Monday, December 6, 2010

First Time...Ever I Saw Your Face.....

Five Years......Long time? Short time? It's hard to say. Some days it feels like yesterday & at others it seems like an eternity ago.

I can tell you that in the last 5 years, the face of Special Needs adoption from China has changed...ALOT!

In the fall, 5 years ago, I was just to the point where I felt that I was ready to start looking for my second child from China. I belonged to several agency Yahoo groups. I would wait, with countless others, for their " SN children lists" to come in & be made public. I would search through the children, hoping to find the child meant to be mine.

And so, one day in Sept, I was on the IAAP website. Oh..there was a DARLING little girl, coincidentally from the same SWI as Lindsi, with a need I felt very comfortable in accepting. My only hesitation was her age. She was almost 3...which put her much closer to Lindsi in age than I wanted. At that point, I knew Lindsi would be OK, in whatever shape that took, but I did not want to adopt another child who would surpass Lindsi's abilities within a matter of months. Lindsi was (& still does) work so hard, it just seemed unnecessarily unfair to create a rivalry where she would be at a disadvantage within months. But, this little girl had reached right out & grabbed my heart. Maybe it would be OK...maybe instead of a rivalry, the new child could encourage Lindsi in her skills.....maybe...maybe...maybe.
I wrestled with this age factor for several days. I finally convinced myself that this situation could work out. I would love to have her. That day, as I clicked to the site to get her file, the Words I HAVE A FAMILY greeted me next to her name. Deflation.....Oh.....had I taken too long? Was there still a chance her new family would decide not to pursue her adoption?

I called IAAP & expressed an interest in the little girl. That afternoon, or the next day, Cheryl called me back & told me that she did not think the family would falter in their adoption of her. We had a very nice, heart to heart talk about the child I thought I was looking for.

Weeks passed. A new list, at a different agency came out. I found a little girl, with a SN that I was heavily considering. She was BEAUTIFUL, & I was instantly smitten. Her file was already out, but I was next in line, in case the family passed. Within days, I learned that the family had passed & her file came to me. EXCITED! However, my review committee(my mom & SIL who are both nurses) noted large discrepancies within her file & urged me to return it. Knowing they had the medical degrees, & were only looking out for my best interest. I also passed on this beautiful child. Happily, the family behind me accepted her referral. That eased my mind considerably.

December rolled around & 5 years today, Cheryl from IAAP called. Are you still looking?, was her first question. When I said Yes...she said GREAT! We just got a new list & I think I have the perfect child for you right in front of me. It was a Thu & she was giving me until Mon to decide. If I returned her file, they would post her info on their site on Monday.

So, she sent me Rao Hong Yu's file. She was EVERYTHING I told Cheryl I wanted. A daughter, the age was right, the SN was right,...everything. My heart did not leap forward & recognize her (in all fairness it didn't with Lindsi either). It was more of a there you are....type of feeling. I was a little panicked...was I REALLY READY? In the end, since I had done ZERO paperwork at that point, I knew it would be 8-10 months before she was home. I knew by then that I would be MORE THAN READY. I also knew that it was only by God's grace that she was being offered to me. I was a single parent, who barely met the income requirements for a second child. It was God's hand that delivered her file to IAAP, & Cheryl's wonderful recall that put me in her mind when she saw the file. Was there really any way I could turn down this "perfect for us" child? I really did have to think about it, but when I called Cheryl on Mon AM..she said...You better be saying YES! And indeed, I was saying YES!!

Jami came home 10 months later & life has never been the same since. She is the child that is teaching me to be a parent. She is the FIRE in Firecracker. It is never dull with her around. She keeps me on my toes. She is a snuggling delight. She is not shy with her feelings...good or bad. Although, she can turn on the bashful switch in an instant. She is funny, creative, & smart.

5 years.....sometimes it feels like yesterday & at other times, it feels like forever ago........

Referral Picture

1 Yr old...waiting for Mom in China

Jami today.......

Friday, December 3, 2010

December Bullets

We are BUSY! & I haven't been posting much. Here's what is happening in our little corner of the world lately:

- Over Thanksgiving Lindsi decided to pull her 2 wheel bike out & figure out how to ride it. The bike had TERRIBLE training wheels on it, which were causing more harm than good, so we took those off. She worked & worked & Fri PM she could ride the 2 wheeler by herself, down the drive (which is a country 100 yd driveway), turn it around & come back. Really proud of her. An elderly man at church, who we call Mr Harvey, bought that bike (brand new) for her 2 Christmases ago. I'm glad to see she is finely able to ride it. I MUST get some pics printed for him to have. About a yr ago, his children moved him back to CT, to be closer to them. He's a sweetheart of a man.

