Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Has it already been 6 Years??

Dec 31 will forever hold a special meaning for me, ever since Dec 31, 2002.

You see in Nov 2001 I had submitted my dossier to China for a little girl. The wait stretched out to a 13 month wait. Which, for the people waiting for babies from China today is a NOTHING wait, but, at the time, it was the start of the "Long" waits. Because Nov 2001 was a large month for applicants (the singles quota was going into effect on Dec 1 & agencies pushed as many singles as they could into those Nov batches), the referrals were coming from China in monthly batches, one week of referrals at a time. I had missed the previous batch of referrals by a day, so when word came that referrals were on their way, I knew mine would be in the batch.

Frantically following along on my various Yahoo adoption groups, I knew my dossier date was included & that my referral was imminent. My agency was in TX & I lived & worked in CA. Historically, referrals came out in the early afternoon. At that time, I was working between two offices. So, around noon PT, I called my agency rep, to see if she'd heard anything. She had not. So, I told her I was going to travel to my second office & would be out of cell range for about an hr. As fate had it, she received my referral 10 min later & had to wait to call me back.

As soon as I walked into the office, my receptionist called out that my agency was on the phone!! I ran to my office & heard the words that made me a mom:

- a girl
- born May 2002......so just 8 months old
- From Fuzhou, Jiangxi
- Then she spelled her name...L..I..N..D..(at that point I thought WAIT..I'm Naming her Lindsi, are they giving me the wrong name??....A...Lin Da.
- And here is the picture that I opened

Hmmmmmm...she honestly looked nothing like I thought she would. Sort of resembled a mini Mr Magoo to me. I even felt a little deflated.

However, the next day I received my FEDEX package & this picture. Immediately I saw her spirit.....I saw personality......I FELT that picture (& at times, I still see THIS baby in her face).....& from then on it was just a 6 week countdown until we traveled to China.

Here's my beautiful girl today.......

Can't believe it's been 6 years.....it has gone fast & yet, it feels like she's been a part of my life forever. Happy Referral Anniversary to my other Nov 2001 Waiters, otherwise known as the QBQs...Quick Before Quotas....

Finally....Christmas Morn

Opening Their Christmas stockings......

Jami's Big present from Santa...her talking baby & a cradle

I had to make a 4 day business trip to Vegas the week before Christmas & it felt like it put me behind by 8 days! Yes, the baking, shopping, wrapping, delivering all was completed BEFORE Christmas...but other things like cards, & blogging went on the back burner. The cards all went out, finally...so now I can catch up here.

We always have enjoyable Christmases. This year Lindsi really wanted to catch Santa at work. She's been thinking on this for awhile. She usually puts her Cochlear up at night, but several weeks ago asked me if it would be OK if she wore it to bed on Christmas Eve.....she doesn't have a hope of catching Santa if she can't hear. So, I told her Yes, she could wear it.

So, after the Christmas Eve rituals of church, putting out reindeer food, milk & cookies for Santa, the girls went off to bed. It was already pretty late (11 PM) because we had been at my parents visiting with my brother & his family who were over for the holidays. I went to bed too.

At about 1230, I got up to check on things & Lindsi was sitting wide eyed in the hall, waiting to hear Santa. I shooed off to bed & went back to bed myself. I got up again at 0230 & found the girls camped out for Santa...but sleeping. So Santa got the all clear but had to be excruciating quiet not to wake anyone. Around 0400, the girls came in to ask if I had heard Santa yet. I told them no, so they climbed into bed & then slept until 0730.

They are allowed to open their stockings as soon as they wake up. So, off they went to do that. Then they were pretty good about waiting until my parents came over at 1000 to tear into the rest of their Santa & Mommy gifts.

In the afternoon, we had a Prime Rib & Salmon dinner at my parents & our family Christmas with my parents, siblings & their families. I love just visiting with everyone.

Lindsi picked out this dress about 6 weeks ago when we were shopping for a Christmas dress. I told her she could have it for Christmas........Fancy Schmancy. I'm sure she'll make plenty of opportunities to wear it.

