Saturday, October 31, 2009

Snapshot Saturday

Halloween is by far Mighty Mouse's favorite holiday.

Part of that is about the candy....but the real appeal is all the pumpkins.

And yes, she is spending the entire day in her pumpkin costume. I can't even get her to take off the headpiece until later. She is special for sure.
As goofy as this least the rest of the week she has been stylin'. Nano made her another smocked dress for Halloween! It is amazing!
Sorry for the blurry shot. I think the pattern messed with the auto-focus. Here is a close-up of the smocked spiders:

Don't you love the bows?

Also this week she wore one of Songbirds Halloween dresses from many years ago:
Pumpkins everywhere! She's going to be mad when it goes in big sisters bin for saving instead of hers. LOL!

And for her party on Friday she wore last years smocked witch:

Yes, it has been a full week of Halloween fashions around my place. Kind of funny considering I don't really like Halloween. Can't really tell you why. Yet I love spending the whole month watching horror flicks. Makes no sense, does it?

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Tribute to Mrs. B

This is long overdue, but I wanted to give the B family time to grieve and begin to function again before I posted this. I received a message yesterday that leads me to believe that they are coming to that point. So to Mel and Mr. B..... I love you guys. I miss you guys. And I am forever thankful that your family has been a part of my life.

Let me begin by saying I have my own definition of family. Blood does not equal family. Relationships equal family. It is very possible to be a full blood relative.... and still be 0% part of my family. It is a fact of my life, that you can be 0% blood related to me...and still be 100% part of my family. I have been extremely BLESSED with many of these relationships. And God had perfect timing in all of them.

Growing up, my father was military. We moved too many times to count. Blood relations were very very seldom close enough on the map to visit. As such, I think many military families form very strong ties with other families. That was the B family in my life.

We knew them before going overseas, but my strongest memories begin when we lived in Germany. The B family was a major part of those three years. And they didn't even live in the same area. We had to travel to go see them and vise versa. (Oh big terrible thing...traveling all over Germany!!)

Besides visiting each other, we also took many cool vacations together around Germany. One of my favorites was when we went and saw the hotel Hitler was holed up in long ago. We also went ice skating and to a salt mine and just site seeing. Castles, crystal factories and wine tasting. Christmas and Thanksgiving.

These were the years I picked up a camera. Unfortunately I don't have many pictures of the B family to share as I left the lions share of them with mom when I left home. I was pretty much the only one taking pictures and they paid for the film and developing so I figured that was best. So from the few shots I have, I want to share with you a woman that was very important in my younger years.

I don't think I could find a better picture to begin. When I think of Mrs. B, I think of laughter. Her and my mom laughed ALL THE TIME. And she had a very distinctive and catchy laugh. I can't tell you how many times in life I went to sleep with the sound of the four grown ups laughing it up. They cut up like a bunch of school kids. And they were actually funny!
I should introduce you to Mr. B also. You'll have to take my word for it that he is the one sitting on my sister. Yes, Mr. B tortured us just like he was our dad. What could be more fun than to have two dad's picking on you? Especially when there are no other relative around?

I couldn't find a picture of Mel at this point in life. Rest assured she was there. The three of us fought like cats and dogs half the time...couldn't have been worse if we'd been actual sisters.

We all returned to the states and didn't see each other a bit. Both of the dad's were retired and we all ended up in El Paso for awhile. We moved away, and then we all ended up in the DFW area together.
They were front and center when I got married. I'm so glad they were there to help out like they did and join us for the rehearsal dinner. It was much more comfortable for me with them there. I wasn't real comfortable with my soon-to-be in-laws at that point so they were a big help ... and probably never even knew it.
Is that good Mr. B?
On my wedding day, Mel was there to help me with my hair and make-up. And yes, that was very necessary. Some things never change. If its clean and brushed...its good to go. Mel wasn't having that for my wedding. And if I never thanked you Mel...let me say it now...THANKS!

