Monday, August 29, 2011

Sidney started her first day of preschool! It’s a privilege to parent both my kids, and I couldn’t think of anything happier than watching her march in. And though I have bored my audience with words of sappiness, on more than one occasion, I couldn’t help but think about chance, circumstance, and a lot of divine intervention. And that’s not just the circumstance in Sidney’s life. We waited so long for all the firsts and wondered so many times, silently and aloud, if any of this might transpire. It reminded me that despite all the madness going on in the world, there is so much good. 

And according to my good friend Jill who happens also to be the assistant to the teacher (so cool), Sidney had a great morning! By the time I picked her up, she was exhausted. Jill reminded me, kids in preschool aren’t just playing. They are receiving directions and paying attention. It all makes a little girl tired!

All this took place after a super weekend. Grandma JeanJean and Grandpa BobBob took the kids for 2 nights. That’s right, 2 nights! Instead of running ourselves crazy, Tom and I decided to do a couple of things in the area. It’s easy to forget what’s outside the front door. I got to try a coffee shop in town.  We also tried a great Thai restaurant about 20 minutes from our house in an area that is working to revitalize. Very cool! And honestly, I watched a lot of TV. Really exciting, I know. But in reality, I don’t get to watch much that doesn’t involve Elmo or Star Wars.  

We are off to taekwondo practice.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

School Daze

As my father’s school teacher said “you kids are going to be the death of me!” Of course, unlike his school teacher, I do not intend to keel over the day after making this statement. But you get my drift. I told Sidney today, she is going to become very good friends with the corner if she can’t stop being so spunky. Whenever she acts up, someone turns to me as I am about to go into full discipline mode and says “isn’t this what you wanted?” Yes, but she is SO spunky! I am certain all this drama is due to our change in schedule. Half days the first three days of school, then full days the last two. She misses her brother being home full time.

Eli came home the first day of school with a football flyer. I forced myself not to scream long enough to find out its flag football. Last night, he was so enthusiastic, he had Tom teaching him how to throw the football. I am so thankful his dad played sports in high school. Mom is completely clueless. Outside of following the Chicago Bears with Tom in the fall, I know nothing. When I say nothing, I mean, I understand a touchdown and that’s it. And each year, I make a diligent effort to understand the game. I won’t deny the players are fun to look at. But, each time, I am bored senseless, and I don’t return to watching it. I know it’s totally un-American. I only look for the score when I hear Tom bellering in the next room. 

 I posted a couple of pictures of Sunday. We went to the school to drop the kids supplies. I don’t have Sidney’s backpack yet. I am waiting for it in the mail, so she threw on an ancient Dora hand me down. Then the next day, I forced Eli to do the traditional first day shot outside. 

OK, off to do something productive.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Big Reveal!

Woo hoo! The carpet came out of the living room today.  Next step, a professional to tell us if we are able to refinish it. 


                Side 1 complete (Mom & Dad, this is the side with the hutch).

  And because she needs to be in the spotlight."Get  your shoes on!" Too many staples and nails. After pushing all the furniture to the opposite side of the room and tackling the 2nd half.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Four, three, two......

Today is the last day of summer break. I have mixed emotions. I am elated I will have time to myself, to write again, clean my house in peace, and finished delayed projects, but my house is going to be so quiet! Sidney starts preschool three mornings per week, and I remember, the two years Eli was in preschool were some of the fastest I can remember. I blinked my eyes, and he was in kindergarten. But, I also know I’ve waited a long time for this new chapter to begin. Sidney doesn’t actually start until a week from Monday, but Eli’s shipping out on Monday morning. Woohoo! 

With all this spare time, I plan on writing again, but not before all of our “after China” projects are completed. Notice we aren’t breaking any records for speed, starting the projects 2 years after travel. A new deck door was already installed in the back of the house. Our next project is to pull up our carpet and expose the hardwood underneath. Our house was built in the early 1900’s, and we assume it’s original. So, tomorrow is the big reveal. Today, it looks like someone took my living room, threw it in the air, and let it land. 

My new favorite place to hang out.

