Wednesday, March 30, 2011

We Went A Science-ing

On Monday, Les took a day off of work and we headed out to the Great Lakes Science Center. Did you know that hours and hours of science type fun could be had there? Ev absolutely loved it and she spent the day dashing from one hands on exhibit to the next. Liam was a good boy, even though he got awful tired and a bit bored. We rounded out the day with a stop at our favorite local eatery and then headed home. All in all it was  great day. And for some reason the term "fluvian storm " is still in my head.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Simply Complex

That's Ev. She is simultaneously the most simple and complex person I know.
She loves all of the little, simple delights in a day. I have seen her admiring the path of a sunbeam, a single tiger stripe on the cat's back, she will stand enraptured watching a leaf twirl and dance in the wind. She loves a good story, a good song and a good pancake. Every single thing that happens to her is worthy of a smile and a comment or two (or twenty). A good night time snuggle in her bed is just about the only way she likes to close out the day. She doesn't require clothes from a trendy children's line- just a yellow dress. She doesn't ask for any expensive and extraordinary gifts- just a pack of cards so she can leave notes for Les and I around the house. She doesn't need music from whatever person is topping the charts- just a mix tape(cd) that her Papa makes. She doesn't ask for huge extravagant days with Mama- just an hour or two of Rabbit Store or Salon works for her.

But then you start to see her interior life and you realize, hey this kid is deep and complex and yes, a bit scary. She thinks deep thoughts for one so young. She never really ever brings up her time in China, I usually have to go fishing for it. But what she does say? Well, that can leave me heart heavy and gasping. She can put together 5 words that suck all of the air out of the room and leave me wondering how we are ever going to face it all and then she will skip or hop off with a laugh. Every once in a while she will say something about a family member or do an imitation of someone and you realize that she sees everything. Every detail, every foible, every kindness. She doesn't miss a trick and that's hard to keep up with. Every half-hearted "umm humm" will be taken as serious as a blood oath to her.  Every non-comittal "maybe..." is counted as acquiescence. Plans must be made days, weeks and sometimes years in advance and you must tread lightly in the conversation because she will remember every word and hold you to it.

Then you have her, well, her upkeep. The daily fiber, the special soaps for her hands, the special lotions, the vaseline and hand sock routine at night, the humidifier in her room, her need to replace her toothbrush every 17 days, the "look at me" that I hear about every 15.2 seconds every day, all day.  The need for a particularly scheduled shower and bath routine so we can avoid soap irritation in delicate places. The way that she can take a simple declarative statement and turn it into a frenzy of clarifications and a veritable conversational tsunami and make you wonder why you ever bothered to mention that spring was coming. Her inability to ever just accept that we will be doing an activity or going on a trip and just being happy and excited about it, how she must question and worry and fret and doubt- which is why her life these days is chock full of surprises. She worries about every detail of every possibility of everything. And she can not be put off, or half answered- you must take the time to work it all out with her. All of it.

But she is a sprite, a magical thing. She conceals her brand of magic under the chatter and worry. She is wise and wonderful. She is bright and shining. She is a live wire. She crackles with life and energy. She is sweet and loving- if you can get close, it's the best thing that will ever happen to you. And she is a healer. She draws the hurt and pain out of people and they feel it and they look startled and have no idea what is happening. She is like a fast, lit up tilt-a-whirl; she spins and spins and leaves you feeling giddy and unsteady but, oh so ready for more.

She is my girl, my daughter, my life, my heart, my magic, my wild thing, my sprite, my fairy. She is the good in every day and the blue in my sky. She is Evelyn Elaine Fu Mei and I am lucky to be here with her in this life. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

One Step Forward and All That

Ev came home this past Sunday and I couldn't be happier. This house and home fell the hell apart without her here to keep us all straight. I wish that I was making that up, but, alas, I am not. Les and I cussed like sailors, there was no feeding schedule as much as it was just kind of feed your face whenever, we played video games incessantly, no one ate a vegetable, we only read the labels on our junk food, there was no schedule, the dishes piled up. And every member of this household that remained behind, including the cat, moped around the last two days like people in a Bergman film.
So she's back. And so is life and structure and laughter.
The absence however, propelled her relationship with Liam into a whole new realm. There is much less fussing and fighting and more patience and tolerance. Last week, when she was tired of Liam, she would fuss and holler and kick him out of her room in no uncertain terms. This week, she walks up to me and says, "Hey mama, I need a little time. Can Liam be kept out of my room for a bit?" WOW! What a nice difference that is. I hope it lasts.

