We have a tentitive date of August 23rd for Jazzie's second cochlear implant surgery. Just about three weeks away! We will find out tomorrow whether or not it is a sure thing. We have had a few glitches along the way and this has been a long time coming.
My amazing Jazzie turned 6 today! I can't believe that I have a 6 year old now.
Jazzie actually read all of her birthday cards before opening the gifts; I was so proud of her. She is my little reader :-) This morning Jazzie asked me: "How come I do not look and feel different now that I am six"? I guess she was expecting a big difference in looks and emotions now that she is a whopping 6!
We had a great birthday weekend with lots of gifts, friends and family. Jazzie has even more crafts now (did she really need any more?), and a two-wheel scooter, finally! It was hard for Jazzie to be the only only one with a three wheel scooter, especially after Tahlia got a two-wheeler for her birthday.
Happy Birthday, Sassy Snazzy Jazzie!!!!!
And finally, here is some video of the girls upon seeing their cake for the first time. The excitement faded a bit when they realized that I used one of their dolls from the basement ;-)
And it was a success. The girls and their friends had a great time at the party. Jazzie and Tahlia got a lot of great presents; there is now a lot of Ariel and Belle stuff at our house ;-)
The cake was a big success. When they first saw the cake, their faces lit up. After closer examination, one of the girls asked if I used their Mulan doll. When I told them yes, Tahlia told me she did not want Mulan to get dirty, but then asked if she could lick her clean :-) I will try to post some video of that conversation tomorrow. I am too tired to do it tonight (I still have another party to get ready for tomorrow).
It is almost midnight and I just finished the girls' birthday cake for tomorrow. I got a late start because I did not want the girls to see this until tomorrow, but I am happy with how Mulan turned out ;-)
With two birthday parties to get ready for this weekend, I went to the grocery store by myself after dinner last night. Any mother knows that grocery shopping with a child can be quite challenging, to say the least. So I was very thankful to be able to leave the house after dinner, knowing that Matt was putting the girls to bed and I did not have to rush home; I could take my time at the grocery store.
At the grocery store I noticed a woman with two young children. One of the girls was maybe 5 years old. She had her leg in a cast and was limping behind her mother who was pushing the cart with another girl in the front who could not have been more than three years old. The little girl was crying and rubbing her eyes; obviously tired. With each time that I passed them in the isles, I felt worse for those girls.
At first I was feeling myself getting upset with their mother. I kept wanting to tell her: "Go home and put your girls to bed; it's late. Can't you see they are tired?" But then my anger turned to compassion. I could see the stress of trying to get her shopping done with one limping child in tow and another child that was screaming, on this woman's face. She was doing her best to appease them by sounding excited about crossing yet another thing on her list. "Look, mushrooms, mushrooms!!!', she excitedly told the girls. It struck me as funny that she was making such a big deal about mushrooms, but I also understood that she was trying to do whatever she could think of to make this more bearable for her and for her kids. Every now and then I could hear her say: "Stop your whining!". I felt bad for the girls because they were obviously tired and bored, but I also understood the mother. I have spoken those words many, many times before myself....
As I was leaving the grocery store I could see the woman standing in the check-out line. The girls were eating some M&M's. A reward for going to the store with mom or a bribe to keep them quiet? It could be either, I have done both myself. When I was loading all my bags in the back of my van, a feeling of extreme gratitude came over me. I realized how lucky I am that I was able to go to the store by myself and that my girls were in bed after a long day of playing. Maybe this woman works during the day and has no choice but doing her shopping at night. Maybe her husband works nights and is not able to stay with his daughters. Maybe this woman was single.
In any case, I am living an extremely blessed life...
I was at the library yesterday and was asked by a woman who had been smiling at Jazzie and Tahlia for a while about adoption. It turns out that she and her husband are looking into international adoption. After talking with her for a while, she noticed Jazzie's cochlear implant and asked about it. I explained that Matt and I had no idea that Jazzie was deaf when we got her referral. It wasn't until we got her in China that I feared something was wrong with her hearing. "Oh, I'm sorry", the woman said after I told her about Jazzie's hearing loss. "Don't be sorry! There really is nothing to be sorry about", I responded.
Even though we and Jazzie in particular face challenges, our lives have been enriched because of her disability. It is hard to explain, but I think the following poem sums it up very well. You may have seen it before, but I wanted to post it here, just in case you haven't. I really like this poem, not just because I was born in Holland, but because the author's words are so true.
"WELCOME TO HOLLAND" by Emily Perl Kingsley
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It is all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome To Holland". "Holland?!?" you say, "What do you mean "Holland"??? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy".
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around… and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills... Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy...and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned".
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss. But...if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things...about Holland.
