Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Fun

What an amazing first Christmas we had as a family! 

Last year, I remember being at our annual family Christmas Eve party and having E "with us" by having a picture of her at the table.  This year, she was the life of the party!  And I mean that literally, she nearly shut the place down!  Dancing, singing, marching, stopping for some shrimp cocktail or a bite of Nana's dessert, and off again wearing the grown-ups out.  She really enjoyed getting to play with her adorable little cousins.  At one point around midnight (when all of the other kids were long gone and tucked in to bed), E was playing the piano and Baba asked her if she was getting tired and ready to go home and she said, "No!  Emmie play all night!"  When we got her to go home, she put out some cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer and finally passed out.

Auditioning for "The Voice"?

This is about 12:30am.  LOTS of energy still left!
Christmas Day was magical.  It was so much fun and excitement for all of us.  I waited with nervous anticipation with the cameras as Baba led E in to see all of the fun things that Santa left for her.  Obviously, she was a VERY good girl this year!  I can report that her favorite gift so far is a pair of kid's scissors.  I'm pretty sure Santa could have just left those and a bunch of paper to cut up and that's all she would need.  We had a delicious Christmas dinner and lots more presents to open to round out a perfect day.

How do you use this thing?

The favorite gift:  a pair of kid's scissors.

Our happy girl.

Look at those big brown eyes in the magnifying glass!

It was a wonderful Christmas with the people we love.  We missed our little R, but we are so excited that she will be here to join in on the fun next year!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday Thoughts

This family has sure been Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree this holiday season, and it has been amazing.  We've looked at lights, sung carols, watched all of the requisite TV specials, trimmed the tree, gone shopping together, named our very own Elf, and read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" countless times.  We even saw a real reindeer right near our neighborhood!  Yesterday, E and I baked cookies and made my Nana's recipe for fudge.  Andy Williams and Dean Martin were playing holiday classics in the background, my daughter had a mouthful of chocolate chips and was covered in sticky Fluff and my kitchen was covered in powdered sugar.  I stopped, looked, and listened and thought to myself, "Yes, this is what it's all about." 

At E's 3rd birthday party, one of my favorite relatives who we hadn't seen in awhile asked P how he was doing.  His response:  "I'm living the dream."  And if that sounds as candy-coated as my kitchen right now, it's not.  That doesn't mean that it's perfect or easy, but we never expected it to be perfect or easy.  But it's truly wonderful.

So, then, what are we complaining about?

It's Rosie.  She's in China, we are here, and it's Christmas.  I know, I know...those of you who know us or have followed our adoption journeys are saying, "But what's the big deal?  E was in China last Christmas...you should be old pros at this!  You already sang 'Blue Christmas' last year!"

Well, this year it's worse.  Does that sound like a slight against E?  I suppose it does.  But, in fact, it's actually the exact opposite.  It is because of E that we are missing our second daughter so much this Christmas.  Before E, we weren't parents.  So, the whole idea of having a child was just that--an idea.  We said, "I bet it will be so amazing to have a little daughter to celebrate the holidays with!"  Now, we know how wonderful it is to celebrate every holiday, every birthday, and every Tuesday with your child.  It's not just the idea of little feet running around...it's actually hearing those little feet, feeling those tight hugs, smelling her soft hair, and seeing her bright smile.  Like P said, "Now I know what all of the fuss was about." 

So, this year, we will celebrate this Christmas like no other before it.  It will be bigger, happier, warmer, and more full of love than ever.  But, it will also be harder because while we look and see the joy in E's eyes, we'll know what we are missing.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Yay!  If you got our Christmas card then you know that we got some new and *outrageously* adorable pics of R.  For the rest of you all out in the blog world (ie, the 3 of you reading this) here they are:

Rockin' the acid-washed denim vest.

Look at that perfectly coiffed hair!

We were so delighted to see how good she looks!  (We had received an earlier video where she did not look so well.)  I'm not going to go into the details of the medical update, but suffice it to say that I literally lost my breath when I read how low her hemoglobin had been in the past year.  When I called my Mom to give her the update (she knows a lot about hemoglobin values from raising this thal baby), she was out Christmas shopping and sounded like she, too, had been hit in the chest. Thankfully, R's recent values were much better.  Still, this Mama is worrying about her little baby from far away.

We were also thrilled to find out that R has been in the Love Without Boundaries Nutrition Program since she was a baby!  In fact, she appeared on their recent Nutrition Program update here.  It makes me so happy to know that she's getting some assistance from such a wonderful organization, but it also makes me a little sad to know that she needs this kind of assistance in her life right now.  It was amazing to see the outpouring of support when Amy Eldridge of LWB announced on Facebook that R had a family.  Supporters of LWB from all over the globe were estatic to hear that our precious little daughter would be "One Less."

Everyone please join us in hoping for a quick paperwork process to bring our second little princess home!



Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Double Your Pleasure

What ever do you do when you are sharing SO much fun, SO much happiness, SO much love that you just want more?  How about twice the laughter, twice the adorableness, twice the thalassemia?

