Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Jie Jie's First Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I Kid You Not

This happened today, just 4 hours ago...

Jie Jie needed a medication; it's the second time she's been on this one. I arrive at the Kaiser pharmacy and there is a little confusion about my medication being ready since it had just been called in barely an hour earlier, but the man at the counter assures me that he'll call my name when it's ready and to have a seat. Usually one stands in line and the line was extremely long, so I was thankful.

After some time, I'm called back to the counter by the same man. He puts the medication on the counter and starts putting the info into his computer and I look at the medication and I can't see the top of the medication through the bottle. It should be past the label and near the top. (Remember, I've only seen this medication once before for Jie Jie) I pick it up. It feels light. Too light. I read the label, yes, correct medication, and, give for 10 days. I shake it. I shake it again. I say to the man, "This is a powder."

He says, "No, it's a liquid."

I say, "No, it's a powder, should I mix it myself?"

He again says, "No, it's a liquid," picks it up, shakes it, insists it's a liquid.

I repeat myself again, "It's a powder!"

He shakes it again and says it's a liquid, then tips it as if to pour it and sees that it's a powder!

He is stunned. I tease him and say I'll mix it myself at home and that I mix my cats' medication. He's still a bit stunned by his mistake and says, no, he can't allow that and apologizes more, asks me to sit and wait, then hands it to someone in the back to mix.

Remember, the place is packed with people. The ones nearby are observing this. I tease again, but with a serious undertone, and say to the man, "100,000 people die per year due to medical mistakes. Fortunately, my daughter wouldn't have died from this. Please don't make a mistake with a medication that can kill someone."

Kaiser scares me! Are you, dear readers, counting the number of errors that I've experienced with Kaiser? I know that I'm a naturally very observant person with many things, but what made me look for the top of the medication? What made me pick that bottle up and know immediately that it was too light? God is really looking out for Jie Jie, isn't He?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Anaconda Feeding & Butterflies

Today at the Academy of Science, Jie Jie and I exited the Rain Forest Dome downstairs, as usual, and right in front of us was a large anaconda in it's habitat, tightly coiled into a huge ball underwater. The docent informed us that it has been coiled around a rabbit for over an hour. The rabbit had been given to the snake dead, but heated in a microwave, before being given to the snake.

All I could see where two furry black feet sticking out of the ball that was the snake. Then, the snake's head came around and went into the middle of the ball. I could see the jaws unhinge and open then the snake began to swallow the rabbit, headfirst.

As gross as this may seem as you read it, I was amazed at how this snake fed. It was truly one of nature's miracles! We always read that the anaconda wraps around the prey, suffocating it, then swallows it whole, but there is so much more to that.

After the snake managed to swallow the rabbit, it passed through its own coils, tightening just enough so that the rabbit was pushed down toward the stomach, like squeezing the toothpaste toward the top of the tube.

The snake stayed underwater for an hour and a half, only coming up for air after the meal was fully swallowed and well on the way to the stomach.

I thought that the anaconda would also crush the prey's bones, to make it easier to swallow, but after some research online, this doesn't seem to be the case. I saw several videos of anacondas vomiting up prey that turned out to be way to big for them to digest.

It was quite a science lesson!

They also had some fake snow makers and a mini-planeterium show on how snow forms. In the Rainforest Dome, several butterflies were injured and on the floor. We tried to help this one by moving it to the foliage.

56 Months Logged In

I didn't forget. I've just been too busy to blog it. Jie Jie and I always talk about how it will be when "Mei Mei" is here. She asks if she can hold and carry Apple. She wants a tiny sister, one with hair. She's let me know that I'll need to have bottles and milk for Apple and she's told me that she'll share her toys.

Shopping for My Girl, With My Girl

I've not left Jie Jie with anyone yet. I don't feel like I need to for my sake and I know it's not in her best interest either. So, I've dragged her around quite a bit this week, staying out pretty late each night. She's a trouper!

It didn't take me long to figure out how to slip things into the shopping cart without her seeing them and even passing through checkout. Checkout involves giving the checker a heads up to be on the sly, then I distract Jie Jie as I unload onto the conveyor belt. Everything has stayed in the car.

