These pictures were taken before school the other day. I like these pictures because we usually rush around in the morning in order to get out the door by 7:30 to catch the bus, but here the girls had a few quiet moments before having to head out.
I like these pictures because Jazzie is being a good big sister by helping Tahlia. I like these pictures because they are sharing a quiet moment before a busy day at school. I like these picture because the girls are wearing coordinating outfits :-) I like these pictures because they are my beautiful girls.
Jazzie was playing poker with Lily, but Lily kept knocking over the stack of chips with her paw, so Jazzie decided to give her a talking to. I was waiting for the moment where Lily would lay a big, wet kiss on Jazzie, but it never happened ;-)
We are very lucky to have such a great and sweet dog...
I am not sure what is going with my blog, but I have not been happy with it lately. It seems that all I write about these days are happy things. I feel like I used to have important things to say and share, but now I feel that my blog has become one of those kind of blogs that I hate. I am talking about blogs where everything is always happy and perfect. Gag...
Things have not been all that happy and perfect here lately. I am going to have a hysterectomy a week from tomorrow. I have fibroids that are causing me issues. They have been causing me problems for over a year, so I am more than ready to do something about it. I have been in constant pain and discomfort which causes me to be a different person than what I would like to be. The fact that I am not myself makes me feel extremely guilty, because my girls and husband are suffering because of what is going on with me. And because I am in pain all the time, all I really want is to be left alone and not do anything. But being a wife and a mother, that is not possible.
While at the doctor's office a few weeks ago, he asked me several times how I felt about not having my fertility any longer. I told him I am okay with it; I already have my two girls and I am not planning on having any more kids, so I am fine with him taking my uterus. After leaving his office and driving home, the reality hit that this will really be it. I will never have any biological children; I will never know what it feels like to be pregnant or to give birth. And I was sad. The tears started to flow. But why? I already knew that I was never going to be pregnant anyway. I already knew that our family was complete. So why be sad then?
Let's go back a few years. When I married Matt I thought we would never have children together. He already had three children from his first marriage so I just assumed that we would not have kids together. And I was really okay with that. Until I turned 30. After I turned 30, I started thinking that I just might want to have children after all. I talked to Matt about it and to my surprise he was open to having more children. Matt's sister and her husband had just returned from China with their daughter, so for us it made sense to go the adoption route. We never really discussed reversing his vasectomy so that I could have a biological child. It wasn't important to me or Matt and it still isn't. I love my girls more than anything and I cannot imagine loving them more had I given birth to them.
So that is why I was so surprised at my reaction after seeing the doctor. I never tried to become pregnant and I never planned on getting pregnant so who cares if my uterus is gone? Maybe it is because in the back of my mind I always thought that if I chose to become pregnant I could, but now I can't. The choice has been taken away. I never thought I was losing out by never being pregnant and giving birth.
I guess it is a loss after all.
I forgot to mention that I am not looking for advice about the procedure I am about to have. I discussed a possible myectomy with my doctor, but for me this is not a good option. I realize that advice is well meant, but what is right for one person, is not necessarily right for another. As far as the procedure itself, it will be done laparoscopically. I will be coming home the same day and the recovery period is about a week versus at least 6 weeks for an abdominal/vaginal hysterectomy. The decision to have a hysterectomy was not made lightly. Again, I appreciate any concern, but I know what is right for me.
Having said all this, I welcome any advice/comments from those of you who have been there, done that with the same procedure I am about to have :-)
For an explanation of "Black and White Wednesday", go here.
I love to cook and I love cookbooks. I have a quite a few and my cookbook cabinet was in serious need of some organization:
The ones I use the most are towards the front, but the cabinet was a mess, so I thought I would clean it out and maybe get rid of some of the books that I don't use. However, when I started the task I realized that I could not bear to get rid of any of them. I just love them too much. So, after some re-organizing this is what the cabinet looks like now:
And here is my latest addition which I simply LOVE:
Yummy reccipes, great stories and beautiful photography, so what's not to like?
