Ok, I'm still on this 'clean up my hard drive' kick & look what I found this a.m.! This was taken at the annual AHH picnic for the families who have adopted through their agency. This was the just a few weeks after we had gotten home from China w/ Emma (summer 2005). Isn't she a doll!
I'm trying desperately to clean up my hard drive and am finding it terribly difficult to delete pictures, even bad pictures. It took forever (and a gazillion) cd's to copy off 2005 to 2007 to cd so I'm making a belated new year's resolution to delete pictures that just do not need to be kept such as blurry ones, or 50 that look almost alike. It's very difficult for me to delete pictures of my children, even if the picture is bad.
Anyway, I started with 2008 since I already have the rest backed up. Then I ran into a few I hadn't posted! Oh boy!
Emma Sweet (I love this outfit, my brother & sister-in-law bought it for her for Christmas in 06. She was able to wear it that year as well as 07!!! We're saving it for her little sister too, it looks so grownup!).
Okay, we've all heard stories about little ones cutting their own hair. We've also heard stories of little ones cutting their sibling's hair. Well, Miz Emma caught me off guard and my back to her and she cut my hair!
My new words of wisdom "Never.Turn.Your.Back.On.A.Toddler.With.Scissors"!
Thankfully it wasn't a huge chunk of hair but was more about the size of a pencil, smaller really but not just a couple of strands of hair either.
To add to my post from yesterday, I wanted to spend a minute or two on "goofy questions" that adoptive parents endure. Again, like in the previous post - I thought I was well read and had a ready and good answer for the times we would receive a weird question.
Prior to adopting Emma, I read about all kinds of things people will ask you and was warned that the grocery line is the absolute worst place for exchanges because you really are a captive audience to inquiring minds. We read all kinds of horror stories of questions that families were asked with their precious little ones right there listening to the answer.
I will have to say that we have had it pretty easy in the 3 years we have had Emma. Maybe it's because we live in an area where people are just genuinely friendly and nice or maybe our children are so busy talking when we are in line somewhere that we just do not hear any questions, I'm not sure. Regardless, we haven't had it too bad. But, we have had a couple of weird encounters.
The first one was at a coworkers house attending a Christening party for their daughter. We had visited with this really nice lady for quite a while and then the conversation switched to adoption. She had a family member who was in the process of adopting and seemed to know quite a bit of adoption lingo and the conversation was going really well. Then out of the blue she asks "The only question I have about adopting these girls from China, well - who in the world are they going to marry?" I was speechless and for those of you who know me - I'm a talker. All the articles and what not that I had read about this topic were absolutely useless as I couldn't get a single word out. I think I ended up mumbling something about living in a multicultural world and then excused myself.
The second one, well - this one has happened several times but it really cracks me up. This one is along the lines of "does she speak English" or "does she have an accent". I really have to respect my mother's sense of humor because she was asked this question not too long ago about her precious granddaughter and her reply was "well, she does have quite a bit of a southern sound when she's singing gospel songs".
The third one is one I have read about time after time and am surprised that it took almost 3 years before encountering. A clerk at a store asked us, with Emma standing right there - is she Chinese and when I answered yes she went into this long drawn out story of people in China just throwing children away, etc and giving absolutely no thought to my blessing standing right there next to me listening to every word. How in the world do you educate someone like that? How do you explain to someone the inapproriateness of such a comment in front of your child? Again, I thought I was prepared but found myself not even close when caught off guard like that.
The question we're told we'll get next and more often is once we add our next child. That question will be "Are they sisters?". The answer of course is "yes". What the questioner really wants to know is if the children are biological siblings and I'm told it may continue with such things as "no, I mean are they really sisters?". Yes, they really will be sisters. Someone needs to help me out with an intelligent sounding response along the lines of DNA not being the determining factors in a sibling relationship.
I've been meaning to blog about this, but haven't really had the time to sit down and formulate my words as I would like. And, I'm really not sure I can even adequately describe the feeling I had, but I'll try.
Back when school first started, I had signed up to help with some of the class parties for Ryan's class and also ended up being the person who organized the Valentine party. I searched through various websites & magazines and came up with what I thought was a pretty good plan. All organized with crafts, games and snacks and moving from section to section on 15 minute intervals. The plan was in place, the craft supplies ordered and parents lined up to bring in snacks and a couple of extra parents to help out with the games. There was a plan and the plan looked good.
