Monday, December 24, 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

in the comfort of the ivey
holding onto water
(pentax, film) 

 “I am your own way of looking at things,” she said. 
“When you allow me to live with you, 
every glance at the world around you 
will be a sort of salvation.” 
And I took her hand.

~William Stafford~

Monday, November 12, 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012

the sunflower wind
ellis and baba
mom and ellis

~Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground~ Rumi

Thursday, October 18, 2012

conversations with E

E: Mama did you kiss Baba a lot? (After her inquiries to our beginnings at age 17).

Mom: I guess I did sweetie.

E: did you kiss him for a long time? Your mom let you?

Mom: sometimes I did and at 17 yes, my mom let me.

E: well I want a boyfriend (grinning).

Mom: oh you do? How come?

E: well so I can kiss him all kind of different ways.

Mom: (help us now): all different ways? What different ways?

E: long kisses and kisses with my eyes closed.

Mom: well it's true a good kiss will make you close your eyes, but I think you might be a little young for a boyfriend and kissing. Do you like a boy in school?

E: no I want to kiss a stranger.

(No, no alarm bells HERE).

Mom: a stranger? Like who a stranger?!

 E: well that boy from the movie like in Princess Diaries because he surprise her and kiss her.

And so the crushes begin....and the clock keeps ticking, forward forward, no matter how hard i try to stall and stop it!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

our little family
i am so blessed...

Friday, August 17, 2012


ellis and the oaks
Memory is often insidious in nature, crafty and mysterious, buried so deeply inside us that even what triggers one or another to surface cannot be identified.

Today by no means was ordinary, but neither was it extraordinary. It was a long anticipated day, the "meet and greet" at school. Last night before bed, E's excitement was palpable and this morning's breakfast was punctuated with "Mama I can't wait!". This year begins first grade and in her multi-age classroom (K,1, and 2), it means she is one of the "bigger" kids, and has the privilege of welcoming six new kindergarteners. There were lots of welcome back hugs and the exchange of summer fun. We bought some school t-shirts, met with the nurse, dropped off school supplies. And this weekend promises a visit from family, always a treat.

Just after arriving home I walked Hiro and as I came back inside, as is E's way, she was hiding. We only need leave a room for a matter of minutes and this child will find a place to hide. This time she was behind the coffee table. The dog found her first and sort of jumped over her, but she wasn't trampled, and I asked her to come on over to the table to get ready for lunch. She puffed out her cheeks (classic gesture) holding back an oncoming flood of tears.


Being the hard-ass that I am apt to be in these situations (as in, the ones in which mountains are constructed out of molehills), I asked her to pull herself together and talk to me. I told her certainly having the dog jump over her was not so traumatic that it warranted such tears. This led to sobs, her own version of them, which are painfully quiet. For years we have been working on talking through our hurt. Since I "knew" this was not a catastrophe, I thought it was a good opportunity to encourage it. I had her take deep breaths and I decided to act as though her crying this hard was in no way alarming... after a glass of water, lunch served, I sat next to her and took her hand and asked if she could tell me what had made her this upset. A few bites into her sandwich she was able to open up...

E: (choking through these words): "Well I was thinking something... (long pause)... before, from before you came... before you met me"

Mom: (goosebumps all down my spine, feeling completely horrible for assuming she was crying over the dog): "You were? Do you want to tell me what you were thinking about?"

E: (again, crying through this): "Well it was a big building. Someone took me to a big building. They took me in the morning. And it was dark because the windows was closed and I was scared because when I woke up in the big building no one was there and I was scared".

Immediately I gather her into my lap, hold her to me, and we are silent for a long time while she cries. I fight my own tears.

Mom: "E I am so sorry you were scared and that you felt alone, that is a very hard thing to go through. I wish this had never happened to you, and I think you are so brave. Was this just before we met you? When you said good-bye to your jie jie?" (this was her favorite nanny at New Hope Foster Home in Beijing, she was transferred back to Jiazuo SWI in Henan about a month before we came to China, leaving the place where she had lived for 3+ years).

E: "Yeah it was in the morning but jie jie didn't take me Mama, someone else took me and I never saw jie jie again. And the building was big and the window was closed and it was dark". (By window, I believe she means shades, as later she says they were opened. Also interesting to note that Jiazuo is considerably larger than New Hope- several stories high).

I am astounded by her ability to recall such detail, though I am not certain what sparked this particular memory. It's strange how you might be going about your day when suddenly you are engulfed by the power of what is retained within us, buried in our hearts and our minds. How fragile we are, how fragile she was and is, still. And how incredibly courageous and resilient. I wish she'd never had to be...

These memories are an inestimable gift. How grateful I am that she has some way to put words to what are no doubt mere flash images in her mind, and that she finds a way, despite the flaws of her mother, to share them with me.

I am daily humbled by her strength and grace.

Monday, July 30, 2012

conversations with E

our girl 

Mom: I love this picture of you from China in your wheelchair. Look how little you were (pause). I wish I could have known you when you were a baby, I would have liked to have held you then (smiling).

