Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It took us nine months...

To get to a comfortable place with SS, and it is gone, all those baby steps, totally gone. We knew that once Abu returned home, we would face some difficulties. But we never expected SS to regress this much. SS did not sleep last night. We are used to the lack of sleep, but she was also restless, clingy and demanding. P asked me if it was possible for SS to regress, to a point where she never was. It was the middle of the night, and the man was tired, but I completely understood. Baby, anything is possible, and I am as dumbfounded as you are.

Maybe it is the simple fact that SS is two. Maybe it is the fact that she had JJ, Grandpa and Abu at home, and now they are all gone. Maybe it is that my sucky parenting is finally catching up with me. Maybe it is a combination of the three. SS was doing well at saying goodbye to P, secure that he always returns (no thanks to me). Now, it is a worst ordeal than when we came home from China. We hope we can get her back on schedule, and sleeping through the night. We also hope it does not take another nine months to get there.

I won't regale you with the tale of the child, who almost brought down the walls at C0stco yesterday, with her screaming and crying. P is a fairly strong person, and it took the two of us to wrestle SS into the shopping cart. There were many more moments, but let's focus on the positive. SS had her second set of passport pictures done yesterday (first were done in China). The photographer was really pleased, because the first picture was just perfect. She said it has never happened before. Given SS's recent behavior, P looked petrified when I asked him to please hold his daughter. Dude, I am home alone, daily, with the tiniest terr0r*st, you can hold her for a picture. His face, once he realized that he would not be part of yet another scene, was really priceless. Since I do not have a scanner (HINT P, HINT), you will have to take my word that SS's picture is as spectacular as she is. :)

We are not about to engage in International travel anytime soon. Getting a US passport, readopting in California, and obtaining a certificate of foreign birth, have been on my to do list. We obtained her SS card within a month of arriving home, then life got in the way. That, and I am lousy procrastinator and bad mom to boot. Then I had a stupid dream the other night, and can't get it out of my head. SS was ill, we took her to the ER, and they refused to treat her, because she did not have a US passport. I know, that is some crazy, subconscious telling me to get off my duff stuff. While I know it is just a silly dream, I also know it must be done. The only problem is that P must be present, because SS is under sixteen. I do understand the reasoning, but it is so much convenient if I can take care of it alone. We are hoping the post office is not too crowded today.

Mama, it truly upsets me when you ascribe shady motives to my innocuous actions. Just because I am standing on my chair, next to this gate, does not mean I am considering jumping over. I know it must look that way from where you are standing, but you are so wrong.

Fine, I'm taking my chair, and my cute self away. Excuse me for providing company, and the cuteness that is me.

Although SS thinks that the placing of this light switch is pure genius, P and I beg to differ. Who the heck designed this thing? Our little girl is stoked about those extra inches she acquired, and must use her new found
height all day long.

My shaggy girl.

SS was able to get her sandal on, without help. She was so thrilled with her accomplishment, that she chose to go out and celebrate. Second sandal not needed.

She took that sandal on and off about a dozen times. SS never bothered with the right foot sandal, just the left.

This is after this morning's meltdown. I have no idea how P is holding up at work. It was one of the worse nights we have had since July 7.

I did not even bother transferring SS to her crib. I was honestly afraid that she would wake up, and the whole frantic crying would return. We miss Baby S.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The best and most difficult part of parenting.

Last week, we completed a questionnaire for our post placement report. Looking back, I wonder why we put so much effort into answering the five pages of questions. What is the CCAA going to do? Come and get SS if they don't like our answers? Since you never know, we did not rub in the fact that SS is an avid L W0rd watcher. Heh. Besides, since we are not single, we did not have to sign that pesky piece of paper, denouncing homosexuality, and asserting that we would not expose SS to that lifestyle. Dude, every time we think about it, well, it saddens us and it also cracks us up. We'd much rather have a loving homosexual parent, than an abusive heterosexual one. Whatever...

