Sunday, November 29, 2009

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

Started with this.  'Cause you know nothin' would have happened without it!

Decorated the table with Crafts by Erin

Set the mood with this yummy candle!
Mia Bella's Hot Orange Danish (Think orange tootsie pop.)

Had a quick snack for energy.

Got down to this.

Erin enjoyed cracking the eggs.  No shells in here!

Dishing it up.

Overfilled the pans.

It would have helped if I'd paid attention & greased the pans but alas, this was an exercise in fun with Erin.  After we discovered this problem, we went out for a light lunch since we eat pretty late in our house.  David & I decided to go shopping & pick up a few last minutes items for our meal.

When we got home, I set the table so we could enjoy some relaxation before David started cooking.  He prepared a wonderful meal for us - Cornish game hens, stuffing, roasted potatoes & onion, mashed sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, corn on the cob, salad & crescent rolls followed by a quick apple crisp for dessert.

The table looked so lovely that David decided to capture it on his camera.  And, if I knew where the darn camera was, I'd have uploaded pics.  Oh well. 

In the end, this is what I am thankful for.  Each & every day.

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's Just a Camera

So why can't I decide which one I want? 

I'm getting a new camera for Chanukah.  It's time.  I'm looking for more out of my pictures than I've been getting lately, & my camera isn't up to the task.  David just wants me to choose one.  The problem?  He's a Nikon guy for as long as I know him.

I've been a Canon girl for as long as I've been in the digital world.  Trust me, it isn't that long.  When I got my first Canon, it was what we could afford.  Barely.  I loved my Canon.  It's just that now the Canon I think I want is really expensive & may be more than I'm ready for.

Canon EOS - The Rebel

 But this is a very expensive camera, & I don't have it in me to spend that kind of money on myself.  That said, we found this little beauty with the help of Viv's niece Jessica.

The Canon SX20 IS

But then, there's the Nikon that is not quite as expensive as the Rebel & has features I'm interested in.

The Nikon D60

So.  What's a girl to do?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month. 

For most people that doesn't mean anything.  Not a cotton darn picking thing.  In my family?  It's a big deal.  For many of my friends, it's also a big deal.

It was 1986 when I found out that biological children would never be in my future.  After grieving for a while, I (as my dear friend Lisa says) put on my big girl panties, sucked it up  & moved on. 

Adoption wasn't a foreign word to me.   It isn't that I knew anyone who told the world that he/she was adopted.  It just wasn't a foreign concept to me.  After all, who hasn't grown up watching Shirley Temple in The Little Princess?  Or Heidi?  Come on.  Face it.  Adoption was pretty hush hush back then.  Now, lo these many years later, we shout "Adoption" from the rooftops.  Now adoption is a topic to be dealt with.  Those of us fortunate to be adoptive parents tend to be pretty open about it - especially if you have adopted internationally.  Let's face it.  Many of our children don't resemble us. 

Anyway, this is our month to celebrate.  We celebrate our families.  We celebrate how our families came about.  We celebrate our friends & their families.  This group, this clique, if you will, is different.  We understand each other.  We know how important adoption is & why.   We know the stress of the journey.  We know the stress of trying to come up with the money involved because unlike a biological child, there is no insurance to help defray the costs involved. 

We know that somewhere out there are birthparents who for whatever the reason, gave up their child.  Forget the bureaucracy.  Forget the paperwork.  These children are what it's all about. 

Happy National Adoption Month to all of my family & friends!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bubbles = Giggles

After a yummy dinner prepared at Chez Publix, David ran a bath for me so I could destress. 

When I walked into the bathroom, there were bubbles.  Let me rephrase that.  There were bubbles everywhere!  I love bubble baths but never take the time to treat myself.  Lately, it's been an in & out sort of shower or bath with no time to relax.  Tonight my guy made sure I took the time.

Erin came in to sit with me & have our evening chat.  She saw the bubbles & was immediately delighted.  The smile on her face was pure joy.  So I got to sit in the tub, relax & watch my girl as she played in the bubbles, giggling uncontrollably as she blew bubbles everywhere.  The cats both ran for the hills!

