Wednesday, November 24, 2010

1, 8, 50, 6, 21, 22, 18, 73

No, don't go out and buy a lotto ticket. These are not those numbers. I'm just clearing my head before leaving for (hopefully a sunny) Cancun, Mexico vacation over the Thanksgiving holiday.

As a young girl, it seems I was always ill during this time of year, and so rather than the yummy smells of the Thanksgiving tom permeating the house, I have memories of having to stay in my pjs, with a fever and feeling yucky. Everything smelled and looked unappetizing. This is as good of a reason as any to get out of dodge for a few days.

Truth is, that since our India trip appears to not be happening any time soon, we felt we needed a bit of R&R to celebrate our little family before it grows. The number 1 in the title is because we realized in the three years we've been together, we've only ever vacationed with other family and friends...never just us three. This is the first time!

Monday, in nearly blizzard conditions, Devi had her four year old wellness appointment with Dr. Ayer. We learned that she weighs 30 pounds and is 100.5 cm tall. These facts account for the next two numbers in the title. Devi has reached the 8% mark in weight and the 50% mark for height. Essentially, this means she is tall and skinny....our string bean. She is quite thrilled to be ON the chart for the second year in a row. Devi also made sure her ears were working and that her eyes were working and that her heart was pumping. These three tests were new for her this year and made seeing the pediatrician that much more fun. Okay, fun is probably not the right word because before going, I told her that she did not need any shots this time. Boy, was I wrong. In the end, she required 6! (the third number in the title) I felt awful having made this terrible mistake, but it was nothing that a special trip to McDonald's (dinner of her choice) couldn't help. Later, while she was soothing her aching arms in a warm tub, we lost our power in the blizzard and had to fish her out in the complete darkness as she pretended to be a mermaid. Then even with wet hair, in a freezing house, she spiked a temperature of 101. We ended up losing the power 3 more times that night which lead to a lot of reset clocks, but we were not worse for the wear. Is this really 2010...the technological age?

The next two title numbers refer to our dear sweet Treya turning 22 months old on the 21st. Man, what do you do with that fact? It saddens me, but we continue to have faith that the New Year will be loaded with great news about us traveling to her. I did send a photo book to India, at the request of Shreevatsa so that they can start to show pictures of us to her in the hopes that she will not close her eyes when she sees her momma, daddy and big sister. I hope we look familiar to her when we are face to face.

The next number refers to the current temperature here. 18 degrees F! Yep, a record and all the more reason to go to the land of guacamole and margaritas.

And lastly, as we board the plane tomorrow, we will remember my mom, who would have been 73 on Thanksgiving. Not a day goes by that I don't think of her and wonder if she sees the beautiful granddaughter that she only knew about on paper and the one on the way. They would have loved her, no doubt. Mom had a way with kids that was astounding. Gosh, we miss you mom.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

All Girls Momma!

Devi, the Birthday girl turns 4

While one small princess drifted off to dreamland the eve before her birthday party, the house became a flurry of activity as Pat and I brought the Ross kingdom to life. At Devi’s request, a Princess party - “All girls mom, no boys” - was planned to celebrate her entering her 4th year.

As usual, these themed events have a way of taking on a life of their own as the creative side of Pat and I are sparked and the party, once geared for a 4 year old, becomes an outlet for the adult exploration. For the past couple of weeks, long after Devi had gone to bed, we have been secretly having a blast creating a castle, puppets, games and treats in our basement. Much to Devi’s surprise, our house was decorated for royalty when she woke up on the morning of the party. I absolutely love that breathy awe and wow that follows when surprising little kids. It makes it so worth every bit of the effort.

The air was magical on party day, as 8 mini princesses entered our home in their glitter and finery. Devi had been practicing her curtsies and twirls wearing her new princess dress in the mirror long before they arrived and was ready to greet her guests. I had to laugh as each of the girls, whom I know from Devi’s school, arrived in character dressed as the beautiful princesses that they all are. It was so cute.

