Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Big Girl Goes to Kindergarten

Today was Marcie's first day of kindergarten.

She carefully picked out a new outfit, which I washed and set out for her to wear, with a new pair of shoes she also selected. Last night, I stayed up late organizing our classroom supply donations for each child, labeling their backpacks and lunchboxes, and pre-making as much of their lunches as I could.

This morning, Marcie decided she didn't want to wear her new clothes. Or shoes. And I thought we were going to be in big trouble. But then, she told me if I'd wear my exercise shoes (which totally clashed with my outfit), she'd agree to wear hers. So I did.

We walked to school and I helped Casey scout out his new line-up location.

When one of his teachers picked up the class, I wandered back over to the kindergarten playground, just as Marcie's teacher arrived. Her teacher gave me a huge hug and said hello to Marcie, calling her by name (it doesn't hurt that this was Marcie's teacher last year and that her two sons have been responsible, in part for Casey and Marcie's summer care).

We helped Marcie hang up her backpack, watched her sign her name and cut a line, and caught up with one of her summer friends at the I Spy poster to locate some items. Then Marcie and I sat and read while we waited for class to begin. Mrs. F read The Kissing Hand to the kids and then invited us to kiss our kids good-bye.

For a brief moment, I thought Marcie might cry-- and I knew if she did, I would, too. One little girl started crying, then a little boy -- and I thought for sure it was going to set of a chain reaction of little tears. But it did not. Thankfully.

When I returned 3 1/2 hours later to collect Marcie, she found me right away,

pointed me out to her teacher,

and gave Mrs. F a high-five good-bye.

She proudly told me that she'd learned to read. That she'd sung two songs. That I forgot to pack her a spoon in her lunch, but not to worry because she went ahead and just bought one ("and they didn't even charge [her]!").

I'm one proud mama.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sweet Anticipation

Marcie's first day of kindergarten is just two days away.

We've been talking about it all summer. We moved her over to the school's summer program so that she could make some new friends before the year began-- and it took a while, but she did.

Today we got her class roster, and as luck would have it, neither of her two best summer friends will be in her class next year. I admit it. I'm disappointed. But Marcie took it in stride. At least over the phone. I'd called to check in and see how her day at the beach with her cousins was going, and my mom put her on the phone. My mom told me Marcie looked like a teenager, sitting on her towel chatting away on a cell phone.

I started out with the "bad news" first-- neither of her two besties are in her class next year. Then, I went on to tell her that two of her good friends from pre-K are in her class next year. There was a bit of a pause, and then she said, (insert stereotypical tween/teenager tone): "Okay, Mom. But who is my teacher?"

Oh. I gave her that piece of information. She said, "Cool," and then she handed the phone back to my mom.

Perhaps I'm the one with the anxiety after all . . .

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Happy Familyversary

Four years ago today, Jason and I sat in a hotel conference room, listening to instructions on how to prepare a bottle "Chongqing" style for our new daughter-to-be.

The room was filled with 17 very anxious, new parents. And as the caretakers carried the babies and sat them down in conference room chairs, we all craned our necks and whispered to our partners and pointed to our children. As soon as they set Marcie down on a chair, she cried.

Then, one by one, we were called to the front of the room. As we were handed our daughter, we paused quickly for a couple of posed photos, then took our children back to our sections of the giant conference room and fed them.

This evening, we found ourselves out to dinner-- just the three of us-- while Casey is at a sleepover. Marcie loved being doted on. So, in that sense, not much has changed.

Happy Familyversary, Marcie!


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Please Help by Writing to your Senators

This is a double-post-- it'll go up on Tate's blog, too. But this blog gets a bit more traffic. Hence the double-post.

We were initially told that if we received our Travel Approval in the next week or so, we could plan for September travel. October travel to China is tricky because of a National Holiday the first week (which shuts everything down) and because of the trade fair, which runs every weekend in October and triples the prices. Many adoption agencies won't schedule travel in October at all. And this year, the Asian Games are in Guangzhou in November-- so the prices are much higher then, as well. So we have been hoping for September travel.

Now we have learned that most of the September consulate appointments are full in September (already!). In the past, agencies have been able to schedule these appointments for about 3-4 weeks after receiving Travel Approval from China. Families swear an oath at these appointments so that their children can receive visas and become U.S. citizens upon entry into the U.S. (or, in cases where only one parent travels, upon completing of additional paperwork after entry into the U.S.). It is a required appointment/event. (They basically shuffle you into a waiting room, have everyone raise their right hand and swear an oath, then file you in several lines to a window where a consulate employee asks if your paperwork is accurate and if you promise to treat your child like your child is your child and you say yes.)

Now we are being told there could be an additional 2 week delay (which definitely pushes us to October) because there are not enough appointment slots available.

The fix is very simple. The consulate can add additional appointments. They could add a second swearing-in (so to speak) for a given day (or two) or just add more people to the ones already scheduled. To make this happen, though, we need to apply PRESSURE. And that's where you come in. PLEASE write to your state senators and congressional representatives. I've made it easy for you. Just cut and paste the text below into an email to your representative. (I've sent in a modified version of what is below.) Here is the link to figure out who your senators are (just choose your state). And here is the link to figure out who your congressional representatives are (enter your zip code).

Dear Senator _______:

I hope that you will be able to help with an issue of great concern to many U.S. families. The U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China issues travel visas for newly adopted children traveling home with their families. A number of families have had difficulty scheduling appointments in September, which has resulted in a delay of a couple weeks before they can travel to meet their children. Additionally, because there are few appointments available, families who anticipate receiving their approval to travel to China are now being told to anticipate even longer delays. This is particularly problematic because of the upcoming Chinese National holidays and a number of special events in Guangzhou throughout October and November, making travel more difficult.

