Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Working Mother

Ever since I was a little girl I wanted a career, not just a job, but a career I could be proud of.  Some dream of being a stay at home mother, and others dream of being a mother that works.  Neither are wrong, and both are commendable.  Even those women who don't want kids but just want a career.  They are all just choices, and nothing more right or wrong with a single one.

Now that I'm a mother... almost a mother... a mother in transition?  Now that I have a daughter that I'm preparing to come home, I think about balancing work and family life.  I wouldn't give up my career.  If I had a million dollars, sure... I'd retire... but that's unrealistic.  As it stands, I'm working, and I love what I do.  So I really enjoyed reading this and wanted to share.

Found this by Devon Corneal in the Huffington Post.

What Not to Say to a Working Mom

Recently, Amy Shearn shared a list of things not to say to stay-at-home moms. She could have just cited anything Elizabeth Wurtzel has written in the past year, but that would have been too easy. Instead, Shearn came up with a list that was funny and clever and pointed in all the right ways. Which got me thinking about questions or comments I've heard about being a working mom. I don't think anyone sets out to be rude or judgmental, but I've been surprised at what well-meaning and generally thoughtful people say to mothers who aren't staying home full-time with their children. There's a subtle hostility or judgment that comes through in some of these statements that makes me wish that everyone would, every so often, think before they speak.

(Before anyone freaks out, I completely and totally support stay-at-home moms. They work. They work hard. Their choices are valid and awesome and please stop glaring at me. There are days I envy them more than you know.)

Can't you afford to stay home?
Let's assume for a minute that I can't. Let's imagine I work to help pay the mortgage and buy groceries and send our kids to college. Where does this conversation go now? Awkward, right? Next thing you know, I'm going to be asking you how much your husband earns so you can stay home. Let's agree not to go there.

Then let's say I can afford to stay home. The question assumes the reason I work is entirely financial. Which is part of it, to be sure. If I could make money watching bad reality TV and doing yoga all day, I would. Since I can't, I work at a more traditional job -- but it's not all about the money. I value my education and the years I've devoted to my career. I think it is good for our boys to see me working outside our home so they know that a woman isn't confined to being a wife and a mother. I also know that some day our kids will be off at college or started on careers of their own and I want to keep a foot in the working world so when that time comes, I'm not staring at a big gap in my resume that makes it harder for me to get a job. I also like the equality that exists in my marriage because both my husband and I put money in the bank. That's just me. But this particular question devalues all of those considerations and, in turn, my choices. Please don't do that.

I'd give anything to get away from my kids for an entire day.
If you really mean it, I'm happy to help you polish your resume. You can be away from your kids all day, every day! Of course, along with that "freedom" you'll feel guilty about being away from them and will wonder if they're ok because they're home with a babysitter or in day care. Going to work every morning and waving to my kid from the upstairs bathroom window isn't a spa day. It's sort of like doing a triathalon. You start each day with a morning plunge into icy water, getting everyone to school/work then do an an eight-hour bike ride, all topped off with a half-marathon of dinner, homework, baths and bedtime. During your bike ride not only will you be expected to pedal hard, you'll also have to take phone calls from the school, the babysitter, and the doctor, respond to birthday party invitations, take a quick side trip to grab supplies for an art project, order groceries and a new pair of jeans and remember to return library books because it all needs to get done RIGHT NOW. If you're lucky, there's some wine left over in the fridge.

I'd miss my child too much to be away from him all day.
I know. I completely understand. You get over it. Because you have to.

The problem with this country today is that not enough moms are home raising their children.
I know! I couldn't agree more! Oh, wait. You're not advocating for paid parental leave, flexible work schedules or telecommuting, are you? You're not picketing in support for working parents (because, let's face it, some dads would like to be able to spend more time with their kids too) so they can make good choices for their families, right? You just want more moms to stay home. It's possible those families would be better off living under a cloud of financial or psychological stress to adhere to a traditional view of families, but I'm not buying it. If I see one more comment about how dual-earner families are undermining the very fabric of society I will lose my mind. Last I checked, no one in my family had shot anyone, stolen anything, cheated on a test, run a red light, or even so much as littered. Of course, I've been working all morning, so things may have changed since breakfast.

Why did you have kids only to let someone else raise them?
People have said this to me. People have said this to my friends. It's a good thing that I didn't have the power to incinerate them with my laser beam eyes. If I hear it again, I'll refer you to item no. 1 for the reasons I might work outside of my home. And then I'll just ask you to be a TAD LESS JUDGMENTAL THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I had Little Dude because every fiber of my being wanted to be a mother and we felt like our family was incomplete without another person in it. Loving and raising a child is not incompatible with having support to do that. We are grateful and proud to have wonderful people who help us -- from family to friends to teachers and babysitters. But make no mistake, my husband and I are raising our kids. We aren't home every day, but we are a presence in our kids' lives at every moment.

I don't know how you do it. It must be so hard.
It is. I don't know how I do it. But I don't think that's because I work, I think it's because parenting is hard whether you stay at home or go off to the office. I don't know how any of us do it. It's glorious and rewarding and full of love and it is the hardest thing I've ever done. Balancing kids with anything else, whether a paying job or running a household or finding time to watch Honey Boo Boo, is nearly impossible.