Liam is continuing his streak of getting things down and trying. He is still in that mode of making progress and then regressing. And it's maddening sometimes. But I know why he does it, why it happens and  I try to be patient. And he is truly trying to be better with Ev, I can see it. He goes into her room and he tries not to get into all of her stuff, he just can't help it yet. Imagine having nothing that was yours for your whole life and then being dumped into a home with more things than you have ever seen and try to have impulse control. Go ahead, try it. Listen, I can't resist a damn brownie and I have had them about my whole life it seems, so I feel for him. One day he will use his limited words and signs and the next day- it's like he doesn't even understand a single word we say.

I am trying desperately to maintain our schedule. It seems as of it's more important now than it ever was. Liam needs the structure.

I had so much more to say right now but.... There is a fire crackling away in the fireplace and Les is about to resume his reading of The Hobbit and a certain chubby boy of two just ran in and grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the living room because he wants me in there with them. I am no fool. I am heading in there to enjoy the companionship of my little family, in our own corner of the world. With our cat beside us and Tolkien's words swirling about.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Yesterday was fun- even though we were missing our most fascinating and dynamic person. Yes it was.
We opened the windows wide and enjoyed to warm sunny weather. We walked in the park sporting our Irish Wear. We ate dinner at a local Pub. We went and hung out with CND and KL- you know that cool couple that can boast of having a Subterranean Suburban Lounge.

Yesterday was also the 6 year anniversary of Ev's referral. I have been thinking about that and pondering it in my heart. Six years. It was a bit hard to have her so far away on that day. We don't really ever do anything about it. I look at it as being a terribly sad day for her and I think that day is more about what took place for me and in my heart. I knew I had just met my daughter. She, however, met complete strangers and she was scared. But I do like to have her close and hold her long thin frame and think about the way she felt when I first grabbed her to me. Back then she felt like a small fragile bird, hardly more than a dream. And when I hold her these days she feels like a live wire, a bit of hot electricity- all muscles and movement and go go go.
I love talking to her on the phone at night. Hearing that sweet voice travel across the miles and fill me in on her day. I love that no matter where she is , she is just Ev. Contrary and strong and sweet and energetic and hot, she is always hot,  that one. But I know that I will cry when we hug again after this long week of separation and she will look at me and say, "Are you really going to cry right now?" and I will say , "yes, yes I am" and she will tolerate me and my unseemly display but be secretly pleased and happy that I care so much and can show her.

Yesterday I spent the day with a sweet little boy who is blooming right before my eyes. We danced and sang. We ran in the park along a river and he had many, many things to show me and to talk about. yesterday I realized that it has, indeed been the hardest winter of my life but oh so worth it. I realized that even though we have all missed Ev, Liam has needed a patch of time where it was just him. Him and us and getting to know him in a way that is hard to accomplish when you are busy with two and homeschooling and all those other things.

Yesterday was good.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Have ye had your visit from the wee folk?

Now ye have! Aren't ye the lucky one, then?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

In The Absence of Middle Management

I realize now that I should have paid closer attention to Ev when, on the day of her departure, she looked me square in the eye and cryptically said, " Keep my bedroom door closed. No, keep ALL the doors up there closed". " I will", I said.

Fast forward to today. I was getting ready to leave the house. I was changing and since Liam has taken an un-Holy and boyish interest in my, well you all know what boys like, I closed my door. Ev's door remains closed as per her instructions but really, keep ALL doors closed. Humph. Whatever.
Liam had been "hi-yah-ing" about on his stick pony and I thought I would take advantage of his interest and change.
Forty-five seconds later the hi-yah-ing dies off and I hear the faint splish splosh of water. I yell, "Liam you better get out of that bathroom!!"- in my best Mom's Voice- and before the words are even out of my mouth. No they were literally still floating in the air above my head. I hear this " Crash!", that's the unmistakeable sound of the toilet lid being slammed down unmercilessly. That sound is followed quickly by three or four fast breath sounds and foot steps beating feet out of the bathroom, also you can hear the end of the pony stick hitting every door, door frame and wall in between the bathroom and Liam's room.

I open my bedroom door and see Liam walking non-chalantly out of his bedroom and his pony laying in there next to the corner where we keep it. Nowhere near Liam.

