Monday, February 28, 2011

she's all growing up



A few months prior to her 5th birthday, we started bringing up E's room. Or, sleeping in it, that is. As some of you may or may not know, she has slept in a toddler bed next to me for almost 18 months now, since the first day she came home from China. She is an incredibly sound sleeper, and I can count on one hand how many times I've been awakened at night due to a bad dream or a cough :) Girl gets her sleep, and I wish mom could say the same but I don't sleep that way!

Anyway, probably sometime in the last month she mentioned she wanted to sleep in her room, which we were just thrilled she'd brought up on her own, but we'd yet to set up her toddler rail on the big bed so we delayed and then sort of forgot about it. (And yeah, she needs the rail). Since she can't use her legs really to turn over in sleep, she sort of flings herself, and that can lead to flinging entirely off the bed. Aunt Karen was here for a visit this weekend (pictured above with us!) and E always asks to have her toddler bed moved into her room to sleep with Aunt Karen while she's here... well, last night, she asked for the same.

She asked to sleep... ALONE. In her room.

It was all so sudden. So matter of fact. There was none of this "transitioning" (that apparently I needed more than she did-ha). Just, hey mama and baba I want to sleep in my room now. Apparently she and Aunt Karen had quite a talk about how "cool" her room is, which may have influenced my little one a bit :O) At any rate, we moved the toddler bed back a second time (having yet to put the rail on the big bed up still), and bedtime story complete, we tucked her in, and said our goodnights....

Mama: "I will sure miss you tonight E. But I am so proud of you for sleeping in your big girl room!"
E: "Well you don't have to be scared Mama, I'll be right here, okay? And don't cry, okay? I know you will miss me but don't cry".

And dang if I didn't walk out of that room with a tears in my eyes. It goes by too fast. I want to rewind the clock. Or stop time all together.

She slept as soundly as she ever does through the night. When I asked this morning if she liked sleeping in her room, she replied, "Yep" as if she'd been sleeping there all along.

We'll go with the flow on this, knowing that she may need time with us now and again, maybe even long stretches. Once, a long time ago, before boarding that plane to China, a wise woman told me, "follow her lead". And though we have guided her, disciplined appropriately, when it's come to these important milestones we really have let her show us when she's ready without ever pushing. We've gently suggested and let the thought sit with her, and let it go. Knowing in time she'd come around. There was no need for fanfare or making a big deal out of this change. It came naturally, and its own time- her time.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

i am buzz lightyear, i come in peace!

E is smitten with The Buzz.
he is second only to Baba.

after months of requesting to watch each film over and over,
we picked up this "just because" gift and gave it to her tonight.
without delay, she informed us she would play with him "forever".

which translates to infinity and beyond!

(and yes, she's already inscribed her name on the other foot)!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

E has always wavered a bit on China. Some mornings she'll tell us she is leaving for her country, alone, and that we are not to follow. She assures us not to worry, she'll be back soon (sometimes in just one hour *smile*). Most of the time she worries over returning to this mystical place that exists only in her memory. She questions if she has to go back "to stay", and struggles with the concept of even a visit, a topic we bring up once in awhile as we prepare for that eventuality. She shies from Chinese people in crowds, especially if she hears the language. She recently removed all her pictures of her favorite nanny from her bedside wall and has no interest in replacing them with others. This saddens me deeply, though I understand it is part of her growth, her development and her need to feel secure where she is now, with us. I only wish she could understand (and I hope one day she will) that her country is entirely hers, that she can have both without losing one or the other entirely (I say this because truthfully she has lost so much of her culture of origin, and I know she will never be able to regain those losses).

This morning while she was waiting on her pancake, she was playing with Jiji on the floor and then picked up a heart shaped rock I'd given her for Valentine's Day that has "LOVE" written across it. It has long been her favorite word and in the last several months, hearts have been her favorite shape. I too have a rock that is similarly shaped, but was found along the coast of California... she picked this one up too and looked at me and said, "Mama. This one is mine, this one is yours"...

