Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Summer in Review

With our dwindling daily newspaper, once again full with back to school circulars, it has dawned on me that summer has come and gone. With that, I offer our summer in review (the events not previously blogged about anyway)...

Sound to Narrows - June 12

This was Devi's third and final time as a diaper dash contestant. Next year she'll train for the big 1k. She held her own once again placing...well, that is hard to determine. Once the gun sounds, the kids run, the parents jockey for position with cameras on the opposing side and mayhem ensues.

First s'more ever - mid June

Pool time fun, including holding a baby slug for the first time - mid June

Games with Papa and Gail - mid June

My dad and his friend Gail, are snowbirds who arrived in June for the summer. We kicked it off right with a pizza and game night. Hi-Ho-Cherrio!

Taste of Tacoma - June 27

Nothing like Indian food on a paperplate while listening to local talent....Devi opted for a corn dog. Topping it all off a skewer of shish-ka-berries! Yum, my favorite.

This creation came to life at the Home Depot booth that day. A treasured tile gift.

World Cup

World Cup found us waking at all hours of the morning and night to watch the top teams battle it out. Devi and daddy loved to watch together and chant "Go U-S-A!" There was lots of flag waving. Many a game took place during Devi's nap time, where we would chant in whispers. Daddy had to occasionally step outside to yell out "GOAL" because he just couldn't hold it in.

Old Friends and Neighbors visited from Ohio!

Devi moves up to Room 3 at preschool - July 1st

Freedom Fair - July 4th

We walked to the Freedom Fair for the Fourth and met up with all kinds of friends. We listened to music, and played games, slid down the slides, chatted with pirates and ate yummy treats. Later, everyone was up to our house for warm blankets and the fireworks show.

Blues Festival - July 11th

The Blues festival was our only real HOT weekend of the summer. Devi remembered it with her first face painting EVER! She was thrilled. The music was great, weather wonderful and our hummus picnic lunch on the grass was perfect.

Art on the Ave - July 18th

In addition to great local artists selling their masterpieces, there was this dunk tank that had Devi mesmerized. Her aim being a bit off, daddy helped her reach her goal. SPLASH!!

Frisco Freeze turns 60 - mid July

Nothing like dollar burgers and shakes! I'm certain it is the 60 years of grease that makes these burgers taste so delicious. That and the fact that they are served in wax paper bags! Only way to eat them is in the back of the van....LOVE a picnic in the van!

Gig Harbor Farmer's Market - July

Appeased with a fresh nectarine. A small consolation for no pony rides this year. Bummer.

Don's Ruston Market - July 24th

Fresh strawberry malt from Don's, our town's old fashioned malt shop. This was Devi's choice for a reward for good sleeping habits.

Ethnic Fest - July 25th

This is my favorite festival of the year by far. So much dancing and good live music. Toss in some ethnic food (Gateway to India) and I'm in heaven. Apparently, so was Devi this year. She developed a little crush on the reggae singer Alex....as she chanted his name, rushed the stage and got a high-five from the performer. Egads!

Olympia's Farmer's Market - early August

Devi's second face painting ever. An old pro now...

decisions, decisions....shopping at our favorite tie-dye store!

Listening to a little blues and feeding daddy garbage cake...all the left over batters from the bakery mixed together and baked to perfection!

All the cousins visit for VBS - early August

Devi was in heaven with four cousins to play with...2 visiting from California and 2 visiting from Colorado AND all at Oma's house. A full week of picnics, a Mexican fiesta, sprinklers, bracelet making, picking raspberries, perfecting the paper airplane, hide and seek, "helping" Oma cook, red light green light and the ever famous DOG PILE were enjoyed.

Aunt Bonnie's 80th birthday - August 7

Devi's first opportunity to meet Aunt Bonnie, my mother's sister. A huge family reunion in the pouring rain marked the special occasion. Devi was drenched, but had a ball playing with siblings of our ever growing extended family.

Phew! Guess we were pretty busy in spite of the uncooperative weather. Today, it rained...not the summer kind. It was the kind of rain that yanks the not-yet-ready leaves from the trees for the blustery wind to play with. As I sit snuggly in my first sweat shirt wearing of the season, it is evident that fall is definitely on it's way.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Extending The Hand of Friendship

We are home after a long weekend in Portland, Oregon celebrating India’s Independence Day. Not alone in our quest for some Indian culture; seven families converged in what we hope, will become an annual and growing event. Buddies through blogs and forums, most of us had never met face to face before, but bear witness to the power of friendship through our connection—our adopted children from India.