E: Yeah, I was almost 4 when you met me

Mom: Yeah and you were so cute

E: Yeah and I was afraid

Mom: Me too. But we're not afraid anymore

E: Yeah, we love each other

Mom: Yes, we love each other a lot 

(hugs, kisses, silence).

Thursday, July 26, 2012


 "We are part of this universe, we are in this universe, the universe is in us"- Neil deGrasse Tyson

Saturday, June 30, 2012


 One year ago, July 1st, he took his final breaths in my arms. Until we meet again, Mr. Man, there won't be a day that passes that I don't miss you or wish I could snuggle up next to you and kiss your face. To where you are, my love goes. xoxo.

(sketch by Garth, in Ransom's favorite sleeping spot).

Thursday, June 7, 2012

summer has arrived

summer has arrived for us, how about you? the days are warm, sunny and long! ellis is recovered from her surgery and pain free, and her mom is back on her feet as well! we are busy and i can never find the time to come to this site it seems, i miss it and visiting all of you...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

day 2 post op

 i am certain a braver soul does not exist in this world than that of my daughter. i am deeply humbled by her incredible ability to face challenges that most of us will never even come close to encountering even once in our lives. she astounds me, i sit in awe of her strength, her grace, and i will never forget this week as she taught me how to endure hardship with dignity. such a privilege and an honor to call her my daughter. will be back here soon. rest assured, now that we are home from the hospital after 5 tough days, she is doing absolutely beautifully! i am not sure i could say the same with a 7 inch incision trailing down the center of my back :) but as you all have come to know, there is little if anything that keeps my girl down for long.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The strength & patience of her six year old soul staggers my mind. Tuesday, May 1st, after a two hour drive to the hospital, we spent the afternoon on a tour of the facility with a nurse who educated our little one about her surgery that was scheduled for the following morning. There were dolls, drawings, pictures, and interactive tools. E opened up eventually, engaged in the process. Then came the blood draws (she held her arm out and cried into my shoulder), the paperwork, getting settled in at a local Ronald M*Donald House (incredible accommodations!). Later, a relaxing dinner out with family, the best part of a long day.

Wednesday came to us early, the alarm ringing at 4:30AM and we arrived at the hospital by 5:45. Soon after, we were in pre-op holding and E was gowned and "wired", blood pressure taken, oxygen monitor placed. Consents were signed. "De-tether of spinal cord". The words that were the solution to her pain. The anesthesiologist met us next, detailing the plans for her induction and her possible need for a blood transfusion during surgery. We nodded in understanding. We were all tired, and ready. Her surgery was scheduled for 7:30. But not once did E melt down, or lose her wits. She wasn't the picture of calm, but she held her own- that is her way.

E has the most rare form of spina bifida (myelocystocele), something I don't normally talk about here, but perhaps that isn't wise. For her privacy, I made the decision not to speak much about the particulars of her medical condition thinking that it wasn't for me to talk about. Maybe that is true, maybe it's not. Either way, questions are asked, for her to answer of course, should she feel ready. But I don't want her to ever feel that spina bifida, or having been born with it, is anything meant for keeping behind closed doors. In this way, perhaps I've done her a disservice.

By 7:15, the nurse arrives with medication that will cause amnesia. This will make it possible for her to be wheeled away from us and not mind that she is leaving her parents... it also made her loopy and say things that had us laughing so hard the nurse thought we were crying :) By 8:30 we were concerned and learned that one of the scopes was not functioning and that there was a 2 hour delay.

By 10:45, surgery was canceled. The hard drive on the main microscope used to differentiate nerve tissue from scar tissue (she has so much scar tissue) was gone, completely frozen, and the rep was unable to get it re-booted. Dr. G was extremely apologetic and we are on the schedule to return Tuesday to finally get the surgery completed- and a good thing at that since she is in a lot of pain (pain meds are helping).

I learned that her cystocele was not really repaired in China. That her nerves are still fanned out where her spine splits ("spina bifida"), and that she has a tremendous amount of scar tissue that is causing her cord to be tethered, which of course is leading to all of this back and leg pain. But I also know that China saved her life. Literally. I know nothing about the surgeon that attempted to repair her myelocystocele, 8 months after it should have been closed (these surgeries are normally performed within 24 hours after birth), but I do know that this person is responsible for her life. I wish I could meet him or her and thank them. And though I will never know the circumstances of her relinquishment, I know these facts: her parents or someone who loved her after her birth kept her for 3 months. And by letting her go, they also saved her. Leaving her at the gate of that orphanage was her lifeline.

E is the strongest and bravest soul I know. She is a light in this world. She is the perfect of example of what it means to reflect God in this world. I see that when I look at her. No, my child is not perfect. She is flawed, like every one of us. She can be bossy and sassy and whine and she's a pretty damn good manipulator.

But there is no other child like her. If I am half the person I see in her, I am so very, very good. She calls me to be more than I am, to be a better version of myself.

Such a blessing, this little one.

