Saturday, December 27, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

Can You Believe It's My Birthday?

Yep. The day after Christmas. What a lovely - uh hum - time for a birthday, huh?

How would YOU like to wake up in the morning the day after you just ate enough food to feed the defensive players of the New York Giants? AND their opponents. (Who's shoving that food down my throat against my will? Certainly I don't need to take responsibility here. Do I? That's what I thought.)

At least my house is/was clean since company came over. But another year older, fluffier -- and most of my friends are out of town.


In all actuality, I have the distinct blessing of having some family members around for my big day b/c they're in town for Christmas. Then they're obligated to slip a few bucks in some type of card...even if it's a recycled Christmas one. Time to rack up, huh?

Emily has been punch drunk playing with her 2 uncles - Skipper and Michael. Oh my. Let's just say she adores them with every ounce of her being. They're all developmentally at about the same level so it's a good fit. LOL!

Skipper's in the other room teaching her to say, "Go Tigers!" and recite HIS alphabet, "L.S.U. Naw. Don't say A.B.C....say L.S.U. That's all you need to know."

She crawls up on Michael's belly as he whimsically entices her by saying, "You wanna play with my whiskers???" He totes her up the street to the park to swing and slide.

She's screaming gleefully from the other room as I type, and someone sounds like Captain Jack Sparrow -- the infamous pirate. There's also a Belly Button Monster that goes after Emily's mid-section. She gets chased into a bedroom and locks the door behind her. Lots of slamming, squealing, and silliness going on here. Nanny Carol is serving as the referee.

Ten Gummy Bears later Skipper tells Emily, 'You sure are sucking those things down.' Well WHO is feeding them to her? He says, "No more." Then she asks for a green one.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Emily at a Birthday Party - click below


Pic of Emily and Zenia - click below


Merry Christmas - a Song by the Band Third Day (when one of the band members was waiting for his little daughter in China)

There's a little girl trembling on a cold December morn
Cryin' for mama's arms
At an orphanage just outside a little China town
Where the forgotten are

But half a world away I hang a stocking by the fire
And dream about the day I can finally call you mine

It's Christmas time again but you're not home
Your family's here and yet you're somewhere else alone
So tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in His arms
And tell you from my heart
I wish you Merry Christmas

As I hang the tinsel on the tree and watch the twinkling lights
I'm warmed by the fire's glow
Outside the children tumble in a wonderland of white
And make angels in the snow

But half a world away you try your best to fight the tears
And hope that heaven's angels come to carry you here

Christmas is the time we celebrate the Holy Child
And celebrate His perfect gift of love
He came to earth to give His life and prepare a place for us
So we could have a home with Him above

It's Christmas time again and now you're home
Your family is here so you will never be alone
So tonight before you go to sleep I'll hold you in my arms
And tell you from my heart
I wish you a Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I Only Vacuum for Full Moons and Holidays.

I'm getting ready for a little Christmas Eve gathering at my house tonight -- 1 brother, Skipper, is coming in from Florida for sure. Not positive yet about the other one, Michael. Got the ole vacuum cleaner out again to tidy up. When I was almost finished Emily asked if 'older children' could vacuum. I said, "Oh yes. And younger children, too. Children l-o-v-e to vacuum." I was sorta kidding. Thought I'd leave it at that. She's a good little helper, but I could easily foresee her backing into things with a crash, bam, boom.

Since company's coming, I bought good toilet paper. And plenty of it. Don't wanna seem cheap.

With the holidays here there's been a musical mixture of Mannheim Steamroller, Point of Grace, and Sesame Street playing in the air. Last year the song, "All is Well" by Point of Grace, served as my theme song for the season. The adoption "wait" was heavy on my heart, and this song seemed to soothe my soul. If you can find it and listen to it, it's a keeper.

I have a nativity set displayed on a desk in my bedroom. It was given to me from a friend girl, Debbie, who takes mission trips to Burkina Fasso -- in Africa. It's a beautiful, carved, dark wood set with Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus, and 4 ani-mules. No kings. Anyway, I noticed that about every other day, the positions of the animals were moved about into strategic arrangements. (I'll give you 3 guesses WHO does this, and your first 2 don't count.) One day it'll be 2 beasts sitting up close to the simple, carved manger, but then on another day...all 4 will be lined up -- peeking together at the newborn king. Emily delights in creating orignal casting lineups for the day. It's pretty cute. I guess she wants each critter -- lamb, oxen, whatever -- to have equal opportunity viewing sessions. She says - about Jesus being in a stable - "Jesus born. He no house?" I've spotted her holding the crudely carved little Christ child -- cupped in her hands, rocking Him back and forth.

We're baking Him (capital "H" so I reckon I don't need an antecedent to that pronoun, huh?) a birthday cake today. She wanted to put a number 6 candle on it.
I said, "Oh. Jesus isn't going to be six years old."
Em -- w/my interpretation of what actually came out of her mouth: "How old is He going to be?"
Me: "Ugh..Way older than 6."
So she settled for colored sprinkles and green squirt icing to decorate the chocolate cake w/cream cheese icing. Gotta go measure, stir, and bake. Emily will be in her prime for that activity.

Time for coffee w/Nanny Carol. Home-brewed Starbucks Christmas -- blend compliments of Ayi Cookie. Somebody slap me.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sugar-n-Spice & Everything Nice

A teacher friend of mine hosted a Come and Bake Some Cookies Party the other night. It was somewhat of a fundraiser -- in her church's kitchen -- for a former student whose home burned to the ground about a week ago. Talk about having a good time. I debated going. Why? Because the fog was as thick as pea soup, the church is WAY far away from where we live, and it was a school night. Never mind that I was tired (whaaaa, whaaaa) from teaching all day and doing homework with Miss Em.
But this was one of those kinds of moments that I'm so glad I didn't miss. Tamara (teacher) had her relatives there (all a bunch of hoots!), some college-aged students, and the cook who prepares meals at that church on Wednesday nights (and her daughter). We were a montage of Caucasians, African Americans, and Asians -- younger and older.
Emily had a fabulous time punching out these sugar cookies and decorating them. They taste mighty nice, too. She painted a Christmas picture, ran and played like a wild thang, and was bossed around by everyone there as if she were their own child. "Outta the kitchen. The ovens are hot." Love it. We call it "community booty". Adults present have the permission to scat and shew kiddos...all while kissin' them upside their heads and huggin' them really big. That's what we do around these parts with friends like the ones I was with that night. What a great experience for our Christmas season. Thanks, Tamara. You are a jewel.

3 Amigas & Mr. You Know Who

Friday, December 19, 2008

Dynamic Duo - Nanny Carol and Emily on an Outing

Emily and Her Treasured Friend: Ayi Cookie

I Ate My Way Through Wal-Mart Last Night...and Had a Cart with 4 Wheels Actually Going the Same Direction! Miracle.

Nanny Carol so graciously kept Miss Emily while I headed out for a small Christmas shopping adventure, and I snacked from a bag of Dove chocolate candy the entire time.

Em has a particular head nod & eye gaze as she reassuringly states, "Me like presents, Mommy!" It's a comment & look of, "I don't know who invented this gesture, but it is divine." I'm hoping to teach her just that: It IS divine. "For God so loved the world, He gave..."

Gifts are always sacrificial. Someone relinquishes for another to gain, and I want her to know what a wonderful gift she is to all of us who know and love her.

Around our house, the list is short and the appreciation is big. The conversation on the way to school was about how delightful it is for children to smile really big and say "sank you" when someone gives them a gift. She also added, "Hug." Whenever she hugs Nanny Carol, Marlene, Donna, WHOMever...she then steps back and motions with her index fingers, "You. Hug." -- for the two of us/adults to do likewise. It's one of those 'do unto others' kinda moments. I AM a hugging person. So happy she is following suite.

Went to the musical at mom's church last Sunday. Beautiful. Touching. Emily was not so impressed. She wiggled and squirmed mightily all while repeatedly moaning that the lights in the church were off during the performance . (as IF I didn't know that...) The theme of the presentation was "Home for the Holidays". I'd tear up one moment thinking about how Emily herself was finally 'home'...while the next minute I was whispering in her ear, "IF YOU DON'T SETTLE DOWN..." You know the old routine. Mom sits next to you in church with a big smile on her face as she pinches the fool out of your leg -- saying to you without her lips moving, "Get quiet NOW or I'm gonna...."

I call it Satanic ventriloquism.

Sure hate that I didn't manage to come up with a cutesy Christmas card of Miss Em and the critters. I announced via email that her pic w/Santa was on my blog, and invited folks to link on over and peek. Tacky. I know. We never did photo Christmas cards at our house. Seems like when we DID have family pictures made, we always looked like a bunch of illegal aliens hauled in for questioning. I've had enough dealings with U.S. Immigration Services to last 2 lifetimes. Wouldn't want to open up any new & suspicious files with them.

Here's to a final countdown to Christmas. A day that changed the direction of humanity for all ages to come. How very thankful I am to be the recipient of a little almond-eyed sweetheart. When I see the Lord face to face, I'll be sure to smile really big, say "sank you", and give Him a big hug.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together…there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart…I’ll always be with you.”

