Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Agency Party & Homeschooling

Each year, my adoption agency has a party. It used to be called Asia Afternoon, but now they have many families who have adopted from countries not in Asia, including the USA, so it's called Heartsent Afternoon. However, the entertainment is still a local Chinesed folk dance troup of local girls. Jie Jie is wearing an outfit I'd bought in China for the first time and it is now one of my favorites. I still can't get over how cute she looked in it. Also, how she's really starting to look her age more often than not these days.

We are homeschooling. I'd always intended to homeschool, but with an open mind to meeting the needs of my child(ren). If homeschool didn't work out, for whatever reason, I was glad to be near a good (is it really?) public school. I had a few false starts that made us both miserable, but it was my own fault. Honestly, I didn't know what I was doing. Thanks to your help and the suggested resources and thanks to a successfully homeschooling mom at church, we are doing well and are happy. I found just the right level to start Jie Jie in and just the right speed. I also learned how best to handle things when she gets frustrated when she doesn't understand something.

YIKES! - We just had an earthquake (11:37pm)! Not too big, but big enough to get my adrenalin flowing super fast and make me run to check on my daughter! Deep breaths...

Here is what we are doing:

Math: The National Standard Curriculum in the UK We are doing the very first level called the Reception Year as well as some Year 1 at the same time. I also enhance this with games and exercises along the same lines as the lessons. She can count visually, but naming the numbers, especially in English, is a challenge. I have a lot of games that she is just devouring.

Reading & Writing: Starfall.com (thank you everyone who recommended this site), Signing Time, Leapster toy, books and games and instruction I give.

In detail, my goal is for Jie Jie to learn to read and write the alphabet and learn the sounds each letter makes. At the same time, I am reading to her, the same book, each night for a week so that she can memorize it and point out and recognize simple words, like the word WE.

I let Jie Jie use the starfall online alphabet game. I print out the sheets to go with it. I give her lessons on writing each letter in various ways, blank paper, lined paper, magnet doodle with stencils. For writing, I am presenting each letter in order of writing development and in order for learning the alphabet.

I got the Leapster fridge magnet toy and gave her a fun alphabet flap book and showed her how to use the book to know the order of the letters. She usually misses only 3-5 after just 3 days and the mistakes are very logical, like Z instead of S or looking across the pages of the book instead of down each page. The toy repeats the sounds that each letter makes as well as the names of the letters.

Art & Development: The goal is to learn the names of the colors.
Coloring for fun, by number, and as I tell her or by looking at a picture or following some kind of other instruction. Sorting, copying patterns (like stringing beads on laces according to pictures), following patterns on a grid. Cutting, pasting, clay, etc...

Science: The goal is to look deeper at the things around us. Today it was learning about how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. I found a website with time-lapsed video of a monarch butterfly's development, the egg hatching, the caterpillar making a cocoon and the butterfly emerging. Then, I found a coloring sheet of a chart showing the four stages of the butterfly's development. Later, I'll hit the library for books to supplement our lessons, but for right now, this is enough. Tomorrow, we might make caterpillars out of segments of paper and glue.

What I learned most about homeschooling is that I am not trying to recreate a classroom. If I was, I should just send her to school. The great thing about homeschool is that the lessons are learned from real life. She can now recognize the word WE because I read to her and pointed it out over and over as I read it and gave her the Chinese translation. There wasn't a blackboard in sight. A friend also put me onto some fantastic websites to make file folder games. Childcareland.com is the first one I've been using and I love their ideas.

Language: Learning English!

Social Studies: Learning to be a daughter and an American.

Jie Jie is VERY bright. Once she understands something, she gets it and runs with it. The challenge right now is teaching her in a way that she can understand. She has a thirst for knowledge that I love.

