12 month report

August 14, 2011

At 6 months and 12 months we are required to send an update to Taiwan. October 4 will mark 12 months that Evan has been with our family and this is the report we are sending:

Evan is truly an amazing child. He is healthy and already very athletic. He can throw and kick balls, balance on a skateboard, run, and jump. Evan is a very happy boy and a joy to be around. He likes to make people laugh, give hugs, and play with toys. There have not been any attachment issues. He is exceptionally smart and aware of what’s going on around him. He is already speaking in English sentences, but we are trying to preserve some of the Mandarin words he knew previously. At age 3 he can go to Chinese school with his older sister. Evan has come far socially. He is learning how to take turns and use words to express himself with others. We have absolutely no concerns about our delightful little boy. He’s healthy; he eats and sleeps well; he is advanced physically and intellectually; and he is receiving lots of love from his many family members and friends.

Advertisements

Back to Work

August 1, 2011

In one week I return to work as a teacher. I like my job, I love teenagers, I feel good about what I do, and yet, I’m sad to lose so much time with Ava and Evan. They will both be in great places- we love Ava’s elementary school and so does she, Evan will be at the same wholesome, nurturing preschool Ava attended for three years- so we know they will be happy and well-cared for while away from us.

My biggest concern is time. How will we have time to have fun, to get things done, to relax? I’m sure we’ll make it work. Plenty of families have two working parents and they are fine.

I’ve always thought of this blog as a place to first) write about events that we will want to share with our children in detail when they are older, and second) update family and friends on the more interesting parts of our lives. So many people have loved us and supported us through the adoption process and naturally they continued to care about how our children and our family were adjusting. I’m sure I will occasionally write about our interesting thoughts and endeavors, but I’m not seeing a lot of time in my future to write regular posts.

I still want to complete a life book for Ava and eventually one for Evan, and I keep a journal for each of them so they will know my thoughts and feelings as they were growing up. If we have any regular readers out there (hello, grandmas and aunts) I wanted to let you know that I’ll be writing less here, but this is still the best place for me to post pictures (via the Flickr link at the lower right corner).  I also post some pictures on Facebook if that’s a convenient place for you to visit.

Check back every couple of months if you want to read about major events in our lives and see pictures of the kids and the things they are doing.


First vacation as a family of 4

July 21, 2011

And what a vacation it’s been! First, we met up with some families we met 5 years ago in China when we were all adopting our children. The four families that could make it to the reunion stayed near Bryson City, NC, in the great Smoky Mountains. The girls are 5 and 6 now, but somehow they new there was a special bond between them. We spent lots of time outdoors with everyone tubing down a creek, swimming in the lake, and hiking in the forest. It was so much fun to reminisce about our time in China 5 years ago and talk about how our girls have grown into healthy, confident kids.

Then we were off to Asheville, NC, where we met up with friends from home who were also vacationing there. We saw some clogging while listening to blue grass at the Shindig on the Green. We ate, and ate, and ate including some lamb vindaloo at was hotter than any we’ve ever had. The street musicians were quite talented and we felt right at home with the hippy, earth-loving people of Asheville.

The last stretch of our vacation was spent in Isle of Palms, SC, on the beach. Beach vacations are the best! Time practically stops as there is hardly anything else to do but sit in the water and feel the warm ocean water surround you. We did go into Charleston one day for a southern experience. While there we ate more shrimp and grits (a new favorite that will be hard to find at home); we did a walking tour of buildings that were 300-400 years old, and we visited a few historical sites like the house where the articles of nullification were written.

Today is our last day of vacation and a local suggested Shem Creek where we will likely see dolphins and be able to eat outside with the best view in the south of the sunset. Ava and Evan have been so happy on this trip playing in water, being with friends, and getting lots of attention from mom and dad. Tomorrow we go home and we’ll take many, many happy memories with us.

(Lots of pictures to upload when I get home)


Summer Fun

July 6, 2011

It seems like kindergarten just ended last week, but summer is half way over and I go back to work in 5 weeks. Summer is full of activity for our family. As much as we love to relax at home, we also love to get out and play. This summer we’ve seen some ‘firsts’ for Ava. In June we took the training wheels off of her bike for the last time. For the past year, we would take them off, put them on, take them off, put them on, but she never had enough confidence to actually pedal. She could coast down the street and balance perfectly, but she would never pedal. Last night she rode a mile to our friends’ house weaving in and out of people on the trail.  I can’t wait to try jogging with her on her bike and Evan in the stroller.

