Sunday, August 31, 2008


We travel once a year to Chicago to visit with Grandma Geri. Now, we have been doing this for the last 3 years with Kenzie (we felt she was a bit young the first year she was home, so we didn't go then). We always marveled at what a great traveler Kenzie was, and how she entertained herself and didn't complain and oh my! Weren't we the luckiest parents!!!

Well, that all changed this year. We weren't even 15 minutes outside of Bloomington and we heard "Are we to Chicago yet?"

It was about every 10-25 minutes she would ask the same things.

"Are we to Chicago yet?"

"When are we going to be in Chicago?"

"Are we there yet?"

"How much longer before we're in Chicago?"

"Are we in Chicago yet?"

And on and on and on. By the time we got north of Lafayette, I started answering "YES! We're in Chicago, Honey!!!"

She would look around and say, "I don't see any tall buildings..."

And I would say, "Well, then... do you think we're in Chicago yet?"

"No. We're not in Chicago yet."

"OK - then you know we aren't in Chicago without having to ask. When you see big buildings, you'll know we are in Chicago."

"Sooooo... when are we going to be in Chicago?" (Want a little cheese with that whine, sweetie? And the trip lasted about 6 1/2 hours. Uuuugggghhhh...... )

When we finally made it to Chicago, we went to our favorite evening restaurant to see Grandma Geri, Uncle Dan and his girlfriend Jane, and Cousin Elaine. Elaine brought her daughter Deborah this year, too. We always meet at the Omega (on Golf Road in Des Plaines), which has great food, even better service and it's so reasonably priced - we don't go anywhere else to eat for supper while up here. We love the Omega. If you're curious and want to try it out, the Omega is at 9100 Golf Road in Des Plaines. It isn't real fancy food - they keep it simple. But I'll say this much - for the money - if you're hungry - this is the place to eat.

I have some pics to share from the evening. If you want to see full size photos, just click on the picture.

The next day, we went (predictably) to the Lincoln Park Zoo. I believe this is the only free zoo in the country... and it is quite a nice little zoo. It isn't fancy, but there's a lot there and they are trying to improve their exhibits whenever they can. I have a few pics from that day...

Here's the main entrance. Click the pic for the full size photo and more detail.

Our daughter, the showoff...

Can you find the rhino in the pic? Click on the pic to see the full size and the rhino.

A couple of pics of the beautiful city scape from the park.

Ever hear of a Patogonian Cavy? This is it...

Now, before you jump to conclusions - this is not what it seems. NO, this isn't two turtles copulating. All the turtles in the exhibit were male. And this happens to be their way of establishing dominance amongst themselves. Looks like humans aren't the only ones who try to compensate for their "shortcomings". Napolean complex, anyone?

This was probably the most exciting thing we saw at the zoo. A baby rabbit that was outside the zoo as we were walking back to the van. It stayed very still and wasn't too afraid of us. We were probably about 4 feet from this little bunny, and I got some nice pics. (Click the pic to see a closeup.)

The next day, again predictably, we went to Navy Pier. Actually, it is a fun time. And the Children's Museum is actually quite good. I heard from my mother-in-law that Mayor Daley wants to move the museum to a park (was it Grant Park? - something like that) and there's a huge number of people who are opposed to this. I'm one of them. There's no parking at the park for families, and the residents around this area of Chicago are against it because of the traffic and other unpleasant activities that would follow the move. Navy Pier is easier to get to and has parking and - well, it just fits. I have some pics of Kenzie doing her best to show what it's like to be working in a pizzeria. She loves that exhibit.

And then, the very best of all... Navy Pier has a HUGE ferris wheel. Kenzie has been begging us to go on a ferris wheel all year. I have no idea why she wants to do this - but it seems to be a big deal to her. So this year, as she begged (and I mean BEGGED) to go on the ferris wheel - guess who was the lucky parent who went with her. Yup. Me.