Socially, I had an epiphany last Sunday as we had a play date with a friend who rented an inflatable jumper. Two girls were 10, Jie Jie 7 1/2, and one 5 year-old were there. The 10 years olds treated Jie Jie like a two year old, wanting to pick her up and treat her like a baby doll. Jie Jie liked their interest, but looked unhappy and happy in alternating moments, then acted silly and overly boistrous. The more I observed, the more I came to realize how she craves to be able to play age-appropriate games, but communicating ideas in English is still beyond her ability so she settled for playing the only way that worked, even if she didn't really like it. It's hard for children to see Jie Jie as a 7 1/2 year old because she's the size of a 4 year old and can't converse with them and she's as cute as a doll. I wish I could find another little girl in Jie Jie's same shoes, newly adopted and Chinese, that she can play with just to give her some relief from having to try so hard all the time.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Speck Makes 9 - Temporarily

This is Speck. See why I call him Speck? Look at the first picture near his nose. He's about 8 weeks old now and he's another rescue. It's fun to have a kitten in the house, but he's not going to stay. Once he's bigger and ready to be adopted, he'll leave us for his new home.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Forgot to Mention the Housekeeper

Yep, finally had to do it. Don't get me wrong. I've WANTED to hire a housekeeper. It was part of the Big Plan. This working single mama wasn't going to spend weekends doing housework while my child played all alone. But the budget does bring a does of reality to the best laid plans. I'm hording every cent until I figure out the insurance thing. But I really HAD to do it. All the hours I spend on the phone trying to sort the insurance stuff out and doing the bookeeping and taxes - finally - meant the house was horrible.

I had a great recommendation. The lady came, very motherly and sympathetic, did a great job, but started sneezing at the onset of vacuming and kept it up the whole time. She won't be coming back. She's allergic to cats. Remember, we have 8, no, 9 right now because I'm fostering a kitten.

What I'd really like is someone twice a week, two hours each time, to do the floors, bathroom, kitchen and litterboxes. Ideally, I'd like this person to make meals, too. After cooking for the daycare, there isn't time to cook for my daughter and I Yesterday, one parent came 25 minutes late - no phone call. It was so unusual, that I got worried. I had a 7pm apointment, so that 25 minutes ate up the time I'd have used to make dinner. I had it all planned out, too. This particular late parent has two kids enrolled with me, almost 3 and 12 months so I couldn't have cooked even if they'd called because my upstairs isn't set up for a 12 months old.

This brings up another point. I'm tired of my own cooking. I'm a good cook and I like to cook, but I like getting new recipes, fast and easy ones, and I've just not had time to browse for new recipes. If you have a favorite fast, healthy meal, please give me the recipe. I really need something new. Casseroles and one-dish meals are great, nothing fried. Things that can be frozen are good so I can make two at the same time and freeze one.

Ugh, 1:45am, time for bed!

More Insurance Frustration

I am so totally ignorant about insurance! I can't believe I can be this ignorant. It's not from lack of trying. I'm trying so hard, it's killing me. I'm so ignorant, I don't even know what questions to ask.

I did find out that I qualify for Healthy Families. It covers EVERYTHING!!! BUT.... and it's BIG but.... I'd have to ditch my Kaiser insurance, in writing. It's tempting, but.... What if I earn too much in 2011 and get kicked off it in 2012? What if the program runs out of money? If I ditch Kaiser and need it again, guess who has to go through medical review again? Guess what Kaiser can then legitimatly charge me? A fortune!

So, remember that pediatrician visit a couple weeks ago and the blood test? Well, the labs tests aren't considered part of the preventive health care so I'm being billed for them - ALL, to the tune of over $500 and some are still pending, AND the visit to the orthopedic specialist hasn't even shown up yet on the bill.

Being a person who needs to know what to expect for my budget, I call member services to ask for a list of services and their costs. I am kindly directed to a list. Feeling optimistic, I go through the steps of finding it online, etc... Guess what? It's a VERY, VERY, VERY basic list that doesn't even have MRI on it. Guess who needs an MRI?

How does one get accurate information? How can I get a simple questions answered accurately, like these,

How much is the visit to the orthopedic specialist going to cost?
Where can I go online to find out how much the MRI is going to cost?
Why can Kaiser bill the State of California but not the county of Alameda?

