Thursday, June 28, 2012

Airline Tickets - Check!

That was a big one to get checked off the list. My agency's recommended travel agent, who I used last year, is on a cruise with his family, somewhere in the Carribean, yet he still took time, via email, to arrange travel for five families yesterday, including mine.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Little Helper

Before I forget, I need to document the first time Jie Jie put a diaper on a real baby. It was last Friday and the child was 23 months old. Jie Jie put a cloth diaper on her before naptime and she's been begging to do it again every since! She'd definitely my girl. By eight years old, I had quite a reputation as a great mother's helper and pro diaper changer.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Great News!!!

Look at the baby she was 15 months ago and the young lady she is becoming now! And see how long her hair had grown, despite two trims?

Things are starting to look up in a lot of areas of great concern...!

I got a call today that a state/county program is covering Jie Jie's SMO ankle-foot orthotics!!! Remember, the ones that have been sitting on a shelf about 5 miles away because Kaiser wouldn't cover them? Well, we go Monday to get fitted and pick them up.

Yesterday, I realized that Jie Jie's next blood test to check kidney function is due in two weeks and the last thing I want to do is deal with two kids having blood draws at the same time, for different reasons. I emailed her nephrologist and we agreed to do it now, so I loaded up my daycare kids into my two quadruple strollers and my assistant and I walked over the local Kaiser lab and I took Jie Jie in for the blood draw. She was brave, but cried, which totally breaks my heart. I stay strong for her, but that pitiful cry rips my heart out. Luckily, once the needle was in, she was fine, and it took only one stick with a tiny baby butterfly needle, a tiny bit of digging for the vein, and it was fine. She's barely got a pinprick of a mark on her little arm tonight and zero bruising. As I sat online tonight, the results came trickling in and the critical measurement shows IMPROVEMENT!!! Yes, her levels came down 7 points from March's test. I am so very thankful.

After work, we went to pick up a prescription to take to China in case we need it there and I decided that we needed a little party to celebrate our time as a tiny family of two. I told Jie Jie we were going to eat out and have a little party. She immediately got super excited. After we sat down at the restaurant, she looked around and asked, "Where's the party." She didn't notice me order something.

A few minutes later, the waiter brings beautiful virgin strawberry daquiries, complete with whipped cream and a cherry and a huge strawberry pushed onto the rim of the glass. Jie Jie's eyes got huge and she started her little shrieky giggle of glee and said, "Wow, dessert first!" I told her why we were celebrating and then we toasted. I wish I'd thought of it before I left the house and brought my camera with me, but, on the other hand, it was a special private moment that I'll always cherish.

Bedrail is Coming With Us

As I looked at the picture again this morning of Jie Jie sleeping, I realized that the bedrail comes apart and folds up very tiny. It's coming with us! I've been worrying about what to do in case the beds arent' up against a wall or there aren't the right kind of chairs to put against it. Ah, another sigh of relief as another issue is solved.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Packing Excitement

Jie Jie could hardly contain herself when I told her that we'd take the suitcases down from the attic tonight. She's been waiting for this moment for a long time.

Henry is done packing. As long as we take him along, he's content.

I'm happy because this suitcase, that will be carried on, is full of all the medical supplies Jie Jie will need for our trip. I'll also keep my adoption paperwork in this suitcase. That's one down!

Just Sharing

Jie Jie's Misunderstanding

I've been trying to be clear to Jie Jie all along that she is mine forever and not staying in China, but tonight when I asked her what she thought would happen in China she said something to the effect that I was going to leave her in her old SWI with her Po Po and come back for her at some later date. She didn't seem unduly alarmed, but her smile and look of relief when I again explained that we are only visiting and that I'd never leave her in China was enormous. I think we'll be going over how this all works a few more times, perhaps even making a little book about it that she can refer to and go over and over.

Sleep? Me?

Who has time for sleep? Not me! But I'm about to turn in because it's nearly 3am and I have a huge day and week ahead of me.

What have I been doing all night long? Visa paperwork! Those applications are a four-page bear, but I'm finished and crossing my fingers that I did them correctly. Then, I made copies of all the supporting documents that are required for Jie Jie's because she was once a Chinese citizen.

Please remember me in your prayers because I'm doing everything single-handedly while training a new assistant for my daycare, which means I can't leave her to oversee the kids and pop into my office and get much done. It's going to be this way all week while my main assistant is at girl scout camp.