~Winnie the Pooh”

Monday, December 15, 2008

Souper Saturday and Santa at a Theater Fund Raisesr

Lookee Here. Miss Em got her pic taken with Mr. Santa Clause. Ayi Marlene and Ayi Donna were helpers/contributors for a fundraiser at their theater. Gotta support our good buddies. They keep Emily in panties and great art for her walls.
We'd been out late the night before at a Cookie Swap. (Yes. My car battery was dead at 10:00 p.m. when I went to leave. I was somewhere out in the country: Hooterville, USA -- but thanks to Leigh with her gorgeous home and sweet/sensitive husband...I DID make it home. We had fun at her house. She's a bang up party giver!!)
Someone we all know and love woke up at 5:20 a.m. on Friday to help me bake Chocolate Crinkle Cookies for the swap. Kitchen looked like a Crystal Meth lab with all the powdered sugar strewn about -- when Emily was finished rolling the dough balls in it (like I know what crystal meth looks like...puleeeezzzzz. I am too tacky in my word choice. I know.).
Emily and I have had the discussion that "children don't get out of bed in the mornings when there is a 5 at the beginning on the clock. That is TOO early for children. Only mamas get up that early." Well, so far this conversation has been an effort in futility. My Betty Crocker helper was upright at the same time this morning. For Christmas, she wants an alarm clock that lights up. By golly, she's gettin' one!! And I'm setting that alarm each night for 6:10 a.m. so she can KNOW when she should get up for school. I told a teacher friend, "I just w-a-n-t some time in the mornings. You know?" She looked at me and said, "Forget it. You've had ALL the time you'll ever get. Welcome to your new life!"
Saturday morning we headed to Cultural School. Always fun to be around the same folks again as the night before. Of course, we all joined up once more in the afternoon for a b'day party. Seeing all the little Asian faces around a table, decorating cupcakes, having fun....priceless. We/the adoptive moms -- are all talking about starting a cult: moving out to some property, having a garden, sharing job chores, raising our Asian daughters and sons, arranging their marriages. If they put a Planning Committee together soon, I'll let cha know.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Picture and Blurb from Love Without Boundaries - A Group That Helps Chinese Children

The following excerpt and photo above is from Love Without Boundaries. They've chosen their #1 Picture of the Year. And yes, a picture IS worth a thousand words...

"Our number one photo of the year comes from Pingliang, Gansu, just north of where the Sichuan earthquake was located. The May earthquake damaged the children's building, and all 80 children were relocated to either the one remaining safe room or to tents set up on the property. Through our special assistance program, LWB provided warm clothing and diapers, which helped them during this time. We are so thankful for the loving caregivers who kept the children warm and safe despite the difficult circumstances. Our heart goes out to all of the children affected by the earthquake, and we give thanks to each of our supporters who have allowed us to touch the lives of these children and thousands more over the years."

Emily's First Day at School in Her Uniform

Oh my. This one nearly has me weeping. Ayi KK, also known as Karen -- dear, dear buddy, co-teacher, mother extraordinaire -- made Emily some uniforms to wear to school. Little did I know that clothing along this line is "seasonal" and starting school in December is NOT in season. Yeah. There are uniform stores, but Karen...being the wonderful friend she is...handmade and personalized Em's uniforms. She even put ladybug buttons where needed.

Here's the clincher: The dress Emily has on in this photo was made from leftover fabric that Karen's mother used to make Karen's dress when little Karen was in the 3rd grade. Now, I'm not for giving out people's ages but Karen has a b'day next week, and she was born in the 1950's decade. Do the math. That fabric is vintage, and the love and kindness stitched into this uniform is beyond touching.

I have cried often with & to "Karo" (as I call her") because she has been in this classroom with me through the up's and down's of the entire adoption process. She's lived every small referral batch, updated homestudy, paper lost in the postal system, deadline, trip to immigration office to 'fix' communication problems, dime spent -- you name it. She's been there right beside me encouraging me on.

What is the line at the end of It's a Wonderful Life? (Clarence the Angel): "Remember George, No man is a failure who has friends."

With the folks/friends/family Emily has in her life, she's a winner waiting to happen.

Sleeping Beauty - In Her OWN Bed Now. As She Says, "I no scary." ("I'm not scared.")

"Frosty the 10 Inch Snowman, Was a Jolly Happy Soul..."

"with 2 raisin eyes

and a carrot nose

ain't he cute here

in his pose?"
Yep. We got out of school early yesterday here in the no-snow Bible belt because got it. Snow. Well, really it was sleet that called off the regular educational routine around here. All the way home from school Emily talked about a snowman. Actually, I believe she was calling the icy wonder -- sprinkled on the ground -- "snowman". So, as usual...all the way home in the car I explained the difference between snow and snowman, used the terms in simple, correct sentences, emphasized color and temperature....PHEW! THIS is why I'm worn slap out at the end of a day. LOL. Of course, this is what parents do with younger children. Teach. Emily is just going through those stages right now and doing well - I might add. Conversations in the car are considered learning experiences. I keep it easy. Repeat tons. Throw in a number, color, or size word along the way (' one tall green tree'), and badda bing, badda boom. There you have it.
Emily's been in school less than 2 weeks and already experienced the FUN of having it called off. Yee ha.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sun-Gu-Lasses, Leaves Falling, and "Thank You Sooooooo Much"

Yeah. Emily tends to -- no surprise here -- translate some words in a funny sorta way. She says she needs her "sun-gu-lasses". Dora the Explorer Target specials. She has two pairs b/c she lost one and have mercy....they had to be replaced. In the meantime, she found the other pair she'd misplaced. Now, one of the coveted cornea coverings has gone missing once again. She says, "I dunno-way." (Chinglish for: I don't know where they are.) Using my best parent/teacher response of having HER be responsible for them, I look at her puzzled, shrug my shoulders and sympathetically say, "Hmmm. I don't know where YOU put them last." Seventy-five thousand "I dunno-ways" later, I am still not giving in to buy her a 3rd pair. I think Chinese water torture doesn't hold a candle to little girl phrases being repeated um-teenth times in a day.

And if being that's not enough, I really cracked up a few weeks back when I hung up the cell phone. (I use an ear piece.) A few seconds later from the back seat of the car I heard a syrupy, satirical "Thank you sooooo much. Thank you sooooo much." Yes. I was being mocked by my own child. Imagine that. Obviously I am unaware of the fact that this is a phrase I use quite often. I do say it --now that I think about it. Sister Girl had zeroed in on it and made a little joke of it all. Mockery at its best. I'll get her back with her "I dunno-way." NOT really.

When I last was weedeating in the yard, I was using a real power tool. This thing even has a name it's so "man oriented". I doubt many females own one like this -- but I want the yard done quickly and easily. Anyhoo, it's diesel driven, heavy, long, and quite effective. Makes bunches of noise. Emily, of course for safety reasons, had to stay inside while I used it. Needless to say, she'd never seen Mommy do something like this and watched me like a hawk from the window. I made it a point to hold that lawn weapon up in the air, lay a hard finger on the gas lever, and emit lots of noise along with the allusion of power. I looked like Zena: Universe Warrior and Goddess. I thought to myself as Emily stared dazingly from the window, "This image needs to be burned into her mind. It'll teach her to mess with ME when she's 16!!"

Ayi Cookie gave her the cutest (but humorously annoying) chihuahua stuffed toy: sombrero and all. Naturally it plays La Bamba when you press a button on its doggie toes. I told Emily if she pushed that button one more time when I was on the phone with a doctor, nurse, or professor...I was gonna snatch that stuffed canine critter baldheaded. It's now banished to the corner of her bedroom. He can come out for salsa 2 times a day. Case closed.

As we were riding down the road the other day Emily gasped and said, "Ahhhhhh. Leaves falling." She's appreciated the beautiful fall we've had. I believe it's my favorite season, but I realize you have to grasp it and hold it tightly in your heart and mind. It's a fleeting season down home in the south. It's here and gone at the first good rainfall that forces the beautiful leaves to the ground. It's been glorious: pumpkins, hay rides, fall flower shows, outside time with friends, brisk mornings, festivals, and all the memories will now cause me to remember these times as life changing. I savor the moments with friends and family who've helped me make this transition in my life and aided Miss Emily in hers. It's been a time to remember. I pray Em's experiences of late will forever be branded on her heart -- knowing that she is loved and part of this beautiful world here in a place called 'home'.

Monday, November 10, 2008

"You Would Cry, too, If It Happened to YOU!"

Anyone remember that oldies song by some girl group? I think it might've been a tad before my time, but I do know that line.

Well, if the shoe would cry, too. Emily had 5 (I shiver as I type that number)...I repeat...5 shots today. She's having to get up to snuff on those so she can attend school, and boy...CATCH UP is no fun, is it? (TB test and Heps included in there. Ick.) She loves the pediatrician. I guess so. It's his nurse who gives the shots but man...she is GREAT. Whips those bad boys out so fast and gets it over with in a hurry. That's what I like. Chop. Chop. Let's get outta here. Headed to an ENT visit in 2 days b/c the darn ear infections that she's had since the day I met her are still lingering. Oh the joy.

As Emily was crying on the way out of the doctor's office, I asked her if she wanted to go home, to McDonald's, to Jamaica for a beach visit (not)...and she stopped crying and said, "Nanny Carol's". We followed NC's car into her driveway just as she was returning home. Phew. NC treated Em to hot tea (She likes that -- I'll take her to see the Queen one day.) and a dollar bill. That pretty much did the trick.

We went to school today for a visit -- before doc visit. I'm beginning to break her in to the concept of "life as she knows it will soon cease to be". Not really. Way back when school was mentioned, she'd wave her hand back and forth as if to say, "Nah. No school for me." Now we are all reinforcing the F word: fun. School is fun. Repeat that after me, "School is fun." She's met a few teachers at her school (me for, and when she saw them today, she recognized them immediately. Once she sees someone, I tell ya, she remembers them whenever she sees them again -- at other places, in other surroundings. Good girl. I look in the mirror sometimes, smile and snort, then realize it's ME I'm looking at. (I do not always adhere to the grammar rule of not ending a sentence in a preposition. I know the rule, but it's my choice if choose to abide by it. So there.)

