Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fun Pics!

Here are a few pictures from the past week.  Many of them are messy-faced pasta pics, and a few others where she's not covered in Nana's gravy...

E loves sitting at the computer and "working".

I've never seen a kid so happy to be at Ikea looking at shelving.

At the Ikea workstation planning our storage solutions.

Striking a pose while eating Nana's meatballs.

E really loved those meatballs!  She's pretty much licking the bowl.

A round of applause for the microwave heating up a 3rd round of meatballs.

I know I'm so cute!

Auntie's chicken parm and spaghetti...this kid eats everything!

I finished my chicken and spaghetti...why not move on to pizza?!!?

Sunday, January 29, 2012


When we were in China, E fell asleep standing up in her Pack and Play.  No matter how much we tried to comfort her, she was so tense, so terrified, that she would stand up until she collapsed into a sad puddle.  We were all a sad puddle.  She wouldn't even sit on the bed to watch TV or relax with us...it was as if being so close to us strangers was just too much.

When we got home from China, E briefly took to her bed in her room, but then we decided to move her into a Pack and Play in our room.  That night, she fell asleep looking at us in our bed. 

The next night, we tried the Pack and Play again.  Mama was in bed, looking into E's eyes, and E stood up and motioned that she wanted to get in bed with me.  At first I didn't even know what she meant, because she had never wanted to even sit with me.  I picked her up and plopped her beside me, and she absolutely beamed with happiness!  She froze up when P tried to join us, but as soon as he left, she played and giggled and touched my face and hair.  It seemed like she wanted to get close to me, to see what I'm all about.

We moved the slumber party to E's bed for the past few nights.  We play and giggle and she falls asleep.  It's like our secret time, and she clearly feels very safe.  I don't cuddle her, because I don't want to push it.  But tonight, little E took my hand and wrapped my arm around her tight.  When I moved it for a minute to scratch my nose, she grabbed it again and wrapped it around her tiny body.   Every time I moved my hand, she pulled it to her tight.

Velcro baby?  Anxious attachment?  Yes, both.  But I am this little angel's mother, and in the short time I've known her, I've seen the changes.  I've seen her open up.  I've seen her crave my kisses and affection.  I kiss her boo boos 50 times a day, and now she wants me close, when only a short time ago, she pushed me away.

Tiny steps, for a tiny princess.

It's late...pictures soon.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

1st U.S. Transfusion

Can I just say that my daughter ROCKS?  This girl is the bravest, strongest girl I have ever met in my entire life.  Two days, hours and hours of doctors appointments, unlimited strange faces, SEVEN needle sticks, and a bag of blood later and this girl is smiling and laughing like nothing hit her.

We saw the team at CHB on Monday and were told that E (and I!) needed a transfusion.  Oddly enough, the evil 104 temp knocked me on my butt so much that my heartrate was the same as E's, and my hgb was significantly lower than E's (8.2 vs 6.8)!  Her hematologist (who, oddly enough, is my hematologist) noted that E looked much better than I did!  Which, as far as I'm concerned, is awesome news!

So, we headed in on Tuesday for her first transfusion.  We almost went for a mother/daughter transfusion (think: mother/daughter mani-pedi, just a little less glamorous), but I decided to hold out so I could focus on E.  Saying that she was a trooper is the biggest understatement ever.  She had 3 needlesticks the previous day, and had 4 to get her IV started for the transfusion.  AND SHE DIDN'T CRY.  The poor thing has teeny tiny "stringy" veins that have been used and scarred a lot in her little life.  She was so much braver than she even needed to be, considering what she went through.  She deserved a good cry!

The transfusion itself was uneventful.  E was deemed the new favorite at the CAT/CR.  More than one nurse threatened to take her home because she laughed and giggled and was so sweet and cooperative.  Children's Boston is such a great place...they think of every little thing to make it easier on the kids.  Child life was there all day with toys and bubbles and an ipad and all kinds of other distractions for her.  The singing clowns came by and sang a song to E.  It makes something that is difficult much easier.  On mom and dad, too.

Here's what you really want...

