Friday, June 27, 2008

My TuTu

TuTu, November 2007

Today is my TuTu's birthday, only I don't have her with me any more because she passed away this last January 3. I suddenly realized what a coincidence it is that I called my nana yesterday. I love feeling so close to both my grandmothers, both so far in different ways, but both so near, right in my heart.

"I love you, TuTu. I miss you. I hope you are proud of me and the things I'm doing with my life. I know what you'd say about all the things I'm doing; you'd say it boggles your brain. I often feel you looking down on me from Heaven. You know the things I'm trying to do right now in my life. If you can help from Heaven, I know you will. I'm grateful for all the things you've taught me. I know you're happy that I'm taking piano lessons and getting involved more at church. I'm going to Nationals next month. I know you'd be proud of that. I know I'll see you again some day, but it sometimes seems like such a long time to wait. Give my love to Pa and to my White (I'm sure she's up there, Max, too)."

Family Connections

I called my Nana today. I haven't spoken to her in about 34 years, not since I was about 5 years old. It was amazing! She lives in Maine and has the most wonderful voice, young-sounding (she's 86) and with a charming accent.

My parents divorced when I was two and each used me against the other until I was about 7 when my mom remarried (for the 4th time) and we travelled extensively as he was in the military, including overseas. My mom deliberately did not tell my biological father where I was and due to real events and things my mom, father and other family members said and did, I didn't want a relationship with my father. But through it all, I always loved my Nana and remembered her fondly.

We've been writing for years and she's very excited about my adoption. She adopted her youngest child as a newborn and she has three other grandchildren that are adopted, one domestically who is my half-sibling (adopted by my father and his wife) and two cousins adopted from Russia. Some of my cousins have also adopted, I think all domestically.

I've been wanting to talk to my nana for some time and even go visit her. I've felt a normal sense of trepidation, a lot of old feelings, good and bad, lie just beneath my surface, mostly concerning my father, not her. Today I simply picked up the phone and gave her a call.

I asked, "Is Ms. *** home, please?"
She answered, "This is she."
I said, "This is K*** in California."
She said, "Oh my, I can't believe I'm talking to you!"

The excitement in her voice was so warming to hear. She was truly amazed at the things I remembered, especially the layout of her house, which I picture perfectly, though I must have been only 5 or 6 years old the last time I was there. Being so traumatic, I remember many things I wish I didn't, like when my father failed to return me to my mom after a weekend visit and promises he made and broke in very hurtful and psychologically abusive ways, but I have good memories, too, and with the adoption of Apple pending, I feel a need to strengthen all family ties. There are other reasons for wanting to strengthen these ties, private things concerning my mom, too. Also, a spiritual need.

I know that some very strong traits I have came from my nana including my love for dolls and nature (deep beliefs in natural birth and the natural cycle of life and death), my love for children and adoption. Something I learned today was that my nana has sensitive skin, which I also have, and that my father has extrememe sensitivity to frangrances, which I also have, to where we can even taste them in the air.

I wonder how different my life would have been if this side of my family had been able to be involved in my upbringing. I think I'd have turned out a lot better and reached my potential more fully. I think I'd have been more accepted for who I am and my interests respected and encouraged more because of so many commonalities.

At least now I've taken the first big step to uniting myself to the family I belong to. I am excited to find out where it will lead, despite being a little afraid of the unknown. The hurt little girl is still inside me and I wonder if this will help her heal and catch up to the rest of me or hurt her worse.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I Didn't Know He Knew Me

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."
– T.S. Eliot

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Piano Lessons

I began taking piano lessons this month. I took them for 18 months when I was 12 and 13 and then taught myself. I reached a point a few years ago when I relized I wanted to be a lot better so when I discovered a fellow fencer at my club is a concert pianist and teaches, I took advantage of the opportunity.

This is what I want to play and have begun working on...

...along with the most basic of scales. At the first lesson I discovered that I was never taught how to properly hold my hand and fingers and press the keys so I'm learning technique for the very first time. I knew I needed lessons for some part of piano because I couldn't draw the quality of sound from the instrument that I heard when good players played. It's cool actually to be a beginner in that area, but experienced at reading music so I'm catching on quickly and seeing and feeling the difference after only three lessons so far.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Maybe a House, Maybe a Dog

Before I started the actual adoption, but after I knew I'd be adopting, I started house-hunting and made a two year plan. It went like this:

1)Lessen debt,
2)Purchase home, have big daycare, and
3)Adopt Apple.

Things changed and I started the adoption first, and, of course, we all know the financial ramifications of international adoption. As a result, buying a home was out of the question. Unfortunately for me, a year and a half has now passed and I can't get the type of no money down loan I was going to get due to the current economic situation in the U.S.

Three weeks ago, though, that little voice that told me my daughter was in China told me to follow a sign to an open home. I resisted, I was on my way to see a movie, but after about the fourth time, did a u-turn just before the bridge that takes me out of my island town, and saw the house. It was perfect for my needs!

It's a modest home with a generous basement and yard - exactly what I need. Currently, I am researching and attending orientation meetings, as required, for every first-time home buyer grant and/or loan program I can find.

On top of this, my neighbors got a puppy several weeks ago and when I met him, I felt like saying to my neighbor, "What are you doing with MY dog?" The dog claimed me, too, clinging and not letting me go and following me instead of my neighbor. Every time I heard the dog I felt like rushing over and getting him. Three days ago I found out that my neighbor returned the puppy the friend he got him from. I told him to call right away and let the friend know that the dog is mine and I hope to pick him up on Sunday. However, the friend hasn't called my neighbor back yet.

