Monday, December 31, 2007

Thank you Nana & Bumpa!

I took B shopping with his Christmas money at a KILLER toystore a few days ago, and here's what he chose:

A humongous bin of race car tracks, which can be put together in an infinite number of ways (it expands dramatically on a starter kit we gave him for Christmas)

A new race car & a motorcycle to go with the track (they have to be a certain kind to work right)

A rocket that you fill up with water, pump up, then blast off

Bathtub fingerpaints

A stuffed Garfield toy (he saw the first half of the Garfield movie a week ago and thought it was the funniest thing he'd seen since "Surf's Up." We'll have to rent it for him so he can see it all)

A deck of BrainQuest preschooler quiz cards

A pink and purple stuffed unicorn for his baby sister

A lollipop (that's what he's holding in his hand)

We'll put the money he has left in his savings account for him.

He really chose all of this stuff himself, and had a lot of fun doing it. He's enjoyed every single thing since he bought it too (except for the rocket -- too cold out for that!). Thank you!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Happy birthday to B!

B turned four on Christmas Eve! My brother & his family and my grandpa came over for lunch & cake. The menu was selected by B: sloppy joes, corn, and fruit cocktail. B mixed his all together; the rest of us took a more traditional approach. I baked the cake (must've been my lucky day -- it actually turned out OK), and his dad decorated it quite artfully with a Spiderman theme.

The cake was followed by presents, of course. I'm afraid I've lost track of all the stuff he got & have confused Christmas and birthday gifts in the three days since Christmas, but I know he got a space shuttle toy from Aunt Erin, a gumball machine and a lifetime supply of gumballs from Nana, a build & erupt your own volcano kit along with a DVD about volcanos from his Aunt Catfish, and a toolbelt from his Bumpa M.

After all that excitement, B, his dad, and my 20 year-old cousin S headed to Bounce for a couple hours of jumping while my mom & I stayed behind to get started on the Christmas cooking. I think B had a fun day!

Happy birthday, B!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


We got our Pre-Approval from China today! It's not a terribly important piece of paper -- of all the "As" we will receive (PA, LOA, TA, CA), it's really the least important -- but still exciting! It is China's acknowledgement that they received our letter of intent, and they know we want to adopt ZhiYi. It has symbolic importance because it's our first formal indication from China that our adoption of her is really happening.

Now the wait for LOA begins. LOA is Letter of Acceptance, and it's a very important one. We're hoping to receive it within the next few weeks, but it could take as long as three months. It's all up to China. We'll get a little hint from our agency when our LOA is coming soon -- when China tells them that our dossier has moved to the match room, the agency will notify us to download a travel packet. When we get that notice, LOA is usually just a few days away.

After LOA comes TA -- Travel Authorization. That typically comes about two weeks after LOA. Then as soon as our agency makes our CA (Consulate Appointment), it's off to China! Most families leave about two weeks after receiving TA, but some leave as quickly as 48 hours after TA.

So the countdown continues: 21 days since LOI, one A down, three As to go!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas

Back in a few days...In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Childcare rant

I know, usually it's all kittens and puppies, rainbows and unicorns, look-at-the-cute-pictures-of-my-kids over here on my blog, but today I'm detouring from la-la land to go off on a little rant.

What is wrong with our country????? We place so little value on early childhood education and child care. I'm pretty sure that a large percentage of families are like ours, where both parents *have* to work. No, we don't live in a fancy house or drive expensive cars. We haven't been on a vacation in two years. So we're not both working to support an unrealistic lifestyle; we're both working to pay for our (average) roof over our heads, keep our kids in clothes (mostly second-hand or outlet sale finds), and eventually send them to (public not private, unless they're geniuses and get full-ride scholarships) college. Actually, we're probably luckier than most two-income families, because we can afford for me to work part-time -- I'm only in the office three days a week.

For B, we're paying $154/week for preschool, slated to go up to $170 in the new year. For E, it will be an additional $215/week. So we'll be shelling out about the equivalent of our mortgage payment each month for childcare. Without going into our personal finances, let me just tell you this: that is a SIGNIFICANT percentage of our take-home salary. We will not be saving a penny until B starts kindergarten, and we may well take our savings down to near $0 by then. And no, it's not a hoity-toity fancy expensive private preschool. It's run by a non-profit, so the fees are CHEAP by our city's standards. It is a great school too, and B has really blossomed there. So changing childcare providers is not really an option for us.

