Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Love We Suport by SnapDragon

We had a very nice Christmas with some nice presents--I got a few addicting games for my DSi (Thanks!), but as much as I love games my favorite present was the one SnapDragon gave to Huckleberry.  He wrote his big brother a story.  He read the story out loud Christmas morning.  They said I can share the story with you.  Maybe you will find it as beautiful as I did and give you a glimpse of my tenderhearted SnapDragon's soul.

The Love We Support
by SnapDragon (he wrote his real name)

Our love is 
spashil (special) to us.
We need it
to be kind.
it's what Makes
us kind not
greedy or rude.
you love you'r 
famly as much 
as you can
imagin.  you give
your love to
others.  you
can not keep 
it to yourself.
here's how
we can be
kind.  Share, be
responsubl (responsible), be
respacfell (respectful) and
don't get mad.
you know how
you feel when
you'r geting 
bulled (bullied) right?
Well, it's 
rude and
greedy when
they do that.
I would't
get mad
thoe (though) Becuse
that's not
you must 
love this 
person even 
if he or
she is
bulling (bullying)


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dim Sum, Bagels, and Grits--a book response

Dim Sum, Bagels, and Grits : a Sourcebook for Multicultural Families by Myra Alperson was one of the first books I read when we started this process 5 years ago.  I remember being quite surprised at some of the ideas and mildy surprised at the others.  Until I read this book I'll confess I was blissfully unaware of the complicated balance beam we were willingly stepping on.  I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I had no trouble believing the racial issues books mentioned but the culture loss was a completely new idea to me.   What was wrong with raising her as "Proud to Be an American..."?   

Now, five years later, I reread the book and it felt like "well, duh."  Obviously we need to instill pride in her birth culture.  Lots of the ideas in the book are not only suggestions but minimum requirements according to the on-line Chinese Adoption Community: culture camps, FCC, and celebrating Chinese Holidays.  It discusses neutrally a lot of the issues passionately hashed and rehashed on Rumor Queen.  I don't need this book as a resource anymore because I can find on-line any resource I need to understand the major Chinese Holidays--including lists of books with appropriately diverse characters to enhance our understanding (for which I am very grateful).

There are two things to which my response was identical both times I read this book.  First, one lady changed her name to a Chinese name in order to create a cultural connection to her daughter.  I still find this odd and a little overboard.  Secondly, the book made the point that a family will not be multi-cultural if only the "Chinese" culture is represented in their activities.  Pointing out which activities the family participates in are "American" culture or the other cultures represented by the family will help all of the activities seem a more natural celebration of everyone's heritage instead of setting the adopted child apart.  This sounded reasonable to me.  I'll tell you about one of our attempts to implement this advice in another post.

I do think this is a very good book and a great resource for families looking to add another culture to their family--particularly families who like their information in one place and don't read blogs and forums obsessively.   

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Open card...

every good gift is from above
merry christmas*
Oak, Cedar, Huckleberry, SnapDragon, and Sunflower**

* The lack of capitals was part of the card, not something I noticed ahead of time.  However, since I got them for free I am not going to complain.  I saved $119!!  Though I wouldn't have ever ordered the expensive folded 5x7 cards if I was buying them, but still...
**The names have been changed to hide the identity of the guilty.  Huckleberry signed Sunflower's name for her though we did let her scribble on a few cards so she could participate.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

China Ghosts--a book response

When Scott Simon's memoir, "Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other", came out I could not understand why people disliked it so much.  After all I am fascinated by everyone's journey to their children.  Now that I have read "China Ghosts: My Daughter's Journey to America, My Passage to Fatherhood" by Jeff Gammage I see what people may have meant by calling Simon's book fluffy.  After reading "China Ghosts" I can almost agree when people say we do not need another Chinese Adoption Memoir.