Now, I am not afraid of heights unless I'm in the act of falling, so going up the ferris wheel wasn't going to bother me height-wise. The only thing I worried about was how fast it would go. But I found that it takes about 7 minutes for it to make one revolution (which is all you get to ride it for anyway - and by the way - that cost $6.00 per person). I had nothing to worry about though. The trip is so slow that if you didn't notice the horizon changing and being able to look out and see for miles around - you would never have known you were on a ride at all. Here are the pics.

No - she's not getting ready to throw up. This was close to the end of the ride and she was just so excited... she was giggling like a girl would. My daughter simply loves life and wants to experience everything she can.... and to her, this was like a dream come true.

I can't wait to let our second daughter experience these things as well! Next year, we'll have a different family portrait to share.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Boys are a problem...

When the heck did boys become such an issue at 5 years old?

OK, my husband and I are seeing and hearing about boys that are becoming a problem for Kenzie.

First, the other day, Kenzie told me that Omar (a boy in her class) wouldn't stop touching her. I asked where he was touching her and she said on her skirt and leg. She told him to stop it but he didn't. Evidently the teacher saw what was happening and stepped in to stop it. Just to put this into perspective, Omar also went two days in a row to the principal's office.

Then yesterday, my husband took her to the park pool. First, two boys (who appeared to be older than Kenzie) surrounded her and began "petting" her and touching her. They were dragged off of Kenzie by their mom. Then a younger boy began touching her as well. Thank goodness his mom was watching, too, and stopped that as well. If I had been the one to witness this, I would have yelled at the boys right then and there - and with my face - it would have probably scared them worse than anything their mother would have done. Roy isn't quite as quick to react.

What is going on here? I know Kenzie is cute and adorable - and it scares me even more now. I keep telling Roy that she needs to be in martial arts school so she'll learn how to be more assertive and know how to protect herself from anyone who would like to take advantage of her. I know they'll teach non-lethal methods of being able to grab someones thumb or finger and twist it in a way that hurts but doesn't break anything - unless the moron wants to push the issue...

OK, I'm not advocating she kick their butts the minute they put a hand on her, but geez! If the moms aren't around and it does gets out of hand, I want her to feel she has the right (and the ability) to make sure the boys know she doesn't allow anyone to "handle" her. Most of the time, either Roy or I are around to watch her, but at school, with 21 kids in the class, the teacher may end up occupied and not able to catch it all. And I'd rather Kenzie learn how to handle it herself than become a "tattle-tale". She'll get more respect (not to mention fear from the guys). I don't want them to think she's a toy they can "play" with.

I do want her to know she can do whatever it takes to protect herself. Maybe 5 years old is too young for that... but I remember feeling helpless at 5 not knowing what to do or that I was even entitled to protect myself. I don't want that for her.

I remember when I was 21, and I worked for the state highway department (in the office, not out on the roads with the guys). I worked for a subdistrict, and one of the girls working in the office with me was dating a guy who worked for the district office (no, he was not her boss). We were supposed to meet one evening at a bar for some camaraderie and to listen to my boyfriend's band playing . Now, you got to understand, I weighed 105 pounds at the time. This guy came up out of his chair to "greet" me with "Howdy, sweetheart!" and grabbed my butt with one of his huge paws. Without a second thought and as fast as you could say "What the?" I turned into him with my fist at the ready, and pulled my punch at the last second to not hit him in the nose but in the chest - with as much force behind that punch that my body could muster. And I DON'T hit like a girl - I hit like a man - straight on - no round punches. I knocked the wind out of him, and he had a HUGE bruise on his chest for three weeks. But I guaran-damn-tee you he didn't ever try to disrespect me again. Forever after that, he addressed me as " Miss Julie" and he kept his hands to himself.

I want my daughter to know she has that kind of freedom and to have the ability to use it.

I want her to be empowered.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Drumroll please.... Meet our new daughter!

I am so excited to announce that we are accepting our referral for our new daughter! I can hardly believe that this is happening - and our hearts are soaring! Now we have a million questions to ask our agency so we can get started planning our trip and what to bring and do.

I can hardly contain myself!!!!

Here are a couple of pics of her. She is beatiful, isn't she?