You must be so organized to be able to balance everything.
I have a love/hate reaction to this statement. At first, I bask in the affirmation. I believe I am organized. Then I remember -- I am one set of lost keys away from a meltdown. I have mismatched socks, my kid went to school with jelly on his face and I haven't exercised in a week. I have piles of books and clothes and god knows what else in my bedroom. I forgot a conference call yesterday and lost the planetarium permission slip. I let something slide every day. There is no balance. Only carefully controlled chaos. Pretty much like everyone else's life.

There's always time to work later, these early years are so precious.
All the years are precious. And why don't people say this to fathers?

You look exhausted. 
Gee! Thanks! Wanna give me a day at the spa? And then watch my kid for me so I can relax? No? Then let's just pretend we can't see the bags under my eyes.

At least you treasure every minute you have with your son.
Well, maybe not all of them. Because sometimes Little Dude is a monster and I get home at the witching hour, just in time to force him to eat his carrots, make him brush his teeth and go to bed. Which, as any parent will tell you, is just the most relaxing time of day. This is why I keep a chilled bottle of wine in the fridge. Despite that, of course, I do treasure my time with my kids, but I have a hard time believing that would be different if I were home more.

Don't you worry you're missing out?
Every day. But then my son runs into my arms when I pick him up from school and climbs into my bed in the morning to tell me I'm the "best mommy ever," and I know it's going to be ok.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Secret Pal Package!

Yesterday I emailed our agency what Shi Qing's new name would be... Ashton Kendall... then I got an email back from them confirming they got the name of my son.  My son?!?  I emailed straight back, you mean daughter, right?  Yep, their mistake.  But whew... I know Ashton can be a boy or girl name, but Kendall?  Really?  I love her name.  I was a little sad that it was thought as a boy's name.  But I guess Ashton... okay.  I heard it as a girl's name first and though there is an Ashton Kutcher out there, I still think of it as a girl's name first.  Like Charlie, it can be a girl's name, but I think of it as a boy's name first.   I digress.

Later when I thought I should check up to see if they got my LOA, as I didn't know if they would email me to confirm if they got it. I then called my agency to see if our LOA arrived there and asked about our update.  I was told that our agency would ask for an update once we hit LOA.  So I asked if I had to initiate that or if it already was submitted.  My agency said it was already sent the day we got LOA.  Yay!!

Then the bad news.  I was told that an update typically takes 2 months!!!  Really?!?  I'm hoping we'll be on our way by then!  I can get my own update!  I pray that we can get an update MUCH faster than that!  But again, it's not my  timeline.

So I was a little bummed when I got home.  Then I saw waiting for me was a package from my Secret Pal, to cheer me up.

I opened it up and the note read, "Congratulations on your match and PA!!  *Well, darn!  Took me so long to mail this, you have LOA!  Congrats!  So excited for you!  I love seeing the pictures of Ashton you are posting!"

Inside was a beautiful glitzy "A" to hang in her room, a board book Bible, and a CD of Francesca Battistelli with a note saying, "Whenever I hear her sing "This is the stuff that drives me crazy..." I think of adoption paperwork!"

I love the gifts!  I listened to the CD and enjoyed it immensely.  I can't wait to hang up the "A" and I love my Secret Pals ingenuity with gifts!  They're all so wonderful and thought out.  They're fantastic!  Thank you!  And it cheered me up.
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Monday, January 28, 2013

Crazy Full Weekend...and This is Just the Beginning

You'd think after LOA things would get all caught up this weekend.  Nope.  It's been a whirlwind of a weekend.

Thursday night, receiving our LOA was such a fun surprise.  I was busily making sure of all our next steps, I didn't get to bed until 1:30 am and only slept 3 hours!  I was too excited!

Friday about 2:30 pm I FINALLY got my LOA.  I signed everything, I already had my I-800 forms ready to go out, and I called my husband to come by and sign and drop off to mail.  (IT should arrive to my agency sometime today before 3:00 pm).

After work the high of waiting for the LOA was gone and so was my energy.  I was dead.  I was so tired by 6:00 pm.  I was a zombie.  So I went and took a nap.  What was funny is I couldn't sleep!  I was still wired enough.  I rested, but was fully aware of everything.  It was awful.  Then I had to fix dinner and clean up house for our guests the next day.  I couldn't wait for Friday night to be over.  I just wanted sleep and I just wanted to be up and my normal self.  It felt as if it dragged on forever.

I woke up still tired, but refreshed.  I felt human again.  But oddly still tired.

Saturday morning I Skyped with my friend from Finland.  Ms. M and I talked for about an hour and a half.  We had to cut it short as we had to go to the bank and transfer funds around for our payments after LOA and we had to have a notary for paperwork that is due in 3 weeks from LOA.  (Of course she messed up on a part.)  I didn't think to bring extra copies, and we had guests coming in an hour.  So we couldn't do anything about it.  The banks closed soon, so we'd have to come back together between work on Monday.  Huge disappointment.  

Then my cousin Ms. S brought her three girls over.  She hadn't seen the house before or the nursery and she wanted to see what we had all prepared for our Ashton.  Her girls seemed to like the animal crew pretty well.  And the furbabies loved the attention.