I moved away with my new husband and didn't see The B's much from that point. I do have a picture of Mr. B with Bones.
Not long after that The B's moved close to their family in Arizona, and I haven't seen them since. I did see Mel occasionally when mom would cut her hair.

After my dad died, I found Mr. B on facebook and passed on a message that he had passed away. Mel then contacted me and let me know that Mrs. B was also fighting cancer. It was looking pretty positive that first contact, but like my dad, overnight it all changed. In no time Mrs. B was gone.

Two of the most important people from my early years are gone...within 8 months of each other.

I wish I had been able to go to the memorial service. I am very thankful that my mother was able to attend. Mr. B and Mel are totally they should be.

And what do you say?

All I can say is I'm sorry, and I know.

Although I haven't seen her in so long, I miss her. I'm sad that she is no longer here spreading that laughter. I'm very sad for the hole left in Mel and Mr. B's lives. She was such a tiny thing...yet such a huge presence.

And she will always be a giant in my childhood memories.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Adoption Carnival III: All About the Kids

Grown in my Heart's new blog carnival is All About the Kids. Following Tonggu Momma's example, I am posting some of my most precious adoption photos. I have not even scrapped these photos yet as the emotions are still so overwhelming. Along with the joy and love the whole trip brought about, there was also this defining time on the way to the airport where the sadness, guilt and confusion were so overwhelming. I was taking my baby away from her country. Her language. A place where she looked like everyone else and would never be a minority. Somewhere out there...her parents. We were taking it all away. And no amount of counting the blessings and advantages will ever change what we TOOK from her....regardless of what we give. For every "gain" in adoption...there is a forever loss also. That is the nature of adoption. Joy and pain, forever entwined.

So today I sat down and looked through our photos of our time in China. There is so much I have already "forgotten". There is the way MM always had her tongue out...yet never put anythig in her mouth. It was like she was tasting the air. She always was playing with her fingers and hands.....such beautiful and graceful movements....yet she was a very still child and just did not move around much at all.

Anyways...on to the pictures...

When we received MM, it was just two families in the Civil Affairs Office, so it was rather low key and quiet. MM did not cry like we were expecting. You can see the avoidance behavior in her body language. She arched back and did not want to be held very close. She threw her hands back most of the time also.

We were very shocked with her appearance. First, she was drop dead gorgeous. An extremely beautiful baby. Her pictures had not done her justice and I didn't even recognize her. Second, this little baby whose socks dont fit....who is less than 12 pounds when they hand her to almost 8 months old. She doesn't hardly look 3 months old.
Leaving the Civil Affairs office was rather surreal. It just didn't feel right to walk out of a building with a baby I did not give birth to. It was all very overwhelming for MM. We found out that her strongest coping behavior at the time was to just go to sleep when it was all too much for her. I know I just stared at her and drank it all in all the way back to the hotel.
We found out quickly that MM loved to be carried in the long as she didn't get hot. The bad thing was that she was so small she could slip out the leg holes!! We had to improvise with a blanket stuffed in to keep her from falling out. We also had to fold the back of the sling down or she would be completely covered up and couldn't see. Notice the tongue? This is one of her strange behaviors. She always had her tongue out when she was curious or happy.
Poor baby was so undernourised that she was bald on top. Once again you see the hands and fingers...they were always working.

Our trip to the orphanage was very overwhelming and NOISY. When we first went upstairs the doctor came out to check the two girls. Our travel mates had a sick baby and the doctor wanted to make sure the medicine she sent was working and the baby was doing well. She then checked MM over real quick. We found that MM does not like covered faces. She snatched the mask off the doctors face so fast it was a blur. Everyone got a pretty good laugh out of that. Yes, the tongue is out during this manuever.
The baby room was just about my undoing. How could there be so many babies???? The good thing was that there were plenty of nannies and they were all clean and happy looking. But where were these baby's mommies???? It was heart breaking. The little girl in the shot with MM was a child that caught my eye the minute I walked in and I was mesmerized with her the entire time. She seemed to feel the same so the nannies brought her over to me. She was easily twice MM's size even though the same age. If I could have taken her home also I would have. I am happy to say she was adopted by a family in Spain and I was able to send the pictures I had of her to her new mommy and daddy.