Before we chose this particular school, I must have looked at at least 30 others. And I would not have sent my kid to a single one of them. They were either just disgusting dumps, or creepy, or understaffed, or obviously just babysitting kids without any effort to educate them or contribute to developmental progress in any way. After I visited one particularly creepy place (it was in an old 7-11 store, so it had no windows or doors other than the front--all the back rooms were like cinderblock cells), I later ran into the staff person who'd been working in the infant room when I visited. She was actually at the school we eventually chose, interviewing for a job. She took me aside and told me not to send my baby to the place I'd first seen her, where she currently worked. I told her I wasn't even considering it anyway, but thanks for the heads-up. A couple months later, the guy who owned it was arrested for molesting the kids in the center. And this was after he'd already been convicted of child molestation several years before and ordered not to go back into the childcare business. WTF??

Just for fun, let's compare France and the US on a couple of points here:

1. Parental leave.

In France, it is the law that a mother is entitled to a minimum of 16 weeks paid maternity leave, and fathers get a minimum of 2 weeks paid leave. Plus, both parents can take up to three years of unpaid leave after the birth of a child and their job must be held for them. After a second child is born, a working parent who decides to stay home receives an allowance from the government. For the first three years, it is an amount equal to half the national minimum wage. So in France, the government pays you to stay home with your kids.

In the US, the Family Medical Leave Act requires your employer to give you leave, but they don't have to pay you. Maybe you're lucky like I am, and your employer will choose to give you paid maternity leave even though they don't have to -- I'll get 12 weeks. M will get none.

2. Child care.

So let's say you're a French mom who would rather go back to work than stay home with the kids. You can choose between a licensed and government-subsidized: child care center, family home child care provider, or in-home babysitter. The centers are run by local governments, non-profits, or parent associations, and parents pay only a small fee, based on income. The average amount a parent pays is $11/day/kid; actual operating costs are more like $50/day/kid. Oh, and I'll just throw this out there -- basic healthcare, such as vaccines, is provided at these centers and included in the basic fees. All care providers must have a bachelor's degree, and there is always a nurse on the staff and a doctor and psychologist make regular visits. Or if you do stay home with your kids instead of going back to work, but you need a little me-time, you can drop your kids off at a licensed, government-subisidized short-term child care center, where you pay about $1 per hour.

3. Preschool.

For kids aged 3-5, France has universal free preschool. Nearly 100% of the kids in the country attend. In the US, unless you're lucky enough to live in Florida or Georgia, you'll be paying for preschool out of your own pocket, or maybe your kids will just continue in a childcare setting until kindergarten without ever even going to preschool. Do you still wonder why the math and science skills of American students are declining in comparison to those of kids in other countries?

So let's tally up this scorecard:

France: 16 weeks paid leave, plus up to three years of unpaid leave with job protection

US: zero mandated paid leave for childbirth or adoption

France: $110/week for two kids

US: $385++/week for two kids

France: Free preschool for everyone!

US: Preschool? We don't need no stinkin' preschool. Kindergarten is good enough. They can just fingerpaint and play with playdough until they're five.

Yes, I know it isn't really free. You pay for it with your taxes of course. The average French family pays about half of their income in taxes; the average American family pays about 42%. I wonder how what percentage of our income we're paying on childcare and healthcare, things French families get for free? I haven't calculated it, but I know it's more than 8%. Try more like 25 - 30% for our family. Call me crazy, but I think the French family is getting more bang for their income tax buck than my family is.

But it's not even really about how much we pay in taxes; it's about our priorities in spending that money. Given the choice between funding an occupation of a foreign country or high-quality childcare and universal preschool for all American children, I think it should be obvious which choice has more long-term benefit for our nation. And it really is that simple. Education matters. Health care matters. Poverty matters. These are not just liberal touchy-feely attitudes held by naive people who don't understand national security. More poverty = more crime, more spending on prisons, more drug use, more child abuse, less education, less civic engagement. In short, poverty = social decay. How is THAT in the long-term good interests of our nation and our security? Oh, and poverty in France and the US? Based simply on wages and earnings, about 25% of the kids in both countries would appear to live in poverty. However, after you consider the child and health care services, as well as free preschool, available in France, only 6% of French children actually live in poverty, versus 21% of American children.

