Monday, February 28, 2011

Ahhh Homeschooling.

One of my favorite things about Evelyn is that she has super human concentration.
For example, she can sit and do this with utter focus:

While four feet away, THIS is going on:

Saturday, February 26, 2011


It's been a week. A hard week.
We are moving to Jersey in June and I am trying to wrap my head around that fact and secure us a place to live - simultaneously. This is killing my nerves. Mostly because people will advertise a house for rent and then when you contact them, they are selling and want you to wait and call them back in a month or two, you know in case it doesn't sell and they still need you. Ummmm, I don't have that long. We also thought we had one place secured, it was gorgeous and we were pretty excited about it and I got too emotionally attached to it - we were the second string on that one. The folks you string along in case someone else says no. That's a horrible feeling.

Things with Liam are in a rough patch- again. I could write a book here but I won't. He's two and still new to being home. What is left after that? To complain about how I feel? To focus on ME? We all know that it's all about him and Evelyn and how they are managing. So I try to soldier on.

It's hard to keep doing laundry and cleaning and updating and repairing when I know we are leaving. Yeah it's four and a half months away but let's not kid ourselves how fast time will fly. I will wake up one day and the movers will be here and I will pull away from a home and a location that I have loved. And when the car stops I will be a solid 10 hours away from those that I know and love. And yes, it could be worse, we could have been assigned to the other side of the country or Miami. But you know what? I just want to be upset about that 10 hours right now.

I wanted to go to TJ Maxx yesterday, in a bad way. I needed retail therapy. And some time to myself. And a lunch out-by myself. BUUUTTT, there was the weather and bad roads so I was stuck at home.

That's why later on today we are driving over to Mayfield Heights to purchase, not one but two, bookshelves that we don't have the room for.

 I ended up on Craig's List.

Let's call it, "Used Furniture Therapy".

Now I am going to give myself a dose of "Cinnamon Roll Therapy"or maybe "French Toast Therapy".
Decisions, decisions...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

They Can't Resist a Phat Beat

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This is the kind of nonsense that takes place everyday when Papa gets in from work. Nonsense I tell ya. Pure nonsense! And they love every minute.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

OSHA Smosha

I think it's well with in safety parameters to clothe your child in slippery, slidey polar fleece, load them up with sticks and let them climb on, around and all over a stool.  And then proceed to kind of, sort of forget they are in the room with you. What is the worst that can happen?

Ev was reading aloud for her school and I was cleaning out the fridge. Listen,  it was clean out the fridge or let the crumbs and crud that were accumulating in there register to vote. So there we were. I was waist deep in the fridge spelling the word "cheese" repeatedly - don't ask. And all of a sudden I heard, this soft little "mom?". I tried to ignore it but then it happened again. "ummm... Mom?". So I extricated myself from the fridge and turned to find this. My son inextricably tangled in a stool. As you can see he was quite perplexed and slightly concerned by the whole thing. I mean, can one eat a snack or even drink chocolate milk whilst tangled in a stool? No one knows really (more studies need to be done), so he needed to get out as snack time was fast approaching.
Ahhh parenting at it's best.
The least of my crimes not being the Christmas PJ's in Februaury.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Brevin's Big Birthday Splash-n-Bash

It happened. My nephew aged another full year. He is now all boy. Just rumble, tumble, fall down funny boy. His Mommy decided to take him to Great Wolf Lodge for a big splashy blow out AND she invited the four of us to go along because she's cool like that. 
We slid and splashed and swam and soaked. We giggled and screamed and laughed and hollered. We ate and had cake and ate again. 
Sis, I think this was the best idea you ever had. Thanks for having us along and taking care of everything! It was sooo much fun! I think all of his birthdays should be this fun and easy for Del-Del!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Heathens in the Cupboard

The kids have been obsessed with the lazy susan/ turn around-y cupboard lately. I can't keep them out of it and I really don't want to. It doesn't bother me. They sit there and talk and pass canned goods back and forth and I can cook or clean while listening in on their little world.  It's moments like that, with the two of them close and chattering and giggling, asking me random questions and just having them here- it's these moments that I love.
 Here they are. Two kids who survived against all odds. Kids I had to go half way around the world for. Here they are playing with a  box of couscous  and smiling at me when our eyes meet. HERE they are. IN my life. They are here. There is nothing more important than that.