Kissing one of the 7 boo boos E got.
Yes, that's E's bow in my hair.

This is literally how excited E got when the blood pressure cuff inflated.
That explains why the nurses all wanted to be covering our room.

Again, excitement over having one's temperature taken.
The nurses couldn't get enough of this girl.  Neither can we!
Just hanging out, getting my blood at the CAT/CR.

Squeaky shoes were a hit at Children's.
 E is my hero!!  And thanks to the awesome staff at CHB for making our day that much easier.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Not only did P and I come home with a living, breathing souvenir from our trip, but we also came home to a house that we have lived in for a total of 2 days.  So, we went from living out of suitcases to out of moving boxes.  Need a clean pair of underpants?  Go to the basement and rifle through 50 unlabelled boxes.  So, from chaos to chaos.

Our trip home from China was as good and as bad as can be expected.  It's a freaking long plane ride.  Period.  No way to slice it.  No number of snacks or toys or distractions will change the fact that it is basically 24 hours of travelling until you are home.  The highlight was that E slept for most of it.  The lowlight was that I quickly and violently came down with some sort of flu and a 104 degree fever.  So I spent the trip with my teeth chattering and crawling out my own skin.

We arrived home to a small welcoming committee at Logan, still too big for our little E.  She kept her little eyes down as her new family marveled at just how beautiful she is in real life.  We headed home to a kitchen overflowing with homemade food and all kinds of things for E from Auntie Sue Sue and Nana and Grampy.  Her room was decorated beautifully and there were so many new things for her.  P and I walked around in utter amazement at what had been done in our absence.  It literally brought tears to my eyes.  Or, were they frying from my fever?!  Either way, it was the kindest gesture I had ever seen.

Our first few days have been a little bumpy, mostly with bedtime and dinner time.  Otherwise, E has been very happy full of giggles and smiles.  She's warming up to P and getting used to her new home-as are we!  Her favorite thing seems to be the Wiggles, and I'm pretty sure her first words will be "Hot Potato."  She still has moments when she has to stand at the shower door and stare at me, but overall we are absolutely shocked at how well things have been going since we have been home.

E reading her awesome Hello Kitty welcome home card from Kaylyn

Things that we have seen emerge since we got home:
  • She says "bye bye" and waves if she's in the mood.
  • She's learning some of the moves to the Wiggles greatest hits.
  • She will taste ANYTHING, and pretty much just eats what we eat. 
  • She loves quiche!
  • We put long noodles in Nana's homemade soup and she slurped them down like they were Nissin noodles!
  • She accepts our hugs and kisses, but doesn't give them out and I'm not asking (yet).
  • She will kiss Hello Kitty and Kai-Lan goodnight.
  • If she's in the mood, she'll sit alone with P and play with no problem.
  • She likes playing with her wooden blocks, play tea set, cash register, and shopping cart.
  • She WILL NOT take a nap, no matter what time she wakes up.
  • She does not like having her face wiped after meals.
  • We can't seem to figure out what bedtime would be acceptable to her. 
  • She has the craziest, most impressive facial expressions ever and is a total ham.
  • She loves to host tea parties and "clink" the cups together when I say "Cheers!"
  • She knows how to do "High Five" (which we tried in China and she'd have no part of)
  • She'll say "yay!" and clap her hands when a song finishes playing.
  • If I lean over to pick up something, she'll run over and "bop" me on the behind with her head or hands.
  • She likes having as many blankets as possible on her when she sits on the couch.
  • She likes to play with her toys while she is sitting on the couch under her blankets.
  • She LIKES having her nails clipped!  When she saw me come with the clippers she literally held out each finger to me.
  • She knows who is Mama and who is Baba, but she uses the word "mama" just to get anyone's attention.
  • She's the cutest kid EVER.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Miss / Won't Miss

Overall, we are really going to miss China.  We've had a nice time here, but like most everyone at the end of their adoption trip, we are ready to get home, and start finding our new "normal."

Here are a few specifics that we'll miss, and won't miss...