Ava is also reading now and loves to read to us at night. In her play-based kindergarten they didn’t do a lot of reading instruction, but she picked it up and seems motivated to practice on her own (I wish she felt the same way about writing).

Ava started swimming last summer, but this year she went down the big, twisty water slides and loved it! I couldn’t believe it. Those slides scare me sometimes and I thought it would be years before Ava would want to try them. Next year will be the diving board, I’m sure.

We went to the Chinese Heritage Camp in June with our friends from NE and some friends we know here. The girls and moms had a great time again. The counselors at this camp are all Asian (mostly Chinese) and they are amazing with the kids. I’m so thankful for this camp and I hope we can get more and more friends to join us in the future. There were about 70 families there this year and all of the kids were born in China or Taiwan. On the second day Ava said, “Mom, have you noticed there are so many American grown-ups here and almost all of the kids are Chinese?” I had to laugh at this obvious statement because this is exactly who the camps are for. Evan didn’t go to Chinese camp this year, but he will when he’s 4 or 5.

Evan has been with our family now for 9 months. He is 2 years and 4 months old, but he thinks he is 6. He wants to do everything Ava does. Since he can’t ride a bike yet, he’s been working on his skateboarding skills. While it scares me to death to watch him, he hasn’t fallen yet and he can flip one side of the board up while he balances on the other side.

At the pool Evan is hesitant, but he’s not afraid. He finally figured out how to hold on to his floaty and he likes kicking to make himself move. I’m continually amazed by Evan’s physical abilities which are quite normal, but not what I’m used to. Ava was slightly delayed physically, plus she was timid and cautious for her first few years with us. With Evan I find myself thinking, ‘Is this the day we go to the emergency room?’ So far we’ve had zero trips to the emergency room.

Evan already has a vivid imagination and he loves to pretend he’s a dog, Cookie Monster, a baby, a tractor driver, or a stunt man. He rarely asks me to hold him anymore and he wants to do everything “Evan self.” We took the kids to watch fireworks on the 4th of July and Evan couldn’t contain his excitement. He was bouncing all over the place pretending to be a firework and he’s added an exploding noise to his repertoire of sound effects. Yes, he is our little firecracker.

Soon we’ll be heading to the east coast to visit with some families we met in China 5 years ago and then we’ll hang out on the beach for a few days. Nathan and I have been running a lot this summer and in August we’ll run the Georgetown Half Marathon. Once again I didn’t get to many of the house projects I intended to finish this summer, but we never fail to have fun which is always at the top of my to do list.


Some thoughts on parenting

May 20, 2011

A few months ago I read an article about parents being less happy than their childless peers: http://nymag.com/news/features/67024/

I don’t disagree with the article and I like how it’s written. It validates the feelings I have when I think parenting is really, really hard and it confirms my idea that having children is the best thing in the world. I remember telling Nathan about the article and he said, “Of course we’re less happy; we have so much to worry about now.” It’s hard not to worry as a parent- there is SO MUCH to worry about.

I like how the article captured the way a parent can go from monumental bliss to outrage in less than two minutes and that cycle continues throughout the day almost every day. I love Ava and Evan more than anything. Sometimes I feel like my heart would burst if I loved them any more. And then I am shocked by the anger I feel when they wake me up 4-5 times a night (not every night, thank goodness), when Evan tests the boundaries over and over again, and when Ava acts like a 2 year old instead of a 6 year old.

***

Someone once said, “Oh, you will be a real mom once you have 2 kids.” I disagree with this because a real mom is a real mom no matter how many kids she has, but I think I know where the statement was coming from. Perhaps Ava was unusual, or perhaps I’ve already forgotten how she was when she was two, but I’m surprised by the nonstop attention (positive and negative) Evan needs and desires. Ava can play for hours on her own, sit quietly next to me and draw pictures, and wait pretty patiently when I say I will be with her in a minute, right after I take the scalding water off the stove. Evan cannot, will not wait for anything. Because he’s such a verbal kid, he wants to talk- as in, have a conversation- all the time. If I’m not paying 100% attention to the conversation, he knows and he is angry. I have to reply with specific details- a simple uh-huh will not suffice. Of course, this is a great problem to have, right? He is so verbal- he can express any idea, he’s speaking in simple sentences, and his pronunciation is nearly perfect. I’m working on appreciating that about him rather than being annoyed by his constant need to chat.