Hmmm... now the question is: "What's for dinner tonight?"
Cera and John came over on Saturday to show us their new ultrasound pictures. Cera is really trying to involve Jazzie into her pregnancy. I appreciate that so much, because after Jazzie's reaction upon finding out about it, I wasn't sure how everything was going to be for Jazzie and Cera. And even though Jazzie is still not too sure about the whole idea of a baby coming, she is slowly getting used to the idea. One thing she has made clear though, and that is that she does not want to be called aunt Jazzie, because "that is SO embarrassing". No problem, she can be just Jazzie.
Jazzie's best friend Sophie came for a sleepover this weekend. Of course they had a great time giggling and just being the goofy friends that they are. They didn't go to sleep until almost midnight on Saturday. But since they don't see each other too often, I figured I'd let them make the most of their time together.
Every time the girls get together, they write each other notes and they make pictures for each other. Here is an note that Sophie wrote after they had been talking about how much fun they used to have at school before they mainstreamed and how they used to see each other every day and laugh and giggle all day long.
Did you hear that OVV? You have stolen Jazzie and Sophie's fun!
And I thought this note was very sweet:
I love how in this picture they started out as babies, how they have continued to be friends and how they will be friends in the future, even in heaven, complete with wings ;-)
The scene: The girls are playing in the basement and I am doing some baking. As I am unwrapping the butter, Matt comes over, wraps his arms around me and says with a wink: "Well, it looks like it's just you and me and a stick of butter." LOL!
One thing I've always loved about Matt is that he makes me laugh!
Yep, that's my husband. A hopeless romantic with a great sense of humor.
Cera called last night to chit chat with the girls. We always put the phone on speaker for her. It is easier for her to hear that way as opposed to putting it to her ear. I thought Jazzie looked so cute lounging in the chair, just talking to her big sis about stuff...
I was able to watch Jazzie present her timeline project to her class yesterday during my volunteer time. Jazzie chose to do a timeline on cochlear implants and I was so proud as I watched Jazzie stand in front of her friends with such confidence.
After presenting her timeline, she answered questions and I was amazed at how she was able to explain everything. And with pride at that!
I really enjoyed watching all the kids give their presentations. There were timelines ranging from the Cincinnati Bengals to fire engines to Jell-O to aviation and the Jonas Brothers. Now there is a relevant timeline ;-)
This week I chose a picture of my parents with Jazzie and Tahia, taken last spring when we visited them in Holland. My dad is in the hospital with pneumonia and he is not well. They think he might have meningitis on top of it. His oxygen was too low to do any testing today, but hopefully we will know more tomorrow. It has never been particularly difficult for me to live so far away from my parents, but it is a different story now that one of them is critically ill.
Who says daddies can't paint nails? Jazzie even commented that Matt is better at it than I am ;-)
Tonight marks the end of a four day weekend. The kids were off Friday because of a teacher in-service day and today because of Martin Luther King day. The week before was a three day week because of snowdays and the week before that was winter break. What happened to going to school for five entire days??? I did enjoy our four day weekend, though. It gave Jazzie plenty of time to work on her homework project. Her assignment was to make a time line of something. It could be anything she wanted and here is what Jazzie chose:
I must say that I learned a few things myself in doing the research with Jazzie. It was hard to decide where to start the time line and even harder to put all the technical language into words that second graders can understand, but I think Jazzie did a great job.
And finally, my dad is not well. He is very sick, but the doctor's aren't sure what is wrong with him. They have done all kinds of tests on him and if his blood results come back normal tomorrow, he will have to be admitted to the hospital for further testing. It has been my biggest fear for years that I will get a phone call telling me that one of my parents is very ill or worse... I feel very helpless and I feel so bad for my mom who sounded extremely worried when I talked to her on the phone this morning. At times like this it is really hard to live so far away from my parents. Some good thoughts for my dad would be appreciated.
