Monday, September 26, 2011

Shifting Gears!

Wow, today is the first day of autumn. I’ve always thought these official changing of season days odd, as Mother Nature rarely tends to comply. Take today for instance. The temperatures are predicted to reach eighty degrees, hardly what one would expect when entering the fall season, nor have I seen even one amber or crimson fallen leaf. I can not, however, deny the fact that school is now back in session, and although I don’t have school age children yet, the coming of the first day of school, brings my annual nesting tendency to prepare for cooler weather. So lately, I’ve been rearranging closets, carefully stowing sleeveless items for long sleeves, have tried coats and mittens on the kids and for all intensive purposes have secured their winter wardrobe. We have gone into storm watch mode, anticipating the rains of La Niña to hit any day. Honestly!

Last night the girls and I made the trek to BabiesRUs to finalize our last purchase - a purchase that requires their presence in the store. Close Toed Shoes! I felt it was a tad early to buy considering the rate at which my princesses’ feet grow, but with a “buy 1 pair, get a second pair for a penny” it was worth the risk. With one child contained in a shopping cart and the other a roaming shopper, we took the store shoe department by storm. Immediately, we had a discussion about the words “practical” and “sensible” which left us at a disagreement over whether shoes with pink glitter on the toes fell into either of those categories. Needless to say, it was two against one, but because I am older, wiser, and possess the Mastercard, my opinion won out. We settled on basic black mary janes. Devi fit into a size 10, no surprises there, but Treya, who typically would wear a 7, couldn’t manage to fit her foot into that size. In fact, it was so snug, it was just like the step sisters in Cinderella trying to force that glass slipper on the boats they had for feet. Up in size we went. I slipped the loftier pair on her, pushed down on the toe with my thumb and felt resistance. A good fit.

Once home with the girls soundly sleeping in their beds, I showed off my frugal purchases to Pat. It was then that I noticed something amiss in Treya’s new shoes. Paper? On closer inspection I found wadded up paper in the toes of both of her new shoes. Shoes that suddenly looked alarming large for girl of her age. Well, for heavens sake! Just when I think I am ahead of the game, back we trudge to the store tonight for another fitting and most likely an exchange.

Exasperated, I’ve also noticed that I have failed to record the events of the last months of summer. The weather did not cooperate in the beginning, but when it did arrive, we were busy busy trying to squeeze in every last opportunity to soak up that worshiped sunshine. So without further adeiu, the tail end of our summer, experienced in photos.

Aunt Joan & Uncle Bill bring grass skirts from their Hawaii trip to the girls.

The girls make Rahki bracelets for each other

We discover the water parks in our neighborhood.

We plant a garden again this year and enjoy a few fruits of our labor.

The family picked blackberries together

Trey had her face painted for the first time & chose a baybeebub (ladybug) design all by herself.

Making the most of one of our hot days, we lounged, taught the kids how to wash the car and had our own water balloon fight.

We had our annual "picnic in the back of the van" at Frisco Freeze, our neighborhood grease pit. Boy their burgers are tasty.

We also discovered a new place. Gilbert's frozen yogurt for dessert. Devi's concoction covered in gummy worms, and Treya's in chocolate. Mommy loves this spot because we can also get no sugar added flavors as well as fat free.

Trey had her first s'more and proclaimed it deliptus.

We gave camping a trial the backyard. This night lasted until about 9:30pm before everyone was back in the house. On the second attempt a week or two later, Devi and Daddy slept under the stars all night. Treya was so exhausted from the day's events that she and mom stuck to our own beds inside. It was reported that sleeping outside is LOUD, between an occasional passing car, dog barking, airplane and wind, not much sleeping actually occurred and the air mattress had a hole. Poor daddy.

While daddy was away on business, Mom took the girls out for a ladies pick out new leotards and ballet shoes, - all new for Treya - then have dinner out together. They both had a slice of lemon in their water, which left them feeling as though they were truly grown ups.

Just a bit excited for their actual first dance class of the season. Treya's first time and Devi returning as a seasoned veteran.

A rare cartoon morning in mommy and daddy's bed!

Treya's first trip to the Puyallup Fair

The petting zoo. The little goat kept trying to eat the beads in my hair.

Attending the Puyallup Fair has been a family tradition since I was about Devi's age. It was such a big affair that free tickets were given out as well as closing school a half day so everyone had an opportunity to attend. Devi has entered the "gold gate" enough times to know the drill and was thrilled with the anticipation of fair fun again this year. Treya, does not know what is going on most of the time, but that does not seem to effect her enthusiasm. She was wildly cheering right along with Devi as we got closer and closer to the venue, spying the tracks of the roller coaster through the surrounding trees.

