Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Referral Day!

It's amazing that 6 years have passed since we first saw this picture. I wrote about that day in this post. Given my grandmother's passing, I am reminded of my phone call with her. I called her on the way to the agency and she was so excited!!!

I love watching the blogs of families who are just receiving their referrals. It is so exciting watching a family form in this amazing way.

Here was Elise in China. She looks a bit shell shocked in this photo (she wore that look for a good year!)

I'm so proud of the wonderful little girl my baby has grown into. Elise, I'm proud to be your mommy and I fell in love at first sight 6 years ago today.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Book review

Before leaving for Maine, I grabbed a few books for the plane rides. I always have a stack of books that I want to read and wasn't sure what I'd be in the mood for given the reason for our trip. I brought a comedy and a more serious book. I ended up finishing up the book this morning. As many of you are adoptive parents, I wanted to share the book title with you.

Silent Tears, A Journey of Hope in A Chinese Orphanage was the book I read. I was hoping Amazon would have the prologue available to be read online, but no such luck. The prologue is written from the perspective of a Chinese mother who abandons her baby girl. Very powerful. Towards the end of the book is a section written from the perspective of someone who had found many abandoned children and is also very moving.

The book is written by an American whose husband is transferred to China for several years. In looking for a way to fill her time, she volunteers at an orphanage in China and the book is basically her diary from that time period.

Be warned, the author doesn't paint a pretty picture of life for the babies and it tough realizing your baby might have endured such a difficult life during those first months of her life. It does help explain some of the initial behavior of our children when they are first handed to us and how difficult the transition from orphanage to loving home might have been for them. The reactions from the babies in our travel group ranged from being completely withdrawn (to the point the parents wondered if there was neurological damage) to keeping a death grip on one of her new parents. For the record, Elise just cried and cried and cried the first few days we had her.

I have a collection of books on China and/or adoption that I'll let Elise read when she's older, if she's interested. I'll keep this book but will have to determine the appropriate time to let her read it. It contains a lot of information that may be difficult for her to process.

I would recommend this book to anyone in the process of adopting or having completed an adoption from China.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Goodbye to Grandma Carson

Grandma's funeral was today in Maine. I'm exhausted from the emotions and logistics of flying out and back. It was great to see my Maine relatives and the service was truly a celebration of her life.

Back in 1995 I sat down with Grandma and a grandmother remembers type of book. I turned on the video camera, asked questions and simply recorded her responses. The book provided the structure of the interview and the actual questions. I then took the video and transcribed it to provide each relative a taped and written copy. I loved the history of my grandmother's life and enjoyed doing that project. Now, 14 years, 3 moves and 2 kids later, I had all but forgotten it. Someone in Maine pulled it out, we printed it up and have been pouring over her story all week. In it, she was asked about her favorite hymns, scripture passages, advice she'd leave for family members, etc. What was a simple project so many years ago meant to satisify my curiousity over her history turned into a treasured resource today (to me at least!) If any of you have older relatives, I'd encourage you to consider such a project. There are so many memories that fade over time and this helps record some of those precious times.

Another project that turned into a treasure this week was a project my cousins and I worked on a few years back for Grandma's Christmas gift. We all wrote down memories of our grandparents and sent her a memory box containing 365 slips of paper. She was to read one a day for the year so she'd know how much she had impacted our lives. It was so fun to read back through those memories.

Lots of good memories, lots of pouring over photos, lots of time with beloved cousins and aunts and an uncle. I'm tired. I'm emotionally spent. The service was rough; really rough. I witnessed my brother cry for the first time in my life (and he's 31). But it was such a wonderful tribute to a woman who affected so many lives.

And apparently she's celebrating a little too much in Heaven right now and not paying attention to cheering on the 'Cuse....cuz they are losing badly!!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Basketball Star

You might assume that the biological child of parents who are 6'8" and 5'10" might be the basketball to whom I refer...but you'd be dead wrong. Perry played basketball all through high school and college and has high hopes that at least one of his children will enjoy the game.

As the weather has warmed up, Elise is the one who we find outside bouncing the basketball!

She's got the dribbling down...

And it always helps to play in a skirt with your hair hanging in your face (the one ponytail is her current favorite hairstyle and by the end of the day she ends with more hair hanging in her face than in the actual ponytail!)....