Lindsi picked out a few things for Jami this year. She knew Jami would like this one!!

An elderly man at church who ADORES the girls (it is very mutual in fact) was very generous to us this year. He bought Lindsi a bike & Jami got this electric keyboard. WOW!!!!!!!!

I actually had this for Jami last year & held it back. This year she's the perfect age for it & LOVES it. She has given everyone & just about everyTHING a very good exam since Christmas.

My Disney connected sister was able to snag Lindsi a bigger Cinderella dress (Lindsi's been wearing the same one since she was 2...& she still wears it!!!) & Jami was gifted with this beautiful Belle dress. Ahhhhh the magic that's Christmas....

I hope your holidays have been as wonderful.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Navigating the Adoption Road

First of all, I know that in terms of adoption angst / grief, I have had it pretty easy. For nearly 6 years it has been pretty much non existent in our house.

Both girls will tell you proudly that they are from China. We talk about how I met Lindsi at the hotel & she laughed & smiled the entire time. We talk about how I actually missed Jami's "Family Day" because of an airline delay & that when I got her, she screamed & cried & would hardly let me hold her for 3 days.

At 3, Jami is just coming to terms with some of her story. In her mind, there was no life "BEFORE" Jami. She has always been here...even though she will also tell you that I flew on a plane to get her in China. These days she references back to pictures she seen...Remember Mom...when I was in China with my Strawberry Shortcake Dress???"

Lindsi's never really talked much about China at all. Except to tell me that we should go back to China for another sister or two.

So, it was even more surprising to me when I went into the family room last night & Lindsi was looking through our China photo albumns & crying. She was looking at the various pictures & Chinese woman (the asst dir who brought her to me, her fostermom, & our Nanchang guide) & asking which one was her mother. She wanted to go to China right now & find her mother.

It's hard not having any information. The best you can do is love them through it & answer whatever questions come up. There is a lot going on in her head these days centered around adoption & who her birth parents are. She's very private, so I'm not sure, even if I ask, if she will talk much more about it.

We'll see.........

Monday, December 15, 2008

2nd Fun Filled December Weekend

We are super busy this whole month. This past weekend was no exception.

On Friday after school & work, we headed down to my sister's place in Winter Garden. We attended their Winter Festival at the school. Pam & I make & sell fleece blankets & the cool weather that evening really helped. I think we sold 7 blankets. We usually average about 4, so that was a great night for us.

On Sat, Pam hosted her annual Christmas Party. We have great things to eat, a craft, gift exchange for the kids & a visit from Mr Claus. This is probably the 5th or 6th annual one she's done. We have a lot of fun, although the upper age group (8 & 9) are starting to feel a little old for such parties.

We came home after lunch on Sun, just in time to race to a dual birthday party for some of Lindsi's classmates.

The cousins & Santa....

Lindsi in her face painting

Gavin & his shark eating his hand

Emma & Jami

Party Santa Claus....

Wow! A picture of me twice in one week!!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

December Weekends...Fun & Full

We had a very busy & fun weekend.

Friday night was the Frosty Festival at the Lindsi's school. They even blow snow for the kids to play in...a pretty big deal when the temp outside is grazing 65. I was happy because both girls managed to win a book of their choice in the "Book Walk"...run like a cake walk.

Lindsi's grade was doing the Face Painting Booth & they practiced on the kids prior to the night event. Lindsi came home with a tree & a snowman adorning her cheeks. She did opt for the hair color though & had a nice "do" of pink & black striped hair for the weekend.

On Sat, travelmates of ours from Lindsi's adoption came through town. The girls had a blast & we all went together to our local Christmas Parade. It was small town & fun.

Sun after church & our dear friends left, we went to visit Santa & then came home & decorated our tree.

Enjoy our pictures........

At the Parade.......

Before Bed.....

Church on Sunday....

Visit with Santa....
Pure Cuteness...

Lindsi as the photographer...

Big Smiles...

Tree Decorating....

Who needs an angel when you have a cat??