Superficially the books are the same.  They are both male reporters who adopt two little girls from China and have their lives profoundly impacted by becoming fathers.  However, while I was perfectly content analyzing Simon's book and picking and choosing which parts were interesting and being annoyed by his occasional apparent flippancy, I am hesitant to do the same to "China Ghosts."  This book is too beautiful to nit-pick, to deep to summarize, and too complete to need more.  There are lots of great memoirs worth reading including Simon's, but this one--this one touches my soul.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Should I send it?

I have been reading all about loss and how the loss of one person cannot be replaced with the gain of another person.  Apparently my 6 year old would beg to differ:
Now it took more than one person to replace her but...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Our Adoption Story Part 6b--Why Not Special Needs?

If you want to start at the beginning of our story

It was July when I discovered all the blogs and forums on adoption out there.  Since then I have encountered many different opinions.  Some of them are easy to dismiss, but some hurt my head as I expand my knowledge, some hurt my heart as I see people suffering, and some hurt my soul as I struggle to hear God's voice in the din of opinions.  There is nothing I desire more than to be doing God's will in my life.  I believe God intends my soul to wrestle with concepts and ideals as He makes me more like Christ.  I want to obey Him, but often I don't.  However, sometimes it is difficult to know when I am doing my own will versus making a choice to obey Him when it seems to be so different from what every one else hears.

We are LID 8/15/2006 for a NSN (traditional) China adoption.  There is a lot of pressure on some forums to switch to Special Needs (SN) adoption through China.  None of the pressure is directed at me and some of it is unintentional pressure or more to point, enlightening information on the joys of the SN program.  In my last adoption story post I mentioned we have lots of questions about switching programs.  Since then I have read even more reasons why one should switch and some great advice on what to do if one chooses to switch.  We have started looking at various lists and thinking okay, maybe this is doable.  It has made us even more open to a SN adoption through China.  However, here is where we stop. 

With prayer and discussion, we feel very open to a SN adoption, but always in addition to, not instead of our NSN adoption.  I do not know if this is because this is God's leading or because I am not willing to listen and obey.  I've already admitted I cannot let go of a girl without some real grief.  Now I realize I'm one of those people apparently hung up on ayap (as young as possible) girl.  Thinking about also bringing home a 3 year old boy or 6 year old girl brings me real joy, but not when it means not having a little girl younger than Sunflower.  (I realize that there are ayap girls with minor/correctable needs, but I don't see the value in switching from one almost to the front line to another, probably shorter but maybe not, line.)

Many people have a real passion for SN adoptions through China.  Some of what I read makes total sense.  Why wait in a line when there are children waiting for a home?  These children deserve forever families, too.  Those baby girls will be adopted by someone, but maybe not these children on the shared list.  You should adopt a child that actually needs saving...Wait!  We aren't adopting to save a child.  But we think adoption is better than living in an orphanage.  Finding families for children, not children for families.  What if "our" child is waiting on the list and will just have to wait and wait because we won't listen.  Oh, no!  Now my head is spinning and my heart is breaking for the children without families--one of them without a family because I won't switch programs.  Aaah!  The confusion!

Then I pray and once again feel at peace with our decision not to switch programs at this time.  I believe that peace can only come from God.  I am supposed to please God not men, but sometimes people's voices drown out God's.  It is possible the first/next child we bring home will not be through the traditional program, but God is not leading us to officially switch.  Currently we are redoing (not renewing because we let everything expire) our homestudy.  We will be talking to our SW about special needs adoption and seeing if we can be approved to adopt two children (not to bring home at once, but to have our paperwork reflect our desire to adopt two children eventually).  When our homestudy is done, then we will see what God has planned.

However, while I have heard some excellent reasons of why SN adoption through China should be looked at seriously, there are two arguments that are often repeated that astound me.  People write, "why don't people switch out of the NSN line to SN because of ..." but they complete that sentence with two of the main reasons we did not switch during the last five years.

