Monday, August 28, 2006

Registered Sex Offender Website - LOOK NOW!

I have added to the side bar a link to the Family Watchdog website. Here you can enter your address and see where the local sex offenders live and work. I found this site extremely interesting. And SCARY... I mean - who wants to admit that a registered sex offender lives just a couple blocks away from my mother's house?

My hope is that this will definitely raise your awareness that you cannot - and I mean cannot - be too cautious or too aware of your surroundings. This one guy lives just down the street (not even half a block) from the very grade school I attended, which is just a block away from my mother's house.

Please - if you do nothing else today when you read this, go to the website and check out where you live. Know who lives and works near your home and near the schools your children attend. And talk with them about the dangers.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dancing to no music at all

This is how life should be. To dance even when there is no music. The music should always be inside you...

A big smile, a happy heart, and joy for the world to see. Plus, being 3 years old helps.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Co-sleeping and bonding time

When we returned home from China with Kenzie, it was 8 am on a Wednesday morning, and having been up pretty much the whole trip (with the exception of a catnap here or there) we were exhausted. We got Kenzie ready for bed and took her to her crib. When I put her in it, she screamed in terror. This wasn't a cry of "I'm mad and I don't want to go to sleep" but a look of panic in her eyes and the scream I will never forget... I just couldn't ignore it.

We took her to bed with us that day, and have pretty much every night since. (We tried once to get her in the habit of sleeping in her toddler bed, but that didn't work out.) I can honestly say that co-sleeping was one of the best bonding tools we employed. And we did it without even knowing at the time it would be so valuable in helping her bond with us. I just knew it was the right thing to do, to help her not be afraid, and let her have peace of mind knowing we were there for her.

I know this kind of mechanism wouldn't work for everyone, but in our case, it was the right thing to do. Kenzie wanted to be with us, near us - and the intimacy it allowed between us was nothing short of beautiful - to see her cuddle up to us, and relax to sleep. To say to her early on when we first got back "Mama ai ni" (Mommy loves you) and see her smile, yawn and fall asleep while I ran my fingers through her hair or rubbed her back... I felt like I was making up for the time we didn't get to have together when she was an infant.

Besides, I am there to calm her fears or dry her tears when she has bad dreams. But I'm also there to wake up to her laughter or see her smile when she is having a good dream, or to hear her talking in her sleep. And I can, any time I want, run my fingers through her hair and whisper to her "Mama loves you."

By the way - I tend to be a little bit of an insomniac - so I am up several times a night checking on her... that is to her advantage.

So, she surprised me last night. As we were laying in bed and getting ready to settle in to go to sleep, she says, "Mama, can I ask you a question?" Of course you can.

K. I want to talk about you. I want to know about you when you were a little girl.

Me: What would you like to know.

K. When you were a little girl, did you do things that were bad?

Me: Yes. I was little and I didn't know any better.

K. What did your mommy or daddy do when you were bad?

Me: I always got a spanking. Always. They didn't take away my toys or put me in time out... It was just a spanking.

K. Why did you get a spanking?

Me: I didn't listen to my mommy or daddy when they would tell me to do something, like pick up my toys, or not to tease my brother. I don't think my mommy or daddy realized that there were alternatives - like time outs. All they knew to do was spank.

K. Why did they spank you?

Me: I think that my mommy and daddy loved me very much, and wanted me to do the right things. I should have listened better to my mommy and daddy, but I was little and I didn't do that. Even when I got a little older, I didn't always listen, and now I wish I had. They knew more than me, and just wanted to protect me and help me be a better person. But I didn't know that then. And they didn't understand that there were other ways they could have punished me for not listening or doing what they said.

There was silence for awhile, and then...

K. So they spanked you when you didn't pick up your toys?

Me: Yes.

K. Like I don't pick up my toys?

Me: Yes, but I don't spank you for that, do I?

K. (grin) No.

I could see this was going to be one of those times when she would repeat herself ad nauseum - so I closed it by telling her it was late, and she could ask me tomorrow anything she wanted to know about me tomorrow, but she needed to go to sleep.

To which she backed up against me, grabbed my hand and wrapped it around her and held on to it with both hands and patted it a few times, and fell asleep.

You can't get that when they sleep by themselves in another room.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Doing the dishes

This is one time I applaud my mother for her permissiveness. Usually, she is wanting to let Kenzie do something that isn't good for her (why not let her have a whole bag of sour gummy worms?).

I have always believed in encouraging children to help with things around the house. Kenzie got such a big thrill out of doing what Memaw does (we have a dishwasher, so Kenzie isn't allowed to help with that, and unless something is too big to put in there, we almost never do dishes by hand). I have to chuckle at this - Kenzie just wants to be a big girl and she was jumping up and down with joy because she did the dishes!

