Saturday, August 31, 2013

You Say Toucans - They Say Pecans

At breakfast this morning we were at a local diner.  They have murals of various jungle animals on all the walls.  When Roni saw this one she said, "Look at those pecans."

They make me laugh every day.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Flashback Friday - The Ballerinas

Last year we saw an ad that a local dance studio was having a garage sale.  They were selling costumes from the previous year.  We packed up the girls and drove over.  It was a treasure trove of lovely recital costumes for very low prices (less than ten dollars per costume).  We purchased several that looked to be the correct size.  The girls love them and a year later still wear them.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bike Riding

This evening we took the girls for a bike ride.  Little do they know they are part of their parents exercise plan.

Thoughts About Our Journey - The Mad Dash to Our Daughters (Stateside)

We received our match on November 2nd.  After we saw the photos, cried with joy, read the reports from China, cried with joy, and asked a ton of questions - actually it was my DH who asked the questions I was still coping with a tidal wave of emotion and crying with joy.  I always wanted to be a mom and in my darkest hours of emotional pain I confess I had cried out to God questioning how he could instill in me such a strong maternal longing and yet I remained childless.  My prayers had been finally answered and I had looked at the faces of my daughters.  It is hard to explain how two small red folders could mean so much.  

After we left the agency office we both started calling family and friends to share the news.  The first person I called was my mom - she thought I was kidding when I told her we were matched with twins.  Originally we had said we wouldn't tell her we had twins until we saw her in person, but I couldn't keep such big news from her.  After the family and friends were called we both called our offices and shared the big news with them.  Once we were where we could send photos via e-mail we did and a few people actually thought they looked like boys.  I can see it now, but at the time I was sad thy they thought my little girls were boys.  We both had to go to work the next day and I must confess I got very little work done - I was just too exited to concentrate.

After we sent our letters of acceptance in we had a big surprise.  We were told that one of our girls had a couple of lumps under her skin - one on her cheek and one on her elbow.  They sent us a couple of photos with the lumps circled, but you really couldn't tell anything from the photos other than she was very upset.  We were scared, but knew we couldn't do anything about it until we got her home and had her into see a doctor.

The next few weeks were a blur.  We had a phone conference call with our agency and our travel group.  We got a packet of information of all the steps we had to complete - they sounded simple on paper, but did not take into account dealing with government agencies. A short while before we had come to this point, the USCIS offices had all been consolidated and the agents were stretched to a breaking point.  While our assigned officer was nice she was clearly overwhelmed by the volume of work, was slow to respond and wound up having some sort of family situation that took her out of the office at a very critical point for us.  Our approved paperwork somehow did not get sent in a timely manner and we came very close to not getting our US Consulate appointment which would have possibly meant not getting our girls before years end.  I have to confess that I spent precious office hours on the phone holding for someone to help me.  I also cried - a lot.  We also had to get VISA's, arrange for hotels, get airline tickets (including seats for the girls since they were over to years old) and arrange for pet care.  

In addition to all the travel and paperwork we had to get our house in order.  We went from furniture for  a baby to toddler beds, two of everything including booster seats, car seats, a twin stroller and did a ton of baby proofing since we were going from expecting a younger child to expecting two mobile toddlers.  We printed out packing lists and purchased suitcases, a luggage scale, money belts, and travel sized everything we could think of.  We purchased diapers, wipes, Cheerios (we were told they were like baby crack), stacking cups, and blow up beach balls.  We filled prescriptions for scabies, antibiotics for us and for the girls, packed cold medicine, allergy medicine, Tylenol and baby fever reducer.  One of the only things we didn't pack was duck tape and we wound up regretting that omission.  We also traded in our car for a more family friendly SUV.

While we were doing this we were also both working full time.  The week before we left my office threw us a wonderful shower and I was touched by all the well wishes and wonderful people who were happy for me.  However my bosses gave me a huge list of tasks to do before I left - I did my best to complete them all - but it sucked so much energy from me and added to my stress.  Because of the volume of work I needed to complete I had to work up till the day we left.  It was funny we spent all that time waiting and then once we were matched we had so little time left.

Next: Hong Kong Bound

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Thoughts About Our Journey - Leap of Faith

When we applied to adopt from China there were two choices as to programs.  One was the NSN Program (non special needs) and the other was the Waiting Child Program (children with special needs).  We opted for the NSN program because while we recognized that we could have had a biological child who had special needs, every parent sets out to have a healthy baby.  We knew that NSN did not mean there would not be any special needs - it was just that the children referred through that program were not reported to have special needs.  I will say that many institutionalized children do have developmental delays that require special care so I tend to believe that the majority of children adopted from China are in some respect special needs.

