Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy Diwali 2011

Our Family - Diwali 2011

For Treya, this past Saturday, brought a bit of familiarity to her ever changing world, as we celebrated Diwali - the festival of lights, one of the only holidays she knows. With a nod of confidence while saying Diwali, you knew she understood completely what we were discussing as the girls eagerly helped me prepare for our Indian feast. During the week preceding we busied ourselves discovering how to make home made paneer and pickled cucumbers and decorated our house for the big event.

We teach that the holiday is a day to symbolically open our hearts, removing all obstacles, so that good things and prosperity might come our way. We celebrate our friends and family and all the joys life has offered us, through the lighting of candles and lanterns throughout the house. Much in the same way that we leave cookies for Santa, we adorned our front door with rangoli, bells and lanterns and just on the table inside, we decorated a puja thali to help lure the luck of Lakshmi in. Our puja thali, or offering plate, is a brass plate with two painted peacocks in the middle that we purchased on our first trip to India to meet Devi. Placed on it was a bell, a bowl of rice to symbolize prosperity, a bowl of Indian coins to represent life’s riches, bright gold foil wrapped candy, incense, a small diya and the two mirrored katoris (tiny bowls) presented to us at Treya’s adoption ceremony, that were filled with flower petals. All were arranged by the girls (over and over again) until a design they thought looked pretty was agreed upon.

Devi was adamant that they wear their Rajastani dresses from Treya’s ceremony, which fit them both much better than 10 months ago when they received them and she requested one thick braid straight down the back, “like the Indian girls like me wear, mom.” Complete with bangles, bindi’s and the necklaces they received from Trey’s ayahs, they were ready to receive our guests. As each person arrived, they chose a light in our house to light and as the night grew darker, we found ourselves aglow in the flicker of candle light.

Once again trying my hand at Indian cooking, I chose a non-traditional Diwali feast, selecting dishes that I thought I could pull off, preparing a meal for our group, 14 people strong. We had spiced nuts, papadams and samosas with mint and mango chutneys to start, while sipping champagne topped with a splash of pomegranate juice; the kids with mango lassis. Manning the grill, oven, stove top and electric skillet, I frantically stirred simmered, roasted and unfortunately overcooked one dish, but for the most part I was pleased with the result. Our menu included tandoori prawns, chicken & paneer tikka masala, aloo gobi, a curried pea and almond salad, saffron rice, pickled cucumbers, raita, and naan bread. Pumpkin cakes and Kahlua Cardamon Kulfi with chai tea lattes made up the dessert. For anyone interested, most of the recipes were from Aarti Sequeira, the winner of season 6 of the Food Network Star and host of Aarti Party. They were easy to follow and fun to prepare.

I can’t put into words, the joy and gratitude that I have for my family and friends, who have so willingly accepted this culture that captivated Pat and I long algo, but which is all new to them. The unfamiliar foods, and the customs that we are making tradition for our girls, have been embraced from the start, making the hosting part extraordinarily fun for me. Devi proudly explained what everything was, what about the food she loves and why we do things a certain way, as if she has always lived in India and all this comes natural to her. Treya is a silly girl, but becomes more than serious when food is involved. I love the look of determination she gets as she trembles with the strain of her mouth, opened to it’s widest point, making way for a heaping spoon full of food to enter, then continuing to struggle to close her lips enough to begin chewing.

Last year at Diwali, we focused on moving our own major obstacle as we anxiously awaited our NOC and guardianship of dear Treya. This year we know of so many with that same or similar struggle that we decided to try to help move others’ obstacles in our festival of lights celebration. The girls and I wrote the names of all the Indian children who have been matched with a family but who are still in various stages of the court process and the names of all the families that have not yet been matched with a child, on a sky lantern. In all, 14 names were added: Indra, Bindu, Karuna, Baby C, Varsha, Urmilla, Neha, the Welsers, the Leschke’s, the Jacob’s, the Crook’s, the Cooper’s, the Baxter’s, the Brice Family and a heart for anyone I may have forgotten. We had all the guests assemble on our deck and we explained the significance of each name and our wish for them. The lantern was ignited, and when fully inflated was set adrift into the dark sky. Everyone cheered and clapped as the lantern was caught by a gust of wind and sailed over the Puget Sound. We silently watched it float away until it was completely out of sight. We ended the evening with a rousing explosion of snaps from pull-string poppers followed with hugs and Happy Diwali wishes.