Still on the list:
More gathering of copies of documents for my travel packet
Post office
Continue packing
Call social worker about best insurance for Sissy
Call insurance company about adding Sissy
Place a daycare space available ad
Sew the girls' duvet covers
Alter clothes for me
Mend clothes for Jie Jie
There's more, too...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I Did It!

I fixed my furnance - again - but a bigger fix than before! Thank heavens for the internet because it helped me identify and fix the problem, which was a cracked ignitor.

In my first year in this house, the furnace had a small issue and the repairman told me that my brand of furnance had a problem with a cracked block and that the unit would probably need replacing. This would cost me about 4-5 thousand dollars! Needless to say, I immediately got online to confirm this and, instead, found that a little sandpaper was all that was needed to sand a tiny piece called the flame sensor. It worked, and I've enjoyed heat for two years.

When the heater failed to work this time, I tried the sanding approach, even thought the symptoms were slightly different. As I removed the flame sensor, it broke, so, obviously, it was brittle. It cost me $16 dollars for the part and I replaced it. Then, I got back online and realized the problem was the ignitor. I went to a local parts place and paid $60 for the part, installed it in less than 5 minutes and turned on the furnance to glorious heat.

Some prayer was involved in this process. I had prayed to be able to tell if it was the ignitor and the moment I removed to old part and saw it, a crack was visibly evident, which is the most common problem. I'm sure you heard my sigh of relief, because there is no money to spend right now and four days ago, we enjoyed summer weather before dropping back down into the 60s.

Remember, the coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco. The minute the night fog rolls in, it's freezing here! Any time of the year!

Also of the list of today's labor (yes, I did have to miss church and work on the Sabbath or I will not be ready to leave for China), was yard work. My neighbor loaned me a new gadget - an electric edger. Since the manual one I bought in my first year bent immediatly upon use, my grass has overgrown the sidewalk edges a lot. Well, I put this little machine through quite a workout and now have a nicely edged lawn that is now also mowed. Some bushes are also trimmed, and I put some kind of weed eliminator on the front lawn, too, that my neighbor included with the edger. Since his lawn is beautiful and the one next to him, that he's been taking care of, and the lawn on the corner, where he got his knowledge that made his lawn beautiful, I went ahead and put the same stuff on my lawn.

I joined two airline mileage programs and also signed Jie Jie up. Vacuumed the house, I've started sorting and staging the packing, last night, with the help of a friend and caffeinated soda, made a batch of catfood, which I'll do again in a week so I don't have to do it for awhile after getting back. I'm sure I did more, but I'm about to fall on my face with exhaustion and I badly need a shower because that edger threw a lot of dirt all over me and it was windy today. As for Jie Jie, she's been a very lonely superstar, watching me work and work and work and keeping herself busy or bored without complaint.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Still on Hold

I'm still on hold! Is it possible that the IRS will leave the office and go home and leave me on hold? I spoke to the first representative at 3:15pm this afternoon. It's now 5:30pm.

At 6pm I finally got the right person on the phone and took care of business!!! I was on the phone for over 3.5 hours today, in a row, just to take care of one simple problem. The problem: The IRS didn't apply my adoption tax refund to the departments I asked them to. They sent it to me instead so I had arrange the various payments myself today.

My Head is Above Water...


But I can see the shore and I'm still swimming!

Hectic doesn't begin to describe what life is like right now, but I am relieved to have the weekend ahead of me to finish up the most crucial stuff.

Late, late last night at the local megaWal store, when my Jie Jie should have been in bed, after a LOOOONG day of work, PT appointment, no lunch (yep, this mama failed in that area yesterday), my China Travel Meeting, finally eating out - again - I finally found a few summer clothing items that will fit, or will after I alter them, so that I won't have to be naked or wearing winter clothes in Guangzhou! That is such a HUGE relief.

I've almost got all the necessary documents ready to send to the courier I'm using to get our visas. Part of shopping last night so late was to get more printer ink because I've had to make so many copies of things.