Whoops....mom caught me looking at the camera....dang it....

Here she is perfecting a "twist" dribble...

Time for a rest....but I WILL NOT LOOK AT MOM WITH HER CAMERA! :)

SIDENOTE: Look at her little bum on that ball...my bum would squish that ball flatter'n a pancake!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sadness...much celebration...a bit of laughter....


My beloved grandmother passed away tonight. She was 92 years old and it wasn't unexpected, but it was still a shock. My grandparents were a big part of my childhood and I will greatly miss her on this earth. Heaven is rejoicing while we come to terms with waiting to see her again.

Much Celebration:

My grandmother had a love for her family that was unmatched. After every family outing, she'd love to stop by Friendly's (restaurant in upstate NY) and get ice cream. My sister and I decided to honor that memory and met for ice cream late this evening. We cried some tears but laughed at so many memories involving Grandma. She was an amazing woman who taught me so much about faith and caring for others.

My grandmother LOVED Perry and I knew he was a keeper when I brought him home to meet my parents and he fell in love with Grandma. One of her greatest enjoyments was watching sports on TV (and attending the Syracuse-West Virginia games in person). Perry, being a sports nut himself, would watch the games with her...and, unlike me, actually be able to hold an intelligent conversation with her about any game, any sport.

My brother Eric was her only grandson and years younger than most of the other grandkids. Grandma moved in with my parents during the years that my sister and I moved out to college. Eric and Grandma developed such a tight bond. His long hair in high school drove her nuts (she got him a hair trimming kit for Christmas one year and only she could have gotten away with that!); but, short of cutting his mophead, he would have done anything for her and she would have done anything for him.

This picture was taken at my brother's wedding. We were all interested in getting a picture of her with all her great-grandchildren. She was more interested in hearing what the kids had to say. I remember being frustrated at not getting a better picture, but now, this is one of my favorite pictures of her (Carson is the kiddo in the yellow/blue plaid vest).

For only having one grandson, Grandma ended up with mostly all boys in the next generation of grandkids. Up until Elise came along, Darcy was her only great-granddaughter. Darcy was fortunate enough to live near Grandma for many years and they have a very special relationship.

I'm so glad we spent time with Grandma in Maine last summer. Having lived near her during my childhood, it was really hard to not see her as often in my adult years. I missed her terribly and often let life get in the way of keeping in touch with her better than I should have. We all really enjoyed our time with her last summer.

The kids really developed some very strong memories of their Great-Grandma Carson on this visit. They were both so saddened to hear of her passing because they knew what an amazing Grandma she was; they loved the time the spent with her last summer.

A bit of laughter:

Elise saw my tear stained face at one point this evening and asked why my nose was all red. I told her it was because I'd been crying. She asked, "So, are you going to look like Rudolph every time someone dies?!?" It was just the thing to turn my tears into laughter.
I will hug my loved ones a bit closer today as I remember that each day is a gift.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Suddenly Camera Shy?!?

Anyone else facing this pecular situation? My former camera hog of a daughter now does this whenever I come near with a camera.

She'll pop her head out for her beloved Trixie (although being careful to NOT look in my direction).

Then does the 6-year-old equivalent of flipping me the bird!
What happened to my adorable camera loving daughter?!?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Daylight Savings Time

I *LOVE* daylight savings time! It was 7:09 when I took this picture (it was lighter outside than it actually appears in the picture).

Combine the longer days with the beautiful weather we've been having and I'm practically in Heaven!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Our newest obsession

Elise has discovered friendship bracelets.

I read about this "loom" in a Family Fun magazine and finally tracked them down in our local Michael's store. She picked up the technique very quickly. In fact, she had a babysitter on Saturday who showed her how to make the bracelets WITHOUT the loom!

After moving the thread on the top in the right pattern, the bracelet emerges from the back.

Here is one of Elise's creations (please ignore the ink spots all over her hands, I cannot keep this child out of the markers!)

Friday, March 13, 2009


A few quick updates:

  • The loved one that I mentioned in my previous post is not YOU! (Perry was a little concerned about that and asked what he did!) The person involved is a smaller version of myself who doesn't regularly read my blog.

  • Would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to hear some discipline strategies that you've used for older kiddos (in the 10 year old range).