Pull String Poppers!

When I put Devi to bed, she asked me, “Mommy, how will I know if Lakshmi comes to our house to bring us prosperity?” I explained that she really does not come into our house, but rather the idea of her exists in our hearts and minds to help remind us to have good behavior because good behavior always leads to good things.” Satisfied, she snuggled down to sleep. Ironically, the next day when we returned to our car after an outing, a pile of loose change was on the ground outside my car door. Devi said, “Mommy, mommy, Lakshmi brought you prosperity!” On that note, Happy Diwali everyone.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Has It Run It's Course?

Initially, A Princess Born of India was started to help Pat and I connect with a child we had not yet met, but whom we longed to love. The soul purpose was to record the history of how our family was built; that my girls would have an accurate account of the details of their stories long after my memory begins to fail me. Over the years, the blog has evolved and has worn many hats. It became the place we could proudly show off the latest facial expressions of our two children before they joined our families. Blogging was the main source of information to our families and friends when we traveled abroad. It has been my source of serenity, realizing a love of writing through sharing emotional experiences I thought I would never feel in becoming a mother. And it has been a wonderful time capsule to reflect on how our lives have changed in the past several years since it’s conception.

Pleasantly, it became a connection to an unexpected group of readers; people who share similar parenting issues, or whom we share the bond of adoption or love of India. Many contacted me privately seeking help surviving the adoption gauntlet, looking for attachment ideas or simply to introduce the children that hold their hearts as they, too wait. Although I am no expert in these areas, I have sincerely enjoyed that connection. To think that a post about adoption delays may have helped ease the minds of another in a similar predicament, or that exposing ourselves through the details of a parenting disaster brought encouragement from readers makes blogging so worth the effort.

I know eventually the girls will no longer want their private lives displayed for all to see, at which point I will journal for them in private. I had thought that would be when they are considerably older, but now that our adoptions are final (and I don’t currently have another one planned...yet) the connections I had been making are beginning to become fewer in number. The blog receives less and less traffic and certainly even less comments, leading me to believe that I am reaching fewer readers through the topics that I post now, fogging the need to broadcast our story via the internet. When we were hip wading through the international bog of adoption I clung onto anyone’s success story I could find, so to return the favor, if there is a readership that is encouraged, or finds value in the words shared, I would love to hear from you. Please help me make the hard decision to become newly inspired to continue on or put A Princess Born of India to bed.

If you would like to email privately, I welcome that too. (

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Rarely is it ever quiet in our house. Though the children take responsibility for part of the ruckus, much of the serenity of silence is happily interrupted by the sound of music. The stereo in our house is flipped into it’s on position with speakers emitting anything from drum beats of Africa or unique sound of an Indian sitar to melodic notes sung by Michael Bublé or preschool jingles sung by children (a 4 CD set - Lord help us) about as often as one would turn on the lights. Thankfully, we all tend to be easily appeased and agreeable when loading the CD player.

Pat and I have enjoyed various musical styles throughout the years - yes, even heavy metal finding a place in our vast repertoire. Given my hair style and taste in clothing, I suppose it is not much of a stretch to imagine us listening to reggae either. If fact, it is one of my favorite genres to hear live. I challenge anyone to try and hold still once hearing the rhythms of this uplifting island music. You simply can’t keep yourself from swaying, nodding your head or moving your feet for long.