My new employee is showing gumption and initiative today, which I badly needed her to do. Please don't laugh, but I'm pretty conservative and ... she's got blue hair and looks like a Dr. Suess Who. I am a person who needs professionalism. One of the things I LOVE about being in China is that the people in their jobs are professionals, even if it's the street cleaner, but it's the people at the bank I love the most. They count and count and recount and do it so fast, but are so thorough. I miss that thoroughness here in the U.S., or should I say, California, where anything goes. I've known this girl from church since she was about 4 and the advantage of a younger employee is that they play with the kids and have a lot of energy, but the drawback is that they've never run a household or, in this case, held a job before, so I have to spell it all out. For example, I say, "Please feed the baby." I come check a moment later and the child's been fed, but his face is still dirty, his bowl and spoon are still on the floor and the next baby is starting to ramp up with his own hunger, Meanwhile, the first one has pooped and needs a change, too. So, then comes the talk: When you feed the baby, .....then put the left-over food away and check the diaper again.

If you are wondering how I can sit hear and type this much with so much needing to be done, please know that I'm on the phone. On hold. And the estimated wait time is over 15 minutes!

Taking the Plunge

I have finally decided on a stroller for Jie Jie. After SERIOUS consideration, it's going to be this one from, which is on sale through the end of this month, so it's a good thing I made this a priority:

I was offered a loaner "stroller" from the physical therapist, but it was like a wheelchair, rather cumbersome and freaked me out by how medical it looked. My mind kept screaming at me, "She not THAT disabled." I will openly admit that I'm afraid of the stigma a wheelchair will bring to my daughter in China and don't want her to be exposed to that. I also don't want Sissy exposed to that. I feel bad putting it so baldly out there, but my mama's heart just can't take a wheelchair for the lesser-level of help Jie Jie needs. Now, if she needed one, I'd certainly be happy to have one, but since that's not the case, I'm sticking to a stroller.

The EIO Special Tomato looks very comfortable and easy to manage and goes up to 90 pounds. She's going to look smaller than ever in it, but I cannot get through the airports in a hurry, if needed, without this, much less the Safari Park or any long walks. It also has room for gear, which will save my back.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Yes, Bonkers It Is!

LOL! All of you who have done this know that once the TA and CA come, life flies into mega warp drive and it's a mad dash for more paperwork. Visas require a lot of paperwork for Jie Jie, just more copies of adoption decrees, old passport, etc... Then the usual stuff, passport copies, copies of passport photos, etc... Then the hefty price tag. I mean passports at around $100 each and visas at around $140 each, plus a currier, which is $90, or two afternoons of hiring a second assistant, which comes to at least $60 plus bridge toll at $10 plus gas... The courier fee looks reasonable all-of-a-sudden, doesn't it?

Then, there's booking the travel...

A very excited 8 year old, a very excited and tired mama...

Sounds like I'm going to China and all is normal!

I've Got a Consulate Appointment!

It's crazy around here and things ramp up into mega warp speed. My CA is on July 24, 2012. We'll be in Guangzhou on Sunday, July 15. If you will be there, too, please let me know and we can meet. I'm counting the days to dinner at the Banana Leaf restaurant by the Garden Hotel and the Safari Park. My girls are going to love these places.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

TA Came!

It came at the end of the day yesterday. My agency called me today to let me know! It took only 10 days! More later when I know more...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Referral Predictions

I wish I understood Rumor Queen's data tables, but I don't. However, way back when, around my three year LID time, I did some basic math based on the current trend of how many days were gotten through each month, figuring for the further slowing down that was occurring, and I came out with a wait time of 6 years 4 months for myself. My LID is April 15, 2007. Going with this wait, I'd expect my referral to come in August 2013.

Now, according to RQ's numbers of LID days gotten through each month since Dec. 2009, throwing out the two highs of 14 and keeping in the next two highs of 10 days and keeping the two lows of 2 days, the average number of days gotten through, per month, is 5.4 days.

Now, referrals have come for families logged in up to Sept. 11, 2006. Never mind the few Sept. 12s that got in in the last batch. Count the days from Sept. 11, 2006 to my LID of April 15, 2007, which is 216.

Divide 216 by 5.4, which is 40. According to this math, I will be waiting 40 MORE months for my referral. I can't imagine waiting 10 years and 2 months for this child.

This doesn't sound right, and I'm sure I made a mistake somewhere, but I can't find where. Perhaps my dad will catch it and call me, but people with Sept. 11, 2006 LIDs did wait 5 years and 9 months. So, I'm coming in right at 6 years and 4 months of waiting for my referral, which would fall about right on the curve.

I'm going to be watching referrals closely from this December on because I have to decide to renew my imigration paperwork and I won't be allowed to renew under I-600 any more, but have to do I-800. This means more homestudy paperwork and about $800 more, but I'd have to pay that anyway to renew. It's the paperwork that adds cost and time on top of this.