The bottom line is that our national priorities are forcing parents to choose between bad and worse for their children. We must change our priorities, and we must elect people who not only share our priorities, but have the moral fiber to actually make hard choices and force change. Or we could all just move to France. Damn, I wish I'd paid more attention in high school French!

So are you a little surprised to see all this here? The truth is that I am actually a very political person with pretty solid background in politics and government, and I have A LOT to say about this kind of stuff. I have kept it off the blog until now, but I can't really say why. I think I will be talking more about politics and society here in the future. Interspersed with cute baby pictures and funny stories about B, of course.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

New pictures!

As far as we know these were just taken this week. Look at that grin! She's going to have us wrapped around her little finger in no time.

(Click the picture to see a bigger version.)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Itty bitty update

We got a teaspoonful of new info on Miss ZhiYi today. It did not include any pictures, I'm sorry to say. She is growing like a weed it seems -- up to a whopping 20 pounds and 28" (a solid 10th %ile on the US growth charts). She started crawling in November. She doesn't walk yet, but can stand holding onto something. She sits up by herself and feeds herself finger foods. And apparently she likes her baths!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Care package

We'll be sending this off to China tomorrow:

It contains:

- A letter written in Chinese to the orphanage director, explaining who the heck we are (since the orphanage may not have been notified yet that ZhiYi has been matched to us). Our agency gave us this, since we obviously cannot write a letter in Chinese...

- A picture drawn by B for his baby sister, with a note in Pinyin saying "I love you!"

- Two cameras -- we hope they will take lots of pictures of ZhiYi in the orphanage and give us the cameras when they bring her to us.

- A flannel blanket made by Grandma -- she's working on a second, identical blanket, just in case the orphanage keeps this one.

- An album of photos of us, the grandparents, our house, etc., with all photos labeled in Chinese. I've heard from other families that adopted from this orphanage that they don't get this back when they receive their child, and in fact they wonder if the album was ever even shown to the child, or if it just went into a file somewhere. I hope they show it to her, but I also like to think that if they keep it in her file, it's because they want to have pictures of where and to whom they sent her.

- A warm and fuzzy fleece outfit. We're hoping we'll see her wearing this when (if) we get updated photos through our agency.

- A giraffe lovey toy

- Stickers and wrist rattles, with a note reading in Chinese "For your friends."

- A bag of candies with a label in Chinese reading "For the nannies."

Sunday, December 9, 2007


I took this picture of B Friday night, while he was playing with Kenai in his tunnel. Yep, a 90 pound dog squeezes his giant body into that little bitty tunnel. It's quite funny to see. There's a picture of Kenai in the tunnel below too, but unfortunately the only one I was able to get was of the wrong end. [Erin P, apparently I really SHOULD have taken notes when you showed me how to get rid of red-eye, b/c I couldn't make it work!]

It's gotten very difficult to capture a good B smile on camera. Not that he doesn't smile -- he does -- it's just that when you point a camera at him and say smile, he does this weird grimace where he shows his teeth & turns down the corners of his mouth. I lucked out on this one -- he was trying to hide from me, and I happened to snap this one just before he backed around the corner, out of view.

Speaking of turned-down mouths...B told me yesterday, "Mommy, when I'm sad, my mouth makes the shape of a rainbow."

Friday, December 7, 2007

Zhi Yi's home for now

Zhi Yi currently lives at the XiaJiang Social Welfare Institute (SWI). XiaJiang is 3-5 hours (depending on who you ask) south-southeast of Nanchang, which is the capital of Jiangxi Province. It is fairly remote, and a small town by Chinese standards.

You can click on the map to make it bigger. See the bright yellow-orange province on the bottom right, called Fujian? Jiangxi is just to the left of that, in a light turquoise color. Nanchang is the green square in the upper part of the province, and XiaJiang is south of that.