On the positive side, there are several people to their best to sort this all out. It's taking time, however. Meanwhile, I'm still paying for the things my daughter needs right now that can't be put off. CCS will pay for it, but only after I give them proof that Kaiser won't. This is taking so much time that I'm about to send a FAX to the lady at CCS and it's after midnight!

Monday, August 15, 2011

My Big Girl

My daughter is closer to 8 years old now than to seven and tonight when I was tucking her into bed, I could clearly see the big girl within the tiny body. Her face looked like that of a young lady in its excitement of what she was telling me and, for a second, I caught of glimpse of the beautiful woman that she will become.

Tonight she asked me to stay with her until she fell asleep. I've done it a lot, especially at first, but tonight was the first time she made the request. Again, it wasn't out of insecurity, but desire. She really just wants me because she loves me.

She said, "Mama, sleep-a here (indicating her pillow) wait sleep-a me."

52 Months and Flying Along

If I thought the wait felt fast before, it's certainly flying by even faster for me now. I can't believe it's been 52 months. I remember referrals coming in for those who waited 52 months, over a year ago, and thought at the time, "Wow, that's a long time."

I am thankful for my perspective and my heart goes out to those of you who have felt every second of this wait as agony.

Friday, August 12, 2011

This Point In Time

We are in the middle of a wonderful phase right now. Jie Jie is really falling in love with me. Tonight when I tucked her in, she showered me with kisses, something she's never done, all the while holding me tight in a perfect, sincere, HUGE hug. She had a period where I could pop upstairs or out to the yard and she'd be fine, but now she really needs to know where I am at all times, but not in the same way as before. Before, it was newness, fear, not knowing what to expect. Now, it's attachment, she wants me with her and misses me, and wants to know everything I'm doing, wants to emmulate me, knows we belong together.

Her English is exploding. Her manners are fantastic. She learned "excuse me" early on for burping, now she knows she must say it if she wants to interupt me. She has made friends with the best of my daycare kids and enjoys entertaining a certain baby sometimes. She can still assert herself as the leader and will sometimes play a little rough, like games involving pushing or holding hands for ring around the rosie then turning it into a game of Whip It. When caught doing what she isn't allowed to do, she gets a guilty look and will cry if it's something she really knew not to do, so she has a good conscience and sense of remorse. She will say she's sorry on her own if she knows to do so, and also if I ask her to do so. The first few times, she was too embarrassed and jealous to apologize to a daycare child, but not any more.

She has good table manners, something we started working on in China. Chewing with a closed mouth was first, using a spoon or fork properly (coloring helped with this tremendoulsy) and even a knife. We pull out the chopsticks as indicated, too, but I've always done this.

She has a natural sense of organization and the high level of awareness I would expect for a child raised in an orphanage, but she would not be called hyper-alert or hyper-aware by adoption standards at all. She appreciates cleanliness and beauty, from a clean toilet to a beautiful sunset or flower.

Physically, we are taking it easy this week. She has a mild cold that one of my daycare kids brought in. She's got a mild runny nose, a low-grade fever and sore throat. She also has a bacterial infection, picked up by the recent lab work and is on antibiotics and probiotics for it. We did retest before starting the antibiotics just to make sure the sample wasn't contaminated. It is something that might prove common due to her special need so I'm not surprised, but resentful of the insurance mess I was in since she could have had this infection from the moment I adopted her and been treated four months ago. Likewise, she also has Giardia, non-symptomatic other than a foul stool odor like no other. This is VERY, VERY common in children adopted from China. She has probably had this most of her life and it contributed to her malnutrition. She will take an antibiotic for this, as well, but only after the other antibiotic is finished and she's had at least 5 days to replenish her intenstinal flora still with the help of a probiotic. The risk of transmission to me is low. Her doctor doesn't even recommend I get tested unless I show signs of it, and I don't. I'm comfortable with this recommendation.

Jie Jie's pediatrician was quickly overwhelmed by the number of specialists we need and the time needed to sort them all out and has already gotten us a case coordinator. So far, I've not had to fight for anything medically related, meaning getting specialists, and referred out of Kaiser (they just don't have what we need). The doctor told me I'm a good mom and has agreed with everything I proposed. This has been very reassuring since I really did my homework on my daughter's special need before deciding to adopt her.