- This week I threw my nomination in for Mother of the Year. On most days, my kids ride the bus to & from school. On Tue, Lindsi stays after school for chorus rehearsal, so I pick up Jami & 30 min later, circle through & pick up Lindsi. Last Tue, there was no practice & this past Tue, there was practice, but I forgot. School gets out at 2:10, the bus gets here about 2:40. So on Tue, I was sitting on my porch waiting for the bus to come drop the kids off & my phone rang. It was the school. As soon as the Secretary said Ms racing mind went Ought-oh. She told me that Jami would be waiting for me in the office. OK....
Driving there, my mind is imagining all kinds of scenarios. Of the 2 kids, Jami is the one much more likely to react in a dramatic fashion to having been forgotten at school. When I got there though, Jami was curled up, sleeping in a chair, & Lindsi was just getting out of her activity. I was so grateful. Jami just said.."Hey! I was the last one left in car line...." Whew.....
That was God giving me a break. On my way to the school I was pulled over for speeding...39 in a 35 mph zone. Sheesh! Got off with a warning.....another little break.

- I hope we will get our tree up & decorated this weekend!!!!!!! Pictures to follow....

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Holiday Give Away

Ni Hao Y'all

Don't you love a Give Away? I sure do!!! If you do as well, hop on over to Stefanie's Blog & check out her 30 day Holiday Give aways!


Friday, October 29, 2010

Pumpkins...Friends...& Family....

Every year our church has a pumpkin patch. We sell pumpkins as a fund raiser. We turn our little corner lot into a pumpkin Wonderland. It is the only pumpkin patch around town (pumpkins do not grow in our area very well) & it is BUSY!!

Our little church boasts a regular attendance of about 100. The average age of our congregation is close to 80!!! Therefore, the girls & I spend A LOT of time WORKING in the pumpkin patch through October. We see a lot of friends, teachers, community workers during our time in the patch.

Both my brother (& his family) & my sister (& her family) came up & worked weekends in the patch this year. It takes a tremendous effort to pull it off. But the rewards are priceless.....

Of course, there are pumpkins........

And, Spending time playing with our friends.....

Finally, there is time with our family........

I love pumpkin patch time........

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Birthday Parties & The Drop Off

I have a post percolating in my head about how the school year is going thus far. Overall, I'm really excited to see all resources that they are making available to the kids this year. We've been taking advantage of many of those things. The possibilities are quite`exciting.

We have been in birthday party overload. Since school started, we have had a birthday party to attend every weekend. With Jami in school now too, it's a new chapter regarding birthday parties.

In the past, most of the parties have been to were where the whole class was invited. The classes, for the most part, were the same group every year. You really get to know the other families that way. Up until this year, most parents stayed, Jami (the younger sibling) was a welcomed & expected guest. At the end of last year, I noticed an increasingly number of parents starting to drop kids off. This year, the school split up all of the previous classes, so everyone is meeting new sets of friends & families. There are (in the upper grades) no class parties & invitations are handed out discreetly or outside of school).

Our first birthday party this season was at a fun restaurant & even though it was a friend of Lindsi's, we have known this family a very long time & Jami was also invited. I stayed, along with a few other parents & family friends.

The second party was for a classmate of Jami's. It was at a gymnastic center. We have hosted a birthday party there before & I know it is all based on head count. This is a new crowd for us. There were some younger siblings there, but I dropped Lindsi with her grandparents that day, so I could take Jami & stay. Nearly all the parents stayed.

Our next party was for a friend of Lindsi's. An afternoon pool party. I thought, perfect.....I will drop Lindsi off & pick her up later. As the date drew near, & I advised Lindsi of my plans, there was a major panic on Lindsi's part. She can not hear when she's swimming, how is she going to communicate, please come mommy, please...please!! I know the mother, talked with her, & she was perfectly fine with me coming, staying, & bringing Jami. 2 other mothers' stayed, there were about 25 kids, so I found plenty to do, which eased my guilt for crashing the party & also helped the mom enjoy some of the festivities.

This week Lindsi has been invited to a slumber party. It is for one of her best friends. I'll have to drop her off, because I have somewhere else to be. I am almost positive though that Lindsi will NOT want to spend the night. Playdates for us are still pretty much adults visiting while the kids play.