The XiaJiang SWI just began participating in international adoption about three years ago. Not many children are adopted from this orphanage, and only a handful of families have had the chance to visit. Therefore, we really don't know much about it. We know that in addition to housing orphans (maybe about two dozen or so at any given time--a very small orphanage for international adoption in China), it is also the permanent home of a group of mentally handicapped children, and serves as a retirement center and nursing home for the elderly. We hope to know a little more soon. I've made an online acquaintance whose daughter came from XiaJiang, and they are going back for a visit soon. They have promised to make inquiries about our daughter, and get pictures if they are allowed.

Here's what it looks like on the outside:

Despite its somewhat odd likeness of a pink Disney castle, I don't think it's very castle-like on the inside, based on the few pictures I've seen. It's pretty basic, but looks to be clean.

Can't wait to get her here to her real home.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Happy birthday to me

We're going to take a short break from the infinite baby girl cuteness today so that I can tell you about my birthday party. I turned 40 last week, and my men threw me a big bash last Saturday. There were about 30ish adults there, and what seemed like about two dozen kids but was probably more like eight or ten.

The party had an eclectic theme: pirates and superheroes. I imagine B may have had some say in the selection of the themes. All the party favors had a pirate theme -- treasures such as mardi gras necklaces and toy rings with giant plastic gems, as well as eye patches and gold hoop earrings (or nose rings, depending on your preference). The cake had a superhero theme, and read "Happy 40th Birthday Woman-Girl." If you want the backstory on Woman-Girl, you'll have to go read the last part of the Snow, sand and kryptonite post.

Lots of fun was had by all. Here are some of the party pix to prove it:

Me and my handsome B

Woman-Girl and Captain M

I had lots of help blowing out the candles


B's girlfriends

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A few more tidbits

We don't have any new pictures, but I've been combing through all the paperwork that came from the agency, and have learned the following:

* She's itty-bitty, the size of an average 6 month-old in the U.S., except that she's almost 14 months old.
* She's crawling!
* She laughs aloud.
* She is fond of listening to music, and gets very happy when the nannies talk to her.
* She is active and restless (uh-oh), yet also a deep sleeper (yay!).
* She's eating solid foods, including noodles, meat, eggs and soup.
* By one month old, "she had grown very pretty." Well, duh!
* She is very well-behaved. (B will teach her naughtiness her first day home, I'm sure)
* She is "physically strong and sturdy."
* "She is an innocent, lively, healthy good, child."

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Oh Baby!

Xiao ZhiYi
Born October 10, 2006
Jiangxi Province, China

Hey everyone, meet our daughter, ZhiYi! Yes, OUR DAUGHTER!!! I'm still pinching myself. She just turned one on October 10 and currently lives in Jiangxi Province in the People's Republic of China. We hope to get her home by February or March.

I was stunned when the agency called yesterday afternoon, when just last Friday they'd told us we'd have to wait until at least January. Tricky, tricky people, those agency folks. Needless to say, we are overjoyed, and absolutely giddy with excitement.

More information later...too much to do today! Until then, here are the other two pictures we received:

Friday, November 30, 2007

Hope and optimism canceled until further notice

Remember how back in late September our agency told us we'd get a referral on the next list, as long as it was a typical list in terms of the number of kids on it and the ages and special needs it included? Well, it wasn't a typical list. It was more kids than usual, but many with unusual special needs that will be hard to match to families. They have pretty much referred all of the kids with the "typical" special needs, and are left with only those that have unusual needs.

The bottom line? No referral for us on this list. M called the agency today, and that's what they told him. As of now they expect the next list in January (subject to change), and said we should expect a referral on that list (hmmmm...where have I heard that before?). B started to cry when I told him it will be after Christmas before we see a picture of his baby sister. Poor little dude. He's starting to have as much difficulty with this wait as I am.

In the good news category, we found out there are only four families ahead of us now. Other reasons this isn't all bad: it gives us an extra couple of months to save money, and maybe we'll even get our tax refunds before we travel. And spring in China sounds lovely. Also, we're in the midst of re-applying for our daughter's visa, and that's likely to take another 2-3 months. If we HAD gotten a referral on this list, there was a possibility that we'd have to delay our travel while we waited on the visa paperwork to come through. And at least now I can stop jumping every time the phone rings, and won't have to lie awake at night, wondering if tomorrow will be the day they call. It's better to know than to continue this stupid unrequited hope, right?