Jie Jie's nutritional status is excellent, other than the parasite, which helps itself to the nutrients she ingests. The doctor did bring up vitamins early on, but understood my fear of the iron in them and the potential for constipation. Since Jie Jie's special need mainly concerns her intestines, constipation can be life-threatening, much sooner than with a child without this condition, as can diarhea. After the labs came back showing great levels, the subject of vitamins didn't come back up.

Even if the scale and measuring tape didn't show growth, her clothes are showing it. She'll be out of size four leggings by the holidays and out of size three trousers. She'll wear her shoes out before she ever outgrows them.

Her dental work is scheduled for the first week of October. She's looking forward to it since she now understands that she won't have such pain afterward (I've talked to her about the pain she'll have for a little bit after the procedure). Now that I know her kidneys are functioning well, I feel more easy about the general anesthesia. She will also do well with the prep, as she proved with the bloodtest. In fact, she's eager to show off her bravery. I can't remember it all, but we're looking at four extractions, one particularly messy, four crowns, at least four fillings and four spacers.

I will be continuing with her chiropractic care. It is free, thanks to the generosity of my friend who is a student at the chiropractic college. With new data supplied by the orthopedic specialist we saw this week, I will be insisting on a re-evaluation and change of treatment. The treatment Jie Jie has had so far has been helpful, but we need to change the goal now that the true diagnosis has been made.

We still need to meet with 6 other specialists, have an MRI and several other invasive tests that I'm truly dreading, but must be done. I have a meeting next week about financial programs to help with the high expenses of all of this. It will determine whether we start full steam ahead now or wait for January 1, 2012. I will not put her through anything that will tarnish our very first holiday season together.

The good news is that once we get through the next year, my beautiful daughter should be able to live a perfectly normal, healthy life, like any other girl, with very few modifications. I am so thankful for the miracle she is. Remember when I was praying for her file? She is worth it all!

I Need Advice, Please

Attention all homeschooling moms, especially those with children from China with special needs:

I'd always planned to homeschool and that is what turns out to be the optimal choice for Jie Jie even if I hadn't always planned to homeschool. Just to double-check, I telephoned the school district to see what services were available and the woman I spoke to didn't waste any time telling me that homeschooling is my best option.

So, I need some help coming up with a good curriculum. Jie Jie is 7 1/2 years old and has never been to school. She speaks mostly English, with a limited, but quickly growing, vocabulary. She sounds very clear to me, but I've discovered that it's because I'm her mom, though my assistant can understand her very easily, too.

The curriculums I looked at online depend on being able to fully understand rather complex English and read and write to a large extent. I've been looking at first grade with the intention to fill in the needed kingergarten level stuff as we go. Jie Jie would be attending 2nd grade this year if she'd been born here.

Jie Jie can recite the alphabet up to the letter "I" and gets most of the rest of the letters after that, but not in the right order yet. She easily recognizes the letter of her first name and can write her first name. She can't recognize other letters by name and it was frustrating the day I tried to get her to memorize five letters by sight. One educator suggested I focus on shapes first since that's how she views the letters. She does have some level of understanding that letters make up words, but without knowing the language, she can't do much with that information. Honestly, I was discouraged until I realized it takes bright children two or more years to learn the letters and we've just passed the four months home mark. It's hard to work on reading without knowing the alphabet.

Numbers are easier. Jie Jie is learning them practically by herself, somehow. It's hard to do math if you don't know your numbers.

Colors are coming along. I realize I need to be more diligent in our daily life pointing out colors, naming them and asking Jie Jie to repeat the color names. I have no idea if she ever learned color names in Chinese. She said she didn't color in China and I believe her by the lack of skill she had at first and how utterly skilled she is now. She LOVES to color.

She loves Play Doh, painting, essentially arts and crafts of any kind. I am going to read to her more. I read to her a lot until The Big Insurance Battle, then was simply wiped out by the end of the day from the hours and hours of being on the phone. Unless you've been through it, you can't imagine how many hours I've spent on the phone. In fact, even now, to reach a live person or the right answering machine at Kaiser takes, on average, 30 minutes.