Treya comfortably strapped into a little umbrella stroller enjoying the ride we headed for the animal barns, arriving first at the pig palace. Recently at daycare, Treya had mastered the "Old MacDonald's Farm" song, so I was thrilled for her to LIVE the lyrics. Our eyes began to adjust from the change in light as we passed through the giant double doors of the barn, and strolled closer and closer to the first in a long line of pens. The first one was home to huge black and white sow, lounging on her side amongst a cool bed of fresh straw. As Marigold the pig came into view, Treya let out a blood curdling scream that left everyone in ear shot cringing. Up she stood, still strapped into the flimsy umbrella stroller and with no regard for anyone around, attempted to retreat! Turning on a dime, she struggled to baby step it the heck out of there dragging the stroller along with! I was shocked! Even today if you ask her if she likes pigs she will get very serious and shake her head with every bit of seriousness this silly girl possess and say "NO!" She freaked slightly at the sight of every barn, but managed to look at bunnies and stood beside me in the petting zoo, spending her time maneuvering herself as far from any animal as possible. Well, I guess farm animals are just not her thing.

The carousel, a huge hit with both girls, served as our saving grace after the pig fiasco, and the parents got to ride for free! Krusty pups or corn dogs were the girls dinner of choice as we made our way to view the biggest squash. We all guess it's weight and see who comes the closest without going over. Pat and I were neck and neck with my 895 pound guess and his 935 pounds. DeeDee guessed 15 pounds and Treya twee (3). Usually these hybrids come in well over 1000 pounds, but the unusual weather we had was just not conducive to gourd production I guess. Oh! and the winner was the squash was 927.

By this time, Devi was begging to try cotton candy. Nasty, I know, but we all have to try it once, right? Her behavior was so good, I found her hard to deny. Both girls were quite cute to watch as they experienced the fluffy pink cotton simply disappearing when placed in their mouths. Devi said, "It is magic!" That right there is reason enough to continue to experience the Puyallup Fair.

Rain had begun to fall, so we girls stood under the eaves of a nearby booth cheering on drenched daddy who was standing a dozen or so customers back in the slow moving ever popular scone line. He really took one for the team, but who can resist warm, butter and raspberry filled fresh scones? Not I. A debate always seems to ensue as we determine just how many of these golden pillows for baked goodness to buy. One for now, one for later, one for breakfast...times how many people we have...YUM!

The night ended with our favorite ride - the skyride, which is one of those rides with gondolas that take you over the fair from one corner to the opposing one. It is the best view of the whole event, bright with lights and thousands of people. Devi was quite cute excitedly pointing out all the places she recognized from earlier in the day.

Mom and Dad give in to one excited little girl over cotton candy = $4.00!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

mine, Mine, MINE!

The Ross Family with Commissioner Foley

Mine mine mine. Yes these are the words that our two year old spouts regularly, but today, they are also the words that I am singing with high praises. After a charted course, six years long, I can rejoice in those words, that both of my babies are now legally mine forever. It seems such a formality to enter the courtroom and proclaim what we have known in our hearts to be true for such a very long time - since the moment we first laid eyes on those tiny photographs.

Days before Treya’s court date Devi, Treya and I were discussing the significance of court day. When I told them that the judge would legally change Trey’s name from just Sonalika to Treya Marie Sonalika Ross, Devi asked “does this mean we are not really a family yet?” Let me just say that I am baffled by Devi’s level of awareness sometimes, but I quickly asked her, “What is your heart telling you? Are we a family yet?” The glow of her pearly white teeth, took over her brown skinned face as she broke out with the biggest of smiles stating with supreme confidence, “Yes mommy, we are all ready a family.” To which Treya responded “ME! ME!” a statement that could only conclude that she adamantly agrees too.

Commissioner Foley resided as we entered her courtroom with our entourage of honored guests including Treya’s grandparents, some Aunts, Uncles friends and neighbors. With the commissioner’s welcome she commended us with the tremendous show of support for Treya, knowing that this adoption was surely in the best interest of this child, mentioning too, that the glowing reports of Treya’s progress since entering our home, were the most favorable recommendations she has seen in a long time. This was so important for me to hear, because regardless of how much we love our jelly bean, our start was rocky. We have worked so hard to provide a stable, secure place for Treya to overcome her incomprehensible shyness and begin to build trust. Going from biting me, hiding under the furniture, sleeping or simply closing her eyes when strangers are around to engaging others with smiles, making eye contact, waving with confidence and blowing kisses is HUGE. In addition, she has undergone five surgeries - 2 since being home, skin grafting on her tummy twice, multiple casts on both her leg and arm, and has worn corrective shoes connected with a bar, impeding movement at night for nearly 6 months. She is such a survivor at age 2 and a half.