Way to go, Memaw! Now, can you teach her how to run the sweeper?

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Food for thought...

I have added a couple of links to the sidebar that I think would benefit anyone adopting internationally. As an adoptive parent, I can only try to imagine what my daughter might feel one day - but I am not the adoptee, and I cannot experience her feelings or ever really know her thoughts.

I have added a link to Twice the Rice because she has some very insightful thoughts on what it is to be a transracial adoptee. I caution you, sometimes it is a very biting and critical assessment of what it means to be adopted and taken from one's homeland and birth parents. It is also quite critical of the terms bandied about by those of us who have adopted from China... and I have to say, I've been guilty and naive about some of these things when I began the adoption process and even afterward. Ji-in (the blogger) was adopted from Korea, and was able to find and meet her birth parents, which is different than adoption from China. But what she has to say is no less valid, even when considering the differences.

I do not want anyone to go there and then blast her for what she says. If you don't like it at first, perhaps you should examine your own reasons for and abilities to handle international adoption. Like anything that gives me an uncomfortable feeling (whether talk radio or a blog) if it is important or pertinent to my life, I give the person a minimum of 6 weeks of my time to make up my mind if what they are saying is worth hearing and something that will help me in my life. I suggest others do the same; what she has to say may one day be relevant to our situations as well. This is her experience. She isn't vulgar, but her blog does have an edge to it. I have found her to be intelligent and perceptive, allowing readers a different view of terms we use in the adoption community and the feelings/perceptions of someone who has experience from an adoptee's point of view. And it is a perspective I need to respect, if I am to respect my daughter's own feelings about her adoption. I guarantee you, if you are adopting or have already adopted a child from another country, there will be issues, and you had better prepare yourself for it.

The other blog I like is Harlow's Monkey. She is also a Korean adoptee. Her take is also intelligent and perceptive, but does not carry the bite that Twice the Rice presents. A lighter version, but her opinions and feelings are extremely valid in their own right. Again, each woman has her own style, but the message is much the same.

I must say that China adoption carries with it some added complications. It appears that most Korean adoptees are able to find and even reunite with birth parents. Our daughters from China may never get that chance, unless there is a change in China's policies, or we get extremely lucky after reading the police report and find a clue, or find someone who may recognize or remember who the parents were/are. But the stigma and fear in China right now with regard to the Chinese parents having a child that was either "over quota", or not the right sex, or born with a medical condition that the parents' couldn't take care of.... may forever bar our daughters from making that connection.

I hope someday our Chinese adopted daughers and sons will be able to make those connections to their biological roots, and to get the answers to the questions that will definitely be in their hearts and minds.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Lynn and Arthur - Mandarin Lessons

Here is a picture of our friends Lynn and Arthur with Kenzie. They are Chinese students at the university here, and I think the world of them. They had begun teaching Mandarin to several of our little girls and the adults in our local Families with Chinese Children group back in February. When summer came, it was called off (partially because they were going to travel during June, and partially because everyone has "other" things to do during the summer). However, I felt it was important to keep getting some kind of information and learning Mandarin, so they were very kind to have Kenzie and me come over to their place so we could continue to learn. I say "we", but in reality, Kenzie is very reluctant to participate in saying anything in Mandarin. I hope that changes. Case in point, usually, while Lynn and Arthur were teaching the other little girls to speak Mandarin (and the other children were participating), my daughter would sit to the side and make faces the whole time. Or if they tried to get her to say something in Mandarin, she would just spew nonsense and then laugh at herself. She appointed herself the comic relief.

I am (fervently) hoping that she is more serious by the time she actually makes it into grade school. But I have this feeling the teachers will be having a devil of a time with her and her antics. I got to give her credit, she's pretty creative for a 3 year old.

I will say that Kenzie is crazy about Lynn and Arthur. She just adores them and is always excited to be going over to their apartment. I am so glad... because I want to provide her with as many positive role models as I can, and it is even more important that the role models be Asian. And I'm very happy if they are Chinese. She knows she's Chinese, but I really don't know that she understands what that means yet.

My girl can be a bit goofy. She put her socks on her hands... like little puppets. She thought that was terribly funny. Posted by Picasa

Writing and conversations with a 3.75 year old

Kenzie is learning to write her letters, and has been writing her name. It will be a few years before she can win any penmanship awards, but for not even being 4 years old, I can't help but think this is awesome. I'm not so sure about the first E in the name as actually being her handwriting... could have been a day care worker helping her. But I do know that the rest is definitely hers.

She's also been spelling out all the letters in words. She's just about ready to learn the sounds that letters make and then begin reading. OH, my... now that is when the fun will really begin, when she is wanting to read TO us instead of us reading to her.