Oh, and there is that tongue again. The nannies would actually flick it...and she would stick it out even more so they would keep doing it. It was strange.
Soon it was time to go. When MM was handed back to me she grabbed on and licked me good. I think that was when I was CLAIMED. She hasn't let go since.
We were sent off with fond farewells. MM was even given a santa hat since it was Christmas. Too cute! But you can see in her face that she is done. The blank stare returns and the thumb goes in the mouth. She wants quiet.

Notice the rolled up sleeves??? We couldn't find clothes to fit her in China and everything we brought was too big. Most of the stores surrounding the hotels didn't carry newborn or three month clothing. They are used to selling for babies closer to a year old.

Wow. That was quite a blast from the past. I really should get these photos out of the bags they are sitting in and into albums. Maybe that will be my New Years Resolution. Right now, I'm still not ready.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Green Gone Wrong

I'm all for being friendly to the environment and using resources wisely. It's important.

Lately I have seen many articles and blog posts on green subjects. Some of it I will NEVER adopt. NEVER. Some of it I laugh myself silly over. Some of it I shake my head in utter disbelief. Some I run out to try right away. Some I start with a "no way" but the more I think about it the more it doesn't seem so far fetched. Some things I am tracking avidly to see how it works out for others because I love the idea but am not sure it will work for me.

I have been making my laundry detergent for a while now. I am currently messing with my recipe because we moved to an area with very different water and I could still smell the sweat on hubs work out clothes after washing with my current recipe. I would also like to try my hand at some homemade deodorant (due to the aluminum toxic load in my body). I'm contemplating giving homemade toothpaste a try. I'm watching the homemade shampoo...but this one bothers me as my mom was a color specialist and used baking soda to strip hair of everything. Over time she has concerns that it will do more damage than good. So I'm watching my pooless friends.

But now I'd like to point out some of the crazy green subject matter out and about the net today. Things that at this moment seems crazy or far fetched for me. (But I do reserve the right to change my mind....I do that alot you know.)

1. According to one green book, you should swap Rover for a goldfish. Seems owning good old Rover is as bad for the environment as driving a SUV 10,ooo miles a year. Owning rabbits or chickens is better because they breed and you can eat them.

Seriously? In our country we spend more on pet food than on missions per year. I'm thinking there's NO CHANCE you are going to talk us out of Fido. And if I can eat it....its not a pet. Pets are a part of the family. I wouldn't get rid of one of my kids for the environment either.

2. Green burials.

“[It’s] simple, back-to-the-earth burial -- either in a shroud or a pine casket, the family participating any way they want to,” said burial coordinator Jennifer Johnson.

Bodies aren't embalmed at Greensprings, and they don't allow hardwood caskets -- just simple pinewood, wicker baskets, or shrouds. Headstones are optional. If the family chooses to have one, it has to be a quarry stone or a field stone, and it can’t be polished.

Okay. Now, I think the funneral industry is way over-priced. Helping my mother when my dad died last year was really eye opening. Cutting every corner we could, it still cost more than a widow on limited income should be paying.

I can see dropping the embalming. I could even see a pine casket. The shroud? I find that creepy. I'm sure its just a cultural thing, but really. Mom went with cremation and you wouldn't believe how many cemeterys wont allow burial in the box that the ashes are delivered to the funeral home in. Do you know how much the cheapest urns go for????? Unbelievable.

So, even though it kinda creeps me out....this might not be so far fetched.
3. Not using your air conditioner....or not using your HEAT??