But I digress... One particular question, to state the best and most difficult part of parenting had me in tears. Initially, I plowed through it, without thinking. I enjoy writing, and sometimes I am even able to come up with coherent sentences. So, why did I cry? Because since meeting SS, it is the first time that we have had the luxury to think about the difficult part of parenting our daughter. Ironically, one of the major reasons we chose China, the lack of contact with a birth family, is biting us in the buttocks.

There, I said it, and I am not ashamed of our fears. P was adamant that he did not want a domestic adoption. He was scared sh*tless of a parent at our doorstep, demanding to become a part of our daughter's life. Probably worse, a parent changing her or his mind. P is rarely so passionate about things, the man learned to repress his emotions from an early age. While he is good at at compromising, I knew that his fears were reasonable.

I sometimes wonder if I could be part of an open adoption. I am not there yet. The funny thing is that I spent a decade, closely working with many parents in open adoptions. In the end, P and I are way too stubborn, too possessive of our kids, to even consider sharing them. Or to consider anyone putting their two cents, in regards to how we raise them. Now, those of you who know what I did for a living, QUIT LAUGHING OK?

We do not intend to romanticize SS's abandonment shortly after birth. Our baby girl was left to be found. But, since P and I have not walked that proverbial mile in SS's birth mother's shoes, we are not going to judge. What we know is that SS's birth mother chose not to terminate the pregnancy. For that we are eternally grateful. Would she have kept SS if it was a boy? We do not care; have not lost one wink of sleep over this. We wanted a daughter, we wanted a daughter so much, that we never considered a biological child. We had JJ, been there, done that. Yeah, pretty selfish on our part, but it is what we wanted. So we got in line, and waited almost three years for our little girl.

We do wonder if the BM was aware of SS's condition when she left her to be found. We often wonder how long SS spent on her own before she was found. Did she cry? Was she cold or hungry? Was she scared? When I feel myself righteousness rear its ugly head, I think of something else. I think about how SS's BM most likely saved our daughter's life, by choosing her finding place. It is perhaps the most important decision her BM made. We think about this often, and I cry about it often. P has yet to reach the point where he can articulate the what ifs. That's fine, I ruminate, it is what I do. We wonder if the BM knows that she saved SS's life. I hope she does, but if she doesn't, we hope to have the opportunity to tell her in the future. We have no idea how we are going to pull this off, but I have to find a way. Because, by saving SS's life, her BM also saved ours.

So this is what we wrote about parenting SS. I am such a dork, I make myself cry.

The best part of parenting SS (this is our second time parenting), is the knowledge that we have been blessed with an amazing child. We look forward to each and every moment we spend with SS. Not a day goes by, that she does not surprise us with the things she does. Not a day goes by, that she does not melt our hearts, with her affection and kind nature. Not a day goes by, that she does not render us useless, in fits of laughter, because of something she has done

The most difficult part of parenting SS, is coming to terms with the reality that we will never know about her life before we met. We were not allowed to see her orphanage, and our guide was not interested in taking us to her finding spot. We did not want to take pictures, just see the SWI where our daughter spent her first 15 months of life. We also would have liked to see the place where she was found. If only to say a prayer, and thank our lucky stars that she was found. We plan to return, when SS is old enough to understand, and at least visit her finding place.

We really mean that SS, we are going back to China and we will visit your finding place. When said visit was an option, I was not sure I wanted to see the spot. I have always felt uneasy about people having their picture taken, at the finding spot, like it is a day at Disney. I clearly remember the four families that were taken to their children's finding spots. It was weird to watch them huddle over a map, discussing why their child's finding spot was better. SS's and her buddy J's SWI was located four hours away, and that is why we were not afforded the same courtesy. The thing is that J's parents and us, we would have gladly paid the guide extra, and would have rented a vehicle to make it happen. Oh well. But we are keeping our word SS, we will return.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Goodbye Abu :(

We were so tired that our internal clocks failed us, today of all days. Abu called my cell at 5:00 a.m., wondering what was up with us. With a boarding time of 6:50 a.m., we were due at the airport in fifty minutes. I assured Abu that we had plenty of time, and that we would be at her room as soon as we showered and dressed. As soon as I ended the call, P and I began the didn't-you-set-your-alarm-oh-sh*t-I-can't-believe-we-overslept-for-the-first-time-today panicked scramble. Thankfully, we work well as a team (one of the few benefits of being an island of three), and we got out in record time.

