Thursday, July 30, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

Reality Check

I have always been moved by the lyrics of this song but until tonight had never even seen the group members, never mind the video. And so, it was with much surprise that I found myself on the couch with tears pouring down my cheeks at the images. One after another, images of people holding photographs of those they have lost, came on the screen. The one that hit me the hardest was of an old woman in a wheelchair holding a photograph of her wedding day. I have a photograph of my grandparents that is almost identical to it. Same era. Same style wedding gown. I was hit with a wave of grief over how much I miss me grandmother. She was in her mid 90s when she died and with her death, went the last remaining string that held my very large (and geographically scattered) Irish Catholic family together.

During my trip to New England last month I was able to reunite with some family members that I hadn’t seen in years. The last time I saw one of my cousins was at the funeral of my grandmother almost eight years ago. She was my last living grandparent. Seeing my cousin’s face after so much time… visiting her home and seeing my grandmother’s sewing machine in the dining room… driving through old neighborhoods from my childhood… it brought a lot of things to the surface.

I mean I know intellectually that people get old and die; that marriages end in divorce; that children are raised without fathers. I know this in my head. But most of the time I dare not know it in my heart. It hurts too much.

I have always been aware of a quiet underlying measure of loss playing in my life. It's in the background, often crowded out by the noise of everyday life. But sometimes, like tonight, I am still. And I hear it. And I weep. Not for just myself. I think also of my daughter. I think of how my parents' divorce has a direct consequence on her life, leaving her with just one grandparent. I think of the loss that she has already endured in her short three years of life. I think of the loss that she will have to experience as she wrestles (and hopefully comes to grips) with what it means to be a transracial adoptee of a single mom.
These are the things I think… when I let myself think.

There is loss. But thanks be to God, there is also hope.

Mercy Me - I Can Only Imagine
Video sent by ramus311


I can only imagine
What it will be like
When I walk
By Your side
I can only imagine
What my eyes will see
When Your face
Is before me
I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for You Jesus or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in Your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When that day comes
And I find myself
Standing in the Son
I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever
Forever worship You
I can only imagine

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Okay... seriously, folks, is this National Bodily Excretion Week or what? I know that these things are part and parcel of having kids and pets but....REALLY! Tuesday there was this and Thursday there was this all at the same time as this.

Last night, after we got home from feeding ducks at the park, Isabel said she had to go potty. No problem. She's been potty trained during the day since last December. Next thing I hear is, "Mom! I'm peeing. Help." I have no idea what the problem could be. I go to the bathroom and she is standing there with pee running down her legs, all over the floor and her shoes.It was at that moment that I realized that Fridays at her school are Water Play Day and she still had her one-piece bathing suit on. Poor baby. She (and her shoes) went right into a nice bubble bath.

Surely, the week had ended, right?


I just walked into the hall and almost slid a foot as I stepped into a very large pile of very wet cat vomit. (Ahhh... good times!) I hopped (that was QUITE a visual!) into the bathroom to wash off my cat-vomit-covered foot. It was then that I saw another "little" present. Apparently, my daughter is in no need for any more fiber in her diet. There was a Number Two that was so huge it could be called a Number Four.

Oh... and Isabel's nose has been dripping nonstop for two days and now mine is too.

I am SOOOO ready for this week to end.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Today's Correspondence

Dear Mom,
I have an idea. We recycle our milk bottles. We recycle our water waters. Why not recycle my Pull-ups? I have the one from last night that I peed a LOT in. We can recycle it. But I don't want it to be yucky. I know. I'll put it in the washer. Then it will get clean.

I love you, Mom.

Dear Isabel,
Recycling is good. Some things are meant to be recycled... like bottles and cartons and newspapers. Some things are NEVER meant to be recycled... like a Pull-up. The reason why a Pull-up keeps you dry is because there are thousands of tiny gel beads inside that absorb moisture... and puff up. Putting one in the washer would make the gel beads absorbs the water in the laundry and get VERY slimy instead.

It is always good to think about new ideas. Some ideas are good. Others are not. While recycling is good, putting the Pulll-ups in the washing machine would NOT be good. We can think of other ways to recycle when you wake up in the morning.

I love you,

PS I see that I wrote this letter too late...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Midnight Houdini

Thought I might comment that she WAS tucked under the covers in her jammies when I turned out the light. The closed door should have been a clue that something was going on... I don't know what cracked me up more: the books all lined up along the pillow , tucked under the sheets or the outfit she put together, including the silver sparkly shoes.

Too cute. (Or so I thought when I decided to just let her sleep like that.)

Clearly a poor decision on my part, as I was summoned at 3am with an anguished, "I'm wet. I'm sorry, Mama."

Monday, July 20, 2009

My Brain is Exploding!

A great benefit about being a teacher is having the summer off. Before Isabel, I enjoyed being able to travel during the summer to keep my Spanish up to par. Being primarily a lower level language teacher, my vocabulary does not get stretched much. [Think Kindergarten teacher.] I have studied in Spain, Guatemala and Costa Rica.

Each experience was both exciting and a tad overwhelming at times. Let's face it... you get this Irish gringa in a room of native Spanish speakers for a graduate level class and...well, let's just say that it feels like my brain is about to explode. I have to actively think about everything that is being said (as opposed to passively tuning in as I do in my native language.) As mentally draining as these times were, I always came away so invigorated and energized about Spanish.

Being a single mom of a three year old means that I am no longer afforded the luxury of just taking off to another country for a month or two. As such, I was very excited that my district approved my request to attend the week-long College Board AP Institute for Spanish Language. It started today. My brain is completely fried. Eight hours straight of Spanish being spoken by women from Spain, Panama, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Mexico, Colombia. Of the 20 attendees, only three of us are not native Spanish speakers. My head is spinning...Ay Caramba!!!