Recently, Pat surprised me with tickets to see Ziggy Marley at a small local venue. For those unaware, Ziggy is the son of Bob Marley who is known as the father of the reggae movement. We’ve been playing Bob’s hits for years, but Ziggy is a bit more of an untapped source, with the exception of his children’s album Family Time. Our whole family, including our newest member Trey rates this CD as one of our favorites. Devi shouts out which numbered track she would like to listen to next, Pat and I find ourselves listening to it - even when the children are not in the car, and Treya, with her limited language skills actually sings these songs while bobbing her head, of course. The music is light, sends a positive message, promotes family and the melodies are unique, holding even an adults attention.

Outside of Family Time, and a few of his hits, I was somewhat unfamiliar with Ziggy’s music, but figured the evening would be enjoyable all the same. What a surprise when Pat called the day before the show announcing we had been chosen to go backstage after the concert and meet him! The girls were so jealous. I decided to make this a fun moment for them too.

The concert was fantastic. We enjoyed it so much, but the excitement came afterwards when we got to meet Ziggy. Because he is so family oriented, I showed him pictures of our girls and explained how we became a family. Then I showed him the pictures that the girls had drawn for him which he happily autographed. Devi drew a picture of herself and Ziggy holding hands, he was complete with dreads and a tam. Then he looked at Treya’s picture, which brought a chuckle as he announced, “An abstract!” Touring to promote his latest musical works, he also laughed when we told him how much we love Family Time. Our few minutes together revealed what a kind and gentle soul this man is, and how much he believes in love, peace, unity and family. It was a great night.


Interesting conversation has come up in our day to day, also worth a mention. Recently, while driving in the car, water droplets were forming on the windshield. Suddenly Devi shouted from the back seat...

D: “Don’t turn on the windshield wipers!”

Me: “Why not?”

D: “Because a whole universe lives in each water drop.”

Me: “What kind of universe?”

D: “Parameciums! and Amoebas!”

Me: “What is a Paramecium?”

D: “They are these cute oblong thingys with little arms all around that help them swim and Amoebas split in two and in two and in two, mom. Don’t hurt them.”

End Result: To avoid driving off the road, we killed a bunch of universes.

One weekend morning Devi climbed into bed with me and announced...

D: “Mommy, I am a vegetarian.”

Me: “How do you know?”

D: “Because I love carrots and carrots are good for your eyes mom.”

Me: “Yes, but just loving carrots does not make you a vegetarian.”

D: “Well, Treya is a meat eater, and I am not a meat eater. But carrots make my eyes see really good. Even with my eyes closed, I can see Treya misbehaving while we are sleeping.”

Lastly, one Treya conversation from our sweet toothed kiddo.

T: “Tuotie peas.”

Me: Treya, you have all ready had a cookie.

T: “nah-ah”

Me: Yes, we each had one cookie. Where did you put yours?

T: Treya pulls up her shirt and pats her belly with a smile.

Me: See? You all ready put your cookie in your tummy. We don’t need anymore cookies.

T: “yah-a-dooooo”

(Her last comment is a phrase “Yes, I do” she uses all the time. We should really record her saying it because it is quite cute. I love the way she sustains the "oooo" at the end and forms her lips into a perfect circle.

Sunday, October 02, 2011


We are almost to the point of losing count of the number of times we have made the hour long trek, parked the car in the whale parking lot, had our shirts tagged with badges, and watched our pager come alive giving an alert that a doctor is ready to see us. With those Children’s Hospital visits has come a familiarity and sense of belonging for not only Pat and myself, but also with Treya. It is a kid-friendly , colorful under the sea themed place, and even though some of the procedures may not be pleasant, we always leave feeling good about the experience.

So although a surgery is never blasé, the comfort level we have come to know with Treya’s surgeon, Dr. Friedrich - trusting his expertise to the fullest - had us all quite calm on September 6th, the day of her second syndactyly release. Like clockwork, we arrived by 6:45am and were led to a room to help prep Trey for the surgery that, if successful, would be the birth of her 9th and 10th fingers. Warm body wipes and a flannel green gown were supplied as Pat and I diligently washed our baby girl down and dressed her, so reminiscent of a similar day in March, when her pinkie finger was released. This was hardly routine for us, but the staff has a way of making everyone feel calm as they amble through your room checking and double checking that Treya’s identification bracelet, securely attached to her ankle, matched the name on her chart, asking if we had any questions, and if they could bring anything to make us feel more comfortable like warm blankets, books, stickers. STICKERS? Did someone say stickers?

