Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Heading to The Lake of Crystal

It's Crystal Lake time again. Time for me to load up in a mini van full of my cronie girlfriends drive the open road for a long time, and end up at a lake house far remote from anything like the normal routine of 1st grade Brownie troop meetings, 2 year old playdates, lots of dishwashing...and quality stitching time at the sewing machine.

Ahhh, 3 whole days filled with wine and women. Three whole days of eating at the best little Jewish deli this side of NYC each and every morning. Three whole days of sitting on a deck and watching the water slowly move left and right. Three whole days of touring every little west side Michigan winery and its requisite gift shop.

If only I wasn't so darn tired just getting ready to get in that mini van. I tell you it has taken me 2 solid days just to prepare for my dear father coming, who has offered to toss the Muffin Man a life line and come stay to help entertain the young'uns, and prep the house, the book bags, the lunch boxes, the laundry etc... Because God only knows I couldn't step foot out of the state without every bed linen changed and every set of size 2T pajamas being wholly and absolutely sparkling clean and neatly placed in that top drawer. Hello insanity, just toss a pair of jeans in the duffle and put your butt down in the van and go already. But, Friday is 1st grade picture day and we all know if I'm not here to fight with Ava about how she will wear her peace will certainly run asunder and my 6 year old will have ratty hair preserved for posterity and all of time in a Lifetouch gray background 2x3 photo. This is forever people, 1st grade class pictures are at stake.

And yet, I could use a little time off the cul-de-sac. So the little royal court that is run by moi will have to find a way to operate without it's benevolent dictator for three short days. I'm sure it will be filled with plenty of ice cream and swinging time to satisfy even my subjects.

T minus 16 hours and counting until minivan lift off. Perhaps I'll share a picture of the gals and I at Madonna's father's vineyard upon my return.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

9/16 Makes 6

This picture will be forever embedded in the recesses of my mind. I can smell the crowded conference room and elevator lobby. The man with the black bag was a local guide and sang to us on bus rides those 6 days we were in Changsha. This most auspicious of all days should have been relaxed and calm. It wasn't and to this day I cannot relax my stomach when seeing this photo. It was moments before Jing Tang, now Ava, was carried off the elevator to meet us. I had never been more scared in my whole life. That was exactly 6 years ago today.

She was handed to me and simply stared at me with the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. Her perfect little round face sat square on sturdy shoulders. She had no eyelashes. Her size 18 month Western sleeper hung on her body even though she was quite a chunk of amazing baby bulge. Her fingers were perfect, there were 10, I noticed that right away. I suppose that is what all parents do, count fingers. My long arms and tall frame must have felt very awkward for her. But she was silent, for all of 3 minutes. And then the baby next to us in the conference room started to cry. Ava Jing couldn't take it any more, she let out a wail that still rocks my soul just thinking about it. I wanted to run. Get this poor child out of here, I thought. But there was no where to run, there seemed to be hundreds of people blocking our way. Chinese officials stamping A4 sized papers, well wishing parents and crying nannies all stood sentry blocking my escape. She cried and I panicked through a gritty smile. My husband wanted to video tape our first minutes with her. I couldn't get over the raw indignity of the public nature of this our first meeting with the person whom we would forever call daughter. I wanted no video tape. To this day I shutter at the thought of watching it. It is just too emotional, too raw.

And then we were released to our hotel rooms. Each family was supposed to retire comfortably for some alone time to feed their child, calm them and begin that almost elusive bonding. Ava just wailed, obviously pining for someone who knew better than us how to calm her rattled nerves.

Here the Muffin Man holds our new daughter, 17lbs. of gorgeous strangeness. He looks happy, and truly he was able to embrace the moment so much better than yours truly. She rewarded him with the priviledge of holding her without terrified screams. I look into that face in the picture today and almost don't see her. The real Ava. I see a far scared and tramautized 8 month old who had just had her world rocked. Someone tipped that bough just a little too far, is what she would say in the picture if she could.

I pressed on the next few days as if she were a project to be managed. There was never a project I couldn't manage, it was all about planning and executing to the written order. Or, it had been in the past.

She had her doubts about my plans and projects.