Then I step in a puddle of water.

Then I look into the bathroom.

Horror sets in. Because I thought he was playing in the cat's bowl.

But I was wrong. It was the toilet.


He sort of saunters over with his face turned down and he's making these pleasing little coo's and such. I ask him what happened and he sort of tries to walk away. I bring him back and I say "Did you play in this toilet water?!' and...I have him. He nods his little head once. And well, punishment befalls him.

And he has to sit and contemplate his crime, nearly naked because everything he was wearing was soaked in toilet water. I start to clean. And I wonder. How could all of this water gotten out of the toilet? I mean it was everywhere. I realize that his bow is in there and I think, well, maybe he waggled this around in there. Nope it was bone dry.
Then I remember the pony sounds. And a flash of the pony's horrified expression as it lay there just a few moments ago hits my brain.
And I know.
It was the pony.

I walk in slow motion over to the poor thing.

It is soaked entirely and drippingly up to it's eyeballs in toilet water.

I guess the take away here is this: You can lead your stick pony to the toilet but you can't make him drink.

Shocked. Shocked he was to discover that the toilet is off limits as a watering trough.

"Oh Dear God. Your girl child never did that to me!" 

"I told you he was a savage. I NEVER play in this thing. I only drink out of it"

"What have I done?!?!

"Well, partner, what do you want to do tomorrow?"

What's Going On

  • Well, I am on day three without Ev. The days are ok, it's the good night calls that get me. Each night I get a bit more sad than the last. By Saturday I will be a blubbering mess when she calls. It's so hard to be without my sweet girl.
  • Ev is having a blast with Aunt Jenny and Co.- that helps alleviate my sadness. 
  • Liam is chugging along. He has about 5 words he uses now! Of course no one outside of his immediate family can tell, but they are there. He has also figured out bits of our routine and he is starting to relish them. Bedtime is easier now, wayyyy easier and I hope this continues.
  • Beng separated from Ev is having an effect on him. Not something that I would notice if I were busy, just a few little things. Like last night he thought that he and I were getting into the car and Papa wasn't, and he freaked. He walks sadly about her empty room about once a day. He had some cries and snuffles in his sleep last night. Oh- and in the bookstore last night he wanted ma and Papa and Liam all in the same space- no one wandering, the separateness was a bit freaky to him right now.
  • We have a house in New Jersey. Yes we do. The hunt (rental) nearly killed me but we are very satisfied with the place we got and I will be sending the lease and deposit out later on today. 
  • The move timeframe is narrowing down and it looks like we might pull out the week of June 13, nothing is final yet.
  • Tomorrow is the anniversary of Ev's referral.
  • I am excited and thrilled about going back to the ocean while, at the same time, my heart hurts to get so far away from family and friends again.
  •  It just dawned on me that I didn't abuse the babysitters nearly enough while I had them!
  • I haven't seen the sun since we sat in it for a couple of hours in Kentucky on Sunday. 
  • I just mentioned to Liam that we were gonna go bye-bye and now he is putting his hat and coat on- over his pajama's. So I guess I am done here. Man will he be disappointed to learn that he has to wait until I shower! 
  • Oh yeah, one more thing. That picture above is Ev and Liam at the Courthouse, Downtown. That means that Liam is all official-like with a social security number all his own,  the official "re-adoption" is completed and Ohio birth certificates are on the way. It only took me 7 months. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ev's on a Trip

Ev is gone for a bit. She has been ferried down to Tennessee to spend a week with her beloved Katie.
I am sure she will be fine. She WAS fine for the ride there and the drop off. As a matter of fact as Aunt Jenny's car pulled away she was already engrossed in Aden's DS. Her Papa and I, however?
We stood there in mute agony as our magical creature was carried off.
Then we got into our car and drove north with heavy feelings in our hearts.
Then we noticed the quiet.
I guess we found the silver lining.

Friday, March 11, 2011

When Papa's In Charge

Once in awhile I get to take a backseat at dinner time while Les takes the wheel. It's always a lovely and much needed break. However, things happen in Papa's realm that leave a cold sweat on Mama's brow. Things like, oh I don't know, huge play sessions in the flour that result in a certain family member eating about 1/2 cup of plain, dry, all purpose flour. And yes, that's him asking for more in the picture with the bowl outstretched. And yes the utensil of choice to eat said flour is indeed, a play spatula. This certain family member kept asking for water all night. I wonder why.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate.