Please point me in the right direction to creating or finding a good curriculum and/or some resources to help me get a good start. I'm looking forward to homeschooling. My Little Nugget loves to learn and is highly self-motivated.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cat Poo and Other De-Tails

Jie Jie has heard our cat Rose urinate in the litterbox before so when Rose went into the box tonight, Jie Jie said, "Rose no poo," meaning, the cat doesn't poop at all.

I told her that Rose poops every day and that she's a clean cat and covers it up with the sand. Suddenly, I realized that Rose was pooping so Jie Jie hopped out of bed to observe. Rose takes longer than my other cats to produce after assuming the pose so Jie Jie said, "Rose take long time."

Then, the moment, "Rose one. Small one." I told her to keep watching. "Rose two."

Business complete, Rose promptly buried it, then immediately cleaned her bottom. Several minutes later, Rose gave me "loves" and Jie Jie saw me turn my face away as Rose turned her tail end toward me. She said, "Rose stinky."

I said, "No, Rose cleaned her bottom."

Jie Jie said, "Rose tongue dirty. Eat poo."

I thought it was very astute of her and, quite gross if one thinks too much about it. Yes, cats clean their bottoms with their tongues and then want to smell your breath, up close and personal like.

I explained that if a human uses their tongue to clean their bottom then it's dirty and stinky, but that cats have special tongues and it's not dirty. As I type this, I suddenly realize that some humans engage in oral s*x acts. Thank heavens children don't need to know about that!

I LOVE watching her learn!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mama Love

My daughter "Loves me hao big!" I am thrilled!

What she likes most about living with me is coloring with me and playing with me.

I have finally made it to the top of her list!

In the past, she liked coloring and playing, but I wasn't mentioned. Now, doing these things WITH me matters most to her. It shows, too.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

TeddyCat or WatchCat

The cutest thing happened two nights ago when I tucked Jie Jie into bed with her stuffed whale, that acts as a bumper and keeps her off the wall, and her stuffed kitty that she keeps near her pillow. As I was shutting the door, she shot up in bed and asked for Rose or Sammy to be in the room. I didn't realize it, but there has always been a cat with her in the room when I'm not there and she felt safer that way. The cat doesn't even sleep on her bed, usually, but on mine or on the dresser, but it was enough for her. Sammy volunteered to come in with her and I asked if that was better and she said it was, snuggled down and went right to sleep.

I reminded me of a dog, that faithful companion keeping watch at the foot of the bed. My cats are a lot like dogs that way. They are warm and snugly and affectionate and very protective and loving. I love that she Jie Jie can derive comfort from our pets. Having animals like these around is very therapeutic.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pediatrician Appointment

We met our pediatrician today. She's very nice and seems very good. She's already researching specialists like crazy and she's willing to refer me to my first choice place, but, ultimately, it's up the the surgeon. He seems cool, too, but is looking to refer Jie Jie more locally. There are pros and cons to each choice.

Jie Jie did extremely well, a tiny bit apprehensive at first with the nurse doing the vitals. She was quick and talking too fast. I had to tell her not to talk so much. She was saying things like, "This isn't sharp, I'm not going to poke you or hurt you." I told her that Jie Jie doesn't speak English well and only picks up words like sharp, poke, hurt. I asked her to just say what was going on in a simple way, "This will get a little tight," for the blood pressure cuff, for example.

Jie Jie was GREAT for the blood test. She told me last Monday that she's going to relax and not cry and that's pretty much what she did. She sat on my lap and wanted to watch, but when the moment came, she covered her eyes with my hand. One tear leaked from one eye, but she didn't move and didn't cry. The nurse was fantastic! One stick with a butterfly needle and she filled 7 vials without a pause. There is no bruising at all.

She's 41 1/8" tall and 35 pounds. That's 104cm, a 2cm gain in height and I'm feeling it as her leggings are all getting a little short now.

A little apprehensive with the nurse.

Fine with the doctor and woman who did the blood draw.

Wow! Saying cheese, but ready to dive in!


