Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Book Club ?

I was reading New Girl's blog this morning, and it occurred to me that it would be neat to either find or form an on-line book club that reads and then discusses adoption-related books.
Does anyone know of one that exists and is still open to new members? Or, is there any interest in creating one?
Let me know... I may have a few co-conspirators out there thinking about this, too.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Yellow does not cover green very well...

I can't believe it- only 2 weeks from today and we'll be with our son!! I picked up an XpressPost envelope this morning from the agency- it had our luggage and name tags, itineraries, airplane tickets- so, it's all VERY real to me now. And I'm vacillatiing from excitement & joy to sheer panic at least twice an hour. I'm trying to take on the attitude of a fellow travel mate, who left for China yesterday to do some touring; she said "I stopped stressing when I realized all I needed was our Notice of Coming, some US cash, and a credit card." Nice. I'm just trying to convince myself to believe it!

So, we bought paint on Friday evening, and started painting our son's room on Saturday. It's actually also our 8 year old's room. We decided to move Daniel in with her for the first year or so, given that he's so used to being in a room with other kids. Plus, she's happy to have the company, since her big sister moved into her own room a few months ago. But, of course, being 8 years old, she has definite opinions on how the room should be decorated. We decided that "Winnie the Pooh" would be appropriate for a room that is being shared by a sister and a little brother; and she already has a Pooh Bear comforter and has been a fan of Winnie and Tigger forever. All we needed was a Pooh Bear bedspread for Daniel's bed, and some accessories for the walls. Simple, right?

I should have been suspicious when I bought the Pooh wallpaper border for $5/roll (regular price $17.99). It was, and still is, a great deal- but the reason it was on sale is that, as it turns out, most Winnie the Pooh wallpaper AND bedding for children is now history. Out of stock. Not being manufactured any longer. Except maybe in the UK and Australia. No local store carried any Winnie the Pooh comfortors or bedspreads or duvet covers. LOTs of other Disney things- Cars, TinkerBell, Pirates, etc... but no Pooh Bear. So, I figured I'd be able to order it on-line. Not so easy, either. Finally, I found something new on eBay and we ordered it yesterday. We may get it before we go to China- or not.

And, yes, the weekend we decided to paint was one of the hottest ones on record for our cold little province. Did you know that in high humidity, paint doesn't dry very well? Especially the yellow paint that we bought to cover up a sage green. We're going on coat #4.... I know, I know... we should have primed it first... I've learned my lesson.

I have also learned that you should never paint shelves on your deck in the evening and leave them out overnight to dry. We tried that last night and I don't even want to tell you how sad it makes me to think about how much those little flies must have struggled to break free.

On a brighter note, the clouds that I painted on the sky blue walls are smashing! I'm trying to convince my husband that we need clouds in OUR bedroom, or the dining room, or maybe the bathroom ;) Have glaze, will travel.

Painting misadventures aside, I think we have time to get most things done. Whether Daniel has a Pooh bedspread or not won't really matter. Having a partly-sane mother and parents who are still speaking to each other are probably more important.

I'll let you know how that turns out.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

We Can Go!!

Our Notice of Coming came! I don't have it in my hands yet, but it is here in the Province. This means WE CAN GO TO CHINA IN AUGUST!!

I thought I would be ecstatic when I heard the news. But my predominant feeling is relief. Worrying about whether the TA would arrive on time for us to travel with our group has been exhausting. But, it is here now. No more worrying. Over that bit, anyways.

Monday, July 23, 2007


Do you remember Jo from the Pomegrante blog? She's moved on to newer things, but I came across a BBC news article last week about her family. Click on the title above for a hot link to the article (or cut and paste this: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/6897567.stm ).

It turns out that her daughter is one of a twin, separated in China. There are not many details about their particular story, but it appears that this is not all that uncommon. Either the SWI cannot confirm that the children are twins, perhaps because they were left in different places at different times, or they wish so much to have the children placed, that they will split them. I mean, there really cannot be all that many families who are requesting to adopt twins, though there are definitely some who do.

