly know but he had a big office. He looked at out 4" of paperwork copied in triplicate and said I had done everything right.


Then the ball dropped. Apparently I did get all the paperwork correct but I need a formal petition and formal order to legally file the paperwork with the court. "You mean, like a cover letter." , I say sheepishly. "Let me try to explain this to you as a lay person.", he says. Go to the 3rd floor law library and look up these 3 forms, then go home and try to copy them inserting your personal information and then come back here and try again. I will help you with one form and give it to you. But it has to be typed on a typewriter, not a computer so the carbonless copy fills properly." I thought he was kidding. I explain that we are a wireless household now a days and where would one get a typewriter? "Not my problem he says with a large grin." Seriously, he said not my problem to me! "So, I need to sweet talk someone into using their typewriter for one little 1/2 page form?", I say. "Can I sweet talk you into using your typewriter in the corner of your desk which I notice is collecting dust?", I add. "Sorry, no." he says and quickly ushers me out of his office so fast that Livi's little people Sonya Lee doll was left for him to trip on later. Serves him right.

Oh for the love of GOD. I got this kid out of a Chinese orphanage to fulfill my every dream of a baby in my life and I'm going to be stopped by some ding dong government official hoarding dusty old typewriters for the sake of shits and grins?


So, I march out of his office and softly explain my sad story to 5 employees standing around with nothing to do. Is there anyway I might sweet talk some nice clerk or secretary into using their typewriter for less than 10 minutes? I'd be happy to pay. One lady quickly whisks me back to her office and pops the form into her typewriter and says I'm going to ask you a few questions and you answer quickly. My form was typed and ready to go in 3 minutes. I thank her up and down...then she says SIT. I do. She then proceeds to give me a copy someone else's old petition and order. She writes down for me how many copies to make and sends me on my merry way instructing me to come back when it is all done in a few days. Oh, she also complimented Olivia on her pigtails.


I have spent the last 1 hour changing little Grayson's Guatemalan info to Livi's China info as I re-type the entire petition and order request. I expect to have it to the notary's desk at our bank this afternoon.

So, jury is still out..but I'm not writing that $600 legal fee check yet. If nothing else I get to go see more guys in orange jump suits riding the elevators at the city county building looking to make bond. Now, that my friend's is entertainment.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Goodbye Long Hot Shower

Goodbye Pack and Play. For you were my dear friend as she would sit content among a zoo full of stuffed animals for as long as my skin could take my beloved hot shower each and every OTHER day. Let us not forget that this stay at home mom sometimes opts out of the need for extreme cleanliness on a daily basis. It is a perk to be weighed carefully when considering a paying job as opposed to the non-paying hardest job you'll ever love. Stinkiness has its moments.

And yet, knowing that the option for full bodied cleanliness while the toddler whom shall now be referred to as climbing Spidy in homage to the great Spiderman himself was safe and sound and contained in her little baby jail called the Pack and Play.

She has sprung herself 2 times in 2 days. There is no more denial, she is more than fully mobile. She is able to leap tall buildings and scale wainscotting in a single bound. The Muffin Man timed the most recent death defying act and proclaimed her up and over the edge in 10 seconds flat without a plastic toy to stand upon.

I may not shower again until she can cognitively understand the full ramifications of "time out missy" if you don't stay out of the toxic cleanser while mommy has 6 minutes of naked alone time in the master bath. It could get ugly or stinky or both.

Now someone please wrap up some web shooters that she can attach to her wrists to hoist herself onto the roof to clean some gutters. She might as well being pulling her weight around her if she is going to try one death defying act after another.

I'm forever trying to teach these children to use their powers for good.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Two Ladies One Pink Shorty Outfit

Ava on bottom ...Liv on top. Both 19 months both in one pink shortall outfit. Matching hairdo, can't resist those toddler piggies.

I think that I have mentioned in previous posts that I can at times be woefully sentimental about the littlest thing. But other times I am disturbingly callous...take for example wanting to chuck most preschool art. This is rather strange for someone who loves artsy things and who spends a huge amount of time consumed with creating arty stuff. I suppose my sentimental thoughts happen most often in reference to things pertaining to the girls.

I am not a pack rat, I don't save a lot of things. I do however hoard Ava's old clothes for Livi. For obvious reason I suppose, hand-me-downs do help the family budget. Although I think I also keep them to try to keep memories alive of years gone by with Ava. Sometimes I wonder if my memories match what was true reality in the early years of parenting the first toddler.

My friend J and her hubby C got their referral for baby Cate this week. When I opened my email I swooned for this baby. I was immediately transported back to August of 2002 and August of 2006 when were were preparing to hop that China bound plane to meet each girl. I casually tossed adult clothes in the suitcase but obsessed about baby outfits . I needed to make sure each choice was softer than the next. Receiving blankets were washed and re-washed in Dreft.

Oh, I do hope J and her mother have a wonderful trip meeting Cate. I hope she enjoys packing her hand-me-downs.

