Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dragon Boat Race fun

This weekend we attended the Dragon Boat Races at our favorite local swimming hole! This is the third year we've attended her in Tenn and we had a fun and entertaining day as usual. Well, this year was a little extra fun, because Simone had some cousins visiting as well! We had a wonderful weekend with them and Simone was very sad to see them go.

Below is one of the many races. This year was the biggest I've seen so far. The races help raise money for some local charities and food banks so we have fun and the community gets helped. I am inspired by all of the volunteers who stuck it out on one hot and muggy day.

Our local FCC Chapter (Families with Children from China) along with the local Asian community set up a booth with arts and crafts and information about the history of the races as well as photos of places in China like the Great Wall, Hong Kong and Forbidden City, as well as some of authentic Chinese dishes and examples of Dim Sum.

Below is the Dragon Boat the FCC brought along. A slightly smaller and more kid friendly version. Simone kept time with the drums and ordered her cousin to row!

There was also a Tai Chi demonstration. It was really neat to watch, the kids were very good and quite focused.

And after a fun day at the lake we went downtown for dinner. Simone spied Mama's favorite flowers (black eyed susans) and we stopped to let the kids put they're feet in the water. We also took some pictures because it was just too pretty not to! Below is Simone and her two cousins. They took such great care of her and really spoiled her. She loved every minute of it too!


Ah, my sweet thing....


So there was a glimpse at our fun day at the races.

No news on when Wei-Che will be coming home. We are still waiting for our first ruling. It has been 40 days since the hearing and we've been told 1-3 months so we are still in the early part of the time frame. But of course that does not make the days go by any easier. I swear my computer is going to start grumbling at me if I don't stop hitting the refresh button to see if maybe, just maybe that very special email has come in. I dream of my far away baby every night, and I know I am not alone in that.

So lets shake up the whole of Taiwan and get some hearings, rulings and hey let's throw in some referrals while we are at it. OK now, on the count of three everyone jump up and down...

Ready..........one.......two.......THREE!!!!!

Did it work?
J

Friday, June 26, 2009

Stress

Stress:

I am not sure exactly how it works, but this is amazingly accurate. Read the full description before looking at the picture.


The picture below has 2 identical dolphins in it. It was used in a case study on stress levels at St. Mary's Hospital, London . Look at both dolphins jumping out of the water. The dolphins are identical. A closely monitored scientific study revealed that, in spite of the fact that the dolphins are identical; a person under stress would find differences in the two dolphins. The more differences a person finds between the dolphins, the more stress that person is experiencing.

Look at the photograph and if you find more than one or two differences you need to go on holiday ....

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Ha Ha Ha Ha! Yep, needed a good laugh today!

And a big round of applause to our visiting blogger helper, thanks Poppa Bob!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Birthday pictures...finally!
We had such a fun time celebrating Simone's 5th Birthday almost two weeks ago. My mom, her Grammie, came to visit and help celebrate. Simone was her shadow for the whole 3 days and so enjoyed having her there!
Thanks Mom for coming...We love ya!

Here's a picture of the cake that Auntie Jody made for Simone. Isn't it just lovely!

And the birthday girl in all her glory (notice the crown!!)! She got some wonderful and creative gifts. It was really a special and fun weekend!

And what a sport Grammie is! Look at them swing!

One of the cool gifts Grammie got Simone was a paint-able sun catcher project. Simone loved doing this with her and we have them proudly displayed on the french doors!

And of course a beauty queen can't go out looking anything but spectacular! Too bad her hair is so soft and straight - the curls certainly didn't hold...but she sure looked cute in curlers!

We had a very small party at a park near our house. We had a pinata, hot dogs swimming and lots of fun! Here's Simone w/ BFF's family. Think she's comfortable around them...

Oh, and did I mention the rain? Good thing our friends and family don't melt! It came down in buckets! But we waited it out and the sun shone again!

The girls took a break from the festivities to read a book. Aren't they cute!

We had an egg race too! It was humorous to watch and the kids had a blast doing it!

"It's time to go M!" Now where could she be?
I guess she didn't realize her balloon would give away her exact whereabouts!