Every morning after the girls wake up, they walk into our room and climb into bed with us. Jazzie is usually the first to wake up, so I get to snuggle with just her for a little bit. Then Tahlia climbs into bed with us, the dog jumps onto the bed next to Matt and the five of us will stay in bed like that for a while :-)
For the past five years I have kept the outfit that Jazzie was wearing on the day we got her, in a Ziplock bag in her closet. The same goes for Tahlia's outfit; it has been sitting in her closet for the past three years. I finally figured out something better to do with them. I put them in shadow boxes and hung them on the wall in our play room.
Jazzie came to us in pajama's and a quilted snow suit (split pants in both), despite the 90 degree weather:
After peeling off the first layer:
And here is her outfit today:
Tahlia on the other hand came to us wearing a very Western outfit: a little sun dress made by Carters:
And here it is today:
Every time the girls go down to their playroom, they can see their outfits and I love that I am able to look at them every day. They obviously bring back a lot of wonderful memories.
(For those of you interested: I got the shadow boxes at Hobby Lobby (they were 50% off this week), but I'm sure Michael's has them as well).
First of all, thanks to everyone who gave me compliments on my pictures of my nephew C.J. You sure know how to build up a girl's confidence! I really love photography, but I feel I still have SO much to learn :-) Here are three more pictures that I like from last night's shoot:
Jazzie and Tahlia came along for the shoot and were entertained by their aunt Connie, so that I could take pictures. Towards the end Tahlia insisted on a picture with her cousin C.J. ;-)
C.J. was a good sport about the whole thing. even though he was completely uncomfortable. His mom brought a few different outfits for him to wear. He dutifully changed outfits (including long sleeves and jeans despite the 90 degree weather), but refused to wear a sweater his mom had brought. I can't say that I blame him.
Last night I made some chicken soup in my crockpot. It was full of yummy vegetables and smelled so good. I put the soup in the fridge overnight to cool, with the intention to put it in some smaller Tupperware bowls to freeze today. So, after lunch I got my bowls together, took the crock out of the fridge and put it in the sink so that I would not spill all over my counter as I was scooping the soup in the bowls. Right as I was about to start I got a phone call and got sidetracked. After hanging up the phone, I walked over to the sink and turned on the water to rinse my crock. The problem was that I hadn't taken the soup out yet! The water ran for a good while before I realized what was going on. My wonderful and healthy soup went down the drain; literally :-(
When I was talking to a friend the other day, she mentioned that Jazzie was so lucky to have her cochlear implant and that her hearing was "cured". I explained that even though the cochlear implant gives Jazzie access to sound, she still hears very differently than a normal hearing person and having the cochlear implant comes with a whole set of challenges people don't think about. Here are just a few:
Jazzie was playing with her Leap Pad this afternoon and she was getting very frustrated because she couldn't understand the computer voice. In her defense, I also had to concentrate to hear the voice.
In the car, I have to talk really loudly or I need to turn my head towards Jazzie in order for her to hear me (not the safest thing in the world, I know).
Whenever we are around water, Jazzie's cochlear implant processor needs to come off. For instance, we visited a friend yesterday and there were several kids from Jazzie's school there. The kids were playing on the water slide, so neither of them were wearing their processors. At one point, several kids were pulling the top of the slide down and of course us moms were not able to simply yell "stop". It was quite comical to see all the moms standing at the bottom of the slide, with their arms waving all over the place, trying to get the kids' attention. Comical, but frustrating.
I always have to make sure that I carry extra batteries. If Jazzie's batteries run out while we are away and I have no extra's with me, Jazzie will be out of luck (and quite unhappy, I'm sure).
Jazzie needs to take her processor off on the playground, since all the plastic and static can cause her program to be wiped out and her cochlear implant will be of no use until we get back to the audiologist to have the programs reloaded. So, while she plays, she can't communicate with anyone unless they sign to her.
I try to remember to tell people who first meet Jazzie that they need to look at her when they talk to her and that if Jazzie doesn't answer, it is probably because she didn't hear them, not because she was ignoring them.
Overall though, all these things are pretty easy to deal with. We just need to remember to be careful around water and static electricity. At least Jazzie knows sign language and she is extremely good at reading lips, so not all is lost when she is not wearing her processor. However, I never thought that I would ever have to worry about someone stealing Jazzie's device right off her head, like happened to this family. Apparently, thieves are confusing cochlear implant processors with Bluetooth headsets.
Honestly though, these two devices do not look anything alike to me:
My baby turned four today. Where has the time gone???
