Sunday, May 31, 2009

Help please, agua.

We returned to the water park this afternoon. SS was not pleased about the hat I made her wear. It covers her neck and ears, and that is what matters to us. She tried to take it off the entire time we were there. Unusual for her, since she loves hats. Sure take it off, then we go home. SS had a great time in the lazy lagoon. We had a double inner tube, but she enjoys being in the water. P and I sit in the inner tube, and we take turns holding her in front of us. Every so often, we take turns with her in the water. She spent close to 45 minutes in the water, kicking her feet, blowing bubbles, floating on her back (with her PFD, of course), and pretending to be a shark, attacking her Mama. After some slide and pool fun, we returned to the lazy lagoon for an encore, sans inner tube.

It is remarkable how inconsiderate teens and adults can be. People did not care that a little girl was in the water and would try to plow over her. P and I had to push several inner tubes and glare at swimmers. You know, that "don't you dare get close to my child or I will kill you" look. SS took matters into her own hands. I do not know what was the trigger, but at a point, SS yelled at some teens in an inner tube "HEY, NO!" The teen girl was stunned and it seemed she was going to respond, when she met my glare. Problem solved. Later, just before P and I could put our hand out, SS pushed and inner tube and said, "GO." Do not invade SS's personal space. She is no longer on Chinese boundaries, she's got her new home's boundaries down.

We did not reprimand her for speaking up. Yes, we were pretty surprised, since SS was the smallest child in that lagoon. It takes guts to stand up for yourself when everyone around you outweighs you, and towers over you. Plus, it was darn funny. SS will have to deal with being the smallest child probably 98% of the time. We want her to find her voice and be confident. Let's face it, children are cruel creatures and bullies abound. Girls are the worst offenders, as they not only bully physically, but also emotionally. While most girls will be participating in gymnastics and dance (nothing wrong with that), SS will be learning martial arts. Watch out world.

SS surprised me by using her first English-Spanish combo. I was holding her in front of the inner tube, and I lifted her half-way up. She squirmed, then stunned me by saying, "Help please, agua." My little girl wanted me to drop her in the water. I was so excited, and know I made a fool out of myself, by congratulating SS on her word choice. SS already has down ojos (eyes), ombligo (navel), coco (coconut), pelo (hair), manos (hands), and is not as clear on many others, like arroz (rice). She can repeat much of what we say in Spanish.

I did not know that becoming an adoptive parent causes deafness. We were getting ready to leave, when a woman very close to us noticed SS and alerted her friend. No biggie that we clearly heard her say, "Look, hurry, look at her, the cutest Chinese girl." The friend looks, and they gush, yeah big yawn. Then the second woman turns to her friend and asks, "Well, what's the deal, is SHE (me) the mother?" Oh, wise, loud woman, here's a bit of advice, your friend knows as much as you do about us. If you are so interested, asks us, not your equally loud and equally clueless friend. Also, we are adoptive parents, we are not deaf. For the record, we were not signing to SS at the time. Even if we were, we always sign and talk.

OK, I'm ready to hit the water.

Wiped out after swimming her tiny buns off. We rewarded her with a nutritious meal of french fries and a vanilla shake. The sad part is that we are not kidding.

Happy after inhaling her fries and shake.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

SS's first cavern experience. (Updated)

After the tour, we were discussing how well SS behaved. We have mentioned this many times,but it still surprises us. What kind of fun is being strapped to a sweaty parent for hours, and spending time in a boring, dark showcase of stalactites and stalagmites? We are fortunate that we can do things with our two-year old, and do not want to forget. The attachment concerns aside, we are lucky, blessed beyond belief.

We sometimes wonder if it is her nature, or just a function of how we became a family. We met, climbed on a bus, lived in hotels, ate at restaurants, and toured. Then there's the inevitable long flight home. I have read many blogs about SS's sisters and brothers, and this appears to be common. Our kids are troopers. Is it because we met, then for two weeks lived out of suitcases? Whether our children lived in a SWI or in foster care, they were accustomed to little stimulation. One day they meet their forever family, and enter a vortex of activity. Such a drastic change is a piece of the attachment puzzle. We try to keep things as low key as possible for SS. But, we also enjoy doing things with her. We enjoy looking at her beautiful face, her expression and enjoyment. SS thank you for being a spectacular little girl.

