Thursday, May 29, 2008

Guns, Sticks & Baby Doll Bottles

How many moms swore they'd never get their little boys a toy gun and never did, but, to their dismay, their little boys eventually picked up a stick and started "shooting" with it? Today, the little girls in my daycare were playing with the baby doll bottles as though they were guns, making thrusting motions like a gun recoil and sound effects. I didn't ask them if they were pretending to have a gun, instead I asked, "Wow, what are you doing?" The little girl, 6 weeks shy of turning three and the size of a two-year-old replied, "Shooting." I don't think she knows the word for gun, but she definitely knew what shooting was.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Stayin' Alive

I am sooooo ill! I think I've got food poisoning. It came on with the suddeness of an erupting volcano about 3:30am and got worse and worse. Imagine, if you can bear it, sitting on the potty holding a large bowl and losing it from both ends at the same time. Disgusting, I know, but true. It's just after 7pm now and I finally ate a tiny bit of applesauce and my stomach is not heaving. My motto this morning as I tried to feed my cats (8 of them) was, "Down is better than up, crawling is better than walking," because if I stood up, it was like being seasick and I'd shake and vomit. I got into a nice hot bath and got stuck there because every time I tried to get up my stomach would roll. I finally made it back to bed after a few hours and slept and slept and slept. Needless to say, I cancelled my daycare kids for today. I was in the middle of deep cleaning in the playroom, too, and somehow have to put it back together by tomorrow or I'll have to take another day off.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Actual Crib & Bedding

I'm not setting up Apple's room yet so this crib is in the livingroom for the weekend so I can drool over it and dream. I'll take it apart and store it until it's time.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I Got My Dream Crib

My last dream for my nursery came true today. I got Apple's crib! I've loved this crib from the beginning, I think even before I knew I'd be adopting. It's a Bellini crib, Danny model, in white. It's solid wood. The picture above is a Bellini stock photo and with all the bedding added it's hard to see the beauty of the crib. I'll set it up and take a picture with Apple's bedding in it tomorrow (later today, actually).

I really lucked out. I've been searching Craig's List for over a year waiting for one of these with the new hidden hardware in the side rails vs. the old hardware with two knobs you pull to lower the sides. There have been three older versions, two of them quite recently posted for $400.

I was browsing Craig's List late last night and saw an ad posted for a parking lot sale "under the white tent" beginning this morning and running for three days. I called them first thing this morning to ask if they had a Danny model in white and they said yes, for $499. I wasn't sure if I could make myself pay that much, although new it cost $899, but I went anyway and there is was.

The owner was telling me that she and her husband are taking classes to be foster parents and are about to begin their home-study. They are going to foster first and see about adoption next. She's always been so welcoming to me when I've come into the store, always asking about my adoption, even though I've only bought two small things - ever. Today that changed. She actually gave me a steal of a deal, out the door for exactly $450!!! I realize that's still a lot for a crib, and that Apple could be over a year old when I get her, but sometimes a mom just has to have that one dream luxury item and this was mine. It's the last things I needed for Apple.

Here's my total baby gear inventory:

Bellini Danny crib, new, floor model - $450
Kidsline Koko Bedding, excellent used condition - $91 (including shipping)
Emmaljunga Coronado pram, excellent used condition - $125
Maclaren Techno XLR, like new - $127
Britax Marathon carseat - Free
Amby Motion Bed/Hammock - $125
Variety of great clothes - Some new, most used - all great deals

For now, here are some stock photos of Apple's crib bedding:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Little Catch-up

I was able to clear the mess up over the next two days and even found my stove and cooked something. I survived the super-heat wave we had with only a bit of sunburn, which is now peeling. And, I competed in my 42nd fencing tournament last Sunday. No medal, but a respectable 8th place finish.

One of my daycare moms gave Apple her first Chinese "silk" outfit. She saw it while browsing for her own kids and couldn't resist buying it for me for Apple. I am very touched by the continuing support and special consideration other's have shown for me during my wait. It's all the more special to me because this single mom is on a VERY tight budget and has two children of her own. It's striking in real life, very vibrant, but not bright, if that makes sense.