The first one is "because we got our child home and there was nothing wrong with her."  This is so closely related to what I would call good advice that at first I was confused.  Others say, "prepare for the worst, but hope for the best."  However, the earlier argument skips the preparing part and jumps to the "the best happened part."  I would love the best happened part, but I don't believe it is fair to bring a child home expecting (hoping is fine) but expecting the best.  My husband and I are horrible pessimists with a lot of faith.  Finding the balance between trusting God because He will help us through and making responsible decisions for our family is hard for us--something we don't rush into quickly.  God will need to speak to us quite clearly--something I have 100% confidence He can and will do.  We do not want to miss out on God's plan out of fear.  However, switching programs because we might end up with a child with "nothing wrong" is down-right foolish.  I really pray no one is switching over from hearing this argument.

The second reason to switch I hear even more frequently but find even more astounding is "you should switch from NSN to SN because you won't get a perfect baby girl from NSN anyway; all children have special needs."  Ummm, I totally agree all children, and particularly all children who are adopted into another country after a year in institutional or foster care, have special needs.  This we have known since our pre-adoption training 5 years ago.  This is the reason we have not switched to SN.  When my friends ask me why it is taking so long and I explain it could go more quickly if we were open to special needs adoption, I go on to say we believe adoption in and of itself will require extra parenting skills and effort so we are not going to switch and add on one more potential complication.  I have been saying this for over a year.  Imagine my surprise when five months ago I found out the reason we weren't switching was the reason for which some people think we should switch.

I realize some people are in the NSN line with no knowledge of the issues children who have had no family, even for only 6 months to a year, might have.  Gently educating them has value.  I was really disappointed to learn 4 years ago that almost all children coming home have sleep issues similar to a newborn as they adjust to a new life--not all but enough it is something to expect.  We did kind of hope we'd get to skip the waking in the middle of the night phase by adopting a 1 year old.  During our training 5 years ago we watched a video on children from institutional care and our SW said, "many children look like they have autism when you pick them up; don't make a decision right away."  I'll admit this scared me.  Since then I have heard stories about the children coming home with sleep issues, emotionally shut down, sensory issues, in addition to grief, loss, fear, night terrors, language delays etc.  Most of these children have adjusted and are a joy to their family, but it was not a cake walk.  Being informed can only help parents be more prepared though preparation alone isn't enough to guarantee success and being unprepared doesn't guarantee failure.

However, the likelihood of these issues occurring does not appear to increase or decrease between NSN versus SN--though length of time without a family may impact this.  The sentiment that one should switch programs because these possibilities exist does not make sense to me.  How is taking the already unknowns involved in adopting a child you have never met and adding it to a known special need (ie whatever is listed on the child's medical file) and the unknowns associated with this need logical?  I don't mean to say no one should adopt SN just that "your daughter is going to have special needs anyway" is a flawed reason.

I am only mentioning the flaws that I perceive in the logic of these arguments because I really believe people are advocating for SN because they want these children to find homes.  I believe peoples' hearts are in the right place.  They should share their stories.  There are many families who do not contemplate SN through China because of lack of information, because of the scary term--special needs--and because they just need to hear about it from someone who has been there and done it.  Once they become more aware it is likely that some families could joyfully and successfully grow their family through the SN program.  Someday I really do hope to be one of those families.

However, no one wants a family to adopt from China via the SN program, or even adopt at all, if they are expecting to have no adjustment, attachment, or health problems.  Telling someone to switch programs because a SN child "often" (yes, I have heard often) comes home with no problems or because a SN child will possibly be healthier than a NSN child can only lead to problems if you ask me (which I will admit no one is doing!).  Convincing someone to switch programs because they are going to have "problems anyway" seems pretty silly.  It appears acceptable in the SN online community to be open to some special needs and not others.  It doesn't always feel acceptable to be open to the special needs of adoption (like potential sensory, eating, and sleep issues, racial identity, culture incorporation, and loss, etc.) while saying no to a known physical issue.  No one is doing anyone any favors if a family switches for the wrong reasons.  

So as we plan and pray for our family's choices, sometime I ask God when, how, who?  Why so long?  And I ask, Lord, am I missing your plan for our family? and I hear:

Jeremiah 29: 11-14:
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you.”