In a matter of minutes Treya had adorned her gown with a handful of big 3 by 3 inch stickers, each with a Dora, unicorn, dread I say Sponge Bob and various other characters on them. Honestly, the girl’s outfit was stiff with decoration, but she was kept happy which was our main goal. Soon, the anesthesiologist arrived and observed as I administered the purple silly juice through the plunger and into her bird shaped mouth. Treya can giggle like no other, a guttural laughter that barely allows for breath intake and it is contagious to all who are within earshot. So when Twinkle Twinkle became the most funny song she had ever heard, we knew that the loony liquid had taken hold. In my arms, her limp body became dead weight as I lifted her into the arms of a waiting nurse struggling to control her own giggling, who then carried her away. Treya’s deep soulful eyes tracked mine as far as she could, until the two of them rounded the corner at the end of the hall; my anxiety about her departure was eased knowing that she wouldn’t remember this - though I would.

It is hard not to be a clock watcher at times like these, try as Pat and I might to busy ourselves on the ipad. And concern turned to worry as the surgery drug on more than an hour longer than what was anticipated. To say that we sprinted to the check-in station when our pager sounded, was an understatement. Reading Dr. Friedrich’s body language, our minds were quickly put at ease, as he joined us for a consultation; entering the room with a smile. Treya came through with flying colors - a character he said - and once again he managed to preserve far more finger than what was expected. The tiny bones that form one's fingertip on her two middle fingers had grown together, causing the time delay, as he had to saw them apart and file the edges smooth. Normally, he would have just removed this tiny bone bit, but he felt by the looks of Treya’s bones and good circulation, there may be some growth potential there. Even a millimeter of extra length for her would be worth the added effort.

Sporting a purple cast, the predetermined color of her and Devi’s choice, our groggy jelly bean was placed into the loving arms of her mommy. We were told that she was quite agitated as she started to stir in the recovery room and would not allow the nurse to remove the heart monitor “stickers” on her chest. “Mine, mine!” They let her be :) I was so looking forward to some sweet cuddle time with my girl because without sedation she rarely sits still, but that was not to be shared this time, as Treya was quite mad about the IV line still in her hand and various other annoyances a surgical procedure can bring. With a furrowed brow she repeatedly tried without success to convey her many complaints through anesthesia slurred speech that on any regular day is hard to understand. That is when she resorted to sign language with a casted arm, now a dead weighted club, that had been injected with a pain blocker rendering it useless. Poor baby was frustrated beyond belief, but once she learned we could go home as soon as she could drink her juice, she downed it. We dressed her as best we could, talked her into removing the heart monitor stickers and we headed home.

This shows Treya's purple cast and YES!, we are in the middle of potty training. She is doing great and is so proud to be wearing real princess panties.

Twenty two days later, as I said night night to Trey the evening before having the cast removed, we talked about her appointment the next day. I told her, “Tomorrow you get your cast taken off”. She replied, “Me? tass off?” “Yes” I assured her. “YAY!” she cheered. We had this exchange a number of times before she finally believed me enough to close her eyes and drift off to sleep excited about the next days coming events.

With Pat out of town, I chose to bring both girls to the appointment. Devi had been wanting to see where we take Treya and I figured knowing what to expect, having done this once before, it would be a good time to bring her. My friend DiAnna had nothing to do so offered to come with us to sit with me and the girls. I welcomed the company, so all 4 of us made the trek, not knowing how the Lord takes care of us sometimes with His provisions.