Giggle Talk

This is what I see many, many times in the day. This expression. Isn't it just darling? I dare you not to smile at it. This is what happens when she is giggling and talking. Because let's face it, the girl talks while doing everything! This morning she was at the front door, watching the street and her brother sidled up and had a body function. There was odor. It was hilarious. And she needed to tell me about it. Right then. Just as it happened. Even though I was 1 foot away when it all went down.
I have said it before - and you will probably hear it again.
I love this girl.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Man, The Myth, The Papa

Here he is. My husband. We have been together for 17 years now. Seventeen. I can't believe it.
He is the unsung hero of this home. He works all day every day and then he comes home and helps me out in the house. He plays with the  kids, he reads stories to them, he cleans up the kitchen, he looks at my silly crochet projects, he laughs out-loud at my jokes, he cooks the occasional pancake extravaganza, he fixes things, he shovels every ounce of snow from the driveway- all winter long, he makes Chinese New Year decorations, he still plays role playing games, he can quote The Princess Bride, he still finds time to make me feel pretty, he insists that I get out and have fun with my friends, he will play all day in the kiddie pool with Liam so I can ride the slides at Great Wolf with Ev, he loves my nephew, he is forgetful, he loves my cooking, he always carries the heavy laundry basket up from the basement, he is who he is.
I love this man. I am lucky, oh so lucky to have him. I know that.
It sure doesn't feel like 17 plus years. I still don't get enough time with him. I am not sure I ever will.

Like The Boss Man says:
Now some may wanna die young man
Young and gloriously
Get it straight now mister
Hey buddy that ain't me
'Cause I got something on my mind
That sets me straight and walkin' proud
And I want all the time
All that heaven will allow

Friday, February 11, 2011

Movie Night

Last night we watched " The Karate Kid". The new one. The one that I was so resistant to watch because well, it should have been called The Kung Fu Kid. Hum hum.

I have to say that I loved it. I think it was even better than the original. Yes, it was. I am sorry Pat Morita but our love of Jackie Chan has taken over everything.

The thing that surprised me the most? Well, that was how I reacted to seeing scenes of China. I sat there teary eyed with my chest hurting and longing to be back there. To feel the heat swarm over my body, to know that my feet were standing on the ground in the land of my children's birth.  I was emotional for all that China has given me and for all of China that my children have lost. I watched Ev's face as she commented on certain scenes and I realized, I think for the first time, how very good it was that we took her back. It amazed me that China continues to be such a part of my heart and my daily life. Mostly in quiet ways, but China is always there.

I sat there and I watched her face light up at seeing the park scene. How she KNEW that was right and that WAS China. She was able to catch a few words of Mandarin, she even heard some counting in a song and knew what it was.

My children are Chinese. And they are American. They are me and the mothers that came before me.
They are Leslie and the fathers that came before. They are Yichun and Hebei and Cleveland.

And that's why I cried. China gave me my children. China filled a place in me that was so dark and sad and lonely that it threatened to eat me alive. I sat there in full knowledge of the fact that I will ALWAYS love China. That hot, difficult, foreign place. Those exotic landscapes. The bustlings of those huge, crowded cities. That place is a part of me now.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Blerg! I Totally Forgot To Do a Six Months Home Entry.

What kind of mother am I anyway? Let's not answer that and move right along...

You already know parts of the story. It was hot. It was July in China. I was a wreck. He was already there. He had a broken blue truck. We were video taped for about an hour by the Orphanage Staff. We met a boy.
That boy was miserable really. Not physically but, emotionally. He was just a bundle of survival mechanisms and they were mostly of the "negative" persuasion. He was hell bent on survival and getting what he wanted/needed and he did this by extreme emotional shifts with a serious rut in the not so cute or endearing full on fight mode. Also he was nearly two, so you know, terrible two's and all that, on top of everything else.
It has been tough. HE was tough. He had this crackling, scratchy outer layer that we have had to wear down with love and patience and stability.
And then one day, something happened. I realized that he was getting it. He was starting to let go of the food issues. He was smiling more and laughing regularly. He was actually, you know, PLAYING.
We are not quite there yet. There is still alot of work on everyone's part, yet to be done. But he is a completely different child than the one I crossed that hot room for.
He is snuggly and smiley. Warm and open. He is Liam Wayne Ao Zhuang. He is parts of China and parts of us. He is our son.
These past six months have been hard. And wonderful. Amazing and maddening.