Mama: "Yep. That's right. Yours has the word "love" on it".
E: "Yeah, and mine is big, and yours is small".
Mama: "Mine is smaller, that's true. Do you know mine came from the beach? From far away, all the way in California."
E: "From before I came here?"

(This is the first time I've heard her phrase a question this way, and while I have always known she understands there was a time before us, a time when we first met, and then this time, I am still always amazed at her ability to really grasp that at 4 and 5 years of age).

Mama: "Yes, from a long time before you came here. I think from before you were even born".

She then goes on with her play and I hear her giggling, which usually means she is thinking of a scene from T*y Story. I ask her if Buzz is making her laugh again and she says, "No Mama. One time I tear a napkin and I give it to Jie Jie. Not cat Jiji, my Jie Jie"... and I reply, "Oh, you mean your Jie Jie in China?"

E: "Yes. And I say 'gay nee' and give her the napkin"
Mama: "You said what to her sweetie?"
E: "(shy, sheepishly): "Gay nee (with emphasis on the gay, a softer nee), like that, in Chinese".**
Mama: "What does that mean sweet pea?"
E: (thinking hard): "I think it mean like I found it or somethin'"

Of course, later, in my search for "found it" in Chinese, there was nothing that came close to my phonetics above. But how incredible that she recalled this moment with someone that she loves, that it brought her those same giggles that only Buzz L*ghtyear can produce. And that though she has lost so much of her spoken first language, it is still there inside of her, still very much a part of her. And while she may not remember what the phrase meant, or doesn't have the ability to translate it, she knows what she said to her Jie Jie in that moment.

I said to Garth last week that we have got to search for a Chinese tutor for her. We have no money, we are struggling paycheck to paycheck right now, but it is the one place I will make the sacrifice. She has no interest whatsoever in learning her language again. (Even though she tries, with those shy smiles, to sing along with the Beijing Angelic Choir). Today she told me, "You and Baba can speak Chinese, I don't want to learn it". But she'll thank me for forcing it later. This is one area where I won't compromise and everyday I feel like we're losing time and I wish we'd started a year ago.

We'll do it as a family. Because her culture is ours. It's too easy to forget that. Too easy to take for granted that she has become "American" by adoption and become complacent and lazy about keeping her culture in the foreground and not the background. I don't ever want to let that happen.

***we have found the meaning (and correct spelling) of "gay nee" thanks to this blogger! She is probably saying "gei ni" which means "give to you" or "I am giving it to you"/"please take it". And as A (the person who emailed me said) this makes absolute sense in the context of the story E was telling me, that she tore the napkin and handed it to Jie Jie and said, "gie ne". To hear E pronounce it though, with the right inflections and with that perfect accent, to hear her say a word I've never heard her use in her language, it has unlocked something in me and I feel completely emotional about it. I can't exactly describe why. I only know I am all the more determined to find a tutor for her (us) and begin this lifelong journey of rediscovering/growing her roots... and that begins with language. her language.

Monday, February 14, 2011

her kind of heart

i know, i know. i even created this new site in order to avoid using our names entirely! but just this once i gotta. cuz this handmade valentine rainbow heart card is seriously the bomb. and i just adore her "s's" that look like the number 5 and my new buzz cut and her emerging penmanship and... well, i love her name. i adore her name. so, there it is, just this once and then we'll tuck it away never to repeat it again.

after Baba opened his super sized Tinkerb*ll card, selected by E of course, and all of us opened a little something from each other, we sat down to enjoy sweet and sour shrimp, vegetable fried rice and lo mien from our favorite Chinese take-out diner. my fortune tonight? oh, it was goooood. and i post this here primarily to receive the the "bwah ha ha" comments from my family. they get it.