Right when she left, we hurried over to our friend Ms. D's house.  From there we went out to eat to celebrate.  But we told them cheap.  So we celebrated at Fazoli's.  We then had 4 free tickets to a comedy club.  We laughed so hard.  It was great!  We then got to their house and played a few board games and laughed even harder!  It was so great.  We needed that release.  And we knew it'd be a long time until we could do late nights with friends again.  We got home about 1:30 am.  I zonked out by 2:30 am.

Sunday morning we woke up too late for church.  Again, I felt as if I slept better, but still tired.  I think I'm sleeping fitfully.  I'm just not truly resting but having busy work dreams and waking up throughout the night with my head swirling.  So I'm getting rest, but just not quite enough.  

So Sunday we sat and chatted about what we needed to get done for the day.  We decided though we'd rather save the money, with Ashton around the corner we had to get a glider for the nursery.  We've looked on and off, but we couldn't wait anymore.

I checked craigslist and didn't see anything that would match her room.  We then went to the baby stores... outrageous prices.  We checked Goodwill, TJ Max, and any other discounted stores we could think of.  We ended up back where we got her crib in November.  

We went to the baby decor shop and we showed the owner (who recognized us) the pictures on my phone of our baby girl.  He took us to the back where he had some discounted chairs for sale.  We went through a few, but we were limited on space, so some where too big, some too pricey, but most didn't match.  Too modern for her space.  We found one glider that was almost perfect.  It swiveled, it glided, it was the perfect size, the back rounded around your back for perfect support, it had arms, the price was right, and was comfortable.  But it was chocolate brown.  I wasn't happy.  It could go in the room, but it needed to be white, cream, or red.  The brown, though would go with the floor, just wouldn't really tie into the room.  and after how much we worked in the room, I just couldn't bring myself to force this chair to "fit" in.  And buying a chair cover... not worth it.  I was so disappointed.

The owner then told me, in the store was the same chair with ottoman in cream.   But that was in the store, not the back discounted stuff.  And we didn't need an ottoman.  He took us to the chair and it was beautiful.  The fabric wasn't even microfiber like the brown one was which would pick up all the dog hair.  It was a great material that had texture and design.  It felt even better than the brown one.  But it was a regular priced chair... plus ottoman.  The owner had us sit in the chair.  He usually doesn't sell his displays on the main floor, but he'd see what he could do.  

The other chair in the back was 50% off.  The best he could do was 30% off for this one.  That's our thinking.  Then you add the ottoman.  We were ready to walk out without a chair.  He came back.  50% off.  It was more than the brown chair because the ottoman was included.  He couldn't separate the two. The pricing was cheaper than anything else we were looking at.  A lot cheaper.  But we were still unsure.  The ottoman... 

We talked.  We could use the ottoman, but we could push it under the desk beside the chair, so it is out of the way.  Then we would have the bonus of the ottoman, but still the room we wanted when pushed out of the way.  It really was perfect and the price was reasonable.  So we got it.  Unfortunately, only the ottoman would fit in my tiny Prius.  We couldn't get the chair in.  And we weren't paying for shipping.  So we would have to come back for the chair.  I was so disappointed.  It was fine, but I was hoping to have it home.  My husband would have to borrow his father's van later in the week.

Then the owner's son, said he was leaving his shift.  Where did we live.  We literally lived, one block away from his house.  He had a van and could bring the chair home right now, no charge.  (Did I say how much I love this store?)  So we drove home and within minutes our chair was home too. 

My husband took it upstairs.  As he was taking the cellophane off, there was a knock on the door.  Our friends (Godparents) Ms. J and Mr. J were here to celebrate.  We opened the door.  Perfect timing.  We showed them the nursery and Ms. J and I looked over all the clothes we had and oooed and aahed over everything together.

We then celebrated with the champagne they brought and we provided the cheese fondue we heated up.  (Meijer has a great cheese fondue that you can microwave and it's fabulous!)  We had a great time!

They left by 6:00 pm.  My husband and I looked at each other and were exhausted.  I was ready to go to bed.  I looked straight at him and said, "If this is how exhausted I am just preparing for her, how am I going to have energy for her when she's here?  I need to get in shape!"

But did I exercise?  No.  We vegged for a couple hours in front of the TV, then went over the adoption process again, to see what needed to get done.  

We never even got to the travel video we needed to watch online from our agency.  But we got all the paperwork figured out for copies that needed to get made and so forth.  

So I have some things to do today to get that all in order. And tonight I hope that we can stay awake and focus to start the travel video.

I am planning on strengthening myself.  I want to work on my core and whatever.  I don't exercise.  I should, but I don't.  So I'm going to try and make that a priority   I have equipment to do it.  I just need to do it!  I have all of China to walk about and a baby to carry.  I don't want to poop out the first 5 minutes   So I will start back on my elliptical and do my turbo jam DVDs and sit ups and weights and get my butt in gear!

So much to do in so little time!  Which is funny, because when you have all this waiting time, you take your time.  Now I have a lot to do in a short amount of time.  Don't get me wrong.  April still seems so far away, but with everything we want to do in that time, I'm hoping it will fly by. 

January is almost over and February is right around the corner.  We have things to get the house in gear, ourselves in gear, and packing in gear.  I'm very excited, and very tired!
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Thursday, January 24, 2013

L.O.A. Baby! Yeah!