Now getting her to shop for a present for me was simple. She knew she needed my help to pick something out that I'd like, so I chose an item, asked if she'd like to buy it for me for Christmas, she'd agree, I'd pay, then told her that she had to wrap it and put it under the tree. Then she said I had to help her wrap because she didn't know how and I agreed that we'd do it closer to Christmas.

There are definite advantages to having an older child who has never experienced Christmas. She's so easy-going about it all, but definitely excited and even has put together how Santa is supposed to work, though I'm not encouraging it, I'm not discouraging it either.

Vignettes of Dreams

All my life I've imagined motherhood in little snippets, like vignettes or scenes from a movie. Tonight I raked the leaves out back, down the driveway and in the front. It's a HUGE task. By the time I reached the front, Jie Jie was tired of playing inside by herself and came out wearing her antler headband with lights that really blink. I'd just surprised her with it today so she was eager to try it out now that it was dark.

I suggested she get the daycare tricycle out, even though she's a little too big for it. Soon, she was cruising around on it, headband all lit up, pretending she was driving a car, making zooming sounds and other sounds that kids make when pretending.

The house Christmas lights on the house and yard were shining brightly in the darkness and Jie Jie zoommed past me and I just leaned on the broom and breathed it all in. It was one of those magical mommy moments of pure bliss and satisfaction!

Oh, Christmas Tree You Are BIG

Perfect Christmas sweater, cats on the front...

and a cat on the back!

No, this isn't the right tree, but the Christmas Tree Man, who opened tree after tree until we found the perfect one, goofed off and did a model pose for us then agree to do it again for the camera and go on the blog.

This is OUR tree.

Yep, mama got the tree off the car and up the stairs all by herself.
She used her super-power, Mind Over Matter, (it doesn't matter if it's too heavy and you break your back; just get it inside)!

It fell over a few times until I bought a bigger stand.
Then, trying to adjust it today, fully decorated, while underneath it, I tipped it over again, and nearly toppled it completely, but my tiny daughter used her own super-power and was able brace it long enough for me to climb out from under and get a grip on it. Then she actually held it up, strategically standing on the piano bench, while I secured it again.

Jie Jie's getting her very first ornament just right!

This was an amazing feet, I'm standing on the piano bench, holding Jie Jie up and over so she could get the angel on.

I made this advent calendar over 20 years ago for "The Day When I'd Have a Child."

Jie Jie's first Christmas gift, from a little playmate.
It's under the tree!

Fall Fun!

Visiting Speck, who is now called Spot.
He lives one block away but we both miss him a lot!

Self-portrait with a little help on the arms.

Friday, December 9, 2011

"Marry" and Jesus

Last weekend there was a dance performance depicting the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Jie Jie was fascinated by it. The very next day, she got up early to play and when I woke up, it was to this scene in her room. She'd never played with her barn before, so I'm glad it's getting some use, but look in the center at the tiny baby in the red circle. This is baby Jesus. Follow the line up to the other circle and this is Marry, please notice the wedding gown! I really mean Marry, not Mary, because Jie Jie didn't know that Mary was a name and thought that baby Jesus was getting married in the stable!!!

Along Came a Spider

Our resident spider!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Oh,Christmas Tree You Fall-A Down

I get the "Bad Mother of the Day" award today for running my child from store to store when we were supposed to have gone to church and then decorated the Christmas tree. Unfortunately, during the night, gravity or the cats, or both, toppled our undecorated tree. The stand was one I've had for years, supposed to hold a tree up to 8 feet tall, but the physics of my 7.5ft tall tree disagreed so we had to go in search of a larger stand.

I've always been attracted to noble fir trees that were skinny and now I know why. I have to get the tree off my car, up the stairs and into the stand, so that it will stay there, all by myself. This year, in honor of it being Jie Jie's first Christmas, I found a noble fir that was wide at the base and full all over, a very perfect tree. I forgot it would weigh a ton and that I'd have to get it into the stand and centered all by myself.