"you will inherit a large sum of money"

oh but to dream.

happy valentine's day everyone.
hope you all had a rainbow heart kind of day!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

ellis in the off-roading chair

you may already be aware that my girl is beautiful. cuz it's true. she is (*smiles*). we're completely biased but the world seems to agree. and she has this inner confidence that i deeply admire. the ability to look at herself in the mirror (literally) and say, "ooooh, so pretty" at herself. we could all learn to do the same, you would think. but then, i don't have her eyes, her lips, her smile... right? but i'm certain i could, if i'd work on having her outlook, her attitude, her spirit, her joy. and even though every week she wishes she could stand or walk, this outlook never changes. girl is happy, period. and even when she isn't happy, she finds her way back to it.

i will add she's also brilliant. i knew she was smart because she just seemed pretty smart to me when when she was able to memorize her books after 2 or 3 readings. i learned after her most recent IEP (individual education planning meeting) that our kid is SMART with a capital S.M.A.R.T.... and kinda knows it. we are working on that. she got a little "boss" in her, and thankfully boss isn't too big yet. but i have to admit i felt incredibly proud of her, considering the insurmountable odds this child has had to overcome in such a short time. i don't share this often at all, but she was sent to her first orphanage to a palliative care unit that is run by Hope Foster Home in order to be made comfortable. a sort of Hospice if you will. and when she was sent to Beijing in hopes of saving her life, the outcome was grave. post surgery there were complications, infections, and i have one photograph that shows a very sick little infant girl struggling for her life. and then there were problems later, with her right leg, leading to more infection and blood blisters and wounds that were so deep that her bone was exposed. she grew up surrounded by loving ayis only to be taken from them and moved back to that same orphanage a province away, where she lived for a month before 2 strangers came to take her again... from everything she has ever known. at the chinese market this past week, we picked up a package of her favorite crackers that she tells us all the time she ate in china. what precious memories we fight to hold onto.

i digress.

so, my pride stems ultimately from knowing what she has faced, what this tiny body has endured, and the kind of person that has emerged from those struggles. she can write her entire alphabet, upper and lower case, without any help- apparently that is exceptional for a 4 year old (she was doing this a few months ago). her audio-visual processing scores were "well above" average and her attention to detail was "phenomenal" (in the words of her educators). she can dress herself. this is an enormous feat for a child who can't move her right leg and can barely move the left. she can write her full name and mine, recognizes all her classmates names, hands out their folders to them, etc and her recall for dates, months, days of the week is mind blowing. i can't remember the day of the week, but she does. and she knows her routine better than i do.

and this week? when she contracted another urinary tract infection, she cried for 2.5 hours straight without stopping. as G said, it was like a breakthrough for her emotionally. she didn't even cry this long in China that i can remember. she'd have meltdowns that would last about 45m-1hr multiple times throughout the day, but nothing like this. and it happened again yesterday. for no reason. she is 100% better, had slept for 1.5 hours, ate a great lunch. so, the tears came without reason. we laid together while she cried and when she was finished i asked what was making her feel so upset, and she said, "I don't know Mama".... i don't know, Mama. i told her that's okay, that sometimes it just hurts inside and sometimes we don't know why. and she got angry at me this week, and expressed it in a healthy way! bonus! 1.5 years in this country, and trust is such a precarious, delicate, precious element in our relationship.

it's difficult to look at this child and not think: you are remarkable. exceptional. magnificent.

i don't know how it is that i am so blessed, so honored to spend this life with you, E.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


we look to the days ahead. excellent news at the vet today. a brief scare in thinking his spleen was enlarged, but the ultrasound of his belly proved that his once lean(er) body had given way to a plump frame due to treats, ice scream, spaghetti, milkbones, and chips (among other things). of course, the 5 pound weight gain clued us in too :O) i swear my buddy just wants to keep living to see what new food he can try each day! i think we might start calling him Potato Sack or Spud cuz he sure resembles one. diet commenced a couple weeks ago but we'll have to cut back a bit more. and even with the recent tumor growth, the vet is not concerned and in her (music to my ears) words, said: "he looks amazing K" and sent us on our way.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

sad eyes...