Treya immediately associated the casting room with the noisy cast saw they used on her leg casts and began feeling a bit anxious, but was easily calmed when she realized she did not need the saw this time. With Treya sitting on my lap, the technician scissored the splint off in minutes and all was going well until they took her arm out of the cast and Treya saw her fingers for the first time. She took a long look in amazement and then she just lost it. I had forgotten the sound of THAT cry; the one that I last heard when we left the orphanage in India. There is no whimper or warning. It is volcanic in it’s eruption. The sound of pure terror, it is loud, guttural and almost animal like. Once it escalates to this level there is no consoling her. Tears literally squirt from her tear ducts, drool runs endlessly from her mouth, perspiration drenches her clothing and verbal communication is futile. I was so thankful for DiAnna right then. She was great with Dev who was trying to give Treya kisses and rub her back, all wonderful acts of love that were so rejected by Treya in the moment. DiAnna was also instrumental in helping to deal with Treya, retrieving Kleenex and simply helping me to keep my head while holding a hysterical child.

Treya sobbed for nearly an hour with no reprieve. Naturally the staff at Children’s were aces in helping in every way they could, showing patience beyond measure, allowing Treya the time she needed to calm down before attempting to examine her hand. They tried stickers, cookies and juice and of course Devi, DiAnna and I were giving all the TLC we could muster. Meanwhile the open air room of other casted patients had to endure our explosive scene. At a glance I witnessed one terrified boy sitting in his mom’s lap, staring at us in horror with both his hands over his ears. It was complete and utter mayhem. We finally covered Treya’s new fingers with a towel, and once obscured from view, she began the calming process; gasps of air, followed by hysteria flair ups, followed by gasps of air, until the ability to verbally communicate with her was regained.

Once somewhat contained, Dr. Friedrich took a quick look, proclaiming the new digits healthy and healing. Like any fresh surgery site, however, Treya’s hand is a bit gnarly looking, especially to her. Her arm is shedding flaky dry skin, her hand is covered in permanent black ink markings and measurements indicating the precision required to perform this level of repair, and her new fingers have scabs, stitches and some darkened freshly grafted skin. While I am thrilled and ecstatic about the result, I have to remember that a two year old does not possess the ability to realize that it will not look like this forever. As a parting note, the doc mentioned that with second surgeries, it is not unusual for children to become more emotional, albeit not quite as irrational as Treya’s display, a fact that would of better served us if revealed far earlier in our day!

Before any correction

After the pinkie release surgery had healed.

After this surgery. Stitches are still dissolving and grafted skin is still healing.

Peggy, the occupational therapist, moved us into the her magical room of tricks and masterly constructed Treya’s plastic and Velcro hand brace. Treya continued to protest with small tearful fits of objection, but by this time, she was wearing down so was more easily distracted with puzzles, her toy of choice. The paddle-like brace is meant to protect the hand as it continues to heal and to hold the two new fingers apart, as they tend to want to easily reattach at the base of the hand. Six more weeks and she is a free girl to express herself as she pleases with....wait for it.....10 individual FINGERS! Not all of them are full size or have nail beds, but her reach has increased significantly, which in turn will allow her an almost normal grasp.

Once home and in our jammies, Treya was finally calmed enough for me to talk with her about how pretty her new fingers are, how brave she had been and together we looked at those beautiful new fingers to see that they are not scary at all. Her arm is sore from being in that casted position for so long, but she is thrilled that she can move her elbow again. After such an over stimulating day, I gave her a bit of Tylenol to continue to calm her and help bring restful sleep. Wearing Devi’s hand-me-down Tinkerbell jammies for the first time helped a bit too.

Treya's hand brace for the next six weeks.

Exhausted myself, sleep just wouldn’t come. I couldn’t help rethinking our decisions for Treya’s hand. She has been through so much and yet we keep pressing for more from her. From every examined angle, however, I stand unwavering in our choices regarding her progress. Becoming a mother was not just fulfilling my dream of having children to hold and love, it also was openly taking on the responsibility to act of their behalf when they are not able, by providing the best opportunities for them to reach their full potential in life. Sometimes that means the decisions are tough or even unpleasant, but that is where faith and the support of others becomes crucial. By morning, Treya was unfazed and back to her good old rough and tumble self, once again demonstrating the tenacity of this precious child; capable of enduring far more than her young years suggest. She is going to be unstoppable.