Meanwhile, these children wait in orphanages for their families. Many of these children and their families have been waiting to find each other for years. To be further delayed due to restrictive scheduling is terribly disappointing- and unnecessary.

I would appreciate you taking any action you can to encourage the Consulate to open additional time slots in September and October to accommodate families preparing to be united.

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours truly,


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

International Signs

I always thought the international sign for choking was just a natural gesture a choking person would use. 

Not so much.

Last night we went to Souplantation for dinner.  We were in a large group- the four of us, my younger brother’s family of 5, my parents, and my older brother with his three kids.  I’d just placed my tray on the table when my oldest nephew jumped up from his seat and snatched the bottle of water from my tray.

He looked up at me with watery eyes.  “Is it hot, Sal?” I asked.  “Spit it out—if it’s hot, spit it out.”  I thought maybe he’d bitten into a jalapeno or something.

Sal began to jump/stomp his feet, clearly agitated.  He looked up at me again, eyes still watery.  “Are you choking, Sal?” I asked, as I began to move around behind him.  My brother, his dad, was next to me, and he began to move into Heimlich maneuver position, too.  Just then, Sal was able to grasp- with the tips of his fingers- a slice of pickle that had lodged in his throat.

I wrapped my arm around him as the tears began to fall, and then stepped back so his dad could take over.  I could see people around us, whispering and pointing.  And other people who continued to eat, not noticing our drama.

I remembered back to when Casey was 11 months old and I had to perform the baby Heimlich maneuver on him because he got a pizza crust lodged in his throat.  My eyes began to water.

Bob told Sal:  “The good news is that you would not have suffered much longer- we’d just figured out you were choking, and we were going to help you.”  Then he took Sal outside to calm down – and to teach him the international sign for choking.  Hopefully Sal will never need to use it again.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Soccer Madness

Marcie practically begged us to sign her up for soccer. So we did. She was adamant that Jason coach. So he does. She insisted on being on a team with one of her friends. So she is.

So why, why, why did she beat me up when it was time to put on the soccer gear?

First, she insisted that she should not have to wear the yellow team shirt. Then, once we got it on her, she refused to put on shin guards and cleats. After 20 minutes of screaming and crying (her, not me), Jason and Casey left the house without her for the game. And I left her alone.

Sort of. She followed me around the house. And whenever she’d scream at me about how she was missing the game, I’d calmly tell her I knew, and that she could join her team as soon as she put on her soccer gear. After she threw a book at me, I banished her to her bedroom. Then things escalated. So I took away her books. Her music player. Her reading lamp.

I couldn’t keep her in her room, so I tried a baby gate. That took all of about 6 seconds for her to kick down.

Eventually she relented. She agreed to the shin guards and the cleats. She finally let me put her hair up in a pony tail.

We arrived about 5 minutes before the end of the first half and she went straight onto the field to play goalie. Her eyes were puffy and swollen from tears. Her throat was raw from screaming. My lower back was flaming pink from the back-slaps I endured.

I went to the viewing gallery to watch. I waved and smiled. I shouted encouraging things.

Just another day with an almost-five-year old, spicy girl.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


All the sun and swimming meant Marcie needed a hair cut. On the way, Marcie says, "Mom, I think I want bangs."

What? Huh? Bangs? This wasn't something I'd discussed with Jason-- and the thing about hair is that once you cut it, you can't uncut it. . .

I really hesitated. But, not surprisingly, Marcie seemed pretty certain. . .

And she looks great!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Corner Turned

Today marked day 3 of no morning tantrums. (Day 5 if you count the weekend, but I don't because weekends are different.) I hope I don't jinx us by writing about it.

Don't get me wrong, Marcie still has puh-lenty of attitude. But she's not using it to throw herself down on the ground or to fling herself (or her words) at me. There just wasn't the usual defiance.

I have no idea what caused the shift. Maybe getting to decide how to arrange her bedroom gave her a sense of control that she's been wanting. Maybe now that she has "three best friends" at school, she's feeling more safe and comfortable going there now. Maybe it's that Jason takes them to school in the mornings instead of me these days.

Whatever it is, I'm glad.

Of course, there's only about a week left of the summer program, then school starts on the 25th. A whole new routine. But at least her "three best friends" will share playtime with her. And odds are that at least one of them will be in her class, as there are only two kindergarten classes this year.

We'll see. But for now, I'll take what I can get. . .

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Vote for Kai

My youngest nephew, Kai, has been entered into a contest to become the next Gerber baby. Or at least to win a Flip camera or a college scholarship. Whatever the prize, he needs your vote. You can vote once a day every day for the next month by clicking this link and voting.

In case you’re wondering, he really is that cute. Here’s a photo to prove it:


Now go vote for the cute little guy!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Eleven Years

Happy Anniversary to us.

When I told Marcie we were going on a date, she asked what that was.

I explained that it's time grown ups spend together, alone.

"To get married?" she asked.

"Well, sometimes grown-ups date to figure out if they want to get married," I said.

"But why can't I come with you?" she inquired. "You're already married. I saw the pictures."

The kids spent the night at Grandma and Grandpa S.'s house. We slipped off to see Inception and then headed down to one of our favorite restaurants in Coronado- Peohe's. We were seated right on the water's edge, overloooking the downtown San Diego skyline, and we arrived just in time to see a spectacular fireworks display.

It was a perfect evening.