The separating of twins, if it is intentional, raises huge ethical questions for me. Is it better to "quickly" place the children in different homes, sometimes in different countries, than to have them wait for an adopting family who wishes to raise two children at once? And what if these children have a medical need? I would hazard to guess that very few families who wish to adopt through the WCP actually think they *could* adopt twins, much alone actually ask for them. What if one child has a medical need and the other does not?

Our children already lose so much when they are adopted transculturally- the thought that some of them lose a sibling with whom they have shared the intimacy of their birth mother's body absolutely breaks my heart. There has to be a better way.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Toilet Talk

One of my kids was not easy to toilet-train. But, then again, I didn't press the issue. I never wanted toileting to become about me forcing her to control her body before she was ready... and a very wise mother once told me not to sweat it, since there was almost no chance that she'd be going to Kindergarten in diapers!! And she was right, in fact.

But now I have a new angst over toileting issues. Apart from the fact that one of my girls will probably pass out if she has to use a squat toilet in China (the other one is HOPING to find one- LOL!- they truly are "chalk and cheese"), I am trying to prepare myself for the toileting issues that an almost-3-year-old who has been wearing split pants most of his life might have.

A friend of mine who adopted a toddler told me that he was deathly afraid of a Western toilet. Someone suggested that she let him "squat" on top of it, and this is how he went to the potty for weeks before he was happy with the situation. It makes perfect sense, really. To someone who has never used a Western toilet, they must be quite strange and a little scary (in the same way that a "bidet" is to me!!). Think of it... a big white porcelain bowl that sucks things away... you can almost hear the kid thinking "...and you want me to SIT AND DO WHAT on that!?!"

Advice from any and all experts in this area would be very welcomed!!

Friday, July 20, 2007

My Inner European...

Your Inner European is Italian!

Passionate and colorful.
You show the world what culture really is.

Kind of cute, since I'm actually 1/8th Sicilian! Now, if I could only get to Tuscany...


I might not have mentioned this, but my husband is The Netherlands because he was participating in the "4 Days Marches" or "Vierdaagse", as it is known in Dutch. This is the world's largest walking event, with over 40,000 people from all over the globe marching throughout the towns and countryside surrounding Nijmegan.

Today was the last marching day- and he FINISHED it!! He walked 40 km per day, for 4 days in a row. I am amazingly proud of him! (And also relieved, to be honest.)

The 20-somethings from his team are partying tonight, while he and most of the other 40-somethings have gone to bed! It's a well-deserved rest, for sure. Sweet dreams, love.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Check it Out!

I know most of you who read my blog also read Ms. Dragonfly, but in case you haven't visited her recently.... here's the latest:

Yesterday her children's book became available for purchase on-line AND she got her referral for Grace Ryan. Go visit her and take a peak- you can see her gorgeous little girl and order her book while you're there!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Gender Imbalance Concerns...

From today's Xinhua On-line news:

BEIJING, July 18 (Xinhua) -- Eighty-five percent of Chinese people are perturbed by the mounting gender imbalance in the country, according to a poll by the China Youth Daily and QTick.com.

Out of 2,603 respondents from 29 provinces and municipalities, as much as 88 percent of people from rural areas said they were worried about the extent to which males outnumbered females.

China's male population outnumbers that of females by 37 million, the most uneven in the world, of which males aged between zero and 15 are 18 million more than females, the China Youth Daily quoted government statistics as saying.

Statistics from the Information Office of the State Council show the sex ratio for newborns is 119 boys to 100 girls and the figure is more alarming in provinces such as Jiangxi, Guangdong, Anhui and Henan, where it stands at 130 to 88.

Tian Jianguo, a 68-year-old respondent, said, "How can my grandson find a wife in the future?"

Officials from the central government are concerned about the social problems brought by the gender imbalance, which reduces millions of males to bachelors each year around the country, the China Youth Daily reported.

Crimes such as abduction of women and human-trafficking are haunting the areas with the greatest gender imbalance, an official from the State Family Planning Commission said recently.

Sex-selection abortions aided by ultrasonic scanning was blamed by the respondents as the main cause for China's gender imbalance.