I only wish I'd had my camera with me so I could have captured the joy on her face.  Then again, the world is probably a happier place because I didn't.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Teamwork is Working Together

Every once in a while, I come up with a lesson that really gets the kids moving.  I'm working with a new teacher this year so I'm trying to change up the same ole lessons.  Thankfully Motti is up for almost anything.

The Tower of Babel is a great Bible story.  I can still remember learning the story of how all the different languages in the world were brought about because people didn't understand how to work together.  Considering I went to an Orthodox yeshiva (think Jewish parochial school), I got a lot out of these stories  rather than the rote memorization that was expected.

Now it's my turn to be the teacher.  I get to come up with all kinds of lessons around the Bible, teach Hebrew & in general show children that school can be fun - even on a Sunday morning.  My classroom is an interesting place to be.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm all about organization & not chaos.  I like peace & quiet.  My class is very different.  I like to think of it as "organized chaos."  Even the teen volunteers enjoy working with me & my students.

Anyway, today's Bible story has so many themes, but the lesson I like to work with is teamwork.  Motti was up for anything, or so he thought.  Remember that the theme of the day was "teamwork."  After our individual Hebrew lessons, we joined our classes.  I read the story Tower of Babel aloud to the children.  After that we did a word search on the board.  The children needed to volunteer to find a word, but if they needed help, the rest of the team helped out.  After the story, we had the children do a team exercise.  They had to build their own tower together.  However, they weren't allowed to talk - no speech.  Nothing.  Zip.  It was a lot of fun to watch!

After building our tower, we went to visit the art exhibit the synagogue is holding.  The students were told that they were going on a scavenger hunt in groups.  They were given a sheet with a list of questions that had them looking for things in the art.  At the end of our scavenger hunt, they had a session with the school director who asked all kinds of questions.  Because they had worked in teams all morning long, they were prepared to help each other answer questions.

We ended the day having snack together & working on a bulletin board project.  The theme?  "Teamwork is Working Together."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Chanukah On The Brain

2005 - Erin made this in preschool

2006 - Debbie & Ed gave us the silver one & Erin made the other one while she was crafting one day

2007 - Erin made this in Kindergarten

2008 - This was the one David got from his Aunt Hela

And so it begins . . .

Each year since we got married, David & I have to decide which Chanukah menorah to use.  We have quite the collection.  In fact, at last count, we had 17 menorahs.  It really did happen quite by accident, but we seem to have a collection.  Each piece means something to us.

Let's see.  We have:

  1. The electric menorah that stays in our front window day in & day out.  I just never bother to take it down.  The neighbors might have an uprising if it went missing.
  2. The tiny menorah that uses birthday candles.  My parents bought that for me when I was 5 or 6.  It went off to college with me.
  3. The menorah that David inherited from his Aunt Hela.  It's a very traditional menorah but he really feels a connection to it.
  4. The ceramic menorah that my aunt made for my mom when I was 10.
  5. The ceramic menorah that my friend Mona made for me about 15 years ago.  It's an exact replica of the one my aunt made for my mom.  Apparently ceramics molds haven't changed much.
  6. The menorah I received a number of years ago from a set of twins I had in one of my classes.  So pretty!
  7. The pewter oil menorah my in-laws bought for us in Israel when Erin was 3.
  8. The felt menorah Erin made when she was in preschool.  We keep that on our walls year-round also.  Erin likes to walk past it & see it.  She needs that sense of history & past so we give it to her in small ways.
  9. The sand art menorah Erin made when she was in Kindergarten.
  10. The ceramic menorah that Erin made a few years ago when she was crafting at home.
  11. The silver toned menorah that our friend Debbie & her ex gave us.
  12. The absolutely teeny tiny copper menorah that I used to keep on my desk at the bank during the holiday season. 
  13. The 2 menorahs that David & I currently take into our offices for the holiday season.
  14. The really ugly brass menorah that a very dear client gave me.
  15. The beautiful driftwood & ceramic menorah that my sister-in-law Mindy gave to Erin for her very first Chanukah home.  This is a collector's item that Mindy saved just for Erin.
  16.  The menorah that I purchased from Brighton this past year.  It is absolutely stunning.  We're planning on using this one this year.  Unless we come across a new one that tempts us!
You know?  I think I need to take a picture of our collection.  Hmmm . . .