I am entering my first week of peak training this week and I'm already super tired and I took tonight off to recover from the past three days and to heal from two super hard hits to my left collar bone from Monday. Peak training happens for the six weeks before a big tournament, in this case Summer Nationals. It involves doing the following training and practice items each week:

    · 2x - 3x aerobic fitness
    · 3x sparring practice
    · 2x - 3x endurance training
    · 2x individual lesson with coach
    · 2x - 3x skills practice

I get one day a week to rest, Sunday. As you can see, some things must be done on the same day to get it all in. I was going to due aerobics on the rebounder tonight but Aunt Flo is visiting and I just can't make myself do it.

I was so tired yesterday, that I returned one of my personal DVDs to the library along with the one I borrowed and left the other one that I'd borrowed on my table at home in plain site. Fortunately, when I went to the library first thing this morning, it was being held aside, and I got it without any problems.

Last for this update, here is a picture of my latest daycare gadget, the Bibi Swiss Strolli Rider attached to my Runabout stroller. I told the kids to "look at the fence" to hide their faces and I've blurred them, too, to keep them anonymous.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The House is a MESS!

In high school, one of my English teachers took a summer course in creative writing and brought what she'd learned into the classroom for us. I love to write so I was looking forward to it. Our first assignment was a one pager entitled "The Room Was a Mess." Being teenagers, we each tried to write the horrors of what a teen's room could possibly be like, from "moldy week-old pizza glued to the plate residing under the unmade bed full of yesterday's crumbs" to "the stench emmanating from the mountain of laundry was gagging and frightening since, at any given moment, surely something so strong smelling could get up and attack."

Well, today my home tops it all, REALLY, and here are the pictures to prove it...

Before I take the following pictures, I need to find the extension cord I stole from the livingroom to add to the long chain of them that I connected in order to reach the front yard to operate the pool pump today. It's still in the wagon and I need it to plug the lamps back in so I can see.

You walk past this...

Step over this...

Just to get to the front door!
Even Rose is tired of the mess.

How did it get this way? Two tremendous heat waves requiring outdoor daycare time which means loads and loads of equipment, from the parachute to use as a sun shade, to the large Tupperware picture full of ice water, all the IKEA cups, a tray to hold it all, snacks, the potty-with-the-lid, toilet paper, towels, the liberated* wagon, rebounder, empty pool box, box I store the floaties and water pumps in, paperwork, kid table, fans, clothes that daycare moms forgot to take home, stroller chassis that has no place to go, printer that also has no place to go since it's perfect but obsolete, vacume (blows up the pool and cleans), variety of live cats, Strolli Rider (arrived vis DHL today), my winter mittens (I keep them on my fencing cart since I come out of fencing at 11pm and with the Bay Area fog, it's often colder than winter even in summer), however, they are on the floor because Sammy likes to attack them and drag them around like a kill, sun cabana, onion growing in a jar, and a variety of baby girl stuff hanging around everywhere (self explanatory). Add all this to five toddlers under the age of three, all using the potty (this means very frequent interuptions of, "Kiiiimeeeee, I'm duuuhhh'uuuun") and the fact that I have to set up and take down the front yard playground every day. I am TIRED!

I think my stove is under there.


Cat hair "dust bunnies" and the red book is a copy of theDeclaration
of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America.

And finally...The Living Room!

Tonight I went to Walmart for the essentials I wished I had today: 100 ft. extension cord (self explanatory), wheel to store it on, large sun umbrella that sticks into the ground, hair bows (for Apple, of course), more water wings since I have five little swimmers this year and only two sets of water wings, and I jealously eyed the foldable gazebos since one of them would offer me ultimate sun protection over the pool (they all looks too flimsy, I'll shop elsewhere for one), so my car looks like my home because I left all the packages inside, being too tired to carry them in at 11:30pm. My fencing gear is also still in the car because I went straight from my lesson to Walmart tonight.