two months ago we decided to stop ransom's chemotherapy to treat his lymphoma, a type of cancer that effects his lymph nodes. the treatment was no longer working. and a couple of weeks after that decision was made, as i grappled with my feelings about it, i sat down and wrote this, a tribute to my best friend, my hero, my buddy. i am certain i will never be able to top it.

i am not the kind of person that has ever successfully lived in the moment. sure, i strive for that ideal. i even read about it :O) and i believe in it. and i believe that Tibetan monks or cloistered nuns or maybe hermits (in the true sense of the word) can achieve moment to moment living. i never dreamed my dog would teach me how to do this. but ransom has taught me that time is an illusion. that what we have together is eternity. that it doesn't end. and i've truly been living that for the last 2 months. somehow, i let go of those thoughts about what would one day come. past and future has dissolved into the daily celebrating of our togetherness. and by celebrating, i'm not implying there has been fanfare and balloons. there is just the (glorious!) mundane and the (wonderful!) sameness and the absolute joy in that sameness! the pure bliss of our routines together. or taking special notice of his daily and regular habits. the way he prefers to arrange the couch pillows beneath him, the couch itself not suitable enough a bed. the way he greets me each time i come through the door. the way he waits for me at the top of the stairs. every little thing, every look and sigh and snore. and because of that, i can honestly say i've made peace with the future, and have been thankful for the time ransom and i have together.

when my hands found more tumors along his chest and neck a couple of weeks ago, and under his front legs (what would be our axillae), i would look into his eyes, holding his head in my hands, and grumpily mutter: "we don't like those tumors buddy" and that was all. what else was there to say? i didn't focus on them.

and i haven't written about these things here, because, well... i've been busy about the business of living in the moment. there hasn't been the time and i haven't had the inclination. until tonight, until just now, when i've found myself in that place again where i cannot, even for one second, imagine life without him.

we see his vet tomorrow. because his vet is a friend also and she understands i'm worried and even though he is fine, or seems fine, and is eating well, and in no way seems to be affected by this new tumor growth... well, i don't like it. and i want to hear her say it's okay or it's not okay or just that i'm doing all the right things. i don't know. i don't know what i want.

30 more unrealistic years. yes, i will take that.

that's what i want. to live into my old age with this dog. only this dog. no other. because he's my Boob. and i don't want life without him in it and tonight, well, i'm allowing myself to feel that and to be selfish. tonight the tears fall for what will come. tonight i'm not living in the moment and i'm worried for the future. i'm worried for the place on my bed where his body has slept by mine for 7 years. tonight i'm indulging in this pain of what is to come. and that's okay.

tomorrow, i will wake up differently. i will thank him as i do everyday for each day he gives me.

Monday, February 7, 2011

a new park, and only a mile away...and made just for kids like her!










i don't know what prompted Freedom Master (aka G) to search for adaptive parks on-line, but whadya know, he found one within walking distance of our humble little house. and she was pretty thrilled, though as you can see E pretty much prefers to be out of her chair and was thrilled to have all that support (including some to lean on with that left leg) in order to "stand"! that was her biggest cheekiest grin ever. i wish i could tell you she was using her legs for it but truthfully that's almost 90% upper body strength holding her up! girl is strong!

and are you diggin' that swing as much as WE are?? she thought it was the bomb.

the only downfall was the sand. uhm. sand? for people who can't walk? no no no. this is not the best option. but we'll take what we can get and we are not about to complain. at least not until we get home and are dumping it out of her socks and undies.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


i honestly cannot describe to you how much i love this dog.
to the core. i have never in all of my life loved an animal this much.
to call him animal is ridiculous. he is my family, my best friend,
my boy, my buddy.

and every single solitary day i wake up and i still see this smiling face,
well, that is the best damn day ever.

i love my Boob.

and i did just type that for the world to see :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011


happy new year.
even from the cat.
the Boob would have joined in that
wish but he's snoozin'.

health, happiness, peace...
all good things
for the coming year.

(first 2 photos Laura Coffey)