  • No surgery today. The MRI did not show that anything had torn so the doc wants me to do PT and consider a cortisone shot first (shudder). That was good news, but frustrating as my knee continues to act up. Some days are better so I'm taking that as a good sign that some healing is happening.

  • If you read the news about the pastor being shot during Sunday morning service, that happened in the next town over from us. In fact, the church we attend hosted the prayer vigil the night it happened. The two churches are very similar and not too far apart in distance. It's shaken me to think that this type of violence has now encroached on what should be a sanctuary for worship and renewal.

  • Warning...I'm going in a vent a bit....they are already going down the mental illness defense route with the shooter. Please know that I think mental illiness is a very serious matter and my gripe is not about his mental illiness or how that will play in a defense. The shooter was featured in a recent newspaper series about how Lyme Disease had caused his mental illness. So, it was a well known fact that this man had some mental issues (whether or not you buy the Lyme Disease twist or not). But, will someone tell me WHY WHERE THERE GUNS IN THE HOUSE (multiple guns were removed from the house, not counting the weapons he used in the attack)?!? If you know someone has a mental illness, behaves oddly, is known for outburts, WHY PUT ANYONE AT DANGER?!? I'm really struggling with this.

  • But, I'm so impressed with how the church family is dealing with this tragedy. With all the local media coverage, they've been able to spread a very positive message about this tragedy. They are reaching out to the shooter and his family and encouraging people to not cast judgement but to pray (clearly, I'm struggling with that lesson!)

  • Please keep the family of Pastor Winters in your prayers. He leaves behind 2 young daughters and a wife. The road ahead will not be an easy one, although they have the knowledge they will see be united again some day. Also pray for the church family. I cannot imagine going back into the sanctuary where this happened.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I choose happiness

Do you ever have one of those days? You know what I mean...One Of Those Days. We've all been there. Today was my turn. All in the course of the day...

...I was disappointed by a loved one....
....I was bombarded at work and had to soothe egos.....
....I felt pulled in a million different directions....
....I left work having accomplished not one thing on my list for today....
....I ran so much with my kids tonight that we ended up all eating fast food (gag)....
....I questioned "a look" I got from another mom....
...I snapped at my loved ones....
....I had a nagging headache that just wouldn't go away....

It wasn't a terrible day but it wasn't a stellar day. In the end, I kept reminding myself of a quote I'd read recently in an article about Michael J. Fox.

His quote was "happiness is a decision."

If he can make a decision to choose happiness given his daily struggles, then so can I on One Of Those Days.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Cub Scouts Dinner

Carson has been involved with Cub Scouts since kindergarten. A lot of the activies are right up his alley (nature and learning) and he has a good group of friends in his pack (or den?...I can't keep the terminology straight).

This past weekend was an awards dinner. Not all the kiddos were there but this is a good representative of the whole group. (Carson looks so much older than some of the other kids...and his neon green cast sure stands out!)

Checking out each other's new award badges.

I didn't know the ceremony would involve writing on his face. Each line means something. I was a little worried when I saw them start the "face drawing" as we had another party to attend right after this one. Carson ended up going to the next party with the W on his face and promptly forgot all about it...until we got home!

"Watch this..."

I finally broke down and bought a new laptop because:

  1. Our current laptop is over 6 years old and travelled to China with us. Using it is like watching paint dry and I don't have that kind of patience.
  2. Both of my children have discovered new computer interests and I have a hard time getting on the computer these days.
  3. Prices have really dropped and I was able to get what I wanted under the price I wanted to spend.

So, now that I have a new toy, the kids have already tried to get their hands on it.

Carson discovered the webcam (thanks iCarly!) and created a slew of videos. This one in particular was pretty funny. Please note that the picture taken above and the video were all done within about 30 minutes and one change of clothes apart!

Now be honest, your eyes hurt, don't they!

Friday, March 6, 2009


Yup, just what you wanted...more on the turtles. I thought I'd take the opportunity to introduce both turtles. Egor is the bandaged guy and Luka is the other one. Carson has had these turtles for 2 years. He saved his money all year during 2nd grade to buy them and the supplies needed for their habitat. When he bought Egor, the shop owner (having seen Carson in often while he was saving his money) gave him Luka for free (he has an unattractive shell that makes him less desirable).