So, at our third store, T_rget, I get Jie Jie into the restroom and we're greeted by two electric hand dryer machines going full force with jet-like engines. People were talking, toilets were flushing and I scolded Jie Jie for jumping out of the stroller without my permission and into a puddle of urine in front of the toilet that I was trying to mop up by putting several seat covers over it. I was feeling like I'd have rather been anywhere else, but failed in that moment to realize Jie Jie felt the same, only a hundred times more. She sat on the pot and did her business, then touched the seat with her hands, something I have taught her not to do. Then I scolded her again and told her not to touch anything, not even me, until I could wash her hands. I stood her by the door of the stall (we were in the largest one) and took my turn, but before I could even sit down, Jie Jie went into "post-orphanage stress mode" and started crying. This cry breaks my heart because it's a total stress cry, not the usual child's cry. If you've heard it, you know it. I knew I goofed bad and I couldn't finish fast enough so I could get us out of there.

I sat down in the food area, which was rather calm and just held her. The cry subsided fast, but not the little stress sound she makes when she's just overloaded. I apologized, explained that I made a mistake to not be more careful with her, that I forgot she's still so new here, and held her and got her to look into my eyes and come gently back. Back in the car, I realized she needed food, so we ate at our next destination and she began to feel much better. Back in the car again, she told me that the hand blower noise had hurt her ears. As I drove, I reflected back on the visit to her SWI and quiet and calm it was there. Remember, she didn't live in a room with a ton of kids, but had one caretaker and only a couple babies. The Christmas hustle and bustle must be awful for her and I've really kept it to a minimum, so it felt to me.

Jie Jie also loves our home. When we've been out, and we're nearly home, she cries out gleefully, "Yay, home!!!" Today she made sure to tell me again that she likes being out only a little (for a short time) and likes being home a lot (most of the time).

The tree is still undecorated since Jie Jie opted for snuggle time on the couch with mama and a video instead. Tomorrow, we'll skip academics during homeschool and work on social studies only, the topic is the traditional western holiday ritual of decorating the Christmas tree.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dentist Decision

Back at the beginning of October my daughter had dental work done under general anesthesia in the dentist's office. I did decide to find dental care at another practice since I didn't feel the dentist we'd gone to was a team player, but a dictator-type. Please read HERE for the details. A few things came in the mail from that office that I was expecting, the anesthesiologist report and bills, etc... I didn't bother to open them until today and, dated Oct. 27, was a letter from the dentist himself:

"As in all professions, a dentist has reached perfection only when he or she is working in an atmosphere of complete confidence and trust. When the proper rapport is established between the doctor, staff and the patients, everyone concerned is happier.

We as dentists hope to work with you, the parent, as a team to ensure the best health and treatment outcome for your child. When the recommended treatment has been refused, then a child's care has been compromised. We cannot in good conscience treat your child in this manner. For the reason, we feel you will be able to obtain more beneficial services if you consult with another pediatric dental office for (name of my daughter)'s care.

Enclosed is a copy of (name of my daughter)'s x-rays."

I find it extremely disturbing that he feels he can't "reach perfection" when a parent considers pre-med, prescribed and administered by the anesthesiologist, unnecessary, but more disturbing than that is that he considers working as a team having the parent trust him 100% and not have any input at all into their own child's care. One of the biggest medical mistakes people make is to trust their doctor without question and not being as fully informed as possible and proactive in their own care (or the care of their family member).

I am soooo glad that I made the decision to switch practices on my own before reading this letter or I might be more upset about it than I already am. Upset because he thinks he's being a team player when he was so unprofessional with me that day and upset because I actually put my daughter under his care. My only consolation is that his actual dentistry skills have never come into question. I hope never to find out otherwise.

But the very best thing of all is what my daughter remember from that day, "Mama sing me." (Mama sang to me) I did sing to her, looking straight into her eyes as she went under the anesthesia.

Safe and Sound

Right after I posted the last post, it got very quiet outside. The wind suddenly subsided just after 2am. I didn't see any damage on my block and the wind was so strong that it actually swept all the leaves in the front completely away. There's not a leaf in the street now, but last night I saw a great wall of them blowing down the road. My backyard had a ton of leaves from the neighbors persimmon tree, but someone from New England would say there were only a few, so I didn't mind raking them up.