We shared and still had room for pizza afterward. This is probably our least nutritious dinner since becoming a family, but it was a special treat to celebrate Jie Jie's bravery.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Another Funeral Experience

You might wonder why a 7 year-old would start talking about people dying, but since Jie Jie has been home, two cats have died here, one was my own cat and, recently, I fostered a 22 year-old cat, who was horrifically neglected, for 6 days until he passed away peacefully on his bed. We called him Mr. Handsome and he was anything but. In his day, however, he must have been a splendidly handsome fellow.

So, tonight as I was putting Jie Jie to bed, we began talking about her life in China and death came up again in a very natural and comfortable manner. I asked her if any babies had died. She thought for a moment and said that her Po Po had one baby that died. Here's her experience:

JJ: Baby die. Baby face messy. (She indicated the entire face) Baby no hungry. Baby no eat. Lot people cry. Jie Jie cry, too. Baby die.

Me: Did the baby drink a bottle?

JJ: Baby no drink. Baby no hungry long time. Eat, baby! Eat, baby! (She said this in a gentle, coaxing voice like one would use to try and get a baby to eat.) Baby no eat.

Me: Was there food on the baby's face?

JJ: No, baby no eat. Baby face messy pink.

I then asked if the baby died at night or in the daytime. She indicated at night, while she was asleep and that when she woke up in the morning the baby was gone. I asked her what Po Po did with the baby and she said, "Baby outside."

Me: Was the baby asleep?

JJ: No, mouth open. (She then did an imitation of the baby's facial expression and it was clearly death.)

Me: Did the baby have a blanket?

JJ: Yes. (She then showed me that the blanket was pulled up over the baby's face and head.) Baby bye-bye. No wait car. Car kuai kuai. (Kuai Kuai means fast.)

Five Year Mark

It's official. The families who recently received their referrals (matches to their babies in the non-special need child line) waited FIVE years from the date their dossiers were logged in with CCAA (I know, it's not called that any more).

Early on, I did some math calculations and came up with a wait of 6 years 2 months or four months or something like that and it's looking like that's right on the nose for me. The earliest I'd expect my referral is Dec. 2012 based on more recent calculations.

I realize the wait for some families has really turned into a nightmare. The older parents have my sympathy and those with other children who may be teenagers or in college by the time their baby sibling arrives home.

I still feel like I'm in a unique situation, having aleady realized the dream of my first child, and finding the wait is still optimal for our situation. I'd like to, somehow, add a teenage girl to our family.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Ball is Rolling, the Phone is Ringing

In the past two days I've had calls from Kaiser like crazy:

Pediatric Gastroenterology
Pediatric Surgery

All before I've been taken Jie Jie to the pediatrician for her first physical (third if you count immigration and the one done for medical review).

Honestly, I was feeling breathless and overwhelmed until tonight. Tonight the surgeon called and the calm I've been waiting for decended upon me. He was wonderful! I was so prepared to wage a major war to get the care my daughter needs that it was amazing to hear the surgeon say, "We can't provide the care here that your daughter needs so I've already contacted the medical director and let him know and my first recommendation is Children's Hospital, but if you need more than that then we'll find the right place."

Not only that, but this surgeon trained with one that I actually have seen perform in videos. As part of the research I did before adopting Jie Jie, I joined some medical websites and watched surgeries similar to the ones she has had. One of the best ones was the surgeon that trained the guy that called me tonight - and - two nights ago, I just happened to have watched that video again!

This morning I woke up wondering if I had what it takes to manage all of this and tonight I know I can.

When I told the surgeon how we've been managing and how far Jie Jie has come since being home, he was amazed and impressed. My little girl has been blessed with something special that I think will carry her through life happy and confident regardless of what her body is like.

Mama Sewed Again!

This was one of those instant sew-as-you-go designs that started out just wanting to make tiny blankets for these Barbie babies. Next, they needed a pillow. Then, of course, a bed. So, during daycare nap time, I whipped these out and Jie Jie was very happy. I am happy, too, but would have made them a little narrower if I'd had any time to plan them out.