Friday, December 5, 2008

Raffles and A Little (Chop Chop) Vent

Please check out the raffles on the RT side of my Blog. My friend Kris is (hopefully) getting very close to hearing about her new daughter from China. She is raising funds for the last portion of her adoption. If you have some extra moola & want a chance to win a WII, please check her Blog out. Even if you already have a WII...go check out her Blog anyways. But hurry, because her raffle ends this week. It's not too late!!

There is also a link for a very nice Canon camera package. They are raising funds to be split among a couple of things. Click on that one as well & check out how you might win. That raffle goes until Dec 14.

And now for a little vent. My first grader has a very good teacher. A strict teacher, but good. One of the weekly homework assignments is to write each spelling word in a sentence. They have to use a mixture of statements, questions, & exclamations. This is due on Thu, but we always start working on them Mon night. It is, for Lindsi, the hardest assignment of the week. She is getting better at sentence structure every week. I see her steady improvement.

So, this week one of her words is "CHOP". Her original sentence was:
I like to use chop sticks to eat.
I told her that was a good sentence, but the word CHOP in this instance was connected to the word STICK. It was a compound word, two separate words, joined together to make a whole. She has had some exposure to compound words, but not a lot yet. We looked it up in the dictionary, so that I could show her.

For grins, we looked up the definition for the word CHOP. It has three listed definitions. 1. To cut finely, as in dice. 2. To swing broadly, as in using an axe. 3. A stamp or signature on documents. Notes authenticity or good quality.

I told Lindsi that all of my papers from China were signed with a chop. I told her that people use a chop in China for business & to sign their names on documents. Lindsi loves to hear about & share things she learns about China.

She wrote a new sentence:

I can use a CHOP to sign my name.

That's a good sentence I thought. The teacher didn't think so & underlined the word & wrote a big NO across it. Lindsi couldn't wait to show it to me when she got home. I was a little mad. I know the teacher has 19 papers to grade...BUT....we had really worked on that sentence. Referenced it, looked it up, explored the meaning of the word & the teacher effectively negated the whole exercise with her big pen. Doesn't she realize the influential power she has on these young minds?

I ended up telling Lindsi that many words have more than one meaning. Everyone can't be expected to know them all. That's why we use a dictionary...we look things up when we're not sure.

It would have been so much better to write something like..."interesting use of the word CHOP"....not NO! I did write a note back to the teacher, telling her that while I realize this is an exercise, we had done a lot of work exploring the meanings of the words. The word CHOP, in a noun form had meaning for Lindsi. And, that I was disappointed in her easy dismissal of the work.

In many ways, I know it's petty. Lindsi still learned the value of looking things up. She still learned how to spell CHOP (the real & only goal). I think I need to do as Lindsi & just move on. But it still(apparently)irks me.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving and an Early Parade

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving & spent it with my sister & her husband & her husband's extended family. Lots of yummy food. Lots of yummy desserts too.
On Friday, my sister, her mother in law, & I got up early to hit the BLACK FRIDAY sales. It was the first time I had ever wandered out for big early morning shopping.

Fortunately, while I had seen some items I would like to get, only Pam had one item on her might be hard to find, get in line early list. We started at Best B*y, but soon found out from the sales clerk that the one item we were hoping to get there, was already out of tickets (we later went back to the same store & found a display case with 100s of them). So we headed next door to join the TRU line. That was probably the most chaotic store we visited all day. And, even at that we were in & out within an hour (I accidentally stumbled onto a hidden checkout counter, so instead of standing in the line that snaked around the store, we only had to wait 2-3 people to check out..SCORE!) & by that time a friend of Pam's had joined us.

We then went over to the store with Pam's big ticket item. We got there an hr before the store opened & were a comfortable #8 in line.

From there we walked over to Chick-***-A, which was giving away free chicken biscuits. Apparently not too many people were aware of this, as we basically had the place to ourselves...but that was a very YUMMY & FREE stop, thanks to Pam who had scoped that out earlier in the week.