Her name is Qin Jia. She is at the Jiamusi CWI in Heilongjiang province. She was born Feb 28, 2004 - and she's a monkey just like me! I can't wait to travel to China and get her.

OH my gosh - it's really going to happen. We're going to be a family of four!!!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Kenzie's first day of school

Kenzie had her first day of Kindergarten on Wednesday. Wow... my baby is growing up.

I took pictures and asked a couple of the mommies there to take our pictures together. She was just precious. As she was waiting in line with the other kids for the bus, I began to tear up... OH for crying out loud! It's just Kindergarten! What's going to happen when she's going off to college!

Looking a bit nervous...

A little more relaxed...

Then in the evening, we began a new year of dance and gymnastics. She talks like she really doesn't want to do it, but then when she's there, she has the biggest grin on her face and looks like she really enjoys it. I took pics of her in her suit just prior to her starting class.

Is there an exorcist in the house?

This morning when I was walking her to the bus, she asked, "Are you going to cry again today?" I assured her I wouldn't. I kept my word. I guess it embarrassed her .

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What great support...

I have to say that I am blown away by the support everyone has shown us. Thank you!

We got her medicals today and have forwarded everything to the IA doc. Now it is just a waiting game. I am not crazy about waiting... but I've waited so long - a couple more days won't hurt.

I don't know why, but I'm a lot calmer this time around than the last time. And I am once again planning everything in my head as to what we will be bringing and how I can approach her and make her feel more comfortable... what do I need to know or what words will I need to be able to speak to her in her own language to comfort her and communicate a little bit... or at least to understand what she is saying.

I need to find a good book on adopting older children from China - or older international children in general. Or find someplace where I can get expert advice from BTDT parents who adopted 4-6 y/0 kids and can help with suggestions. I just want to get it right so I'm not pulling my hair out or making things worse by doing something that will hurt the relationship from the start.

Counting my chickens before they've hatched here, so to speak. But I can't help myself. I want to be the mother to another little girl. And Kenzie wants a sister. OH, Please God, let this all come together.

Met Kenzie's Kindergarten teacher and she is very nice. I think Kenzie will love her. I leave in 3 minutes to take her to her school so she can see where she's going to go and to meet her teacher.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Well, I wasn't expecting it, but we got another referral today. It is for a 4.5 y/o girl from Heilongjiang province - waaaaaaaaaay up north between Inner Mongolia and Russia.

I am waiting for her medical and developmental info - and praying HARD there isn't anything in there to be a red flag. She has big brown eyes and a lot of hair (even if it is cut short). Roy and I are excited, and we are very happy. I'm glad that she is an older child. It certainly won't make it easier to communicate with her, but she and Kenzie will be able to play together. Being older, I'm sure she'll be able to learn English fairly quickly. I'm hoping that the age difference (only 1.25 years) won't be too close together... but we'll see. A lot will depend on our new daughter's temperament.

When I can post more, I will. I am not going to post any photos until I know more about her medicals and get the report from our IA docs.

Wish us luck, please. I won't be able to sleep until we know.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Once again, something is in the air...

Rumor Queen has reported something in the air. I'm too scared to think that perhaps we'll get a second referral.

My mind is a blank right now. Kenzie starts Kindergarten next Wednesday, as well as her next year of tap dance & gymnastics. I wonder if she'll ever get the gymnastics at all. Well, I'm not really into pushing that stuff. But I'm hoping when she is watching the Olympics, she'll get to see the young ladies doing the gymnastics and be able to see where what she is doing is what they started out doing as well. Maybe it will motivate her to try harder. As it is, she really only half-way does things at this moment.

We have an orientation for parents on Tuesday morning at Kenzie's school she will be attending. I think they also said that Kenzie will have an orientation that afternoon. We still haven't received any information from the school yet, and they were supposed to get a letter out so the parents would receive it this week. I'm not thinking very much about this administration if this is how they run things.. and the school she is going to is supposed to be highly accredited with all kinds of awards. Yeah. Right.

Sorry for the cynicism. OH who am I kidding... I'm not sorry. I'm just getting to be a cynical old biddy in my elderly years.