As the wait began to stretch out before us it became painfully obvious that the program was changing and it was changing rapidly.  China instituted new rules for adopting parents making it more difficult to qualify.  The most heart wrenching change in my eyes was the denial of prospective parents who had taken anti-depressants.  Many people who undergo fertility difficulties (and many adoptive parents do) become depressed.  The shift was subtitle at first, but became much more pronounced after the first year we waited.  Many people who started out NSN began to re-evaluate and move to the SN (special needs program).  We chose to remain in the NSN program.  As time went on it became a common theme for many people on the China adoption boards to suggest that those who continued to wait should just move to the SN program with the feeling being those who still waited just needed to be educated so they would change.  At times it got pretty ugly.

We continued our wait.  A few people I worked with implied I was getting too old.  It was hard to keep a positive attitude.  By the time we relieved our match we had been dealing with infertility and family building for almost twelve years.  I still remember driving down to meet with our agency representative wishing that teleportation was real.  We were told we would need to sit down when we got there and our thoughts immediately went to twins.  But two families on the blog we frequented had already reported being matched with twins - so it seemed less likely.  When she handed us two files my brain went to mush - my DH was already figuring out the logistics - I was just picturing my arms being full - my heart already was.

When you get a match the information you receive is pretty basic.  We were told their measurements, where they were developmentally, their daily routine and a few medical details.  In the case of our girls their reports were almost identical with only a few difference and their measurements were exactly the same.  Once you get that file you have very little time to decide and send back your LOA (letter of acceptance).  Once you have seen your child's face, heard their name and read those few precious pieces of paper it is hard to stay objective.  We signed the LOA's the next day and we were starting to feel like parents.

 We did take their information to a pediatrician we were considering and he was very negative - he thought they should already be walking unassisted at the time of the report and was concerned about their size.  My DH took the file to another pediatrician who was much more positive, but I can say without any reservation that we already knew they would be our daughters.  We took the leap and I've never regretted it.



Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Thoughts About Our Journey - The Beginning

Way back in fall of 2005 we decided to build our family through adoption and started our first steps to the girls.  I remember filling out the application and being so afraid that the agency would turn us down.  We had faced so many ups and downs already trying to start our family that I just couldn't yet let myself hope and fully believe that we would ever be parents.  We sent the application in the week before Thanksgiving and I made my hubby call the agency on thevWednesday before to find out if we were approved - I couldn't phantom the thought of going through the holidays not knowing.  Happily we were approved and the paper chase began.

My hubby was a true hero/knight in shining armor.  He stayed strong when I was freaking out and followed each step that our wonderful agency laid out for us in their dossier prep booklet.  We had a couple of hiccups, bad advice from one agency worker who is no longer working for them.  It was a minor thing, but given the mysterious/often debated slow down in China of NSN adoptions, wound up delaying our match from May of 2010 to November of 2010.  The delay bothered me at the time, but as I look back I realize that those delayed days were leading us to our girls.  People can debate meant to be (when you adopt - one of the hard parts is the realization that your joy, your family, comes from a terrible loss), but that mistake put us in the right part of the line to be matched with our daughters.  Their loss of parents and our loss of our biological babies led us to each other.  We are a family stitched together with a red thread of loss, hope and love.

During the wait, which wound up being almost five years, we went on a few cruises and learned how to drive motorcycles.  I had three promotions, my hubby's office downsized and my youngest sister got married.  We all got older.  We painted the room, put up a fan, collected bibs through a bib exchange, read books about attachment and parenting and fielded lots of questions.  I had co-workers think I should give up and my dad was convinced it was a con.  But all the waiting didn't stop us.  Funnily enough it turned out that we both believed we would be referred twins, but never shared it with each other - other than to pick out a second name "just in case".  

We both frequented a very popular and busy adoption site for parents adopting from China.  The owner of the blog keeps very sophisticated set of statistics and projection charts so we were able to watch the slow progress toward match.  So when the calls were coming out for our LID days we knew that it was our turn...  

On November 2, 2010 our lives were changed forever.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Second Week of School Begins

This morning I woke to this...