Sliced turkey rolled up (no nitrites)
Cheddar Cheese

New Little Table

Last month I had to concede that my daughter doesn't care much for the rocking chair. We have a lot of snuggle time, just not in the rocker. So, since she LOVES to color, I found a perfect little table and chair for her room and she has spent hours there.

Here she set up herself and asked me to take. She set out her things in a neat fashion and then posed.

Tourists in San Francisco

One day last month we played tourists. We drove into San Francisco and up to Twin Peaks then to the zoo. Jie Jie had her very first cotton candy. It seems that they don't put it on a stick any more, but in a plastic bag where is promptly goes flat, but I found a fresh batch and it was pretty good.

In this last photo, you can still see little girl she was in China, unsure, but willing to try anything.

Mama Sewed!

I have a whole stash of fabric that I've saved, some for 20 years, for The Day When I'd Have a Daughter. I finally had a moment to sew some pajamas for Jie Jie. She's on her own bed in her room but she doesn't sleep there, other than the occasion nap. She'd like to sleep there, but I'm not going to change our sleeping arrangement until after all her medical stuff is completed since I know she'll need to be next to me again once we begin.

I came in to go to bed and found my little nugget like this. Her sleeping spot is next to the whale way over on the right. When she comes onto my bed, I think she's wanting to feel closer to me. If I catch her in my bed and still awake, she's so happy when I lay down next to her and we talk or play silly games that mothers and children love so much.

THE Dress

I LOVE this dress! I bought it in China. It was sooo Jie Jie that I had to have it. But... I was out shopping with Anne and it was $23 (USD), outrageous in China, but it was in a western-style mall - upscale boutique. I let Anne convince me I'd find something else, but it stayed on my mind. The next day I went back on my own and bought it for Jie Jie. She loves it, too, and it was finally warm enough 4 Sundays ago that she could wear it. My friend who came to China with me also attends my church and when we walked in, she recognized the dress right away. I found the tights somewhere else, possibly here in the USA shortly after getting home from China.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Gong Gong Comes to Visit

Jie Jie's "Gong Gong" came for the first time and we had a great visit. He came a week ago Friday afternoon and left the following Monday afternoon so we had a nice full, fun weekend. She really liked him and had fun playing, but, of course, the family structure of where he fit in eluded her. Being only four months out from adoption day, I stuck to strict bonding protocalls, as I've done from the start, and I'm glad I did. By Saturday night there were clearly some issues coming up. Gong Gong was GREAT how he handled everything. I felt bad for him because he was dying to carry her and put her up on his shoulders, and do all the granfatherly things one would do, but by Sunday evening I knew Gong Gong was beginning to see the tip of deeper understanding of the issues Jie Jie has faced and continues to face as a newly adopted little girl.

I think it's important to recount something that came up because it is such a clear demonstration of how delicate the new relationship can be even four months out when everything is going fantastically. Jie Jie started clinging more to me and had trouble falling asleep, which isn't like her at all, unless something is up. As I knew things were getting harder for Jie Jie, I explained that I didn't know exactly what was wrong, but that my feeling was that Jie Jie didn't understand the relationship of Gong Gong in our lives and it was causing this insecurity. He asked, "Didn't you explain to her that I was your Ba Ba?" It was a defining moment when I replied, "Yes, but that doesn't mean anything to her other than the name she used for the orphange director's husband. She's still learning what a MOTHER is!"

I was so glad he came because I was feeling desperate for a family connection myself. This thing with Kaiser over the insurance has left a deep scar. It touched a part of my motherhood that gave me some moments of feeling inadequate because I couldn't provide basic medical insurance for my own daughter. Seeing Gong Gong with Jie Jie showed me how far I've come getting to know and understand her and love her and how far she and I have come as mother and daughter. A day or two after he left she told me she loves me BIG and that she was happy. That was the first time. Up to then, she loved me sometimes or loved me cha cha (a little).

Getting to know you. Henry, too!

Our little family.

I'll post a video soon of Jie Jie explaining what happened here!

I know I've mentioned how tiny my bathroom is, but here you can really see that you can sit on the toilet and brush your teeth at the sink!