The beginning of this week was less chaotic, visiting a local children’s museum. One of the exhibits featured cultures from around the world, including China. In each section, the kids could push buttons and hear spoken language. As Eli pushed buttons to hear phrases, in Chinese, he enthusiastically told his sister. Sidney timidly stood outside the area with her hands over her ears, frantically waving, signaling Eli to stop the recording. An instance occurred on Monday which was much the same. Tom was getting his hair cut. His beautician is Korean. I had to drop Sidney to Tom anyway, so I met him at the shop. As his beautician, an adoptee in her 50’s, warmly said hello, Sidney began shutting down.

And because I insisted on having my bunny in another photo.

Today, as I worked to take everything from our living room into the kitchen, we ran across the digital album from travel. Sidney took immediately interest. She was fine running through all the photos of Mommy and Daddy in Beijing. But, when we got to the actual day we met, she began waving her arms again and told me she didn’t like the people in the photos. Further in and more pictures of Chinese people, and she continued, commenting”these people hurt me. These people don’t like me.” I am very grateful to have even a preliminary understanding of what is frightening her. It allowed me to reassure her, telling her I don’t know what happened because mommy wasn’t there in the orphanage, but now, she is safe and nobody will EVER hurt her. What a comfort to know we are on track to better understanding of what is going on in her mind.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Nine, eight, seven.......

Nine days and counting. Did that sound desperate? It’s time for school to start, soon! I remember how much can be accomplished in 2 hrs. 45 min, a few times a week.  Not that I’m keeping track. Eli is in school all day, and this is the period of time I have with Sidney in preschool!

Finishing the summer off with swimming lessons for Eli.

I have been thinking a lot, as I always do. Analyzing and reanalyzing. My mother and I are known for our analyzing conversations, to which my dad says to my mom “Jean, stop analyzing.” I thought about our role as adoptive parents and our tendency to focus solely on the adjustment of our children. We push our own needs aside. Down time, time to accomplish without kids whining, and a chance to take a breath are vital. This isn’t a selfish statement, it’s the truth. Two years ago, diapers and a one year old was a huge change. I had a self-sufficient seven year old. Adoptive parents are hesitant about admitting any of this. We wait years to travel, and tell ourselves it’s selfish to behave in any manner other than sheer elation. We sometimes talk about our struggles coming home, but we don’t readily admit anything past discussion of attachment and bonding. 

Dad succumbing to social media and his first FaceBook account.

Thankfully, after a couple of weeks, getting back into the routine of having a small child in the house, things balanced out. I didn’t have long to contemplate the change, because we started a new phase in the adoption, medical care. And I started writing again which is something I will probably take on in another month or so. For me, it feels good to contribute financially. But before I can get back to mining in Australia or information on the supermarket industry in post-Soviet countries, I am going to paint our walls a different color. 

Speaking of contributions, I took one for the team and started cleaning the garage. It’s a beast of a project, but it is one of those projects that have been put off too long. So today, I might do something exciting like go and buy a push broom! Take a look at the photo below. I had my back to Sidney, thinking she was playing out in the driveway, only to hear “look at me mommy.” The picture doesn’t look as high as she was actually sitting. Nor does it show her climbing up with the bike leaning on only it’s kickstand. Look at her legs between the seat and the bar, and you have some idea. I obviously didn’t have a camera with me at the time, so I quickly used my cell. I can’t believe how much balance it took to get up on the seat without falling over. She has no fear, and her mother is going to give her mother a heart attack!  

Monday, August 8, 2011

Rainy Monday

Eli = “Mom do you know what I am still emotionally scarred about? The time Grandma Jean got on the phone and started talking to me about pantyhose.” That’s what he gets for sounding like his mother on the phone. Though he contends he was speaking in a normal voice. And as he reads over my shoulder, he wants me to clarify; he was, in fact, using a REGULAR voice! Eli makes me laugh every day. 

It was a rainy but productive Monday. Is there nothing more exhilarating than a clean refrigerator? Especially when my cook husband has filled the contents with edible leftovers from last night. I count myself as one of the luckiest women in America. I hate to cook, and I love to bake. This doesn’t work well raising a family. I am fortunate my husband cooks almost every meal. 