Kat is one of Alex' friends and even though he is in Chicago now, that doesn't mean that Kat can't continue coming here. She even made dessert for us!
The girls adore her and we do, too. We had a nice conversation with Kat about some of the things that have been on my mind after watching the documentary "Adopted". And even though Kat was not adopted, it was nice to get her view on things as a Chinese American young woman (like racism and stereotyping). I think she is a wonderful role model for the girls and we just enjoy her company. Here are some pictures:
With the cold and the snow here, Jazzie has not been going outside for recess at school this week. Instead, she has been writing. She has come home with notes, stories, letters and poems. Here is my favorite:
What can I say about my Jazzie? First of all, she does not like to be called Jasmine. Quite frankly, Jazzie matches her personality much more than Jasmine does anyway.
She is extremely bright, a hard worker and very tenacious. Her attention span stretches for miles.
She is very inquisitive and will ask question upon question until she has gotten an answer she is happy with.
She has very, very straight and silky hair which makes it extremely difficult for whoever cuts her hair to cut her bangs straight ;-) She can be SO incredibly stubborn. Matt says she gets that from me. I like to call it persistent rather than stubborn ;-) She is extremely competitive; she gets that from her dad.
She has selfish tendencies and knows just what to do to push her sister's button's.
She likes to take advantage of her cochlear implants. Whenever she is not wearing them, she sometimes "forgets" sign language or pretends not to know it. She will deliberately look the other way or close her eyes, just so she can't see me sign to her telling her it's time to brush her teeth, that it is time for bath or bed, etc.
She can be extremely funny and silly. Her face is very expressive. She likes to make funny faces at me and ask: "Did I make you laugh, mom?" Whenever she tells a story, she matches people's expressions to the words. She is also very visual. There aren't a lot of visual clues that she misses which I attribute to the fact that she is deaf.
She is strong and resilient beyond her years. She has had to deal with a lot in her young life (especially medically speaking). It hasn't always been an easy road for Jazzie, but throughout it all she has kept her strength and sense of humor.
She is a very picky eater, often turning up her nose at something if it doesn't contain noodles or salami. Whenever we order pad thai or lo mein at a restaurant, I have to order it without vegetables or she will spend 20 minutes fishing out all the teeny pieces of vegetables before eating her noodles. If it was up to her she would eat plain noodles and salami every day. Her idea of a salami sandwich is salami between two pieces of ham :-)
She does however LOVE cottage cheese, granny smith apples and melon. And strawberry Twizzlers. Too bad they don't count as a fruit, even though she claims they do.
She can be quite bossy and LOVES to have control over everything and everybody.
I just asked Jazzie how she would describe herself. Here is her answer:
"I think I am good at math. And I think I am very, very super smart at everything. And I think I am a great big sister. And I think that I have great, great handwriting."
Obviously, she is not modest and there is no lack of self confidence!
I cannot imagine Jazzie being anything other than what she is and I love her.
My girls have been CRAZY about the Fresh Beat Band lately. It's a show on Nick Jr. about four teenagers who attend music school and they dance and sing. At first I didn't see why the girls were so fascinated with it, but I must say that their music has really grown on me. I'm actually enjoying it :-) Granted, the show is not very educational, but at least it gets my girls up and moving.
Every day for the past several weeks, the girls have been dressing up as the two female characters so that they can dance and sing along with the show.
I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for leaving your insightful comments after my last post. Like I was trying to say, I feel very torn on how to deal with celebrating Gotcha Days. I do agree with those who mentioned that it is different when you have no biological children in the mix. I think that if you do, the child who was adopted might feel really different and might feel that attention is drawn to something that might not be a happy thing to them.
I also agree however, that the day we became a family is something that can be seen as a new beginning for everyone; a happy beginning. I also agree that my girls suffered their loss long before they joined our family. For Tahlia that was the day of her birth. Obviously, I am not going to NOT celebrate her birthday because of that.