Rose yelling loudly from the family room.  "Mommy, Roni hit me in the eye with the toothpaste."  Mind you it was 5:50 am and I wasn't even surprised.  Both girls, after a bit of fussing and feuding climbed into bed with us and lay somewhat quietly for about fifteen minutes.  Then we were up and running.  Quick breakfast, school clothes on, hair brushed, glasses cleaned and on, socks on and shoes tied.  We were out the door by five after seven with back packs on and were at school by 7:25 am.  Rose walked Roni to her class, kissed and hugged her - no one would have ever guessed that less than two hours earlier they were at war in the bathroom.  Then we went to her room where she again proclaimed her classroom to be much larger than her sisters.  When I got home I found the offending tube of toothpaste on the floor.

When they came home at 4:20 pm they stormed in full of sass and a lot energy.  They also both were very stinky - evidently they played flag football this afternoon, because Roni told me that a boy teased her and grabbed her flags.  She was certain he was Japanese and nothing would shake that assertion.  So after supper I sent them to the tub for a scrubbing.  They insisted on bubble bath.  

The best thing about being so busy at school - once they lay down in bed they are asleep quickly.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

First Colds of the School Year

So we all have our first colds of the school year.  Roni has been sniffing for a few days and now we are all starting to feel the symptoms - everyone except Rose.  For some reason she has remained free of the cough, sniffles and sore throat.  I hope she stays that way, but if things run their normal course she will get sick just when we are all getting better.

Due to the colds we had a quiet day.  Our church had their annual back to school Sunday celebration - complete with donuts and everyone dressing in school colors (our town is home to a major university). The girls have moved up to the Kindergarten Sunday School class.  Their teacher asked that we purchase the girls bibles - so after church we went to the Bible Bookstore and got them their first bibles.  They were both very excited - not that they can read, but there are pictures so they enjoyed looking at them.  They are nice bibles that hopefully they will have for years to come.  

Then we came home and spent the rest of the day relaxing.  I am happy to say that both girls behaved much better today and we had no more major mishaps.

I didn't post this photo the other day - Rose at school.

She looks so sad in this photo, but she really wasn't.  She was actually very proud of the caterpillar she made.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Button Pushers

Today was a tough day.  I guess a whole week of behaving at school means they had to let loose this weekend and boy did they.  

Last night they ran wild at Wal Mart.  We were there to get daddy's glasses fixed and they evidently were not interested at all in listening to either of us.  Both girls started out okay trying on glasses while they waited.  

Then we went to look for a new night gown while they finished up with daddies glasses.  We couldn't find any gowns in the toddler section, but found the perfect gowns in the girls department.  

The ride home was awful.  One of the girls did not want to get in her seat.  They both have a new habit of poking out their feet to keep us from closing the door.  It was starting to rain and after asking nicely while rain drops pounded on my back I pushed her leg in and quickly shut the door.  She cried and kicked the back of my seat all the way home.  I felt like the worst mommy ever.

This morning was supposed to be a fresh start.  It quickly went own hill with the same car behavior as the night before.  We met my sister, her hubby and the cousins for lunch and both girls ran wild in the restaurant.  It was very frustrating.  After lunch the cousins posed for a photo.  It was pretty much the only time during lunch that they were still.

Then we came home and things went sideways.  It was like everything they had done was building up for the next big thing.  We were at home, the girls were playing and we were resting (we are both starting to have a sore throat).  Roni came out yelling, "look what Rose did."  She was covered with tiger stripes, arms, legs and chest drawn with black permanent marker.  I shouted and Rose came out - she had started to draw stripes on her arms as well.  An inspection of the bathroom proved as upsetting - black stripes on the mirror, it's frame, the counter top and the sink bowl.  I didn't take any photos because I don't want them to think it was cute and/or funny.

Quick product placement - Magic Eraser.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Flashback Friday - Head Wear the Early Years

Just a few photos of the girls early choices in head wear.

The Pants on the Head Gang

Rose rocking a PJ Pants Hat

Rose Rocking the Basket Hat look

Roni wearing an actual hat

Rose modeling a Steak N Shake hat

Roni in a Panda Hat

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Already Trying to Get Out of School

At five this morning our sleep was interrupted by a shouting child.  Rose was letting us know that Roni was sick and therefore needed to stay home.  Since she was such a caring sister she would be more than happy to stay home and care for her sick sister.  The hubby tried to get her to go back to sleep, but instead she came into our bedroom and got in bed with me.  We both tried to get the girls back to sleep, but wound up giving up.  After a quick temp check we determined that Roni was okay other than a croup cough.  Both girls tried to get out of school.  Roni kept saying that the playground was too hot (she got too sweaty), the water was cold and made her hands cold when she washed them and they didn't run the fans in the cafeteria at aftercare.  I kept probing and it finally came out that she was upset because she didn't think she would ever get to be "blue light" which is evidently the super good designation for a kindergarten kid.  We talked and I assured her that I loved her no matter what.  Both girls went to school cheerfully.