*It was supposed to be used for passengers and perishable front yard necessities but ended up holding my second huge play structure until I found a second metal wagon and liberated it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Heating the Kiddie Pool

When you were a kid did you ever have a backyard kiddie pool? Even in high summer, was it always just a little too cold for comfort? I've always hated cold water. It's probably because I have very low blood pressure and can't warm myself well, so in cold water, even in summer, I'll get chilled to the bone.

Fast forward to adulthood... In the past, when I've had infants under a year in my daycare and set up a kiddie pool on the scorching days, I've always put it in the shade and added hot water with a bucket to make it tepid. When they got a little older, and I got a family sized inflatable pool, I'd connect all the hoses my apartment had and run them to the hot water spout in the laundry room.

Last night I did some research online and with all the information I read, devised a great solar heating system. I bought 100 feet of 1/2" black poly hose from Home Depot in the garden department (used for drip system installation) and attached it to the Maxi-Jet submersible water pump I already own. I laid the hose out in loops on my black asphalt driveway and let the pool water loop through, heating up as it went. The returning water got quite hot and balanced the cold water that I filled the pool with.

I did try a gravity flow method of getting the water to loop, but my physics are rusty and I only got a little trickle. Perhaps I didn't have enough difference in height between the outflow and inflow. I don't know. Eventually I just used my pump.

What I'd do differently next time, though, is attach the black poly hose (with duct tape) to the garden hose and let water heat as I fill the pool. The only thing I'm not sure about is how long it would take (203 gallons) since the poly hose is only 1/2" and you don't want anything bigger or there will be too much water flowing compared to heated surface area so the water won't heat.

One of the reasons I'm thrilled with this heating system is that I can leave the pool filled overnight, covered, and heat the same water tomorrow. We went on water ration rules today so this is important. I've also discovered that there are water sanitizers for kiddie pools over 200 gallons. For tonight, I poured in 1/4 cup bleach (3 drops per gallon) and it will be gone in the sun tomorrow in an hour.

Needless to say, I felt very 'green' and earthy today, despite a little sunburn and 97 degree heat and the kids had a blast!

Moving Right Along

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Record of Sichuan, China earthquake

These are the families of our children. They deserve our tears and sorrow. If they can live it, we can watch it and see and feel their pain.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Self-Portraits of a Mom-in-Waiting on Mother's Day

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Blast From My Past

After watching the video of the rhythmic gymnastics I decided to post the only poor pictures I have of me doing gymnstics. I pulled out my 1986 album and decided to share a few other pictures as well. I don't remember if I mentioned it in any other post, but I lived in Okinawa, Japan for three years, 1983 - 1986. It's a beautiful island nicknamed the Hawaii of Japan. I never realized until now just how close it is to China. I've actually been swimming in the East China Sea a ton of times!

These pictures were taken with cheap cameras so the quality is very low. I also scanned them without taking them out of the album so that I wouldn't crinkle the plastic. It's amazing what Photoshop did for the gymnastic photos, though. They are very over-exposed and yellow in real life. They all appear larger if you click on them.

Practicing at the Fieldhouse on the military base.

Scuba diving off the southern tip of Okinawa at Suicide Cliffs.
See the clown fish near the anenome?

I lived near a park where this slide was built. It's part of the hillside.
Look at the size of the people on the steps to get an idea of its size.

I sometimes think that on my way to China to pick up my daughter I should stop for two days in Okinawa and see everything again. I have been back twice, but not since 1989 and it had really changed. I'd love to see this slide again from an adult perspective, shop in my favorite shops for the baby things I'd imagined having, even in my teens and see where I used to live.

Gymnastics, Anyone?

This is some AWESOME rhythmic gymnastics!

All Those Dossiers!