And I wait.  And I seek God.  And I work on my homestudy questions.  And I put my opinions out on the blogosphere because I really do want every child without a family to find the family that will fit them best for the right reasons.  Once our children are home it won't matter from which program they came; it will only matter that they are connected as children adopted from China--a connection that adult adoptees tell me matters.   

Edited to add: By the time we talked to our agency about special needs, found them discouraging and with more fees, and finally completed our homestudy in October 2011 we were next, next, next.  Someday possibly... 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happy Birthday to Oak

My poor husband, today is his birthday and I want it to be a great day because I love him and the last month has just not been good to him.  His mother is gone, the server room at work caught fire, and he caught vomit in his hands.  He hasn't even had time to read the newest book in his favorite series while giving me time to read it and blog.  To top it off, this weekend (the weekend of his mother's funeral) Sunflower came down with a stomach bug and he handled it in stride.  I don't want my blog to be all about throw-up, but it really shows what a wonderful man my husband is.  

Sunflower threw up at 11:30 in her port-a-crib.  I gave her a bath, even though I don't do baths, so Oak could clean the crib.  It wasn't dry after washing, so we took her into our King Bed.  Around 3 a.m. she started making those noises no parent wants to hear (I was already awake because she had flipped perpendicular in bed and was rhythmically kicking me).  I said, "Oh, no! She's going to blow!" and ran to turn on the light.  I came back to find Oak sitting up and holding Sunflower close--no sign of puke.  Then he pealed her away from him.  It was all over him--not a single spot on the hotel bedding.  After Oak and Sunflower were cleaned up she was feeling great and wide awake.  Oak took her into the lobby so as to not wake the boys and to let me sleep (I read this week's Sunday Linkage instead, shhhh!).  This is how amazing my husband is.  No wonder I thought the last 13 years of marriage were easy and he finds it amazing it we've reached this milestone.

However, with the goal of celebrating another 13 years of marriage thus reaching the highly acclaimed 26th anniversary, I want today to be a special day for my husband.  We always celebrate Dad's birthday by eating the gingerbread house that the kids decorate with Aunt J which is good because Sunflower asks every morning, "eat house?"  Since Oak's love language is acts of service, I am making dinner (with the help of a friend who brought us a meal today in sympathy for Oak's mother's passing, shhhh!), and I am going to fold the laundry.  I'll let him read "Towers of Midnight" before finishing "20 Things Adoptees Wish Their Parents Knew."  Maybe he can read while I put the children to bed if he wants.  

If he reads my blog before coming home it'll give away some of the surprise, but writing it down is good for me.  It makes it more likely I'll follow through.  He makes it so easy for me to leave it to him because he is always showing me love by serving me.  But today is his birthday and I will show him love by doing acts of service for him.

Happy Birthday, husband.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Happy Anniversary to Us

We have been married thirteen years today.  Oak said that is pretty amazing.  I said, "I don't know so far it has all been pretty easy.  Let's see how we do when we face real trials."  He laughed.  That is why I love him--he laughed.  I get a ton of pleasure of making people laugh (I don't know what that says about my psyche, but I don't really care.)  Then he said "what do you call Sunflower's pregnancy*?"  I laughed.  

Oak is really the most amazing man, kind and loving.  He takes wonderful care of me and our children.  He is packing up our hotel room while he lets me blog for love of me.  I am one lucky woman.  He is almost done which means I'm out of time. 

Happy Anniversary, Husband.

* Of all the trials we have faced--two unemployments, 1 miscarriage, the illness and death of two of our parents, parenting 3 children, etc.--he picked my pregnancy with Sunflower.  That should make it very clear what a horrible person I was while pregnant with Sunflower.  Good thing we have already decided we want to grow our family through adoption.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Missing Grandma

SnapDragon has been a little more snappish than usual lately.  This is because his grandma passed away November 4 (same day that would have been my mom's 60th birthday--sad all around.)  She was a special woman who raised a gaggle of children who grew up to be wonderful adults with terrific spouses (if I do say so myself) and have a handful or two of super awesome grandchildren.  One of the saddest things for me is that she will not to get to meet her next grandchild(ren) this side of heaven.   She loved children and especially her grandchildren.  Since I couldn't share all of the pictures of her with my children in the Memorial DVD, I thought I would share some of them here. 