I can see not having air. Millions of people do it. I'm not volunteering as long as I have the option (unless we are camping). But not using your heat all winter?? ARE THEY CRAZY??? More people die from hypothermia than heat stroke. This would NEVER be a choice I made to save money or be green. So there. Green police, come and get me! But you will never take me alive!

4. Reusable toilet paper.

So if I had a diaper pail already in the bathroom, maybe this wouldn't be too bad. Okay. I lie. I find this gross. There are certain things in life I don't want to handle twice. Butt wipes is one of them.
Sure they are easy to make. Sure they will save you money. No, I don't think there has always been tp we could just go buy. But hey, there are certain modern conveniences that I just don't want to give up. Toilet paper is at the top of that list.

And along those lines....

5. The moon cup.

Yes friends, you too can ditch those disposable feminine products for your monthly! There are all kinds of free patterns on how to make your own washable pads. Throw them in the same pail with the booty wipes!!! (Gag!)

Or for those that prefer the can purchase a mooncup!
Do not ask me to go into the details. But I will tell you a funny -- when I told my husband about this jewel, he didn't believe me. He googled it. And now he is educated on the issue. Hah!! (Really, it was very funny!)

It can save you a boat load of money. Those tampons are not cheap. But the whole washing it out each time you go to the bathroom. Squirm. And then there are those public bathroom times. Can you imagine????

I'm going to stop here as I just threw up a little in my mouth. I am a wimp. No doubt. I couldn't kill a chicken to eat either ya know.

Thank goodness I was born in this day and age...and live in this country.


Friday, October 23, 2009

A Quick Trip with a Photo Fail

Sometimes, God talks to you.

And he tells you to do something you don't want to do. Correction: He tells you to do something that is not easy, very inconvenient and just doesn't make human sense.

So I don't listen.

And he keeps waking me up...night after night.

But school is in.

So a break appears in the form of off days and half days that would minimize missed school days.

But we have a weekend out of town planned for my birthday.

So hubs gets TDY orders and we can't go.

But MM has been coughing for 4 weeks and does not need to travel.

So hubs offers to take leave to fill moms shoes.

But we don't have the money.

And unexpectedly we have the money.

But the car is getting old and its a 14 hour drive.

And a plane ticket is found for less than the gas money it would take to drive.

And it includes stopping in KC and being able to see my mom while she is staying with my niece (mom, dad and brother are on an extended German vacation to die for). And an available car so I don't have to rent one.

So yes, I made a rather last minute, unplanned trip to see three of my favorite people in the world.

To date, I'm still not clear on WHY I supposed to do this....but who cares???? There is nothing like time with a true friend to calm the soul and make the heart smile. Was the trip for her? Or was the trip for me? Maybe it was so I could see my Butterfly. Now I can listen with an understanding ear when I talk to my friend on the hard days...and the good days.

So I spent a weekend with Tricia and the girls, Butterfly and FigNewTon. We spent one day at the Omaha zoo. The weather was cold but not too cold and we had a great time. I'm pretty sure we wore Butterfly out...but in a good way.

Unfortunately I have used my camera so little since my dad died, that I did a really BAD job on the photos. Both digital and 35mm. Embarrassingly bad!!!! (Hanging head in shame.) But I did manage to take a couple of decent shots of my favorite girls!

To my friends -- thank you! I had the most wonderful time. Even if I did lose every game we played. Badly. You three are by far the best hostesses I have ever had the pleasure of staying with...right up there with my mom. Loved the games, the food, the comforts of your home and the love in your hearts.

Girls! You have become such beautiful little ladies! It saddens me to see the little girls I love grow up. On the other hand, I am excited for you. I can't wait to see what life has in store for you both.

And now I have returned home. I came down sick on the way and am still under the weather and not doing much. But I have my memories of such a perfect weekend! So I'm sick with a smile! LOL!

Miss you guys already!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I've Been Boo'ed!!

I had to share this with you guys.

I made a quick,unexpected trip out of town...and managed to get sick along the return home from a perfect time....and collapse into bed for days.