You did not think I would deny you the hotness that is P? Like I said, the littlest spelunker was strapped to me most of the time, thus the presence of my ugly mug.

The Cavern Monster strikes.

And SS brought out the handsome man within.

Having fun while the bus waited for clearance.

I bet you never knew an empty plastic bottle could be such a source of entertainment.

This is funny, we did not expect the tour to be like D*sney. One of our first stops was to pose for a picture. Really low quality, sorry. We purchased the picture for SS in the future; she needs evidence of the things we made her endure for her therapist. We wish it was better quality because the dude took only one shot, and got SS looking at the camera. Then I realized that it is very similar to this picture:

Sniff. Look how little she was, and how little hair she had. This was barely ten months ago. Her little arm is in the same position, and my arms in a very similar place. We really miss China.

Spelunking S.

P thought that it would be a good idea to go on a tour of the caverns, to get out of the heat. P, JJ and I visited the Oregon Caves, on what was one of my best birthday trips ever. JJ and I visited the Carlsbad Caverns when he was eight. I would not hesitate to take SS to the CC, because it is an easy downhill tour. Sadly, they do not allow children under three. The OC requires climbing and it is not conductive to having a child strapped to your front. You would think that we would find out about this cavern tour, and see if it was feasible. We went to their website but there was no information. Again, you would think we would make an effort to ask people who have been there. But, the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-parenting gremlin struck again, and we just drove there.

First, we had quite a steep walk to reach the lake for the boat ride to the other side. I am not only out of shape, have issues with descending stairs, but have never descended so many stairs with SS front facing. We are using the Ergo front facing for the attachment issue. I managed to make it to the boat without doing a face plant, and mutilating my daughter.

As soon as the boat engines started, SS became withdrawn and laid on P's chest, looking scared (she was out of the Ergo). OOPS, P and I had the same thought, how is she going to handle airplane engines roaring for hours? Then SS did what our children do best, mess with our aging minds. She totally loved the short ride, laughing and squealing with delight. It wasn't the Pearl River Cruise, but she had fun.

Once we were back on dry land, we had a short, but steep hike to the bus. Dude, I immediately started feeling those 21 pounds of love. Remember, baby pounds of love weight more than regular pounds. SS was excited to be in a bus again, just like in China. She was a hoot. The road to the caverns is very narrow, I cannot imagine driving a bus through that. I have never had issues with heights, but when I looked to my right, a saw the cliff of death, my knees became weak. Fear got the best of me and I hung on tight to my little girl. As usual, I was annoyed about being weak. P simply reminded me that it was about SS. I have taken unnecessary risks alone, but never with my kids. Funny, guess which one of us has the psych degree?

Once we began the tour, our very knowledgeable, funny and charismatic tour guide, Jason, came to me. He pointed to a flight of stairs and stated, "I bet it's going to be fun hauling her all the way up there." OMG, what the heck have I done. We were there, and I was not about leave. My stupid mouth bravely told him that I hauled her around for two weeks strapped to me, and I would be OK. My brave mouth neglected to inform him that it was almost one year ago.

SS did very well and only tried to squirm out of the Ergo once. I still have no idea how I managed those 85 steps (I did not count, I took Jason's word) without passing out. And that was at once, there were more stairs to climb. Maybe the reason I have a brave (stupid) mouth is because I have a stubborn (defective) brain, that fails to scream DANGER! I carried SS for about 90% of the tour without realizing it. When I traded with P, I thought we were half-way through. Lucky dog! SS was not pleased that we traded and let it rip. I bet everyone stuck in that echo chamber with us was delighted. SS did calm down when P (mind you, we were in darkness) began to make growling, monster noises and faces at her.

We reached a chamber dubbed Dead Room. SS's comic timing was perfect. As soon as the guide said dead, she let out her maniacal laughter. SS just could not stop laughing (P was not goading her). People thought it was funny. We think she was trying to make it up to the group, for perforating or rupturing their eardrums earlier.

