Sunday, September 13, 2009

Camping in a Cabin (and My Letter to Terri - Good Buddy of Many Years)

A fun time was had by all. Emily and I went camping with the girls from "the group home" -- a living community for mentally challenged young adults & guys. We hooked up with others from around the state at a beautiful campground. Think: marvelous, mossed filled trees, old-timey cabins, bunk beds, meeting rooms, cafeteria, and lots of fun folks joined together to conduct Vacation Bible School for 'special needs' young adult across the state. Thanks Marlene, Angie, and others!!

This was Miss Em's first experience in a cabin. She had a blast to say the least. Nanny Carol had to drive out there the next morning and get her -- to take her to our local Chinese Cultural School. Ni Hao, ya'll!! Anyhoo, Em was having sooo much fun. She almost hated to leave the fall-dee-rah at the campgrounds.

By late Friday evening Marlene and I were punch drunk laughing during the talent contest. We just adored how one camper, "L", took her cell phone to microphone, started playing a downloaded country song, then commenced to singing. Loved it! Or there's "B" who basically does not talk. Precious guy!! He did a sign language rendition of Jesus Loves me...but he kept adjusting the microphone. (Why?) I picked at him later and kept asking him jokingly, "Buddy Boy. WHY were you adjusting the mike? You were doin' sign language?? But it was awesome!! Really awesome!!" He just chuckled. Now the young lady, "L" in a wheelchair -- when she was singing Mercy Me's song, "I Can Only Imagine"...when she got to the part that said, "Will I stand in His presence or to my knees will I fall....?" Oh.My.Gosh. Mar and I were weepin' crocodile tears. Too amazing to witness.

Well. Enough of that. I heard from my good friend Terri. She's a sweetheart from way back. Like anyone would care, here's my letter to her.

Hey Friend.

Guess who has NO Internet access these days? Yep. Me. Sorry to not have written sooner.You're too funny w/me making you cry. Folks usually say they laugh or cry (maybe yawn from boredom!) when reading the blog. Who would've guessed ANYone would stop in to read the blah, blah, blah of our lives...but I'm sooo thrilled to hear if it moves one person to think/pray/care. (I plan to print it out in a book-type form as soon I learn/figure out HOW!!)

I missed getting to see you this summer. I see there is a school reunion planning committee getting together. I wish I could help s-o-m-e, but that may have to be for the 40th reunion. Ha. I spend ALL my time (away from my day job) working with Emily on language, sounds, reading, basic math concepts -- mostly thru enjoyable experiences in life: talking, camping, visiting w/friends out in the country, tea parties, etc. We're kinda playing "catch up" for the first years of her life. All consuming to say the least!

I was on Facebook but de-activated my account. I couldn't keep up w/emails, etc. I'll get back on sometime in the future. It is great to stay connected or find old friends, but I'll have to stick to regular old email, snail mail, or phone calls right now.

How are your kiddos? Tyler must really be grown now. How has his health been -- managing the diabetes? And Miss Renee?? I thought of her with the whole Vacation Bible School theme focused on Australia. PLEASE write a book and tell us all how you raised such wonderful children/young adults? You and Robert are to be highly commended. Oh my. Really....your thoughts?

I see I have a document/email from my attorney (I HAVE an attorney?!) who is assisting me w/the re-adoption of Emily (in our state.). Ah. It never ends. This process will allow me to secure a state birth certificate for Emily (so I can avoid the Chinese documents in the future: abandonment certificates in Chinese and English, notarized birth certificate from China, yadda, yadda. It's unbelievable the levels of paperwork that have been completed during the entire adoption process. I've got documents from the local police department all the way up to Condoleeza Rice's office (former U.S. Sec. of State). The FBI knows me well via my biometrically scanned fingerprints. As the Immigration Official told me after I had one of the fingerprintings completed, "IF your gonna commit a crime, DON'T use your right index finger. It's got a spiral design that's a sure-fire give away to i.d. you."

I'll run for now.
Hugs to all,

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

One Year Ago Today.....How Do I Put Into Words?

Sniff. It's a good day. Breakfast on a red styrofoam plate b/c red (in China) is symbolic of good luck. I have on 2 little ladybug pins -- gifts from Ayi Cookie...while enduring my "China wait".

The camera has been a flashin' taking pictures galore. Mei Xia Yin. Emily Meilynn...I want to preserve it all.

I'm writing down little phrases that Emily is saying...the tail end of her Chinese quips which are fading as distant memories. You know. How she says things:
"That's my belly butt." -- She's not gotten the word "button" down yet. It's funny when we're at church and she yells out -- running to the elevator, "Push the butt. Push the butt." I keep waiting for folks to grab their you-know-whats and stand up against the wall.

Then again she turned around and looked at me last night, handed me a little lady bug sticker pack and said, "You want these for the scrapbook?"

She's reading long passages of controlled vocabulary words: "This is Sam. Sam is not a ram. Sam is not an ant. Sam is a cat. See Sam in the sand. He ran in the sand by the shack."
It's very scripted, somewhat boring, but has helped teach her the beginning phases of reading. This and the 7 million, 500 thousand, 42 books we've read in the past year. (Gotta love my mathematical way of showing expanded notation.) If you're interested in teaching a child to read, check out Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Amazon dot com! Recommended by homeschool moms, and it works!!