Some of the Blogging Friends with their children
Top: April, Alesha, Me, Devi, Adia, Cheryl, Kristi, Shali
Bottom: Metali, Brie, Daya

Blue Lake park was the perfect setting for us to get acquainted. Sunny skies, a water pad, lake and a slight breeze kept us all occupied. Until, capitalizing on an opportunity,
some teenagers stationed near us began selling water balloons; 10 for a buck (although a couple of the cute little girls managed to sweet talk the entrepreneurs into a “sample” more than once). We became their best customers, scarfing them up faster than they could fill them. Each with a different method, our children chased, tossed, threw, squirted and savored the balloons all afternoon, with a few sneaky adults joining in the irresistible fun from time to time. A bit of relief came if you managed to becaught in the cross fire of mist from a balloon explosion before it evaporated in the heat. Devi decided to hoard hers....all pink in color...until a little motherly encouragement got her to share her stash. It was fascinating to watch the combination of our 15 biological and adopted kids, ranging in age from 1 to 13 years, one of whom has been in the US only two months, bloom from quick introductions to buddies in the course of one afternoon.

After checking into our hotel and catching our breath, all the kids re converged at a
preschool for a kid-style “pizza party”, complete with babysitters. I wondered how Devi would behave, her first ever nap-less day, but once play-doh was spotted, she rallied for the occasion. Like a kids’ dream come true, the room was filled with every kind of toy their imaginations could dream up, and with pizza and Popsicles served at a table “just her size” euphoria was reached.

With the children left in more than capable hands, the adults ventured out to McMenimans for dinner. The sprawling garden-like setting was perfect for us to enjoy a leisurely dinner and a cold brew on a hot day; still outside, but enjoying the out of doors with light breezes under the comfort of a sun umbrella. For the first time since beginning our first adoption in 2005, we had the opportunity to talk openly with a
group of other adoptive parents about the struggles and successes of undoubtedly, the most incredible journeys we’ve ever endured. With each of us in various stages of pursuing family additions and one of us an adoptee herself, the conversation brought a bit of experience, hope and support to each of our unique circumstances, I think. Heartfelt details of how each adoption began and of the forever families that were united because of those efforts and desire, form the kinds of stories that fill my soul and ground me in the certainty that my life choice was and is the right one.

It was a late night when we finally retrieved all of our children. I was surprised to find Dev still upright, reading one out of a stack of books while sitting in the lap of a sitter when we arrived and was still able to utter her thank you’s before we departed. Moments after being buckled into her car seat, however, found Devi drifting off to dreamland, but not before asking if we could do a “pizza party” again tomorrow.

Independence day was Sunday. We managed to take the somewhat shaded area of a Starbucks patio by storm and sheer numbers, which just happened to overlook the stage below. Early arrivals, we got to watch the area come alive, first with vibrant colored clothing, next with the aroma of wafting Indian food and finally with lively musical and dance performances. I heard from our group more than once how their senses had transporting them to special places reliving memories from half way around the world.

Devi, Daya, and Shali

ebony hair adorned with gold jewelry and finery, and the deep richness of patterned jewel toned salwar kameez and sarees were everywhere you looked as we
mingled in a crowd of pure beauty. In and amongst that crowd were our children. What a joy it was to see all of our beautiful brown skinned children proudly wearing their Indian outfits, bangles and bindis. By this time, they were all fast friends, twirling and playing in the gaiety of the moment. In Introspective moments throughout the day, I found myself contemplating the course that brought our family to be standing here...in the USA celebrating the Independence of another friendly nation — the birth place of my Bengali princess; my greatest blessing to date. Smiling slightly larger, I knew that next year, our group will have grown in number by at least three, one of which will be our Pune princess, Treya.

Although we would have like to stay longer and partake in more yummy food, and more frivolity, our little turnip was twirled out, so we said our Namaste’s and headed for the car. Devi fell into a deep boneless sleep atop daddy’s shoulder in route to the parking garage, no doubt dreaming of samosas, biryani and her personal favorite, a mango lassi. She continued to snooze until 5pm that evening, well over a three hour nap. She definitely was celebrated out!

A cool reviving dip in the hotel pool, after waking had us ready for dinner. We were on our own and found ourselves once again in McMeniman's garden for a light meal and game of Old Maid. Later, strolling through the grounds, we came upon a wedding. The magical qualities of a bride just too hard to resist for our budding princess, we allowed Dev to take a peak into the private party for one small glimpse of the newlyweds.