Neither of my girls like to be left anywhere. I sit through dance classes & soccer practice (mostly because we live too far for me to drive back & forth). Many people tell me this time is coming to an end, but I really do not see it happening anytime soon.

Monday, September 13, 2010

It can be different

I am now what I never wanted to be, feeling like an un-cool & old mom......

We went to a birthday party this weekend for a very good friend of Lindsi's. The little girl turned 8. Our 2 girls have been buddies for 5 years. For a long time, they were the only 2 deaf girls in their grade at school. They have both done outstanding with their cochlear implants. That is what they have in common. It's a HUGE thing for them.

We have done birthday parties & playdates with the girls over the years. But let's face it, I'm not sure her parents are yet 30, so I'm at least 15 years older than they are. There are definitely some generational differences. Basically, we're just different.

The birthday cake yesterday was interesting with side by side pictures. One was of Justin Beiber. I don't GET Justin Beiber, BUT I know who he is.

And the other side of the cake was this picture:

I completely felt like I SHOULD KNOW who this guy was.....but the fact that he was shirtless & on an 8 yr olds cake was completely messing with my mind.

As I re told this story later, a friend commented that it was probably one of the Vampire guys....she was right. It's Taylor Lautner. I know who he is as well. (does it matter that I DIDN'T know who he was until he started dating Taylor Swift.....that probably says a lot about It was funny that none of the birthday hostesses wanted to cut the Taylor half of the cake.

My friend & I were talking about kids growing up so quickly.. I'm wondering now if I should feel bad that princesses are still more in vogue than vampires in our household. The girls want to listen to their VBS CDs over anything else.

It's an interesting journey, raising kids. There are clearly some right & wrong ways of doing things....but's just different. The lesson is to embrace the difference. I'm really glad this family is in our circle of friends. Even if at times, it feels different.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Back to School

I've been slow to download my photos. I promise my next post though will be a recap of our smallish summer adventures.

The girls started school this week. Lindsi started on Monday.....

She was thrilled to be back in the same class as her friend (& fellow CI user), Lexie. They went to preschool & kindergarten together, but have been in different classes ever since.

Lindsi drew a great a teacher this year. She seems very enthusiastic & not at all daunted to be teaching 2 (of the 3) deaf third graders. Yea!!!! The school is doing things a lot differently this year as well, & 1 thing is they have added another layer of resource in for the deaf & hoh students. I'm excited to have such great people supporting Lindsi in her education.

They do a stagger start kindergarten here, so Jami started on Wednesday, with about 4 other kids. Today, the whole class was there together. Jami talked about being nervous, but once she got into the classroom, she was really fine. After school all she could talk about was how great kindergarten was!! She also has an excellent teacher this year & in fact, the same teacher Lindsi had a few years ago.

It was a very rainy first day of school for both girls:

That ended like this:

I'd like to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my first day in a very long time without kids...but I was so busy, the day completely vanished before I could even think about it.

I did get my car serviced, went grocery shopping, cleaned out the refrigerator, put all the groceries away, 2 loads of laundry, went to the dump, put gas in the car, picked up the kids, took them to Speech Therapy, came home for an hour, took Lindsi to ballet, came home, made dinner, did baths, read books, & we pretty much all went to ended every one's first day back to school. I miss summer vacation already.....

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Little of This....A little of That.......

It has been a pretty quiet, but relaxing summer at our house this year.

Last week Lindsi had an appointment with her ENT. He deemed her ears completely healthy at this time & said he did not need to see her for 2 years! Whoo-hoo! We had been visiting him more frequently this past year, because her Ped though she saw the start of an ear tumor. Looks like we dodged the bullet this time on that issue.

After our ENT appt we met up with our good friends K & E. E has been home from China for about 9 months. She has a form of spina bifida & uses a wheelchair. Does not slow her down at all! It was a fun play area / shopping / lunch visit with them. E's command of English is outstanding. I Loved it when she would spy something cute or colorful & say "Look at this one you guys, Look at this"!!!

We just got home from spending 5 days at the beach. AHHHHHH...relaxing. HOT & sunny, but fun to spend quality time swimming & playing with the girls. My niece joined us for the week, which always makes it more special. We LOVE our Sarah.

Jami found a crab

Silly Sarah.....=)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ballet Anyone?

