Thursday, February 23, 2017

Birthday celebrated

Y.'s birthday was duly celebrated last night with everyone in attendance except for B. who had work and a rehearsal. 

There was her chosen store-bought cake... because they are fancy.

Y. blew out her candles all on her own this year. Last year she didn't have enough diaphragm support to blow out even one on her own.

A happy girl and a much less manic smile.

On to presents! Look at that high kneel! She couldn't do that last year, either.

Yes, my children enjoy hair dye... Why do you ask?

Seaweed snacks (you can't see the huge smile behind the package) bought specially for her from TM.

The sweetest moment of the evening... G. gave Y. the gift she is giving her. Y. opened it and says, "But this is your favorite kitty." There is a pause, we all wait, and G. says, "That's OK, he likes you." The room then erupts in sighs and murmurs of, "That's so sweet." A. may have sniffed a bit. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Some days the words don't come

I have sat staring at this computer for far longer than I should have today, hoping for some type of blog post to fall from my fingers. So far, there's nothing there. While I would like to tell you that it was because I was being incredibly productive elsewhere... packing boxes, organizing, taking care of children... it isn't. Well, I did go to an orthodontist appointment with K. and picked P. up from the stable, but that was it. This is my second day of extreme malaise. I just can't get myself moving in any productive way. (Yes, it happens to the best of us.) Instead, I sit around and wonder why I'm sitting around, figuratively feeling as though I'm banging my head against a brick wall.

Brick wall 1

I stare at houses on Zillow. I am finding it difficult to live in this limbo. Knowing I have got to get this house together so we can sell it, but in reality it feels very remote that we will be selling and moving. If I knew where we would be moving to next, it would feel more real and more motivating. But, in reality, I can't know the where... we can't even begin looking for the where.. until we have an offer on this house. It always comes down to money, you know. So I will have to find something else to motivate me.

Brick wall 2

I spend a lot of time reminding people that children from hard places really did come from hard places and it affected their brains. Of course, they are not going to learn like children from stable and healthy backgrounds. Why should they? Oh how I wish that the people preparing adoptive families to adopt children would mention the post-adoption learning issues that often go hand-in-hand.

Brick wall 3

I advocate for children who need a family. Particularly a little girl like two of my own girls. I know their diagnosis is scary sounding. I know it's a leap of faith. But we are still talking about a child's life here. It's frustrating. I don't know how to convince people that parenting a child with an intellectual disability is not really all that different from parenting a neurotypical child. Both have their challenges, they are just different challenges. I don't actually think in reality it ends up being that big of a deal and I don't know how to get people to believe me. And still a little girl sits, wasting her childhood, when she could be in a family receiving love and support.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Happy 10th Birthday, Y.!

Today is Y.'s 10th birthday. She has been eagerly anticipating it for weeks now, and knows exactly what she wants and how she wants to celebrate. What a change from a year ago when she had been home just a month and life was still so overwhelming and confusing. We will be celebrating tomorrow night, because J. teaches his night class on Tuesdays, and Y. decided that she wanted to do the day after. She did have her birthday donuts this morning, though.

Last year, we asked through a friend acting as interpreter, what Y. missed most in regards to food, and then she also helped us find that for Y. This year, no interpreter needed. She wants chicken and jiaozi (dumplings), and a fancy cake like H. had for her birthday. That's pretty easy, as it was a store bought and decorated cake.

Last year, I guessed at what Y. would like to receive as birthday presents, and opening the gifts was exciting, but she really didn't do much with the gifts afterwards. It has just been in the past month or so that I have seen her get her gifts from last year out and play with them. I think I mentioned before that she told me, "You gave me these presents for my birthday last year, but I don't know why." If this one statement doesn't sum up the confusion children can experience due to the transition of family, language, and culture, I don't know what does. This year, she knows exactly what items she would like to receive for her birthday, and is greatly anticipating opening her presents.

Last year, Y. still had little stamina, lost her balance and fell a lot (including down the stairs a few time... scary), and needed to use a walker to navigate distances longer across the rooms at home. This year, she can walk blocks and blocks without walker or crutches, jumps on the trampoline, and can do five sit-ups. For a child with no core muscle strength at all a year ago, this is pretty darn good.

Last year we were still in the very early stages of getting to know one another. Things were headed in a positive direction, but we were still all very much in the lingering house guest phase of adopting a child. This year, we all feel much more comfortable. Y. feels like our daughter and I'm pretty sure to Y., we feel like her parents. She is opening up about things in her past, she accepts comfort, she laughs, and she can pitch the occasional fit as well. We are all in a very good place together these days.

Y. is a joy. She is bright and caring and funny. She loves playing with her brothers and sisters and joins right in with their pretend games without any hesitation. She is uncannily like me, especially with her need to be right and her like to win tendencies. It's actually amazing we don't clash more than we do. J. did mention that adolescence could be a challenge, though. The scarier thought is that she will be just one of a few people who could have challenging adolescences, though. I'm not going to ask for trouble at this point in life.

Happy Birthday, Y.! I love you so very much. You add much joy and love to our lives.

