Wednesday, March 30, 2011

because this is the face of my best friend.


that is all, nothing more.

(holga 120N, kodak ektar 100)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Gao Mei, New Hope

i came across E's finding ad that was given to us (and translated by our guide) while in China. it has been over a year since i read it, and when I came to the last sentence of the ad, the tears fell:

"There were 2 pieces of clothes and one bag of formula left with her".

the clothes. what were they? what did they choose for her before they had to let her go? did they take a photo of her at the police station in those clothes or at the orphanage steps? is there some photo from that first day? what struggles did her first parents endure? who left her with those 2 pieces of clothes at the gate of the orphanage on that day, 3 months after she was born?

what i wouldn't give to be able to pass those clothes on to her. interestingly it doesn't say a thing, anywhere, in any paperwork, any file, that her birthday was estimated. you know how most do? hers doesn't. i have always had this gut feeling that there was a note, even though i was told there wasn't. almost 4 years later, new staff, a crowded and loud room, me asking that question, how would they even remember?

18 months home...

i see you baba

november 2009, 2 months home


march, 2011, 18 months home

how our girl has grown...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Our Own Games... (and a parents visit to kindergarten! oh! and a sports wheelchair!)

the parade to the Games

her teacher's class banner

working out race strategy with Aunt Karen :)

wheelchair push (independent)
(miss shannon in the background)

wheelchair pull with Aunt Karen

several attempts at a class picture...
at last, this!

our favoritest teacher

blue ribbons or not, our inspiration.

... and E wouldn't know a blue ribbon from a white, and would prefer purple! it was just such a fun and inspiring day to watch so many children with all kinds of abilities get together for their own version of school Olymp*cs. Aunt Karen made the trip up and i can't thank her enough for making this day all the more special by participating in one of the events so that i could continue to be the spectator that i adore being... plus, she is the athlete :)

what incredible work these teachers, volunteers, aides, and students put into making this day possible. we are so grateful to miss shannon, her Pre-K teacher who we adore and are struggling with saying good-bye to this summer. i am beginning to think it will be a harder transition for Mom than for E! just look at her face in that photo of E racing on her own- it epitomizes who she is... the support and backbone of her students, who looks on with so much pride in who her students have become.

we met with E's potential K teacher today. we are trying to get her into the multi-age program at the school we are zoned for, slots are few but thanks for some wonderful connections and her unique needs, hopefully we will be selected without any glitches. this will mean she is in the same class with the same teacher for grades K-2, something that i feel she needs for multiple reasons. 1, she has had enough major life changes in the short first 3.5 years of her life. this will give her a solid foundation to move into grade 3 and beyond. 2, she is a natural leader. (read between the lines, for all her shyness, once she is comfortable, girl has a little boss in her). that's not a bad thing, at all, and truthfully it's not that horrible- she's not at all or in the least overbearing. but having peers and mentors and students that are assigned leaders that are older than her will greatly benefit her. and she's an only child and likely will remain one unless we strike it rich (HA! ha. ha.), so being in this sort of program is not unlike being in a family- children older than you, younger than you, which can make negotiating problems and communicating more challenging- as it would be in any family- while she will benefit from learning from her older peers too and eventually will make an amazing role model herself. 3, the structure of the class itself mimics the Montessori based programs essentially. they don't state that specifically, but it's apparent. since the children are all learning in the same classroom most of the time (math not included), they are achieving at different levels because some might be grasping the 1st and 2nd grade concepts as they are able. there is a set curriculum for each grade level though. 4. as it turns out, they happened to have a 2nd grader in a wheelchair now who will be moving on to 3rd grade. so the room she would be placed in is already adapted for a child in a wheelchair (this is a mainstream class, not a class for children with special needs). it financially makes sense for the school to place her here so that further adaptations don't have to be made to another class. 5th, i just love the whole concept. since when were we meant to move from one grade to another (or a new class each year) at such a young age? certainly wasn't done that way originally when we had the same teacher from kindergarten to grade 12 (you know, when OUR parents had to walk 2 miles in the snow uphill to and from school). i know, that is ancient history, but still. it's a lot to ask a 5 year old and a 6 year old and a 7 year old to suck it up, year after year. and she's had to suck it up enough already :) now is her time to settle in for 3 years of solid. 3 years of familiar. she thrives on that. and i am so excited about her future.