***

A few weeks ago Nathan and I went to Portland for 3 days and 2 nights and left the kids with our moms who took turns caring for them. The most amazing thing about the trip without kids was that I could have a conversation and I could complete a thought. I barely notice how my complete attention is given to either one of the kids or both at all times, except for when I am away from them. No wonder some moms (like me) seem scattered and spacey all the time. Their thoughts, plans, and ideas are constantly interrupted causing them to forget what they are doing and where they are going.

***

There’s something else about parenting that I want to try to capture in words, but the words can never reproduce the exact feeling. It is the feeling I get when I snuggle up to Ava or Evan, cheek to cheek, arms wrapped around each other. The first thing I notice is how smooth and flawless their skin is. I love to rub my cheek against theirs, smelling their hair and skin. Then my heart warms and my breathing slows down. I take a deep breath in, close my eyes and savor the moment  When I am holding Ava or Evan in my arms, I feel like time stops and whatever is wrong in the world is made right.

Related to this idea is the unique feeling we get when we watch a sleeping child. No matter what the child has done previously that day- dumped out the trash, tortured the pets, poured milk on the carpet- all is forgiven when his or her parents watches the child sleeping. They’re like real little angels, or fairies, with the most innocent expressions on their faces. They lay there so still breathing heavily after a full day of activity and wonder.  I kiss their cheeks and foreheads, again noticing the silky skin on my lips and I bask in the warmth of their sweetness.

***

And finally I find myself thinking (for that minute or two per day that I can actually have a thought) about the sadness parents feel as their children grow up. Why is that? We should be happy for them, proud of everything they have accomplished, right? Are we sad because the older they get, the less time we know they have with us, living in our home? Is it because they lose their innocence as they get older and realize that the world isn’t all about fairies, unicorns, and the Easter bunny?  Whatever the reason, I’m finding it particularly difficult to accept that kindergarten is almost over. I feel like that’s it, there is absolutely no way I can consider Ava my baby any more after kindergarten. Sure, I’ll still baby her and she’ll still cuddle with me and come to me when she needs a shoulder to cry on, but like a baby bird, she is leaving the nest more and more often for longer periods of time. Friends are more fun than mom and dad, school will be a full day next year, and she has opinions, lots of them, that aren’t necessarily the same as my opinions. I know this is a recurring feeling and I will feel it again and again until she does finally leave the house at age 25 when I unlock the doors and let her go. . . on second thought, 30 is a nice age to start one’s life- perhaps I’ll let her go when she’s 30 🙂


And then there are those days. . .

April 10, 2011

The ones where I think I should have gone back to work while Evan is 2 and taken a year off to be with him when he is 6.

The ones where Evan tries to test every boundary, break every rule, and destroy everything in our house.

Last Thursday started out like any other Thursday. I made a long to-do list since I didn’t have to pick Ava up until 3pm, I sat down with my coffee to relax for a few minutes because Nathan was taking Ava to school, and I was excited to have time to exercise and get some things done.

I started the exercise DVD and immediately Evan was whining, “No dance, momma, no dance.” I tried to push through the 25 minute video thinking, he’ll be fine, it’s only 25 minutes. Well, HE didn’t think he’d be fine and his whining turned into a full on wale. I stopped the DVD and held him for awhile to calm him down.

Then a man came to give us an estimate for air conditioning and as I tried to follow what he was saying, Evan sat it my lap yelling, “Momma, draw bus, DRAW BUS, BIG BUS.” I told him I would draw a bus after the man was done talking. “NNNOOOOO.”

Later it was time to take a shower and I usually drag Evan’s little activity table into the bathroom so he can play with that while I shower. Normally he does play with it, but on this day he learned how to use it as a step stool and get into everything on the counter that is too high for him to reach. Before I could get out and stop him, he dumped out my expensive powder makeup and applied about a 1/4 of my expensive sunscreen to his face and hair.

By this time in the day, I thought I could squeeze in a trip to the grocery store before naptime and while I was getting the grocery list and shopping bags ready, Evan carried his stool out of the bathroom and used it to get into the forbidden junk drawer. He got a couple of Tic Tac mints (not a huge deal) and then set off the car alarm trying to get my keys out for me.

I put him in the car, half hoping he would fall asleep and I could come home and carry him up to bed. Nope. We went inside the store where he wouldn’t sit in the cart and insisted I carry him. Carrying a 25 pound two year old while pushing a cart one handed is not only inconvenient, it looks funny and people kept offering to help me which was embarrassing and I just wanted to explain that it was the only way I could get the milk we would need for bottles and lattes the next day and yes it was worth it to me to do it this way instead of coming back later.

I don’t remember Evan napping that day although I’m pretty sure he did. He never naps longer than an hour and a half though, so it’s barely enough time to take a few deep breaths and check my email.