If you couldn't tell from my post title, today I got L.O.A.!  Whoo hoo!!  That was FAST!!!  I hear it can take 30-150 after P.A.  Ours was 24 days!  And only 20 days after OOT!!

I came home from work, ready to go have girls night.  We've had this planned for weeks, and I got the details of where and when last minute and it was sooner than I thought so I was rushing to eat and dress.  

Well, I checked my email before I was going to go and found I had several emails from CCAI.  The first one saying, "YOUR LOA IS HERE!!!!!!‏"

I about fell over!  I quickly opened it to be sure... Yep!  I had following emails with titles called travel packet and orphanage wiring opportunity... I'm spinning.

I call my husband, jumping up and down, shouting, "LOA, LOA, LOA, LOA!!!  Come home!!"

Quickly, I call my friends saying I have to cancel our fun plans tonight.  I want to get everything ready for tomorrow when I get my LOA.  I email my agency telling them to overnight the LOA to my work so I'll be there when it's received.

Now I'm double-checking our I-800 are all right and I have a travel video to watch... I'm swamped!  I don't know how I'll ever work tomorrow.  I have a eye appointment too.  Who can concentrate on vision, when I have a girl to go get?!?

I'm all abuzz!  I'm so excited.  My husband and I are running around like mad hatters!

So what's happening and what's next?  They overnight the LOA to us.  We sign it and return it with the I-800, I-800 Supplement, I-864W, our LOI, and a copy of our approved I-797.  They will file our I-800 to Immigration.  It can take 3-4 weeks to process.  This is paperwork on the American side.  

So that is our next step and the next thing we are waiting for.  While that is all being processed we can go and apply for our visas and work on our travel packet!  So lots to do!

So, April looks really good to have our girl HOME!Image and video hosting by 


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

15 Months and 3 years!

Today is my BF's daughter Little Miss S's 3 year birthday!  Wow!  The little girl is growing up!  She lives in Finland, and we got to see her over the summer.  She's full of lots of energy and smiles.  She loves to be chased, and doesn't like gymnastics... so far.

I remember when she was born and how excited I was for Ms. M; she was now a mommy.  We sent Little Miss S. a Colts onesie.  She had to represent!  If I could have gotten her a Butler University onesie, I would have!  Anyhow, at the time we weren't even thinking of adopting.  We still planned on not having any kids.  But I was the proudest Godmother!  I wanted to shower that little girl with all the love I could from afar.
One of my favorite pictures of them!
Since her birth I've seen her grow and we chat on Skype together.  It was amazing how I could love a little girl I'd never met.  I adore that girl.  And I felt so bad not being there when she was born.  It killed.  But I promised I would get over to Finland when I could.  

By the time she was a few months older than 1, my husband and I were toying with the idea of adoption.  And we told Ms. M what she thought about it.  She was super excited!

As babies do, Little Miss S. has changed so much.  And I finally got to meet Little Miss S. in July 2012, when she was 2 and a half.  
She is a pistol.  She knows what she wants and she's very determined   Not unlike her mother :)

I know there is almost a 2 year difference between our girls, but I hope they will be good friends, even if it's only through Skype most of the time.  I can't wait for our girls to meet.

What makes today also special is not only is it Little Miss S's birthday, but it is our daughter's 15 month birthday!  My girl is growing up without me!  It's so hard!

When we were matched, she was 13 months... well, just under 14 months.  Now she is 15 months.  I'm missing her development and she is missing a family.  I think every 23rd that passes without her here with us will be hard.  It's another milestone without us.  

I hope she is happy, healthy, and doing well.  I pray that we can get to her quickly.  

I wonder if we'll get an LOA in the next couple of weeks.  Sometimes I feel like we will and others, not so much.  All I can do is wait and be patient... well, I don't have to be patient, but it makes this time more unbearable, so I'm trying.  I'm trying to soak up all the things I won't get to enjoy anymore when she's here.  A bubble bath.  Taking my time getting ready in the morning.  Sleeping in 5 more minutes.  Vegging!

I know she's worth the wait, but wow.. her growing up without me is hard to handle at times... like today.  We are coming, Ashton!  As fast as we can.  We're doing what we can to bring you home!
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Monday, January 21, 2013

The Model Shot

You know the classic model poses...

The I'm looking at my watch.
The throw your head back and laugh.
The I'm too sexy for this perfume to wear a shirt. 
The look over your should and give a mysterious smile.

Well, that last one I have of my daughter!  There is so much character wrapped up in this shot!  She is just amazing!

You read so much into every picture.  you stare and try to find something new or what could be in each pose and shot.

I wrote that I would share the four photos I got with her file every Monday.  This is the last photo of those four.

Hopefully, I will get LOA soon, and that is when my agency can request an update.  And if the SWI responds then I hopefully will have more photos to share and a written update on how she is doing.

So much to look forward to!
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Sunday, January 20, 2013

First Time I Saw her Face

Today a month ago, was the first time I saw my daughter's face.  Wow!  It feels like it just happened!  Yes, it's been a long wait from seeing her face on December 20th and not able to share until P.A. on the 31st!  But I can't imagine that it has truly been a month since we knew our daughter!  The time has truly flown by!

This is the picture I saw and the face I have fallen in love with!  We say she has my dark eyes and my husband's dark hair and my long fingers... neither of our height!  We are eager to learn more about our daughter and to have her in our arms.  What little we know we are in love with.  And whatever she blossoms to, we know we'll love it all!  