Last night I sat in the dim light of a little boy's room and I held that little boy and as we snuggled I let my mind wander. I became aware that he was taking my hands and placing them on his little tummy and moving them, he was doing this because he wanted me to gently rub his tummy as we sat there and let go of the day together. I became aware that he does this every night.

Every night as we cuddle, my son will take my hands and show me what he needs that night. Sometimes He wants me to rub his head. Sometimes he wants me to pat or scratch his back. Sometimes he just wants my arms held tight around him. Each night he takes my hands and he tells me, in no uncertain terms what he needs and wants from me.

Every night as I cuddle my daughter she starts off quiet and lets me hold her close. This lasts for about 45 seconds and then she gets uncomfortable and she rolls away and she talks and talks and talks. She never once asks me to talk about things that are bothering her, she never wants to hear softly spoken words of love and admiration. What makes her most comfortable and happy is to have me near and have me focusing solely on her and what she wants to chatter about for as long as I will stay. And I do stay, some nights I stay for 5 minutes, some nights I stay for over an hour as she slowly, slowly lets me reel her in closer and closer and we fall asleep together in The Pink Palace.

We have very interrupted forms of communication in this house. One child WOULD tell me all the things in his heart if only his physical body would cooperate. The other child CAN NOT tell me the things in her heart and mind because her spirit prohibits her from easily revealing the deep stuff. The stuff that counts. The stuff that she most needs a Mama's help with.

So I do my very best to help them both. I sit every day and help the boy learn signs and sounds. I jump up every time he makes a vague sign and I get what he wants because I want to encourage him to communicate with me in these ways- speech and sign. I want to help him find a way to get all of his words out. I want to hear from him, his view on things, his wants, his needs. Because he has words, I can see them tumbling about inside of him, desperate to get out.

I try to help Ev talk to me about emotional things in small ways. I try to give her the dialog to use about emotion. I ask her questions one would not normally ask a child of 6. I do this because she has words to find as well. Her heart must learn that nothing bad will happen if she uses words to tell me what she feels. I am making progress with this girl. I am. I asked her yesterday why she did not seem excited about our new house in Jersey and she replied (as she was walking away), that, "it was all too much." And I had to let it go. I have to let her be able to say that and walk away and then I have to try again later and she will say more. It's like this all of the time, this delicate dance I do with her emotions. Meanwhile she will exhaust me with small demands and requests throughout the day, lip gloss, gum, band aids, certain pencils, let's do math first Mama, not the Grammar you have laid out, can I play in your purse, can I have a popsicle, can I..., will you..., hey Mama..., hey Papa....and on and on an endless chant of superficial requests.

And Liam? He will ask for food or drink. And then he will use all of his ingenious little ways to let me know about his deeper needs. The need for a lap, the need for whispered words of love and comfort. He never uses words for this, he uses his whole body. But he has no fear to show his needs. He is not shy about needing help and affection. He  demands these things in nearly deafening but silent ways.

Evelyn is better at these sorts of things than I have ever seen her. She will, eventually move close and let me hold her tight at night, she never used to get to that place before. She will approach me and talk when she is upset about something, still it's the small and medium sized things though. The big things I still have to help her get out. Don't get me wrong I do not mind this kind of work with her but it is incredibly sad to me that it has to happen.

From what I can see and understand, the difference between my children boils down to two things: Personality and their differing experiences in China. That's it.

Both of my children were "Special Needs". You can not tell me any differently. I will work for years to help my son's body learn how to speak and I will work for a lifetime teaching my daughters heart to use the ability of speech that has come so easy to her.

Let me add, I am not perfect or great. I try, that's it. Some days I get things incredibly wrong and screwed up. Some days I do fair to middlin'. But I love my children and I try. Everyday I try.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Hog Wallow Kind of Lunch