On the first day home when I was feeling really bad, there came a ring of the doorbell.

Songbird glanced out the front windows to see some kids running away. She laughed and told me we just got the hit and run from a couple of three year olds.

Hmmmm. I told her to check the doorstep.

And what did she find?
Why, a bucket full of yummy treats and a cute little mug.

Now I know what all those fliers are taped up on peoples doors on my street.

So I thought I'd share because it is really such a fun thing to do in your neighborhood. If you click on the poster photo you can read it and maybe even start the same thing on your street.

I'm curious to see if they do something similar at Christmas time. Wouldn't that be a nice little way to spread a little good cheer on your block?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Guest Post of Sorts...

I was really unhappy with the way I ended my post on What Nobody Told Me About Adoption. I think I also came off as dismayed or upset, which is partly true...but not a good picture. I didn't know how to express that the ugliness is upsetting, but it does have its place. And I purposely search out those voices to learn. The true test is to learn balance on the subject.

I have a friend that adopted from China at the same time we did. And now we follow each other on the web, like so many other virtual friends.

Anyways! My friend recently did a post on the same subject. I found myself nodding my head yes and feeling like she was saying what I meant. So, with her permission I am reprinting her article here. You can find the original at:


I scan a lot of blogs. I try to read perspectives from all sides of the adoption triad. I try to understand, I try to learn, I try to apply. But I have learned that I need to step back, to not read those blogs very often, and to have very thick skin. If I did not, here are some of the views that would seep into my personality and affect how I interact with the world, namely, my daughters:

Adoptive parents are thiefs.

Adoptive parents do not care about the children, they are just selfish and feel they are owed a child.

Adoptive parents are ruining their adopted children’s lives.

Adopted children will walk around angry with the world at all times.

It is impossible for an adoptive person to acknowledge and cope with the pain of their separation from their first parents.

No matter what I call first parents, it is the wrong thing.

All first parents had their child stolen from them by a totally corrupt system.

That I cannot mention to my children that God had a hand in their adoption because that would give them a warped sense of God.

The list goes on and on. It is overwhelming to read. There are blogs out there that complain because people have labeled them “angry” – but when that is the only emotion that is presented to the public on the web…..

I brought up the emotions that roil in me as I read these blogs to an online friend of mine. She reminded me that the “happy” ones, the ones that have found a balance in their lives, are not going to be the ones who post – they are too busy living their lives. Balance – that is a good word for what parenting an adoptive, transracial child is all about. It is also what is missing from all these blogs I read. The balance that while there is a lot of hardship, a lot of pain, a lot of corruption, there is also a lot of good. There are still smiles, there is still laughter. What I hope to teach my children is that there truly is a balance. There have been so many cliches about taking the good with the bad, the silver lining in every cloud, not enjoying laughter unless you have tasted the tears – they go on an on. But ultimately it comes back to the Yin/Yang philosophy of their birth culture – a balance.

I will be writing about how I am addressing each of these issues in my conversations with the girls. This is as much an exercise in making sure my thoughts are clear before I continue to share them with the girls as it is sharing my thoughts with anyone. It is my exercise in balance – to pull the anger and pain towards me without letting it consume me. I just hope that as I walk this tight-rope of parenting that I can find my balance and guide my girls to find theirs.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Autumn Asks: What's In A Name?

This week, over at Grown in My Heart, the subject is names.

Tell us about names this month…How did you name your children? Did they come to you with names? Did you change them? Did your parents change your name? Do you not feel connected to your name?

Basically, what is in a name?

I hesitate to write on this subject as it is another one of those "hot button" issues in the adoptive parent crowd. I have seen some rather heated and ugly posts on this issue in the last 6 years.

So let me start by saying I believe every family is different. I don't think that just because I do what I do, all others much follow suite. I am not threatened by others doing things their own way. I don't expect others to follow in my shoes.