  • Miss:  The people.  We have met some wonderful people here in China.  The people working in our hotel, our guide Helen, the kind strangers who we sat with at dim sum, the shop owners and many others who have tried to make us feel welcome.
  • Won't Miss:  The driving.  Dear God, the driving here is the most terrifying thing we have ever experienced, with the exception of being a pedestrian in all of this crazy driving.
  • Miss:  The food!  We have thoroughly enjoyed the delicious food at both the Marriott Nanning and Holiday Inn Shifu.  We also really enjoyed a local place Tao Tao Ju.  I will say that I did an excellent job gathering some delicious dim sum for us even though no one speaks English there.
  • Won't Miss:  The staring.  People, give us a break.  We are not some sort of side show at the circus, but you make us feel that way.  It's just odd because at home if I were to see something considered "weird" (and I don't even know what that would be), I would not stare.  Like, two transvestites with a baby wouldn't make me blink.
  • Miss:  Shamian Island.  We really have enjoyed our walks to the island and the lovely shops.  It is a quiet escape from the madness around our hotel.
  • Won't Miss:  The kids peeing and pooping in the street.  Yes, I know, it's a cultural thing, yadda yadda.  But, still, I'm sick of rolling the Happy Dino stroller through poop and saying "Dog?  Human?  Other?"
  • Miss: Our daily Executive Lounge debriefing (read: cocktails) with the Lillies. Emma plays and giggles, our E sits and stares giving us all the hairy eyeball, we all eat snacks and talk about the day. The Lillies are those "salt of the earth" kind of people...they have been a great source of support as well as a ton of laughs on a trip that isn't always funny.
  • Won't Miss:  Living in hotels.  Sure, the daily maid service is nice, but honestly, P makes the bed every day anyways.  Although, the hotel rooms aren't much smaller than the condo we just moved out of, but with a 3rd person it's rough. 
  • Miss / Won't Miss:  The pedestrian walking street outside of the HI GZ Shifu.  We actually love this street and all of the sights and shops, and have spent many hours walking here.  But it is so crowded sometimes that you can't even move, and then all of a sudden cars will come barrelling down the street (P says, "What the F is a PEDESTRIAN street here?!!?!?") and we nearly get killed.  Plus, there's NO regard for the stroller, and the orange-haired 80's style Duran Duran teenage boys smoking cigarettes everywhere get tiresome.
  • Miss:  Being in China right before Chinese New Year.  I don't think I could take the crowds during the actual holiday, but it is awesome being here right before.  We've watched the red lanterns go up, the orange trees being put out everywhere, paper cutouts being hung, and there's a general happiness and bustle that is so great to be a part of.
  • Won't Miss:  E's crazy schedule + the need to be outside walking all hours of the day + night.  (I say this because I hope we leave this behind as we transition from Guangzhou to Arlington.) 

The last hurrah with the Lillies (for now!)

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    A picture is just...a picture

    P and I are at the point during our trip where we are wearing out.  China is not a vacation, and it's even less so with a child who is profoundly sad.  Other families start turning some imaginary corner, and we sit here and wait for our turn.  We skip meals, cancel outings with our guide, walk for 8 hours at a time, do anything for our sweet, sweet daughter.  We are at the point where we look at each other and say:  "She can't stand us." 

    We went into adoption knowing all of this.  We did not expect unicorns and rainbows, in fact I am a pessimist by nature, and always expect the worst.  Still, it is so very different--so very painful--to live the worst.  We love little E so much, and we just want to soothe her, to make her pain go away.  But it is hard--no, impossible--to do so when she really wants nothing to do with us.  Especially P.  She has completely shut him out, cowering away when he comes near her.  No soothing voice, no gentle touch, nothing will comfort her.  Even attempts at playful times are met with complete disinterest.  Singing, dancing, bouncing a ball, putting on a Chinese children's video, acting silly, going to a park...none of it works.  At a park surrounding by children laughing and playing, E slid down the slide a couple of times and wanted to leave.

    This is adoption.  This is real.  This is not the storybook version, and this is what we were ready for.  But, can you ever really be ready for this?  I think not.  Reading it and trying to prepare yourself is very different than the real thing. 