We then hit half a dozen more stores & were home about 12:30. My brother in law watched all 5 kids for us. What a guy!! I am really counting my pennies these days, so it was nice to get a deal on some items. Most of all, it was nice to just get out sans kids & get it done. I'm nearly finished now.

Last weekend Lindsi marched in a parade with her dance studio. She has a big parade next weekend. Emma was staying part of the weekend with us. When the boys came on Sun, we took all the kids to the park...so here are some photos from that....

Emma & Jami, bundled up & waiting for the little parade. The big parade is next weekend. This one is comprised of just walkers...mostly scout troops, baton twirlers, & dancers.

Lindsi's dance studio marched / danced to FROSTY THE SNOWMAN & ended up winning first place. They were cute!

Jami at the park.......

Lindsi & cousin Gavin...our two 6 yr olds....=)

Monday, November 24, 2008

November Happenings

Last weekend our church hosted their annual Block Party. Lots of fun for the kids...

Lindsi getting her arm painting & Tattoos......

The girls with PATCH. We see this clown group at just about any outdoor event we go to in our area. They are BUSY. Patch always does the balloons. He is losing his hearing & uses some sign language. He & Lindsi have a special bond & enjoy seeing each other throughout the year. He used to be a NY firefighter.

Jami LOVED the bike obstacle course. I think she rode the bike 6 different times. Shocked me, because she barely rides her trike. I think she will just by pass the trike now, for a BIG bike. After her second time around, she was doing amazingly well.

Friday, November 14, 2008

In The Blink of an Eye

Both of my girls take dance class & we end up over at the studio 3 evenings a week right now. The studio we use has 2 store fronts on the side of a strip mall. They are sandwiched between a tanning salon & a hair salon. On the corner is a pizza place, & on the other side is a real estate office & a vacant store front. There is one row of parking on that side of the strip mall. It's where we usually park, but admittedly, that particular part of the lot is not very busy & has very little traffic.

Last night we were leaving dance at about 6:30...so it was already dark. I pointed out the full moon to the girls. Lindsi was excitedly talking about the parade she will be dancing in coming up in 2 weeks. We had stayed a little past dance class so she could have an outfit fitting.

In usual mom fashion, I had one arm full of stuff, I was holding Jami by the hand & Lindsi was walking on the other side of her as we headed over to our car. It's about 50 ft from the curb to our car.

We were about 15 ft off the curb when a young guy, in his jacked up pick up trk turned into that part of the lot & decided to use it as his very own drag strip. In one motion, he turned the corner & gunned his trk with no regard for anything, but for how quickly he could make his trk get to the other end of the strip.

I stopped & had to let go of Jami in order to grab Lindsi & pull her back. He never saw us until he was nearly on top of us. At that point, I was just thinking "What an idiot"......& I gave him a little lecture about slowing down in parking lots.

That would have probably been the end of it all, except this kid was visibly shaken. He was very upset. I thought, Good! You need to be upset. Wake Up call, no harm done...this time. Make it the last time. He sat there while I put my kids in the car & then apologized again & again.

I was fine (well, a bit annoyed with the kid) until I started driving home. Then I started to think about all of the what ifs....what if I hadn't been able to reach Lindsi. It wasn't even a deaf thing, it was an animated 6 yr old talking excitedly about a parade. She wasn't paying attention. That could happen to anyone. We had stopped & looked both ways before we stepped off the curb. It's that assumption of safety, you do what you've been taught & it should be OK from there.

It was a close call. It was dark. Lindsi was in dark clothes. I know the kid did not see us until it would have beeen too late. I can make myself crazy struggling with the What Ifs.......

I guess the lessons learned is even when it looks safe, there could be trouble right around the corner...and I'm pretty certain there is one less teenage boy speeding through parking lots in his jacked up trk today.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Money Flying Out Of The Wallet......

Gas is cheaper here, $1.99/gal vs $4.00/gal just a few short months ago AND I still can't keep any money in my wallet.

Of course, now that I can afford gas, it's the other things taking my cash.

In our family, the saying is that good or bad, things come in 3's....(I wonder though, if you get to 4, are you starting all over again?) So, Nov is not even half over & we've had some MAJOR money drains happening in our household.