I remember once a friend told me they loved their child from day one in China, but they FELL in love when their child was very sick in the hospital, much later. That sort of head over heels, all consuming love. I think I understand that now. Love, as I have always said, is organic, it changes and grows with time and is rooted in action and not in feeling. So I didn't expect to feel any differently for E today than I did for her yesterday. But something about watching my girl so bravely handle her pain, and all that she has over these last several weeks- (well, be still my beating heart)- I think there is no love like this on earth. And not anything quite as hard as seeing your child suffer.

Monday, April 16, 2012

strike a pose (there's nothing to it)

last night, for the first time in (...?) so many months (has it been more than a year?) Ping (yes, she's asked to be called Mulan's undercover name) asked to sleep in our bed, and was in so much pain (this has been and on and off occurrence with her back) that she needed Motr*n and Melaton*n to ease her into sleep. i cuddled beside her until she was soundly dreaming next to me, and in the moments she twitched and murmured her way into slumber, i was flooded with the memories of our first weeks and months together, when each night, little by little, she learned to trust herself to this mysterious stranger (me) and gave into sleep easier and easier. first she needed me on the floor right next to her toddler bed (in our room for more than a year), then i was able to move to my bed, and she'd hold my finger until it dropped away, her arm limp and fatigued. eventually she was content just to have me in the room, on my bed next to her. there were saturday "big bed nights" where she squeezed between baba and i for 20 to 30 minutes until we kissed and hugged her into her own bed beside us. eventually, she was able to sleep in our room without us, and then when she turned 5 we gradually moved her into her own room.

last night as i lay beside her, i watched her drifting and was simply overwhelmed. it is rare that my love for her consumes me. but after a tough day, knowing that she strugged through her pain, cried her way into bed, and that there was little i could do to ease it, other than be present to it and to her, i found myself utterly monopolized by this love. monopolized by who she is... braver than anyone i know... more beautiful than anyone i've ever laid eyes on (inside, outside)...stronger than the strongest of them... kind, quirky, silly, loving, fierce, thoughtful, smart, easy going, determined, fun, friendly, full of life, happy happy happy...

and 6 years old, already, in this tiny 38 pound body. she was just 3 years, 8 months old and meeting us for the first time! yesterday and a lifetime ago. where did that time go? i was struck by the ticking of the clock that took her from fluent chinese to english slang and kindergarten as i blinked and turned around. from a girl who rejected her language ("I don't want to speak Chinese mama, I want to speak home") to one who loves China and tells me everyday "I want my Chinese name to be here on my arm Mama, so I don't forget. Can you write it on me?"

she daily leaves me love notes.

and gives the best hugs in the whole wide world. kisses too.

i wish i could bottle this time. stop it. hold it still. because i'll blink and she'll be blowing my mind again... . . like this.

(*no worries about her back, neurosurgery has been called and appt has been scheduled)

Monday, April 2, 2012


leaf in the light

the budding sun
(kodak ektar 100, film)

this initial post-op period has been a bit more rough than expected. but i suspect with proper rest and care, i will be back here in time... :) thanks to all of you who continue to check in with me!

Sunday, March 18, 2012



looking up

(pentax k1000, kodak ektar 100, film)

sorry for my absence here and visiting all of you, i miss the blogs i once followed and appreciate those of you who faithfully come here. this week has been beautiful and painful saying good-bye to such a dear friend and soon i am to have surgery so things have been incredibly busy and i have needed time for reflection and pause. i am certain during my recovery there will be time to get back to reading some sites again and i look so forward to that.

i hope you are all anticipating spring and noticing the subtle changes in weather if you live in colder climates. we are enjoying warm sunny days here! i almost wish we could hang on to a bit of cold as i feel summer will come to us much sooner than anticipated...

have a wonderful week :O)

Friday, February 24, 2012

you flicker and you're beautiful, you glow inside my head*


bring me flowers

ellis hold me hypnotized, i'm mesmerized...*

(*the cure- the caterpillar)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hiro-san's Lessons



a girl and her dog

rest stop

the path



winter trees

so nice to meet you

for you


you lose! good day sir!

smile, i'm on camera
(canon EOS rebel, kodak ektar 100 film)

Hiro-san says,

life is full of challenges and stress, but pause often and take in the world around you. it is a world full of treasures. smell it. watch it. tilt your head toward the wind & bark at it. and if you're not tasting it, you are really missing out. leaves are the stuff. give them a try. if you're not willing to eat them, take your shoes off. how often do you let your feet get dirty? get dirty! greet new people with enthusiasm. smile at them, sniff them, if you are so inclined. better yet-lick their toes! rest when you need to and never worry what others think of you. you can't help that you snore and belch and sometimes drool! (okay, wait, i can't help that). apologize when you make mistakes. forgive immediately. kiss and hug and snuggle and take lots of naps. be a best friend. invite others to play. run, jump, chase each other through the woods, engage those you love in a healthy game of tug-o-war. smile when you win. smile when you lose. cuz that's what it's about. that's the ticket! living! now! with the ones you love. right here, in this moment. so go on with it!