Sunday, December 31, 2006

If looks could kill...

So after a fun day together, my precious little angel decided she did NOT want to go to bed last night. The minute I mentioned that it was getting close to bedtime, her eyes filled with tears and she said in her little quivering voice "But I'm not tired and I want to stay up with you."

Before your heart melts, I should tell you that Emma is pretty good at turning the tears on and off when she wants something (or in this case, didn't want to do something.) So, despite the tears, I got her clothes off her totally limp and uncooperative body and got her nightgown on. Then it was off to the bathroom to go potty and brush our teeth. I think reality was setting in, because this is the look Emma shot me while she was sluggishly brushing her teeth...

Isn't she adorable? Anyway, upstairs to bed we went, a quick story and then lights out. Despite her protestations, Emma was asleep within seconds. And here it is, 12 hours later, and she's still asleep! I think someone was more tired than she knew.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

At least someone got some new clothes!

I may have mentioned that my Christmas largesse consisted primarily of clothes that didn't fit me (big surprise!) However, Emma totally lucked out and got a fantastic new dress-up outfit from my Aunt Hazel. Everything fit her and it looks mah-velous!

Unfortunately, I snapped this picture before Emma draped herself with the bright purple feather boa that makes this ensemble complete!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Belated Merry Christmas!

We just got back from my parent's house...we had a fantastic holiday. Nothing earthshaking...just a great time with our family.

Emma says she had a super Christmas and was so excited that Santa remembered that she was staying at Biggie and Poppa's for Christmas. Here she is, opening her gift from Santa...the ultra-hip Polly Pocket Cruise Ship...

Her big present was the new bike she got from grandma and grandpa...they got her a 12 inch bike last Christmas, but she has already outgrown it! So we went with the 16 inch Cinderella bike. It's a little big, but I think it will be fine by summertime...

I got a bunch of clothes that didn't fit, but who cares? It was just fun watching Emma enjoy the holiday.

Here's my favorite picture I took this week...Emma was sitting on her Uncle Murphy's lap...

I don't know what it is about this picture, but Emma looks so grown up to me. I can't believe I will have a five-year-old in a couple of months.

Hope everyone had a great holiday...from catching up on the blogs, it sounds like you did!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

And we're off...

...tomorrow to spend the holiday at my parent's house. As you can see, Emma is packed and ready to go!

Although I'm not that thrilled with the long drive, we're looking forward to spending Christmas with my mom and dad. Emma is so out-of-her-mind excited about Christmas this year. I'm convinced four is about the age where the anticipation of Christmas is nearly unbearable for a child. The season really does take on a whole new meaning when it's shared with kids.

Hope everyone has a wonderful and safe holiday...hopefully I'll have some festive pics of Emma for you after Monday!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Not so fast...

As I've read the comments some of you have left on my last post, I was concerned that I may have come across as the world's most perfect, know-it-all parent. I was re-reading the post and I really did sound like a self-congratulatory cross between Dr. T. Berry Brazelton and the Supernanny. Trust me when I tell you, every day I wake up and hope to be a fantastic parent and every single day, I fall short (some days, WAY short!)

It seems like at the end of the day, there's always something I beat myself up about. I'm constantly doubting my parenting skills (or lack of said skills.) There's something I said to Emma that day that I now regret or something I should have said. I came down too hard on her about something, or I bought her something she really doesn't need and now I'm spoiling her. Then there are the days where I'm tired and cross and she's whiny and we seem to be at odds all day. Those are the days when you just have tell yourself to start all over again the next day and hope that your kid isn't storing all this stuff in her head for when she writes her "Mommie Dearest" memoir in 35 years.

I swear, every night when I go to bed at night, I pray to God to give me the strength and wisdom to be a better mom the next day.

I guess the point of this rambling post need to pat me on the back and tell me what a great mother I am. I think I'm a better mom than I ever thought I would be. But I know there are people out there doing a better job than me. I'm definitely a work in progress!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The meltdown

Let me preface this by saying I have been pretty much blessed with the world's most even-tempered and well-behaved child. I'm sure it's partly due to her genetics and partly due to the fact that I expect Emma to behave and she knows there are consequences if she doesn't. I think I've had to put her in the "naughty chair" like three times in her life. And in the past four years, we've had to leave a grocery store once and a restaurant once because she wasn't being good. The point is, she's a wonderful kid.

However, she's not perfect (what child is?) It seems that every year, a couple months before her birthday, she has a bad week or two where she apparently is getting all the bad behavior out of her system. She did it before she turned two (I remember the first time she threw herself on the floor sobbing hysterically because she didn't get her way, I was convinced she was autistic!) And she did it right before she turned three and four. And now we're having a little bump a couple months before she turns five.