 "Well done, thou good and faithful servant;  Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."  Matthew 25:21

She spent as much time with her grandchildren as she could.  Her memorial is Saturday.  She will be greatly missed.

Monday, December 6, 2010

What Can Adult Adoptees Teach Me?

Once again my intended post has been high-jacked with a new mind problem instead.  These thoughts are triggered by a question on my favorite forum.  The responses to her comment tend to be answering her question differently than I thought she meant it, so I have decided not to heat up a pleasant discussion on getting our advice in parenting from other BTDT parents and particularly Christian Adoptive Parents if you are a Christian.  However, whether she meant her question the way the others are answering or how I took it, it made me think.  I was already thinking about it because of this post I went to because of my favorite blog's Sunday Linkage.

Why is it necessary to read, listen, and learn from so-called "angry" adoptees?  (insert whine)  Do we really have to?  They're mean.  

The link above has lots of excellent points about why, and really I don't know if I need to add to the why to listen.  However, I do believe I have a lot to learn from adult adoptees, and I've already started.  Some of these things may also be in books, but these are all things I needed to learn from an adult adoptee with their personal explanation of it for my mind to comprehend it.  In the months since I found the Adoption Blogsphere here is some of what I have learned:

Labeling the adoptees who appear the most upset by their adoption as an "angry" adoptee is demeaning.

The question "Would you have rather grown up in an orphanage?" shuts down honest discourse and says you are not willing to listen to their concerns with an open mind.

Adoptive children often feel an obligation to protect their adoptive parents from hurt feelings and will thus choose not to talk about adoption related hurts without the prompting and support of their parents.

Not everyone thinks adoption is a wonderful solution for orphaned children.  Many adult adoptees actively pursue preventing adoption.
Birthdays can be sweet, bitter, or bittersweet.  Yes, a year older is something to celebrate, but it can also be the reminder of their loss of birth family, culture, country, language, and what could have beens.  Take the cue from the child on how to celebrate their birthday.

Wishing one was not adopted does not mean one does not love and appreciate one's adoptive family.  It is just one more layer in the dual lives some adoptees feel they are living.

While the adopted child may or may not express interest in her birth culture, an adoptive family that shows no interest themselves or open disdain for that same culture will impact his/her self worth.

Adoptees want their families to stand with them on issues of race and adoption.  The whole family is impacted by racism and adoption--not just the trans-racially adopted child.

That loss of one thing cannot be replaced by the gain of a different thing.  The loss still needs to be grieved and acknowledged by those around them.

Family preservation is better than adoption even though it is not always feasible.  

Obviously this is not a comprehensive list of what adult adoptees can teach me; there is still more to learn.  There will always be more to learn, though someday I do hope to be learning it from my adult child who was adopted.  In the meantime, I believe I need to continue reading.  I will be honest and admit I am much more likely to look at past posts in a given link and swallow the lesson if the adult adoptee addresses me with respect and does not call me naive, selfish, or the devil incarnate.  However, I believe it is still beneficial to read posts from the whole spectrum of opinions even if I don't read everything all of the time.  By reading the whole spectrum I can learn not all adult adoptees are against adoption but even "happy, well-adjusted, and content" adoptees usually express at least a mild sorrow at losing their ability to speak their native language.  I cannot agree with everything said, and I will not adjust my parenting style to satisfy anonymous bloggers, but the more aware I am of the different ideas, feelings, and opinions the better I can judge what I need to take to heart immediately and what I can let my child guide me in.  Someday my child from China will be an adult adoptee for better or for worse.  Knowing the questions she might have as an adult and along the way will ONLY give me more wisdom as her mother.