When the girls got home tonight they told me all about their day.  No complaints about the heat, the cold water or the fans.  Before they went to bed they "built a three horse sleigh" and went for a ride. I absolutely love their sense of imagination!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Today We Celebrated

Today my wonderful husband and the girls super baba celebrated his birthday.  After work we went and picked the girls up from school and went to one of our favorite local Italian Restaurants.  The girls were very bouncy - they managed to talk us into letting them sit on the bench side of our table together, where much to our surprise they did a word search puzzle successfully.

Then we went home and they played pirates and princess till bedtime.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

It's a Twin Thing

After yesterday's aborted surprise from Rose (she tried to dress herself for school, but selected totally inappropriate clothing) the girls dressed theirselves for school this morning.  Over the past two years the girls have not been allowed to dress in the same clothing - they were in the same classroom and the teachers implored us both years not to let them dress the same.  Today they came out in navy blue "polo" dresses, put on their pink converse shoes their daddy picked for them and asked that I braid their hair the same.  Then Rose introduced herself as Roni and Roni as Rose.  Cracked me up. 

My little tricksters.

Walking to school.

While the girls were at school my sister came over for a visit.  She has four cats at her house.  Duncan went nuts rubbing up against, and chewing her purse.  Did I mention three if her cats are girls?

Monday, August 19, 2013

First Day of Kindergarten

Last night the hubby and I packed up their school supplies and put out a "first day" outfit (jumpers, button up blouses, socks and their new Twinkle Toe shoes).  Today was the big day - my girls have crossed the threshold and are now officially in Kindergarten.  They woke us up at 5:15 am.  We had them snuggle with us till almost six and then got rolling.  Both girls took a shower - they had paint in their hair from the pottery painting on Saturday.  Then Rose tried to surprise me by picking out a first school day outfit (really short purple shorts and a tank top) - unfortunately I had to change her into her school "uniform" clothes.  I dried both girls hair with a blow drier, braided Roni's per her request and after consulting with her left Rose's straight. The girls ate breakfast, we took official first day photos and we were off and running.

At school we had to wait in the hall till the bell rang and then daddy took Rose to her class and I took Roni to hers.  Roni went right away to her cubby, tucked away her back pack and went to her seat.  She had a coloring sheet that she went to work on after giving me a quick kiss and letting me get a photo.  Then I met daddy in the hall, he said Rose was already coloring.  I wanted to get her photo and tried to do so from the doorway, but another mother kept getting in the photo.  Finally I went in to say goodbye and took her photo.  Rose said, "I love you to the moon and stars and back again" and gave me a kiss.  

Roni - her seat is next to the window and the cubbies.

Rose - her seat is near the door.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Today my dad and his fiancĂ© invited the family over for a cookout at their house.  The girls had a wonderful time - they didn't know when we went, but they got to meet Lulu - Kasia's dog.  Lulu is a very sweet submissive little dog and the girls had great fun playing with her and going with their grand daddy to walk her.  

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Stormy Day

We wanted to go somewhere for the last Saturday before school starts, but the weather just did not cooperate.  Every place we thought of going had a high chance of rain and we didn't want to take a long drive with the chance it would wind up rained out.  So instead we stayed in town and made the best if it.

First we went to Cracker Barrel - we had to run the gauntlet through the store.  It was full of lots if neat stuff for Fall and Halloween as well as lots candy and toys.  Both girls zeroed in on all things horse related.

Waiting for pancakes.

Daddy and Roni cutting up.

After breakfast we killed some time at one of our local Asian grocery stores. Then we headed for the new pottery painting studio - it replaced one that had the same name that suddenly closed while we still had months on our paid membership.  They evidently purchased the name and left over stock, but don't care to honor the membership.  Kind of crummy since I know darn well they have benefitted from having the same name and I suspect also got their client data base.  

We had read that the studio fee was waived for kids, which we thought was great.  When we went in there were people painting and a back room set up for a party, but no employees to be seen.  We wound up standing around till a guy came ambling out of the back.  He told my hubby that they went to studio fees for all customers, "since the children waste as much paint as the adults".  We stayed because we told the girls the could paint, but I doubt we will be going back other than to pick up the pieces they painted.