We arrived just in time to check in and walk Abu to security. I felt awful, but in hindsight, it kept Abu from becoming a sobbing wreck. SS waved bye to Abu, and even smiled. After all, she does that with Baba every morning and he returns. P and I were hoping to postpone the where's Abu drama as long as possible. Like, until we see Abu again, but I think that is asking too much. A chocolate milk did the trick leaving the airport, and two DVDs took care of the drive home.

I drove again, and P checked flight prices. There are still two persons that SS MUST meet. One of them, we have been trying to fit in since arriving home. The problem is, that both entail a cross country flight, and until now, we were certain that SS was not ready. We are hoping that by June, she will be able to handle a CA to NY flight, a two day stay in NY, then a NY to PR flight. The other problem is that P has no vacation time available (China, China, China). By June, he should be able to get a few days off. If we pull it off, we get both the NY and PR meetings done, and will finally be at peace. If we make it to PR, P will have to return home after 2-3 days tops. Yep, that leaves me all alone on the trek home, with a very active and stubborn 2-year old. It can't be any worse than escorting teenage runaways or medically fragile infants. Oh, who am I kidding? Of course SS will easily make me wish I was traveling with the former and the latter. Still, we are willing to give it a shot. Time, finances and SS permitting.

We had been home less than half an hour, when P caused SS's first "ABU!" fit. Thank G-d it was not me. She has been looking for and asking for Abu since. Abu is going to have to get a web cam, to give SS her Abu fix.

It's 2:13 p.m. and SS is in dreamland. Sweet one hour reprieve. :)

Abu, thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Also, for being such a soquete to your grandchildren. We are certain that SS will treasure the video, pictures and the memories we will pass on to her.

Baba, I have to look extra pretty for Abu, so do a good job.

Dude, I am awake, showered, dressed, and outside, but it is still dark.

We are such cowards, blatantly distracting our child with chocolate milk. With a three hour drive ahead of us, we wanted to postpone the where's Abu moment as long as possible. Add cold to the coward label.

The grandparents came through for SS again. She grooved to the Nursery Rhymes DVD Nana sent. Then after a quick snooze, SS enjoyed Oliver and Company. Abuelo knows how to pick good dog movies.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Abu's last day with SS.

SS has not been as clingy with Abu this week. We think that although thrilled to see Abu and Grandpa, the extra stimuli took its toll on our daughter. P, trying to be kind, made have worsen the situation. He really felt bad for Abu and "encouraged" SS to get closer. I finally had to ask him if he would have done that with anyone else. He admitted that no, he would not, but that Abu is a special case. I reminded P that the last time someone encouraged SS to get close to two very loving strangers, she ended up losing everything and everyone she knew. It is perfectly understandable that SS would want to put some distance between herself, and her loving Abu.

So we let SS be herself, and did not place her in Abu's arms or in bed with her at night. Yesterday, something changed with SS and she woke up looking for her Abu. Great timing kid, because it is the last day you have. Abu bathed and dressed SS, without any protest or whining. When Abu warmed up her lunch, SS ate half of it, and allowed Abu to feed her. This was very helpful for me, because I was working on a 5-page post placement questionnaire, for our home study agency.

In the afternoon I spent an hour on the phone with a social worker, discussing SS's post placement time. There is no way I could have done it without Abu. SS even fell asleep on Abu's arms. I mean, our tiny vortex of energy napped!