I was particularly happy with the game I had found, it was where you pick up the little conversation hearts with chopsticks and see how many you can get in a certain amount of time. We had the room divided into 4 tables and a fellow parent/friend played the game with one table while I played the game with the other. We then did the same thing on the other side of the room. Great game. Great plan. The kids were really enjoying themselves and were really getting into a pretty big competition with each other. I was pretty darn proud of myself for finding something they obviously enjoyed.
Then ... when we got to the last table, one of the little boys didn't write his name on the sign up sheet. We go to church with this young man's family and I taught him in Sunday school when these guys were in kindergarten, so he is someone I know. I noticed that as we moved closer to it being what should have been his turn, that he walked behind me and stood where the child that had gone first was standing - except he was somewhat standing behind her. Hindsight of course is 20/20. But, do I really stop and think "why" does this child act like he doesn't want to play? No, of course not. I call the young man by name and ask him if he wants to play and he shrugs his shoulders and says no. One of the other children says "oh no, he can't play. He'll BEAT us!". But she didn't say it in a mean way, just more of a matter of fact way. You see, the young man's family is Cambodian and I realized as the young lady was making her statement and I was watching the young man - that I had not thought this game thing through well at all. The young man asks in a rather incredulous tone, why she thought he would win. She replies that she knows he would win because he's "Japanese or something like that" and that he KNOWS how to use chopsticks. Was the little girl being mean? I certainly didn't pick that up in her tone. Nor did I feel like she was making fun, it was more of a matter-of-fact type statement. The young man replied that he wasn't Japanese (which he isn't) but that he is AMERICAN. To say my heart sank to the bottom of my toes just does not give justice to how I felt and I had absolutely no idea what to say, I was frozen in time. Not only did my heart break for him and what he had just gone through but it brought to mind how much of this type thing will Emma endure in her lifetime?
When we were in the process of adopting Emma we were required to take a certain number of classes and even on top of the requirement, over the years since we began this process - I have read countless books, articles, websites - you name it on the topic of adoption. Within that topic you also have the layer of it being a transracial adoption. As one class called it, we were becoming a "conspicuous family". I vividly remember one class we took that talked about all of us being "racist" and how I took issue with that, I really do not think I see people as being one race or the other. But the author/teacher brought out the point that we all make "assumptions" on races, whether those assumptions are positive or negative. In this class and in other things I've read it's been pointed out that specifically with Asians you are going to have to deal with people assuming your child is smart, just because of her race. All of that to say, I thought I had read enough and planned enough that I would have these conversations with Emma at an appropriate time and teach her how to deal with these types of things and I realized at that moment in time that I will never be able to teach her but I realized that yes, she will more than likely face these same types of assumptions. It was a totally innocent comment, but by the look on the little boy's face, he knew it was coming and was trying to avoid it and I was heartbroken that I of all people should have known. My eyes water up even now thinking back to it. Was it that big of deal in the big picture? Probably not, at least not to most of us. But by the look in his eyes it was a big deal and it was certainly not the first time in his 10 years of life had that happened.
Like I said above, I thought I was prepared and well read but I realized I wasn't. Along that same line - I have another story too but I'll save that for another day.
Emma & Ryan have two older half brothers who are quite a bit older (28 & 23) and they were here this past weekend. Jesse, the oldest, stayed through Sunday and had told us that he wanted to go to church with us, however we could not get him to stir come Sunday a.m. For some reason he always sleeps in the basement when he is here even though we have a fairly nice guest room. I think he probably stays up late watching tv or surfing. Anyway, Brian had tried to get him up - I had tried getting him up (talk about memories of when he was a teen coming flooding back) and even Emma had tried to get him up. But nothing was getting him to stir so we just let him be and headed on out the door for church. We went out to eat after church, visited a while and basically took our sweet time and didn't get home until later in the afternoon. We had just changed clothes and had sat down to read the paper when we heard a knock on the door - but it didn't sound like our regular door, it sounded much closer. Emma had a funny look on her face and we sent her to see who was there. As she rounded the corner we heard another knock and I asked her if it was coming from the basement. It indeed was ...