Meet R.
(Don't feel bad for asking if it's E when she was little.  Everyone does.)
Yes, here we go again.  Get out your fork and start twirlin'.  Find your chopsticks and start slurpin'.  There's going to be twice the noodles in this house and boy are we thrilled.  Mama and Baba are dancing in the streets, and little E is in on all of the excitement, too.  (No, USCIS, we do not let E dance in the street.  Usually.)

I think somewhere, way in the back of my now dulled SAHM brain, I always knew we'd do this again.  P was a little quicker than I was to get back in the saddle, so to speak.  But not long after things started settling in and feeling "normal" with E, I started looking around at files of children casually.  I knew I wanted E to have a sister (I have one) and I knew I wanted that sister to be from China.  I also knew that I wanted that sister to have thalassemia (mine does not).  But even when I saw a file that seemed to "fit the bill" on paper, I still wasn't feeling it.

Until this:

R.  Born December 1, 2010.  Guangdong Province, China.
Her file says her favorite activity is riding the "Trojans".  Obviously, that is true.

Stop the presses.  We are in love.  Yes, all over again.  Like the song:  "It feels like the first time.  It feels like the very first time."  I knew it the minute I saw her sweet face.  She's The One.  Er, well, the second "The One".

Like with E, we wanted to find our child ourselves rather than being matched with one.  Therefore, we were (again) a man without a country.  A family without an agency.  So when we heard about R becoming available for adoption, we were again in the crazy scramble of not only putting together our LOI, but also signing on with a new agency.  But we worked lightning fast, submitted LOI, and had PA three days (!!) later, on November 13.  We have been in a tizzy of homestudy visits and paperwork madness since then.  Throw in Thanksgiving, a very special Third Birthday, a not-so-special Mama birthday, several colds, a few parties to attend and St. Nick breathing down our necks and you've got one stressed out Mama and Baba.  But every time I feel like I can't breathe, I look at E, and am reminded why the hand-wringing and sleepless nights and anxiety over stupid pieces of paper is worth it.  NOTHING is more worth it.  Yes, I'd do it all over again.  And, we are.

Emmie's now a Jie Jie!

We realize that our daughters are unique and will experience their lives on a very individual level, but we are so happy that they will have each other.  They will have the shared experiences of being adopted, being part of a transracial family, and having thalassemia.   They way they navigate all of this will differ, but they will have someone there as a source of support when they need it.

So now we wait.  And just like with E, we want R here yesterday and will do everything in our power to get her here safely and quickly.  Just like E said, "Emmie, Mama, Baba...Go China, get Roe-rie!"

Friday, November 23, 2012

Look who's 3!

We've had so much fun this year celebrating E's 3rd birthday--her first birthday with us!  Since it was her first birthday with our family, we thought we'd make a big deal out of it and have a party at a great Chinese restaurant with our entire extended family.  We are so lucky to have such a wonderful family who has embraced E with wide open arms and lots of love and affection.  E was a little shy at first being the center of so much attention, but she soon warmed right up and was soaking it all right up!  It was a great day with lots of love and laughter and yummy food!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

P and I have always felt very thankful for all of the wonderful things in our lives, most importantly our family and each other.  But, like with everything else since January 9, this Thanksgiving is so much different.  E is the pinnacle of everything we have to be thankful for.  Every turn we took, decision we made, and sign we followed led us right to her.  So today, like every day, we are thankful for our beautiful daughter who has brought so much to our lives, even more than we could have ever imagined.

Last Thanksgiving we were thankful that our long wait to meet E was finally moving towards the home stretch.  This year, I am so thankful for the sounds of giggly laughter, joyous squeals, and not-so-light-on-her-feet footsteps ringing through our house.  I am thankful that during our nighttime cuddle, even though our noses are touching, E says, "Closer, Mama."  I am thankful for the excellent medical care E is receiving.  I am thankful to be married to a man who followed my dream and made it his own, knowing that adoption is an equally wonderful way to make a family.  I am thankful to watch P and E's relationship blossom, and that P is E's favorite playmate.  I am thankful to the family and friends who lifted us up on our journey, one that has not been for the faint of heart.  I am thankful for each tantrum E throws, because it shows me that she has let her guard down, and that she can be herself without fearing that we'll turn away from her.  We are thankful to be called Mama and Baba (even if it's 1498 times a day) and to know a love that is absolutely like no other.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happiest Halloween!

Last year, we had to "dress up" E in a virtual Cookie Monster costume to while away the time as we slogged along through the The Big Wait.  This year we had the time of our lives dressing her up right here in the flesh in our home.  What a difference a year makes.

I'm not really a Halloween person, or I haven't been since about the age of 10.  But I also wasn't a Wiggles person, an Elmo person, a motherly person, an amusement park person, or a person who likes to get sandy at the beach.  Now, I'm all of those things and more.  Well, OK, I still don't like to get sandy at the beach.

E has made everything in our lives so new and different.  She has given meaning to absolutely every little thing, every little moment, in a way that I just didn't know was possible.  I could barely sleep last night, I was so excited to dress her up and make all of those trick-or-treating books we've been reading come alive for her.