I keep looking at those pictures of CCAA's shelves full of dossiers. To me each one represents a child. When I see them stacked like all I can think about is the thousands of children they represent. Inside those pages are families who will receive these children. Many of these families are complaining bitterly about the wait, condemning China. I get very angry thinking about that. China doesn't have to allow anyone to adopt their children. It's a miracle every time an American or foreign family boards a plane out of Hong Kong or Beijing, taking one of China's children with them.

On the other hand, there are many families who share my views and are waiting with eager, happy anticipation for the referral of the child that will become their own.

I wake up each day and marvel at the adoption process I'm living. I go to bed each night thinking about China and the United States and the people living in these countries. People are not politics. How many citizens in the U.S. can't stand our current president and disagree with his policies? How many citizens of China do you think wish their government was different than it is? How many children are dying of basic neglect* in the United States, how many die of abuse every year, how many suffer, wishing to die? How many children are suffering in China or in other places throughout the world?

We are all the same. We are born, we live and we die and what we do during our lives is the same. We eat, sleep, feel, work, cry, suffer loss, celebrate good and so much more.

Today I am thankful for The Wait because it means that I will soon be a mother and that a little girl who may not even be born yet will become a daughter to a woman, me, far, far away. I am thankful to whoever it is in China who opened the door to international adoption in spite of political and cultural differences and to CCAA for keeping that door open. I am thankful to have found these pictures of CCAA online because it has humbled me even more to the enormity of the fantastic miracle that adoption, particulary international adoption, is.

*In the United States 3,000 children die each year due to BASIC neglect, about the same number of people who were killed in the World Trade Center disaster. Are we mourning them? Are we making movies about them? Are we building monuments to remember them?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Inside CCAA

Entrance to CCAA

Entryway Plaque

Color Coded Dossiers

More Dossiers!

Dossiers On the Move

The Matching Room

Saturday, May 3, 2008

It's a Beeb-A-Doo

For those of you who are new to my blog and haven't read the beginning, I'll confess to having 8 cats, all indoor-only. This isn't Velvet, it's Rose, who is actually a black and white tuxedo kitty. I did hand-raise Rose, who was found with two siblings on a hiking trail when they were 5-10 days old. Rose is the only one that survived and she is the only cat I let sleep with me because, although she's 8 years old, she sucks my finger at night, and she's a good sleeper (stays off my face, sleeps in, etc..) Yesterday I let her sleep in late and when I came in later she'd taken advantage of the fact that I didn't make my bed and tucked herself in under the covers, her nose buried in my pajamas. Beeb-A-Doo is one of her nicknames, usually I just call her Beebs, which evolved from calling her Baby, then just B.

Young Kids Notice Differences

Part of the class on blending cultures was a discussion on what people gravitate to when entering an unfamiliar crowd. It's been scientifically proven that people gravitate toward others who look similar. I've not studied this first-hand, but it was presented at the class. It was mentioned that even children do this.

I've only observed children around age 4 asking about skin color differences, but darn if the next Monday, a little girl in my daycare who is one month shy of turning three asked why another little boy who I was helping to use the potty is "brown all over." I explained that he was born that way and that people look all different ways, etc...

I found it interesting that this particular child would be the one to notice and mention this difference because of her family background and situation. She has the least educated parents, is the most unfit physically, her mom came from a physically abusive home and I believe this child's grandmother, who lives with them, drinks heavily. She is the most immature emotionally, but has highly developed verbal skills. Her parents are together, but unmarried, she has much older brother who is very overweight, born when his mom was a young teen, and a teenage uncle who dresses in what I believe is called Gothic, with long straight black hair (he's spooky looking), and, as I mentioned, grandma lives with them. She's watched a lot of movies I'd never show a child that age, like Pirates of the Caribbean, and she's highly imaginative, often time inappropriately so, as she struggles to process all the information she's been exposed to.

She leans toward being hyper-vigilant in the way the adoption books describe it in children who are always in survival mode. She needs to be in control and lately has been dominating how the other children play to the point where I have to be diligent and notice when the others have ceased playing with her to pursue their own interests because this girl will follow them, grab them and try to pull them back into her game.