We have no idea what possessed the little 3 feet of full stinker, but she had LOCKED the door to the basement and poor Jesse was stuck there until we got home. He could have exited through the garage I suppose, but the front door was locked. So for all intents and purposes he was in lockdown.
So, if you want to visit the Hunter clan - make sure you go with us when we go or make darn sure you're not hanging out in the lower portion of the house when we leave.
Ryan is #7 Ryan's basketball team played in the championship game this past Saturday and played a team that had previously beaten them twice during the regular season. In fact, the green team had gone into the last game undefeated. But the kids came out ready to play & ready to win! They won by 1 point in the last few seconds of the game!!!
Go Team Go!
Something about watching those kids play basketball renders me tongue-tied. In the playoff game I was getting all wound up because Ryan's shots were just not going in and the game was neck in neck. Brian ended up giving me the speech about not getting wound up, it's just a game, etc. and I told him I understood but that if all those shots had gone in we would be 12 points ahead and then I followed that up with "yeah, but if pigs had flies they'd wing". Then while discussing another team I mentioned that one of the little players was a "bog haul" ... I tell you, I just can't carry on a conversation with a good ball game going on in front of me!
We took the kiddos to the circus last week & had the best time! Ryan & Emma both were mesmerized by the show and really enjoyed themselves. We had joked that we may not want Emma to see some of the acrobatic parts thinking she might just try something wild in gymnastics! But we asked her if she wanted to try some of those things and she told us "No Way!". Thank goodness.
Emma's favorite part of the evening were all of the pretty colors in the different costumes as well as the "swinging stuff". She's now saying she liked the clowns but she didn't want them any where near her when we first got there.
Ryan's favorite part was a big ol' round iron cage thing and had 4 motorcyles riding around in it. Then they added one more motorcycle rider ... and then TWO MORE! It was amazing to watch. I just know that had I been involved, all the bikes would have been in one big heap in the bottom! I just can't imagine the timing and precision involved to make something like that go off without a hitch.
Oh ... and from my perspective, their favorite part of the evening: Ryan: Caramel apple Emma: Cotton Candy (she had it EVERYWHERE)
Emma is so excited about celebrating CNY, her preschool class has been celebrating all week. The sensory table has been decorated in red and gold and also has a dragon on it and they have made lion masks for a parade. We brought in envelopes for her to give her friends. Instead of placing money in the envelopes though, we added chocolate kisses. I'm thinking 3 and 4 year olds will prefer chocolate over money!
This morning as we headed out the door, Emma made a quick trip up to her bedroom and brought down her "China bear" to bring to school. This is something we sent to her after we received our referral but before we traveled to China to get her. Much to our surprise she did have the little bear with her on the day we became a forever family. The orphanage director gave us pictures of her taken at the orphanage and she has the little bear with her in most of them. I asked her why she was taking "China bear" today for CNY and she told me it was because I had sent it to her in China. I thought it was really sweet of her, even if it doesn't have anything to do with celebrating the new year. My sweet little dumpling ...
Yesterday was a particulary difficult day adoption wise. My day started out with news that the CCAA has had staff reductions as well as changes to the special needs program such that the agency we work with may not be participating in the new program for special needs adoption any more. That was followed up by some more news that basically said the slow down will continue.
The news hit me pretty hard because in the back of mind I keep thinking it's going to get better. But yesterday I really questioned myself, wondering why are we doing this again when we have such a perfect family and I even went so far as to tell Brian that I was sorry I had even asked that we adopt again. At lunch time I went driving around and spent some time in prayer and asked God to please show me if we were supposed to just forget the whole thing, or to somehow let me know we are doing the right thing. Probably not the best prayer in the world, but I was so discouraged. After the initial few hours of worry and concern, I knew deep down that somehow - someday - some way, it will all work out according to God's plan and that I just need to keep the faith.
This morning I was reading through my email and had a link to this video from a fellow adoptive parent that lives in Washington that I had met during the process of adopting Emma. This pretty much confirms for me why we are doing this again. I just need to be patient ...