Our party was designed to help these budding girls learn the qualities that a true princess must possess and with each activity they earned a gold nugget candy to put in a wrist bag to mark their accomplishments. We expressed our “friendship” through hugs and posing for a group photo whilst holding hands. They showed “bravery” while tossing apples to a hungry dragon that had wandered into our living room. Music brought out their “grace” while twirling and dancing with scarves. The “kindness” of kisses were given to our troubled frog who magically turned into Prince daddy after much kindness contemplation. He helped them to engage their “brains” while focusing on the reading of “Do Princess Really Kiss frogs”. True princess “manners” were discussed and displayed throughout lunch which consisted of the guest of honors favorites - PB an J in crown shapes, mac-n-cheese, and magic wands made of fruit. “Sharing”was the attribute in play while meeting our puppet friends, Pricilla the princess and her prince Henry, Aneil and Asha, the Indian prince and princess and lastly Oscar, our friendly pet dragon. After showering Princess Devi with gifts, the girls demonstrated their ability to carry the sweetest of tunes while “singing” the birthday song, earning their last gold nugget. Devi required some help blowing out all four candles and invited her guests to give a blow, which was very cute.

The Cinderella carriage that Devi really hoped for.

The cake from Blue Vanilla Bakery - my friends new store!

One of our gifts to Devi was the table cloth castle and puppets I made.

As each guest left, they showed me a glimmer of the gold in the bottom of their wrist bag which entitled them to a “happily ever after” prize of goodies to take home. Soon thereafter, our little princess drifted off to dream land, napping in her princess gown with her hair still up in a royal bun! When she awoke, she threw her arms around my neck and said, “Thank you for the Princess party mom. It was so great!” which naturally melted my heart.

The Old Spaghetti Factory was her choice for dinner on Monday, her actual birthday. She wore her crown and announced to anyone who would listen, “It’s my birthday. I am four. On my next birthday I will be five. I’m gonna be a big sister.” We had to finally squelch her enthusiasm when she started yelling this trivia to people seated at tables outside of earshot. Once home, we opened a few gifts from us and a couple that had come in the mail with our friends DiAnna and Tim. Tim brings a bouquet to Devi every year, a tradition that he started with his own girls now grown. She thinks it is quite grown up and so therefore it is really cool.

Posing with her favorite toy, new nightgown and twirling skirt.

Falling into bed was an understatement with all the celebrating that had been done, but soon after saying our good nights, a huge wind storm blew in and we lost power for the first time in 14 years since living in our home. As soon as the night light went dark, Devi let out a blood curdling scream of terror. I dashed up the stairs and rescued her, having not heard this kind of cry from her ever before. We made camp around our fireplace and got everyone calmed down when “John-boy Walton” arrived. “Good night mommy...I love you....sleep well....have happy dreams." Later I heard, "It is okay, Mother Nature, I forgive you for being so mean. Why did you make Mr. Wind so mad?" Honestly, I had to bite my lip in the darkness as I listened to her continue to lull herself to sleep.

Another favorite gift...a unicorn pillow now named Mckenna.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Windless Sails

Natural tendencies being what they are, immediately after happy dancing in motor oil with the news of our NOC, I fired off the stream of emails to ask about the next steps. Time lines - specifically - trying to determine just when it would be safe to bring the suitcases out of the closet. Relying on experience, I calculated on my fingers how many months we waited between NOC and guardianship for Devi. Doing the math, and applying it to Treya’s situation that would have us India bound around the first of the year. This is all so premature given the huge steps that still lay ahead, but after such a long wait, our longing hearts just want to get on a plane.

The reply to my inquiry from our agency, however, drained the joy from my body, taking with it the last bit of wind from my billowing sails. We were told the average time frame for receiving guardianship in India is now taking 5-6 months, NOT the 1-2 that I had anticipated. Having done this once before, I was prepared for the emotional let down of making it to the exhilarating head of the NOC line, only to step to the back of the guardianship one, but had no idea that that line was so incredibly slow moving and long. At this time of year, it reminds me of the scene in the movie The Christmas Story, when Ralphie steps into line to see Santa, only to be tapped on the shoulder by an impatient adult who directs him to the real back of the line, wrapped two times around the store encased in red velvet ropes.