Gotta cut this short. The Toothless Wonder wants to go to McDonalds and play in the kid's area. Today, her wish is my command. Oops. She just turned out the lights....

Can't see keyboard....bye..........

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

When the last tooth fell out she asked, "Trasha?" (trash?) I said, "No. Treasure."

Kourtney the Wonder Girl Fixed the Camera/Computer Issue.

Yep. If anyone can, Kourtney can. That's my new motto. Thanks for the trips over, burning your gas, using your time, & allowing Emily to tickle you. You are super!!

Emily Put Chinese Squeaky Shoes on Sweet Curious George.

Latest News on the Divine Miss Em While I Wait on Camera/Computer to Cooperate.

I've heard a statement that consistency is the key to success. If that's the case, I'm a blog failure.

This is just an update on medical info regarding the little Button Pushing Wonder, Emily. Nothing spectacular so if you're yawning, you'd best come back another time. Kidding.

I KNOW folks wonder what Emily and mom do all day since I'm on Family Leave from teaching school. I sorta wonder myself. In the past, I'd go to Walmart on a Monday if schools were closed and stood in utter amazement thinking, "WHO are these people here, and why are THEY not at work?" (None of my business. They probably work weekends and have off on Monday. So there!")

Emily has been seen by the local pediatrician. He confirmed her ear infection is still intact. Time for another round of antibiotics, and these taste dreadful. I had the prescription flavored w/bubble gum and even went back to the pharmacy to get ANOTHER 'umph' of the Double Bubble Wonder. Still icky if you ask me. Em drinks some chocolate milk. Then, I use a syringe to place the medical magic way back in her mouth. She's good about swallowing and chasing it down w/some more brown moo juice. What a champ she is about this. Totally 'gets' that it's necessary to make her ear get better.

We saw the local pediatric ophthalmic surgeon on Friday. Her eyesight is fine - no overall damage due to the ptosis (drooping eyelids). After the fall-dee-rah there, the final word is that she will need to be worked on by -- not him -- but another doctor who is an ophthalmic AND plastic surgery specialist. THAT expert could not even see me until I go back to work, but we managed to get in a late November appointment. Word is that it'll take insurance 4-6 weeks to approve the surgery, but I would SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO love to have the surgery before the end of the year. I'd even do it over the Christmas break.

We go back to local pediatrician next Monday to re-check the ear & begin the vaccinations that did not "take" in China. Seems that's most of them, but a few were okay from the motherland. LOL! Once vaccines get started, we'll officially register for school.

The Social Worker is coming next Tuesday for the 1st post-placement visit. She's cool -- doesn't even mind the dust. Nanny Carol says, "If you write your name on the dusty furniture, at least don't date it." I'm actually looking forward to sitting down with the SW 'after the fact' and catch up on chatting.

Some of the items on our agenda recently have been:
--bathing the puppy dogs (and explaining to her that this kind of "fun" -- yeah right -- does not have to be repeated every day)
--having a b'day party for Winston, Ayi Cookie's husband
--going to small town America to visit w/friends and WALKING into town to have lunch
--watching the beautiful colors emerge through the trees
--swinging in the park and playing in the sand
--singing "Low, Low, Low your boat gently down the stream....." (Em ain't got quite the hang of the "R" sound yet. Do they have the "R" sound in China?")
--going to Chinese Cultural School one Saturday a month
--managing walking our blind dog and somewhat hyper other pup up and down the street w/out Emily getting tangled up in the leash (a daring feat all by itself)

It's a beautiful time of year. I'm so glad to have t-h-i-s time off to be with Emily as we continue to get to know each other. She is a sweet girl. I cannot wait to see the plan God has for HER life.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Christmas Shopping:
Wouldn't it be wonderful to find one gift that you didn't have to dust, that had to be used right away, that was practical, fit everyone, was personal and would be remembered for a long time? I penciled in "Gift certificate for a flu shot."
-- Erma Bombeck

No. It Wasn't Raining -- But She Likes Having Her Umbrella Just in Case. (Yes. It DID Rain Soon After...). Weather Channel Here She Comes.

Nope. Camera/Computer Still Not Cooperating...BUT...I Finagled Around and Found a Way to Post Some Pics. Check Out One of Emily's "do's".

If It Doesn't Work the Right Way, Then I Usually Find 67 Other Ways to FORCE It to Work MY Way. LOL!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Changin' Stuff Up a Bit....But Not Sure HOW!!!???

I've got lots of cutie pie pics to post, but oh my gosh....IF you think I'm the techno wonder of the world, you're sooooo not right.

Gotta have someone come over and spoon-feed directions to me so I can get the pics from the camera to the blog.

It should NOT be that difficult -- now should it?

Well, 45 minutes later...I best run. Little Miss "Gee I lost another tooth" girl is ready to go home and "sleepy la" as she says.

Back soon and hopefully much smarter.
Yeah. Right.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

How Do You Explain....??

to a new American citizen, age 7.5, from China:

-- that we don't need to check the mailbox on Sundays?

-- that the cookies on the box of Parkay margarine are not actually IN the box of margarine?

-- that the doctor who wants 3 smelly, stool samples really is interested in what can be "found out" after examining them

-- that Glade Plug Ins go into the wall outlet and make the room smell nice?

-- that ice will melt if left out of the freezer?

-- that it's basically okay for the 2 puppy dogs to ride in the car to go walking with us but not the Killy Cat?

-- the airplane in the sky that looks small really is big closer up?

-- that although policemen carry guns they're (theoretically/mostly) on our side?

-- that MaMa is a teacher but is also a student?

-- that a squished raisin on the carpet is no reason to call the pest control man to come spray?

-- that MaMa has a brother named Skipper and a dog named Skipper (He was already named at the no-kill shelter where I got him. B/c he's blind, I didn't feel I should change his name -- too dependent on sense of similar sounds...)

It's amazing how many of life's little conceptual hang up's have caused me to stop and go, "Uh...let's see how I can put this...".

Then again, I met Ayi Marlene, Martha (bless her heart -- married to Ronnie a.k.a. "Spawn of 666"), and her darling daughter Catherine (HOW'D SHE ever turn out so lovely w/a daddy like hers I'll never know. FYI: It's a joking love/hate relationship that Ronnie and I have had going on for years. I love to torment him. He hates it. Need I say more?) Back to meeting the 3 girlfriends: We were to hook up at Chik-Fil-A. Why not try ANOTHER brand of chicken for Miss Emily? So, I sit waiting and waiting for them. Thank goodness for cell phones.
They called me and said, "Where are you?"
I said, "Chik-Fil-A".
They said, "Well, we're in Chik-Fil-A and you're not here."
I looked around for a moment and commented, "That would be b/c I'm physically sitting in Backyard Burger...but mentally, I'm there w/ya. See ya'll in a minute."

How do you explain THAT to anyone?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Two Decapitations, Rubber Gorillas, and Our Mantra

The sound of breaking glass/objects just sorta makes you stop and go, "Whaaaaat tha heck.....?" A few weeks ago I found a decorative ornament -- an angel holding a little puppy dog -- in more pieces than originally designed by the artist. Bless that angel's heart. Top half of body just broken in two and set back on the desk. Probably by the same little hands that accidentally knocked it off that desk in the first place. I just chunked it in the "trasha" as Emily says. Well, yesterday while 'fixin' my hair, I heard the faint sound of something breaking followed by, "MA MA....MA MA....". Another one bites the dust. It was a snowman ornament in a drawer that had hit the floor. He lost his head, too. Our repeated saying/mantra here at our house is, "It's okay!" It helps reinforce that all is well, and every object can be replaced. Emily's not really a breaker of many things. She's just curious and wants to check out stuff. I think it's wonderful!

Then off to children's choir & to eat at Nanny Carol's church. Emily had her tray of food (I thought she was bad). She didn't take but a few steps and then, you got it. The plate landed upside down on the floor in the dining room. First words out of my mouth and hers - yep. "It's okay!" Ayi Marlene went and got her another plate of food really fast while I scooped up food products off the floor. I didn't take the time to go and wash hands again b/c it was all too far away. So as I began eating I told Marlene, "My hands are clean..................enough."

Every animal and baby in our house gets put in a basket w/a blanket on it, a bottle in its mouth, or it is huggin' another of its own kind. I have 2 little rubber gorillas (strange, I agree) and Emily is always having them kiss each other or something of the sort. She put Curious George in Chinese baby squeaky shoes and put him in the living room window to keep an eye out on the neighborhood. A darling brown bear was placed in a container on the fireplace stoop, and there are 2 baby dolls sitting in strollers in the living room. Bottles awaiting a feeding. Looks like the Indy 500. I want to shout, "Gentlebabies, start your engines!!"

And she is a choppin' fool. Loves to chop fruit and veggies using a plastic knife. She does a great job at it all, too. I did try her out on some Vienna sausages the other day to see if she'd eat the white trash canned product. Have mercy. She took them, sliced and diced them, and then proceeded to smash then all into a paste of some sort. It was as though she was kneading bread...pulverizing the little links. Needless to say, that became doggie treats over the week.

If you come to my house to eat (and please do), I strongly suggest you take a napkin from the middle of the pile. Seems Miss Em has been wonderful at setting the table but, oops, dropped the pile a few times. I think the ones on the end may have had more contact with the not-so-clean kitchen floor. (Think: doggies, killy cat, and human feet tramping in gunk). So, the inside ones are your best best. There are always paper towels on the counter.

Gotta go. Headin' out for the day with Nanny Carol and Ayi Cookie. Rain won't ruin our plans around here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

"The Posse" at the Pumpking Patch - Okay. We'll Wear Orange or White Shirts Next Year.