(I would give you the links to each post if I could find them all because I know my take away is not all they were saying and I still have more to learn.  However, if you read the last 5 months of Our Little Tongginator's Sunday Linkage and the Rumor Queen's Adult Adoptee Writings Series and scroll around the adult adoptee blogs you find from these links, you are sure to find the posts I mean, probably.)

Friday, December 3, 2010

That Perfect Santa Picture

Every year our bank throws a Christmas party at a large warehouse store for all of its customers.  Odd, I know.  Every year we miss it because something always interferes.  Last year, for the first time, we made it, and we had a great time.  Many local restaurants come in and give out samples and coupons, traveling groups of carolers roam through the store, free cookies, cake decorating for the kids, face painting, and free Santa pictures.  Since last year was our first time, we went through the store in the wrong order.
Yes, SnapDragon has a spider on his face.  We didn't realize there were pictures with Santa until after he had his face painted.  We also didn't have the kids dress up so we didn't really view this as our Christmas Card picture for the year.

This year we planned a little better.  I coordinated the kids' outfits (though I didn't realize until we were at the store that SnapDragon chose not to change his shirt) and we went to the Santa pictures first.  However, it still didn't work out quite right.
The lady snapped the picture really quickly because she didn't want to let Sunflower get any bluer, but no one was prepared and Santa looks down-right miserable.  Oh well!  At least it makes me laugh which means it is a Jolly Christmas, right?  I would have asked her to take another after I saw this one if by that time Sunflower hadn't already covered the sleeves of her white turtleneck with mango slushy and SnapDragon hadn't covered his shirt with frosting.  

To make the evening complete, Sunflower threw up in the deepest depths of the store.  Just enough to cover her dress and Daddy's hands.  The floor was cement; he didn't have to catch it.  We took Sunflower's dress off, grabbed the wipeys for clean-up, and made our way out of the store as fast as we could.  This took us past the face painting that we had to deny to the boys out of courtesy to other families.  I guess we didn't get the order right this year either. 

Will we go again next year?  Probably, if we can.  I still have dreams of that perfect and free Santa picture and this year's event still has a high-light.  They called us Tuesday to let us know we had won a $25 gift certificate to the Sushi restaurant in town with our door prize slips.  I guess it was worth the few minutes of Sunflower waiting in her tights and slushy covered turtle neck while I left our name and ticket numbers at the information desk.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tape, Glue, and Staples

I had today's post all planned, but it requires a scanner.  I had one last night.  Now I do not.  I will tomorrow.  It will be my Christmas present this year; one I will open early.  There are several things I need to do in the next few days that require a printer and a scanner (we had an all-in-one) so American capitalism wins again.

Since I cannot do the planned post, I think I will tell you a story about Huckleberry.  He has been asking me to tell more funny stories about him.  I know some kids don't like being talked about on their mom's blog, but he is always telling me--you should put this on the blog; when are you going to tell another story about me?

Anyway, when I was pregnant with SnapDragon, Huckleberry was 3 1/2 and came to me very serious.

Huckleberry:  I am going to need a new mommy.
Me:  Ummm, why? (Thinking he was mad at me or something).
Huckleberry:  Because when the baby comes you'll be broken.
Me:  Oh no, baby.  I won't break.  I'll be a little sore, but the doctor will fix me up
       and I'll feel better real quick.  I'll still be your mother.  You won't need a new 
Huckleberry:  How will he fix you?
Me: Naps and Tylenol.
Huckleberry:  Good.  I didn't want a new mommy.

A few days later.

Huckleberry:  I think he'll use tape and glue, too.
Me:  What?
Huckleberry:  The doctor, to fix you.  He'll need tape and glue, too.
Me:  Yes, maybe he will at that.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What do you get when you throw a camera out a window?

A Shutterfly!

I don't want to be the blog that is always posting about give-a-ways and making people think I'm greedy (even if maybe I am), but this isn't just a chance to win something; they said I would get 50 free Christmas cards from Shutterfly, and that is nothing to sneeze at (how does this idiom work since it ends in a preposition and wouldn't make sense if I fixed the grammar?).  