Pictures from the ballet recital a few weeks ago. Lindsi danced two dances, Ballet & a 50's Jazz tune. She was also in the finale dance of "Thriller"...their tribute to MJ. Jami did a great job with her two dances, Ballet & a Tap song called Raggedy Ann.

Lindsi's declared that her favorite part was "All of it" & Jami said her favorite part was getting flowers at the end.......=)

We are taking a dance break this summer......


Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Little Graduation

I'm getting caught up on my Blog posts......

Jami's Pre K had a full blown graduation. I know we will go through almost an identical program next year, when she graduates from Kindergarten.

So, there was the cap & gown, there were little songs about getting ready to go to school, there was a march across the stage, posing for pictures, a BIG cake. Overall, a fun afternoon where Jami got to be THE CENTER of attention. She was completely in her element.

It is a tad sad to think that in just a few months my baby will be off to kindergarten....until I think about my cousin who is the same age as I am, & HER BABY is off to college in the fall!!

Cousins (& a big sister) are the BEST.......

A Yummy Cake

Jami & Mom

Friday, June 25, 2010

Camping at the River

In an effort to try & do something different & fun each week this summer this week we went with my sister & her family just up the road to Ichnetucknee State park. The High Springs are there.

We tent camped with them (they are an experienced boy scout family with all of the gear). My girls did incredibly well with the camping, considering all their previous camping experiences had been in a rather nice RV. In fact, the girls are all about us getting a tent now too. I'm just not sure how much tent camping I would really do with the girls by myself.

We went tubing down the river. That was so much fun. The water was cool (72 degrees), felt great & was so clear. We saw lots of turtles. Jami said her favorite part was getting OUT of the river. I don't believe her.

After the tubing, we went swimming in the Springs. COLD again. This was better for the big kids, because it was deep & the bottom was large, uneven, moss covered rock. For our new swimmers, a bit difficult to navigate. We hiked over to Blue Springs & my sister & BIL took turns swimming with the kids over the 50-60 ft cave in the water. With their goggles on they could see the fish. They loved that.

Something I would definitely do again. It was less than 2 hrs away.

Lindsi doing her part to set up camp....

Jami doing her part to carry the backpack to the river

All the kids getting ready to "Tube".....

Friday, June 11, 2010

Finally We Meet

Finally, I can post about our most awesome weekend. After our most awesome weekend, I stopped at my sister's house for a visit, showed her our pictures & then left my camera behind......Bummer...but now I have it back, so all is good with my world.

There is something to be said about the online community. You are often brought together by shared & common interest. That's the case with Sandra & I. I can just about pin point the timing that I "met" her online, nearly 6 years ago. I can't remember the exact details though. I am most certain it was because we were living near parallel lives then, as we do today.

Back in 2003, both of us adopted baby girls from China's Non Special Needs program (but, not together). While in China, we both realized that our girls might have a hard time passing the medical exam & neither of us were approved for an SN adoption. Somehow, we both managed to get our babies to the US. Both girls were diagnosed as being deaf. Both girls now have cochlear implants. Both girls have worked hard & can function pretty well within a hearing environment. Both girls are successfully mainstreamed in school & are headed to the 3rd grade. Both girls have younger, hearing sisters adopted from China.

1000 miles away & yet, I cannot tell you how much support has been exchanged between the two of us over the years. It has always been comforting to know there was someone else who could say, I know exactly what you are feeling. Or we've faced that situation too, & here is what we've done. The girls have hit most of their milestones together.

This past weekend we all got to meet for the first time. They had planned a trip to Disney, which is pretty close to us & so we planned to meet at something we knew all the girls' would enjoy....Dinner with Cinderella.

Pre Dinner swimming & Fun......(All Star Movie Resort...WDW)

We had an excellent table, the food was great, the company...fantastic. The girls enjoyed seeing Cinderella, Prince Charming, the Step Sister's & Lady Tremaine. Prince Charming made a return visit & waltzed first with Lindsi, then with Jazzie.

Outside the Grand Floridian Hotel....WDW

Waltz lessons from The Prince himself.....

After dinner, we made our way back to the resort hotel so the girls could swim & we could visit. And, following the swimming, we went back to the room & the girls colored & played games until 11PM......

Beautiful Girls

Reviewing the Waltz

Hot Tub Cuties

Jami cried as we had to say goodbye. We are already scheming a plan to get together again next year..... If the texting between them is any indication, I think by next year all the girls will be old & fast friends.