Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Some Family Photos

Our church brought in a photographer to take pictures for a photo directory.  Ours turned out really nice.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sorry to not be updating

As a mom of 3 girls, I'm finding myself very, very busy.  Lots of driving my daughters around to all their activities.  When Jessica and Anna were in elementary school, I pretty much kept them in the same activities, different times, but same days.  Now, they are in so many different activities. And in September, they will be in 3 different schools with 3 different start times.  At least they are in the same school district, so the school calendar is the same.  Just one in high school, one in middle school, and one  in elementary school.

Lots of activities: community band (me), Chinese dance, gymnastics, karate, after school activities like volleyball, soccer, basketball and, track, girls scouts, girl scout leader (me), skating, trumpet, violin, dance class coordinator (me again).  I knit to keep my sanity, but I also like being busy and involved.  I always wanted to do everything, so I'm glad at least one of my kids likes and wants to do everything and the other 2 like to do some things.

Anyway, things are going well for us.   Money is tight, but we're doing well as a family.  Amanda is doing great.  She had a great year at school with a lot of progress developmentally and emotionally.  We saw a developmental psychologist at the International Adoption Clinic in October and by the second meeting in January, she decided we had a handle on things and I knew what to look for and knew Amanda's "recipe for success". 

I will try to post here every now and then, certainly more often than I have lately.  But Facebook has become more of a place to keep up to date with everyone.

I'm often sad to think that if my agency had not found Amanda on a waiting list, I would still be waiting for her, or more likely would have given up.  A few weeks ago I checked with the referral calculator and it said I would receive a referral in early 2014 at this rate.  I feel for those still waiting and for those who had to pull their dossiers having given up hope or had so many changes in their life that they could not keep going.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Happy Family Day, Jessica!

Twelve years ago yesterday, I awoke at 3 a.m. knowing that today was the day I would finally get to hold and hug my first daughter. The day my dream would come true. A small group of 6 families boarded a plane from Beijing to Chongqing. I could tell when we got off the plane, we were all wondering and thinking the same thing - we were only maybe an hour from meeting our daughters for the first time. We loaded our luggage on to one bus and all of us on to another bus. We were going straight to the Civil Affairs Office to get our babies.

We pulled up to the Civil Affairs Office. It was a small two story building and we could see the babies with the nannies right inside the door. This is the part where I only remember images. I know I walked in the door and snapped a quick picture. I looked at the babies and wasn't sure. I pointed to one and our guide said no, that's not Wen He. As soon as she said that, the nanny right next to me and the nanny behind her broke into big grins and held up tiniest little girl while nodding their heads. I think I pointed to her and then to me, they nodded their heads again and I remember they had the biggest grins on their faces.

They handed me this little girl, not even 15 lbs, dressed in a yellow sweatsuit with an orange hat and purple shoes. I picked up my Wen He, my Jessica Lin. She looked around - I could tell right away she was very curious. Then I gave her a hug. I totally lost it then. I realized I was holding my dream in my arms and she was real.

From there I only remember a couple of people taking pictures - I don't know when everyone else got their babies - and I remember looking out the door and seeing one other mom sitting on the curb with her daughter. Somewhere in this time, we took a family photo and then went upstairs to complete the paperwork, complete the adoption. By this time all of the babies were crying and hot and sweaty. It was over 80 degrees and very humid and as Itook off Jessie's clothes, I realized she had three layers of clothes on. I tried to feed her. I tried three different formulas, Jessie wouldn't eat any. Wouldn't even try. She just wanted to cry. She had obviously bonded with her foster mother and who was this strange person who kept hugging her and staring at her?

After that, we went to the notary's office, but had a few people take up the paperwork since it was six flights of stairs. I remember that Jessie loved the bus ride, especially when we went over a bump. I don't remember much after that. I know we went down to supper and neither of us was very hungry. My journal says Jessie went to sleep after a very emotional day.