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The One

I've known since I was 19 that this man was The One.  With all the BS that comes with being married to him, he still looks at me as if I'm the only one.  He puts up with me, & I can tell you that is a considerable amount.  That look he gives me?  The one that says there's no one else for him?  He still sends it my way.  And I melt each & every time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

So your daughter is adopted? Where is she from?

This afternoon, I had a client who needed assistance.  As always, I welcomed this new client in with "Hi! I'm Tammie.  Come on in to my office & let's see how I can help you."  I always hope that the request isn't a stupid one or a problem that I can't solve.  And sometimes it's easy.

The gentleman I had invited in, sat down, looked around my office.  I very proudly display a few pictures of my gorgeous girl & have the With Love From China FCC Indiana calendar hanging on my wall.  There have been many comments - both nice & outright stupid.  And I waited. 

This gentleman very promptly asked me "So your daughter is adopted?  Where is she from?"  Needless to say, I proudly told him that Erin is from China.  Before the words are done coming out of my mouth, he whips out his wallet to show off his own pics.  I expected the proud grandpa to show off his granddaughters. 

Nope.  The proud dad was showing me pics of his 2 sons - both adopted from Korea.  It was a delightful conversation with an insight into how an older generation dealt with adoption. 

After a stressful few weeks, it was a nice way to end my day.  Another adoptive parent showing off, telling stories.  You could just see how proud he is of his 2 boys.

The Karate Girl

She got her white belt on her first day!

Yellow Belt Day!! (June 23, 2007)

Orange Belt Day!! (June 8, 2008)

Purple Belt Day!! (February 23, 2009)

Blue Belt Day!! (October 26, 2009)

We have been telling Erin since she was old enough to walk that she would take karate lessons.  Not soon after she turned 4, she started to ask when the karate lessons would start.  Karate was one of the many enrichment classes offered at her pre-school.  In the Spring of 2007, we approached the karate teacher Mr. Richard to see if he would let Erin try out for the class.  Mr. Richard was pretty leary of this.  His rule was that the child had to be at least 5, & Erin had many months to go till she was 5. 

Anyway, we suckered the poor man into saying yes, & that was the end of our free time.  Apparently Erin has a natural talent because after that one class, Mr. Richard gave Erin her white belt & asked us to sign her up for the weekly lessons.  That summer she earned her yellow belt.

When Erin graduated from Kindergarten, she was ready to leave her pre-school behind.  This was also the end of Mr. Richard.  Little did we know it, but he was retiring from teaching because of his job responsibilities. 

The annual belt testing was done over at the American Dragon Martial Arts Academy right by our house.  After the orange belt testing, all of the students were offered the opportunity to sign up for lessons.  David & I had hoped that Erin would want to continue her lessons.  We were so pleased when she asked us before we could get a chance to ask her what she wanted.

Erin has gone from taking a lesson once a week for 45 minutes to 1 hour lessons 3 times a week.  This past summer we signed her up for the school's Leadership Program.  I'll admit it.  I'm not always up for taking her to her lessons.  However, Erin has a goal.  She wants to be a black belt leader.  And she's good.  She's very good.  The owners of the academy look over each of their students.  They have told us that Erin has a natural talent.  When she started in the academy, Sifu Neil sat down to watch her in her lessons.   He is always amazed at how focused she is.  Eventually, we'll consider private lessons with Sifu Neil - something he doesn't offer to the younger students; however, he thinks that Erin can do what he wants to teach her.

In the end, it will be up to her.  I have a feeling she'll go for it.  It is a very rare ocassion for Erin to miss her lessons because she really wants this.  Our little 7 year old has set her goal.  And it's our job to help her get there.

Monday, November 09, 2009

International Adoption? I'm not sure. HUH????