Only four more days to go. Ojala que sobreviva.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


We spend the day in Saint Augustine on what was supposed to be a beach day. Mother Nature had different plans and we headed over to a friend's home instead. The kids had fun flying balsa wood airplanes after the rain died down.

I also got to finally meet sweet baby Norah in person. What a doll! I loved watching Isabel interacting with her. This was the youngest baby she had ever seen and I wondered how she would respond. I needn't have given it a second thought; her tenderness and gentleness were so sweet that I welled up. I loved listening to her talk to the baby and bring her items (pillows, books, binky) to share.

It also made me sad to think that, with all things remaining the same in international adoption, she will never have the opportunity to do these things with a baby sister of her own.

A bittersweet moment.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Turns out it IS a Small world after all

After dvd overload during the trip, I felt like a drug counselor trying to get Isabel through movie detox. For the last year or so, the rule has been that she can watch one hour of tv/dvd a day. It usually consisted of 30 minutes of Between the Lions on PBS (I just LOVE that show! Wish I could have been a writer for them), and a 30 minute video during the daily commute. Since the digital tv switchover, PBS has been out of the picture. (No pun intended.) Yes... I may be the only person left in America who does not have cable.

But I digress...

After I picked Isabel up from school yesterday, we went to the library. Can I say that I just LOVE the library! There's something so wonderful about the sitting in a place surrounded by thousands of books, stories just waiting to be discovered. It's been especially exciting watching Isabel's love for books blossom.

While we were looking for some Max and Ruby stories, (BTW, thanks for the heads up, Susan. I had never heard of them before the dvds we were given for the ride), a lovely mother recommended a bunch of other authors. One of them was Lois Lenski. Any of you heard of her? The stories, centered around the Small family, are just delightful. I love the illustrations. Simple and sweet. Last night we read the two we checked out. Isabel was full of questions. (I know,I know... when is she NOT?) I loved it.

Imagine my surprise this morning when I came in the living room to discover her pouring over them. If you didn't know any better, you'd swear she was actually reading. It was a wonderful way to start the day.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Guess Who Dressed Herself This Morning?

pink and brown shirt
coral shorts
lavender socks
silver sparkly shoes

(I was wondering why the shorts were so (shall we say?) tight. It turns out that underneath them, she is wearing a pair of bloomers on top of her Elmo panties.)

Who can understand the fashion sense of a three-year-old?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What a Book Club!

When our local FCC book club had its first meeting 2.5 years ago, I wasn't able to attend; I was halfway across the world on my way to China to get Isabel. Since then, we have had three other daughters come home: Bev's Angel, Pam's Kelli, and Madi's Juliana. It seems only apropos that the celebration of our newest China sister, sweet Hannah Grace, also be at book club. After a LONG three years' wait, Laurie's dream of being a mom is realized. We can't wait to meet her in person.

Congratulations, Laurie and Hannah!

Look, Mom! They're Kissing!

Hmmm.. perhaps I should have limited the number of times she watched Beauty and the Beast and the Barbie Princess DVDs on the trip.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

An Image A Day of Our Time Away

SUNDAY: China Sisters in NYC

MONDAY: Jumping into things in Massachusetts

TUESDAY: Rose and Mom in Albany, NY

WEDNESDAY: Pedicures in Massachusetts

THURSDAY: Reunion with Foster Sister Emmi from Watertown, NY

FRIDAY: Running in front of the Boston Children's Museum

SATURDAY: Hugs from cousin Sue in Cape Cod

SUNDAY: Loving time with NaiNai in Hanover

MONDAY: Having fun with cousins up near New Hampshire

TUESDAY: Watching salt water taffy being made in York Beach, Maine

WEDNESDAY: Visiting dear friend Cathy in Boston

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

New England Vacation

What a whirlwind of a trip this has been. We spent two days driving up the East Coast and met several fellow AP friends whom I've gotten to know through the adoption process: in New York we met fellow single moms Lorraine and MaryHelen, Jana who is mom to another Shangrao beauty named Gabriela, and then Sherry up in Vermont. The highlight was definitely the visit from Denise, Tasia and Emmi. With their arrival, Isabel and Emmi, her foster sister in China, were reunited.

It has not just been a trip about China sisters though... we have been fortunate to be able to spend time with family. Isabel has just LOVED being able to spend time with her cousins Tommy, Hailey and Bridget.(a.k.a The Didge.) I, too, was able to reconnect with my cousins on The Fourth of July with a visit to Cape Cod. I just loved catching up with Suzie and Stacy. And not to leave the other side of the family out... we were even able to spend some time with cousins Cheri, Arianna and Ian!

Best of all, after not seeing each other in over a year, Isabel and I were able to visit my mom. It was a wonderful day listening to them playing games and having tea. Isabel just loves her NaiNai and was so excited to have some one-on-one time with her.

Two more days before we head back to Florida. We head up to Maine tomorrow and then Boston on Wednesday to visit two friends from my college days at Northeastern. We will begin the drive home on Thursday which will mark the close of a wonderful vacation with great family and friends.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Foster Sisters Reunited

Last December I received an email from a woman in upstate New York who, through circumstances that I can only attribute to divine direction, was able to identify Isabel by her Chinese name as the foster sister of her daughter Emmi. The two girls are from the same orphanage but were put in foster care shortly after arriving. Both of us thought that our daughters were the only child with the foster parents. The pictures I had developed from the disposible camera I sent to China showed the same foster mom. Amazing!

Though we live at two different ends of the country (New York and Florida) our summer vacation to New England enabled us to reunite the girls after 2.5 years. A sweet afternoon.