The amazing thing is, we don't push her. She wants to do this, to be like the big kids. She thinks like an older kid sometimes, and can argue like one, too. Here is an excerpt of a conversation that took place the other night.

First some background. I have been meaning to buy a tool with which I can floss Kenzie's teeth (all of a sudden this is a big thing with Kenzie). I had tried to floss her teeth by hand previously, but she kept biting my fingers in the process, so I told her we would floss her teeth once we had bought the tool.

Here is our conversation....

Me: Kenzie, put the floss up.

Kenzie: But I wanna floss my teeth.

Me: Are you going to let me do it without biting me?

Kenzie: Where's the thing you said you were going to buy?

Me: Did we stop by a store on our way home today? Noooo! So we don't have one. If you want your teeth flossed, I'll have to do it by hand.

Kenzie: Then I guess I'll just have to bite your fingers.

I don't make this stuff up.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Our little fashionista

This is our future little movie star / pop singer / America's top (short) model. Her T-shirt says, "This is what cute looks like." ...Just in case you couldn't figure out that she thinks she's cute.

Hard to believe that she has grown so much. She had personality from day one - and it just gets more interesting with each passing day. She has her own views now on what she should wear, how her hair should be done, and she has a lot of confidence in herself.

My husband constantly says he would love to turn the clock back and have her as a little girl again. I don't... I love watching her grow up and become this hugely interesting, funny, wonderful person.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Who wants to change all those diapers?

I have to laugh when I get on the APC yahoo board (for the uninitiated, that is Adoptive Parents China) and read that some adoptive parents in the process (pre-adoption - either gathering their dossier papers or are in the waiting process) are wanting assurances that the child they are referred from China is going to be no more than "x" months old (usually it is preferable that the child be under 12 months old). "Can anyone tell me what the average age of child China refers? We really want a child AYAP (as young as possible) between 4 - 8 months old." Or something to that effect.

I guess I am having a hard time understanding why they want a child that is so young. Is it because they feel the attachment will be... hmmmmm.... I am having trouble thinking up reasons why it would be of tantamount importance to have such a young child... perhaps they feel the attachment process will be more complete? More like a bio child's? Easier? So they can have more of a feeling of being the parent to a baby? Whatever... I can say I honestly don't get this... Anyone want to comment on this - I'd love to hear the reasons. I guess I'm just too stoopid to "get it".

When we went to China, it seemed the babies who initially had the worst time at first were the younger babies. Of course, a lot depends on temperament (some kids are better at adapting to changes than others, and being raised in an orphanage, it is probably a survival skill to be able to adapt and do whatever it takes to "get along" or "get noticed" in order to get what you want). But I think I remember reading that separation anxiety and stranger fear begins at around 7 months of age.

We didn't miss much when we adopted a Kenzie as a toddler. She couldn't walk on her own without falling face first into the floor, she couldn't crawl, and she wasn't speaking any English words. I fed her milk from her sippy cup while holding her like a baby - she actually wanted that. I figured if we get a toddler, that means I have around 18 months LESS spitting up, less drooling, and fewer sleepless nights. Not to mention less
diaper changes.

Don't get me wrong, when I changed Kenzie's diaper, it was a great time for bonding and fostering the attachment process, and we had many interesting "conversations" during the changes. I considered that time with her very intimate. For example, while changing her diaper one day, I heard her saying over and over again, "Mei Mei. Mei Mei. Mei Mei." I realized that that must have been her nickname at the orphanage. (This is not the mei mei in Chinese that means little sister, but in her Chinese name [Gui Yan Mei] the Mei meant Plum Blossom. So, saying Mei Mei was sort of like someone calling a child named Catherine "Cathy" or "Kitty Cat". It was a term of endearment. I began saying the name back to her and I got the biggest grin ever. She loved hearing her name.

I actually appreciated the fact that Kenzie came to us with so much personality! At 18-19 months old, she had a well-developed sense of humor, and showed it! She was also extremely ripe for learning language. She was just beginning to say some Chinese words (such as bye-bye, more, mine, mama, and baba). But her receptive language really took off. By the time we left Changsha (she had been placed in our arms on a Sunday evening, and we flew out early Friday afternoon) she knew most of her body parts, and knew to press the elevator buttons to go up and down. And so much more.... After being home a couple of weeks, she was already trying to say several words. However, her words for daddy and diaper sounded a lot alike...

I choose to believe that no matter what age of child one is referred, it is magical. Everyone seems to feel that they are matched with the child that was meant for them. We certainly feel that way.

Monday, August 14, 2006

It's not about you....

Yesterday, Kenzie and I met my mother at a local Cracker Barrel. It was filled to capacity, with lots of clanging dishes, loud kids, and people yelling over each other just to try to hear each other over the din every one else was creating.

