Thursday, December 30, 2010

Is it time to go back to school yet?

Lin is not looking forward to school starting up again on Monday. Unfortunately, that's the way the cookie crumbles! And I know that we all need to get back into our routine. Dave, Lin and Ruby have all been home this week (I didn't have any vacation time left -- boo!) and although I know they've been having fun, I also know that each of them needs to get back into their own little corners of the world.

I've noticed a slight change in the relationship between Lin and Ruby the last couple weeks or so. They seem to be getting closer to each other, acting just a little bit more like sisters rather than two girls, 10 years apart in age, who live in the same house. Maybe it's because of Christmas?

The other night we were out for dinner and as we walked back to the car Ruby wanted to hold Lin's hand. So Lin told Dave and I to hold hands. Lin and Ruby walked behind us, holding hands, and every few steps they would stop walking and Lin would crouch down just a bit to be closer to Ruby's level. When Dave and I would turn around to look they would giggle together. In this way, they kept getting further and further behind us, and they kept laughing harder and harder. By the time we got to the car Ruby was pretty much out of control with screaming laughter. Then on the way home the girls took turns making funny noises with their mouths (okay, okay, they were making fart sounds -- there, I said it!). It got pretty crazy!

We also took them to an indoor inflatable bounce-house place the other day. Although Dave and I also climbed and played, it was mostly Lin and Ruby running and playing together. Lin would help Ruby climb up onto the structures and then they would come flying down the slides, and after disembarking, Ruby would grab Lin's hand and drag her off to the next one.

Of course, they've also been arguing a bit more, too. Ruby acts-out toward Lin when she wants attention from her big sister. Usually Lin ignores it, or Dave and I step in and tell Ruby to stop. But I've been purposely NOT getting involved lately, just to let the girls start dealing with these little conflicts on their own. Although I certainly do not enjoy hearing them argue, in a way I know it's good because they are forming their relationship, without Dave or I trying to guide them.

So, that's what's going on with us as this Christmas vacation comes to a close. We went ice skating last night. Lin said she had gone ice skating a little bit in China but she had a pretty tough time with it yesterday. I mostly stood still on my skates, trying to help out both girls. We gave it up after awhile as I don't think anyone was really having any fun. We're going to try skiing next!

Monday, December 27, 2010

It's All Downhill...

Lin's first time sledding was a blast, but watch the landing!

Ruby and Mama, going just a tad off-course.

The big race! An incredible finish to an incredible Christmas!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Extravaganza!!

Pre-Christmas cookie-baking...  The dreaded Butter Cookie (aka Cookie Press cookie). A Christmas tradition -- they're a pain in the #$* to make, but delicious to eat!

Getting ready to head out the door on Christmas Eve, for the first of several family Christmas parties!

Lin and Ruby (with their Grandma/Nai Nai) opening the first of many presents!

Christmas Eve evening at Grandma and Grandpa's house.

Ruby, making sure Santa's reindeer are well-fed!

Christmas morning with brand-new Pillow*Pets!

Playing a mean game of Old Maid with the cousins...

Is there anything better than playing with Christmas *Barbies (while wearing new Christmas jammies)?

**Please note: I apologize for the lack of clothing on Lin's *Barbie.**

It's been a crazy 48 hours, but all of our Christmas parties are now done and we're ready to just hang out at home and enjoy our new toys! Lin did absolutely great on her very first Christmas -- she's exhausted but just so happy. I wasn't sure about the *Barbies, whether she would play with them or not, but I wanted her to at least have the opportunity. Just now as I'm typing this, she sang out "I love my *Barbie girl!"

Lin just asked when we were going to go outside and play... Stay tuned for pictures of Lin on her brand-new sled, going sledding for the first time in her life!


Without getting too weepy, I have to say that the joy I have experienced these last two days, seeing Christmas through the eyes of a 13-year-old girl who never had a Christmas before, just overwhelms me. I can't sufficiently put it into words, so all I'll say is... We're happy.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!