Over 15 percent of respondents said many of their relatives and friends had used ultrasonic scanning to select the sex of their babies.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sunday, July 15, 2007

An Evening on the Beach... East Coast Style!

We were at one of my favorite spots last night with some friends and family... Topsail Beach, for a bonfire. I thought I'd post some pictures of our lovely balmy evening... I'm the one in the blue sweatshirt with the messy hair... my kids are in that gaggle somewhere (I think we had 12 children with us at one point)... don't look for the other half, since he's tramping around France and The Netherlands as we speak! And, no, I'm not bitter.

So, RMJ, this is my "Favorite Summer Evening". Sorry it took so long to get to that meme!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Taoist Farmer

I am a strong believer in non-coincidence, if that's even a word. It's not that coincidences don't occur- they certainly do. The laws of statistical probability dictate that some things co-occur by chance alone. But, I believe that, sometimes, we find ourselves in a place or a situation in which we were intended to be.

I don't profess to understand how this works, but I find it a comfort to think that all of our lives are like some woven tapestry, and we're free to follow the threads where they go, in and out of the fabric. We interesect with other lives, not by mere coincidence, but because their threads have been woven into ours. And the threads don't even have to be red (wink, wink)!

I have also always believed in the proverb "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." That saying is probably over-used and even trivialized these days, but, yesterday, I was ready to be taught a lesson, and, remarkably, it appeared from the most unlikely source.

As I desribed in my last post, we found out on Thursday night that our LOA took a lot longer to get to the CCAA then we expected... putting more in jeopardy the liklihood that we'll travel with our assigned group in August (although, to be completely honest, I have always had this feeling that we'd be in China during the month of September). Getting that bit of news disoriented me far more than I'd have expected. It's the feeling of "being neither here nor there", not knowing where I need to commit my energies.

So, on Friday, I decided to find solace in comfort food. The deep-fried kind. At lunch time, I drove to a particular fast-food restaurant that will remain nameless, but the line-ups for Big Macs were just crazy, so I ducked out to another fast-food place down the road. After ordering my burger, onion rings, and tall mug of foamy root beer, I grabbed a couple of local community entertainment/what's-happening-in-the-city type guides. And in one of them, on page 7, was an article called "Good or Bad? What do you think?". Here is a rendition of the story that was described in the article:


There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops
for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. "Such bad luck," they said sympathetically. "Maybe," the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. "How wonderful," the neighbors exclaimed. "Maybe," replied the old man.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. "Maybe," answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son's leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. "Maybe," said the farmer.

Now, talk about timing. The wisdom in that story was certainly something that I needed to hear. Was it a coincidence, maybe, that I found that article in that newspaper on that day? Hmm... maybe.

You can find this story and other Taoist and Zen stories here. There are lots of other websites with great quotes and stories from the Taoist teachers, like this one from Wikiquote.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Will We Sneak Through?

Last night, I received a call from our adoption agency, telling us that they just had confirmation that our LOA was received in China this past Tuesday. Yes, that would be 2 weeks after we signed it. Apparently, there was an internal CCAA routing issue, and it didn't land on the correct desk until then.

For those of you who may not realize the significance of this, it means that there is a greater chance now then ever that we won't receive our Notice of Coming (or TA) on time to leave with our group on August 11.

But the chance is not zero. A bloggy friend who is now in China received her TA just 2 weeks after submitting her LOA. So, there is hope. But, given that the normal timeframe to receive the TA is 4-6 weeks after LOA, if we get one on time, we'll have just barely snuck through.

So, I was pretty depressed this morning. I took myself out for onion rings at lunch (comfort food!) and I grabbed a local "what's happening" kind of community newspaper while I ate. Amazingly, I found an article that discussed "perspective" and told an interesting Chinese legend about deciding whether events are good or bad. I don't have the paper here with me now, but that will be my Saturday morning blog post, I think.

Then, I bought a new pair of shoes. You like? They're called "Xtreme Janes". Sort of hybrid sandals-terrain shoes, made by Ecco (in China, according to the label!).