So, I wonder, what made this child, of all of them, notice and verbalize the difference in skin color? Is it just coincidence or her need for control and to notice what is like her and not like her, or her lack of social exposure? One of my other girls, just one month younger, very highly developed mentally and physically never mentioned it and didn't seem that interested when the other did.

I do know that the younger girl has a more balanced family and social life. She has an older brother, by three years, and he plays t-ball and has play dates and that sort of thing. Her uncle is from India so there is already cultural exposure within the family. Her parents allow one DVD on the weekends, chosen carefully so that it's age-appropriate and they go out regularly to ball games, jogging, bike riding, visiting friends, etc... The first little girl doesn't seem to go anywhere but Wal*mart an St*rBuck's and the library.

I feel sorry for this little girl because she is sooo needy even though it's clear her parents love her. Her need for attention is extreme and she's devious and has a very hidden mean streak (she has laughed on several occasions when one of the other children has fallen and hurt themselves). If it continues into her teens, I can easily see her following in her mother's footsteps with teenage pregnancy as she looks for attention and love. It's heartbreaking because she is very intelligent and artistic. She has a well-ordered mind and would probably do very well academically if it wasn't for her under-developed emotional status and issues.

I hope I can make a possitive difference in this child's life.

Secret Pal Mar/Apr

My April DTC Group secret pal sent me a package combining this months gift and last months. There are two dresses, a bottle warmer, hair bow, bell lace keeper (an old-fashioned thing that slips over the shoe laces to keep the baby from untying them), cheater chopsticks, a book and a toy cell phone with a little fuzzy purse.

The shoe laces thing is great. I actually have one that I bought when I was still a teen ager and kept in my hope chest, but the one my secret pal gave me is bigger so it will fit over other types of shoe laces.

Thank you, Secret Pal. I can't wait to find out who you are!

Searching Every Face

Last night I went to see a couple of movies and as I went about buying tickets and getting into the theater, everywhere I looked, I was surrounded by more Asian people than any other ethnicity. This is actually quite common in my area.

What struck me this time, though, is how beautiful everyone was, not just the women, but also the men. I looked into each face I passed and wondered for the thousandth time, "Will my daughter resemble her?" or "Perhaps she'll look more like her."

When my daughter grows up, will she find Asian men more attractive than Caucasian men, or the other way around, or not have a preference, or prefer men, say, from India? I know that I've always thought darker men more handsome than fair men and think that people from India are among the most beautiful in the world.

There were so many young couples and a few teenages out on a Friday night. I asked myself, "At what age would I be comfortable dropping my daughter and her friend off at the movies and leaving?" Then I thought that perhaps, I'd not drop her off, but stay and allow her to sit away from me at the theater if she wished. I know I'm already very protective.

Referrals came in yesterday and already some pictures are posted on blogs. What must these families be feeling? What will I feel? There is so much to look forward to!

Blending Cultures

Last Saturday I attended a class at my agency called Blending Cultures: The Importance of Preserving Heritage. One of the class presenters is an adult Korean adoptee who teaches the class on what adopted kids wish their parents knew so it was interesting to see her again and hear more from her perspective.

The main points are:

1. Teach your child to cope with racism BEFORE it happens. Just like The White Swan Express is a story about adoption, there are books for kids on racism.

2. Help your child learn the difference between "family ways" and "cultural ways." Find a cultural mentor or guide.

3. Do what you can to connect your child with his or he heritage without apologizing for being of a different ethnicity.

4. Practice bi-cultural dualism in your home. Integrate basic words from your child's heritage into your everyday speech.

5. Talk less, listen more.

6. Answer their questions honestly and be the first to discuss the difficult issues of racism, abandonment, and cultural relativity.

I was able to talk to the facilitator about some of the prenatal and perinatal studies I've been reading lately and she was so happy for my future daughter that I know about this and acknowledge it. She said that she believes my daughter will have an advantage in dealing with her adoption issues because I acknowledge the mother/infant psychic bond and birth memories. I feel very good having this support and I do hope it's true.