The lotus at Botanica were blooming. I had seen lotus plants at Botanica and other gardens before but never seen the blooms. In China, we saw lotus is parks and public gardens. The Summer Palace in Beijing is full of them. But not in bloom. We even ate lotus in China (it's a crunchy vegetable added to stir-fry and is full of interesting little holes). But today was the first time I had seen lotus blooms and I was impressed! The flowers are HUGE, bigger than my head, and so graceful and beautiful. Now I wish I could see the lotus gardens at the Summer Palace in bloom. It must be breath taking.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Granny, Poppy, the girls, and I went to Botanica today. It is such a beautiful place to visit! There are dozens of gardens - formal beds, wildflowers, shade gardens, sun gardens, and the girls' favorite - woodland garderns. Rachel was a little worried that there might be bears in the woods... We looked at all the flowers and the fountains and the fish and had a photo shoot.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Katherine and I had a photo shoot this morning. (Rachel had been a major pain, so we ignored her when she kept begging for "Rae-Rae's turn".) Kate loves photo shoots and knows all the model poses. She has lost her little girl look. Sigh. But she is turning into a beautiful big girl and I love that, too.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Saturday, June 26, 2010
A year ago today I was sitting on a lawn chair in my garage, having a rummage sale and trying to convince myself that even though it was 101 degrees out, the heat wasn't so bad in the shade. We were in the middle of the horrible waiting time for Rachel. We had no idea when we would be able to travel and the waiting was taking a heavy toll. Katherine had been watching TV inside and suddenly came running out shouting, "Dillon [our agency] called there's pictures of Rachel on the computer!" There were no customers at the moment, so I hurried inside and pulled up my e-mail. Sure enough, there WERE new pictures of little Fu Shen, as well as updates on her height and weight and general development!
We had several pictures of Rachel, but all had been taken many months before. All of the information we had on her was over a year old. But here, HERE, were photos of what she was like right now! I was so excited. I thought she was beautiful, despite the boy clothes, the bruise on her head, the solemn expression, and the new buzz cut. This was my girl. I was dying to hold her in real life, but the pictures helped a lot. It would be almost 3 months before we'd actually meet Rae, but she would look almost exactly the same, down to the same Blue Cat clothes and another fresh buzz cut.
I often get asked about the classic Chinese buzz cut that so many babies from there seem to have. Katherine's hair was buzzed in her referral pictures, taken when she was around 5 months old, but had grown out by the time we got her. It made sense to cut babies' hair short in an orphanage. It is a lot easier to keep short hair clean and it helps reduce pests like head lice that are so common in institutional life. It is also incredibly hot in much of China, so buzzed hair is much cooler. But Rachel was not in an orphanage and the area she was in is not as hot - why buzz her? One of our guides in China explained that many Chinese believe that buzzing a baby's hair makes it grow back thicker. Nearly every baby or toddler we saw in China had their hair buzzed or growing out from a buzz, so maybe our guide was right. Rachel's hair is certainly thick, so maybe it works! Besides, if her hair hadn't been shaved we would never have enjoyed the months of her wild, standing on end hairdo!
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
What do you do when the heat index is 101 at 6:30 in the evening? Go fishing! In a dishpan on the patio. The girls were rather pleased with the idea and fished happily. Well, Katherine did. Rachel thought it was more interesting to stir the water and splash it and finally just to climb in it. And yes, two girls can stand in a dishpan at the same time.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Our FCC (Families with Children from China) group went to the zoo this morning. Only a few of us showed up, but we had a grand time. The weather was sweltering, even at 9:30 AM, but the girls had a great time together. The red panda was out and active and Katherine got the penguins to follow her hand. We're always glad to go to the zoo!
Monday, June 14, 2010
Nine months ago today, Rachel joined our family. Katherine and I were talking today about one of our favorite memories of that day. I have posted before about the first few hours with Rachel and how scared and upset she was. But that only lasted a few hours, then our girl began to shine. After we were back at the hotel and Rachel had calmed down, Steve and my Dad left (to the bank? to Wal-Mart? I don't remember where). Mom, Katherine, Rachel, and I sat around studying each other. I decided to change Rae, since she'd been in the same diaper for hours. Rachel's foster mother had sent a big bag of goodies for her and diapers were at the top, so I pulled one out. I reached for the tabs and discovered there weren't any! Rachel was wearing a dress over a split-pants shorts outfit, so I checked out her diaper situation. She had a length of elastic tied around her waist and a tabless disposable diaper tucked in it front and back! (The babies in Katherine's orphanage had a similar system, only with cloth diapers.) I broke out the Pampers, gaining a new appreciation for those little velcro tabs.