We were all sworn in and then were asked to answer some questions about how it is that we were joined from half way around the world. That fact is simply amazing, isn’t it? A divine plan is truly playing out here, and the outcome - a perfect fit. I find myself daydreaming about this phenomena all the time, pondering all that had to happen for the miracle of these children we are so fortunate to love.

Us with Joyce, our attorney

Celebrating with the grandparents

Specifically, the commissioner asked Devi how she felt about having a new sister to which Devi replied “Great!” followed by intrigue about the adoption ceremony thrown for us in Pune and the support that was bestowed by Treya’s caregivers. Ironically, that is the day that Treya first made eye contact and held her arms up to me, as if knowing her first chapter (her birth to parents unable to care for a baby) and the second chapter of her life (her orphanage life) was closing. Her third and final chapter - joining our family - was about to begin. This is only fitting as her name “Treya” is Hindi for one who walks down three paths.

Dressed in rajastani clothing, I described how the girls were adorned with oil in their hair and powder on their skin. We were seated on stools surrounded by rangoli designs where the entire staff that cared for Treya took part in presenting each girl with a lei of marigolds around their necks. In turn we each were circled in incense and a bindi of life was smeared on our foreheads. Next, our heads were sprinkled with rice to bring prosperity and we swallowed a teaspoon of sugar, that we might always taste life’s sweetness. The eldest of the orphan children kissed Treya’s cheek, saying her good byes and the blessing was complete. From that moment on, Treya would not allow anyone else to hold her and in her emotional state, drifted to sleep in my arms for the first time.

Treya with Great Grandma Verna - 96 years young

Treya wearing a new knitted hat from Gail and in the arms of Uncle David

Once the petition was signed, we took photos and headed back to our house for a celebration. Samosas, hummus and Indian sweets from the Punjab sweets store were served along with a cake I baked for Trey with a “loose” replica of the rangoli adoption day design that was delicately sprinkled outside the door of Shreevatsa the day we took custody of her. Because September 18th is Devi’s forever family day, I managed to complete an adoption video for each girl to watch showing their full story. Treya could still name her maurhsis (aunties) as she stood inches from the screen proclaiming “me! me!” as she watched video of herself at various ages for the first time. Devi has watched her video at least a half dozen times all ready, marveling at how small she once was, and announcing the event as each scene changes, “my first bath with first feeding with first plane ride from Kolkata to Delhi...”

4th Forever Family Day

Same pose; same clothes for the adults

Waking up on September 18th to cuddles and kisses from my oldest 30 pound bundle, I found myself again saying, “mine, mine, mine!” Can it be that four years have passed since I first laid eyes on my pumpkin pie, standing in a crib sucking that precious thumb? Pure joy is beyond words, but I feel it still in the depths of my soul when I recall that life changing day; peering through the bars of the white crib, chipped from years of use, and spying a tiny child with curly black hair waving in the wisp of swirling air created by the oscillating fan. Her caramel complexion and piercing eyes were calm, but captivating. And, without hesitation, I reached down, and put my hands under her tiny arms for support; lifting and feeling the warm weight of my child for the first time. My life was forever changed in that moment.

Because this was such a monumental weekend of adoption events with a finalization and forever family day to celebrate, we wanted to do something special for the girls. Off to India Bazaar, the local Indian store we went where we purchased a set of gold bracelets for each girl - their first real set of fine bangles. The Sikh man who owns the store was reading the Quran when we approached him, and recognized 3 of us right off from previous visits; acknowledging this time a new family member he had not yet met. We shared Treya’s story and as always, he was overly generous in offering discounts - this time also gifting the girls bottles of mango juice they delightfully accepted through their giggles. He bowed many times to us as we left; giving us his blessings of approval.

Our four year tradition found us once again at Gateway to India for dinner. Warm greetings and the comment, “You have another one!” led us to share Treya’s story with the owner who had not yet met her. We had her snap our same pose-photo, + one this year and were seated to feast. True to form, we all ate heartily, from Mango lassies to Gulab Jamin, with a little Muttar Paneer, Murgh Briyani and Channa Das thrown in for good measure. Pakoras and Garlic Naan go without saying, and, of course Devi’s favorite the spicy Lentil soup! Our once shy Treya screamed in her loudest voice, “Tank Ooo” toward the kitchen every time another dish was placed on our table letting her appreciation for the cooks not go unnoticed.

With a weekend so packed full of reasons to rejoice it seems fitting to close with this quote by Mahatma Ghandi.

Every worthwhile accomplishment,

big or little, has it's stages

of drudgery and triumph: a beginning,

a struggle and a victory!