This and the constant conversations we have in the tub, the car, the kitchen, the yard...and everywhere our mouths take us. Here's what we sound like:
Emily: "Mommy, see the sun?"
Me: "Yes....I see the lovely sun rising in the east. That is a wonderful sight. I love how the sun comes up each morning over the meadow and shines brightly for us as it continues to rise higher and higher in the sky. See the marvelous shades of orange and yellow?"

No lie. That's how I sound. I'm attempting to teach colors, science concepts, synonyms, and grammatical fluency all in my response to what she has noticed. When I first came home from China, this slap wore me OUT. I was over, over whelmed. I realized it was critical to teach her this way...simply, in context of everyday life, and with enthusiasm in my voice.'s second nature. I feel sorry for ANY adult who has to ride with me in a car and experience my blah, blah, blah. Honestly, it's helped tremendously to teach her the English language and at the same time sabatoge any Chinese speech she has within her. Double-edged sword.

Yes. It's Gotcha Day....Family Day. We have a pack of cookies on the counter. We bought them in China. I ate one last night. Emily ate one the other day. I was saving them for our Familiversary Day (as one China mom calls it), but when she wanted to eat one a week early I said, "Sure. Have at it!"

If I could do it all over again, I'd buy boatloads of items to bring back from China - to have on hand thru the years. I've got a yellow plastic container of Wrigleys chewing gum in the wobbly kitchen drawer with wording in part English/part Chinese. Ah...if my suitcases could've only held more. If my mind hadn't been on such an emotional, surrealistic overdrive to perform as a new mom to this darling, bewildered little girl, I'd probably have kept every cheap, black toothbrush I threw out while in China just b/c I kept sticking them under the faucet. NO can drink the water. I do, however, still have ONE good cheap-o toothbrush from the hotel. It was good-for0use up until about 2 weeks ago. Skipper the blind dog got a hold of it when it dropped to the ground. Phooey. Now it sits in the bathroom drawer. You don't think I'm gonna throw THAT you?

Mercy. I've still got a container full of travel size items that accompanied me to China: Tide, hairspray. You name it. I've probably got a 3.4 inch version of it. Got a bonafide prescription for scabies & a "z" pack on hand. Thank goodness none of this was needed in China. I did have to use Emily's antibiotic prescription while there. Had to get on a friend's computer in Guangzhou, dial out to my hometown Walgreens to speak w/them about the exact measurements needed for her height/weight. That was strange.

We've gotten a package in the mail from Bree -- one of Emily's China sisters. How special. Yes. We took photos of her opening it and the sweet card. We have Myah's gifts from the past year out as well -- ladybug wind chimes, Chinese girlie clips for her hair, the photo BOOK!! This is all on display on the table. Cannot wait for the day when all the girls can get together. My mom stresses this needs to be sooner than later. Their little memories can and will fade.

Last night Emily slept under a ladybug quilt Marlene gave her after she arrived home. We have the Chinese "American Girl" doll that her sweet, precious Aunt Ragena sent her. Nanny Carol called this morning. We called Christy in Oklahoma (she was with me in China). Cookie is coming by this afternoon. Relatives coming in over the weekend. Much Chinese food will be eaten and lots of red will be seen.

This morning I reached inside Emily's closet to find a sweater for her to wear b/c her classroom gets cold. WHAM. There's the little white and blue dress she was wearing one year ago today. I washed it when we got home last September, hung it up in her closet, and there it's been all this time. She saw it and said, "I think it's too small." I saw it and wanted to cry.

Oh. The. Memories.

Last night before bed I pulled out the little journal I kept in China and read to her the very entry I wrote one year ago last night...all about how I was going to bed for the last time without having her in my life, how I'd wake up and meet her the next day (Sept. 1). I wrote of how proud I was of her for being brave and strong. How thankful I was that she was becoming a part of our family.

She turned the page and said, "What that say?"
I read the little entry from another time in China. It stated that she had cried for 2 hours. That I knew she was sad.
She responded, "I think it because I thought you a stranger."
I said, "Yes. I was a stranger to you. I knew you would be sad. That's okay. It was all okay that you cried. You didn't know me. You didn't know how it'd be with me. It was what I knew to expect."

I sensed a tiny bit of relief. I think she appreciates that I understand why she reacted the way she did. That I don't harp on her crying spells in China but realize it was all totally normal. No guilt trips. Just acceptance.

Today, I'll give Emily a red bag, with red tissue (can't use white: symbolizes death). Inside it will be tons of children's books I bought for her in China. They're English/Chinese translations: Cinderella, Heidi and other fiction stories. I also bought some biographical books: Walt Disney, Florence Nightingale, etc. I have a few children's tapes, a poetry book, a little Hello Kitty type figurine to go into the bag. All mementos of our time together -- not so long ago but far away.

Thank you, Emily, for being the blessing you are to my life and to those who know you. I cannot wait to see how the Lord continues to shine His favor and love upon you. You are my precious daughter, and I'm the most fortunate person in the world.
I love you, sweetie pie.