Monday, November 26, 2007

Surprise Shot

While Dylan and Lyvi and I were having fun at the Waco Zoo, a mighty loud helicopter flew by and the littles were so enamoured I took a picture. Jason was looking at our pictures and noticed that it was the helicopter purportedly carrying the president!


Happy Thanksgiving!

Oh my gosh it was suddenly SOOO cold, but we love our weekend place and really enjoyed just staying inside watching the creek and bucks wander by. Friends were there with us and we got the kids out a bit, but mostly we just sat inside and chatted and ate and ate and ate.

You wouldn't believe how much fun kids can have on a haystack of all things...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Painful First

Little Lindsay had her first disparaging event with friends at school. While I'm sure little things have gone on, figuring out the playgroup politics has gotten a bit tougher in 1st grade than in Kinder.

Bedtime chess has changed a bit in our home. Considering there are four munchkins to send to dreamland, I think we actually do a really good job of reading and one-on-time before bed. We finally got a bed set up in Lindsay's room and I found the yummiest ruffled sheets. For three years, she has been sleeping in Jonathan and Dylan's big room, which was great, but the call of the frilly has brought her home to the pink girly room. Now she is wanting me to lay down with her after the lights go out, which does put a cramp in MY waning bit of quiet time before I go to bed.

On this night, she was just collapsing before bed and butting heads with Daddy for some crazy reason -- fortunately not normal behavior! I came up and got in bed with her and she just clung to me. After crying for a little while she finally told me how it was the worst day of recess EVER! There was litany of things wrong, but the gist of it was that she couldn't find anyone to play with and Parker ignored her and she can't be good at anything so she just sat and dug a hole in the ground.

After that last statement, my mind was filled with images of a loner goth girl wandering around high school digging holes in the dirt so action must be taken! The best part of the whole incident is that she didn't continue to bemoan her playground fate, she really listened to my ideas, which I delivered in such a stellar manner she pretty much thought they were her ideas (excuse the boasting, but parents have to be their own cheerleader!) She finally decided to take a ball to school the next day so she would have an instant kid magnet. Also, next week we will go up to school after hours and practice these monkey bar things that the girls like to do, but Lindsay hasn't mastered. (This idea floored her -- gotta say it again - pure genius on my part!)

Boy, holding my precious little package as she sobbed and actually shared her personal tragedies will be enough to keep me coming back for more of this new nighttime ritual. If that is when she is ready to talk and share, I'll be there.

The report home after the first day of school was that it was a GREAT idea. Actual stories about recess sounded a bit Lord of the Balls to me since some kid kept knocking the ball out of her hand and running off and I'm sure Lindsay took charge since she was the ball owner, but hopefully she wasn't too bossy. She set ground rules, but they sounded fair (each kid got 5 tries to throw the ball in the basket.) Most important is that she thought it was successful and felt in control at recess.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Jane Liedtke in Town

Tonight I got to meet Jane Liedtke in person and hear her speak! She is something of a rock star to me because she started and runs (with a village of help I am sure) a great organization called Our Chinese Daughters Foundation. She also moderates a number of Yahoo groups including a popular one where she will answer questions about China (AskJaneChina). You would have to check their website to see the scope of what they do. Primarily they run heritage tours to China, provide opportunities for cultural education to our children and support Chinese charities. She's been living in Beijing, but is back in the States for awhile.

While there, I also did some major Christmas shopping for myself! Aside from jewelry, I bought OCDF's new publications. Jane is actually in Texas attending a conference of foreign language teachers since they provide publications and items to facilitate teaching Chinese culture.

Lately I've been dreaming about the OCDF heritage tours. The goal of a good heritage tour is for our adopted children fall in love with their birth country. For the first time, I understood just how strongly she feels that children be between 6-8 years old for this first trip. Much younger and they won't remember enough and you'll need to return. A little older and they may struggle to emotionally transition so some of the trip is "wasted" as they need time to open up to the experience of learning about a foreign culture.

Even though Lyvi would be too young for the kind of experience this group offers, I am still ready to go back myself and to take Jonathan, Lindsay and Dylan. I want China to be a real place for them, too. We could take more than one trip to China if we moved to Singapore, but I'll have to figure out what kind of China experience we are looking for at this time in Lyvi's life. I do know that I want to try and keep up a relationship of some sort with her orphanage and foster mom so a visit to Shanggao would be on my wish list. Jane did reassure me that even if we don't go for another four to six years, that her foster mom will remember her, which is important to me!

Some of Jane's stories changed my vision of what might have happened to Lyvia as she shared some amazing stories about families finding their child's birth parents during the heritage trips. Almost more amazing were the stories about families who could have found birth parents, but chose not to. It is unfathomable to me that you can choose to adopt a child, but not seize the opportunity to fill in the gaps of their story by connecting to their birth family. Even if you couldn't handle the situation, at least let someone gather information to share with your child one day. There is a black hole of knowledge in China that is even darker than in closed domestic adoptions. Here, children may not know their family, but they will probably know where they were born and the reasons their family felt they could not raise them. Generally there are records that can be accessed later in life. My heart breaks for all children who only have a few scraps of information about themselves. I would do anything to verify for Lyvi why her family could not raise her and discover the story around her relinquishment.

Now we are back to Singapore dreams so that some of my China dreams can come true!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Orphanage Photos

As I was organizing Lyvi's memory box, I came across these. I don't think I ever got them posted so I thought I would share a trip down memory lane.