LASTLY, but just as exciting (if you even got through that last paragraph), an anonymous person donated money to Kids Abilities here in town so that our local tennis coach (he played professional wheelchair tennis/basketball, etc and comes to the monthly Adaptive Tennis games) could have CUSTOM SPORTS CHAIRS made for E and her friend A from P.T. (who also plays tennis). BONUS. coach johnny offered to give them private lessons! at no cost! she LOVES tennis. and of course, she chose purple :)

i hope one day this person will reveal themselves, so i can squeeze them tight and thank them. it amazes me and renews my faith in the human spirit, the generosity of strangers...

and as you can see from the last post, well, ransom is alive and well, 5 months after diagnosis.

so life? it's still good. :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011

"the kissers"

reflection of love

this past weekend we strolled downtown because the weather was divine and we all enjoy a walk in the late afternoon (and any excuse to make pictures). E was delighted as well and when we happened upon this couple there was nothing we could do to divert her star struck gaze from their hand holding and gentle pecks. they seemed content that i capture them in the reflection of a store across the street, or perhaps, blinded by young love, didn't even notice any of us or assumed i was photographing the storefront and not what was reflected in it.

and E? well, E is all about the kissing lately. she literally had to be physically pulled from her spot, in protest, so that we could go about our meandering through the city. over and over, she'd repeat, "but i wanna see the kissers. can we go back to the kissers?" and since we certainly have never referred to anything as a "kisser" in our house, (having used the term kiss or kissing), it was tough to contain our own giggles and respond to her without losing cool. since we were not heading back in the direction of "the kissers", she then started demanding that baba and i kiss, saying we don't do that enough! more laughter, and of course, we obliged once or twice.

when we had no choice but to pass by this same building again, you would have thought we were walking through the gates of W*lt Disn*y World and heading for Buzz himself. imagine her disappointment when the twosome had departed and those stairs were empty. it was time for us to head to the car for jackets and to unload some of the cameras before dinner, anyway, so we made our way.

this is the conversation that unfolded:

e: "i want to see the kissers"
mama: "i know sweet pea. i think it's wonderful that you like to see people that love each other, it's a beautiful way to show someone how you feel. but they already left. i bet they got hungry too and maybe they went to get some dinner"
e: "well, maybe we can go back" (to the stairs)
mama: "sweet pea they aren't there anymore, remember?"
e: "well... we could follow them"
baba: "honey that's called stalking"
e: "well...i can stalk them"


insert the laughter that could no longer be contained, by any of us, even though she didn't have a clue what triggered our outburst!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

do you believe in magic?

the magic of e

(holga 135, fuji superia 400, double exposure)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

for Japan

(pentax k1000, fuji superia 400)

"I should not make any promises right now,
But I know if you
Somewhere in this world -
Something good will happen."



Or stop by and see HILDA GRAHNAT and buy something from her shop - from her site: "All proceeds go direclty to Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief through the Japan Red Cross Society. For just 10 USD you will receive a print or a postcard set and at the same time donate money to those in need". I just ordered some postcards for myself today.

Monday, March 7, 2011

she did it again, with ice cream


(pentax k1000, fuji superia 400)

i don't know what to say. words are taken from me. i am robbed of them so often in her presence. i mean, it was just an innocent children's book, you know the one: the h*ngry caterpillar. a favorite of mine and now, she is asking for it night after night which makes me smile. she reminds me of the butterfly on the last page, all hand painted & colorful & beautiful & new to the world & ready to fly, but having come from. she's no idea how that once caterpillar struggled for those wings. maybe one day she'll get the analogy to her own life, or see herself the way that i do.

but tonight, it wasn't about the butterfly. we were on that page where the ravenous caterpillar eats his way through everything in sight, including an ice cream cone. and as baba and i continue our back and forth, naming each delicacy, and are just about to the lollipop, she stops and points back to the ice cream and says, "we call this one 'bing-ji-ling'..." (or so it sounds to me, something like this in spelling). and in our excitement we ask her to repeat this word, and in her shyness about her first language, at first she only replies, "that's how we say it in china". and so i ask, "can you teach me? because i know i'm not saying it right" and so she says it again.

and after we say our goodnights and thank her for sharing this special word with us, i google "ice cream" in Mandarin to find this, simplified:


there, inside her heart, her head, in words and phrases, these past weeks... they surface, they bubble up, unexpected.

language is a mystery to me. we will do everything in our power to preserve hers.

so quiet... did you hear that? who's there? oh. hey! what's up?! good to see you!

don't eat your foot!

(holga 120fn, kodak ektar 100 film)

but we're just having too much fun for blogging these days. spent the whole weekend doing yard work as the weather was seriously fabulous (breezy, 70s, could not ask for better) and then we went out and bought some acrylic paints and a variety of canvases and spent the afternoon making some artwork yesterday. our legs were tooooo tired for outdoor activity!

i'm also posting more at IF as i just can't stop taking film photos and trying to learn all that i can about the cameras i haul with me just about everywhere we go. hope you guys had a great weekend!

don't eat your foot. or put your foot in your mouth. or chew your toenails. blech! :)

(and E, for the record, can in fact get half of that foot in her mouth!)