Aw crap, who am I kidding? This sucks.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pink woman-guwul

Kenai (our dog) recently purchased a toy for Josie (my parents' dog). It's his favorite toy, and he thought Josie should have one. OK, I'm giving too much credit to the dog. B thought Josie should have one because Kenai loves his so much. We gave it to her on Thanksgiving.

This morning, my dad emailed me this:

You should've seen the look on B's face when I showed him -- pure horror. Very funny.

Clearly Josie is one naughty and destructive dog. Kenai outweighs her by about 30 pounds, is still a puppy, and has had his pink woman-girl for at least three months now, and it's still in perfect condition even though he chews on it constantly (and puts it on my lap, trying to get me to throw it for him, which is totally annoying, and when I don't throw it for him, he throws it for himself, which is pretty funny).

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Purple thing-a-ma-jiggies

On the way home tonight, B asked me "Why do fing-o-ma-jiggies have three eyes and a big long trunk?" My response: "Uhhhhhhhhh..."

M was more on the ball than me. His answer: "Natural selection."

Makes perfect sense to me.

Monday, November 26, 2007

B-speak that we miss

girlos and bees -- girls and boys
hnow -- snow (and also hnake and hnomato -- we're not sure how to explain that last one)
shlide -- slide
gorilla bar -- granola bar
copaco bird -- tropical bird

I thought of another one!
cept -- because (we don't know exactly why or how, but he said this all the time for a year. "Why don't you like mushrooms? Cept they're yucky.")

The few remaining that we cherish:

six favanue -- sixth avenue
role-model homes -- model homes
speed lemon -- speed limit
blue spluce twees -- blue spruce trees
naked pants -- self-explanatory

Don't get me wrong. The kid has always had freakishly good verbal skills. But he is funny as hell sometimes too. He was talking about fireworks this summer and couldn't remember what they were called. His way of getting it across: "those things that go boom-crash and then they make sparklies in the sky." And last Christmas he couldn't remember Rudolph's name -- he called him "that red-nosed deer guy."

And no, no adoption news to report. Don't you think I would've started with that if I had it?! Excitement and optimism and rapidly giving way to sadness and resignation on that front.

Friday, November 23, 2007

A cat post

That big dumb dog has had a couple of posts of his own, so B & I thought it was time the cats were featured. This is Lulu, modeling the lovely cat hat we bought her today at Target:

If she looks a little disgruntled, well, that's because she is. Permanently. She was such a naughty kitten that I used to give her time-outs -- I'd lock her in the powder room, the only place in the house that was too small for her to freak out. She had no choice but to calm down. We finally got Kitten (we tried lots of names; none stuck) because we hoped it would distract Lulu from needing our constant attention. It totally worked! We're hoping it works with kids too. Just kidding. Kind of.

There won't be any pictures of Kitten anytime soon because she's a scaredy cat and very hard to catch. I doubt she'll ever get to try on the elephant cat hat we got for her.

This is the cat house B & I made today:

And that's pretty much all there is to say about the cats. M would say it was too much already. He pretends like he doesn't like the cats, but I see him petting them when he thinks I'm not looking.

Friday catch-all

First of all, the only thing I know most of you want to know about: we haven't heard from CCAI yet. There are conflicting rumors as to whether they're working today or not, so I'm not expecting a call anytime earlier than next week. I'll keep my cellphone on me just in case though.

I'd like to post a bunch of pictures from Thanksgiving, but somehow I forgot to take any, except this one of the dogs:

Poppy got a bag of treats out of his pocket, and before he even got a word out or got it opened, the dogs heard the crinkle of the plastic & gathered round.

I made this yummy yummy cake for Thanksgiving -- it's got two chocolate layers with pumpkin-cream cheese stuff in the middle. We had pumpkin pie too, of course -- Mom brought that. But here's a picture of my first attempt at the cake:

Martha Freakin' Stewart I ain't. Fortunately I had enough of all the ingredients left that I could make an extra layer, and this one went in chunks into a tupperware, and we've been snacking on it ever since. The cake came out delicious (and very attractive after the do-over), but we ate most of it before I could take a picture. Oops.