It's the wrong time to get a dog, but when the dog chooses you, what can you do? Especially because I fell in love with the dog, too. I should add here that I've never loved a dog before and puppy breath gags me, but not this dog's. This is MY dog and I feel it.

I'd always said I'd have a dog if I had a home and especially if I have a child, for protection. My rule for Apple will be that she can go over to her friend's homes to play but she must bring her dog, even if it has to stay out on the porch. This way, if anyone tries messing with my child, the dog will, hopefully, guard Apple. I've read stories when dogs jump through windows to save children. Maybe this dog will be like that.

Part of me thinks I've finally gone over the deep end: 8 cats, 5 daycare kids, waiting to adopt, trying to buy a home and now a dog - in a two-bedroom apartment!

Please pray for me! I mean it sincerely, not jokingly. If I get this house, I will be hiring a woman from my church whose child I've been watching since March who was laid off from her job on the 89th day of the probation period for no reason, to be my daycare assistant. (The boss, I think, was prejudice.) She's a mom with a 9 yr. old daughter and nearly 2 yr. old son who divorced her husband (he wouldn't be responsible and hold down a job and kept leaving them for his friends). She's excellent with the kids, we have similar methods with the kids so there'd be consistancy, we work well together, I trust her, she'd get to be with her son all day and...she can have my apartment, which she needs very much.

So, not only will buying this home bless me and Apple, but another family, too.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Today's Shock

I had a fencing tournament today and on my way home stopped in at my favorite baby store, Bellini. While there, an expecting couple came in to buy their crib. The mom was pretty Type A, but I was inclined to be friendly and struck up conversation. I asked if she was planning a natural birth and she said said, "No, I'm having a scheduled cesarean." I've never met anyone who did this before. No medical reason what-so-ever, but planned for a c-section. I said, "Aren't you concerned about the increased risk to you?" She said, "The risk isn't any greater and it's better for the baby."

The woman is an obstetrician and actually believes that cesarean births are better for a baby than the way nature intended babies to be born. She also believes that the risk to mothers is the same, although currently, there's big a lot of publicity to the fact that maternal mortality rates are dramatically rising due to the increase in the number of cesarean births. Surgery IS more risky, but this woman, this doctor, does not believe it.

She will soon learn that the pain and recovery from her surgical birth is going to be longer than any labor she would have been in and she's probably going to be in utter shock when she learns what babies are like. In my experience, doctors I've known have the hardest adjustments to parenthood. They just aren't prepared for the reality of how helpless a newborn is, how much time they take and how unpredictable they are.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Friday, June 13, 2008

Fashion Friday 2

The first box of hand-me-downs for Apple, from a family member, arrived today. There are several cute dresses and rompers, several from Japan. I can't wait until Apple meets her cousin and gets that hero-worship for her that little girls get for big girls.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Fashion Friday

All this for $30.72 at my friend's baby resale store. Click on the photos to view them larger and see the detail.

Koala Kids sweater with a fringe, size 12m, looks new without tags.

Gymboree long sweater with leggings (sweater 18-24m, leggings 3t).
The tag on the sweater says $39.00. I bought it for $10.50.

Les Enphants dress, size 3/4, made of super-fine cotton.

Fleece pram suit that I'll probably use a lot because we get cold fog here, even in summer, actually, especially in summer.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Looking Forward To...

Mother-daughter outings, especially going out-to-eat. I imagine sitting across the table from her, giving her soft-serve icecream with sprinkles on top after she's eating all her dinner.

Apple's first trip to Ocean Beach, the first day visit and the first bonfine night visit.

Taking Apple to Ardenwood Farm and helping her pet the goats and the horses muzzle and seeing if she'll laugh at the sounds the pigs make while rooting in the mud.

Washing her up back to being sweet-smelling after she's vomited. Or worse.

Singing in the car.

Carrying her into the house after she's fallen asleep in the car.

Patching up a skinned knee.

Walks through the neighborhood.

Helping her make it over her head in her first forward roll (somersault).

Saying, "Yes, she's my daughter."

The Rough Stuff

Today I took four of my daycare kids, along with one mom, and my extra-large covered wagon, to a working historic farm called Ardenwood Farm. There are crops growing, a blacksmith making horseshoes, a one ton Belgian Draft Horse that pulls a five ton train car full of people, and plenty of goats, chickens, sheep, pigs, peacocks, cows, rabbits, and more.

We had a very rough start, the three-year-old got carseat before we even reached the freeway and vomited all over herself. It filled her carseat and only a little bit got on the seat of the car. We turned back and once home, I picked her up in the carseat, then took her out, hosed her off then bathed her properly in the tub, then put my fifth carseat in the car and off we went again, this time with a bowl on her lap. The mom kindly cleaned the carseat while I cleaned the child.

The children were very well-behaved, but getting tired. I encouraged them to doze on the way there, which they did, and then we sat in the car for a little while so they got a few more minutes of sleep.

After they had their fill, we hit the local Fresh Choice (all you can eat fresh salads, soups, pizza, potato, dessert, bread, muffins, etc...). After eating, the two-year-old said, "I go potty now, then I take a nap." I was paying attention and watched to see if he was quoting what we were going to do once we got home or if he had to go potty. A minute later he said he had to go potty so I took him, but he'd wet his pants. He had indeed "gone potty now." I didn't bring extra clothes, which was a major breaking of my own rule for taking kids out, but his shirt was long enough to hide his bare bottom. We called him Peenie Man and put a paper towel on his highchair while we finished eating.

It was a very fun outing for all of us and a great day, vomit and all; a step back in time to when survival and each other was more important than TV.

I didn't take any pictures because this was our first big field trip and I didn't want to add anything more to it.