There are many beautiful cards that Shutterfly makes using pictures I would upload myself.  If I had them make my Christmas cards then I wouldn't have to write my usual picture letter that only happens once every other year because I am just that lazy, so I am very excited at the idea of getting 50 free cards.  I would possibly choose this card as it says Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (so if I sent it out after Christmas it would still work) and lets me use more than one picture.   If I knew for sure that I would actually send cards this year because I had already ordered them then I would participate in the Christmas card exchange on my We Are Grafted In Forum.  I would like to participate even if it means I'll be linking our family name with our blog because it would be fun to "meet" some adoptive moms.  I accidentally linked our last name last week anyway if you were paying really close attention, and while I fixed that error, it is only a matter of time before I make more.

I also love their photo calendars because they make wonderful Christmas presents.  I've never ordered mine from Shutterfly because I'm never done in time for ordering on-line and having them mailed to me, but photo calendars are the best Christmas present I have found.  It takes a little bit of work for me because I insist on creating my own photo layout in Photoshop, but once I'm done, I have all the grandparents and extended family gifts done in one fell swoop.  It used to not work for the kids but now even my niece and nephew want one for Christmas.

If I was going to order anything else it might be the photo mug. What teacher wouldn't want to drink out of a mug featuring my adorable child?  Plus I can fill the mug with hot chocolate, tea, or cider or if you aren't as cheap on as tight of budget as me a gift card to a coffee shop looks nice.  One friend who is a teacher complained that all they get for Christmas is Starbucks gift cards, but I would think even if you don't drink coffee you can have fun with them.  My SnapDragon was telling me yesterday that he would like to go back to Borders for some ciders and cocoas which only happened because I was so frazzled after having my husband drop us off at the wrong bookstore (the boys had gift cards to Barnes and Noble) and our friend was willing to pay.

Also, if I could prove that their mouse pads would work with an optical mouse I would definitely make my husband buy one for me.  He tells me that the reason my mouse jumps everywhere is because I have an optical mouse and traditional mouse pads aren't useful.  Well, neither is nothing!  I would like a mouse pad that would work or a whole new mouse.  I love my mac, but the mouse leaves something to be desired.  A mouse pad with my childrens' smiling faces would at least cheer me up when I click on the wrong thing.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Are You My Mama?

Here is what is on my mind today.  Two of our childrens' picture books are: "Llama, Llama, Are You My Mama?" and P.D. Eastman's "Are You My Mother?"  Both books were gifts from family, and one was a particular favorite of my husband's brother.  I have always enjoyed reading them with the children.  They have cute illustrations and not too many words--critical when reading to Sunflower since getting a whole sentence out before she turns the page is a minor miracle.

Here is the thing.  I've always viewed them as stories that teach about different animals and what they say and do.  It also teaches one other message that until today I didn't even think about--that families have to match.  The cow, horse, and sheep can't be the llama's mother, and the cat, dog, and scoop cannot be the mother of the bird.  What message will this convey to our child from China?  Obviously a different skin color is totally different from a different species, but will that be clear to my child?

I cannot decide if I am over thinking this or if it is a valid concern.  My bio children know they are getting a sister that will look a little different.  They don't have any trouble understanding and believing that is possible though they heard these stories over and over as children--the Llama one is a particular favorite with SnapDragon since he could read it himself fairly early on.  However, they feel pretty secure in our family because they have not lost their first family.  How will our daughter feel?

We can certainly get rid of these books and err on the side of caution if nothing else.  "Are You My Mother?" seems particularly sad as the bird wanders around truly lost.  We have been thinking about and slowly adding to our book diversity, but until today I never thought about the books we might want to remove from our shelves.  Do we keep the book about how animals and babies are born that always kind of creeped me out anyway or is it a good way to start the dialogue that she has a birth mother in China?  What other books do we own that will send our daughter the unintentional message that she doesn't belong?