Liam was due for some immunizations today. Imagine the fun that we had.
To make up for the rushed morning and the sore legs, I took him out for grilled meat.
We went to 5 Guys. I love this place but I am really glad that they play horrible music at ear splitting levels because that keeps my visits there to a minimum.
I have been trying really super duper hard to be a better Mom.  You know, more patience, more even tones, the kind of Mom that will look at a horrible spill and say "oh you silly kids let's clean it up." Let's just say that my normal reaction to a big hairy spill looks something like a cross between Sam Kennison and well, the cold fury Denzel Washington has in that movie Out of Time, but I digress...
You know how when you are trying for more patience, you get all of this extra stuff in your face just to see if you're gonna snap. The ultimate cosmic neener neener?
Yes. There were messes. Spills. Globs and Gaums.
Ev tipped over her little ketchup basket.
Liam spilled a medium sized water on himself.
Liam smeared mustard on every body part God saw fit to give him.
Liam dumped his entire cut up hot dog into his lap.
Ev decided it would be fun to take her hot dog out of the bun and sort of fondle it.
Somehow there was a piece of peanut in Liam's ear.
And you know what?
I held myself together.
I actually laughed at them.
We all laughed together.
It was nice. Better.
We all came home and cleaned up.
There cosmos.
Neener neener to you. I did it.

Meet and Greet at The Museum

We were able to drive back into downtown on Saturday to meet up with some special folks. Aunt Mickey and her gang. Now Aunt Mickey is my Aunt so really, a Great Aunt to the kids. She is my mom's youngest sister. Yes, she's the youngest out of 9 kids. She is spunky and fun and just has a way about her with kids. She comes as a package deal with her daughter, my cousin, Faith and her grand daughter Ayannah. She also has her driver and husband, Uncle Herm.

I haven't had the chance to be out and about with Aunt Mick since they all came to visit Leslie and I in New York in 2001, two weeks before 9/11. Faith was still in a stroller then and now she is all grown up and turning into a lovely young lady.

Ev and Liam had a BLAST. Liam was purely exhausted that evening. He ran about that place like a wild man, he would bend at the waist and point and holler about some new thing and then he would dash right off. Ev was in Heaven hanging out with Faith. Liam was spoiled rotten by Aunt Mickey. As we were driving home Evelyn said, " That Aunt Mickey she sure is generous with her time and her money". And I had to agree, it's the simple truth.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Anatomy of Photograph

This will end up being one of my all time favorite pictures of Liam.
Why? Because it's not really very good. It's out of focus a bit. The color is off. I didn't get the background lined up. It's slightly crooked.

BUT if you look at it through a Mama's eyes, you start to see a different picture. You see a little chubby toddler standing there. You can clearly see the delicious wrist and arm chub that is so distinctive at this age. You can see his little tummy sticking out a bit, pushing against his t-shirt just so. You can see chubby cheeks all red and kissable. Those sweet pursed lips. And you start to realize that it's not so bad of a picture after all. This quick snapshot in the dinosaur room of the Museum of Natural History has captured exactly where Liam is right now. He is a kissable, chubby little boy who has sidled his way into this mother's heart.

If you look at this picture as his mother and with the memories and sounds that went along with that shutter click? Well, it becomes a world class photo. We were there with a group (more on that later) and for these few little minutes it was just me and Liam in there, alone together, looking at the bones of giant beasts. And he's a boy, so he immediately loved them. I can remember how those cheeks got so red, it was all of the dashing about and finding things to yell about. He would bend over slightly at the waist and point and YELL, "AH! Mom!! MOM!!" and dash off to the next thing. I know that his slightly worried look here is because I took his beloved bag with a plastic bug and rock candy and placed it on the floor so I could take this picture and he really just wanted that bag. His bag. And he wanted to see more things and tell me about them. And Aunt Mickey had gotten too far away.

Six months ago I did not know this boy. He was still a hungry little fella in the middle of an orphanage in China. He had no family to surround him in his days. He had no Mama to run to excitedly when he saw something new and interesting. I had no son.
So yeah, this is a great photo.
My son's first trip to see the dinosaurs. Where he ran himself absolutely ragged and somehow managed to get completely spoiled by Aunt Mickey at the same time.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Art, Ice Cream and Italian Food. Yes, In That Order. What? Don't Look At ME Like That.

I freaked out today, I could not take the house one more minute.  I packed a bag, loaded both kids in the truck and away we went. We drove into downtown for some Art Therapy.
We spent quite a lovely afternoon bouncing about The Cleveland Museum of Art. Where it was concluded that Andy Warhol was full of beans but that Rothko fella might be on to something. And you know what? Matisse ain't bad.
Then we swung by the house and nabbed Papa, fresh in off the lake.
Then we hit an ice cream parlor and ate sundaes.
THEN, and only then, did we stop over at a small local joint for some pasta.
Yes. Sometimes we do dessert first. In case of the Apocalypse happening and interfering with dessert.
(You never know.)