Last but not least, the dining room. Almost five years we've lived in this house, and we've never had dining room furniture. We have a very spacious dining room, but it's always just had a bunch of leftovers & junk in it. Well, we finally bought dining room furniture last month. Then I decided I needed to paint the room. It had one red wall, which we'd had in our condo and loved, but it just didn't look right here. The rest of the walls were tan, and they didn't go well with the rest of the house. Plus it seemed dark. So I decided to try a green, and paint over the tan with white. I've had a long & tortured history with green paint, and it continues today. Here's the closest I have to a before picture (I forgot to take one until I was almost done priming over the red):

Here's the first green -- it was just a little too bright, even for me.

And here's the green we currently have -- I think it's a little too minty. You can't really tell it in the picture though.

And here it is almost finished:

I haven't painted the white walls yet (they're just primed in the picture, so they'll be a little less harsh than they look here after they're painted). We have a bamboo shade for the window, and I'll paint something for the big long blank wall that's on the left in the picture. Maybe one big canvas, maybe three that hang side-by-side. But we finally have a dining room! I feel so grown up.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

We're next

I mean it this time. Seriously. Everyone in my Yahoo group who had an MCC before ours has now gotten their referral. Our name is at the top of the list. The last three families that were ahead of us announced their referrals yesterday, including Donna, who I've known online since the very beginning of this process, and Jenn, who I've met in real life.

So now my next question is: Does CCAI ever make referral calls on Saturday??? I'm not sure I'll sleep between now and Monday if they don't.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

At least she won't be naked

We have some friends who have a son that's less than a year older than B, and a daughter who turned 3 over the summer, so will be 1-2 years older than ours. They've always given us their son's hand-me-downs for B, and this fall they gave us a ton of their daughter's outgrown clothes too. They buy great clothes for their kids, and even passed on some girl stuff that still has the tags on it! This is what they sent over:

The green tub on the bottom is all 0-12 months, so a lot of it is likely to be too small for our little girl. That's too bad, because there is a LOT of really cute stuff in there! The next one is all 12-18 months, and the top one is all 18-24 months and 2T. There's more that's come since I took the picture, mostly 2T and 3T.

And not pictured here is the stuff my mom and I have already bought. It would probably add up to one more tub, mostly 2T and 3T.

Like I said, we may not know when she'll get here, but at least we know she will never have to go naked for lack of cute girly clothes!

And if you look down at the very bottom of the photo, that little black blur is Lulu, the evil kitty. Kitten is the sweet one.

For Rebecca

Here are the three choices:

The picture isn't the best, so the top left one has a medium-blue minky dot fleece on one side, and a helicopter print flannel on the other. The one below that has the same medium-blue fleece, with an outer space themed flannel on the other. The third one (not made yet, but it'll only take me an hour to do it) has pale-blue minky dot fleece on one side, and a pale blue alien/outer space theme on the other. B helped choose the fabrics, hence all the space-themed stuff -- there was a third space-themed fabric, but he claimed that blanket & took it to school for naptime.

Just email me your address & tell me which one you want, and I'll get it in the mail to you. If it's the pale blue one, I can't get it to you until after Thanksgiving b/c I'm going to be gone this Friday - Monday. But the other two are ready to go.

Monday, November 12, 2007

It's not about me

B & I had a rough weekend. A very rough weekend. We just couldn't get along. My patience was definitely short, but there's something more going on here. He seems to feel he can talk to me in a way he can't with M. For instance, if I tell him no, he'll get right in my face and yell, "YES! Give it to me NOW!" He'll throw in a foot-stomp for good measure, and maybe point right at my face, and he uses such an angry, hostile tone when he says things like that. He'll also deliberately ignore me. He'll even close his eyes, put his hands over his ears, and shake his head no when I try to say something to him. And he's openly defiant way too much of the time. For example, he's been spitting a lot lately (I think it's something the boys at school have all been into...gross boys). I'll tell him not to spit, and he'll smirk at me and spit right in my face. He'll do this a little bit with M too, but not to the extent he does with me.

I spend more one-on-one time with B than M does, simply because I stay home on Fridays and spend the whole day with B. It's fairly rare that M gets an uninterrupted 12-hour stretch alone with B; basically it only happens if I'm traveling for business over a weekend, which I just don't do much. So it's definitely true that I have to say "no" more often than M does, and that I will get more negative reaction from B as a result. But the last three or four weeks, it's just been bad. Really bad. Bad to the point where I don't want to spend a day with B. And I hate that feeling.