So the past week, I've seen a significant upswing in the teariness and whining (when Emma starts the whining, I tell her "sorry, I can't understand you because I don't speak Whinese" - I know, what a comedian!) I guess I should be grateful she doesn't ever throw tantrums - man, I have friends whose kids scream and yell and hit them and do all this stuff I wouldn't put up with for a second! But the incessant whining over the past week, I have to admit, has really gotten on my nerves.

Anyway, last night we had Emma's friend Helen over for a couple of hours (her parents had a neighborhood holiday party to attend.) Unfortunately, from almost the moment Helen was dropped off, Emma decided it was going to be an unpleasant evening for everyone involved. We made some gingerbread cookies and Emma pouted because she thought hers turned out badly. We made reindeer out of construction paper and Emma sulked because I had the nerve to compliment Helen on hers. We decided to play a game and, of course, the girls fought over who got to use a particular game piece. When I told Emma that Helen was our guest and she could choose which one she wanted to play with, well. that was the final straw! Emma ran into her room and flung herself on her bed sobbing. She wisely didn't close the door, so we could hear the full extent of her agony.

I know some parents would disagree, but my strategy when we have one of these rare meltdowns is to pretty much ignore it. I went in the room and told Emma when she got herself under control, she should come back out and play with Helen and me. But like most kids, Emma is stubborn and she stayed in there and sobbed for the better part of 30 minutes. Helen's mom came to pick her up and asked what was going on, I just rolled my eyes...she understood!

So like ten seconds after Helen left, Emma came out of her room and said (like nothing had happened) "Can I have a snack now?" I had to sit her down and explain how VERY disappointed I was in her behavior and how I wouldn't be surprised if Helen doesn't want to come back over for a long time. Which led to more tears. She wanted to know if I hated her (she has been pulling this out everytime I need to reprimand her about anything.) I assured her I didn't hate her, I loved her more than anything in the world, but that doesn't mean I don't always like her behavior.

Blah, blah, blah. I guess we'll see today if she got her little annual emotional growing spurt out of her system. We have another busy weekend, including going to our church's huge holiday spectacular with a big light show, the choir singing Christmas songs, a live nativity and Santa and Mrs. Claus (it kind of takes in everything!) I would prefer not to have to leave this because of my whiny kid. I think I'll just be positive and BELIEVE she's going to shape up!

Anyway, I thought I'd leave you a picture of Emma from earlier in the week when she was's hard to believe we were sledding at this same park two weeks ago!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

FFFF challenge

Donna's FFFF challenge this weeks is pajamas! Emma pretty much prefers nightgowns to pj's. Here are a couple pictures of her in her favorite nightgown. This particular evening, she was favoring us with one of her energetic interpretive dances...


Sunday, December 10, 2006


We've had a very full and exhausting weekend. What is it about this time of year? We are not exactly social butterflies, but we are booked every weekend until the end of the year. I like to be out and about, but we did way too much this weekend. The house is a disaster area because I haven't had any time to clean. I did just do two loads of laundry, so I feel a bit better.

Anyway, the most fun we had this weekend was on Saturday when we met two of my friends and their daughters from China. We went to this children's museum thing that the kids loved. Emma, of course, spent the bulk of her time in the art area. Here's a picture of her and her friend Kimmie, who just got glasses and looks adorable!

They had this pretend hospital and Emma was the doctor (guess who had to be the patient?!) Anyway, she ran around with these glasses and badge and a pager and was hysterical! My favorite moment was when her "pager" went off and she yelled "Let the nurse handle it - I have an emergency here!" I love this picture...

I wonder if there's any chance Emma will ever become a doctor? That would be cool...I could stop saving for retirement.

And here's one other pic of Emma, Kimmie and Jenna. They will all turn five in the next three's so hard to believe. They are all such sweet girls...each unique in her own way. Us moms met at an adoption seminar during the wait and have stayed close for more than five years now.

Well, I need to unload the dishwasher so I don't feel like a total slug. Have a good week, all!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Four years ago today...

...I was sitting in a meeting room at a hotel in Changsha, China waiting to be given my baby girl. My memories of that day are a blur. But I do remember being almost sick with apprehension. The day before, we had been given the latest development reports on our children-to-be. What I zeroed in on was that little Yin Yi Qian (Emma) got very upset when she was around strangers. My new daughter was going to hate me! She had been at the orphanage since she was two days old and had never left the building until she was carried onto a bus on this chilly December day to be driven to a hotel 90 minutes away to be handed to a total stranger who looked and smelled different than anyone she had ever seen before. I was almost in tears thinking about how confused and upset she was going to be. I was just sitting in this room with my sister and niece and 11 other families and thinking to myself what a monumental mistake this had been. I was literally shaking.

But I didn't have much time to fret because our CCAI guide announced the babies were here! And who was the very first baby that was carried in the room...but little Yin Yi Qian! Here is a short slide show of our first moments together. I apologize for the poor quality of the photos. This was before the advent of digital photography and I had to scan these in with my crappy scanner. But anyway...