Fueled by a plate of smiley faced pancakes the following morning, the last of our long weekend days was spent with the Werre family at the Oregon Zoo. Without consultation, Daya and Devi ended up adorned in summer dresses, each with braids in their hair. They looked like they could be sisters, flitting and floating through the zoo with leaves for wings. True little friends by this point, they played, sang songs, and bossed each other about.

This was my first of, hopefully, many Indian cultural events that we will attend with other adoptive families in an effort to introduce our daughters to their fascinating roots. The reward of meeting other families and their children added so much richness to our whole experience solidifying our friendship through our extended hand and face to face introductions. This whole weekend leaves me with a lasting impression, much like the mendhi that was drawn on my palm. The design is the lotus flower – whose unfolding petals suggest the expansion of one’s soul, which describes the weekend for me perfectly.

I must give my sincerest kudos to Cheryl and Erik for being our weekend organizers. Your efforts were so much appreciated and made for such a successful time for our families to connect. Thank you so much. Also to everyone we met; the Pfeiffer's, Klobas', Werre's, Merrill Boyer's, Johnson's, Brie and all of your children, we sincerely enjoyed each and every one of you. We can’t wait to experience it all over again next year.

Thursday, August 05, 2010


With another page torn from my calendar, I find myself staring at the month of August. I don’t where the time goes sometimes, other than to watch the two counters at the top of this blog tick away the days until Devi turns four and add up the days that we wait for the glorious news that we can travel to Treya. The freshness of this new set of 31 days finds me feeling more than a bit anxious. I don’t know if it is the sudden surge of questions regarding when Treya might join our family by our understandably impatient support group of family and friends or the length of time with no adoption news that has me feeling this way. Certainly after 4 weeks of silence while waiting for our NOC, it becomes hard to resist the urge to let your mind wander to doubtful thoughts of whether our paperwork is on the right desk, is being touched with expertise by the right people or being looked favorably upon by those who hold the credentials to make this determination. When you take away the borders and all the paperwork, she is just a girl who wants to be loved, and we are just a family with an ample amount of that ingredient to give. In it’s simplest terms, it is hard to fathom why an adoption takes so long even to us, having gone through it once before. Let’s just get on with it please!

Ambling along, a lot of idle time is spent talking about the up coming trip, what to expect, what we might like to do while in India, and how are union with Treya might go. Walking to have “coffee time and story time” at Cavanagh’s over the weekend, a local coffee house, Devi told us that while in India, she would like to catch a peacock and keep it for her pet. On first impulse, she named him Maccaw, but after further contemplation decided her peacock would be named Buttercup,
after a duck story we’ve read before. She would feed Buttercup corn and water, and if he walked to coffee with us, she might offer him a sip of her vanilla steamer, something we all decided would be kind. She also would capture a bunny in India to keep the peacock company, who would appropriately be named Bunny. I’m not sure just how she expected us to get two live animals and a sister home from India on the plane, but one of the wondrous things about being her age, is practicality is unimportant and all things are possible.

As a means of communicating with Treya,who has heard various dialects of Marathi, Hindi and some English for nearly two years, we’ve been boning up on our sign language. It seemed to be very helpful when Devi was first home signing phrases to inquire about daily needs such as “Are you hungry. thirsty, or sleepy?” or “Do you have a dirty diaper?” Devi’s first concern was being able to sign “no-no” to Treya, which spawned a lengthy conversation about who is in charge of putting an “offender” into the thinking spot. She was devastated to find the limited power that a big sister actually has over a younger sibling. As the cogs of her incredibly bright little mind began to turn, she replied in one run on sentence....When I am done being a big sister, I’m going to get married and be a mommy. I am going to grow a baby in my tummy and when it pops out, I’m gonna put that baby in the thinking spot when she has bad behavior. Guess that sums up her parenting plan!

In other news, we've learned that the VISA process in India is different for Devi now. Guess I never thought about it before, but Devi is an NRI (non-resident Indian). It means, although she now holds a US passport, she was born in India and so is not allowed to enter India with a tourist VISA any more, but rather, must hold an Entry VISA. This procedure change, the result of terrorist activity over the past couple of years, took place on June of this year. With all new procedures, it takes much longer to process an Entry VISA. Last I heard, it was taking 2 months. Doing a bit of quick math, if a train traveling at 80 mph....OH! I mean 2 months to process; VISAs are good for 6 months from the date of issue...add a little, subtract a little... that essentially means we need to start processing hers right now if we are to travel by years end! That is a bit exciting :)