And, then we found water. A perfect equalizer in her mind. Any woman willing to stick her in a warm bath couldn't be all that terrible. And so we bathed and bathed that next week.

It has now been 6 years with Ava. I wouldn't give even one of them up. Not one day, and there have been a few where I once thought, hmmm...maybe we'll just forget about this one. But no. This person, our daughter is an amazing spirit that we are simply honored to be in the presence of. She's a survivor, she'll do anything she has the inkling to do, I'm just so forever grateful she saw it in her plan to make us part of her life.

Happy 6th adoption day, my Ava, my Evita, my love.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Moon Festival

It's Chinese Moon Festival time already again this year. Our city held the first ever all city Chinese festival downtown sponsored by the mayor's office. Chinese American organizations

from all over the area were invited to participate. There were food vendors, entertainment, and cultural booths. It was not a huge festival but definitely something I can see growing quite a bit in the next few years.

I decided to take the girls on my own since the Muffin Man has a hurt foot and can't do too much walking. (Another story for another day.) I always struggle how to dress the girls at events like this. On the one hand I don't want to be the obnoxious white woman with children of color pushing their "traditional" garb on them a few times a year for the sake of dressing them up like silk dolls. Let's be honest, I'm not sure this is even slightly representative of their traditional garb. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that red tulle fluffy knee length skirts were not in fact traditional dress of Chinese women of the Ming Dynasty. Just a hunch. On the other hand if they want to wear the outfits because either they enjoy the colors and ummm...twirl factor on a skirt and seem to be proud of wearing something special to a special event...hey, what the heck? And really, where and when else will they ever wear the 1600 dresses I thought we needed while shopping the streets of Guangzhou in 2002 and 2006? I asked them what they wanted to wear and this is what they came up with. And darn it it if might not end up being our Christmas card this year. Now seriously how convoluted is that? We are nothing if not a family willing to mix the secular with sacred when it comes to cheap imitation red silk.

The festival was pretty darn fun, if I don't count the fact that my two year old did not read the memo about napping in the stroller as was instructed. She sort of grumped her way through paper cutting and chop stick tossing until falling asleep mouth wide open a mere three hours late. Oh did I mention that I took my children to this fabulous cultural opportunity 1/2 hour's drive away, by myself in 90 degree heat and all they wanted to do upon arriving was jump in the bouce house that was on the property? Not being one for extreme sports including kid and toddler whining punishment I said, "Have at it munchkins... jump until you barf your lunch, I'll be here waiting for you under this shade tree." They jumped for what seemed like an eternity and they we were able to enjoy the culture and festivities.

They best part of the day was when Ava wore me down and scored ice cream at the festival. She happily announced in front of a large group waiting behind us in line, "Wow, Mom we sure are good at spending your money."

Ahhh, yes you are darling. Yes you are.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Everybody's Adjusting To School

Ava: State of Affairs

Ava has clearly adjusted to school. In the last two weeks she had taken spelling tests, and aced them. She rides a very large bus. She has even found ways to make the ten year old neighbor girl her very own personal playmate, even though a much older and probably cooler 11 year old girl lives in between the two girls. Eleven year old girl still will not be caught dead with 1st grader Ava. But it is only September, and there is of course time for her to weave her complicated web drawing older and more sophisticated beings into her inner circle.

And her new favorite thing to say to me is.....

"Mom, your lip gloss is soooo not shiny any more." Then she bursts into hysterical giggles and skips away.

The kicker is, she gets proper timing, and just when to get me with the lipgloss comments. Move over've met your match. Although, my daughter will not be banning anyone's books. I'm still her mother and I won't allow that.


Liv: State of Affairs

Went to preschool last week day one...cried only 10 minutes...a rousing success if you ask me.
Went to preschool day two and cried over 1/2 an hour and would not participate in very much at all. Declares little girl named Sara her good friend. "Sara nice, no hurt." Hmmm....must speak to teacher about that comment.

All weekend, I occasionally hear...No peeskool, I kwry." Oh child, do twist that knife in my heart before you take it out again. Need I explain why you simply must venture off the cul-de-sac and out of the Caillou infested playroom before age 4 again?

Tomorrow is peeskool day three. I'm gearing up.