After the diaper change, we sorted through the rest of the bag from Rachel's foster mother. There were little packages of the crackers like the ones Rachel was clutching when we received her, a photo album crammed with pictures, a little backpack, and six little plastic bottles of some sort of white liquid. Rachel reached for the bottles and made it clear that she wanted them. I had no idea what they were. They had the words Jinwei printed on them, a different color for each bottle, and foil tops. I peeled back a top and sniffed - seemed to be drinkable yogurt, lime flavored from the smell. Now how did Shen Shen drink it? I handed it to her and she just held it. I tried putting it to her lips, but she didn't know how to drink from the bottle. I tried pouring some in a cup. No luck. Finally Mom rummaged through the goodie bag and found a set of tiny coffee-stirrer size straws. Rachel started bouncing with excitement. I poked a straw in the bottle and she downed it in about 30 seconds and then begged for another. By this point, we were all laughing. Here's our poor starving baby and her new Mama is such an idiot that she can't figure out how to feed her! Rachel saw us laughing and honored us with a grin. Rachel drank a lot of Jinwei during our time in Guiyang. Granny and Poppy searched and searched until they found a tiny little corner store that sold that brand and we stocked up. Jinwei was obviously comfort food for Rachel and she was always happy to see the little bottles.
So the pictures for today are favorite snacks, then and now.
We made a quick trip to Lee's Summit, Missouri this weekend. The Woods Chapel United Methodist Church there has an adoption ministry that provides various kinds of support for families during the adoption process and afterward. (You can see their website at http://www.adoptionresourcefoundation.com/ ) Our minister told us about them because they had helped his family when they were adopting a couple of years ago. One of things this church does is give grants to families, especially families adopting special needs children, to help with adoption and/or travel costs. We were the recipients of one of these grants a year ago, which helped us travel to Rachel.
Every year, the Woods Chapel UMC hosts a big adoption fundraiser with a silent auction and a golf tournament. They raise a LOT of money for adoption from this! The church invited us to come to the big dinner this year as a sort of Show and Tell and we decided to go. It ended up being a lot of fun. We chatted with lots of nice people, met some other adoptive families, and saw some of the terrific work the adoption ministry does. I was talking with a woman who had admired my girls and mentioned that her 3 year old daughter was from China. It turns out she was in the same orphanage as Katherine! I never cease to be amazed at how interconnected the adoption world is and how many ways the "invisible red threads" cross!
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
It is raining and swimming lessons are cancelled, so we decided to have a photo shoot. Rachel was wearing her Elmo overalls, so she became the photo subject. Rae LOVES Elmo! She adores her Elmo overalls, Elmo books, and stuffed Elmo and always begs to watch Elmo videos at Granny's house. So here's my Elmo girl!
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Our town has excellent summer recreation classes and they FINALLY started this week, much to Katherine's delight. This week she is taking a drawing class and swimming lessons. She has popped out of bed the past two mornings bouncing with excitement about having somewhere to go. It's her first time for swimming lessons and she loves them.
Poor Rachel, however, gets left out. There aren't many classes for 2 year olds, so she hasn't had anywhere to go. She really does NOT think it's fair that Katie gets to put on a swimsuit and go to the pool every day and she doesn't. Sometimes it's hard being the youngest... So today Rae and I tried to have our own fun. With Kate gone, Rachel had uninterrupted time with the current favorite doll (which used to be mine!). Katherine usually dominates it, so Rachel had fun lugging it around and feeding it bottles - the fact that it is nearly as big as she is only adds to the appeal. This afternoon we went outside and played in the water. Rae loved being in charge of the hose and I had fun watching her try to drink out of it.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Grandma and Grandpa have a little sand box that the girls put to good use. It may not have been big, but they squeezed a lot of fun out of it! Katherine tried to take over the whole box and bossed non-stop. Rachel just threw sand on her. By the time they finally got out, Rae was so covered in sand she looked like a sugar doughnut!