We've been spring cleaning...  I'm cleaning windows and cleaning them so well in ways I never cleaned them before!  The things you find when you scrub windows... yuck!

My mom is planning on going to China with us and has bought her luggage and has been helping me with my travel registry for all the medications and little things we'll need to take to China.

It all seems so fast, yet still so surreal.  I'm a mother, but I'm not.  I have a daughter, but I've never held her and others in China know her better than I.  I can only pray that she is thriving and doing well and somehow knows she is loved and that we are coming for her.  Maybe when her care package arrives.

It is so strange to explain how this month has changed us.  How an idea of adoption, and preparation has led us here and how we love this girl so much already and how it grows every day!

We are so blessed!  I cannot wait to go to China and begin our lives together!
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Friday, January 18, 2013

Who is My Daughter?

I can't describe how I can love a child and call her my own through a few words and pictures.  But I do.  It didn't hit all of a sudden.  The day we saw her photo, I didn't say, that's my daughter and I'm a mother.  But I think it grows.  Your protective instincts come slowly and you realize you start seeing her more and more as your daughter.  Yes, right now she's mainly a concoction in my mind.  She is a fragmented individual that I'm putting the pieces of to complete a puzzle.  But this little mystery, this little girl with the eyes that burn into your soul.  That's my girl!  That's my special, amazing, baby girl!

I can't wait to see her.  To see her move, to hear her sounds, to hold her close.  To have her flesh out and be "real".

But from what I can piece, she's my mighty mouse.  She's a fighter.  She's small, but alert and happy.  I think she loves people.  I think she enjoys life.  I believe she is smart and quick.

I can't wait for her to receive her first care package.  I want her to see our faces and know she has a mama and baba.  I want her to feel loved and special.  I believe the Ayis adore her and take care of her.  She seems to be thriving pretty well.  I feel so good knowing she's in a good place.

But I'm ready for my girl to come home!  I'm only day 18 wait for LOA, so I know it won't be here anytime soon, but maybe before Chinese New Year, which is February 10th this year.  Otherwise, CCCWA will be closed down 2 weeks for celebrations and we won't see our LOA probably until March.

It'll be interesting to see when we get LOA.
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

1 Year Anniversary at Job

Today it has been 1 year since I started my new job!  Last year on Martin Luther King Day I started a new job, which I wasn't even looking for 2 weeks before.  In fact, I was working for their competition 2 weeks before!

It's been great!  Yes, there have been challenges, but it has been so rewarding overall.  I'm very excited that I'm here.

A year ago I thought we'd have to stop the adoption.  Instead, it was delayed a month (we pushed back our home study so I could have a couple weeks of work under my belt).  

Now look a year later, I'm still here with my corner office with a window, and my maneki neko still hanging staring at me... along with photos of my daughter and furbabies!

Amazing how much my life has changed since then... since a few weeks ago!

Anyhow, no celebrations, just my knowledge that it's my one year anniversary here.  I hit a milestone and I'm very grateful.  How I got this job is a true miracle from God.  It's the funniest story.  Only He could have  crafted the way this job fell in my lap.

Now I'm teaching an admin bits of my job so she can help out while I'm gone in China!  It's so funny and surreal to think.  I don't know if we'll leave as early as April or as late as July.  But I'm excited, either way, that I know I'm getting this precious child!  I can't wait to look into those eyes in person which I hear are mesmerizing and soul baring!
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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Finally - Her Care Package!

I've had her care package ready for some time now.  But I had to wait for her board book I made her to get mailed to me.  I got it yesterday and I cut and pasted all the Chinese symbols on it.

So here is her care package!

Yes, it all fits in that shoe box!

We put in (not pictured - 2 disposable cameras, 1 flash drive, Sprees candy for the nannies) a pink blanket, a matching rabbit lovie, Thumper toy (which we slept with every night so it has our scent and "love" - just in case), a best friend dollie that rattles, a fleece onesie with hoodie, a cell phone toy, and board book.

I made the board book through  I think it came out pretty well.

Front cover (Chinese symbols spells her name - Dang Shi Qing)
On the left, the big symbol says family, underneath says your pets, and mama and baba.
On the right it says your dogs.
Left reads your dogs, right reads your cats.
Here I list the grandparents and Great Grandma.
Left reads the grandparents and Great Grandma again.
Right reads Godparents.
Listed the whole family on the left and your room on the right.
Of course I didn't know how to write out names of the furbabies or match my English to Chinese perfectly.  So, the Chinese translation I pasted is close enough.  I hope we get this book back!  But I made sure to send anything that wouldn't break my heart if she didn't get or if it ended up at the SWI and not with us on Gotcha Day.

It's being mailed out today!  I hope it gets to her SWI and I hope she gets it!  I can get a delivery confirmation, but can't send it certified or registered as China doesn't not understand this and our package won't get delivered.  I won't get any confirmation that she does personally get it, unless we get photos of her on the disposable camera of her receiving it when we pick her up.

So, we can only go on faith sending this package and praying it goes to its destination and its recipient.  

I wish I knew how long a care package took to get to China from Indiana.   
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Monday, January 14, 2013

Puss In Boots Eyes

It is Monday, which means it's time for another photo of Ashton.  This one I think represents best what I read about her "She is also very good at catching your gaze". It think it means she has the Puss In Boots gaze.  She draws you in!