Emma's daycare teachers told me that on my birthday Emma wanted to make me a birthday card and that she started in on them early that morning asking them to help her. She asked them to write down what she wanted to tell me (is there a little CEO in training here?). When I went to pick her up that evening they were all very tickled with the card and with Emma's insistence on making me a card ... and they were very, very tickled with what Emma wanted to get me for my birthday. See if you can pick out what it was that was so funny to them, it took me a few minutes to get what they were saying:
“I Love My Mommy’s Birthday Party”
I love you so much. We go on vacation. I like her birthday party so much. She is going to be 22. I love my dad so much too. We go to Chicago. I want to give her a big coffee pot and a big tree and a big big momma screwdriver.
All the giggling and carrying on had to do with the screwdriver. They wanted to know if I really wanted a screwdriver. Of course I do, I replied! Which brought on more giggling with the teachers. You see, I want my own personal screwdriver that lives in the house, preferrably the kitchen and no one else is allowed to use. I would really prefer a small set that has both the flat thingy and the phillips thingy and in several sizes. A set in it's own cute little container would even be better. I had my own screwdrivers & even a hammer before we married but somehow post wedding and several moves, my tools have ended up with his tools and live happily ever after in a garage that I can't find a confounded thing in. So, there it is - I desired tools for my birthday. I suppose that's what happens when you get old. And the reason the teachers were carrying on ... their thoughts were more along the lines of an adult beverage of that name! Like I said, it took me a few minutes to figure out what they thought was so funny.
My favorite thing about the card - my precious baby thinks I'm 22. Now that's good!
And the thing I thought funny - was the "big big momma screwdriver". How do you ask a 3 year old where the comma was meant to be? Is that a "big, 'big momma' screwdriver" or just a "big - big" screwdriver? hmmm ...
Today is going to be one memorable day for some waiting families! It looks like referral calls will be made today for those families who were logged in during the timeframe of 12/20/05 - 12/27/05. Soon there will be another group of babies placed with their forever families. I just know the angels in heaven rejoice on days like that!
Previously we could find the status of referrals on the CCAA website, but a while back they moved that box to only be accessible to adoption agencies. An agency in Belgium has reported that the little box now has:
"The CCAA has finished the review of the adoption application documents registered with our office before October 31, 2006. The CCAA has finished the placement of children for the families whose adoption application documents were registered with our office before December 27, 2005. "
In honor of turning 15,300 days old today, I wanted to share my favorite blog these days. It's written by a lady who grew up in the city (she refers to it as 'growing up on the golf course'), moved off to California for college and then found herself back in Oklahoma and married to a genuine rancher. A friend of mine from Oklahoma shared the link with me a few weeks ago and said that the "pioneer woman" reminded him somewhat of me. I'm not so sure I see the connection but oh my, she is so funny and is certainly a gifted story teller.
After my buddy sent me the link, I spent my off time reading through her old blog posts and was quickly hooked. One of the main reasons it cracks me up is that I grew up in the country (no where near the type of ranch they live on), but we did have horses, some cattle and a few rather odd type animals - a few goats here and there and a couple of pet raccoons. I've ridden more than my share of horses and have dents in my legs to prove that I once ran barrels (a rodeo term). At one time I could rope a calf with the best of 'em and have hauled more hay than I care to remember.
It's just funny the contrast of hearing a "city girl" talk about country life vs a "country girl" now living in the city. This "was country - now city girl" now refuses to have an animal that she's going to have to take care of. I have jokingly told my better half that I never want to own anything that we have to make arrangements for when we want to go on vacation. Unless you've fed horses and cows in the middle of the winter and broken the ice in the water buckets so they can drink, you'll never appreciate being able to go on vacation & not having to worry about someone feeding everything correctly! We can lay our bee-hinds on the beach and not have a worry in the world for any ol' horse.
The downside though, is that I can read through her blog and for a moment or two I swear I can smell the aroma (now, my children would call that an odor), of sweaty horses and hay, and I can just imagine the fresh air and sunshine and it makes me terribly, terribly homesick.
Several years ago I took Ryan to Nashville for a horse show type thing - it was more of a play/opera/cirqe de solei type thing set to horseback. I was all excited and couldn't wait for Ryan to enjoy watching the horses. The entry way took you through the stable area and then to your seats. When we walked in, the smell of horses, hay and leather was impenetrable and I was in heaven! We hadn't taken more than two steps in when Ryan said "oh man, it STINKS in here" and I was quickly brought back to reality. Maybe we should move back to Oklahoma so our children will know what a sweaty horse smells like!