Her presents consisted of a 2-wheel scooter (now that she is four, that 3-wheel scooter is too baby-ish!), a Disney Princesses lullaby cd (she still listens to music every night) and a Princess Belle doll:
We had a great weekend. The girls had a wonderful time on their sleep over with Cera. Matt and I had a nice sushi dinner, a couple of glasses of wine and then went to Barnes and Noble (our typical date). I must say that it felt really strange to go to bed that night and not have the girls there. I had a hard time going to sleep because the girls weren't there. It was like part of me wasn't there. However, Matt and I had a nice quiet breakfast the next morning and I was able to enjoy three cups of coffee and read the newspaper without interruptions. It was heaven...
Here are some pictures of our fun filled weekend. A game that the girls like to play every day is "Mike's Car Wash". This is how the game works: First, you take a bike, wagon, car or whatever else you might have in your garage and you cover it with sidewalk chalk:
Then you take plastic cups or a watering can and fill it up with water from the water table:
Then you take some rags and clean your car:
And when your car is clean, you start all over again. I am not kidding; the girls will play this game for hours.
This morning, the girls were playing in their craft room. After quite a while, they came upstairs to show us their new "ice skates" they made:
And here are some pictures of a project we did this afternoon:
Soon this stepping stone will be gracing my flower bed :-)
And last but not least, here is a picture of Tahlia on her last day as a three year old. My baby will be turning four tomorrow!
Lately, Jazzie has been obsessed with Princess Ariel from The Little Mermaid. She wants to watch the movie all the time and she loves to dress up like Ariel, and pretend she IS Ariel. I don't know about you, but I find the resemblance uncanny ;-)
The girls' birthdays are coming up. I will be celebrating their birthdays together again this year. I am thinking this might be the last year I am going to be able to get away with it. Jazzie will be in first grade next year and I am sure she will want to have a party with her own friends, without her little sister and her friends there.
I am planning Cera's bridal shower and I just found the CUTEST favors. Of course I can't tell you what they are, since I know Cera reads this blog.
Speaking of Cera, the girls will be going on a sleep over at her house this weekend. Hmmm, an entire evening, night and part of the day on Saturday with just my husband and no interruptions from the kids. I see a nice dinner consisting of sushi and a lovely leisurely breakfast in my future!
I have not shopped at Target for over 5 weeks now. The draw I feel every time I drive by is getting less and so is the amount of my credit card bill ;-)
Am I the only one obsessed with Food Network?
I saw a girl at the store today who couldn't have been more than 14 years old. She was obviously pregnant and was wearing a t-shirt that said: "I'm not fat; just knocked up". Nice and attractive...not.
My mind has been consumed with menu planning lately. Tomorrow I have a friend coming for lunch, Saturday night we have some friends coming for dinner, at the end of the month I am having Matt's family over for the girls' and my mother-in-law's birthdays and of course I have been busy planning Cera's shower...
Does anyone have any advice as to how to start a personal organizer business? I would love to be able to work a little bit, but not at the cost of me not being able to stay home with the girls. I would love to be able to determine my own hours and organizing is something I love to do and that I am good at.
This summer seems to be flying by! Next week the girls will start Arts and Crafts camp, then we will have a week with some doctor's appointments, the week after that will be Princess Camp, the week after that will be spent with Matt's family at a cabin where I'm sure we will have tons of fun and make more memories, just like last year's family vacation. And after that it will be less than a week before school starts! Like I said, the summer is flying by and I am not sure if I am even going to be able to do all the things I had planned to do with my girls.
Well, I'm off to figure out what I am going to make for dinner. See, my mind is filled with menu planning ;-)
After taking a break from gymnastics for a while, Jazzie started again today. Tahlia was so excited that Jazzie was going to do gymnastics at the same time as her. Tahlia has been taking gymnastics for a couple of years now and is actually quite good at it. When Jazzie did it before, she was okay; she just was not as graceful and flexible as Tahlia. However, Jazzie surprised me today. She looked really good out there! I am not sure if it is because she is older now or if it is because her confidence is up, but she was great :-)
Every now and then they have a theme at gymnastics. A couple of months ago it was "Super Hero Week". All the teachers wore masks and capes. You might remember that Tahlia is deathly afraid of masks, so this theme did not go over very well with her, but we survived it. Masks, motorcycles and clowns are things that Tahlia hates. So imagine my reaction this morning when I realized it was "Circus Week" at gymnastics and the teachers were dressed up as clowns!!! I talked to Tahlia's teachers and they agreed to remove their clown paraphernalia and to keep her away from anything with clowns on it. <Sigh>
Just like I have done in the past a few times when I have absolutely nothing to blog about, I go through my pictures on my laptop to see what we were doing on this date last year, the year before that and the year before that, etc. My digital pictures go back to 2003.
Last year on this date we were on vacation in the Outer Banks with our entire family:
In 2006 we were on vacation in Myrtle Beach (I see a theme here):
In 2005 we were in China, which truly felt like a vacation. Two whole weeks at the White Swan, swimming and shopping on Shamian Island was not hard to deal with :-)
July 8, 2004; Jazzie was almost 2 years old:
Can you stand the cuteness????