Personally, I am in "Wait and See" mode. With Jie Jie's care unknown at this time, and Sissy's adjustment unknown, there isn't much else I can do. There is also the fact that I need consider the cost of finishing Apple's local adoption expenses and flying three of us to China and four of us home, and bringing that large bit of cash we all take with us to China. I've barely made it financially this time and I've had a tremendous amount of help with airfare. I'm still paying for travel expenses from when I adopted Jie Jie. Let's face it, three adoptions in three years is a tremendous expense for any family, and more so for a single, self-employed mom who does daycare and lives in the Bay Area.

I would encourage anyone still waiting, especially those with children who are growing older waiting for their sibling, to look seriously at the Waiting Child List. If you have a child who expects to be able to play with their sibling at all, you need to adopt an older child. Otherwise, it will be like having two only-children. There are advantages to this for the parents, but not for the siblings. There are still so many misconceptions about the children on the Waiting Child List. One of the biggest misconceptions centers around children who are Hepatitis B positive. I had a LOT of misconceptions about this, too. I didn't realize that this can be cleared almost completely from the body without any effects EVER. However, in some cases, it can flare up and require treatment, but that's usually not the case.

Heart defects are also misunderstood and can seem very frightening. Honestly, though, most kids outgrow PDA and other similar conditions on their own and by the time of adoption, there isn't any defect at all, yet they are still on the Waiting Child List. All babies are born with PDA, which is a hole in the heart that allows blood to bypass the lungs. However, at the time of birth, the hole closes. In some cases, especially prematurity, this doesn't happen. Over time, if the hole is small, it closes on its own. Sometimes medication is needed and it works. Other times surgery is needed. While heart surgery sounds dramatic and scary, this is a VERY routine operation done on the tiniest of babies all the time.

Then there are kids with birthmarks or scars or a hand that is underdeveloped. Believe me, you don't need two hands. I've met plenty of people with only one good working hand and even watched a man compete at a high level of fencing with only one arm that worked. There are many children with one blind eye, usually because it's underdeveloped. I nearly adopted a child like this when I was told Jie Jie's file was locked by another family. This child now resides with a family whose blog you can read HERE. If she'd wear a prosthetic eye, no one would be able to tell that she had one tiny eye and one normal eye. In fact, I met a little boy last week at my adoption agency who had had cancer in one eye so it was removed in China and I would never have known if the mother hadn't have told me.

The children on the Waiting Child List are not medical conditions. They are beautiful children in need of families. Can you imagine my little Jie Jie still in China? Look at how beautiful she is! Look how healthy she is! Look how smart and wonderful and fun and charming and delightful she is! Yes, I have my moments of grief over what she cannot do, but honestly, do kids NEED sports to lead a full life? As for the problem's I have with Kaiser, these are problems that millions of families all across America have with our Dollar-based medical care distribution system (I refuse to call it healthcare any more because it isn't). I am one victim in a sea of millions. I just didn't know this sea existed.

I worry less about The Wait, and more about Waiting Children. There is a little girl Jie Jie's age still in China with a Tessier cleft who has had great surgery in China. She still needs about three more surgeries. If I'd known that my local Kaiser had one of the best craniofacial centers around, and, knowing what I now do about how Kaiser works, I'd have adopted this child, hands down, easy decision.

I feel very fortunate that I am open to the children on the Waiting Child List. This means that I can look at my family and look at thousands of children, and do my best to find the best match for one of those children and my family, which is what CCCWA does when matching your baby to you. Please look at my family closely. Both Jie Jie and Sissy are off that list. What would I do without them? The joy Jie Jie has brought to my life is beyond description. I fully expect my joy with Sissy to be the same. Already in preparing for her arrival, I'm full of joy in every little task I accomplish. Imagine feeling joy when passing the suitcases in the department store, or seeing a young girl who is just past my shoulder's in height. I can imagine my joy on the day I receive her, a total stranger completely dependent on me, coming willingly, bravely, to a strange new world. Her bravery alone staggers me. Remember, children 10 and older must give their permission to be adopted. Think of yourself at that age. I look forward to ways in which I will change because of her, like I did with Jie Jie, to become a better person. Could you have left everything you've ever known and the only people you've ever loved and gone across the world with a stranger who didn't even speak your language? I am in tears as I type this, just thinking about what our children endure to make it into our lives.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Miracles Abound

Miracles happen all the time, especially in the adoption community. But there is a HUGE miracle happening over at Our Place Called Home that I encourage you to read about. Little Teresa, after being told two years ago that there was no hope of living much longer, is now LISTED for a heart transplant!!!