I accomplished a portion of back to school shopping. My 9 year old is in a size 14. I’m not surprised. He’s huge. His feet are larger than mine. At birth, the doctor estimated his adult size as 6 foot 5 inches, and I fully believe he might reach this height. At the opposite end of the spectrum, I am finally taking the 12 mnth clothes out of Sidney’s drawers. She’s in 18 mnths. The challenge is to find clothes mature enough for a 3 year old. I know the words mature and 3 don’t really fit well together, but I am careful. We already battle people thinking she is younger.

Supply shopping is half done. Sidney needs a few things. Evidentially, 3 year old preschool also has a supply list. I find it completely adorable. 8 large crayons, 2 large glue sticks (if she’s anything like her mother was in preschool & kindergarten she will need double this amount), 1 large bottle of glue, and folders. Isn’t this the fun we have been waiting for? I love normal life!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Adventures on the River

Over the summer months, it's not uncommon to hear the boys in the house rumbling around early in the morning. This early morning pursuit is in an effort to find fish and eat PopTarts. This morning, Eli shared Dad with Dustin and the girls (our good friends). Sometimes the simplest activities are the most fun. At least that's our experience as parents. A shallow river and sand bar occupy lots of living things, making it an adventuresome place for kids to explore and discover.  

As I heard Tom come into the room to tell me goodbye, I mumbled something about taking the camera. And I have to include the adorable idea my friend Jill sent with the girls.I need to buy some of the fish shaped bread. Too much fun! 

Here's a recap of the adventure. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Medical Update and Other Ramblings

I haven’t updated on Sidney’s hands in a long time. It’s hard to remember to write anything about her hands. Again, Sidney has fibular hemimelia. Fibular hemimelia means she is missing her fibula bone (smaller bone in back below the knee) on the left side. As a result, she has a limb difference with a smaller foot. Her smaller foot has four toes. Hand anomalies are common in people with fibular hemimelia. Sidney has three fingers on each hand with thumbs on each side. She had syndactyly or webbing on the right hand between her middle and pinkie finger. On her left hand, the middle finger was starting to grow wider instead of longer. 
Spending time as a family during the Boy Scout family swim.

Two reconstructive surgeries were completed, in January and May 2010. On the right side, her fingers were separated and on the left her growth plate was reconstructed on the impacted middle finger and pinned. If I had to guess, I say the left hand will require more treatment than the right. As she grows, the growth plate will probably continue to change. We have decided if surgery is based solely on cosmetic appearance, we will not move forward. If it is for better function, we will consider the doctors recommendations. Our next checkup with the hand surgeon is in October. If anyone runs across my blog and wants any information on orthopedic special needs, please feel free to contact me on the blog. Typically anomalies like Sidney’s are caused by environmental exposure or illness of the birth mother during preganancy. If we were to adopt again (more than likely we are done, can the price go down please???) , we would seek out orthopedic needs specifically.

Typically orthopedic needs are visible. A parent develops a thick skin and becomes very used to staring. It’s typically an unknowing glace, followed by overt staring. I don’t know how many times I have caught people staring as they quickly look away. I want to tell them, it’s ok. I hadn’t ever seen anything like this prior to adoption. If we were not Sidney’s parents, I would have the same natural curiosity. Staring doesn’t always mean something bad. Typically, it means someone is trying to find understanding. I have only received a few comments that were real zingers, so I am choosing to give people the benefit of the doubt. Actually, people make stupider comments on the basis of race which is an entirely different blog! Unfortunately racism creeps into the places a person least expects. And when we experience it, and we most certainly have, it never gets easier. Fortunately, it makes me more convicted each time. 
Daddy rocks....he takes me down the slide!

Since her last surgery was over a year ago, this break between any medical care is awesome. Sidney was in a cast, last June, so we only made it to the pool a handful of times.  We have definitely more than made up for lost time. By noon, the kids are climbing the walls, and it’s a great alternative to sitting in the air conditioning. This week it was 96 degrees, and none of us likes being inside very long. My other motivation is getting Eli caught up to speed swimming. He is great in the 3 ft., frolicking around, but he is not safe in any depth. I read an article on drowning deaths, so I have been vigilant about getting there as much as possible.

Tonight, we had a boy scout swim party. Much to Eli’s chagrin, this was a family swim! I loved going on an alternate time to public swim. Sidney with her prized $2 boat in the kiddie pool while I lounged around doing nothing is my speed for a Friday night.