Don't you think, if she looked pitiful or more pleading, it could easily look like this?

I can't wait to be hooked line and sinker with those eyes in person!
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Friday, January 11, 2013

One Year Anniversary at SWI

Today is the one year anniversary that my daughter has been at the Sanmenxia SWI.  

In her file, I was given I got one line about her "beginnings" so to speak.  "Shi Qing was brought into the institute by medical staff and a police officer."

They estimate her birthday to be October 23rd.  Her arrival at the SWI was almost three months later on January 11th.

I am left to imagine if she was in a hospital before this day and for how long?  Did her mother have her for 3 months, or was she alone in a hospital, sick and needing love?  Could her mother not afford the hospital so left her there?  Or was she just abandoned in front of a hospital, was never there and that's why she was brought by medical staff. 

I have so many questions... and currently no answers.  I don't know if I ever will.  I hope to learn more by Gotcha Day, but who knows.  I'd love to know about her finding spot.

Regardless, I can only imagine that her birth mother loved her very much.  Her birth mother either loved her enough to care for her as long as she could for 3 months, or she took her to a hospital for care or to be found.  She made sure her daughter was taken care of.  I believe that with my being.  I believe her birth mother loved her.

I know many adoptive parents think of the birth mothers on their child's birthday.  But to me, January 11th right now is the day I think of her.  The day she possibly made the decision to have her daughter take a different path than her own.  I'm not sure if that is the day she did it, as she could have been alone in a hospital for a time.  She came to the SWI very malnourished.  She was only 5 pounds at 3 months of age!  But until I have more information this is the day I will always think of her birth family and wonder do they feel that she is taken care of?  Do they wonder if she has a family?

I hope there is a way I can tell them one day.  I don't know how, but I want to give her parents a sense of peace knowing she is loved and going to have a beautiful future.  Best I can do right now is pray they have peace about Shi Qing and that God will place assurance in their heart that she has a family that loves her and will give her a future with many possibilities.
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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Year of the Thumper

Yes, I know it's year of the dragon right now and will be year of the snake on Chinese New Year.  But I want to talk about Ashton being year of the rabbit... but I like the title "Year of the Thumper".

My daughter is the Metal Rabbit.  Here are some characteristics that my girl has:

Rabbit Characteristics:

Element: Wood
Direction: East
Color: Aqua
Polarity: Yin
Gemstone: Pearl
Lucky Number: 4
Sign Order: Fourth
Season: Spring
Month: March
Allies: Goat, Pig
Foes: Rooster
Western Counterpart: Pisces

Kind, sensitive, wise, astute, docile, thoughtful, refined.

Moody, detached, cunning, possessive, fussy, snobbish.

The Rabbit is the fourth sign of the Chinese Zodiac. Rabbits in China are a sign of longevity and are considered naturally lucky.

This sign is blessed by many wonderful and highly refined qualities. Rabbit people are gentle, gracious, kind-hearted, and value harmony and beauty. Their naturally diplomatic natures make them well suited to occupations working closely with other people. 

At times, a Rabbit can be moody and distant. They are especially sensitive to negative or critical comments. 

Socially, Rabbit people are wonderful hosts with an appreciation of all the nice things life has to offer. They prefer quality to cutting corners. They can be good friends who give excellent advice. 

You will not always know what Rabbit is thinking. Under what can be flawless manners is a spine of steel and the ability to turn any situation to their advantage. They are good students, and better negotiators.

Although they appear to be a peacemaker, a Rabbit is always working to put their own interests first. They are not above being sneaky or manipulative to get what they want. What they want is comfort, peace, and personal security. With these values in mind, Rabbits generally have a very happy life.

I hope we give her a happy and fulling life with lots of opportunities for her to be the best she can be.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Impressionistic Photo

Yesterday was an amazing day.

  1. Found out we were OOT as of January 4th!  Yippie!
  2. My BFF in Finland, her Christmas present arrived!  I got a drawing from Little Miss S, a framed photo of her and us (during our trip), candies, and wool knitted socks.
  3. Our CCAI original papers of referral came in the mail.
I opened it up and found all the same things they emailed us.  But on her Chinese version of the physical exam report, there was a small photo of her we hadn't seen.
It's obviously not the best of photos.  But it's another photo.  You can tell she has a small smile, is alert, is looking directly at the camera, seems happy, and looks healthy. (I also see a small football for a shoulder... but I'm sure that isn't what it is.)  I wish I could see her little nose and more definition, but I'll take anything!!

So yes, I'm sharing another photo of her early, but as it's so low resolution and  is very hard to see, I didn't think it counted.  But it still is a tid bit more that what I had before.

I also found out that the other 2 financial aids, told us no.  But it didn't dampen my spirits at all.  We'll find a way, creatively, to get all the funds together to bring our baby girl home!

I'm still on cloud 9, and so excited!  I'm also more anxious and wanting to get everything done to get her here ASAP.Image and video hosting by 


Monday, January 7, 2013

Out of Translation!

Just found out that on January 4th, Friday, we are OOT, out of translation.  That means a LOA is around the corner!  I can't get an LOA without a OOT (but sometimes you don't know your OOT and get your LOA).  