Emily and Anna Checking Out Rocks at the Pumpkin Patch Last Saturday

Emily and Anna at Anna's B'day Party

A Ponytail the Size of 15 Toothpicks and a Memory As Long as a Pennsylvania Turnpike

Emily is stylin' these days. Made it clear by pointing on her body that she wants to grow her hair about shoulder length but prefers some clipping of her bangs. I threatened her within about 3 chicken nuggets of her life that she'd best not be taking any scissors and snippin' herself happy. I told her that "somebody" else would do that for her. Now she talks about "somebody" and her hair -- while making the scissor motions with 2 fingers. She does, however, sport a little ponytail -- well, actually 3. She does them all up in the back & is really quite cute. They're not longer than an inch worm and look like little black toothpicks sticking out. Seems to fit her personality - opinionated, "in the know", and sensible.

And -- she forgets NOTHING. She knows where I put the small little green plastic spoon from the Tupperware container that had salsa in it -- 6.5 days ago. It amazes me in a great way. Also could be part of her character that kept her grieving for so long -- strong memories of her life in a Meizhou orphanage with nannies who seemed to really care for her, other children with whom she was in constant contact. Playmates. Familiar smells, sights. I asked her today in my syrupy, southern teacher way (as a plane flew over), "Have yew ever been on a plane?" I totally expected her to make the gesture of a plane's wings as we always do and shake her head yes. She didn't answer right away and then said, "Three". I was sweeping the patio (miracle in itself) and nearly the dropped the broom that I use once or twice a year. She was correct. It took her 3 planes to get from China to the US. (She then said, "Four"...but I'm going with answer number one.)

Everyone on my street had the great fortune of our electricity going out the other night. Seems a bus driver for a local ball team took a liking to the electrical pole/transformer in a parking lot. It was a marriage made in heaven - wham! You'd think we buy our driver's licenses on ebay. No test taking for us. So we made an exciting time of it all...taking out the big flashlight and doing what ANY southerner does as this occasion frequently arises. We raided the refrigerator. No calories count in the dark! Then, we headed to the street to join other silly folks with flashlights, checked on the widow women on the road, rounded up Nanny Carol, and had a grand time. Neighbors would shine their lights on Emily - as she did with them - and everybody would shout out, "I see you." All 857 times of that were delightful with giggles.

One of the male neighbors was talking about how Emily had Nanny Carol's little flashlight (the baby), how I had a larger flashlight (the mama), and someone else had a really big flashlight (the daddy). I snickered & jokingly told him, "We don't necessarily talk about 'daddies' in our house." He quickly changed his phrasing to "Big Mama" flashlight. Good save. I laughed.

At times while driving/riding along in life, Miss Em sits in her booster seat in the back of the car and chats on a Little Mermaid play cell phone. Imagination at its finest. Usually it's with her legs crossed or one propped up on the seat with a slight tilt of her head...mouth jabbering quietly. When I look in the rear view mirror and spot her, she just smiles really BIG. Yes. I wonder w-h-o she's chatting with and w-h-a-t she's saying. If she ever calls YOU, please don't reverse the charges. I've gotta buy a buy a bigger flashlight. LOL!

Ayi (Chinese for Auntie) Cookie has given us about 10 vintage aprons, and you better believe 2 of them are for little girls. As Emily says, "Sooooo cute!" While we work around in the kitchen chopping, cooking, and yes...mopping up spills from the 4th of July weekend 3 months ago, uh hum...Emily insists we put on our aprons. It's a look of revelation: "Oh my. We're accomplishing in the kitchen. We must don our aprons -- quickly." Erma Bombeck wrote that at one time in life all you had to do to be a mother was put on an apron. If that's the case, I've got a tag team of June Cleaver and Harriet Nelson going on at my house. If you don't know who those people are, you are under 40 years of age. Grow up. Kidding.

Being a school teacher, I assumed I'd have self-educated Emily up to Quadratic Equations & the Preamble to the Constitution by now. Darn. No go. We're still working on A, B, C's and 1, 2, 3's and putting "s" sounds at the end of some words. Honestly, she's doing very well; however, when she starts counting sometimes she sounds like Lawrence Welk rounding up the band for a Saturday night gig. It sounds a bit like, "A won, a two, a tree." Then I began to wonder if she was in any way Italian. I'm pretty sure I went to China to meet her because I don't remember the Leaning Tower of Pizza. I remember Papa John's Pizza. Ate it a won, a two, a tree, a four, a five....times. Bleck.

I had a family friend - who is from China - come over one night last week to talk with Emily. She'd had a meltown that day (Terrible Two's-Day of Last Week). It was out of the blue and seemed to last about 2 hours from start to stop. I'll spare you the details (and it's now been over a week since she's had any little grieving type episodes) but will say that I felt at that juncture SOMEONE needed to communicate effectively with Emily to hear what was going on to possibly cause it to happen. The friend, Angela, came over THAT evening and chit chatted, let Emily show her around the house, introduced her to the critters...and then she very keenly and wisely inched into asking a few gentle questions about the episode.

Emily did shyly answer some questions with nods of her head, BUT the real benefit of Angela's intervention was I was able to tell Angela to TELL EMILY that:
1. mama was sad to see her cry like that
2. mama wanted her to feel safe and happy
3. we all loved having her with us
yadda, yadda.
When Angela would tell her something, Emily would look over at me to see that I was understanding the whole conversation -- knowing that she understood it all, too. I believe she gained great assurances that night. It was the perfect time in this adjustment process to have access to a friend who could help out in this way. Priceless.

I'll quit with my International Adoption psychology 101 info. It's all a journey, and yes. It gets better & better every week.

Happy Fall, Ya'll!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Emily and Anna Whoopin' It Up on the Slide

Prints Like the One Below...Donna Might Paint Them and Sell Them.

Don't you just love the beautiful painting below? My friend, Donna, gave this to me at one of my little Emily celebration parties before I left for China. Is she talented or WHAT?

Not sure what price she'd charge -- maybe from 60.00 ish to 70.00ish. I'd have to ask her for SURE. I told her she should do this.

If so, she'd only do the backs of the critters and daughters. I'll put her email on here if anyone is interested in contacting her. I think she'd paint the pic and put it in a round, tube cardboard mailer to send to folks. Buyer pays postage.
Here's here email:

Never know who'd like to have one of these jewels!!! Oh by the way, the flowers, etc. in the picture are the very decorations painted on Emily's bedroom walls....SO if Donna had info like that, it'd really personalize your painting.

THANKS to my good buddy, Donna, for my treasured painting.

Look at the Painting My Friend Did for Me -- Emily, Peanut, Skipper, and Killy Cat.

Miss Em at a Local Festival -- 2nd Go Round on the Horse -- And YES...that's a barrette in hair.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Guess Owning a Dog for 14 Years Doesn't Exactly Qualify Me As an Experienced Mom...

Does it? Something tells me I already know the answer to that question. If so, I'm sure within a reasonable amount of time Emily would be sitting/staying on command and be a 10 out of 10 at retrieving tennis balls in the yard.

Not how it all works, huh?

Our little trooper still wants the week-old ant bites on her foot sprayed. She walks around merrily, but when it starts itching, she takes her socks and shoes off and limps toward the bathroom like Frankenstein draggin' a bum leg. Time for a spritz of anti-itch spray. She doesn't over dramatize most things. I say most things.

She's headed out the door with Nanny Carol as I type. That's WHY I'm able to type. NC's taking her for a ride to the bank and dollar store. Of course, she wants her sunglasses that are up the street at my house. Nanny says skip that. Emily thinks otherwise. I'm takin' bets on IF Emily returns with NC with/without the sunglasses. Whose estrogen directed ways will win out in this situation? Stay tuned.

Saturday we went to a local festival for the morning. Boy I've learned you go at 10:00 and leave by 12:30 when it starts warming up. Perfect weather, shade, great company. Miss Emily had some firsts:
-- Rode a pony -- two times. The first time she got on she was hesitant and even whined to get off. I assured her I'd walk with the posse along the short trek. She was quite proud of herself. Later in the morning, she straddled that saddle again and rode like a big girl. Roy Rogers couldn't have been any prouder.
-- Slid repeatedly down an inflatable slide while holding hands with her friend Anna. For 25 cents a thrill, we could've stayed there all day. The huge grins on the girls' faces were priceless. The squeals were just icing on the cake.
-- Ate cotton candy. Yep. She discovered the delectable, pink mystery. Too funny to watch her as she buried her face in the concoction only to have it dissolve in her mouth.
Honestly, life seems to be coming into a 'new normal' for Emily and me. I was talking with Super Mom, Betsy, yesterday. She kindly invited us over to play and chat. She adopted her little girl at age 6ish/6.5 ish so her situation is a lot like mine w/an older child. Our experiences thus far are mostly different -- b/c the girls are different beings, though...but we know that generalities day-to-day and down the road will likely be the same. It's a great source of comfort knowing someone can relate. Her number is on speed dial in my cell phone.
Well, after looking at the veins on my leg while bathing the other day I concluded I'll never need a GPS device in my car. I do believe I have road maps to Dallas, Kansas City, and Seattle etched in little blue and purple designs about my shins and inner thighs. Holler if you set out on a road trip. I probably can find your destination mapped out and hidden behind my knee.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Double Fistin' Comfort Food and What Watermelon Can Do for YOU!

I'm not the one holding a yeast roll in one hand and an okra fritter in the other. It's our little Miss 39 pound wonder. Hopefully soon to be 40 pounds. I'd be happy to loan her some of my el-bee-esses (lbs.).