The Ergo came through for us again, because we could not have done the tour without it. Now way would we risk SS's safety. The best part is that because your hips do the work, our backs do not hurt. P loves the Ergo. This is the same man, who upon seeing a $28 carrier told me, "that hippy Ergo better be dammed good." Baby, it IS damn good.

OK people, chop, chop, there's spelunking to be done.

Me and my D-O-G.

P gets a bear hug.

Another one...

'cause they are so photogenic. P is smiling because I carried SS 90% of
the tour. That included an 85 step climb. No idea how I managed that
one. Will post later.

What we are up to.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Think she'll need a chiropractor?

I can't believe we spent five months sleeping with this mini contortionist between us. A good visual as to the origin of our aches and pains.

The Abus have already sprung into action, procuring a playpen, and pondering the benefits of an umbrella stroller. It could be a lot worse, they could just be indifferent to SS. It's good to know someone thinks about her and loves her so much. But also freaky, in a stalker kind of way. I kid, I kid. :)

Me? I am really scared of a trek home alone with SS, but P informed me yesterday that this has to happen. Ah, to be barefoot and not pregnant.

BBQ pulled pork in a sweet Hawaiian roll first thing in the morning. The breakfast of champions.

Finally got around to make gazpacho for lunch. It's very easy to make, avocado, tomato, onion, salted cod, dress with olive oil, vinegar and pepper. Most people make a sandwich with it, but some eat it over crackers. SS loved the cod and has her own unaltered piece waiting for her. Now let's hope that P likes it, since we are not fans of raw onions.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Speed dialing S.

Apparently SS is beyond bored with me, or needed to tattle tell, because she used my cell to call P yesterday. First I never allow her to use my phone, unlike another parent who shall remain nameless. I was feeling pretty lousy and we did not go on our usual walk, so I guess our daughter was feeling neglected. The funny thing is that to use my phone, she must unlock it first. Sometimes when I'm in a hurry, it annoys the daylights out of me when I can't unlock it on the first try. I consider myself far more dexterous than SS, so I was pretty impressed.

SS then needs to touch the icon for my favorite numbers, or my contacts. I have dozens of phone numbers in my contacts, again, making her streak of luck a really good one. But SS is two, and while quite smart, she is not that savvy. She managed to dial the phone, then said "Baba, Mama, Baba." SS was the total look of innocence, like the phone miraculously dialed her father. SS dropped it like a hot potato, but we were the only ones home. I know that she will outsmart me by her third birthday.

SS had her Baba fix, and gleefully smiled, talked gibberish and waved at the phone. It helps that I have a picture of her and P next to his number. When we are talking, she gets to see it on the screen.

Right now my cell is MIA, I know is under a cushion or under the sofa. SS was trying to help me find it, and unless she is a cell phone blood hound, I think she knows the general area where she most likely dropped it. She kept looking under the chaise and whining, "phone Mama." This one is completely my fault, for being careless with my phone. It would be nice if I could somehow stop my two-year old's addiction to my cell phone. And my laptop too. Heh, dream on.

SS continues to be hit and miss with her sleep. My sleep patterns are the most screwed up I have ever come across and want better for her. JJ had sleep issues as well; lucky us. P is a sleeping machine, especially when he is stressed out. The man can easily sleep for 17 hours when under duress. I was afraid that if things did not go well in China, he would spend inordinate amounts of time snoozing. SS sleepless nights are really difficult on him. But, we need to get her on board, as she has been home ten months. Tonight, I'm going to just jump the shark and try getting her to sleep in the Ergo. And now SS is not permitted to sleep between us, and the thought of having her anywhere near the edge of the bed scares me. She is a tornado and moves even more than I do. The idea of not allowing her between us is to avoid one of her greater skills, divide and conquer. Yeah, we know all kids are little masters at manipulation. But until you have a post institutionalized child, you have no idea.

And this brings us to our current funk. We have to make some decisions about how SS is going to spend two weeks in late July. Right now P is less than happy that I want to stick to only us holding her, like the pros suggest. P thinks it should include JJ, but JJ is her brother, not her parent (unless we kick the bucket). This has been a really tough period for us, and I can't imagine what it has done to SS. It hasn't exactly brought out the best in us, but we have spent 14 years as a team. We survived JJ's adolescence without prison time, we can do this.