Of all the adoption stories I've read so far, this one is amazing. The first miracle was that Teresa lived at all. The second, that she lived long enough to be adopted. The third, that she survived the flight home to the US. The fourth, that she's still alive today and that her lungs have been able to heal to the point that they have. The fifth, and not counting all the other miracles I'm sure lead to this point, is that Teresa is listed on the transplant list.

Prayers are still needed. The insurance company has to agree to pay for this. Can you believe it? It ultimately comes down to money. What a society we have created when saving a child's life comes down to money. Again, please pray for little Teresa and her family as they begin this new journey. Through it all, I pray that Teresa survives the surgery and goes on the touch more lives in the same way she already has. If ever there was an angel on earth, it's her.

62 Months Logged In

Five years and two months. That's a very long time. However, when divided by three, it's not so bad at all.

As I prepare my home for Sissy, I am thinking a lot about what it's going to be like having Apple next year. Where will she sleep? How will I arrange the bedrooms, etc...

I sure hope that Kaiser gets their act together soon, because I can't imagine dragging two kids around the hospital while Jie Jie is having surgery. I'll definitely need some help!

Monday, June 11, 2012

As Big As Life

I traced Jie Jie on a piece of cardboard from the bunkbed box. She couldn't figure out why it turned out taller than she is!

Are You Prepared?

Do you have a 72 hour emergency kit for each of your family members? I'm nesting right now. I was born nesting. With my second child's arrival drawing near, I'm Super Nesting! This means re-doing our 72+ Hour Emergency Kits and adding one more for my new child. I realized that I never put Jie Jie's medical supplies in her kit, thank heavens that's done now. We'd have been up a creek without them.

There are many websites with resources. Just put 72 Hour Emergency Kit into your favorite search engine and start browsing.

I also have supplies in my car in a backpack. I will be adding backpacks, clothes, space blankets, more water and food, first aid supplies, and some crayons and coloring books, or something like that, perhaps a puzzle, to my bins. I'm doing it a little at a time. Each time I go shopping, I get something to put in the bins. The bins will go into my garage with trash bags over them to added cleanliness.

In the house, I have a mini kit. In an emergency, I'll grab this and put it with the garage kits. I also have a small tent and two sturdy wagons.

You might think this is over-the-top, but my church has always been big on preparedness. I've been through several typhoons and a big hurricane (the one featured in the movie The Abyss) and a big earthquake. Since I live in earthquake country, and on the coast where a tsunami can hit, and I live on an island that can become isolated easily, I am prepared. Are you?

The New Bed

I loved going in to awaken Jie Jie this morning with a kiss. She slept very well. Now that I can simply lean over the side of her bed, it's a snap to plant a good morning kiss right on her cheek. In order to kiss her before, while in bed, I had to crawl from the foot of her bed, or over mine to reach her. She looked so tiny and cozy this morning!

I've been putting my room back to its original state. Jie Jie didn't remember it being any other way since I changed it her first or second week home. Luckily, I have pictures to show her. She thinks my room is very big now and thinks she and Sissy ought to have that room. I pointed out that once she puts another dresser in my room (Sissy's) that there won't be any more room than she already has.

I have to admit, I love the space again. Mainly, because I can arrange my daycare babies better in their during nap time. I can also vacume easier, make the bed easier, put my shelf back in my room (it's been in the dining room all year), and better organize the power cords. I know I've mentioned before that my home, which was built in 1905, has only one power outlet in each bedroom!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mother and Daughter

I LOVE this picture!!!

Last night, Jie Jie and I watched the Karate Kid. I wanted her to see something in China. She liked it, but didn't understand why the boys and teacher were mean. Afterward, I showed her some of special features and pointed out to Jie Jie Will Smith and his wife, the boy's real mother. Jie Jie was confused and said, "But dad die," which is the story line. I then realized that she didn't know movies were make-believe. So we had a talk about that will probably have many more. She's decided she wants us all to move to China, but she's not sure if she wants to take kung-fu or not!

What a Team!