    What hurts the most is that we have SO MUCH LOVE in our hearts for E.  We look at her and melt.  We just want to erase her pain, and bring her closer to us.  Small moments where we catch a smile over some noodles are what is powering us through the final leg of our trip.

    So, here are the pictures.  But, remember, they do not tell the entire story.

    Our love to everyone back home.  We miss you terribly.  T + P + E

    Sunday, January 15, 2012

    E: Quick Facts + Video

    Here's what we've learned about our little E:

    1. She hates going to bed.
    2. She hates waking up (ironic).
    3. She is excellent with sharing.
    4. She responds to her Chinese name, Yiquan.
    5. She is great in crowds.
    6. She is super patient waiting while we shop.
    7. She loves having her teeth brushed.
    8. She loves her hair bow and touches it whenever I say "pretty girl!!"
    9. She loves seeing herself on the camera or camcorder screen.
    10. She loves bath time.
    11. She speaks to us with her eyes.
    12. She knows who "Mama" and "Baba" are.
    13. She likes routines...if we do something once, we have to do it over and over.
    14. She has warmed to Mama...Baba less so at this point.
    15. She kissed Hello Kitty for the first time today!
    16. She is learning to play catch.
    17. She does not:  wave, say "hi" or "bye", or smile too much.
    18. She loves yogurt, dry cereal, corn, clementines, and noodles.
    19. She is a neat freak:  she hates a drop of water on her face and strings on the clementine sections.
    20. Her favorite thing in the world thus far seems to be her [slowly falling apart] Happy Dino stroller.
    Check out her cuteness:

    Saturday, January 14, 2012

    Medical Exam, Shamian, and the Other E

    Today little Miss E had a very busy day that we thought would wear her out, but instead wore us out.  She is a night owl!

    We were happy to be able to go to the breakfast buffet and actually eat the 3 of us.  She refuses to get out of her chariot, but at least she sat there and ate.  After we met Helen in the lobby and E waited patiently while we did some paperwork.  She is clearly more relaxed when she hears Helen speaking Mandarin.

    After that was off through the pet and spice markets to Shamian for E's medical exam.  The walk was really neat and we enjoyed seeing the "real" China and chatting with Helen.

    Next was the medical exam, which E passed with flying colors!  She was not very happy to see the doctors (attention CHB:  send in the clowns, the dogs, the circus, whatever when we come in!!!), but she was so cooperative that even though she was sad, she took her own coat off and lifted up her shirt because she knew what was going on.  The only time she really cried was after the TB test.

    Post-TB test

    ...and a few minutes later, she was as happy as a clam.

    After the medical exam, we strolled lovely Shamian Island.  It is so much quieter and more peaceful.  Helen gave us the deluxe tour, pointing out interesting things and good places to take photos.  She is a total peach!

    We ran into the Lillie Family during our stroll.  The two Es became fast friends.  Our E is definitely good at sharing.  I wish the Lillie's Emma would teach our E how to lighten up and smile a bit!  She is one chipper, pretty baby!  It is so fabulous to be here with the Lillies....I think we are all good for each other!  The adults compare notes while the girls play (and eat food off the carpet)!  We all really did a number on the Executive Lounge last night...I hope we haven't been banned.  I keep forgetting that we won't be taking the Lillies back to Boston with us!

    We rounded out our stroll with a stop at the famous Red Couch in the White Swan Hotel and Starbucks!  As much as P and I don't "do" chain coffee shops, it was nice to go somewhere so familiar to us.  FYI, the mochas taste exactly the same as they do in Boston.

    Although E looks like she needs a nap in the Red Couch photo, we did NOT share our coffees with her.

    The rest of our day was spent wheeling around Miss E, which is her favorite thing in the world.  We took walk after walk after walk.  Even after we shut things down with the Lillies at the Executive Lounge, we had to take E out for her nighttime stroll through the super bustling pedestrian area that makes Times Square look tame.  Arlington is going to be very boring for our little night owl.