Lovin on Grammie! I think Grammie got her fair share of hugs!

Whatever did you girls get into?
The answer would be "Sponge Bob crushed ice" Hmmm

So that was our birthday fun weekend! I can't believe my little one is five years old! Wow. But she is such a good, sweet and funny little five year old! I am so happy for the years we've had together!

And no news on my little guy. We are all sooooooo ready for Wei-Che to come home and start getting to know his family! Each day I check the email 100-178 times and a big ole nuthin is waiting there from our agency!
Well, I have faith, really I do. And I know it will happen soon, I mean it's only been 36 days and we were told 1-3 months, so we are still on the shorter end of the spectrum. But honestly that really doesn't matter...I want him home now!

Hope all of your weekends are great, wonderful and filled with fun!
J

Friday, June 19, 2009

Resilience

re·sil·ience:
1 : the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress
2 : an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change resilience
(As copied from the Dictionary)

Interesting word...resilience. Some other synonyms for the word are toughness, flexibility and hardiness.

Last night as I sat up thinking about our little Wei-Che and worrying about how hard it would be for him when we go to bring him home. To be loved and well taken care of for so many months by a Foster Family and then to be uprooted and handed over to virtual strangers at such a developmentally critical bonding stage/age. Not to mention the changes that have happened prior in his little life...

It made me so sad for him. And it made me think also of how Simone came to us, the loss and changes in her life at such a young age. I wondered aloud if it is even fair, what we are doing in adopting our babies like this. My hubby said something like "they are resilient, they adapt easily".

Hmmm....do they?

So I of course thought about that. I thought about what an amazing and sad journey our little ones have taken already- so early in their lives. And I wonder if it does in fact create a hardiness, a resoluteness in them. I know our Simone is in every way like all the other little girls we know, she's no tougher or more strained in character than her friends. With the minor exception that she looks slightly different than her Mom & Dad, our family is just like all of our friends who have bio kids, and our friends with adopted kids too. Of course there will always be things adoption related that we will deal with. But the need to be resilient...does that just expire? With all of the love, affection and attention they get once they come home do they need to be dependant on their resilience any more? I gaze at my sweet Wei-Che's picture and can't imagine how we can even expect that innocent little baby to have to be resilient?

My friend just had a baby, and there were some minor complications (he is absolutely fine now though!). But they've had to poke and prod the poor little guy to get blood, give blood and test blood. He has scabs on his little feet...at 16 days old! Does that mean he's had to be resilient - to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change- and if so does he just forget that part of his life and stop using that resilience he developed? And is it the same with our sweet babies after they come home?

Adoption has been around for a long time, it is even written about in the Bible. In I fact chose my own Hebrew name, Hadassah, in part because of the biblical story of her strength and bravery in the face of danger while saving the people of her birth culture. But I was also drawn to her because she was adopted by the King as and raised if she were born to him, even being made Queen. (and no, I didn't choose it b/c I wanted to be called a Queen...well not entirely) You may know her by her Biblical name of Esther. (Yes, Ma*onna - Esther is not a really Hebrew name...) She was resilient, surely she had to be. But was it because of the challenges she faced or simply because that is part of her character? I like to think a bit of both...

And I want my darling children to be able to be tough, to stand up for their beliefs and be resilient - flexible. But I want them to have good lives, happy lives that are free of worry that things could change again for them. I want them to lose the need for resilience yet maintain the character that it has created in them.
Am I asking too much... is this even possible?

I suppose we don't have a choice in that, but we do have a choice in how much love we give them, how much stability and reliability we offer them and in how much we help them gain confidence in themselves. To help them move past the need for resilience to just having an ability to adapt.
I think I could really use a manual for this parenting thing!
J

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Happy 5th Birthday to my precious girl!

It's amazing that today you turn five years old! You have grown up so much over the last year, and soon you will be starting Kindergarten and growing even more.

What a gift this world received 5 years ago today. I am certain there is another woman thinking of you today, and she is probably hoping that you are safe, healthy and loved. I so wish I could reassure her of all of these things, and of course thank her for bringing my greatest gift and most incredible joy into this world.

Happy Happy Birthday, sweetheart!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Update day, its update day!