Thursday, December 23, 2010

Throwing in the Towel

It goes against everything I think I know about parenting (which is very little) but I think I've got to throw in the towel and declare that Ruby is done taking naps. The child just doesn't fall asleep in the afternoons anymore.

And she's only 3! In my head, children should take an afternoon nap until at least age 5. I remember taking a
nap in the afternoon when I was in kindergarten, so that's what I thought all kids needed. But the fact of the matter is, Ruby just doesn't fall asleep. No matter how hard I try to get her to settle down and get sleepy, she pops right back up to play.

My new plan of action is to get her to play quietly in her room for awhile each afternoon. If I tell her she does NOT have to sleep, but that she still needs to have some quiet time, maybe that will work.

(Alright, let's be honest here... It's ME who still wants an afternoon nap every day!! I can't bear the thought of having to give up MY nap!! Waaaaaaaahhhh!!!!!!!)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Addressing a Comment - an Educational Post

I have debated whether or not to address the comment left to me on the "Daddy's Girl" post, and I've decided that I should. If one person had the courage to leave me a comment, then there are a lot of people who are thinking it but didn't want to say it.

This is one of those blog posts not intended so much for family and friends, but more for the people reading this because they are preparing for their own adoption...

First of all, thank you so much to the person who left the comment. It was very kindly worded and basically just wondered if the close bond between Lin and her dad is appropriate for a newly adopted teenage daughter. I totally understand the concern and it is something that is on my mind quite a bit.

Hmmm.. how do I proceed here with honesty and sensitivity, while also maintaining my privacy and not revealing anything that I may someday regret?

Starting when we were still in China, there were certainly times in the beginning when I felt that Lin had more of an infatuation, a crush, on her dad. She even told our guide that she and her friends talked about how good-looking her dad was when she got the pictures we sent her. But Dave and I took immediate action, to show her that Mom and Dad are the family team, not Lin and Dad. Dave and I held hands more. We were more openly affectionate with each other. We sat next to each other in a restaurant, with Lin sitting opposite us. Just minor adjustments to our normal routine.

Most importantly, we addressed the issue before it was an issue.

And now there are a number of ways Lin shows me that she knows that Dave and I are a team. She has asked me how Dave proposed to me. We've looked through our wedding album. On Halloween, I even put on my wedding dress! Lin always insists that Dave and I kiss each other good-night and she gets very giggle and cute when Dave and I are going out on a "date." (Well, the two times Dave and I have gone out on a "date" in the last six months!)

And let me clarify what I mean when I say that Dave and Lin get into tickle-fights. A better way to say it would have been, they beat the snot out of each other -- in a playful way. Lin is very athletic, very strong. She LOVES to be physical and to show her strength. So she and Dave arm-wrestle. She jumps on his back when he's not expecting it. He comes up behind her and grabs her and throws her over his shoulder. She plays keep-away with his glasses and runs screaming through the house while he tries to catch her.

Yes, maybe a 13-year-old girl who'd been in a family since birth would no longer behave this way with her dad. But for a girl who didn't have this kind of romper-room family when she was 5, 6, 7 years old, I think Lin is perfectly normal.

Monday, December 20, 2010

So Cool

'Tis the season for Christmas cards! Every year we tape up the cards we get around the doorway leading from our kitchen into our backyard. This year I noticed something really cool, something I'm so proud of, and I hope someday my daughters notice the same thing...

I noticed the number of Christmas cards we have with pictures of Chinese children in their Forever Families. What an amazing extended family we are a part of! Families from all over the country that we now call our friends, linked forever through these amazing and brave children.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Daddy's Girl

Lin has been a big-time daddy's girl from just about the moment the two met each other. They are inseperable! They cook together. They watch kung-fu movies together. They play games together. They are just together all the time. It can be... intense.

About one-third of the time, I'm fine with it. They have a truly wonderful father-daughter relationship that is a joy to see.

About one-third of the time, I start to wonder what I'm doing wrong, that Lin doesn't want to hang out with me as much as she wants to be with Dave. But then I remind myself that she's got a Dad for the first time in her life and she is just in her glory. She spent too many years without a Dad and she's just making up for lost time.