Baba and I kept looking at each other as we walked through the streets of our little neighborhood, just amazed at how much fun we were having because of how much fun she was having.  She would go up to the door with Baba and ring the bell.  Heaven forbid there was a dog barking, she'd turn squealing into Baba's legs.  When someone answered the door she'd say in her tiny little voice, "Tri-O-Treeeeeeee" followed up by a little "Tayn You!" and then:  "Next House!"  And off she'd go looking for "No Ruff Ruff Ruff!" and "More KEEEEY!"  (That's, NO DOG, MORE CANDY)  When we got back home, I was delighted to see that she was just as happy to give candy out to trick-or-treaters as she was to collect the loot herself. 

Tonight I'm sitting here amazed, like I do many nights when I think of our day with our daughter, and all of the wonderful ways in which our lives have turned upside down.  How could a silly holiday focused on candy and costumes feel so special?  Because of E.  Because we have this wonderful little package to share everything with, to see life in a new way through her beautiful eyes.

I'm talking too much, I know.  You just want pics so here they are.  Plus--as all parents out there know--it's time for us to go and raid the candy. 

Picking pumpkins!

Carving pumpkins!

The cutest Pumpkin!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Food for Thought

On Friday I had the opportunity to visit my alma mater, Simmons College, to attend a panel discussion:  "Transracial Adoption: Personal, Policy, and Practice Perspectives."  The discussion was filled with rich information, and was led by Margorie Margolies, an inspiring woman and great speaker.  The presentations included both research on and personal experiences with transracial adoption, and provided a lot of food for thought for my long ride home in traffic and beyond.  What identity am I projecting on to my daughter?  How will she see her own identity?  How do others here see her, and how will others in her birth country see her?  Lots of questions that don't have answers yet, but it was also good to hear the panel underscore a few points that I already knew:  the evolution of E's identity (and ours as a family) must be a fluid thing, and parenting an internationally adopted child requires a very different--and expanded--toolbox than that of a family created through biology.

It was upliting to hear some of the ways in which transracial adoption has progressed over the years, but it was also interesting to discover that some things haven't changed much at all.  "Is she from China?" was asked 20 years ago, and is still asked today on a trip to the supermarket.  But Ms. Margolies reminded us that people who ask questions and make comments are rarely trying to be hurtful.  I know that some people--myself included at times--are quick to snap at the lady at the checkout counter who is just trying to make conversation, or perhaps create an opening to share her own adoption story.

I learned a lot, had the chance to meet some considerably more experienced adoptive parents than I, and of course chimed in to share our adoption story (which was warmly received with lots of smiles).  Since I often look to the internet or books to inform myself about adoption related issues, it was nice to experience such a wealth of knowledge right here in my own backyard.

Fifteen years ago Simmons looked a lot different, I looked a lot different (yes, I was blond for a time), and adoption was only a dream I had.  It was nice to be back there today, dream realized,  participating in a discussion of the one thing that has become most important in this woman's life.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Fall Fun!

After a long transfusion day yesterday and climbing out from under piles of laundry, sand, mail, and dust bunnies from our vacation (post to come later), it was great to have some good New England fall fun today.  Of course it was freakishly warm (80) to be apple picking, so it didn't exactly feel like fall.  But the smell of ripe apples in the orchard and warm cider donuts at the farm stand definitely said, "Fall in New England" to me.

E was so excited to go apple picking.  Perhaps too excited, I thought.  We had pumped it up so much this week talking about it, pantomiming picking apples off imaginary trees, making our bedtime stories about apple picking that E was literally bouncing off the walls with excitement when it came time go to today.  The entire ride to the orchard--including a nasty bout of traffic on 95--she kept saying, "pick apple?  pick apple?" to the point that I asked P if maybe she somehow thought we were picking apples at an amusement park or at the beach or that the apples were really chocolate.  But, to my utter glee, when we arrived at the orchard and she saw what apple picking is with her own beautiful eyes, she was even more excited.

We rode a tractor to the orchard and E told us that she liked the tractor better than "mama blue car."  When we arrived at the orchard, she took off running into the trees and started picking apples (perfect twist and pull technique, I might add) faster than we could get out the Canon.  She proceeded to pick "tiny" E apples, throwing one into the bag, and eating another at the same time.

E giggled and laughed and danced to the bluegrass band and ate and had a great time.  It was beautiful to take it all in through her eyes, to watch her riding on her Baba's shoulders "up high" to pick the perfect apple, and to share this wonderful fall family tradition with our daughter.

Yesterday, considerably less fun than today, but at least we only had
two sticks!


She would not put down the apple for one second to smile for
a picture!

"Wow, this thing really IS quite delicious!"

See a theme here?  Every pic she's got an apple
in her mouth!

I love you, a bushel and a peck!
A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck!

Riding the tractor that she likes better than my car.

Pumpkin cutie!

Cute under the donut sign, but she did NOT like the cider donuts.

Hmmm....which pumpkin do I want to pick?

And, my favorite...E was the first person at the orchard to put a
pin near Liuzhou, Guangxi China!!!  Yay!