When it came to adopting a child, I was interested in an existing child living in an orphanage with no family. This is one small reason why we didn't adopt within our own system. I was not interested in private adoption of a newborn infant....there are long waiting lines for that type of adoption by couples that are unable to get pregnant, for one reason or another. I wanted to raise a child that already existed...without a family of their own.

We always understood that our child would already have a name.

A name that pre-dated our relationship and belonged to the child...not to us.

As such we knew we would be keeping at least part, if not all, of this name.

Our choice was to give the child a slightly normal "American" first name in conjunction with the name the child came to us with. We waited until we had the baby's name to pick that name as we wanted the whole thing to sound pleasant together and flow well (Note: If our daughter had been an older child we would not have done even that without considering the childs wants). We did keep the whole Chinese name as it was rather short. Of course we ended it with our last name. For sake of easy, on forms we combine the two Chinese names - nobody knows the difference.

This has worked well for us. She has a name that is not too terribly uncommon (all of our names in my family are slightly different so we couldn't go plain Jane on her). We use the nickname the nannies used for her occasionally...and she knows that. At any point in her future, should she decide to drop the first name we gave her and use the name the orphanage gave her, we will support that...and even pay for it.

This is our comfort zone. We have not taken from her something that belongs to her.

Many people I know discarded all names their child came with and chose to give them family names and such as part of the claiming process. I understand why they feel that way.

Others chose to give their children a new Chinese name as the orphanage name is not the name the first family gave them. They don't feel that an orphanage name is important or any different than giving an all American name. Or maybe that orphanage name is not flattering. I know some people that have consulted with other Chinese to help them pick a name that is right for their child and has a good meaning in Chinese. Both sound like wonderful and valid choices.

As the adoptive parent, I think we have to choose what seems right in our family dynamics. As long as we are willing to support our children in their opinions, I think there is no right or wrong.

It's the importance that the child puts on the name that comes first for us. My place in my daughter's life is not to replace or erase her past. My place is to support her and her story to the best of my ability. None of that is about me.

So, for me, what's in a name?

Whatever my daughter wants...that's what.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Autumn is Here

I think the warm weather is gone.
And the locals keep saying they think its going to be a hard winter.

Not what I want to hear.
But I must admit I am enjoying the fall. I didn't realize I missed it while in Texas. Growing up mostly in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, I really didn't have much exposure to a true fall.
Last week the wind changed. The temperature dropped...but not too much. It smells different.
The air just feels different when it blows on the back of your neck.
I am really enjoying my daily walks with the dog. We live on a cul-de-sac that has a gravel road at the end of it that goes out into the woods. The rat and I like to wander down the road. The six pound terror ruffs his fur up and rumbles deep in his throat as he smells the deer and other creatures. He tries to chase squirrels and ends up retching from fighting his harness. (What a dope!)
Mighty Mouse has been playing in the leaves. The rat also likes to hop around in them and chase them. We really need to hurry and get a fence up for him now that the house is sold. He needs to be able to run.
I'm soaking in the "fallness" while I can. All to soon winter will be on us (and I will cry and whine like the big baby I am.). The trees are turning and painting pretty pictures before our eyes. How amazing is that?
The change in the air also triggers a change in what we want to eat. This last week we have had homemade chicken noodle soup, tortellini soup and homemade hot and sour soup with our stirfry. On Saturday we had Mooncakes and celebrated the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival.
Hubs is at this minute at the store buying the ingredients for hot apple cider. You will have to wish us luck on that as we have never made it just sounded good to both of us. The fall brings back memories of the Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska and the cider they sold. Yum. We nearly made ourselves sick off of our first taste of fresh apple cider from their apple orchards.
The pumpkins are making appearances everywhere. MM is very excited about that. She's sleep with one if I'd let her. Strange, strange child that one.
And my Songbird went to her first homecoming dance. Wow - she's looking so grown-up. When did that happen?
I will leave you today with some of my current favorite photos from the web. You know I'm a sucker for those photos! Happy Fall everyone!