And about one-third of the time I want to stand up and scream "Give it a rest!! We all get it! You love each other! It's getting on my nerves!!"

Yesterday was one of those days.

I had felt a cold coming on all day Saturday and by yesterday morning, I was down for the count. So I know this didn't help matters. But as I was laying on the couch, feeling rotten, while Dave and Lin had a screaming-loud tickle-fight, I decided I'd had enough. I took my book and went back to bed.

A few minutes later, who comes in the room? Lin. She brought her iP*d. She lay down next to me and just played games, quietly.

I guess maybe I am doing something right.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

6 Months Ago...

Six months ago today, I sat in a conference room of the Shanghai Children's Welfare Institute, waiting for my life to change forever. When I look at this picture, I swear, I can actually hear my heart pounding. I was scared out of my mind...

And then... there she was... (Listen, can you hear it? I hear two hearts pounding when I look at this picture.)

And when I look at this picture, taken almost 6 months later, I hear two hearts bursting with love...

It's been an amazing 6 months!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Picture Post...

 Happy Thanksgiving!
 Making a gingerbread house at our post-Thanksgiving getaway
 Lin playing air hockey with her cousin David
 Goofy pictures with the cousins in front of the hotel Christmas tree
Lin and her cousin Megan are one week apart in age. Love that teenager attitude!
Family picture at the hotel
 Working on the Christmas tree

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy December

I woke up this morning and was greeted by a light dusting of snow on the ground... the season is here at last! Here in Michigan we usually see at least some flurries by early November, but this year we've had nuthin' so far. I wish I could be home this morning when the girls wake up and see it, but alas, I'm at work. Lin is very excited for snow. A few weeks ago she asked me what day the snow would come -- she wanted to know specifically what day it would start snowing. When I couldn't give her an exact date, she asked what day the snow started last year. The girl needs details! She also told us that once we had snow on the ground she would only come inside for meals; she would spend the rest of her time playing outdoors. Well, we'll see how she feels by about the end of January or so.

We had a nice Thanksgiving. Lots of food, lots of family, a couple of people Lin hadn't met before. She took it all in stride, helping cook the fried rice and stir-fried noodles that we added to our Thanksgiving feast this year. Then on Friday we headed out of town to spend the weekend with my side of the family. It was exhausting but very fun, too. Now we gear up for Christmas!

On Sunday afternoon we put up the Christmas tree and decorated the house. It was really fun to watch Lin. She helped string the lights and really got into putting the ornaments on the tree. She would put up a few ornaments, then step back and look and say "Beautiful!" She just glowed. I felt bad about the number of ornaments we have for Ruby -- picture ornaments, "First Christmas" ornaments, etc. If Lin were a baby it wouldn't be a big deal  because she wouldn't know the difference. But at 13 years old, I wonder how it makes Lin feel when she sees so much evidence of her 3-year-old sister's place in our family, and so little for her. All we can do is get some new ornaments this year and make some new traditions that include Lin.

I had a really nice afternoon with Lin yesterday. We came home from school and had about 45 minutes to kill before heading to our tennis lesson. Instead of turning on the TV, we just talked. It was a conversation that could never have happened if I had planned it. We were just folding laundry together and I don't even know how the conversation started, but we talked about life and death, how old were my grandparents when they died, how long do I want to live, things like that. I guess when I write it down it sounds depressing, but it wasn't at all. It was so nice just to talk with her.

Then we started talking about God and Heaven, and how we'll see each other there when we die. And I got the chance to talk to her about God and how God is always listening to us and how she can talk to God about anything. I told her that I talk to God every day. She was saying that God is the one who decides when people die, then she joked and pretended to pray "God, I don't want to die. God, I don't want to die." I laughed and said, well you can talk to God about more than just that! And I told her that God is why we go to church (we didn't talk about Jesus, but hopefully that conversation will come up here in the next few weeks).

So it was just really nice. A nice conversation while folding towels and socks and underwear, just the two of us at home. And then last night she fell asleep on the couch curled up next to me with her head on my shoulder. That's a feeling I'll put in my emotional bank, to pull out and remember when I need to.