I know we cannot protect her completely, and we certainly cannot anticipate which aspects of grief, culture loss, adoption, etc will have the greatest impact on our child; what areas she will be the most sensitive about if not all.  Her personality will have a lot to do with that.  I NEVER took things personally as a child (a little more sensitive now).  If someone did not say directly this means you than I did not care.  I would not take a childrens' story and internalize it.  My sister took EVERYTHING personally, even things not meant to be.  However, our home should be a safe place for my child.  She should not receive a hurtful message in her bed time story.  So we will read all of our books again with a more critical eye and debate and decide.  But...what else are we missing?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend

Our Thanksgiving weekend started with two extra days off from school because of snow that canceled all fun activities from Monday to Wednesday and resulted in one small snow man and nothing useful getting done.  Thanks, Aunt J for playing in the snow with the boys!

Then we got the news that the CCAA temporary probation of our adoption agency had been lifted and we attended a soup dinner and praise night at our church to start the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend off right.

We started Thanksgiving morning with Apple-Pumpkin muffins per a friend's instructions.  We could spend the morning making muffins because we were assigned the green bean casserole and store bought potato rolls for Thanksgiving dinner at Oak's sister's house.
Sunflower "helping" make muffins.
The boys filling the muffin pan--our pan has round muffins, I had never seen square ones before.
Eating the truly wonderful results!
Then, after a brief rest for all three cranky children, we headed the 2 miles to Oak's family get together where I proceeded to take pictures of Sunflower.  She took my breath away, but I had sooo much trouble capturing it to share.
One of my favorites!
SnapDragon missing 3 teeth!  Good thing rolls and pumpkin pie are soft (it's all he ate!)
Dessert Time; Huckleberry was so glad to add whip cream all on his own!
Just pretending to sleep, but oh so cute anyway!
Did I mention I found Sunflower's dress in a bag of hand-me downs I sorted through 3 years ago and peeked in on the off chance I would find what I wanted Thanksgiving morning?  God does give good gifts!
Playing with a doll that used to belong to Oak's Mother, but now came home with Sunflower.
Ready to eat Pumpkin Pie--Oh, actually only the whipping cream!
Really what I wanted Mommy was 3 glasses of Egg-Milk!
Friday we entertained my dad here with steak and mashed potatoes.  Thursday was his first Thanksgiving without my step-mother and he didn't want to do anything fancy.  So Thursday he ate a T.V. dinner and worked, but Friday he came to our house and Oak helped him go buy tires for his truck.  However, while some may be interested in seeing pictures of his new tires, I did not take any.  Sorry to disappoint!

Saturday we joined a large group of friends to hunt for a Christmas tree.  This was the fourth time we joined them for this tradition. There were goats to feed and everything!

Sunflower LOVED being able to feed the goats by putting the food in the can and sending it up with a rope.  Then she didn't have to let those horribly stinky adorable goats touch her at all!
Hunting for the tree!
Found It!  Oh, wait...
NOW we found it!  We took several pictures with another tree before changing our mind!

Proof the Mom and Dad were also there and didn't just send our kids with friends; ummm, maybe next year!
Drinking Hot Chocolate!
Sunflower was fascinated by the sleeping Baby Jesus--night-night!
Helping Dad tie the tree on top of the Minivan.
Waiting for everyone to be ready to head out to lunch.
Still waiting; Oak watched Sunflower play in the car, so no group shot.
We finished the day out with pizza with everyone then home for some naps (Sunflower and Oak) and Nintendo time (Me, Huckleberry, and Snapdragon).  Now the kids are sleeping and I am posting a blog post.  Tomorrow we end the fun filled weekend with our long anticipated double date with my friend (best friend if you want to be all high-schoolish about it) and her husband to see the new Harry Potter movie and out to dinner!  Thanks, Aunt J for babysitting!  The tree is up in the family room, blocking most of the T.V.  We should have it decorated in a week or two.  I'll let you know, maybe.

I hope you all had a Blessed Thanksgiving!  And if you celebrated it in October, I hope your October was blessed!