To avoid SS's wrath, we have decided against confining her to her carseat for six hours in one day. P rented two rooms near the airport, and is taking tomorrow off work. Abu departs at 7:20 a.m., and instead of waking up at 2:00 a.m., we'll get to sleep until 5:00 a.m. Did I mention that SS won't be in carseat hell for six hours?

We had a quick dinner and headed out. SS squealed with delight when P played the 101 Dalmatians DVD. OMG, she was SO funny and kept saying "Whoa!" Abu was surprised by SS's attention span. She did not look away from the screen for about an hour. Halfway through our drive, SS decided that she was done with her carseat and had a meltdown. We stopped, and I changed her diaper, changed her into her PJs and wrestled her into the carseat. P calls the Br*tax, the Cadillac of carseats; SS obviously differs. Thankfully, she calmed down after a while and finished her movie.

Abu was hoping that SS would sleep with her, but when I tried to leave their room, SS had a meltdown. I felt bad, but I did not want to upset SS and have her up, wailing all night. SS was her curious self, touching everything in the room, and totally uninterested in sleep. She was chasing her tail until midnight. I have no idea how we managed to sleep in such a small bed.

Yeah Abu, there is no reason for me not to wear the slippers Nana sent me. Mama and Baba wanted me to wait until they fit, silly people.

Dr. S thinks that SS should be able to walk up and down these stairs without assistance. What do you think? Although SS shot up 3 inches, she is still short legged.

See how this works guys? I eat, and Abu rewards me with chocolate pudding, EACH time. Also, she bought me a cool duck chair, because I am such a good girl.

Last moments home with SS.

Abu, Mama and Baba help me walk downstairs. I like your way better.

So, you are going back to say goodbye to Abuelo, gather your things, and then you move in, right?

Mmmm, rice and beans for lunch and dinner.

Abuelo, 101 Dalmatians is a great movie.

Mama, this is an awfully small bed. Where are you planning to sleep?

She valiantly fought sleep until a few minutes after midnight.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Late to bed, early to rise.

That is SS's motto, as she went to sleep after 11:00 p.m., but was awake before 6:00 a.m. We thought, no biggie, she'll nap early, maybe for two hours. HA! Seriously, are we ever going to learn? I wonder if our parent licenses will be revoked.

Today, SS, Abu and I spent five hours driving around. We left home at 10:00 a.m., and drove to P's work, so Abu could see where he works. It is the type of stuff that interests her. The man is my husband, and I am not that curious. Big mistake on my part, because SS thought P would be joining us. That was some spectacular crying after we said goodbye. SS fell asleep before we arrived at our destination, but Abu was not disappointed. I think she was relieved that the screaming had stopped. She now knows why banshee is one of SS's many nicknames.

The much needed and anticipated nap lasted less than thirty minutes. Our little beast unleashed unprecedented fury. She fought getting in her carseat, with more fervor than upon our arrival from China. It was delightful to see people craning their necks, as they drove by our lovely, roadside spectacle.

We then drove to the area where SS took her first dip in a lake. One of those attractions only a grandmother can appreciate. OK, SS's does, can't speak for any other grandmothers. SS managed to fall five times, but got right back up, and demanded that we allow her to scrape her knees and hands. Abu was not pleased; you know, all those germs on her precious granddaughter's hands and knees. She ONLY mentioned a dozen times that SS should have been wearing long pants. She also suggested that if I insist on dressing my child inappropriately, the least I could do is get her knee and elbow pads. No, she was not kidding. I am counting my blessings that Abu did not suggest a helmet. She is not leaving until Thursday morning, so we might find the pads and a helmet in SS's room by then.

We met P for lunch and he was blown away by his daughter's behavior. I think the advantages of SS having a temporary SAHM, are no longer there for him. I give him a month before he tells me to return to work, so we can entrust our daughter's discipline to someone who knows what they are doing. SS, military preschool is looming in your future.

After lunch we did some shopping. In the interest of not playing favorites, Abu paid for half of SS's new portable DVD player. Thank you Abuela and Abuelo, we truly appreciate your generosity. The not playing favorites applies to SS and JJ, not to their cousins. Just had to be fair about that one. SS also scored a folding chair, WITH a duck printed on the backrest. Once again, courtesy of her Abus.