While I really appreciate the orphanage for taking photos of Lyvi, I was hoping for some in her foster home to see what her day to day life was like. Of course I'm happy to have these and feel blessed that we were able to visit her foster mother outside her home during our trip to Shanggao.

After we got Lyvi's referral, we sent a package to her orphanage with some sweets for her caretakers, a disposable camera and a little rattle duck for her, which she is holding. These pictures were taken the same day some official photo needed to be taken. They took these, the official paperwork photo and a really sweet professional-like photo of Lyvi with her foster mom for a book they gave us.

This is Lyvi and her foster mom in front of Shanggao Social Welfare Institute. Her foster mom is so little she makes Lyvi look big when held by her!
Lyvi is holding the little duck we sent her -- they didn't send it home with her, but I did buy a replacement. I hope a little one in China is enjoying it now.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Trick or Treating

Halloween, Halloween! For some reason, I haven't a big fan of Halloween. I know getting children to decide what to be and stick with it has been a problem. The cost of costumes (see how appropriate the name is) always shocks me, too. I'm not sure what else got under my skin, however, this year I thoroughly enjoyed myself the entire month! I even decorated the inside of the house (have you seen how cute Halloween decorations are these days?)

One reason this year was fabulous is because I only spent $5 on costumes for four kids! Jonathan and Lindsay were instructed to find something in the house. The big kids even dress up on Halloween at their school as a character from a book. Lindsay wore her Tinkerbell costume and Jonathan wore the clothes he owned that look the most like one of the students in Captain Underpants. Halloween night Jon was cool as a football player and Lindsay wore my childhood witch outfit. I only bought Lindsay some fun socks and face paint. I got Dylan's Power Ranger costume with my Disney card reward money and Lyvi had a cute hand-me-down. But enough about my savvy shopping...

I'm totally over needing pictures with all four kids in them at once. Jon wasn't in this picture because his way-cool mom let him run off and trick or treat early with some neighbors. It must be a magical time in your childhood when you start to gain some freedoms...(there was a parent with them, just not his parent, which makes all the difference in the world.)

We then made it over to a friend's house to trick or treat with an insane number of kids. How would you like this crew to show up all at once? This group of friends even had some bug punch and gorgeous decorated ghost cookies that were the highlight of my night. I meant to get a picture of the made from scratch Marthaesque cookie, but I ate it instead.

At the beginning of the evening, Lyvi thought each liberated piece of candy was a treasure. She did eventually figure out that there was no time to dilly dally as there were endless amounts candy waiting to be acquired.

And Halloween is not complete for our kids until they have had the opportunity to dole out some candy themselves. We got home and they quickly set up a hand-out station in the front yard.

Jason couldn't be in town that night and I thought putting four kids with sugar highs would be painful. Fortunately the sugar high turned into a sugar crash moments after bathtime so all was well and the night ended on a great note for everyone.

Cute Halloween Pumpkin

And I hope you know I mean Lyvi!

I love this cute outfit I pulled together for her on Halloween. Too bad I didn't think about it earlier in the month so she could strut her stuff more than one day!

We went to Dylan's physical therapy today (the 31st). I wish I would have had my camera since we were the only ones there. It is a really incredible center and he looked great "flying" in the net with his PowerRanger costume on. The house was decorated and all the staff wore costumes.
Once again I got a bit knocked over by some things they had him do. I know they are helping him, but I sometimes wonder if it is worth it until they show me the light. These therapists really help me see his inabilities, which is a good thing so that I know our visits there are worth the time I have to put into them. It breaks my heart a bit to watch him struggle, but when he doesn't struggle in Kindergarten with writing and so on, I'll be so glad.

Halloween Party

We hosted playgroup's Halloween party. It didn't require much work, although I had a few things planned. The kids had so much fun in the craft room and outside that they just ran around and played.

Lyvi the hula girl and Dylan the patient Power Ranger. He's thinking, "Really, doesn't she know a Power Ranger needs a pirate sword more than some dancing hula girl?!?"

Girls gone wild on the trampoline and Maya and Lyvi sliding.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Political Savvy

Who would have thought 3rd graders could be this savvy! As far as I can tell, when the students showed up with their campaign posters yesterday, their various platforms came up for discussion and many constituents voiced their preference for doughnuts over M&Ms.

Mr. M&M went home very concerned after this initial polling data and CHANGED TACTICS! Today during his speech he said he would bring in whatever treat the class wants each month. I wonder who makes up his advisor team as they are brilliant strategists.

So, Jon lost the election because voters decided they wanted a voice in their treat each month. Don't worry, I've got three more kids to shuttle through 3rd grade and I'm sure Jon the Elder will pass along his hard earned wisdom to them.

Mr. Mayor

Today is election day and Jon is running for mayor! (of his third grade class)

My name is Jon and I will be a good mayor because I have good behavior. I have no R,E,S,P, E and T checks and I finish my work on time. I am a nice guy and a good artist. I will bring doughnuts every month if you elect me.

Vote for JON!

Glad to know the schools are teaching politics as usual at such a young age. The doughnuts might really clinch the nomination. Seems the only other sugar rush being offered up is a handful of M&Ms.

My son's rise up the political ladder should cost me about $70 this year. Hopefully he will remember his mother's dedication to his political career at an early age and leave my checkbook alone during his future political fundraisers.