And to think we could have missed this.

Monday, February 20, 2017

What my family does when I'm away

 They go to the park.

They work on fairy houses. (Thanks, to M. for the additions.)

And J. got to listen to the question, "Mommy, airplane, come home?" probably at least one million times.

I have a new article published. Click and share away. Five Unique Questions to Ask Yourself before Adopting 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

What I didn't know I needed

If I had unlimited funds and unlimited room, this is the little souvenir I would be bringing home from my little judging jaunt.

Do you not love it? It's a panda piano. Who doesn't need and love a panda piano? It's made my Pearl River Pianos. (It's a  Chinese business out of Guangzhou, hence the name Pearl River, since it runs right through the city. I've seen it. The river, not the company.) The recital halls where I was judging are attached to a piano store, and are owned by a friend of my mom's. He has two of these pianos in his store. I love them.

Sadly, even just one will not fit into my carry on.

Friday, February 17, 2017


It doesn't always pay to go out of town. Because when you do you miss exciting events. Exciting events such as having a snake arrive via FedEx to your house. I mean, how often does that happen in a person's life? Not many, I think, unless you happen to be a snake breeder. And how many people are snake breeders I wonder. (Yes, I'm kind of punchy of the moment. I've spend five hours listening to piano students play and writing encouraging comments to each of them. It leaves you feeling a little loopy.)

But back to the snake. M. bought a snake. For various reasons, the snake was to be delivered to our house. This morning. Evidently there was some drama involving the snake arriving. Or not. But I wasn't there, so haven't gotten the full scoop yet, which means you don't get it, either. The most you get is third hand news without any amusing details. Sorry. Oh, and you get a picture of a snake, which then puts you and me on the same level of knowledge regarding the snake.

Here's Geb. The banana ball python.

As you can see, Geb, the banana ball python did arrive safely in his box. I suddenly have visions of old Disney movies... The Jungle Book, Robin Hood (wasn't there a snake in that)... running through my head when I look at him. Geb is not living at my house. I wasn't there to be sure, but I'm pretty sure that several of my other children are disappointed by that fact. No, Geb went with M., his rightful owner. I am told his is in his new snake enclosure hiding under a rock. It must be tiring and upsetting to be sent through the mail and then not delivered correctly. But all seems to be well now.

My day was not without it's own merit, though. The weather was beautiful and I did get a chance to be outside in it for a bit before going back to the piano students. My mom also took me out to eat at my very favorite Mexican food restaurant. I ate all the Mexican food. Well, I think all the Mexican food was at least on my plate... it was a sampler of eight different mini-versions of different yummy things. I had a little taco and a little enchilada and a little chile relleno and a little flauta and a little tamales... you get the idea. I think I took one bite of each one and then decided I couldn't eat any more. The leftovers are here in the refrigerator and I will enjoy them over the rest of the weekend. It truly is my comfort food.

So now it is late. The morning comes early and my mother does not share my time challenged-ness, which means I must try my hardest to be punctual or else I will be putting my shoes on in the car as she is driving away as I did for much of my adolescence. I do not care to visit that time in my life again (who does?), so I must go to bed in order to get back up.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Leaving on a jet plane

I am heading to Arizona for the weekend, both to visit my mother and to judge a piano competition for her. It's two o'clock now, and we need to leave for the airport at 4:30. At some point in the next two and a half hours, I suppose I should pack. In order to pack, though, I need the clothes that are currently in the dryer. It's been that kind of a week.

I am also seeming to continue with my phenomenal track record of bringing rotten weather with me on vacation. Get this... so it's February, a month usually known for its miserably cold and grey weather in Chicago. It is also a month in Arizona where the weather is starting to warm and spring is already springing. Except for the three days I will be there. This weekend? It's due to be 60's and sunny in Chicago, and 60's and rainy in Phoenix. Trust me when I say the 60's feel completely different in each location. It's a gift. A gift I'd be happy to pass along to someone else.

Of course the biggest issue regarding this trip is... what book do I bring to read? This has occupied quite a bit of brain space over the past week. You see, there's two 4-hour plane rides plus three nights. That's a lot of reading time. I'm not checking a bag which means I can't throw in several extra books as insurance. I don't really want to drag out the Kindle because I don't really like it enough to warrant its use for such a short trip. I do have a book my sister-in-law loaned me which both she and J. liked. It's long and a writing style that will slow me down for just a bit. I haven't read it yet because it seemed like a commitment and I just haven't felt as though I wanted to commit two weeks to the same book. It should be more than enough book for the hours I have. The problem is that I am also in the middle of a mystery and don't really want to leave it behind, either. I guess I'll have to see what the carry on looks like once it's packed. The fear of running out of something to read is real, people.

I will be bringing my laptop with me, mainly because this is one of the few downsides to not having a smart phone... without it I won't be able to print my boarding pass for the return flight. If there's a chance to check-in with all of you, I will, but don't panic if it's pretty quiet around here for the next few days.

In the meantime, you can click on, read, and share (a lot) my newest article: The Best Ways to Support Your Friends Who are Adoptive Parents
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