So where is it coming from? Does he talk to me in that ugly way because I talk to him that way? God, I hope not. I definitely lose my patience with him, but I try to keep myself calm & just remove him from the scene of the crime (a.k.a. bedroom time for B) rather than shout. Is he upset or stressed about something? The adoption? Grammy's death? And what do I do about it? I'm stumped.

I just don't like it that I seem to spend most of my time with B these days saying no, or putting him in his room. I need to break the cycle and get us back into a positive frame of mind. I think the title of the post is the key -- it's not about me. It isn't so important right now if I get my feelings hurt. It's not B's responsibility to behave in a way that makes me happy. I think I just need to do a better job of keeping my negative thoughts & feelings to myself when we get into this stuff, and try to emphasize the positive things B does instead of just getting mad at the bad things.

This parenting crap is a lot harder than anyone said it was going to be. How in the name of god am I going to survive the teen years?!

Exhibit A (Added at 6:45pm)

We went to soccer tonight. It was the last class, so they had a grownups vs. kids scrimmage. It was pretty entertaining to watch, actually. B didn't try to play at all, which was fine, since he was having fun running around being silly. But then he started sticking his tongue out at all the grownups on the field. I tried to call him over when he ran past me one time, but he put his hands over his ears and shook his head and kept on running. I got up and cornered him, and told him it was disrespectful to stick his tongue out at grownups, and if he continued, we'd go home. What did he do not even two seconds after I said that? Stuck his tongue out at one of the grownups. What did I do? Hauled his sassy little butt out of there. When does this stop? Will he ever start listening, or is he just going to do whatever the hell he wants for the rest of his life, parents' wishes/advice/demands be damned?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The list is here

In their regular Wednesday afternoon update to the website, CCAI announced yesterday that they had received a new list of waiting children. I'm thinking of gluing my cellphone to my body so I can't leave home & forget it. It would be just my luck to miss a late Friday afternoon call and have to wait all weekend to get the details. Or to glue the cellphone to my hip, then not be able to unstick it to get it to my ear when it rings. Note to self: glue the cellphone to the hand, not the hip.

Any day now, we'll be looking at the face of our daughter. Of course, when I say "any day now," I mean anytime between now and January. That's how long it'll likely take them to work their way through the new list. But we are almost certainly in this time around.

Nervous, nervous, very nervous.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Shosho worker

That's B-speak for social worker. She came last night for our homestudy update. She seemed very nice, someone we might have for a friend, in fact. That's a relief, since I was very nervous about losing the first social worker we loved.

The visit was short and no big deal. Basically we just talked about what's changed in our lives since our homestudy was originally written a year and a half ago. Not a whole lot -- we're earning more, M has changed jobs, I lost my grandma.

We're in a bit of a pickle, timing-wise. All the paperwork to renew our I-171H (which includes the homestudy update) has to be received by the USCIS no later than December 19 if we want to avoid paying the fees to renew (and trust me, we do). But we're expecting a referral any time between right now and two or three months from now. Once we get our referral, our social worker will have to do an addendum to our homestudy about the particular child we're adopting, and what we know about her medical condition. It would be a bummer if she wrote the update & turned it in, then we got a referral a week later and she had to write up an addendum and turn that in. It would be much easier (& less expensive -- there's a fee for state approval each time you turn it in) if we could just do the update and addendum all at once. She's going to find out the last possible date she can send it in for approval in order to meet that Dec. 19 deadline. She told us last night that just last week she hand-carried a homestudy to Adoption Alliance for approval then to the USCIS office. That could be our situation in another month.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Fall in photos and a Photoshop question

And now for my Photoshop question: anyone know how to get rid of red-eye? Keep in mind that I'm using an ancient version of photoshop -- 6.0, and remember I'm technologically impaired (think: use small words and maybe add some pictures).

Friday, November 2, 2007

My little shoplifter

B's great-grandparents gave him a Halloween card with $5 in it. Today I took him to Target to buy a toy. Everything went fine (except that he kept choosing $30 or $75 toys, and couldn't understand why he couldn't buy them with $5). He found a set of three Marvel comics vehicles & bought them. I put the $1.33 in change in his pocket, and we moved on to Whole Foods.