I wrote the other day about how we were concerned about our family's reaction to an international adoption.  Let me tell you.  It was NOT easy.  It was painful in many ways.  The same people who kept telling us that we would be great parents?  Not so happy about an international adoption.

My brother is the person who brought up China.  His dear friend Kathy had adopted a beautiful little girl from China so when he heard that we had finally decided to start the process, he jumped right in with both feet & told us all about Kathy & Caitlin.  He pushed for us to meet them.  David fell in love.  Thanks Seth! We owe you big for that one!

My father & stepmother couldn't have been happier.  They were both so very supportive right from the start.  Believe me, they had their own learning curve, but were totally supportive.  My stepmother Nancy was brought up in the foster care system.  Her experiences have been an invaluable learning lesson for me in so many ways.  My dad had no problems at all with adoption - even knowing that our child would not resemble us.  He thought that the act of adopting a child was a miracle.   China adoption?  Not a problem.  I have Chinese cousins.  Thanks Daddy & Nancy!

My grandfather?  His only concern was would we raise our child to be Jewish.  Duh.  Of course Grandpa.  There was no question about that.  He was fine with it.  Unfortuantely, he became ill & with illness came forgetfulness.  He never got to know Erin although we have spoken with Erin about her Great Harry & his wife Great Harriet.

My in-laws were a tough package.  They were thrilled beyond belief about our adopting a child.  Their support?  At first it was hard for them.  Both of my in-laws are survivors of the Holocaust & had been in Auschwitz.  Theirs was a hard life, & we were about to make it harder.  My father-in-law phrased his concerns in a way that enabled David & I to understand where they were coming from.  His exact words were "We paid too high a price for not being white enough.  Do you really want to do that to a child?  When there's a choice?"  Yes Dad.  We do.  We gave him a book to read about China adoption.  This was the only time in David's life that he can remember his father reading any book.  Dad took the time to read the book & ask us questions. Once those were answered, they were full on board.  By the way, the sun rises & sets with HIS granddaughter Erin.

My sister-in-law Mindy & her family thought adoption was a wonderful idea.  They didn't care where the baby was from as long as we got to be parents. 

My sister-in-law Sandra & her family?  Let's just say that this is where the poop hit the fan.  David & I have always been really close with his oldest sister.  When I went told her we were adopting a child, Sandra was so happy.  Right up until the moment I mentioned our child would be from China.  That changed things.  Now she wasn't so sure.  Maybe we should continue just being a couple.  I left the office in tears.  After a very long talk between David & Sandra, the attitude changed.  David asked her what she would do when he placed his Chinese daughter in her lap & introduce her to Aunt Sandra.  He reminded her that this would be an innocent child with no idea of what was going on in the world.  She thought about it for a few seconds & told him "Oh.  I guess I would just fall in love with her."  And she did.  Erin loves her Aunt Sandra & Uncle Steven  dearly.  And they love her.

So.  Is International Adoption easy?  Not really.  Are there challenges?  Yes.  Many people have prejudices that they need to deal with.  Unfortunately, they don't always want to change.  I'm thankful that Erin's family changed & rose to the challenge.  My child?  She started off being abandoned when she was 3 days old.  We are blessed that she was well taken care of by the nannies in the orphanage. 

And we are blessed that G-d above saw fit to place her with us.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

With Adoption Comes Change

 Life changes when you adopt.  Not just the fact that you're becoming a parent & have to worry about this amazing new responsibility.  You have a different outlook on life.  The things that you once valued no longer seem important.  The people in your life change.

Before we had Erin, I was never home.  David has known from Day 1 that I am an amazingly social creature.  Whereas he could care less about being with people, I crave socialization like most people crave oxygen.  I'd leave the house in the morning for work, come home after work & many nights go out again.  Now I wasn't going out & partying but I wasn't home.  Maybe I was out to dinner with friends or at their home.  Maybe I was at a local bookstore.  It doesn't matter now.