SS surrendered to sweet sleep after a forty minute fight. I have no idea where she gets the energy. I also know that we are blessed, because there are so many things that we could be dealing with; like serious attachment and health problems. So when we joke and pretend to b*tch and gripe, it is done in jest. We are always mindful that we are not only lucky, but blessed, to have SS in our lives.

Why Abu is alone in some of the pictures. This Kodak Moment lasted less than thirty minutes.

She was awake, but not in a posing mood.

Abu taking a picture of the spot where SS took her first lake dip. Wait, where's the plaque commemorating the occasion?

My picture taking skills really suck; I am fortunate to have such a photogenic subject.

Who the heck dresses their child in white shorts for a walk around a lake?

Not sure how appropriate it is to post this, so blame Abuela and Abuelo. They are both enamored with SS's b*tt wiggle.

Her own sense of style.

SS definitely has her own sense of style, and it shows. She really amuses us when she picks up a hat and just mugs around. The pictures below were taken last night, and she had us laughing, as usual.

Tell me honestly, don't you wish you looked this good?

This is certainly one of her best looks. Yellow hat, long sleeve pink shirt, orange sippy cup, one sock and no pants. Why be normal?

We had totally forgotten that we bought these jammies. Thanks to Abu's OCD (not kidding about this), they made it from the closet, into her dresser. Abu organized SS's closet, actually, she has reorganized the entire place. We are letting her go crazy, except for our bedroom, that is off limits to her illness. The last thing I need is for P to get up at 5:00 a.m. to find all his clothing moved to a more convenient, efficient area.

Mama, I need more skulls and bones clothing. Wait, and hats, I need more hats.


SS getting to know one of her Christmas presents.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A nice walk along the river.

We went for a walk this morning, and once again, the weather let us down. Dude, it was COLD. And genius that I am, I was wearing shorts. SS and Abu were appropriately attired. We spent three hours walking, taking pictures and looking at the ducks.

Abu was floored by SS's social butterfly tendencies. My daughter said hi to everyone that walked by. Abu asked if she's always this way. You betcha, the girl is a greeting machine. She asked me if it is difficult for us to get so much attention, since P and I are inherently shy (I didn't think she had noticed). Yes it is, very freaking difficult, and strange. We are not anti social, but we are not used to be approached by strangers. I am not kidding when I state, that since meeting SS, P and I have talked to more strangers, than in our entire lives. Maybe SS will slow down as she gets older. She walked up to a little boy, that seemed to be about one, as though she's known him all her life. The boy was clearly overwhelmed and sought comfort from his grandmother. SS means well, but we have to instill the concept of personal space. :)

SS woke up on the proverbial wrong side of the bed. That is quite an accomplishment, since she sleeps sandwiched between us. SS is so clingy and needy. Abu feels bad, but realizes that she's only been home for nine months. It takes time to develop a sense of security. Since SS's routine was turned upside down, it is normal for her to react by being unsettled.

When SS fell asleep, I waited for the snoring to begin, then moved her to her room. P took quite a beating from her last night, and was hoping for more restful sleep. I placed her on Abu's bed, and SS became hysterical. I thought feeling Abu next to her would bring comfort. Apparently only her Mama is capable of that now. It is now 12:35 a.m.and she is in between us. I think it's going to take a few weeks before she is ready to return to her crib.

"My future's so bright, I got to wear shades." These shades went to China and SS would have nothing to do with them. Same when we came home, then today, what do you know, shades are OK. She did not leave them on for long. She just likes to wear them on her forehead.

Abu finally was able to walk on SS's favorite bridge.

Looking for ducks.

There they are!

"This is the life. Abu, would you move in and become my personal assistant?"

Not happy to be back in the stroller.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

JJ and Grandpa bid adieu.