Thank you all for your kind thoughts. I haven't kept up with the news at all so I missed hearing about the people in Canada suffering with 80mph winds and the damage that caused. I hope they all get the help they need to make repairs.

Huff and Puff and Blow the House Down

I am typing this when I should be in bed, but there is a HUGE wind storm raging outside and I've been a bit jumpy because of it. I don't know how many miles per hour the wind is gusting - but I just realized I can find a weather channel and find out...Okay, 10-15 mph, with gusts expected up to 23 mph. My house is shaking like we're having an earthquake, the neighbors large garbage cans are flying all over his driveway and I think they thumped into my house a few times. I just pulled my car up into my driveway as far as possible so that the tree branches, if they fall, won't hit it, and I just rescued my daycare sign as the chain just broke and it was going flying down the street (1am). Earlier, the lights were flickering and there was some mysterious lightening-like light outside and some strange noises. I called the electric company to have them check the nearest transformers, or whatever those big boxes on the poles are called. My single-paned lead glass sash windows are rattling and there must be a draft in my kitchen cupboards, because the dishes rattle now and then, too. I've moved the flower pots off of the edge of the porch, put blankets on the curtain rods in my bedroom in front of the windows and stuffed a folded rug under the front door to block the wind as it enters the house. The cats are huddled on the heater vents and I'm about to crawl into bed with an electric blanket.

I've lived through hurricanes, typhoons and blizzards, but I've never been a mom or home owner before while sitting out a storm and it's just a bit disconcerting. At least this will bring down a ton of leaves from the trees so I'll only have to rake a few more times before they're all gone for the season!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tender Time

Everything has been so smooth for so long that I didn't remember coming into the holidays that it's all wonderful and exciting for me as a mom, but completely new and unknown to Jie Jie. She's excited, but also has some trepidation as it's all new to her. The best way to describe her for the last couple days is mildly moody, which for her is pretty moody because she's normally so even-tempered. I'm getting tons and tons of kisses. Believe it or not, it's actually annoying, but it's a sign that she needs more of me right now. Today, she grabbed my hand as I was dumping toddler potties into the toilet and kissed my palm before I could stop her. Ew - gross!

Two nights ago, I realized how much she still needs "baby play." Tickling, little piggies, hiding under blankets, etc... Like all our children, she needs a LOT of physical contact and I've had a lot of trouble with my back lately so I've not been able to pick her up or hold her like I usually do and she's missing it.

In the next moment, she'll be reciting the alphabet and reading letters on anything with a label, or organizing the daycare kids into a fun game.

Then, she'll get all quiet and when I ask if she's okay, she sort of shrinks a little more. When I put my arms around her, her eyes start to well up with tears, then she cries softly for a little bit and is fine. Sometimes she says she misses those she loves in China, other times she says she doesn't know why she's crying.

Each low mood is last just a few minutes. It's long enough for me to realize she's working on the next level of adjustment and attachment, along with figuring out what all this holiday stuff means.

Today I had the daycare kids draw a picture of their families. This exercise was really for Jie Jie's benefit since she's the only one old enough to draw and not just scribble. She drew me and herself, gong gong, ayi (my aunty), and another ayi, the friend who came to China with me. She came up with this family grouping all on her own. I am thrilled that she realizes that this is her family circle.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

One Year Ago Today...

...I wrote this:

"Monday, November 29, 2010
Update #10

I am so blessed to have the Light of Christ in my life; to know there is a living God who is always there for me - no matter what. Today another prayer was answered in seconds. My agency has agreed to contact the proper authorities in China and request the file of the Child of my Heart.

It's been ten days since the file was supposed to have been released from an agency's Special Focus program, but since we truly don't know how an early-released file gets back to the Shared List, we don't know if we should wait longer or what, so we've agreed that it's time for action. Funnily enough, though, we didn't all agree together. I was going to beg for this, but they had already decided to do it!

I had put out word on boards, forums, egroups, etc... but no one came up with anything. The charity sponsoring her also hadn't heard anything, which led me to believe that her file was not with any agency.