Oh man do I LOVE update day!
And I am also sooooo in love with my little Wei-Che and all of his adorableness! His measurements were taken on May 26 (Adam & my anniversary...) and he was 23.03 inches and 13.23 pounds. He is obviously being well taken care of and looks pretty happy and very healthy. So I now can't wait to meet him even more.

My Dad says it looks like he just ate some M&M's & is saying "boy was that good" in this shot...

Isn't he just so cute! Look at those feet!
And here's the last picture.
Ohhhh...sweet baby boy! I just want to pick him up and cuddle him!


And finally his video. I think we've already watched it 12 times! Adam swears he's a lefty like his big sis! And she is sooo ready to bring him home. She was as excited as we were to see his new photos!

video

So these pictures and the video will keep a big smile on my face for atleast another 2 weeks. Then I'll start counting the days till we get new ones...

J

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

we grow em big...

Apparently we grow em big here. I had no idea we even grew them here and I really am not sure of even what they are, to be honest. I've seen those icky earwigs (I call them pincer bugs) but this thing floored me!

Here's how the story goes. Simone was, um shall we say using the facilities last night and of course went to wash her hands when finished. I peeked in to make sure all was OK when I saw this thing coming up out of the sink. Seriously...it was like in a bad movie. I screamed and pulled Simone back, and then of course grabbed the camera! Simone grabbed as many items (toys and such) she could and moved them onto the porch! She looks calmer in the video than she was when this all happened. She was screaming, and below you can see why!

video

So after a while we went back in to make sure it hadn't gotten out and it was gone. Simone went immediately outside and would not come back in until Daddy came home.

video

I took these with my camera so the clarity is not great but I thought her reaction was cute.

Daddy came home and poured drano down all of the sinks so hopefully we will never have that problem again! Simone still won't use the downstairs bathroom though! J


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

"She thinks my tractor's sexy"

Oh boy do I ever...

OK so it's not really a "tractor" it's a riding lawn mower, but I still enjoy seeing him ride around on his new toy. You see we've lived here for over 2 & 1/2 years and we've got a good size yard (we affectionately call it the 4 hour mow!) and my man finally decided to by a rider and retire the poor old push mower.

Isn't he cute!


And Simone got to take a spin also- and she just loved it. Don't worry, Adam took every precaution and went ultra slow for her twirl around the yard.


The doggies love when the whole family is outside. They enjoy hunting for critters and sniffing the property lines. And now they have a new hobby...lawn mower chasing! I couldn't get it on film, I was too nervous they'd get hurt so I was busy chasing after them. Oh ya, our neighbors probably get a good laugh whenever our family is in the yard! After a while they tired out and relaxed with me. Yes, that's as relaxed as Emma really gets when in the yard. There's just too much to see, chase and play with!

You know I have to do a goofy post on occasion, to lighten up my mood! so that was my silly post of the month.

And just as an aside to the post below... adoption does not take up that much space in our actual lives, more in my mind than anywhere else. I guess I just never thought forward to the effects it would have on our children when we decided to adopt from China/Taiwan.
Being an adult adoptee I foolishly thought that I.A. was just like domestic. And in so many ways it is -a family is formed, but there are definite differences that I am now realizing. Nobody ever guessed my bro and I were adopted-we look enough like our parents to not have it questioned. But with Simone it is a bit more obvious, and she hears the comments from strangers... the questions. And my sweet girl is very perceptive so she gets that it's about adoption, about her.

No new news about our little Wei-che, although we are hoping to get some updates this week. I cannot wait to see how much he has grown...but at the same time it is so hard to watch him grow without us. He turned 4 months old yesterday, and I hope not too many more months go by before we get to finally hold him. It's so odd how you can so deeply miss somebody you've never actually met. Well... soon my darling boy I'll be holding you!
J

Friday, June 5, 2009

Identity Crisis

Now for the full & long story about the identity crisis. Well, maybe it's not quite a crisis, that's a bit strong, maybe it's more like an identity recognition. You see, my soon to be five year old is starting to question her own identity. Not in a bad way, just in a surprising way.