Nanny Carol, Emily, & I ("mah mah") took a lovely autumn drive down to a somewhat southern town in our state. Lovely. We hooked up with Cookie (good buddy) and headed to eat at a small town restaurant located in a refurbished antebellum home. Yep. We still do that around here. Southern Living recipes at their best on the tables. We ate on the wrap around outside porch-- breeze blowing softly, great company, and good ole down home cookin'...chicken and dumplings, okra fritters (No. I've never heard of them til that day. OMG. Yummy.), sweet potato casserole, yeast rolls, and iced tea with lemon -- of course.

We were all shocked at how much Miss Em enjoyed the food. She didn't groove on the chicken and dumplings, though. Finally pulled out a few pieces of meat but mainly gave up the ghost on that dish.

As she's eating healthy foods -- watermelon, smothered cabbage, green beans -- we make hand gestures and say: "This makes you strong (power fisted arms), soooooo cute (swirling hand in front of face), and smart (index finger to the temple of the ole noggin')." She's really into saying "sooooo cute" b/c every time she puts on an outfit or puts those lovely little barrettes in her hair (Yep. I won -- for now.) I automatically spit out, "Oh. That's sooooo cute." And it is.

She's thrilled with her bicycle from Cille and Steve -- helmet, knee pads, and all! She rides down to Nanny Carol's house with my hand on the handlebars b/c it's downhill. I have to help push it back home. Too exciting for this 7 year old. She's discovering all the newness of life.

We stopped and talked to Mr. Wendall who was waiting for his ride to dialysis. He commented she seemed like a bird that'd been set free from a cage. Observation of wisdom coming from someone who has experienced the same open door in life.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Few New Pics....

Sunday, September 21, 2008

"Too Big. Peanut. Killy Cat. No Sank You. & Chicken"

Yep. The ole vocabulary is really moving along this week. The whole "killy cat" thing cracks me up. She adores the cat, King Puddin'. He's been a great 'ice breaker' along the way this week. Emily relishes taking my hand, getting all excited to go and seek out the cat. She sometimes wants me to MAKE him get on the bed, but I've tried to explain to her the definition of a cat is you don't MAKE them do ANYthing. They're cats. Cased closed.

We got up and went to church this morning. Hallelujah in more ways than one. I didn't feel like Hulk Hogan had wacked me upside my head and done a smackdown on me as I did earlier this week. I was in such denial/ignorance that I was really even going to experience jet lag to any great degree. But then again, I still think I can eat X number of calories a day and still lose weight. My opinions are not always reputable. The scales are. Ick.

Off to church. Emily picked out a cute little red 'skorts' outfit (skirt over shorts) she wore in China with the same pink orphanage crocs she had on when I met her. They have 2 little Mickey Mouse heads on them -- but Emily has twisted the ears off of each head. Poor Mickey. I love to ask her where MM's ears are. She just grins, contorts her face and makes a twisting gesture with her hands.

Unfortunately she chose a fluorescent orange, shaggy pimp purse to accessorize the already not so matching outfit. The theme song to "Shaft" began ringing in my head and I started mumbling, "He's a bad mutha." Anyone remember that song?

My church is very laid back. Good thing, and miracles DO happen. When exiting the car Emily decided she didn't care to take the purse inside (prayers answered). She opted for the Little Mermaid cell phone instead and understood it had to stay in Ma Ma's purse -- on silent. Kidding. It's only play. She enjoyed singing, clapping her hands, and being in Children's Church. The workers said she did great. Phew.

Off to take a nap. Trying to stay on a schedule and get some normalcy here in the sleep/rest department. Hoping to get pictures updated soon. You'll never believe this, but I don't have a digital camera. I will get one this week. Time to get with the new millennium, huh?

I'm an Andy and Barney kinda girl.
Hugs, Vicki

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Emily Had a Delightful Time Playing with Mr. Wendall and His Prosthetic Leg

You read it right.

Our dear neighbor, Mr. Wendall (a.k.a in should've been gone but came back to life), has been such a source of encouragement to me during my adoption process. He's about 70ish or so, has a dear wife Jean, and he's been chompin' at the bits to meet the newest addition to the 'hood. Today was the day. In we went and found him sitting up on his recently rented hospital bed...all one and 1/4 legs waiting to greet her.

Amputation was necessary last year due to diabetes complications. When Mr. Wendall was fresh out of the hospital, my dog and I were visiting with him. Mr. Wendall in his honest humor said, "I only got one leg for yer dog to jump up on now, but I still have 2 hands to love him with." Couldn't express it any better myself.

Back to today's visit: Needless to say Emily noticed the incomplete appendage that was now directly within her line of view. Of course she stared. Wouldn't any child? Does Mr. Wendall care. Heck no. Then he pointed out the prosthetic limb in the corner of the room. Ooooooooo. Of great interest. As the conversation moved along and Emily was warming up, she went over and touched his partial leg, tapped her fingers lightly on the "addition" in the corner and was completely happy.

Let me also say this, Emily is not a skeerdy cat when it comes to physical challenges present in others. There were/are children in her orphanage with severe special needs. She's seen wheelchairs and children with differences, and I suspect she even helped with some feeding of them....maybe picking up after them; however, she seems gratified by these types of actions. I don't get the sensation that she feels she MUST do these things. I told my mom, "She likes doing things that are significant." Then again, don't we all?

While we were in China, Emily made friends with a little girl with a bulging spinal chord (hump on her back -- needs surgery), and quite frankly after playing with her for a little while, she pulled the back part of the little girl's dress out to get a look. Then she went right back to playing. No big deal. Shouldn't we ALL be this accepting of differences with others. Hmmmmm. Could be a lesson in the making.

So it was hair washing at 10:45 last night. We ARE getting into more of a schedule, though. But Ooooooohhhhhhhh noooooooooooooo. Can't do the tub (in her opinion) because of the 'skint' knee from Monday. She makes facial gestures and sounds, while fanning her wound, that would lead you to believe if tub water touched it....she'd resemble Mr. Wendall by morning. Fine.

She stood at the sink on a Dora the Explorer stool, and we washed her hair. Last night the shampooed head statements (molding of her hair into funny looking positions) went from looking like a Cupie Doll to Alfalfa on Little Rascals to Last of the Mohicans. (Ah. Daniel Day Lewis was soooooo fabulous in that movie. As he shouts to the beautiful co-star when they are separated, "Stay alive at all costs. Do whatever it takes. I WILL find you." My heart soars...)

She's still sportin' her best orphanage haircut. Can't wait for it to grow out some and put a barrette in it. That might be heck to pay. She likes it combed straight down into her face, and I prefer it swept slightly to the side. I figure if I just let it keep growing out I'll win eventually. It'll have to go somewhere else. I hope.

Last night I finally got to walk my dogs. Nanny Carol was at the house (we live 5 houses apart....awwwww) doing Emily duty for a little while. THANK YOU, MOTHER. Actually, mom felt sorta sorry for me and told me to get out and do something. If you could've seen me, you'd a felt sorry for me, too. She was watching the Walker, Texas Ranger episode where he gets married and of course his plane is highjacked while he sets out on the ole honeymoon. Always a glitch on that show. She is a WTR fan and will watch it repeatedly. Gotta love the simple pleasures in life. (She ain't got cable. I do. HA!) Back to walking the dogs....I just walked up and down the street and prayed simple prayers for the Lord to give me His wisdom in knowing the in's and out's of what to do daily with this new little being in my life: my daughter. I look forward to the time where I can sit down one morning with Him, cup of strong, Community dark roast coffee in my hand, and Bible in my lap and just sit in His presence to absorb and reflect on all that has happened in the last several weeks. I believe/hope I'm on the right path, but boy. I sure am open to suggestions.

One last thing. As Emily was washing her hair she was wondering if I could plug in a little fan. I was making sounds and bodily motions of what happens when water and electricity come together. I made lots of "zzzzzttttt" sounds and writhed my body about with eyes rolling back in my head. I think she got it. I looked like a lightning bug on crack cocaine.

Signing off at the end of a great day - adjustments happening, attachments forming, and life being lived out in the here and now.
Love, Vicki and Emily

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I Look Like a Part Time Receptionist at a Women's Prison.

And that's leaning toward complimentary. No lie.

Yes my friends. We are home.

Oh my gosh, as my brother would say, "The wrack monster has been on my back." SLEEPY and mentally drained. It would've been nice had Emily's disrupted sleep schedule been in sync with mine, but not the case. We've gone from her waking up at 3:30 a.m. one night to her going to sleep at 3:30 a.m. this morning. It's all my fault. I know about being outside, getting sunlight, staying away from naps -- all to get back on schedule, BUT...I was too sleepy to do anything about it. Oh well. My Scarlett O'Hara runs deep: Tomorrow is another day.

We had a super duper reception last Thursday night at the airport. Too fun. Nanny Carol (a.k.a. Miss Clairol) and friends were there to greet, give, hug, and supply well wishes and American flags. Home to chat, eat, look around the 'casa'. You ask, "What was Emily's reaction to her room?" Pretty quiet, somewhat amazed, but by this time REALITY has truly sunk in with her -- plus she's crossed back into an earlier time zone, has lost sleep, been confined on those dawg gone tiny seats (I'm sure they're size 6 in lady's clothing!) on the airplane, and....was snatched out of bed at 4:30 that morning/yesterday morning/some morning....whenever. (Ask me about her meltdown 4 hours into first flight when landing in Tokyo. The entire plane felt our agony.) Again, this is a 7 y/o. ALL is new, strange, different...and NONE of her past is now her present. I cannot even imagine it. She did lose a tooth on the plane. Go figure. I tucked it nicely in a snack sized Ziploc bag & secured it in a zippered pouch in my purse. Considering I was lugging around 157 lbs. of baggage, a small child, and my own self...needless to say I cannot find the darn tooth. Guess I lost it somewhere over the Sea of Japan. Oh well. She's got a mouth full on stand-by for losing.