I can't verify times, but it seems I could possibly get a LOA in 2-4 weeks.  At least that is what I'm hoping.  

I hope to get an LOA before the Chinese New Year.  Otherwise, they'll be shut down for about 2 weeks and I'll have to wait that much longer!

Here's praying to a FAST LOA!!Image and video hosting by 


Look at Her Go...

I said I would post a new photo of my girl once a week.  Here is her "newest" photo!  I love this one... I love them all, but it's great to see her in action.

She's crawling!  And look at that smile!  I just melt!  (I had to add Thumper, since it's her nickname because she's year of the rabbit!)  Then you add the little butt ruffle and I just pass out!  Cuteness overload!

This is the photo I had framed when we shared the news of her to our families at Christmas.

The wait has always been hard, but when you have a face, it gets crazy, obsessive hard!  I just want my girl home!Image and video hosting by 


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Adoption Tax Credit Permanently Extended!

Had to share....

President Obama Passes Legislation to Permanently Extend Adoption Tax Credit

Washington, DC—January 4, 2012—Late Tuesday night, January 1, Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (H.R. 8), legislation that included a permanent extension of the adoption tax credit. President Obama signed the bill into law Wednesday.

Since it was established in 1997, the adoption tax credit has helped thousands of American families offset the high cost of adoption or meet their adopted children’s special needs. The credit was set to virtually disappear as of December 31, 2012. Earlier this year, the Adoption Tax Credit Working Group Executive Committee established four priorities for an adoption tax credit that is inclusive, permanent, refundable, and flat for special needs adoptions.

“By making the adoption tax credit permanent, Congress has renewed its commitment to finding a safe and loving homes for children in need,” said Kathleen Strottman, Executive Director of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI). CCAI serves as the Secretariat of the Adoption Tax Credit Working Group Executive Committee. “We are thrilled that three of the four priorities established by the Executive Committee were included in this legislation. Unfortunately, without making the adoption tax credit refundable, many adoptive families of foster children with special needs will not be able to benefit from the credit."

The bill permanently extends the adoption tax credit and income exclusion for employer paid or reimbursed adoption expenses. While official estimates will be released later by the IRS, the projected maximum amount of the adoption credit for 2013 is expected to be $12,770.

The benefits of the adoption tax credit reach beyond the children who are adopted. A 2006 study cited by the Children’s Bureau found that taxpayers save as much as $126,000 for every child who is adopted instead of remaining in long-term foster care. Significant savings to society are also achieved because children who are adopted fare better than those who live out their childhood in foster care. With more than 100,000 children in U.S. foster care waiting to be adopted, and countless millions of children worldwide without families, the continuation of the adoption tax credit helps provide love, safety, and permanency to many of these children.
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Friday, January 4, 2013

Etiquette 101

I don't even have my daughter yet, and I am already surprised by what people say and ask (even before I was matched!)  Other adoptive parents I know have heard these things, but for those of you who aren't familiar, I wanted to bring up some points.  This can either be informational or just a funny laugh or two for the "been there done that" (BTDT) group.  But as a reminder, when I do get my girl Ashton, truly watch what you say in front of her.  Children are sponges!

Please remember these points.

  1. Is it your right to ask?
  2. Why are you asking; is it to satisfy your curiosity or because you are interested in adopting or because you've adopted yourself and want to make a connection?
  3. How would you feel if anyone came up to you and asked you some personal questions about your pregnancy/medical costs etc.?  Think of how you would feel if you were asked these personnel questions.
  4. Remember your own children, or my own one day, can be listening.  You may affect their self-esteem.  Or you may be putting judgments in your own children's heads.  Be respectful!

1) "How noble of you to adopt."  
Well, it's sweet that your being postive about the adoption.  However, the definition of noble is: "possessing, characterized by, or arising from superiority of mind or character or of ideals or morals." 

Superiority? I'm not arising above others because of my moral obligation to adopt. I just decided, I want a little girl, and I want her from China. End of story. 

I don't say, "How noble of you to be pregnant."  To adopt is an ends to a means.  It doesn't matter how the child comes into our life, but that they are YOURS.  

So if someone you know is adopting, treat it like a pregnancy. "Congratulations!  That's wonderful.  I'm happy for you."  But no nobility talk.

2) "How wonderful of you to rescue a little girl."
Rescue?  I'm not Wonder Woman, our daughter isn't in peril.  Being an orphan is not a perilous situation.  

Sure she will come from an orphanage or a foster family.  But she is being taken care of the best that she can be with what resources are available.  

China is a dynamic culture, rich in heritage and one that she will always be a part of.  Her roots are there; and whether her standard of living is lower then what she's coming to, that doesn't make China where she was first raised a bad place.  China is not a “bad place” that kids need to be rescued from.  And I don't want Ashton to ever hear that she had to be "rescued" from her birthplace.

3) "Ashton is so lucky to have you adopt her."

Click on photo to read, Jedi Mind Trick is my fave.
I don't want my little girl to feel indebted to us for adopting her.  She shouldn't have to feel lucky.  We'll be the lucky ones for having a amazing, little girl to call our own.  

Saying she is the “lucky” one can make her think she owes you something for “rescuing” her. Many adoptees feel guilty because they have been given this message all their lives. 