JJ departed this morning, after rescuing SS's slide. He noticed that her slide was across the street, on the basketball court. WTF? How did it get there? We were a bit annoyed at the thought of someone walking to our front yard, and just taking SS's toy. I was hoping that it was kids and not an adult. Later in the afternoon, two girls, approximately 12-years old, came by to ask if the slide was ours. They found it by the corner of our street. We had some pretty strong winds yesterday and last night, and it was blown away. The girls placed it on the basketball court, hoping that the owner would see and retrieve it. We are grateful and very relieved. Next time it gets that windy, we are placing the slide in the garage.

JJ left one set of sneakers behind, and this is confusing SS. She was calling out for her brother all day. Never mind that the rest of his belongings are gone. Abu placed the shoes in the closet to ease SS's confusion.

This evening, we went out to dinner with Grandpa. Abu opted to stay home with SS, hoping to coax her into her arms. SS has been very clingy with P, but more so with her Mama. I was not sure about leaving her home, especially with JJ gone, but P felt it would be good for them.

Abu stated that they had a great time, they watched N00gin, danced and played. But when we arrived, SS squealed "MAMA!" and we both knew we were in for a long night. Our girl did not disappoint us, and had a hellish night. She slept fitfully, with her lower body on top of P, and her upper body on top of me. We lost count of how many times she cried during the night. She is just not there yet, and we need to give her time to trust that we will always return.

We said our goodbyes to Grandpa tonight, as he leaves at 10:30, tomorrow morning. It was so nice to see him again.

Funny how the space is perfect for the four of us. Sorry SS, no room for a little brother.

Great, worse hair day since China.

Last opportunity to play with JJ until next month.

Finally, both looking at the camera.

The tongue strikes again.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Happy Birthday JJ

Time sure flies when you are getting old. How did this happen? One day, on your way to grade school, you find a baby left by the side of the road... Just kidding, there were witnesses, and a paper trail (rats!). :)

We kicked off the day with a hearty breakfast, then waited for Grandpa. We headed over to C0stc0, where JJ took our first gift to him to heart (SS's T-shirt), and totally ignored her cries for help. Our wonderfully manipulative daughter, was unable to guilt JJ into getting her out of the shopping cart. Guess he really wanted that XBOX (from Abu and us). SS cried for only a minute before giving up. Thank Godess for that, there is hope for us. Grandpa gave JJ his present last Thursday, plus a fabulous dinner last night.

Abu made rellenos de papa for lunch, and P made ropa vieja over rice for dinner. The weather turned on us, and instead of the expected sunshine, we dealt with strong winds, lighting and thunder. Oh well, when you have a Wii and an XBOX, it really does not matter. SS spent the afternoon pretending to play video games, and "borrowing" her brother's game controls and cell phone. Then she was shocked when she landed in time out.

JJ is leaving tomorrow and we are already missing him. The three of us were an island for so long, and that is difficult to give up. Very often we find ourselves bending over in laughter, over some silly memory. Then we realize that we are getting weird looks, and that is often from our own family. When JJ is here, we laugh, A LOT. This afternoon he mentioned how much he enjoys our ability to laugh at ourselves. Same here JJ. Next time, we will be the ones driving to see him.

How many men does it take to get shoes on a little girl?

Mama and Baba say I have to share. I am sure that certainly applies to JJ, and whatever he gets for his birthday, or owns, or will ever own.

How come I get a time out for following directions and sharing? Well, my T-shirt says it all, it IS my brother's fault.

Way too much excitement, coupled with skipping her nap, equals out like a light by 7:30 p.m.

Happy birthday JJ, thank you for taking the initiative to spend time with us.

Abu and Grandpa, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You made the kids' birthdays truly special. We realize that you both would love to spend more time with JJ & SS. Sadly, Puerto Rico and Maui are not a short drive away. We know that they will forever cherish this year's birthdays, because they shared them with their grandparents. Although SS will not remember, we have plenty of pictures, video and our collective memories, to pass on to her.