BUT...she's done fine at the house: bathing, brushing teeth, looking at her clothes in the closet, re-arranging her belongings the way she likes them (ex. little coin purse, in a bigger purse, stuffed into a drawer...and she knows EXACTLY where she put everything). She's enthralled with the "meow", and I think he kinda likes her, too. As for the puppy dogs, not so much. That'll take time. I never said a word to her about Skipper not having eyeballs (his bangs sorta cover up his eye sockets). Well, she squinted her eyes really tight and held out her arms in front of her and walked around "feeling" for things. This was her way of telling me, "Hey. That dog doesn't have eyes." Like I didn't know. Smart cookie.

A bunch of single moms who've adopted from China met the next night at Backyard Burger. This was for us to chat and let the girls to play. Very needed -- for me and for Emily. It was a Godsend to sit with them and glean from their experiences, feelings, apprehensions, opinions, advice, etc. Emily was guarded at first with her new buddies, but she opened up, went on into the play area and began calling some shots. Much hand holding and huggin' with all the little girls.

The next morning -- YES, I woke up for this event -- we went to Chinese Cultural School with some Chinese teachers (reinforces Chinese culture, language, history). This is 'put on' one Saturday a month by families here in the area who've adopted kiddos from China. Since most of these girls and boys were adopted at younger ages & have mostly lost their Chinese language, I can say fairly honestly...that when the instructors spoke Chinese and gave commands (teaching the children language skills), Emily was first to do it. LOL! Heck, she'd just left Guangdong Province less than 48 hours earlier. She's a pro at that talking thing. I guess this doesn't warrant putting a bumper sticker on the car that reads, "My child speaks better Mandarin than your child." Tacky.

Side note: Emily spoke Hakka (Mandarin dialect at her orphanage), but I found out later she spoke Mandarin in her kindergarten class away from the orphanage.

Bless Christy's heart. She sorta had to make an uneventful exit from our lives on Sunday to catch a plane to go home (so as not to make it traumatic for Emily). I know it was hard for her to leave Miss Em. They'll always be big buddies. Emily has chatted w/her on the cell phone (interpret: yelling out at high decibels, "AYI. AYI." -- which is a Chinese term for Auntie.) How do I ever thank someone like Christy who gave up over 2 weeks of her life, pay, time way from kitty cat Sam to become consumed in my world of an international adoption? That'll be another story/tribute. Coming soon.

To sum up our arrival: Last night Emily was wearing her tiny pink ballet outfit w/satin tutu (bikini cut w/her Walmart panties sticking out underneath -- not so fashionable). She had a scepter with a silver star and ribbons dangling and was twirling about to some instrumental music on a not so user-friendly CD player. She was sporting a bloody, bandaged knee from falling while running in the park with 2 little girls. OUCH. Anyhoo, there she was....dancing, being creative, loving the attention, and relishing in having an audience of one. I thought: Don't all children deserve this opportunity? Her time has come.

Love to all, Vicki and Emily

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Seven Toothbrushes Later, It's Time to Leave.

As I've said before, 5 star hotel but no can drink the water. I've been bathroom faucet challenged at times when I've brushed my teeth here. I have a towel draped over the faucet as a visual reminder NOT to ingest the H20. Obviously people like me with serious hard-headedness issues tend to sprint past these types of self-imposed, "to my advantage" obstacles. I've sounded like a Britney Spears broken record: Ooops. I did it again.

Yep. Stuck my darn toothbrush under the faucet and actually turned it on...then stuck it in my mouth. Usually it's after housekeeping has come in and removed the towel, but how stupid am I? Every time this has happened I usually call out to Christy. I assume this is an internal response verbalizing, "IF I pass out in 10 minutes chucking up, just know it's the water." I'm my own worst enemy. I then start drinking/spitting out bottled water -- numerous times. Guzzle a bit of Scope. Figure the alcohol content will help sterilize. Finally, it's the ole clean wash rag stuffed in my mouth -- swabbing mightily -- that wraps up the process of ignorance. I do a good bit of spitting after that. And of course, THAT toothbrush goes in the trash. I collect a new one that is innocent of it's short term fate. Bound to happen all over again.

All that said and done, it's time to go home. Our guide explained to Emily in Mandarin about the plane flight, buckling of the seat belt, holding mommy's hand, etc. Emily listened intently and every now and then gave a short nod of the head signifying she understood. She helped me pack the suitcases, so I guess she sorta gets it. Then again, how can a 7 y/o Chinese girl totally understand what tomorrow will bring. Heck, I'm not even sure I do. I'm giving it my best go!

We did raise our right hands today at the American Consulate office -- nice secure place located 3 floors about the Cantonese restaurant. Friendly folks. The room was filled with families who have adopted and come to China for this "session". I've seen many of them out and about on Shamian Island, in the hotels, or in the shops. Most of us have chatted somewhere along the way. Each story is so very different. They were from all over the U.S. I did tear up at one point when it was over and I was hugging Sherry's neck -- another adoptive mom with my group. After that, I was back to normal. (That's a relative term.)

One last story from China. Last night Emily chose to wear her new 'stinky' pink shoes w/jeweled butterflies on the toes of each shoe. She had a grand time playing with other girls in our group, and when we headed back home I looked down and saw the butterfly from one shoe was gone. I assured Emily this was fine. (She looks to me to see what my reaction will be in situations like that. I ALWAYS let her know it's no biggie.) Christy even offered to go back and find it, but out of the blue I said, "No. I think one should stay here in China and the other one should come home with us. It seems symbolic of her life." Sounds corny, but it has a ring of reality to it.

"She's a butterfly. Pretty as a crimson sky. Nothin's ever gonna bring her down.
And everywhere she goes. Everybody knows. She's so glad to be alive.
She's a butterfly."

Every adoption stems from a loss. Emily's birthmother "loses" her. Emily loses her Chinese family forever. She has to fly away from her homeland leaving every aspect of what she has ever known for the past 7 years and re-root herself in a foreign country. It's very complicated emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. I know she'll be fine. Again, she's bigger on the inside than she is on the out. I'm so proud of her.

Toothbrush throwing and all.

Signing off from the People's Republic of China and headed stateside.
Love, Vicki, Emily, and Christy

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I Pledge Allegiance to Starbucks and to the Delightful Breaks for Which It Stands...

Well, the actual naturalization ceremony is this afternoon...but Starbucks was there to save the day ---------------- AGAIN. Yes. Read between those lines.

Sister had a major meltdown, but it was all because she didn't get her way. I don't think I could actually pin point what it was that got her goat, but the darling pink Snoopy toothbrush with Thomas the Train kiddie toothpaste on it went just a flyin'. She hit the floor kickin', whinin', and all those southern verbs that I keep taking the ending "g" off of. She dug in her heels (I almost typed hell for heels and figured THAT was a Freudian slip. Ha.) into the floor and wasn't gonna budge. I told her (with gestures) to go pick up her toothbrush, and she bucked and bronco-ed some more. Not gonna do it. So, I sat down on the floor next the toothbrush while she pitched a good ole hissy fit. She finally got up and went to her bed and started crying. Big time. I just sat by the toothbrush and every now and then interjected that she could come get it. Nope. I finally got up and started packing suitcases. After about 1 hour of this and missing breakfast, she got out of bed, picked up the toothbrush, washed it off and started over on her teeth. After a few motions about the room, she settled down and became very compliant. I had her say, "I'm sorry" (in her tiny, pipsqueakish voice) and pat my hand. She did and totally understod what was going on, what had gone on, and hopefully what WILL go on in the future. Then...she was ready to go. Let's eat.

We skipped the buffet in the hotel & opted for the short walk to McDonald's (Oh Lordy. Forigve. There's that or the 7-11 to choose from. What's a mom gonna do?). We got her a breakfast meal in a bag and then headed up to Starbucks AGAIN for a Carmel Machiatto Latte (sp?). Christy was ordering for us while I was on breakfast patrol with Emily, and Christy asked me, "What size latte do you want?" I replied, "One about the size of Nebraska. Sank You." I needed it.

Afterwards, we went outside and sat by a fountain to get fresh air. A male worker was actually IN the fountain cleaning it. He asked me in his best broken English, "She yours?" I said, "Yes -- all 110 centimeters, but don't light a fire under her. She's liable to blow." LOL!

Better run for now. I'll post again after the swearing in ceremony and as my last entry here from the People's Republic of China. I'm sure I'll wax reflective and write a bunch of sentimental statements. Be prepared.

It's a Communist Country, and You're a Visitor...That's Why!

Christy has been twice tapped on the shoulder to kindly stop her picture taking in some areas -- tonight by official security. The other morning, at the breakfast buffet? (I don't get that one. Maybe they thought us to be Food Nework spies seeking out their recipe for cuttlefish balls. Yum. Yum. Uh, not really.) This evening when it happened/when she got tapped and 'talked to' in Chinese, I jiggled in my shoes a bit and sang, "You've been busted. You've been busted." She asked me, "Why can't I take pictures?" Thus the title of this post.

We've been having tea parties on the bed. Emily delights greatly in making Christy and me sit down to partake of bottled water poured into a teensy teapot...cups, saucers. the whole 9 yards. Oh yeah, instead of scones we get Trident spearmint gum and stale pretzels. No more gum. Please. Speaking her home language Hakka, "How eeh!" That means "enough".

Emily readily clasps her hands to bless our food. I just say the words, "Father. Jesus. Amen." -- and she repeats each one after me. I figure that's good enough for now. I was going to teach her the words to the LSU fight song but figured the word Tiger didn't match up with the Trinity. First things first.