Lindsi's CI insurance was due on Nov 1. That's an expected bill, but, it is still about $700...ouch....3 days later (not Even enough time for them to CASH the check), her angled battery pack cracked. This is the part that goes behind the ear. She uses this particular one all of the time because it works with her FM at school (which isn't currently working, but that is another story). So, after talking to the insurance company, which would cover it, but take away from our chance to use a future claim on the REALLY EXPENSIVE (processor) part of her CI, I decided to suck it up & buy a new angled battery pack. $265.......That would have been ok....BUT...

3 days later, my car wouldn't start. Looked like the starter was shot...OH No!! How much do they cost?? Ended up being a bad battery...Oh THANK YOU!!!!!

Then my computer was really not running well. I work from home, on my computer, so I absolutely NEED a working computer. Hard drive crash.......Sigh.....
So, now I have a newer refurb computer. After the holidays, I'll have the old one repaired & the girls can use it for their games.

However, while the money was flying out of my wallet, the Toothfairy made 2 visits to our house. Lindsi loses her teeth in pairs. In Feb she lost her 1st & 2nd tooth & last week she lost the next 2 bottom teeth within 24 hrs of each other. Her top 2 teeth are loose, so they'll be coming out together around Christmas maybe. I hope that means they'll come in straight. So far, so good with the teeth.

And just because I have to put a cute one of Jami in too....here is Jami & one of her favorite ASL signs.....can you guess what it is


Monday, November 3, 2008

Treats, Pumpkins, & Costumes...Oh My!

Some favorite photos from the past week.

Both girls brought treats into their respective classes. Jami got to decorate tiny cupcakes & Lindsi got larger ones

Jami with her treats....

Lindsi with her treats......

Grandpa helped carve the pumpkins this year.....(the girls with Grandma & Grandpa)

A job well done!

Jami as Tinker Bell

Jami, Emma, & Lindsi waiting to go trick or treating (with either the Gavin or Ian Star Ways clone in the background...I'm not sure which). Don't Lindsi's legs look
L O N G in this picture??

Sunday, November 2, 2008

*UPDATED* Going Solo??

I am so silly.....

I RSVP'd for the birthday party & asked the mom to call me, so I'd have an idea what the birthday party would be like. She didn't. So, I pawned off Jami on my parents for the afternoon & Lindsi & I set out. I was of the mind that I was going to stay, since most everyone I talked to said, if it were me, I'd stay.

(Side note...growing up, I don't remember EVER going to a birthday party or BEING at a birthday party where parents stayed, starting around age 5. Really underscores the different world we live in today).

So, we get there & it is like Family Fest in the backyard. Birthday Invitees & siblings are running around the yard, jumping on the trampoline & bobbing for apples. The moms are all gathered together at a pool side table eating fresh shrimp & other yummy appetizers, drinking diet cokes.

I have to admit, I'm in Culture Shock this year with Lindsi's class. Last year, for kindergarten, we had a great experience. The teacher was kind, loving, & encouraging. But, the class was very easy academically. The teacher did not encourage volunteers, because most of the students had parents who could not or would not volunteer & she did not think it fair if the same two or three parents showed up for everything. Very low socio economic class & parental involvement.

This year, Lindsi vaulted to the top 1st grade class. Most of these kids moved as a unit from the top kindergarten class. I think only 2 of us have "the new" kids. These are the parents with SAHMs, the parents who are at the school 3, 4 even 5 days a week, helping in classrooms, library, reading labs. They know every child and all of the teachers by first name. I feel a little like a circle trying to fit into a square hole.

One of the moms befriended me early on, she already knew & liked Lindsi. She's bubbly & friendly & knows everybody. We arrived at the same time, so she took me over & introduced me to the other moms.....(2 others at the table happen to be Debbies)...

First it was the general concensus that it was so wonderful that their kids were being exposed to sign language (Lindsi has use of an interpreter)...ect...
Then one mom asked if Lindsi was born deaf & I told her I really wasn't sure. Someone else piped up about newborn hearing screenings...how could I not know? Didn't she have one??