As for me, I only have to wait another 2 months before crawling up into the attic to get Ava's old size 2 fall togs for Liv.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

7 +7+07=38

In this house that is how the math adds up. Yesterday I flipped the switch over to late 30's. Not mid-to-late but rather, late 30's. And, yes it happened on the auspicious date of 7/7/07. I was born on 7/7/69...the summer of love. Excellent. I was a summer birthday receiving a bathing suit every year type of gal.

My parents came all the way from up north to visit and it was non stop fun for me. First after waking up at 8:30 which is serious sleep in time for moi since the 'rents were up and adam on kidlet duty, I received an ipod shuffle from the Muffin Man. He rocks, it's pink. How cool is that? Holy cow, an ipod shuffle. What should I upload? Really any suggestions? I'm not a country music fan but like a mix of decades. Black Eyed Peas, Neil Diamond, Ottmar Leibert, and Madonna will probably make the short list so far. Ok, maybe not Neil Diamond but doesn't that Comin' To America make you well up if you have internationally adopted kids? I didn't exactly hang with the coolest kids at Strath Haven High if you haven't already figured that out. But then again I'm in my late 30's now and truly don't give a rat's ass what most people think of me nowadays. A wonderful perk of getting older. The crow's feet I can do WITHOUT.

Then my mother and her very green thumb took me to two nurseries where we scouted out every last $.50 Coleius plant in about 60 different hybrid forms. Yeehah. Love that purple and green one. My mother can go through a nursery and name about 60,000 different species of plants. She can put that damn Martha to shame. She's like the Rain Man when she gets going. I haven't a clue how one person could be that smart to remember all those plants. When we go up north in August I will treat you to a picture of her flower gardens. It will be worth the wait , trust me.

Next, it was off to Rock the District in my little town. Which means sidewalk sales and B rated live music. The whole clan marched off to scour the closed off streets for free lemonade, popcorn and 5 minute neck massages.

The very best part of the 7/7/07 day was that the coolest of coolest interior design firms was selling loads of material at bottom basement prices. Of course my mother and I were all over the $1.00 a yard trims on plastic tubs on the street corner. After striking up a conversation with the gals working the sale and busily tallying up my purchases they brought the owner out to talk to me when I said I sewed creatively. Get this...after talking to the owner I am now on a list to be called when they need special draperies and pillows for clients. Ok, probably because I said I'd make their pillows for WAY less than the person before me but who cares? They also said they would consider taking some of my handbags for consignment sale. They invited me to make up some of my bags, take them to the shop for the owner to peruse, and then whamo I might get to leave them there for ladies who lunch and have nannies to purchase at overblown prices. Can you say RALLY, ROUND 'EM UP COWBOY?

I took my kidlets, the Muffin Man, my 'rents and skipped all the way back to the car.

Then I ate a burrito for dinner.

Good Times. Welcome to late late 30's summer of love baby girl.

Monday, July 02, 2007

A Nice Niecely Visit

Where have I been? Out at the mall people, too busy to sit and blog. Really, I've been to three malls in the last week. I don't think I've seen three malls in three years. I am the proud owner of some new NARS blush, Victoria's secret lip gloss with metallic hint, and some bras. And, no I will not post a picture of the lovely Victoria's Secret semi-annual sale...because let's be honest, I'm a little too old to be carousing at malls and way to old to have people interested in purchases I made at Victoria's secret.

Why all the mall crawling? A visit from the lovely C. She's our niece. And oh my is she the sweetest thing to hit my state. She is all that is so wonderful about 15 years of age. All the good memories about 15, with none of the teenage angst.

In addition to lots of malls we also visited a dairy farm. C had never visited a farm or seen real cows, never mind seeing real cows being milked. Talk about wide eyed wonder.

Here is C with Livi Xi in the milking barn. Oh yes, a picture of country gals yes? I think Livi is thinking there better be organic ice cream at the end of this tour or else!

The next picture is Ava with her gal pal cronies. She's been playing with most of them since she was 8 months old in China. Of course leave it to Ava and LBF (little best friend) to worm their way down the corridor and into where the employees were hooking up the cows for milking time. They got the worms eye view of the activity and had to stay extra innings at the milking event due to the fact that they got penned in and the cows were in their path to get out. Only my child would inadvertently arrange this setup. And yes LBF and Ava had the audacity to start complaining about the smell of the cows when they got stuck. Nice.

Who in their right mind would go to an organic dairy farm without helping themselves to large scoops of ice cream on the way out? Not us. Livi got strawberry, I got blackberry. Strawberry was better so I "traded" her. I know I know I'll be chatting with someone in hell regarding that move.

Seriously, she appeared not to mind blackberry.

And now the house is quiet. As quiet as a house can be with a 5 year old and a 19 month old. No more 15 year old. Oh I'm sad, very sad. Who will be hanging around to tell me what shade of lip gloss goes with swim lessons at 9am tomorrow?