Amongst other things, the idea of updating a home study report, redoing our fingerprints again, re-submitting our I-800 form handling all the other documents that are slowly ebbing toward their expirations is exhausting just to mention. At the core, the swirl of the numbers, ages, and months once again stirs the analytical traits inside me and it becomes my demise, knowing all too well that what is required is faith, focusing on the task at hand and perseverance.

Wanting to reach for a cookie (actually the whole bag), and thinking better of it, I went jogging in the rain instead. Something about miles of the steady rhythm of my pounding feet can bring clarity, especially in the crispness of the fall air. It is out on one of these jaunts that emotion usually is released for me, but today the depth of my sadness and frustration leaves me even too low to conger a tear. I realize that I just want to be mad at someone, but the reality is there is no one to blame; there is no person to be mad with. Slowly coming around, I humbly recount how quickly I dismissed my joy over our No Objection Certificate, reminding myself that CARA had every reason to say no to us if they wanted to. The fact that a family nearly 5 years over the age limit is still thought of favorably to adopt a child not yet 2 is a miracle, from such a conservative group. This feat is true cause for celebration.

After further conversation with our adoption agency today, I found that guardianship in the specific region of Pune were Treya is living averages around 2-3 months; a much more manageable number and a welcomed reprieve. Once again, I can exhale without getting that unnerving pain in my gut! It does confirm our harsh reality; we will indeed miss another Christmas, New Years and her second birthday together. With luck, February travel, encompassing the hearts and love of Valentine’s day, will be our lucky month. In the meantime, we have been asked to put together a photo book to send to Sonalika so that she might start becoming familiar with her new family. This is yet another reason to celebrate as Sonalika will soon learn she has a family. I hope this brings her joy. Little does she know it, we love her so deeply that at times like this it hurts.

There has been a change in the weather. The wind has once again kicked up and we are hoping for some smooth sailing.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Joy to the World!

Happy Diwali! The Indian festival of lights. Understanding the idea of tradition, Devi was quick to get those Halloween decorations down only to replace them with our map of India, lanterns and candles ready to light on Friday when we once again partake in an Indian feast. I love that she is so in tune with a bit of her heritage, this year asking to wear her salwar kameez to school even though I explained that most the children in her class would not be celebrating this custom. She said she would tell them about it. Inside I am secretly screaming YES! she is grasping a fondness for her roots regardless if it singles her out for being different or not.

Last year we celebrated this festival with fanfare, this year finds us feeling bitter sweet. With this Indian holiday comes closures in all the offices that hold the fate of our Treya in their hands. Diwali, however is a joyous celebration.Through the over 30 lights we ignite we think of the beauty of this world and our family and friends who are supporting us through this second adoption journey.. You all bring light to our lives.

With emphasis on our sweet Sonalika, the "golden" child, we’ve hung a prayer flag - a token gift from our good friend Donna whose ear I bend regularly about the woes of waiting for news.

My boss, normally an unattached kind of guy, consoled my ranting this morning by asking if I had done everything asked of me to the best of my ability regarding this adoption? My answer, of course, was YES! He responded by telling that I have maneuvered myself into perfect position right in front of the door of opportunity. My obligation has been filled and now I must wait for the door to open. No amount of worry will change that. It is so simple but truly illustrates our placement.

Recently I was chatting with a friend who used to work for an adoption agency who told me that she always encouraged families to continue with their lives here, as much as possible, as if there was not necessarily an adoption in process. Reminding me that there are so many many unknowns to what happens on the India side of the process and to “not” do something here in anticipation of the process there could drive a person crazy. It was this advice that lead us to book a last minute, totally unplanned, but much needed vacation to Mexico for Thanksgiving. We had hoped to save this free trip until next spring to bring Treya along, but it seems it could best be used to ensure my sanity now :)

To everyone else we lean on, please know that Friday night we feasted on Indian food and lit a candle to celebrate each of you and invite good things into our home through our front door adorned with lights and bells by way of the rangoli squares that decorate the porch.