Tonight all the families here with our agency went out for Cantonese food. It was served family style so we could pick and choose. For the first time since meeting her, Emily ate rice. (A family who knew her at the orphanage came to visit me and told me that she's likely not been choosing it because she had it nearly every single meal at the orphanage. I mean, French Toast with butter and syrup or rice? Take your pick. No brainer for her.) The food was spicey, good, and plentiful. The Divine Miss Em ate heartily, and yes...she does like the Chinese hot tea. I was swiggin' Sprite.

When we arrived back at the hotel, there was a young lady playing a Chinese harp in the lobby. The sounds were mesmerizing, and Em went right over to her -- curious about the instrument and the music. The musician spoke with Emily, let her touch the harp, and then said, "I'll play a song for you." Well you KNOW I teared-up. I thought so deeply of how the sounds were obviously in sync with Emily's very heartbeat, touching chords of unity with her Chinese heritage. I prayed the ebb and flow of what she was experiencing that very minute would stay with her forever. It was a Hallmark moment. As we left Emily looked at the young lady and with my prompting said her best, "Sank you."

Oh. And get out of her way because she will continue walking forward to her destination whether you are standing there or not. She goes under folk's arms & through groups of people to get where she's going. I hope her propensity for this type of laser beam mobility doesn't carry over into her driving years. She's got a lot to learn about yielding to the right of way. Ugh. How many more years until a driver's permit? Answer: Not enough. Not "How eeh."

There's a family here with 4 adopted Chinese daughters. Precious bunch. When someone asked them if they're all their kiddos, the daddy replied, "Trust me. We are not running a Chinese babysitting service." When he had breakfast duty for all 4 the other morning, I told him to holler if he needed our help. He said, "Thanks. Keep your ears open for my holler. They start out slowly and then begin taking over." These are the kind of folks you wished lived next door to you.

I'm pathetic. EVERY single night about 10 minutes into her bath this half pint of a girl has to tell me to get her a wash rag. She makes hand gestures in motions about her face, and I go, "Oh yeah. Those come in handy -- don't they?" Christy offered food this evening at the Cantonese restaurant and I replied, "No thank you." She then said, "Not for YOU. For Emily." I sorta grimaced and said...."right!"

This afternoon silly girl got her blanket and crawled up on my bed. Hey. Progress. She eventually made her way up to my big frizzy head, put her head on my pillow, grinned like a Cheshire cat, and rubbed my face. That was a first. She seemed quite content. She never drifted off to sleep so we pulled out Blues Clues and re-visited Blue's birthday party episode for the _____th time. Fill in the blank. You're probably correct.

Tomorrow is our last day in China. It's Tuesday night, 10:25ish right now -- 13 hours earlier for most of ya'll. We go to our last gov't appointment at the American Consulate where Emily and the other children are sworn in as U.S. citizens...and when her plane touches down Thursday evening, 8:45 U.S. time, she'll officially be an American. I understand the ceremony has all the ambiance of a Department of Motor Vehicles office with the extreme emotions of "OMG. It's finally real." I understand folks get weepy. We shall see.

I best be headin' back to the room. There's a strong chance Christy will be visited by the Chinese militia and hauled off to who knows where -- a picture taking asylum or something. In the event that happens, I need to be available to laugh heartily. Then again, she's the only one between us that can convert US dollars to Chinese rmb. On second thought I better be prepared to defend her. Why does the song Kung Fu Fightin' keep going through my head? I better go. I sense she needs me.....

Signing off from the Business Center where all the workers know my name and room number by heart (and my Visa charge card # is being held captive at the front desk).
Workers: "Charge to room?"
Me: "Uh, yes....sank you."

Much love, Vicki, Emily, and Blacklisted Christy

P.S. Emily actually changed the channel when Christy was watching tennis: Federer and Murray. OOOOOoooooooooooo. No can do. I looked at Christy. Looked at Emily. Looked back at Christy. Looked back at Emily and promptly told her, "You're on your own for this one."

Monday, September 8, 2008

If a Picture is Worth a 1000 Words, then YOU are in Luck.

That's Chinese for: I'll not write a bunch and just let you SEE the view from here. It's a good one.

I'm sure Rina will have photos already set up in a slide show before I finish this post (and she's in Florida). You can click on the Picassa link way down below in the blog and they are there, too. Still pics...not moving at cha. Ha.

We took Christy to the zoo today. She's a zoo freak and I promised her I'd find one in Guangzhou. For 50rmb/Chinese bucks I got her there. Emily had a grand time in the amusement park at the zoo. I rode every ride with her: Merry-Go-Round, bumper car, and the macro-mini roller coaster. That sucker started out slowly, picked up speed, and zoomed quite abruptly around the curves. I screamed bloody murder. My passenger/buddy was quite content. When I got off that pint sized bullet, I laughingly told other parents around me, "THAT thing is NOT kid friendly!!"

The taxi drivers here love us because we just round off our fare, give them tips, and tell them to keep the change. We're too wacky to even want to figure out what the real payment should be. None of them have returned driving Mercedes Benz taxis, but they smack the stew out of each other to be the ones who get to drive these 2 silly American women around. Oh, tonight we walked across the street to get McDonalds for Miss Em (at least I get her corn not fries and tonight she had water to drink...but we are the Carb Queens here in China! Southbeach Diet -- here we come.) Back to finish the incomplete sentence above -- as we set out walking, Someone whom we all know and love (aka Roller Coaster Diva) decided we should wave down a taxi. Uh, hello. The Golden Arches are only across the 607 lanes of wacky traffic catty-corner to this hotel. We're walking. Heck, I'm not getting in that taxi, riding around the corner, and taking our lives into our own hands again today.

I'll tell ya few things Missy Girl is good at saying:
- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, K, 9 (don't know what the K is about)
- Select a Game, Select a Game, Select a Game (she loves pushing the same button over and over on her Barbie Game that "Ayi" Kim sent her)
- panties (puts on new at night after bath and more the next morning. If cleanliness is next to godliness, this kid's a saint!)
- Bye, bye
- Hello
- Meow
- Boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, girl (on McDonald's kiddie placemat....along with rainbow and heart)

Check out Christy's amazing photographs when you can. It's 10:00 and I know a little smiling girl who should've been in bed 2 hours ago. Well, maybe I'm running on Haiti Standard Time...I bet it's early there. Kidding.

Love to all, Vicki, Emily, and Christy (current reasons that Papa Johns Pizza stock has skyrocketed this past week)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Thank You All for Your Prayers!

I blabber on with daily writings about Emily and life in general here in China. I've told people, "I don't think MY life is so interesting that others would r-e-a-l-l-y want to read about it", but I know many of you want to 'get the know' Miss Em and hear about her transition. Thanks tons. Gosh. When we left home, there were about 2600 hits on this blog (visits: and yes...3/4 of them are me and my mother!! LOL!). I see it's over 5000 something or other. Incredible. I know Christy's family and friends can get an idea of what she's a part of, too.

It's amazing to have folks praying on the other side of the world for this little girl. Let me assure you, the Lord hears and we are feeling the effects of intercession. We appreciate you more than words can express.

Ummm - Tell Me Again, What's The Name of the City Where I Was Born?

You got it. I was filling out the mere gazillion pages of legal/U.S. paperwork tonight with my agency's guide, and when I got to the line that asked in what city/state/country I was born....the Lord is my witness: I had to look at my birth certificate. The other mom sitting w/me doing the same stuff couldn't spell her husband's birth city. We had MUSH for brains. We kept going, "Ooops. White out!"

I promise: More pictures...maybe on next post.

Today was another really good day; however (Don't you hate it when you read or hear something positive followed by the word "however"?) -- there was a grieving session for about one and a half hours with intermittent pauses (nice to have periods of quiet in between) and then -- all done. Emily was laughing, wanting to bathe and have fun in the tub, great, great time for the rest of the evening. Emily pulled out a little pink Chinese fan I bought her and started to do a fan dance. She'd seen the older ladies in the park doing this yesterday, and she was puttin' on a show. She'd clap for herself which signaled we were to clap for her. We were laughing, ooooh-ing and aaaaah-ing. Then she hands the fan to me, and off I go w/my best Broadway twisting, turning, & wiggling of the fan about my face and body. She was crackin' up. NEXT: Christy's turn. I'm about to wet my pants laughing now at the very thought of our national doubles tennis champion/company extraordinaire being this silly. She was OMG too funny. Emily and I were sitting on the bed together giggling in the worst way.

Emily's had lots of playmates today and yesterday. We've been to the playrooms at this hotel and another one where she could buddy up w/others. She's been hand holding w/some of the girls and often helps the younger ones with toys. Two little girls have been up to our room to play. A new family has joined up with us and they just adopted a 6 y/o little girl. Cannot wait for them to hook up tomorrow.

Two nights ago it was agreed upon by all in the room that it was time to go to sleep. The lights were dimmed (literally, we have a dimmer switch). Ahhh. Comfy. Christy and I were chatting when out of the darkness we heard a short, assertive rambling of Chinese jabber. I whispered to Christy, "I think we've just been told to be quiet and go to sleep."

Good advice!! Shhhhh....

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Super Duper Saturday & NASCAR "Ain't Got Nuthin' On Us"

Oh my gosh. The thrill of turning the corner sitting in the back seat of a taxi -- doing so while a HUGE bus is a mere 6 inches away from my window and closing in fast. And with my new child sitting by my side...oh yeah. Unbuckled of course. NO seat belts. Just makes ya wanna sing, "How Great Thou Art!" Vehicles everywhere, coming in any direction, at any time, inches apart, at all speeds. As one fellow parent told me, "The lines in the street are somewhat more like 'guidelines'" Reminded me of the Pirates Code (Parlay?) in Pirates of the Carribbean...or as Donna and Marlene call it: Carrots of the Pirrabbean. Nuts.