I just can't help but have the line from the documentary go through my head: "Adoption is celebrated; abandonment is ignored". I want to honor and celebrate the fact that we became a family. I don't want to let Gotcha Days go by as any other ordinary day. But I also don't want to make too big of a deal about them. That is why I thought that lighting a candle in honor of the birth parents and going out to dinner to a restaurant of the girls' choice would be a good balance. I definitely would like that day to be a more private day. A day that is just for us as a family. As far as the abandonment goes, I don't want to shove the fact that they were abandoned down the girls' throats. I don't want it to be something we dwell on, but I do want it to be out there.
I am really struggling with this. I don't know what is enough, what is too much and what is too little. I guess the only thing I can do is do what I have always done that I know works; following my instincts...
Thanks again. This adoption community is a great place to learn.
After watching the documentary Adopted and reading this insightful post written by T., I've been thinking a lot about whether we should continue celebrating Gotcha Days or not. Don't get me wrong, we have never made a really big deal about the girls' Gotcha Days; there are no parties and/or presents, but we have made it out to be a happy day for our family. Having watched "Adopted", I now understand that even though it was a happy day for us, the girls suffered a loss which should not be ignored.
I totally agree that adoption is a part of our girls, but it certainly does not define them. I definitely do not want to celebrate a day that reminds the girls that they suffered a loss which may cause them pain and/or sadness. However, I also do not want to ignore the way they came to us. May 14 and July 3 will forever be days that are ingrained in my mind, because they were two of the happiest days of my life. Forme. But what about the girls? I have been struggling with this a lot. Tahlia was abandoned on her birthday, so should we not celebrate her birthday because that was the day that she suffered an immense loss? Jazzie was abandoned 5 weeks after her birth. Another loss. I honestly never gave too much thought to their losses and the effects of them until Matt and I watched "Adopted".
Which brings me back to our Gotcha Days. Matt and I talked about it and I think we will change the way we will spend those days. Instead of celebrating them, we will make them a day of honor and remembrance. We will light a candle for the girls' birth parents. I will no longer say what a great and special day it is (even though it is for me). I find this to be an incredibly difficult and complex topic. On the one hand I want to acknowledge the loss that comes along with adoption, but I also want to continue talking about adoption in a positive way with the girls, because it is a beautiful and amazing thing. Adoption doesn't define them, but it is how they came to us. I don't want to ignore it. I don't want my girls to grow up in a home where we didn't celebrate the miracle of adoption in some way; we just won't do it on their Gotcha Days anymore.
Thank you T. for making me think and thank you Barb Lee especially, for opening my eyes.
Have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE snow days? It has been snowing all day and after baking some cookies this morning....
...we ventured outside for some snow fun :-)
Does this describe Jazzie to a t or what???
This was the first time that Tahlia really enjoyed the snow. Jazzie has always LOVED the snow, but Tahlia used to tolerate snow for maybe 15 minutes at the most before wanting to come back in. However, today she was out there for a good two hours. After coming in she had some milk with one of the cookies we made earlier:
Then I caught her trying to sneak another cookie!
But who can say no to this face? I know I can't ;-)
I was outside with Lily for quite a while and after coming back inside, she plopped down in front of the fire. She is still there now...
Did I mention Jazzie loves snow? She was outside for over 5 hours! Just playing with the neighbors (sledding, rolling around and filling up buckets with snow). For as much as she does not like to be outside in the summer, she makes more than up for it in the winter.
Before calling Jazzie in, I thought she could use some nice, warm, home made chicken noodle soup.
She finally came in with bright red cheeks, ice in her hair and happy as a clam :-)
Matt and I decided to redo the girls' bathroom over Christmas break. I tried to find some before pictures, but was unable to. Their bathroom was green (which I never really liked) with pink and yellow and ladybug accents. It was cute, but I have outgrown my love for all things ladybug and I wanted the girls to have a bathroom that would be able to grow with them, even into their teen years (now that is a scary thought!). So here is the result:
I fell in love with the shower curtain the moment I saw it:
We replaced their big, ugly mirror with two separate ones and replaced the big strip of bulbs with some cute light fixtures:
How sassy is this toothbrush holder?