While working on this post I checked my email one last time for the evening. In a true answer to the power of the overflowing support and prayer we've received recently, I found this email.

I just wanted to let you know that we received your NOC from CARA in India! You’re one step closer to bringing Sonalika home.


Rejoice! They've said YES! We are not too old. The pounding in my heart has yet to return to a normal level. I am shocked. The closures...the office is supposed to be closed for the holiday. How could this happen? I ran out to the garage where Pat was changing the oil in our cars and loudly whispered (because Devi just went to bed) at the two wiggling legs protruding form under the minivan - We have NOC! He whispered back in disbelief - WHAT? But before I could repeat myself, he had scrambled out from under the car and grabbed me into his arms. With tears streaming from our eyes we jumped up and down in that oily smelling embrace, oblivious to the fact that we now were both covered in motor oil and the bit of grime that goes with it. We jumped, said we can't believe it and jumped some more. Just over a week shy of 5 months of waiting for this you'd think that nothing could surprise me, but tonight as my head hits the pillow I will be singing praises of Joy, Hallelujahs, Namastes, and rejoicing this wonderful news. At last a good nights sleep with a little less worry filling my dreams of Treya Marie.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

A Determined Tinkerbell

Halloween 2010

Nostalgia has grabbed me by the short hairs, as I realize that my once agreeable girl now has an unstoppable determination that only means she is growing up. No doubt this trait will one day come in handy, at Halloween time, it can make for long debates where it is questionable if this mother’s authoritative words make even a dent in Devi’s opposing view. Gone are the days, when I decided what her costume would be... a bunny or lamb, for instance, knowing that before the words describing it have even left my lips, she was nodding with enthusiasm and approval.

This year my suggestion of a flower in a flower pot fell flat. Her idea of a fairyprincessunicornglittersomething somehow morphed into Tinkerbell. Once this decision was made, there was no changing her mind. Typically, I have a real problem with “characters” on anything. They seem so marketed, lack imagination and are ordinary...basically I try to avoid such items in the house as much as possible. The Disney princess army is a strong force to contend with, however and I feel like I am losing ground a step at a time every day.

Putting the persuasive powers of a mother’s wisdom into play I try throwing out enticements to change her mind, suggesting that everyone will be dressing as Tinkerbell, how about being a purple fairy (siting her favorite color), the glitter fairy (preying on her love of sparkly things) an Indian fairy (tempting her pride in her heritage) but she was not budging, her mind set like concrete.

Re-evaluating, I thought I would simply make her Tinkerbell costume myself, and short of being green, it would be as un-Tink as possible. She thinks she is Tink, I know she is a green is a win win situation. This plan was a great one until I started pricing the materials required to make such a costume. I simply could not justify the cost over ( I shudder to say it) an $11 dollar store bought Tinkerbell costume.

On Halloween night, with her tiny bun pinned tightly atop her head, my Tinkerbell was born. She became the green spirited sprite – of the dark haired brown skinned variety– delighted to flit around no matter how many other Tinks had taken to the trick or treat streets. As we left our porch and headed for the sidewalk to join the stream of parent accompanied children, Devi announced, “Look at me! I’m Tinkerbell! Look at me everyone, I’m Tinkerbell!” case someone couldn’t tell :)

We had a lovely time, with friends joining us for the 10 house journey. We arrived at the end of the evening across the street where our neighbor has started a bon fire pit tradition in her driveway with hot cider, popcorn and smores.

As I leaned down to give Dev her final kisses good night she asked, “Can I wear my hair in a bun forever, mommy?” It was at this point, that I questioned, why I lobbied so hard to change her mind when in the heart of this little girl what happened tonight was magical. It wasn’t about the candy or the gifts from our generous neighbors. For an hour, she really became THE fairy dust wielding Tinkerbell.

Second annual trip to the Double R ranch for Pumpkins!

OH! it's cold mom!

EWWWW...pumpkin guts!

Devi's creation...complete with a bindi

Mom's , Treya's which we grew ourselves, Devi's and Dad's

Tink is determined to get the garden gnome (Harrison) to the door!

If you can't beat em, join em!