So, I'm feeling a lot better about things right now. For now anyways.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

My July Day

My kitchen calendar says the date is July 8th. In other places that I’ve lived, July equals hot. Full-fledged long summer days with a heaviness in the air that covers you like a blanket. In this place, however, early July is early summer, bursting forth in that fleeting shade of green that is the meaning of “new”.

I was driven out into the lushness of it all this morning. It wasn’t because I wanted to commune with nature or anything noble like that. I just needed an escape. Today was one of those mornings when the little stresses of everyday life have been gnawing at everyone’s nerves and the way that someone squeezes the tube of toothpaste creates an all-out war. So, out of the house I went, iPod dutifully plugged into my ears, to find some peace and quiet. What I found was far more valuable.

I had been walking only a short while when I first noticed a trio of robins standing on the path in front of me. These were young birds, likely from the same nest, new to both their wings and the world around them. A little farther ahead, a fourth fledgling robin stopped and looked at me. His inexperience let me come within a few feet of him before he flew to a branch of the nearest larch. Further on, a tiny junco sat on the top of a street sign pole, the white of his tail feathers flashing as he dipped under a birch and landed on a lawn.

It was probably the junco that made me realize that everything around me was finally bursting with life. As I walked on, this is what I saw: pin cherry trees laden with small green fruit on the verge of plumping before they can ripen; the cream-coloured blossoms of dogberry trees (Mountain Ash) that have the unforgettable fragrance of a wet dog dipped in cologne; straight-as-a-whip green London Dock whose brown flowers are yet weeks away; Northern Wild Raisin shrubs with blooms that are just barely there. Everywhere I looked life was on the edge of fullness, young and fresh and filled with promise.

As I finished up my walk, I encountered my 10 year old daughter and her two friends who were cycling down our street, starting off on a bike ride. They stopped for a brief chat with me, and then rode on. As I looked back at them I was filled with the most profound sense of gratitude that I’ve experienced in a long time. I could almost fall on my knees with the realization that my world is literally dripping with abundance. Truly, my cup is running over with the people I am so fortunate to have in my life, and with the life that is all around me, if I only bother to look.

Sometimes, fights over the toothpaste end well.

(The photo on the top is a white wild rose from my back garden. It smells heavenly!)

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Are you cool enough?

While I'm pronoun-challenged and unable to count- we're really only 37 days away from Daniel (and I know this thanks to my counter ;)) - I'm apparently still "with it" enough to be enjoying Live Earth, at least between running around with the kids today.
Check it out- The Police are going to be on the New York concert (I'm guessing that being excited about that makes me very un-cool!) More here on the Live Earth website.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Mom Brags a Little...

I couldn't resist. We just got some updated photos this morning! The only other photos we have of him are from 6 months ago. You can't even imagine how excited I was to open that e-mail from our agency entitled "Photos"!!

Just 40 more sleeps until we have him in our arms...

Isn't he handsome!?! And still so intense!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Independence Day!

To all of our friends across the border!! ENJOY!

Monday, July 2, 2007

One of Best Friends is a-coming!

Today, one of my best friends ever is coming for a visit- her name is Libby. Her flight arrives right after lunch.

SO, it being a work holiday and all, I'm putting about, tidying a bit... but she's one of those friends that I NEVER get in a panic about having the house spotless for... she knows how hectic our lives are and she didn't come to visit the house, she's here to spend some time with us. I think that's a sign of true friendship- when you can let down your guard and know you'll be accepted no matter what.

I feel very blessed to have a friend like Libby- she's the type of woman I want my daughters to absorb in their every pore!

So, if I'm lax on posting for a few days, you'll know why.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Read this Newsletter...

Love Without Boundaries has just put out their June 2007 newsletter: read it here.

Most of you will know about the good work of this foundation. I still cannot believe that it started with 5 parents who saw children in need and decided they needed to do something to help.

The Power of One. Or, ok, even Five or Seven!

It's completely awe-inspiring. We should never underestimate the difference that we can make in this world.

Happy Canada Day!