Last night I assembled the bunkbed, with a bit of help from Jie Jie at the end! Instead of assembling the bunk on the floor and lifting the whole bed, which I couldn't do alone, I assembled it in place. I had a feeling the feet were big and solid enough and they were. At the end, when I had to align the slats, it was like holding a huge, heavy snake and that's where Jie Jie's help was invaluable. I held the slats and she aligned them.

It was super heavy, but I had great leverage, and that made all the difference. I wasn't sure how I was going to like it since the room is so small, but I like it more than when it was a single bed in there.

Jie Jie has been super excited about having a bunkbed. Tonight, she is sleeping in her own room, for the very first time (she's only napped there before)! I took a picturs of her climbing up into the bed. You can see just how small she is and how high the bed is, which is why I put a rail on it for her so she can't fall out of bed. The top of her mattress is chest-high to her when she's got her feet flat on the floor.

The ladder is supposed to go where the upper bunk rail ends, but the dresser is in the way, so Sissy will have to climb over the rail to get into bed. If I can figure out where to put the play kitchen, play table and all the baby doll stuff so it's not in their room, then I can move the dresser and book shelf and put the ladder in its proper position.

At 3am I finally turned off the light, a very satisfied and tired mama!

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Physical therapy. PT. We are finally scheduled for Jie Jie's evaluation at the state/county PT office, a service she qualifies for based soley on special need, not income, next week. There was also a grand meeting at another service and I got a conference call with some good suggestions. The best being that they think Jie Jie qualifies for SSI. Hello, great news, orthotics would be covered, I think.

Meanwhile, we've been doing the things we were told to do by the PT lady at Kaiser, plus all the things I've done since getting her. It got to a point where I thought Jie Jie could at least do some of the exercises and stretches by herself, which I thought was great since it meant she could do them every single day. After a week and a half of this, I ran her through her paces and she didn't do well. She'd been using the wrong muscle groups to do the exercises. On top of this, since Kaiser won't pay for her smo's (foot/ankle orthotics), I decided to make my own version while my complaint is being worked on. I taped layers of cardboard to the bottom outer edge of Jie Jie's shoe to help her foot roll into a normal position and it's been working, judging by the amount of soreness in the right area of her foot.

This, on top of me doing the PT to her and vigorous stretching and massage has been such a big difference in just a week. I ask myself every day, if I can get these results with cardboard and common sense, how far would she have come by now if I'd had the professional stuff we really need?

It just kills me that they call what I have health insurance.

I heard from Kaiser recently and the new higher up case manager suggested I recind my three complaints and put them into one, which will start another 30 day investigation. I gave her my okay then got a call a few days later from her saying it's best to keep them separate after all. I guess it's not only puppies and kittens that chase their tails.

Kaiser PT also told me, back when we saw them, that PT should not hurt or cause crying. Yeah, right! When my little girl struggles to lift her heels and rise up on her toes and mama is saying over and over and over and over again, "No, keep your knees straight," then those little muscles shake and quake and struggle to obey, you can bet my little nugget is going to feel defeated and sore and cry. Then, after a normal day of play, combined with a walk, and the newly rigged shoes, and some PT and stretching, there's quite a lot of pain. If I'd followed the no pain, no cry advice, my little girl would still have 1/8" thick callouses all over the bottoms of her feet, that crack because the skin is too tight to move as the foot moves, and she'd be walking on the outside edges of both feet while stepping on the one toe that wants to grow under instead of straight.

The funnest part of PT I invented only yesterday. It's picking up marbles in a dish tub with one's toes. Those little things roll all over and those little feet start moving and grooving chasing them. Those little feet sort of remind me of sea turtle flippers! Best of all, with ten marbles to pick up, it's easy to see progress and feel that the task was completed successfully. Score one for mama for coming up with this one! It was so nice to hear laughter instead of tears.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Recent Pictures

Signing the LOA yesterday at Heartsent, my agency.

Jie Jie is very creative and made this crown all by herself.

Holding a new baby of one of my daycare families. He's the same size as Jie Jie's baby doll, Bao Bao.

Last Saturday, Jie Jie started Chinese school for 1.5 hours in the morning learning Mandarin. The school is brand new, this was grand opening day, and it's three blocks from our home!

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Secret Grief

It hits when I least expect it to, but it can really hit hard. Sunday I took Jie Jie to a fair at a local gymnastics place that's non-profit and does a lot of community out-reach and got to see so many talented children with mega-perfect bodies doing what I love - gymnastics. One child of a friend was there, on the competitive team, the same age as Jie Jie. She was adopted from China as a toddler. She is VERY talented, a powerhouse with grace.