During all this, my mother was practically falling asleep at the table. Literally, the only thing that woke her up was her head falling forward as if it were going to fall right onto the table.

We all agreed to meet at my mother's sister's house after lunch. Mom went straight there. I had to take a short detour back to our house and pick up Kenzie's Elmo. Once she had it (she loves her Elmo) we scooted on over to Aunt Annetta's so we could visit with her. Annetta has had a mild stroke, has heart problems, and recently had a biopsy (supposedly to find out more about why she had a stroke). She is in her mid 80's and is as spunky as they come. She's always been one of my favorite aunts.

The whole time we were there, Mom kept dozing off in the chair.

Kenzie made a huge breakthrough, though. She has always been extremely afraid of dogs. She loves them - wants to pet them - but has been very frightened by their quick movements, and the fact that they jump up on her. Plus, even a small dog looks big to her.

Well, Annetta has a little dog named Tippy. He is part Dachsund, part Chihuahua, and part Pekinese. He stayed rather docile this time, laying down. Kenzie finally overcame her fears and began to pet Tippy, and brush him, and play with him, throwing his toys for him to fetch. I was in awe over her slow progress in trusting Tippy and learning how to pet him. It is progress, and she was so excited that she was able to pet and play with him.

When it was time to leave, Kenzie and I were to go up to my mother's house to continue the visit. My mother wanted to take Kenzie in her car.

O-KAAAAAAAYYYY.... NO way that was happening. When I told mom that Kenzie would not be going with her, but would instead be riding with me, she was offended.

I told her that I felt it was unsafe at this point to let Kenzie ride with her, since she was so tired and dozing off not only at Annetta's, but at the restaurant as well. Her rebuttal? Kenzie was her granddaughter, and she should be able to take her if she wanted to. She wasn't tired. And since Kenzie wanted to go with her, she should be able to go in her car.

I have to thank GOD that I am not one of those wimpy women who will put their child's safety at risk just to please her mother. Yes, mom, Kenzie is your granddaughter. But she's my daughter, and that gives me not only the right, but the responsibility to see that she is not put in harm's way unnecessarily - not if I can help it. And yes, you ARE tired, or you wouldn't be falling asleep in a noisy restaurant. And just because Kenzie wants to do something, that doesn't make it okay. Kenzie is not even 4 years old yet - what would make anyone think that a child would know better than an adult as to what is safe or okay to do... C'mon mom - you used to be a better parent than that. What has happened to your judgement?

As we were driving up to mom's house, I felt that my decision was more than justified. Once on the highway, I put the truck on cruise control, set at the speed limit. My mother? At first, she was riding on my tail. Then, she sped on past us and left us waaaaaaay behind. I'm so glad I didn't let Kenzie go with her. I love her, but her judgement has been severly impaired. I just don't understand it.

All I had to do was take one look at this precious child and know that I was given the most awesome gift - and I don't want to take it for granted.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Daycare closed this week - how nice.

Daycares suck. For most people, it is a necessity (single/divorced/widows or widower parents). I have certain (ahem) "obligations" I need to take care of before I can just quit work and be the stay at home mom I would like to be. In the meantime, my daughter suffers.

No daycare (I don't care what anyone says) can ever hold a candle to a mother's care. This morning I informed my daughter that she would be spending the rest of the week at work with me, because the daycare had to close this week. Seems they didn't pass an inspection with the local fire marshall - something to do with not being compliant with regulations post 9/11. She began squealing, jumping up and down, and clapping her hands. When I started to put her in the truck to go, she wrapped her little legs around me, grabbed my face and kissed me hard and then hugged me with the "crushing hug". She was so happy.

Well, that was before I made her take a nap today. Being a mother means I have to make her do things she would rather not because it is good for her... and she definitely would rather not take a nap. When she woke up, she wouldn't speak to me or respond. Gave me the cold shoulder. Aaaaaaaaahhhhhh! (That is - aaaahhh as in a sigh, not a scream.) Thank God I knew this would be one of the things that would happen. No la-la land for me... I don't believe in prefection. I'd be scared witless if she did everything I asked her to do without question, and always said or did the right thing at the right time. I'd be having her x-rayed to see what was really underneath that gorgeous peachy skin tone. I'd have expected gears and sprockets and a microchip processor..... Hmmmmm, I wondered what that whirring sound was when she was sleeping.

I really like being a mommy. The good and the frustrating. Let me go take another crack at her to see if she'll be more open to me... then again, she may not be all that happy with me until after supper, just in time to get her ready for bed... LOL!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

More news on the little SN girl

Found out her file is now at the Civil Affairs Bureau. That means sometime (hopefully soon) her file will be at the CCAA (China Center of Adoption Affairs) and then maybe - just maybe - our ageny will be able to get her file.

I'll just have to wait and see. And hope. And pray.