Before we had Erin, most of our friends didn't have children.  It just sort of happened that way.  We never planned that, but face it, we didn't have much in common with people who were parents.  In fact, for me, it just hurt to be around people who were called mommy & daddy.  I had friends who had children, & I spent time with them.  I was strict & had no idea that flexibilty was a necessity.  I thought that what an adult said was law.  Ha! Anyway, it doesn't matter now.

When David & I finally decided to pursue adoption, we got all kinds of unsolicited advice.  If someone had an opinion about anything, we heard it.  I got lectures on the different kinds of formula & why I should use one versus another.  I got lectures on store bought baby food versus homemade baby food.  People told me what colors I should paint the baby's room.  It was crazy, but people kept telling me that I had no clue how my life was going to change. 

DUH!! Of course, I kept telling these same people that I did know my life was going to change & that they needed to be prepared for it all.  Let's face it.  I was going to be a mommy which meant staying home - no more going out every evening.  I was going to need to find daycare, schools, a pediatrician & so on.  The biggest change was that I wasn't going to be available to my friends at the drop of a pin because I would have my own responsiblities.  No one believed me.  They thought I was living in a dream world. Ha!

Adoption changed me in so many ways! David & I had always considered international adoption.  It didn't matter to either one of us if our child didn't resemble us.  We were more worried about his parents & my grandfather.  More on that in another post though.

Now that we were pursuing international adoption & had decided upon China, we moved to the first stage of change.  I found a group of women & men who were also pursuing adoption - some with our amazing agency & some who were using other agencies.  We became the February Waiting Hearts.  There were daily emails, weekly chats, cyber baby showers, plenty of laughter & plenty of tears.  All of a sudden, I wasn't going out anymore.  I was racing home to sit in front of my computer & chat with people I had never met.  We dealt with so many things & never met each other.  But these people understood me like no one else ever had or ever will.  No one can ever tell me "it's too hard to deal with the flu."  Ha! As my friend Parris-Lynn says "We survived SARS.  We can survive anything."

The people in our lives are no longer the same people.  Those old people who told me that I was in for a shock?  Most of them didn't stick around.  They couldn't handle the fact that I wasn't available to them anymore.  I called it.  But, that's okay.  I surround myself with a bunch of people who are in the same boat  as I am.  They're also called Mommy & Daddy.  Most of their families resemble mine - older parents with children who will never resemble them but who love them to pieces. 

 Here we are.  Our dossier went to China on February 28, 2002.  We got The Phone Call on April 1, 2003.  We traveled to China on May 30, 2003 & came home on June 11, 2003. 

It's been a long road.  Just so we could be called Mama & Dada.  The changes?  I'm glad they happened.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

What does adoption me to me?

Seeing this picture on April 1, 2003
(She was 6 months old)


Celebrating her 3rd birthday - July 2005


Celebrating her 4th birthday - July 2006


Celebrating her 5th birthday - July 2007


Celebrating her 6th birthday - July 2008


Celebrating her 7th birthday - July 2009

It means having the honor to teach her, to love her, to laugh with her, to cry with her.  It means all that & more.

Monday, November 02, 2009

It's What??

It's National Blog Posting Month!

And thanks for telling me about it Lori!  If you want to participate, you just need to post each day in November.  This is a pretty big commitment - especially for someone who has never posted daily to begin with.  I'm going to give it a shot just so I can get back into the habit of blogging again. 

I started blogging a few years after we adopted Erin.   My blog is for Erin & myself.  I want her to have what I don't have - a compilation of memories captured by her mother.  I have bits & pieces from my own mother but would have cherished seeing her thoughts written down.  I know what I miss, & have been trying (not too successfully) to give her a piece of me for later on in life. 

Blogging has been a huge source of comfort for me, but it has also

  • introduced me to a number of people that I might never have had the chance to get to know in any other way
  • captured my thoughts about Erin & my life as her mother
  • seen bits about David - the man who was put on this planet to drive me nuts but keep me pinned with that look of his that tells me I'm his one & only. 

  • allowed me to write about my mother so that Erin will understand who I am & where I'm coming from.  I've also written about how her life affects me.
  • been a source of fun in the way of tags from other bloggers
  • been a place where I can vent my frustrations