I asked Jie Jie is she wanted to learn how to do gymnastics and she said no. I think it was too overwhelming with all the people there and the noise and the music. It really was a huge fair. I ended up signing her up for a trampoline class that starts at the end of July. I think she's going to love it once she understands that it's not normally so noisy and crowded and busy. We will probably miss the first class as we'll be in China.

Suddenly, as I looked around me and then at my little girl, I was struck with grief that she doesn't have the option of getting to learn that level of gymnastics. She'd have loved it and been so good at it, but she can't even point her toes. I started crying then and there and Jie Jie noticed. I just scooped her up into my arms and told her how much I love her and held her tight until I got a grip on myself. There is so much that she just can't do, yet so much that she can that I'm grateful for.

I hope that she ends up really liking her trampoline class and makes a few friends, gains confidence in her abilities and sees that there is so much her body CAN do that is wonderful. Eventually, I'd like for her to take the level 1 gymnastics class, too. It would be excellent physical therapy and the coaches at this place are very skilled, not your average coaches, so Jie Jie would be safe. I also hope that Sissy will be inspired to try something, too, perhaps also trampoline, since we've got one. But, if nothing else, it will be nice to have an hour a week to have with Sissy alone while Jie Jie is in class, even if it's just sitting across the gym together or walking around the block.

LOA/LSC Just Arrived!

My agency just called...

My Letter Seeking Confirmation just arrived at their office. I'm going in today to sign in and it will be sent back out to China this afternoon!!!

Last year, Jie Jie's LOA came in only 10 days, but my dossier had already been through review. Sissy's dossier was logged in on March 31, 2012 and it took 65 days to LOA because it had to go through review.

My agency expects Travel Approval to take a month and that's exactly what it took for Jie Jie. After I get TA, I can make my Consulate Appointment. It looks like I'll be travelling mid to late July!

Please pray for a speedy TA. If I could travel sooner, it would be so much better for all of us!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sissy's Life in China

Sissy's orphanage is very unique in many ways. It is located in a "free economic" zone 20 minutes from Hong Kong. Some of the staff actually live in Hong Kong and commute each day. I think one could say it's one of the very best orphanages in China. However, it's still an orphanage no matter how nice it looks, with all the orphanage problems, except they have more financial resources than most.

The building itself is only about 4 years old. It has an indoor and outdoor playground for older and younger children. It also has a rollerskating area for the older kids and plenty of roller blades for them to share. They constantly listen to American-style pop music and have a lot of exposure to Western culture. Some children have spent weekends with an American family there and joined them on outings. Yesterday, Sissy and her group enjoyed a performance at the SWI by a Westerner. Apparently, this happens often. It's almost an innundation of Western info without proper context.

Another rare thing is that there are social workers counselling the children in preparation for their adoptions. I've never heard of this before. The girls are also prepared for puberty using informative videos. They have hours of computer time and all have QQ accounts.

From what other moms have told me about their children from this SWI, all of the above is a mixed blessing. The children are savvy, but lack the context in which to use this savviness properly. For example, getting the children to stop listening to that pop music ALL THE TIME is hard for some. Others have found that their children go onto raunchy websites seeking more of the same kind of music and stimulation. Despite having so many swimming outings, many kids still don't know how to swim and are scared to immerse in the water or will only do so wearing a life vest, even in a shallow baby pool.

An orphanage is an orphanage regardless of how fancy it is, but Sissy's exposures have been quite different and it can make it more complicated or easier in ways I can't begin to predict. But so far, I've had two pictures of her at KFC on different occassions and have heard she's been there numerous times. It's a favorite treat for Sissy and her peers and may be a taste of familiar comfort in the world she's about to enter when she comes home.

Life in Real Time

These pictures are from yesterday! Look at how long Sissy's hair is. Isn't this pool fantastic? Yes, she's eating KFC. There is one close to my home, but I cannot eat there. Each time I do, I throw up shortly afterward. If she needs comfort food, though, I'll get it for her now and then.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Happy Children's Day

I love Fridays because in China it's Saturday and Sissy gets computer time. I received two emails today and another picture. She wished me Happy Children's Day, which is today in China. She is celebrating by being taken out for KFC and swimming. I'm sure there is more, but I used an electronic translator so I have to wait until tomorrow to run it by my Chinese friend for a full and accurate translation.