I love how their bathroom turned out and so do the girls. It is sassy and glamorous ;-)
The girls got Bendaroos for Christmas. They are so much fun!
I am always on the lookout for different crafts and I really like these. They are easy to manipulate, yet sturdy. They are easily separated after twisting them together and they provide hours of fun. You can't go wrong!
The other night, Matt and I watched the documentary "Adopted", by Barb Lee. Here is the trailer:
After watching the documentary and the training DVD that came along with it, we were left stunned. It was truly eye opening. Haunting even.
Here is another excerpt:
I will admit that I was pretty naive before adopting Jazzie and Tahlia. And even though I have learned a lot since then and I have come to realize that there are complexities with adoption, this film made me realize there are a LOT more things to learn and consider. Here are some quotes that stood out for me and left me feeling haunted:
"Adoption is celebrated. Abandonment is ignored".
Wow. That is a powerful and true statement. In our family we have always celebrated the girls' adoption days and referral days. I never really stopped and thought about the fact that we are not talking about the fact that they were abandoned and that the girls might feel really sad and confused about that. Sure, the days we got both our girls were amazing and wonderful and happy for us, but what about the fact that they lost their first family? Which brings me to the next quote:
"You only got her because she was abandoned and she knows that at a much younger age than you can ever imagine".
I never thought about it that way, but it is true. We would not have had Jazzie and Tahlia as our daughters had they not been abandoned. It's tough, but that is the way it is. I think we need to be honest about this with them and not sweep it under the carpet. After watching this film I realize that we owe it to the girls to talk about their abandonment. Adoption is not a fairy tale. You can romanticize it all you want, but the truth is that they suffered a loss in order for me to be their mother. "No adoption story has a happy beginning. Kids don't get adopted of everything is going well in their first family". Powerful words, but very true.
Part of the training DVD dealt with race and stereotypes. It opened my eyes. I know now that I need to bring up the topic of racism before Jazzie and Tahlia are faced with it, because they will be. They interviewed some college boys about the prospect of marrying an Asian woman and some of them said that their parents and/or grandparents would have a hard time with it. It just reminded me that there are older generations in particular, who would look down on my girls, just because of the fact that they are Chinese. There was a part in the DVD where the film makers talked to men about what they thought of Asian women. Barb Lee warned the viewers: "Brace yourselves". Wow, that was really hard to watch. Call me naive, but I had no idea men really thought that way. And even though I cringe at the thought of what they said, I am glad I know now so that I can start thinking about how I can prepare my daughters for it.
Another eye opener for me was when they had an activity where they asked an adoptee to drop one colored bead in a cup that represented herself. She placed a yellow bead in the cup. She was then asked to drop in white beads representing her parents, siblings, teachers, dentist, doctors, etc. She ended up with a cup full of white beads and one yellow bead. When I look at my girls and think about them doing that same activity, it is painful to realize that besides a few beads representing their cousin and a couple of friends, their cup would be filled with white beads. How does that make them feel? In the movie they talk about how a lot of parents say that they don't see race when they adopt their children, they just see their children. I have been guilty of saying the same thing, but I realize now that I NEED to see race. Other people see it, so I should too.
One more quote that has stuck with me was during the training session called "Intentions". It talked about why parents chose to adopt. It left me feeling a bit uncomfortable because I did have thoughts like "I really wanted a girl". I don't think I ever really thought about what it meant to adopt a child from a different race/culture. Raising children who are adopted is not the same as raising biological children. It is very complex. In the film it was said: "The reason for adopting a child should be to give a child a family; not for the family to have a child." Families for children, not children for families.
Please try and see this film. It will open your eyes. It did mine...