Here was the moment I was handed my you can see, she looks thrilled!

As you can tell, our first few moments were not without a few tears!

Bu then I showed her the little toy I had brought for was a small baby mirror.

I really don't know why I chose this particular toy...but it was a brilliant choice. Who knows if my baby had ever even seen herself in a mirror before? After that, it was the start of a love affair that continues to this day (not between Emma and me...between Emma and the MIRROR!)

After showing her the mirror, there were no more tears from Miss Emma...she was a pretty happy little baby for the rest of our time in the room...

The one thing that I was later a little sad about was that, because Emma was the first baby in the room, I really didn't get to enjoy the rest of our group getting their babies. Of course, we would get to know them over the next two weeks, but I would have liked to have seen the joy of the other families as they saw their babies for the first time.

Anyway, after like 15 minutes, we were told to take the babies back to our rooms and try to wind down a little from all the excitement. When I got Emma to the room, I began taking off her FIVE layers of clothing! No exaggeration. When I finally got her stripped down, it was time to attempt my first diaper change. My niece D.J. watched with much amusement. I'm sure Emma was thinking at this point "who is this idiot and why can't she get a diaper on the first try!"

Then it was time for our first bottle. I have to tell you that during the wait, I spent countless hours researching baby bottles and finally settled on Avent bottles with the disposable liners. The perfect choice. So I mixed up Emma's Chinese formula, which we had bought at the grocery store the night before. I put it in my state-of-the-art bottle and put it in Emma's mouth. "No, I don't think so," she said. Well, she didn't actually SAY it, but she kept pushing the bottle away so I knew that's what she was thinking. I was in a real panic. She was very hungry but she wouldn't let me give her a bottle. Our CCAI rep said some babies only like the bottles they're used to. So my sister Marcia ran across the street to a little store across the street and bought some cheap Chinese bottles. We made cuts in the nipples so the formula would come out easier and - TAH-DAH - I successfully gave Emma her bottle!

And here's a little post-bottle bliss...I think we were starting to bond a little...

This is my favorite picture of the two of us from the entire trip...and it was taken just a few hours after we met...

I have to thank my sister Marcia who did such a good job taking pictures of our trip to China...because my memories of the experience are sometimes blurry, it's so great to see all the photos she took.

Far from being a monumental mistake, choosing adoption was the best decision I have ever made. Has it always been easy? No, of course not. We had a very difficult first month home. The first week back, I was sick with infected tonsils and the remnants of food poisoning that I picked up my last day in China (I spent the entire flight home in the bathroom throwing up.) The first week, we were up all night and slept all day because of the time difference. And even when we got back on schedule, poor Emma suffered through night terrors for a month. She would be fast asleep, but cried and cried. I felt so helpless and was exhausted. Even though I didn't know it at the time, I'm sure I was suffering through some post-adoption depression. But soon Emma started to sleep through the night without crying and I got some sleep and we got through it all.

So I can't believe it's really been four has the time gone by so quickly? It's a cliche, but it really does seem like yesterday. On the other hand, I really have no memory of my life before Emma, so it seems like forever. I love you so much, my little girl...every day, but especially on December 9th!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Xmas photo outtakes

We had Emma's Christmas pictures taken a couple of weeks are a couple of them we ended up not using for the cards. The resolution isn't very good because they're scanned from proofs. But I thought the photographer did a good job. We've been going to her since Emma was one year old. She's not a great artiste or anything...she's just been taking kids' pictures for more than 20 years and does a nice job of capturing their personalities. We really like her. Anyway, hope you like the photos!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Let's go sledding!

Whenever it snows here, hundreds of kids head to a park charmingly dubbed "Suicide Hill" to go sledding. The park has a frighteningly steep hill that stops just short of a very busy street. Families have been sledding at this park for generations.

So when we got 8 inches of snow Thursday night, my friend Dana and I decided to try to talk our girls into sledding at Suicide Hill. Jia was totally game, but Emma took some convincing. One of the few things that concerns me about Emma is her reluctance to try anything new. She is such a timid child (hopefully this will come in handy down the road when one of her friends pressures her to try cigarettes or drugs.) In the meantime, she often hangs back when it comes to new experiences. But we threw caution to the wind and loaded our sleds in the car and drove over to the park, which was quite the scene.

Much to my surprise, it didn't take much convincing to get Emma on the sled and we were going down the less steep part of the hill in no time!

The girls had an absolute blast and looked so cute on the sled together!

Of course, for the first time,I found out how much work sledding is for PARENTS...I'm the one that had to drag the sled back up the hill time after time - often pulling my 31 pound daughter on it. I'm a little sore this morning, but it was great fun and I'm sure we'll be doing it again soon.