The turtles are quite an attraction in Carson's room. They have a fairly large habitat. If Carson's room was less messy, you'd see a picture of their habitat. But, you don't. And, thankfully, you can't smell his room through the computer either. The turtles join a newt, 4 frogs and a goldfish.

They live to be about 80 years old so it is quite a commitment. They estimate our guys are 5-10 years old. Fortunately, Perry loves odd pets (he's had pet squirrels, bunnies and other critters).

I'll admit to having mixed feelings about having wild animals as pets. I fully suspect these guys were plunked from the wild and I'd much prefer they still live in the wild. Domesticated dogs are one thing, but keeping animals who should be in the wild as pets is something I'm not entirely comfortable with on principle. But, if we didn't buy these guys, someone else would have and I know many of these turtles go to homes where the owners do not make the needed accommodations. So, we try to be as responsible as possible with these critters.

Update on Egor's condition - he's doing really well. For the trauma he's been through (I can't even look at his unbandaged shell), he's really active and eating heartily!

Perry found the two turtles touching hands shortly after Egor came home from the animal hospital. Guess Luka missed Egor while he was in the pet hospital. Too cute!

Young Author Tea

Back during the Christmas break, Elise worked very hard on her Young Authors book. This was her first time participating in this school event. She had to write and illustrate a story. Her story was all about a Chinese New Year Cheerleading Tiger. It's a really cute story and she worked so hard on the project.

Today was the tea at school to honor all the kids who participated. Elise is the one in the middle with her BFF Vivian on her right. Vivian's story was all about her trip to China a few years ago.

For the "tea", we divided up in small groups and read each child's book. The other kids in the group talked about what they liked the best about each book. Afterwards, they got juice and cookies. Each book was adorable in it's own way and the kids were so proud to hear their books being read and hearing what everyone in the group liked about their story.

And a kind mother offered to take a picture of Elise and I. Much as I hate pictures of myself, I never end up with any of myself with the kids, so I greatly appreciated this other mother's offer to snap a quick picture.

It was a fun day and I'm proud of my Young Author!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bad things happen in threes?!?

I'm not normally a superstitious person. In fact, I'm going to try and schedule my knee surgery on Friday the 13th as that happens to be the most convenient date for me. But, I'm beginning to believe the ol' bad things happen in three wives tale.

"Thing #1"

Carson's arm cast. He goes back to the doctor on Monday and, hopefully, the cast will come off and his life will get back to normal.

"Thing #2"

My knee...'nuf said.

"Thing #3"
This is Egor (yes, in the human world it would be spelled Igor, but in Carson's turtle world, it's Egor). We noticed his bottom shell (yes, there is a more scientific name for that shell but I'm in pain and my brain is a bit fuzzy...plus, how many would know what the heck I was talking about if I used the official scientific name for the bottom shell of a turtle...I think ya'all will agree that it's just fine to say "bottom shell") began "flaking" off. We took him to a vet that specialized in reptiles and discovered he has massive shell rot. The words MASSIVE and ROT are not 2 words you want to hear about your pet.

Egor had a 2 day stay at the vet while they removed the infected shell and bone. We really have to keep an eye on him as he's not out of the woods yet. The doctor said it was the worst shell rot he'd seen. Poor Egor. We're making some changes to his habitat and praying he makes it through this. He's still eating, which is a great sign, and showing us his personality. Carson would be heartbroken to lose 2 beloved pets within a year of each other. The turtles (he has 2 Russian tortoises) are his pride and joy. They should live for 80 years.

And you know I get the eeby-jeebies about shots, you'll understand how I feel about the prospect of actually seeing the damage under that bandage. Thankfully, nothing gives Perry the eeby-jeebies and he's assured me he'll change the bandages.

Fun times at our house lately! :)

Sunday, March 1, 2009


I was tagged by both Tammie and Vivian on this one. It's such a fun walk down memory lane!

Go to your pictures folder & select the 6th folder.

Select the 6th picture in the folder.

Tag 6 people.

This was back in 2004. My dad was in town for a visit and we took the kids to the zoo. Look how little both kids look!

I know many of you have already done this fun post so I'd be hard pressed to come up with 6 friends who haven't done it. IF you haven't done it and you are reading this, CONSIDER YOURSELF TAGGED! :)