And July 8, 2003 - Jazzie had been home for about 5 weeks:
After a very busy week and weekend, my house is a disaster. Now that Jazzie is out of summer school and I am not driving back and forth all the time, I have some time to attack the house, starting with the laundry room. At 9:00 I had one load of laundry in the washer, one in the dryer and four loads waiting:
There was barely enough room in the laundry room for the dog to eat :-)
All morning long I have been dumping baskets of clean laundry on the family room floor to fold. Before:
Now it is five hours later and the laundry room looks like normal again:
One room down and I am off to the next one... Don't you just love Mondays?
On a totally different note: Tonight is the last episode of the Bachelorette and I am so hoping she will pick Jason!
We had the most amazing 4h of July. We got together with two of the families from Jazzie's travel group. Out of all the families that were in our group, we felt the closest to these two other families, and they also happen to live relatively close to us. We have kept in contact all these years and we see each other about twice a year. We traveled to Kentucky to see everyone. Here are the girls, ready to go:
Jazzie got into the 4th of July spirit with her cochlear implant ;-)
Abbey, Jazzie and Grace. They shared a room at the Youxian SWI in Hunan...
Our group of three girls has grown to five girls when Tahlia and Grace's sister Carrie came along:
We spent the day swimming,
Riding 4 wheelers,
I was SHOCKED that Tahlia wanted to ride on the 4 wheeler, without daddy no less! This is a child who is so afraid of motorcycles, but who seemed to enjoy this so much. The cows also didn't seem to bother her:
However, she was not so sure about the llama:
Jazzie thought it was so cool she got to ride in the back of a pick-up truck. This is a city girl who is not used to walking among cows in the field, going four wheeling and riding in the back of a pick up :-)
And of course a 4th of July would not be complete without some sparklers:
I am very much a city girl, but I must say that my day in the country was one of the best days ever. It certainly was the best 4th of July I've ever had and it was spent with great friends and with a lot of laughs
...I first got to hold my Talley. As you may know, I wasn't in love with her referral pictures, and I really wasn't sure about how I was going to feel when I first saw her. When we first got to the Guangdong Register of Adoption, we saw a group of babies and children and our travel group (including myself) was convinced that those were our babies. I thought I recognized Tahlia and was struck by how big she was. This wasn't a baby, this was a toddler. A toddler who was walking already. This was not at all what I had imagined her to be like and I didn't feel like this was my child what-so-ever. The other parents in our group were so excited when we were waiting in that small room to receive our children, but I was so apprehensive. When they called our name, Matt had to literally push me forward. I remember walking up to the door, being so afraid that I was going to reject this child. Then the orphanage director brought in this adorable, little baby with the chubbiest cheeks and the prettiest smile. This was my Tahlia! It was not the little girl I had seen earlier; this was my daughter. I took her in my arms and cried happy, happy tears:
Yes, I was in love:
Tahlia, three years ago I became your mommy and I am so glad you came into our lives. Your smile lit up our world then and it still does today. Thank you for being such a happy and funny girl and for making our family complete. We love you so much!
Before we had kids, Matt and I lived in a house that had a big garden. Every summer we grew tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, rhubarb and tons of herbs. I used to make my own salsa, spaghetti sauce, pickles and I would can it all. If you have ever canned before, you know that it is a big job which is very time consuming. So, after I got the girls I stopped canning; I just didn't have the time anymore. I really miss our garden and I miss my homemade salsa's and sauces. The supply of sauce and salsa that I canned has been long gone. However, I had three jars of tomato juice left from when I used to can. I don't use tomato juice that often, so these three jars moved from our old house to this new house. After living here for three years, I was down to one jar.
I was feeling a need for my grandma's tomato stew today (the best comfort food for me), so I fired up my trusty crock pot and started putting my ingredients in. I saw this jar of tomato juice sitting high up on the pantry shelf where it has been sitting for years. I have been holding on to it, not willing to open it, because it reminds me of our old house and our garden.
However, I have been in a cleaning out mode lately, so I decided it was time to open the jar and use it. "Hmm, I wonder when I canned that juice", I thought. I looked at the lid and this is what I saw:
July 27, 2002. My heart skipped a beat. The day before Jazzie was born. If you take the time difference into account, it was really July 28th in China as I was standing in my kitchen, making salsa, spaghetti sauce and juice. The day my daughter was born.
I recently read one of Tracy's blog posts where she mentioned that one of the reasons she blogs is because she would like to look back and see what she was doing on the day her daughter was born. I never thought about that. I started this blog long after both my girls were born, so I have no idea what I was doing on the day of their births... Or so I thought.