I told them, that Lindsi was adopted.....one mom on the edge of the conversation turned around...ADOPTED??? Which child in the class is ADOPTED??? Well, Lindsi is adopted, from China...OHH.........
Then, the mom I know the best, (I think to move the conversation along) said...and she has her sister!!!!! AMAZING!!! What are the chances that you could go back & get her sister??? I think it is so INCREDIBLE!!! To which I felt I had to say, well, they are sisters now, but they are not biologically related.....!
Another round of WHAT??!! But, they look so much alike!!
That was all in the first 5 minutes of sitting down.

I never offered up that I'm a single mom...=) I'm sure that hasn't occurred to anyone. I felt like we are already the talk of the class, without adding that little bonus tid bit. To be clear, everyone is nice, the kids all great, we just have so little in common with them. I have been around too many adoptive families as our social network & I guess I had not really been around people so out of touch about adoption before this.

They were all talking about what teacher the "class" will likely get next year. I'm not even certain we will be in "The Class" next year. I think we really belong somewhere between the two....for all kinds of reasons.......=)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More Pumpkin Patch Photos

Look what we found in the pumpkin patch this week....

A lot of these....

Several of these.....

Many of these, old friends like Harvey, who is 84 yrs young....

But definately, only ONE of these....a Grandpa with 5 of his 7 grandkids...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Going Solo???

Calling all parents of 1st graders.....
Opinion,.....do you drop your 6 yr old at a birthday party, where you don't know the parents?

I think we are getting to the age of drop off birthday parties. Lindsi was invited to one of her classmates birthday parties. I think probably the whole calss, or at least all of the girls were invited, since the invite came home in her school folder.

At daycare, we routinely skipped the class invite parties & opted only to go to the parties of the kids we knew well.

Lindsi was excited about being invited to this party. I want to help her foster good friendships with the kids at school. I like that she was included. We don't live in the same school zone ( Lindsi attends her current school because the deaf / HOH services are based there), & it is hard to socialize with the kids outside of school.

I guess when I RSVP, I'll see what the party plan is.....
I don't think I have any concerns about her safety, just whether or not she can successfully navigate the social situation, on her own, with her language skills.

I sound like a way too over protective mom...lol....

So folks, what age do / did you just drop kids off at birthday parties where you don't know the other family????

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Few Friday Bullets

* Ha! To all who thought I'd have a third cat by now, I am happy to report that after feeding young mommy cat one time.....she hasn't come back. Maybe she doesn't care for our brand of cat food....=)

* We should finally feel some fall like 70 degree weather this weekend...Yea!!

* We have a dance performance, a birthday party, & old family friends visiting from Germany this weekend. We should be sufficiently busy!

* Jami has had a cold, which settled right into her eyes. I thought at first she was getting pink eye, but she didn't. However, every morning this week, I've had to bathe her eyes with warm water in order to remove the gunk enough so she can open them. So every morning I hear her call me...Mom..I can't see..come get my eye gunk.....Lovely...

* Finally...I don't know how to upload this (& maybe it's not even possible), but if you want to see the BEST video clip of the week, click here:

(You might need to copy it to your Browser)


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

October Pumpkins!

If it's Oct, we must be at the beach! We went to the beach on Sat & met a BLOG friend, Amy & her daughter Amelia. They were visiting the Mouse House for Amelia's 4th birthday.

We had a very nice visit until Jami hit her 3 yr old wall. It wasn't a pleasant departure. On the up side, Jami slept all the way home!

On Sun we spent part of the afternoon at the pumpkin patch. Since our church does the patch as a fundraiser, we are there A LOT in Oct.

These are probably just the first in a series of Pumpkin Pathch pics this year.

A little stroll down Memory Lane...

This pic was taken in 2006, about 10 days after Jami came home from China!

Pumpkin Patch 2007

Pumpkin Patch 2008

Jami in 2008..3.5 yrs old

Lindsi in 2008 6.5 yrs old

More to come, I promise....=)