I guess it started while we were at the park a week or so ago. I noticed her really checking out this Asian family that was playing a few feet from us in the sand. And by Asian family, I mean the kids and the parents were all of the same ethnic origins (odd, huh...) . She watched rather intently for a bit, no expression and without comment, she just watched.
After a few minutes I asked her what she was thinking about. I got the shrug of the shoulders and a "nuthin" for a response. But she still watched them. I said "Well, I see those kids over there look a lot like you. Think they are from China, or maybe from Taiwan like baby bro?" To which I got another shrug. So I pressed a little further and said "Wow, they look a lot like their parents do, huh?" To which I got no verbal response, just another shrug. But she was still watching them closely.

And then she was off to play with her pal in the water...

Later that week I picked out our bed time stories. As I do most nights I got one or two "regular" books and one adoption related book. This one happened to be "When I was born in China". That night she wanted nothing to do with the book. Refused completely to let me read it, or "any of those china books" as she put it. I asked why she didn't want to read any of her adoptions books and she said she just didn't want to talk about it now (I assume she meant she didn't want to talk about adoption or related things).

So I got "Stage Struck" by Tommie D* instead.

But then while we were riding in the car over the weekend she informed her Daddy and me that she wants to change her name. She told us that she will no longer be called Simone. Now I was expecting to have the conversation we've already had... the one we had a month or so ago when she said her "other Mom" would have named her something cool like "Princess Buttercup".

But no, that was not the name she wanted to be called.

We asked what she wanted us to call her instead, what this new name was going to be. She replied seriously "QingLu...and then LuLu for my nickname". Really?? (you see in China they called her LuLu, and we of course have told her this, and we've called her it quite a bit too)
And she stuck by it, well whenever she remembered. If I called her Simone she would calmly say, "my name is QingLu, remember". She is back to being Simone most of the time, I guess it is exhausting trying to remember a new name all of the time. (Oh yes, I see the irony here...)

So my Mama mind is working in overtime again. How do I foster a love for both cultures, especially knowing so little about the one. Well, maybe saying "knowing so little" is not quite right, but just not being of that culture. I mean, I can read 1,000 books, take language classes, eat dumplings daily and participate in every Chinese cultural event offered in this area, but I still will never BE Chinese.
I want my children to grow up proud of who/what they are, and feel safe and comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings. Like being able to say "enough adoption/Chinese stuff...just let me be" or the flip side - feeling the need to tie themselves to their birth culture by using the names they were first given.

But is it possible to push too much, will I turn the subject- actually subjects...plural...for International Adoption has many facets to it- into issues? Or are we helping her feel more comfortable with her ethnic identity by talking of these things often and by pushing her more into it through cultural events, dance & language classes and by having contact/relationships with other Asians?

And now I ask myself, am I just making a mountain out of a mole hill? Perhaps all she has been doing is being a normal mind-changing kid, and I'm reading more depth into her actions. (gosh, feel like I've had these feelings before...)

Part of the reason I do question is because of things she has said and done in the past. For example, we play the "adoption game" sometimes (Simone's made up game, she initiates it whenever she wants to play it).
It goes like this...I have to say out loud, (and in a kinda whiny voice or else I am prompted to try again) that I want a baby so very much. Then Simone is the "social worker" that visits the house and then I have to fill out papers and go though all the motions. She then declares I can go over and "find" my baby. I look at my pretend refferal picture of my new baby the whole pretend flight over, and then our eyes meet when I exit the plane and I yell "my baby" and she yells "my Mama" and we hug and are happy and I say "my baby, forever and ever". And then we play it again.

We don't do that as much anymore (it's like sooo 2 months ago) but it leads me to believe that maybe she does think about adoption and how it relates to her, to us. Now it's up to me to help her find the natural joy of being in a family, no matter how we formed it, no matter what culture came first or next, because each culture will hopefully be intertwined as just part of who she is.

So, I guess I'll just keep plugging away at this Mama stuff and hope, and pray, that I'm doing it the right way and that my children will end up as emotionally well developed adults, with a good sense of their own identity and where they fit in in the world.
And if not, well as my friend Cort says "It'll give em plenty to talk about in therapy..."
J