So we are trying to arrange a trip for SS to meet her great-grandmother, and that is where I will unabashedly make an exception. It might be the only time they meet, and her Great-grandma C was so kind to us during the wait. Birth order is a funky thing in P's family, I have never experienced that (but I was the youngest). P always makes it a point to note that he is 31 days older than his cousin, K, who is a physician, beautiful, kind and one of the nicest person's you'll ever meet. So, who cares? P cares. SS is the oldest greatgrandchild, but she arrived home seven months after her cousin. I hope by the time she is old enough to understand, she could not care less about birth order.

Since we will be in NY, P thinks it will be a good time to introduce SS to the wonders of PR. I am not sure about this, since I have not been home in 26 freaking years. Like I have stated before, being there without Mami and Papi is inconceivable. But P thinks it is time for me to go the heck home, and for SS to meet her Abuelo, who simply adores her. But what do you do? How do you say, you get to see her, but you can only high five her and pat her back. Hugs and kisses are only from Mama and Baba. It's tough, really difficult stuff, especially when people are unable to grasp why. However, I know the Abus and JJ will do anything for SS to grow up to be happy, secure and healthy.

If we pull this very quick trip off, (P only has one week off work),we are going to be done with traveling for a while. China last year and now this is plenty for SS. I will also be returning home alone, with a squirmy, two-year old fountain of endless energy. Not looking forward to the 8-10 hours of fun (counting stops). Maybe I can bamboozle someone into keeping me company. Nah, not if they know SS or have seen her videos.

Pictures taken Sunday and Monday.

Totally wiped out the day after the water park visit.

Whipped cream for breakfast.

Yum, Fr@ppucino.

SS enjoying a break after her first skinny dipping.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

First water park visit.

All pictures were taken with a disposable, waterproof camera. The last time we used one was in 2002 in Maui. Sorry about the low quality pics.

My Baba makes sure that I get plenty of water play.

Me and my shadow.

Baba, you are too funny.

Look at me, I'm swimming.

Frog slide. My Auntie Courtney used to like frogs.

Big girl slide.

I'm such a ham.

Yes, that's me, making a fool out of myself for SS's enjoyment. I did make a boo boo. When I landed in the water, I just swam to the stairs, where P and SS were waiting for me. P told me that those seconds I was underwater were very scary for SS and she cried for her Mama. No more underwater stunts until SS realizes I will always come back to her.

I thank G-d every day for this amazing child.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Abu sends the PR goods.

A package for me? Must be Abu, she always sends me good stuff.

Dude, all of it is for me.

Dulce de coco, but to SS, "cookies." She is driving us batty by requesting "coco." At least she learned a new word.

Pilones, "yum." The funny thing is that Abu would rarely allow us to have sugary things. Apparently her healthy rule does not apply to her grandchildren.

GANDULES! I usually make arroz (rice) with gandules on Thanksgiving. We used to get them at a Mexican market, but for the past three years, they have not had them. Abu thought that it was shameful that her darling granddaughter did not have gandules and sprung into action. SS has six servings of arroz con gandules coming her way. Gracias Abu!

Abu, why did you waste your time and money sending Mama and Baba a pilon? You could have send me more candy. Abu, did I mention how much I love candy?

Adobo, a staple at our home. P just LOVES this stuff. When he came home, he opened the container and just smelled the good stuff inside. It was quite funny. I am the PR person here, and I do not like adobo as much as P does. Once he smelled it, he said "I love that your Mom loves me. No matter what happens with us, she will be my adobo dealer." Yeah, just like having a crack dealer.

There is bacalao (salted cod) inside. I have not made a PR staple, gazpacho, because I have been missing the main ingredient. Abu righted that wrong and we are having gazpacho this weekend. P was SO excited when he saw the bacalao. I'm a little bit worried about P visiting PR. Half the week he is Asian and the other half he thinks he is Hispanic. What is going to happen when he visits PR? I think he will love it and want to stay. NO FREAKING WAY.

"A gift for me? I wasn't expecting that." Liar

Thanks Abus, you send the best gifts ever. Next time, just send gifts for me, Mama and Baba do not deserve you.

Mine, all mine.