We had a great day today. Let me repeat that: We had a great day today. The beginning of it was sort of a blur -- but if I remember correctly maybe it was a 1 or 2 on a scale of 1 to 5. By the end of the day, all was a pretty steady 3+ to 4. Well, maybe not a 4. Don't you hate teachers who use rubrics to interpret reality. Sorry. I think, per Christy, that Emily even referred to me as MaMa as she was going to bed. That's a good thing.

We went to Shamian Island, shopped at Jordan's, and bought souvenir kinda stuff to bring home. We went to Lucy's Restaurant on the island to eat. Emily pointed at a Basil/Cheese Pasta that she wanted. I thought, "Right. Like you're gonna actually LIKE something that looks like wet grass and noodles?" The kind waitress talked her into normal spaghetti. No difference. She liked my vegetarian spring rolls better.

OH....Emily has a bonafide ear infection. Voila. Could be the source of some of her recent agitation. Ya THINK? Gunk was literally dripping from her ear. Went to the doctor and it took about 13ish Q-tips (long stick with cotton on 1 end only) to clean her out. She now has ear drops, and yep. I'm actually having to use the antibiotics I brought with me. Go figure. Phew. Glad I had them. Had to call home to the Walgreens to get full instructions of how much water to add to the powder mix, etc. Felt like a goober, but another mom of 4 here w/me didn't understand the measurements either. So there. Hmpf! Again, Dr. Emily did perfectly in the doctor's office. She ain't skeerd. She's got a healthy helping of bravery that I'm sure has been developed over her short little life time. I told Christy this evening, "She's bigger on the inside than she is on the out."

She went to bed in textbook style. It was great. When I had to wake her up to take her meds (b/c she fell asleep while I was calling Walgreens), she took her first part of the dosage fine. Then she started bucking and....not crying....but maybe whining/yelling out. I thought, "Ugh. This could start a cycle of the crying." It did not. I know why, too. She was merely uncomfortable taking the foul tasting med. She did what anyone's child would do: She showed displeasure for a liquid medicine. She was not in grieving mode. YEAH. Definite step in the right direction. Also, I think she realized that I was doing this for her good. She snapped right out of when I tucked her back under the covers, and all was well.

I'll sign off with my wordy self. We'll try to post pictures tomorrow. We have to go to someone's room and use their laptop for that part. It's 11:20 pm. I'll not bother my good buddies tonight.
Oh, our toilet was stopped up. These folks at this hotel don't like guests to be inconvenienced. I called. They fixed, and they left me a voice mail telling me that "because the toilet was 'corrupt' they were sending me a gift. (I thought. NO...all 3 of us might be sending YOU some gifts IF this toilet doesn't get un-corrupted soon. LOL!) Anyhoo, I came in tonight and lo and behold there was a beautiful bowl of fresh fruit sitting on the desk, a lovely cloth napkin, and a fork. I have no doubt that the fiber in that bowl will definitely add to the "gift giving' from our room. Gross. I know.

One last thing, if anyone can tell me the best way to explain to a 7 year old how come she CAN have the bottled orange juice in our fancy room/hotel-stocked refrigerator but NOT the cute, darling little bottles of Jack Daniels sitting along side it....I welcome your insight. I just pointed at the stuff and made a really, really nasty face and sorta fanned my tongue like possibly it was icky and not good for us. That ought to work for now. Then again, she might've thought that's what I was giving her for her ear infection. Hmmmmm.

Off to la, la land. Love to all.

Friday, September 5, 2008

It's the Best of Times. It's the Worst of Dicken's wrote

I can relate.

We are doing fine. Just know that; however, I'm not going to paint this scenario of, "Gee. We're holding hands, shopping, and painting our toenails'". Are you thinking, "Whoa, Vicki. What about the perfect little picture of Chinese adoptions?"

ANY adoption is a HUGE event -- just like childbirth, but when a little 7 year old girl with distinctly formed habits and personalities is ripped apart (did I say RIPPED, severed, broken, forced apart) from everything in the world she loves dearly into a world 100% different from what she's has an impact. Emily is grieving again this morning. She did last night for a while, repeated when she woke up, and now after breakfast is doing so again. I cried again today...soft tears while sitting on her bed, wiping my eyes just to reinforce that it all saddens me, too.

I've done the necessary research about international adoptions -- seminars, constant emails to and from others who have BTDT and/or are still waiting but know tons of stuff, too. I will tell you in all honesty that I prepared for this -- but "it ain't no fun". I am not miserable -- just a little more fragile emotionally. It's the least I can be compared to Emily's grief.

We did a sightseeing tour yesterday to a famous mountain here in Guangzhou. We took a golf type cart up the mountain -- up into the clouds and a cable car down it. Beautiful scenery. Amazing. That's why this post is behind in time. My bad. We shopped the day before and I bought Emily some children's books in English and Chinese. Dr. Seuss looks too funny in Chinese, let me just tell ya. Missy Girl has now had McDonalds chicken nuggets shaped like stars (Star Wars theme this month, I reckon). When we were almost finished with our day of shopping, Emily had enough and did the famous Chinese squat right at the road. Interpretation: I've had ENOUGH! I picked her up and carried her across the street, pointed out the hotel, and gave her my best, "Run Forrest. Run!!"

I covet your prayers. Christy and I both are enjoying your comments. Sorry there are glitches to posting. I have NO idea what the problem is. I barely know how to do what I do on this blog. Ha. I will refrain from any blonde comments at this time!!

We love you all. Thanks for following our journey. I know this is "text dense" information (meaning too many words to be enjoyable to read). I'll try to limit my blah, blah, blah's in future postings. Let me find Christy a zoo......

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

From Papa John's Pizza to Roasted Chicken Hearts on a Stick. Mmmmm. Yummmy.

Yep. Little Sister Girl is eating quite nicely. That is what she chose to eat yesterday as all 3 of us went out on a walking adventure. We were unsure of what meat it was, but I thought, "What the heck. She wants to eat it -- go for it!" We later asked our CHI guide what it was (after showing her a photo of Emily eating it, and that's her best guess -- chicken hearts; however, there's a small chance it was chicken kidneys. Poor chickens.)

Emily is discriminating in a good way in what she wants to eat/buy, artistic -- and accurate with drawing , can open the door by unlatching the deadbolt (a task that has challenged Christy and me several times). She is willing to try foods and juices of her own accord. ex. Kiwi juice at Starbucks -- but that was a no go; however, once she realized she did not care for it, she did take another sip. I let her know it was okay to throw it away. It was cold and good so Christy and I sucked it down. When we were shopping yesterday, she was quite clear that she did not want most of what the shop owners were wanting to sell, but she found some goodies: a little jade bracelet. She took off the orphanage bracelet she had on when I met her and handed it to me and kept the jade one. Later that afternoon, she switched back again. I bought her a little red Chinese dress and red slipper shoes to wear to Chinese functions. I bought her a "chop" -- a stone engraved with her name in English and in Chinese characters. Red ink comes with it. (Red is a popular color with Chinese. Represents prosperity/happiness....I think?!) I got her a wooden puzzle of China and a pretty pink fan to put up in her room.

She is writing her numbers, drawing faces w/pretty good details: ears with creases, eyebrows, pupils on eyes...okay. I'm bragging. Shut up, Vicki. We all went out to Papa John's last night for the 4th night in a row. We are really into variety here. Not. We switched from breadsticks to cheesesticks. Whoooooo Hooooo. That's when Emily showed us her artistic abilities. I thought, "Let's take out a pen and draw on the back of this paper place mat while we wait for our meal." (Duh. So intuitive of me, huh?) She's enjoying this task even as I write.

When leaving from Papa John's (on 2nd floor of big mall), it was pouring down rain. We were only about a block from the hotel so we sat on the steps inside the mall to wait. Uh, NO. Police came over and politely spoke something in Mandarin. I took it to mean, "Get up stupid American woman. That's against fire codes to block the exits/entrances in any manner. And you have a big butt." I smiled and we all got up and headed off to ride/walk the escalators up and down for about 8 times each way. Then off to the glass elevator for a few trips. Finally, we all agreed it'd be a great adventure to run 'home' in the rain. Off we went. Emily loved it. When we had to stop to cross the street ("Our Father, who art in Heaven...please don't let us get squashed like bugs...."). A kind, young Chinese girl about 19 y/o came over and held an umbrella over us while we waited. She was looking out for our little jogger. I patted her hand and thanked her for her kindness. Then SWOOSH....time to run again. It was a delightful time.

Back to the room to bathe. Emily will need some tub toys upon our return. She likes things that water goes in so she can pour. I'm letting her play with the cap to my shaving gel. (I couldn't pack EVERYthing!) She actually stands up in the tub and bends all the way over to the water to wash her hair. Bless her heart. I told her she can sit down, lay back, enjoy. She's getting the hang of it all. She went to sleep easily with no crying and woke up this morning without a tear. Progress.

Oh one more thing: She had to have a medical exam yesterday. She was NOT afraid at any level of it all. She was quite curious and cooperative. I tell ya, I told Christy I think she's going to be a pediatrician and help children in need -- maybe even here in China. Who knows. I better run. She's chatting up the girls working behind the desk. Wants to see what they're up to.

So, off we go to the rest of our Thursday. Thanks again for checking in with comments. We love reading them. Hugs from a city with 12 million people -- 11 million of whom we met on the streets yesterday.
Love, Vicki, Emily, and Christy (who amazes everyone in our group with her perceptive abilities of money exchanging and photography)
12.34 -- Emily typed these numbers....