    Ni Hao to everyone at home!  We love you and miss you all very much and thank you for all of your support.  Love, T + P + E

    Friday, January 13, 2012

    Playing, Planes + Pizza

    What the heck are you people in the US (and elsewhere?) doing?!?!  Praying, saying the Rosary, wishing on a star, performing an exorcism?

    Being a superstitious Italian lady, for fear of jinxing us, I am not going to make any statements about E getting better or turning points or any of that.  Being an educated adoptive parent, I'm not going to assume that the grieving and pain has stopped.  But something is different.  Something is happening that has allowed us to stop holding our breath. 

    Re-entry is always bumpy for E.  When she wakes up, she's scared and confused.  But, who wouldn't be, given her situation?  Today was no different.  The grumpies lasted through breakfast, until we took the little princess out in her chariot.  Girlfriend LOVES the stroller and being OUT.  She also loves the five-story mall that our hotel is attached to.  We pushed her around for a few hours, played with her, took her into stores, and she just takes it all in.  She is extremely patient, and doesn't demand that we buy her things.  She'll play with a toy, and when we tell her "all done" she's OK with moving on.  We bought her a little push toy that she got a kick out of, and we let her ride one of the mall rides.  We saw lots of smiles and giggles.

    After the mall, it was time to embark on the massive re-packing project we had in order to leave Nanning.  It was hard saying goodbye to the place where we first met our dear daughter, but we felt ready to move on.  I think that because we met E in our hotel room, she associated the "ding" of the elevator and the actual room with being "kidnapped" by us.  It was time to say goodbye.

    Next was our adventure for E's passport and on to the airport.  Our guide, Cindy, waited and waited and came to tell us that the passport was not going to be ready and would have to be sent to Guangzhou.  A few minutes later we were sitting in traffic and Cindy got a phonecall saying the passport was ready!  Like out of a movie, she jumped out the car into traffic and ran to get the passport!  She came back with it in a flash and we were off for a crazy ride to the airport.  If you haven't been to China then you have no idea how insane the driving is.  There's no way to explain it, and we thougth about taking a video but the jerking motion and constant near-miss crashes would certainly make you barf on your laptop.  We made the flight by the skin of our teeth, exacerbated by the fact that the gate was changed and we were in the wrong line and nearly went to Shanghai.  Would have loved to see Shanghai, but the little detour would not have fit into our schedule on this trip!

    E's first flight was largely uneventful.  There were two other families with their adopted children on the flight, and at first I was so silly as to think that E was going to be the only one not to cry.  No such luck.  The others wailed the first half of the trip, E wailed the second.  But, all in all, she did extremely well.

    We met our guide, Helen, who IS THE BEST GUIDE IN ALL OF CHINA!!!!  No kidding, she is awesome.  She is such a natural at this.  She was able to tell us that E calls for me (Mama) and that one of the phrases that she has been using a lot (sounds like "Aii-yanhh!!") means "Let's go" or "Hurry up already" or "What the heck are you slowpokes doing let's get going here!!!"  This information meshes pretty well with our impression that E is a diva.

    We checked in at the Holiday Inn Shifu (not like the Holiday Inn in the US at all) and decided to brave the drizzle and head out to the pedestrian walking street for dinner.  It was bustling with people and all lit up beautifully.  E wasn't fazed at all by the sounds or tight crowds.  We headed to Papa John's for some pizza, which we found out E loves!  Not so much for the pepperoni, though.  It was great because E really started to warm up to P over our pizza dinner!  Not surprising P would bond with his daughter over pizza...

    Even though it was really late, we decided to stick with the routine and give E her bath.  Little did we know that she was up for an all-night suds-fest, but it was so fun to see her happy and playful.  We rounded it all out with a little toothbrushing, and nighty-night. 

    E is ONE. BRAVE. GIRL.  The bravest I know.  She's strong-willed, funny, gentle, patient, and simply adorable. 

    Thank you again to everyone for all of your well-wishes.  Whatever you are doing...it seems to be working for now.  We know that there is a long, long road ahead of us, and we are ready to take each and every step together, the 3 of us against the world.  Our love to everyone, T + P + E