Thursday is Ava’s dance day and the teacher asked us to stick around because she needed to talk to us about the recital. Instead of taking Evan outside where he can run around, we stayed near the dance room. He can now open most doors, and he kept trying to get into the dance class. When I tried to pry him off the door, he screamed, “No, Evan self. Evan dance.” Once we were allowed into the class, I was trying to focus on what the teacher was saying when I heard all the little girls giggling. I looked over and saw Evan running around in circles and falling down on purpose. The teacher said, “We don’t run on the dance floor, do we girls?” I scooped him up and told Ava to listen to the rest of her directions for the recital and I’d be outside waiting for her.

I gave up on making dinner that night and just sat with Evan until Nathan came home. When he has my undivided attention, he’s the sweetest little boy. I felt so guilty for not giving him more attention, but I have one day a week where I plan to get things done and every other day, I spend most of the day doing fun things with the kids. For some reason, I thought a two year old would understand that and have a little more patience- what was I thinking?!

Nathan put the kids to bed that night while I was out having a little grown up time with a friend. He reported that Evan head-butted Ava so hard she was in tears, and while in timeout, he demonstrated for Nathan what a two year old tantrum is all about. Sounded like I got out of there before he pushed me over the edge.

Wednesday was lovely, Friday was a blast, but oh how Thursday made me feel like a terrible mommy. I know these days will happen and luckily they are rare, but I’m caught off guard every time and find myself wondering what I’m doing wrong. I love people who acknowledge that raising kids can be hard at times and I love moms who tell me about their similar experiences. I’m not perfect- I could have done things differently, but I didn’t and I’m sure we’ll have a few more days like this in the future. Without them, how could I appreciate the days where I feel like supermom handling every crisis with grace, practicing extreme patience, and providing my kids with the type of parenting I feel they deserve? (Ok, those days are kind of rare, too. Most days are in between, which is just fine with me.)


My Dreamy Life as a S.A.H.M.

April 3, 2011

People ask me how I like being a stay-at-home-mom, and the first word that comes to mind is “dreamy.”

Ever since Ava came home almost 5 years ago, I’ve wanted to find a way to spend more time with her. The obvious answer would be to quit working and stay at home, but in order to live where we lived and do the things we enjoy, that wasn’t possible. When we first filled out the adoption paperwork for Evan, we said we could take a child up to 4 years old. Assuming we would get an older child and thinking he might need some extra time and attention for attachment, we decided I should stay home for at least one year to make sure the transition went well. In order for us to live on one income (and pay off some debt) we had to move out of Boulder.

As much as I love Boulder, I have to admit, this stay at home life is pretty incredible. As a teacher and mother, I found life to be a little stressful- work was never done and I was never the mom I wanted to be. Now, there is very little stress in my life, I have time to do fun things with the kids, and do a few things for myself. I take Ava to school three days a week and her school is in Boulder, so Evan and I hang out in Boulder going for hikes, jogging, playing at parks, meeting friends, and swimming. Two days a week Nathan takes Ava to school, so Evan and I can stay in our pajamas until 11am if we want to.

Our days are often full, packed with activity. In the winter after picking Ava up at 11:20 from school we would go sledding or swimming, or come home to do some sort of craft project or bake. Now that the weather’s nice, I take a lunch and we have a 2-3 hour picnic with friends after school or we come home and play outside with the neighbor friends.

Sure there are things that still don’t get done like cleaning, laundry, paperwork, thank you notes, and house projects, but we are living the life I would love to give our kids, one that’s relaxed, allows for time to discover, and one where we are all having lots of fun together.

And, as much as I love it, as much as I know it’s good for the kids and even Nathan, we’ve decided I will go back to work in August. It was an incredibly hard decision to make, one that we took a few months to discuss. In the end, we realized that our need for adventure, our need to experience life to the fullest costs more than we can save on one salary. We have so many dreams and goals for our lives together. We want to bike through Europe, hike the Appalachian trail, live in China for at least a month, sail the western coast of the US, publish books and make movies (Nathan’s dream), own a cabin in the mountains, show our children the world by visiting every continent (except maybe Antarctica), give money to causes we believe in, and if we still have money after all of that, send our kids to college.

I feel so lucky to have had this year at home with the kids. I also know that I still get to be a SAHM two and a half months out of the year while I’m on summer break, so I can’t complain too much. And finally, I am lucky I have a career that I actually enjoy and feel passionate about- I just have to figure out how to be a good teacher and a good mom at the same time.