Once we got there, he ran a little wild (Yeah, I was the mom whose kids drive you crazy at the store. Sorry. Sometimes all I can do is give up the battle to maintain calm & order, and do my shopping as fast as I can so we can get out of there.). We were in the bulk aisle and he kept lagging behind me. There were a lot of people in the aisle, so there were moments when I couldn't actually see him. Well, I couldn't find what I was looking for there, so I went around the corner & headed for the customer service desk. B caught up to me when I was halfway there and said "Mommy, look what I got!" and held up a partially-eaten dried papaya stick. The little thief!!

I marched him up to the customer service desk, handed it to the girl behind the counter, and told her that he had taken it. She said, in her bright, perky customer service voice and with a big smile on her face, "Oh that's ok! It's no big deal! He can have it!" My reply: "Umm, no, I don't think so. He may not keep and eat the stolen papaya." I took a quarter out of the change in his pocket, gave it to him, and told him to pay her for the papaya and tell her he was sorry he took it. She was very confused and didn't know what to say.

He was of course very upset about not getting to finish his papaya stick, so we went back to the bulk aisle and had a little lesson in how you bag & label your purchase. Then he paid for it with his own money. A whopping 12 cents.

I hope the lesson sunk into my little monkey's stubborn mind, even if Customer Service Barbie didn't get it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween II

The costume:

The haul:

That's more candy than he's had in his whole almost-four years. And he doesn't even realize that I took out half the candy he got in the parade yesterday. I'm handing it out to the stragglers who are still ringing our doorbell.

Halloween I

Halloween excitement is in full-swing here. A couple nights ago, B and his dad made cookies with the Halloween cookie cutters B's Nana sent. They underestimated how much the cookies would spread during cooking when they arranged them on the pan, so they came out looking like one giant cookie blob. Actually, they're ghosts, pumpkins and bats. And they're delicious.

Yesterday afternoon, M's work had a Halloween parade for the kids. They all dressed up in their costumes & trick-or-treated around the office. I never saw so much candy. He's got more candy in his pumpkin already than he'll get tonight. I have a feeling a significant portion of it is going to mysteriously disappear when he's not looking. I wouldn't be surprised if it reappeared right back at M's office. Wouldn't that be something?

After the big parade, we came home and carved the smallest of the three pumpkins. We'll do the other two tonight. They're pretty big, and we grew them ourselves in the backyard. B's Nana also sent him a pumpkin carving knife (one that he can't actually stab anyone with, or use to cut off his own fingers), so B did quite a bit of carving himself.

B's other grandma sent some Dairy Queen gift certificates, enough so that B can take all three of us out for ice cream. He's very excited to go get a "banana splat." Heh.

Check back later tonight for Halloween II, when the costume will finally be unveiled.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Our weekend

What a weekend. On Friday, we went to a Halloween party at a rec center north of here. Games, candy, bounce houses, hay rides, etc. Came home to find our secret pal gift for October had arrived. B's mini-pal sent him a Batman backpack, some Batman pens, and a kit to make Scooby Doo magnets. This is the happy dance that the backpack brought on:

And this is the rest of his gift:

There were also two books for little Miss E -- "I Love You Like Crazy Cakes," a Chinese adoption classic, and "Little Miss Spider," about a little spider who can't find her mommy. B test-read these Friday night and pronounced them to be outstanding. There were also some fun little scrapbooking doo-dads that will be wonderful to have when I get around to scrapbooking our China trip, a bookmark, and a beautiful card. Thank you secret pal!

And after all that excitement, who wouldn't want to go outside & throw fistfuls of leaves around like a crazy kid? He's a human tornado, I tell ya.

Saturday was Boo at the Zoo (costumes & trick-or-treating) in the morning, followed by his preschool's Fall Harvest Party (very carefully crafted NOT to be a Halloween party. How very PC). Another bounce house here. This was the only second he stood still all day Saturday:

Sorry, no zoo pictures. Not that I didn't take any -- trust me, I did, and they are super-cute. But the costume is under wraps & will remain top-secret until Halloween.

Parting shot: