Saturday, August 28, 2010

fix or not to fix

Treat or not to treat. Second opinion or no second opinion. New (big gun) drug or no big gun drug.
Take the Mac to the shop and hope for a repair or buy new since it's going on 5 years old and I have zilch space left on the darn thing (does anyone have a CLUE how to permanently delete photos from i-photo? this escapes me and Mr. Mac is miserly and wants to hold onto

As for my irregularly beating heart- I go in and out of bigeminy (premature ventricular contraction-PVC- every other beat pictured above) with my rate sometimes 110 while doing this (keep in mind, my resting heart rate used to be high 50s), and am also now throwing premature atrial contractions (PACs) and sometimes they come as couplets or I'll have a PAC followed by a PVC then a normal beat. It is extremely exhausting. On the Holter, it showed I was tachycardic (fast heart rate) for the first 2 hours I was SLEEPING. ??

Doctor wanted to start me on an anti-arrhythmic. This is huge, and these drugs are usually reserved for life threatening arrhythmia. So, I'm just not sure about it after talking to my sister (who is a PA-C) and am seriously considering a second opinion from an electrophysiologist (specialized cardiologist that deals only with conduction abnormalities) in her city 2 hours from me. My doc was fine with me doing this. He doesn't know I'm not taking the second med he prescribed though. I mean- I'm young, too young for this, and there is no family history of these kind of electrical problems in our family. Like my sister said, what are we doing to find the cause?
I am convinced hormones exacerbate the problem, though this last month or so I haven't really had a good break (every day I deal with it, when I used to have good days and bad days).

And now, having hoped for a down weekend with no obligations- I've got to haul my Mac 1.5 hours to be looked at and hopefully fixed. Sucker was running so hot (as another sister would say- "hot as fire"), so I am thinking the fan is out. Not to mention... uhm... I have almost no hard drive space left. I need more room!- like flux capacitor size people! Or something.

As I type this I feel those familiar palpitations that alert me I'm throwing frequent premature beats. Wires are crossed and misfiring at random. I wish I could say this dance in my chest felt good, but that would be far fetched at best.

I have, however, been reassured that this annoyance (understatement) is not life threatening, no matter how sick it makes me feel.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

i'm holtered again...

round 2, 1 year later.
this time for 48 hours.
only 43:27 left to go.

back to the cardiologist on friday.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

stumbling upon these words

I have a question. If you stumbled upon these words on an adoption blog, how would they leave you feeling? What taste do these words leave in your mouth?

I decided not to link the site. First, I am certain there are many more like this. Second, to protect this family, or more accurately- their newly adopted child. And persecuting them will serve no purpose anyway. What I'd like to do, simply, is to raise our awareness. And to perhaps highlight why adoption reform, agency policies/parent training/culture training, etc need dramatic revamping in this country.

I left a comment on one of their posts after reading their entire trip through China up until the present day. That comment was swiftly deleted (I have included it at the end of this post). I think I was pretty tame considering the anger that was brewing in my heart. But should my anger be directed at this family? Or should I hold those who approved their home study or failed to educate them accountable? Maybe all of the above. I will say education is crucial. I don't know how a home study agency or any agency allows parents to adopt from a country that they so openly and unreservedly disrespect. Nor can I ever begin to understand the outright objectification of anyone, much less a child- and an extremely vulnerable one at that.

These are just a few excerpts from this particular adoption blog.

"The Chinese raced to the lines... gobbling all the "delicious" livers, bones, skins, and other treats. Not many Americans ran to the buffet table. It's an experience. You can get some good pictures of the chicken heads amongst the chicken though. Eat up fellow friends!"

"I keep seeing super cute outfits on the people passing me by, but can't seem to find anything in the stores. Even the things I do find, that I might buy, are just as expensive, or more, than what we would find in America... that's frustrating. I do enjoy the bartering though. But, I will be grateful to get back to M*rshalls, R*ss, and TJ M*x."

'We went for a bite to eat and discovered at lunch that our baby can use chopsticks. That was quite amazing. I think I was drinking my “cappacino” and she picked up the chopsticks and started using them. I was in complete shock. I didn’t even think she could feed herself. She ate her whole bowl of noodles and “meat”… possibly pork. It smelled horrible... I thought I was going to vomit. She wouldn’t leave a drop behind. She wanted to eat the noodles that dropped on her dress, table, and maybe even floor. And, sharing… well, that’s not even an option. We are going to work on this, but we had many things to do so we opted out of our first lesson on sharing. Baba got her a strawberry sorbet… she wouldn’t eat it, and we couldn’t… ice is not an option for us sheltered and protected Americans."

"She can eat until the cows (or water buffalo) come home… and then, she can eat some more!
Mei Mei can out eat (my husband) and I. I once learned that our stomachs are as big as one fist when clenched. Mei Mei has a stomach the size of 3 adult fists. Every few bites we ask, “Bouwla?” Which means, “are you full?” She always shakes her head no. Each meal takes about 30 or more minutes. It’s completely exhausting at times."

"If she doesn't like something that she's eating, she readily shares it with Baba. If you try to take something of hers to share, she will scream or pout or stick out her lower lip... it's funny (right now). We're whipping her into shape though. "

"G's personality is fiesty and spunky. She is a strong-willed princess that wishes for her Baba to serve her, carry her, and give her his undivided attention. She has a number of facial expressions and can go from happy to mad or sad in the flip of a switch. She can cry on the spot or laugh on the spot."

"I am so tired of looking at Chinese food. I know I have shared several times about our food choices, but I am going to share again... duck tongue with ginger, boneless duck feet with ginger, tasty pork trotters, chilled marinated jellyfish with vinegar, roasted crispy pigeon, marinated goose liver with spring onions, double-boiled pork bone with olive and dragon's tongue leaf in soup, steamed loofah with dried whitebait and XO sauce, stewed pork knuckle and sea cucumber with shrimp roe. Had I stayed away from the plain noodles, fried rice, and steamed buns, I could have lost 20 pounds in the last 14 days."

"We are really tired of eating Chinese, but (my husband) really doesn't want to eat American fast food either."

" I got my first unsolicited kiss. In fact, I got several in a row. The tough love of yesterday paid off… she is a quick learner."

"After dinner, we went shopping for little Mei Mei to get her a pair of shoes. Her first American word was “shoes.” (My husband), being the nice guy, let her choose her own shoes. But, she chose some pink ones with baby Mickey on them… not going to work for Mama. Her clothes are princess clothes… nothing Mickey until we get to Disneyland. So, Mama chose a different pair... pink sandals with a diamond on them. She was so excited."

"Mama and baba finished our “cappacinos,” convinced Mei Mei that it was time to go, decided to let her take the rest of her noodles so that we could avoid the screaming fit (which has started as of this morning when she doesn’t get her way) and left with our guide D. Our little princess is going to learn (hopefully before leaving China) that throwing fits are not going to work well on her behalf."

"The first few days, there were times that I felt like I was plucking off the petals to a daisy and saying, "She loves me not, She loves me not, She loves me not" But now, I can say, "She loves me, She clearly, clearly loves me."

"T wanted to keep her sister a surprise. She had secretly hoped that (her little sister) would arrive during basketball season and she would just be able to bring her onto the court, but that didn't happen. So, she waited until it could. With Mei Mei's arrival home on July 31, 2010, (her big sister) began figuring out when she could get the majority of her girlfriends to our home. The girls started at the local ice skating rink, stopped for slurpees, and then came home and ate some hamburgers, chips and watermelon. T prepared her life video (birth to her family 16th party) for her friends to watch... and, at the very end, she added some words about the gift her parents gave her for her 16th birthday. (Of course, the truth is, if you read in one of the earliest posts, T had known for 16 years that God had two sisters for her). She ended her video with pictures of mama, baba, and mei mei and then pictures of her and her (new little sister). Before the video ended, baba brought in mei mei in her red Chinese outfit and holding a ladybug balloon."

I am baffled. Confused. How does a person, a family, choose to adopt from a country for which they haven't an inkling of appreciation? What purpose is there to adopt from a place you have no real interest in embracing? And in this case- did the adopter(s) truly believe they were only adopting a toddler? Only a child? Did they believe this 3.5 year old (or any child) came without a history, memories, an entire heritage and culture that is her own?

I shake my head and have to hold my anger in check. I grieve for what this child has lost: essentially, everything. And what gains has she been granted in this new life, with this new family? I see none, so far. Her laughter and her beautiful smile, I can't help but wonder, might only be a product of survival.

Here was my deleted response:

I am not sure how I stumbled upon your site, but have spent a long time reading it.

First, congratulations on your beautiful new daughter. As I read through your blog, I must admit to being very troubled by your characterization of your time spent in China. I find much of what you have to say very... demeaning to the Chinese culture and its people. Yes, China is wonderfully different than America. This is a country with a long and complex history, full of much to be admired and respected. While your daughter is now American, she will also always be- Chinese. I wonder if she will find it difficult to accept that part of herself if it is so obvious that her mother found little to enjoy in the country of her birth. I was in China recently adopting a 3.5 year old myself, and I have to say, while sometimes I found the food to be interesting, for the most part, it was deliciously different from American food. I wanted to immerse myself in my daughter's country, as much as I could. Some day, when your daughter reads your account of the time you spent in China, the most significant topics are focused on how terrible the food is and whether or not the shopping was good. How will she feel looking back on some of the words you've written here?

Also, I hope you are keeping in mind that your daughter does come to you with a rich history. As foreign as China has felt to you, everything your little girl is experiencing is that foreign to her. Her world is upended, and she doesn't have any way to process why or how that happened. Now is probably not the best time for "tough" love. She needs you to support her in her grief and fear, as well as her joys. At this point, she's in pure survival mode. She needs you to love her through it, not try to 'mold' her into the person you think she should be (a princess) rather than who she is.

I have stated so many times in my own writing: we adopt not just a child when we enter into international adoption. We adopt their culture, their history, their very heritage- along with their grief, their losses, and the love and happiness they both contain and bring to our relationship. We become guardians of that past and how we feel about it and their country could one day be internalized by our children.

I originally wasn't going to comment, but I hope you will take these words to heart. My daughter grieved for 9 days in China, and though it was by far the hardest thing we endured together, it was the most profound part of our journey as mother and daughter. As we shared our mutual grief/fears, a deep and lasting bond was created.

Great advice was given to me before we left: "Follow her lead". That didn't mean we withheld gentle discipline when needed, but it meant we listened to her cues. We listened to her needs, and set ourselves aside. We allowed her some sense of control in the chaos of all she was going through. Remember, your daughter, like mine, lost everything. What they need when they are in survival mode is some sense of control.

I am sorry you haven't been able to soak in the beauty of your daughter's country so you can one day share those memories with her. I hope when you get home, you will look back and be able to see beyond this narrow world view and appreciate China as it is: a beautiful, complicated, magical, troubled country- rich in a long history that has so much to offer this world. Perfect? No. But no country is, not even our own.

I wish you and your family the best.

Monday, August 23, 2010

1st day back to school :O)

E has been talking about this day since leaving her class in mid-June. thankfully, i was able to help her understand the months a bit (she can recite all of them, but doesn't yet grasp the concept of how long they are- from her perspective). when August rolled around, she was ready to head to "new school" (the name she's given the public school, vs. her "old school" - daycare). she is head over heels for her teacher, Ms. S, and was eager to see her and give her a big hug. she was literally unable to utter a word, but instead almost panted, waving her hands, "jumping" in her car seat, as Ms. S came over and opened the door to say hello.

in my haste, i only caught a small bit of the morning drop off on video (which unfortunately i can't share) and now have lost the Flip entirely, assuming and hoping Ms. S has discovered it left behind by the 2 dorky parents that insisted this first day back be captured live. i trust that she is guarding it with her life. :)

i'll pack the camera for pick up and hope for a couple of shots as we wave good-bye to the first day in her favorite class.

what a blessing to see her "so cited" (her words), smiling and happy, without a single glance in our direction after mama and baba shared "see you later" snuggles.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

keep your party hat on!

so, we're at a local FCC ice cream social today, which also involved some pool time- E's favorite place to be. this was her first time, ever, that she swam without anyone holding her. i know, crazy, i shed one tear. okay 2. she is such a rock star.

fcc ice cream social, pool time

we had lots of fun chatting with friends and since it had been raining (with thunder) 3 miles from the event, we didn't even bring suits thinking we'd all be inside the clubhouse. one of the other FCC members was gracious enough to spend a good hour swimming with E. she borrowed the top and was in her underwear :) so, baba had to drive home to grab some new undies, and she had other plans for them.


she was a grumpalumpigus on the way home (sugar= mood swing!). so, i say from the front seat, trying to curb the whine:

"E, you got to see your friends, swim in the pool, eat a big bowl of ice cream and you have UNDERWEAR on your head".

Aunt Karen pipes up from the backseat:

"Underwear on your head means you had a good time"

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I am sure it can be argued that memories from our first 4 years of life are sparse if they exist at all. I have a handful from when I was 2 and 3 that were confirmed as "real" by my mom (who was floored I remembered the details that I had), but for the most part, the first 4 years of my life are a bit blurry at best.

I remember Joyce at New Hope telling me how bright and intelligent E was, and how that would surely make her transition difficult."She is a very smart girl", she told me. And yes, those first weeks together were incredibly challenging.

As you all know by now, thumbing through her China pictures nightly is common place. She asks for them daily. Sometimes I sit with her as she turns the pages, sometimes she prefers this time alone. Tonight, I snuggled up next to her and we perused the whole album together (not every photo is in this album as we have somewhere around 200 from her 3.5 years at New Hope).

She usually is fairly quiet during this time. She might say, "See?" and show me a picture, or ask me to kiss one. Not tonight. She was very animated. And without any provocation from me, we talked at length about the next four.

When we came upon this one, she looked at me and asked, "Where we going?". I looked at the photo, and then at her, replying, "I'm not sure sweet pea. Maybe outside?". She looked at the photo again and said, "No. I think we go eat something". And sure enough, that triggered the memory of 3 other photos I have of her in this chair. All of them in the dining hall. All of them with food. She hasn't seen those as I've not printed them from the computer yet.

Astounding. How at this age could she remember so well?

Ellis' crib at Hope
Then we came to the photo of her crib. A crib she slept in for over 3 years. She was in "The Beige Room". She looked at the crib and said, "I no like sleep in this one". I asked her how come. Her reply? "It too noisy and I cry". Now, whether that's from the crib itself or her 3 roommates, who's to say. What I do know is noise really bothers my girl! She went on to point out that she got dressed here, and that they laid her on the counter to do this "in the morning" and that her clothes were kept in the drawers beneath (seen behind the crib).

When we got to this photo, I said, "Wow E, it looks like they washed your hair!" (this is something she loathes!). She looks at me and in the most exasperated tone tells me: "They wash my hair EVERYday".

Then we arrived at this last photo. This is a nanny that we speak of rarely and so her name always escapes me (and doesn't "match" her American name in the book Hope gave us). So, I ask: "Who is this one E?". She looks me in the eye:

"Ya Ya".

Me: "Oh right. Ya Ya".

E: "No. Ya Ya" (her Y in this case being different than our Y).

Me: "Oh. Ya Ya".

E: "mm-hmm. When Jie Jie go, Ya Ya come".

At this point, I scooped her into my arms to hug her so I could hide my tears. Because this was her night ayi, and Jie Jie was her morning ayi. This was the woman who tucked her to sleep, Jie Jie was there to begin the day with her. They were the nannies closest to her heart. Somehow, in bringing E closer to me, I think I believed I could bring these 2 important people in her life closer to us. Bridge the gap of time and space.

Maybe I shed those tears because I'd missed out on these years with her, I'm not sure. I think mostly I cried because she amazes me and I feel so privileged to share these moments with her. I cried because I never want her to lose those precious memories of those who loved her so completely before we came. I wept because were it not for these special people- her nannies- people I don't know but have come to love fiercely myself- were it not for them, my girl would not be who she is today: affectionate, loving, kind, funny, spirited... happy. Happy deep down in her soul.

And maybe I cried because I wanted to wrap my arms around those who gave me this gift. And because her first parents have no way of knowing that their child not only survived when she shouldn't have, but has lived to tell the stories of her life -

and has thrived living it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Born: August 15, 1936

74 today, in heaven.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

(photo taken at Mepkin Abbey, 2008)

To forgive
Is not to forget.

To forgive
Is really to remember
That nobody is perfect
That each of us stumbles
When we want so much to stay upright
That each of us says things
We wish we had never said
That we can all forget that love
Is more important than being right.

To forgive
Is really to remember
That we are so much more
Than our mistakes
That we are often more kind and caring
That accepting another's flaws
Can help us accept our own.

To forgive
Is to remember
That the odds are pretty good that
We might soon need to be forgiven ourselves.
That life sometimes gives us more
Than we can handle gracefully.

To forgive
Is to remember
That we have room in our hearts

to begin again ……

and again

(from mestup poems)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

conversation with e

often, E likes to play "work". she pretends to pack up her purse, her "brella", keys, and phone- then takes her leave for a long day in the rat race. there are hugs and kisses good-bye, i love you's, and "see you soon"s. she returns at 4 or 8, with a triumphant "i'm home!", more hugs and kisses, and an affirmation of "it's good to see you" thrown in for good measure.

today, she had her umbrella out and open, was carrying a ball, and had put her D*ra watch on. so i knew. she had a plan and was headed somewhere important. naturally, i assumed it would be work. apparently, she has the day off. and much bigger plans.

Mom: "where are you going, e?"

E: "i'm going home"

Mom: "oh you are? where is home?"

E: "far away"

Mom: "it is? where is it?"

E: "china"

Mom: "so you're going home to China?"

E: "mmm-hmmm. you can come. and jie jie, and all the kids".

Sunday, August 8, 2010

my Jie Jie

some of you might remember this recent post, and the first time i documented a very poignant dialogue between E and me. and while i had hopes of coming home to post about our fabulous weekend at my sisters and an outrageous anime convention (where, i'll be damned i actually felt like i sort of "fit in" or maybe would have if i'd known about anime as a teen?)- it seems after unpacking, and going through our nightly routine, this was a bit more relevant, and before i'd lost what i felt in the moment, i had to get it down in words. though, i guess, like most things that move me in unexpected ways, words often fail.

we have a very structured though not inflexible liturgy to our nightly routine. usually bath, dinner, some quiet playtime, brush teeth, story. if it's saturday, it's "big bed day"- her favorite day of the week. she gets to spend 10 or 15 minutes snuggled up to mama and baba before, sleepily, she's transferred back to her toddler bed that is within a foot of our own. yes, she still sleeps in our room and my guess is it will be a few more months before she's ready to venture to the "big girl room" (and bed).

what started the night of that first conversation about china (in that first post) is a new ritual: she asks to see her "china pictures" regularly. and how much i welcome that request. i don't stay with her each time as she usually prefers to study them alone before laying down to sleep. i am, in E fashion, instructed to return and check on her in "4 minutes. not 8, 8 too long" (these numbers her favorites that correspond, respectively, with her age and the time mom gets home from work). some nights this new custom leads to a flood of tears (with lots of holding time), though surprisingly- those tears are often unrelated to the prior examination of photos. in the last few days, she has seemed almost uplifted by the process and falls asleep quickly and easily afterward.

tonight? well, tonight was special. she asked if she could hang some photos of "my Jie Jie" on the wall right next to her bed. (this is her most cherished ayi, and though it wouldn't have been customary to call her "big sister", she insists this was her name). this is also the ayi that she considers her "china mama" (will she be lucky to have 3? or will it be the hardest truth of her life?).

since i didn't have any available frames, tape sufficed and my girl is sleeping very soundly with her favorite nanny watching over her. (i should add, she asks for Jie Jie to come live with us as routinely as she asks to see her photos)...

if only i could make every.single.wish of hers come true. for now, these pictures and our talks will have to do...

her favorite nanny "Jie Jie" (she calls her this)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

conversation with E


E: I need to get big so I walk

Mama: E, you won't walk sweet pea, remember? Because that one leg doesn't work like your other one.

E: Well, let's-e cut it off and get new one