The Year of the Rabbit- 4709

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It's finally completed. Our Year of the Rabbit, Chinese New Year celebration. We had lots of fun, making egg rolls and hand made decorations to hang up. We try to have all of the lucky symbols included, along with some Chinese characters. We do everything ourselves, I see it as a way to really get the kids involved in what's happening.
You will see fish for abundance. Bats for luck. Butterflies for longevity. Dragons are a symbol of China itself and always included and considered very lucky. We also made plenty of rabbits this year. If you are an expert on Chinese Calligraphy, please be generous, we do the best we can.
We have fun and try our best to bring a little of China into our home. Ev loves this holiday and gets behind it 100%- though methinks the egg rolls are the main attraction.

This is a picture of each of the kids names. Above is Yi Fu Mei for Ev and below is Dang Ao Zhuang for Liam.

On the first day of CNY , we awoke to see rabbit tracks all over the snow in our back yard. A good omen for the year to come!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Learning from the Caveman

Liam (aka The Caveman) is a snuggle bunny. I finally got me a lap sitting, cuddlin' up baby. He loves to be on my lap soaking up all of the lovin's I feel like sending his way. He would live entire days on my lap if I let him.

Ev has never, ever been this way. I remember this diaper clad 18 month old that would shove off of my chest and say "nnn dink 'em" (no thank you) when I would pick her up and try to love on her or hug her or just carry her around for awhile.

 I remember days and weeks of nightly forced rocking chair time-when she was 3-  trying to teach her that it was ok to let me get close and to let me stay close. She has never enjoyed cuddle time. I have always and will always worried/worry that I never should have let that 18 month old set the parameters for physical affection.
You see I was a first time adoptive Mama and I hadn't read as much then about "Attachment and Trust in Adopted Kids" as I have now. I thought, at first, that she was just "independent". And I let it go. I shouldn't have.
So this has been a constant thing with her. The need for control, the physical distance, the inability to completely trust, me trying belatedly to teach her these things, us trying to tackle those shadows from her past and lighten her future. And I have been behind the eight ball for a long, long time.

It seems however that competition is a good thing. The Caveman gets lap time so she wants it too damn it. And she will get it. At first it was all about just clocking hours and minutes and seconds and comparing her time to his. Checking to see if I was giving her the same things that he was getting. She would say, "You give him different attention than you give me" and I would agree that I did- because he let me.

Then we all got sick. Ev was sicker than I have ever seen her. And we were all in it together. Many things were needed, but the most important thing that they wanted was lap time. Cuddle up time. Relying on Mama and Papa to make it all better time.

And something happened.

Ev loosened up. Her view on things shifted. And now she seeks me out for physical contact- hugs and lap time and just being as close as she can get. And it's no longer competition- it's just..... her and me. It's her letting me in a bit more.

It's the final wall coming down.

As much as she says that having a brother is difficult? It has been a blessing as well. In her mind and in her heart she knows that they have similar backgrounds. In her mind and heart she is fully aware of what life for them was like before we came together. She sees Liam letting us in and I think it has made her realize, somewhere in her little soul, that at the end of the day, we can, and will take care of her. She saw him crying and reaching for me while he was sick, not trying to be strong, just letting go and letting the parents do it. He lets us carry his load and she sees that. And she has learned.

If someone ever says that Cavemen have nothing much to offer? Well, they are wrong because this little caveman has helped his sister learn what years of stable family life could not teach her- it's ok to let go and let Mama and Papa be the strong ones.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


So I had a few options for a blog entry today. You know, cute things the kids are doing. The plans we have for Chinese New Year. I could even talk about the snow.
Let's talk instead about my horrendous, terrible, very bad mood that hit me out of nowhere.
I realize that the mood is probably not out of nowhere. I can kid myself all I want,  but the truth is,  I can only shove down so may stressors before I get a little kooky. A lot kooky even.
I have an incredibly short fuse right now and I am not being the kind of mother or teacher or spouse that I want to be.

Listen. It's all understandable in a way. The new kid, post adoption depression, impending move of doom, nearly two weeks of sickness, car troubles, snowbound, cabin fever, migraines, home schooling and an emotionally needy cat.
There it is.
Except that it's not understandable in many ways. I am healthy (except for that virus), the kids are healthy, the kids are amazing, we will survive this move like we have all of the others, the PAD is resolving, the new kid is adjusting and learning and coping and we love him.

I guess I just feel ...awful. Guilty and housebound and wanting a change but not necessarily the ones that are coming. I want to be better.

I am tired of myself.

In other news.... After a terrible morning of yelling and freaking out. My Social Worker called and we are up for the Post- Adoption report. On Friday.
Oh how sweet and well timed.