I don't want my little girl to feel like anything other than part of my family.  She has every right to be here and luck has nothing to do with it.

4) "You're getting a China doll!"
Absolutely not.  Maybe you think it literally means China-Doll, but there is no baby doll in this context.   

The expression originated as a derogatory or slang reference to prostitutes.  It'd be like calling her a Geisha if she came from Japan, though Geisha wasn't truly a slang reference.  You get my point; don't do it!

5) "How much will she cost?"
She isn't property; I'm not buying her!  Ashton should never think that children are for sale.  Don't ever degrade my daughter by asking questions as if she were up to be bought like an item.

6) "How expensive is it?"
Yes, we are paying fees for the processing of our documents / adoption agencies / government offices / travel / hotels and yes even a donation to her orphanage.  

If you're interested in adopting, I can see the point of going over these details, but otherwise you don't need to know.  

I don't ask you about your personal finances.  Being just curious about this point, doesn't mean you are allowed to ask it.  So don't be offended if I don't answer it.

7) "Will you have any of your own?"
She will be my own.  Don't ever refer an adopted child as not some one's own.  And following that question with "Well, you know what I mean." doesn't cut it.  Still rude!

8) "Are you going to tell her that she’s adopted?" 
No, never.  She'll never know....  Are you kidding me?!  If you know by first glance looking at us, her parents, don't you think she'll figure it out if we didn't tell her?  Yeah, she'll know!  And we are going to broach the subject how we see fit to her.

9) "What happened to her real parents?"
Ooo!  Sore spot hit!  The "real" parents!  We are her real parents.  There are her birth parents and maybe her foster parents, but we are the real parents.  Or better yet, we're her parents, period.  There is no "real" for terms in describing any parent.  And again, if you say "You know what I mean", it's not going to cut it.

10) "I'm going to have an adopted daughter / niece / granddaughter / cousin named Ashton."
 What difference does it make to add adopted to that sentence? Do you say "This is my biological cousin Jeff"?  I don't think so.  

So why say “adopted”?  Are you trying to say that there is something odd or less than standard about our girl?  

Maybe your proud that she's adopted and you want to make a point of it.  But she isn't meant to be paraded around to make a statement. 

She's family.  Keep her as family.  You can go into the adoption talk, possibly if it comes up later in the conversation.  Be selective and sensitive.  But don't throw it out there as the first thing to describe her. 

And when we do get Ashton, don't say "This is my adopted daughter / niece / granddaughter / cousin."  NEVER say that in front of her.  Drop the "adopted" she has every right to belong.

11) "Did you settle on adoption because you couldn't have your own?"
That's a double loaded question.  First let's note the word "settle".  Adoption isn't settling!  Adoption is a wonderful choice.  

Also, it can be some one's first choice.  Adoption doesn't always mean you can't have your own.

This question is very personal and doesn't matter.  We chose adoption for our own reasons, because it's what we wanted, plain and simple.

12) "Why didn't you adopt in your own country?"
I adopted from my own planet!  Doesn't that count?  Really, this question can be rather insensitive.

Everyone has their own reasons for picking China, USA, Russia, Africa... the list goes on and on.  I obviously chose the country or adoption program that worked best for our family.  It fit us. 

13) "I could never love someone else’s children." 
I love my godchild and she is my best friend's child.  So I have no idea what you mean by that statement.  

But if you're referring to a stranger's child,  I have to agree with you, me neither.  Good thing Ashton will be my own child! 

14) "Now that you are adopting, you will for sure get pregnant."
I hope not! Do not assume the family adopted because they were unable to conceive. Some do adopt because of infertility problems, but it’s not a second choice.  

For many of us the need to adopt was much more overwhelming than the need to get pregnant.  In fact, many of us have never had any desire to get pregnant, ever. 
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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Culture Shock

1) The Split Pants

Did you know you can train a baby to be potty trained at 4 months? The Chinese believe you can! The Chinese diaper a child until around the age of 4 months and then babies traditionally wear split pants. The split pants are like buttless chaps and their little bottoms are free to the air. The babies are fed and after waiting about 30 minutes the children are either held over a pot or strapped to a potty chair and wait for the inevitable to happen. Sometimes the adult makes a hissing sound to alert the baby to let go. Here are some images of babies in split pants.

Can you feel the breeze? I think I would get kind of chilly!

Parents also make their formula thick and cut a large hole in the nipple of the bottle so the mixture sort of falls out of the bottle - the babies rarely have to suck.

It is also common for children to publicly urinate and other things in public. The Chinese believe that children's waste is pure and not harmful.

There are horror stories of people going to upscale shopping areas and seeing a child being held by the parents over or near a trashcan or bush and letting it fly!

2) The Squatty Potty

I guess when you have to use a squatty potty a bush doesn't seem so bad. Here is a typical squattly potty that is found in most of Asia. I am so looking forward to using one of these (insert sarcastic tone here).

Sometimes the potties are nice like the one on the left, and sometimes they are a hole in the ground. Basically you just go in and assume the position, use it, and leave...notice no TP.

3) Spitting

One thing that you will encounter in China would be people spitting even if it is slowly becoming a thing of the past in modern Beijing and Shanghai. Spitting is not at all considered rude or a form of bad etiquette. It is just a habit that most Chinese find hard to break or purposely would like to continue doing.

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