I hope to know in a few days if I can apply to adopt this precious child.

Earlier, I felt scared, afraid that I wouldn't receive this wonderful gift of life. A short time later, I felt an elation in my heart, a blessing from God, that spurred on my hope to new heights and is still burning bright within me.

I don't presume to know God's plan, no matter how strong my faith, but I hope and pray that it is for this little child and I to be united as a family. I asked that you please pray for us, for this, but that God's will be done and we accept it with peace in our hearts.

Look at me today. Now this child is my daughter. I love these words the most:

Earlier, I felt scared, afraid that I wouldn't receive this wonderful gift of life. A short time later, I felt an elation in my heart, a blessing from God, that spurred on my hope to new heights and is still burning bright within me.

I "Caught" Her

The other day Jie Jie was telling me something and there was a time reference that I didn't quite understand so I asked her, "When?"

She replied, "When mama come China and catch-a me."

She was talking about the time we met and I adopted her! She loves that I "caught" her!

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Family for 8 Months Now

A sneak peak of our Christmas photo.

Matching upper and lower case letters.

Jie Jie's hair has grown about 3 inches in the last 8 months.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Intro to Christmas

Real whiskers and all, this was a very nice Santa
and the pics were free as part of a promo!

Union Square, San Francisco (taken from Macy's)

I love the theme "A Million Reasons to Believe" since it certainly describes my faith in our Savior.

One day, a few weeks ago, as we were in my friend's store, the words, "Santa brings presents to all the good boys and girls in the world," crossed my lips. I immediately regretted them, and, thankfully, they were lost on Jie Jie. Santa didn't go to China and leave any presents for Jie Jie. She didn't have any toys in China, that she can remember or that I saw in her room when I visited her SWI. The store owner, single mother of two girls, now in college, overheard me and noticed the look on my face. We spoke a bit and she mentioned that they didn't do Santa in their house, except as a fun legendary figure, part of their German heritage. After some serious thought and reflections on my own beliefs concerning the commercialization of the holidays, I came to a decision that I feel very good about...

Santa isn't coming to our house. In fact, Santa, in our house, is going to be taught as the figure of history, folklore and legend that he is. I'm teaching Jie Jie that the three wise men brought Jesus presents when He was born because they loved Him and mama will bring her presents at Christmas time because it's a time when we remember the birth of Christ and show love toward each other in many ways. One of those ways is to give thoughtful gifts. She's only getting a few gifts but one is rather large. It's something she wants badly, but I also have an ulterior motive behind it since it will be a good teaching tool, too. I will also teach her about the beliefs of others so that she understands, or will as she learns, that most young American children are taught that Santa brings the presents if they have been good.

We also chose a card of our church's "giving tree" which has the info of a young child on it who lives in poverty nearby. We will shop together and talk about giving to the needy. As time goes on, and she becomes more aware of the ramifications of her past in China, I'm sure this will get a little more complicated, but for now, I want to set an example to her of charity with love.

Our Thanksgiving Day

Mother and Daughter! I've been very emotional lately. My heart is full to bursting. Every minute of every day, I remember how I felt this time last year and in the same minutes, all day long, I look at the beautiful child in front of me and marvel that she's my daughter. I am so very grateful! I love motherhood, as I knew I would, and even more.

A feast for many, but only one guest out of four showed up.

I'm afraid Jie Jie felt a bit let down. I, too, felt let down, in a way. While cooking, Jie Jie would wander into the kitchen and asked, "Mama play with me?" and I'd reply, "No, I have to cook for our big party." When no big party occurred, I felt like I'd have rather played with her and then had soup and sandwiches instead. However, like the optimist she is, Jie Jie perked up once she saw that I meant business when I told her she could have the biggest "bone" to eat that she could imagine. This child can pick a chicken leg bone dry, so I was eager to turn her loose on a turkey leg.

She almost didn't know where to begin!


After the first sitting, along with mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, squash, cranberry sauce, and gravy.

After a second go at the same leg later for dinner.

The final pies. See the carnage our cat Merlin wrought on the apple pie? They still tasted great!