Today, Jessica is a beautiful middle-schooler. My life has taken a lot of turns over the years and now being the mother of 3 beautiful girls from China. But April 17, 2000 is the day a dream came true and the day I finally knew I was on the path I was always meant to take.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Gotcha Day Anniversary

It's unbelievable that it was an entire year ago that we first got Amanda. I remember the grief and then the bargaining to go with anyone but us - in particular me. There's no doubt in my mind now that she was the child I'd waited all those years for. God's timing is alway perfect.

Things are never rosy or perfect. Overall, Amanda is very easy, very easy-going and adaptable. She's doing great at home. Academically doing outstanding at school. Lately she's been having some issues socially at school. She rather likes being in charge and doesn't always agree with the teacher's handling of issues. Being liked by everyone is very important to her and I don't think she's had a lot of experience around kids her own age. Not everyone likes everyone all the time. Something to learn.

She's still determined and knows what she wants, but her world of opportunities has widened from what it was before. Not much phases her. I guess she figures things have turned out okay so far. In some ways, she's younger than her age and others she's older. She loves being outside riding her bike or scooter. She's totally Americanized now - for good or bad. I do find it sad that she's totally forgotten her Mandarin. I guess being around people who speak it just once a week (during dance classes) isn't enough to retain it. At some point I'd like to have her take Chinese school but right now I'm afraid she'd think we're preparing her to go back to China. Yes, every now and then she'll verbalize something that I realize happened to her before and is afraid will happen again. Like she said "I'm really going to miss Jessica when she goes back to China to live with her mom and dad." I realized that that's probably what happened to her big sister that she lived with her in foster home in China - the one I have photos of, but she doesn't talk about in any reminicing of her life in China. Her big sister in China probably got adopted, so she's afraid that will happen to Jessica or Anna. So I've been showing Amanda lots of pictures of Jessica and Anna as babies, so she can see they've grown up together and are still with me. I've also been explaining adoption more. You just never know what your kids are thinking until they say something.

Anyway, we usually celebrate "Family Day" as adoption anniversary day which is tomorrow, but I've been thinking of that day a year ago and what a difference a year makes. So happy Gotcha Day to us!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Some Photos!

Jessica's volleyball team - the Gators. It's her 3rd year playing volleyball.
Anna is also playing volleyball, her 1st year. Her team is called the Wildcats.

My girls!

Family picture. Why is it we have at least 4 cameras and I can't find any of them?!
This was taken with my phone.

Can't believe we have green grass in Minnesota in March! Amanda still loves being outside.

Anna at the district band festival. Jessica was somewhere in the crowd behind her with her trumpet. This will be Anna's one and only year in band as she's decided to continue with her violin. This is the only year she can be in both band and orchestra, so is taking advantage of it.

Amanda's 6th birthday was March 10th. The night before, we had a Minnie Mouse themed party with lots of carnival games. It was probably the first birthday she celebrated, so I wanted to make sure it was a lot of fun. 9 active 5-6 year olds. It was fun!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

It's Girl Scout Cookie Time!

I'm cookie mom for Anna's troop. We picked up 155 cases which is 1,860 boxes of cookies on Thursday night. Some have been picked up by the girls in the troop, some will stay with me for about the next 6 weeks until we've finished up the cookie booths.

Cookies in the living room!

Cookies in the dining room!

Cookies in the hallway!

Cookies, cookies, everywhere!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

New Glasses

Anna got her glasses yesterday. She was so happy that things weren't fuzzy anymore and was dancing around the store.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dance Production - China the Beautiful

2012 Dance Production: China the Beautiful from the mountains to the prairies

Life gets really busy with 3 girls. All 3 dance with the CAAM Chinese Dance Theater. Last weekend we did the annual Chinese New Year production at a local college's auditorium. 2 public performances on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, and then 2 shortened performances on Tuesday where local schools are bussed in for a field trip to see the production and get exposed to some Chinese culture. There are a couple of local Chinese immersion schools that also bring students.

I'm a dance mom - class coordinator for Jessica's class of 7th & 8th graders. The class performed 3 dances this year and it was quite a bit more work being in charge of 3 dances, 7 costumes and multiple hair changes. Jessica was in the prelude and finale and also the papercutting girls. Anna somehow ended up in three dances as well - the prelude and finale, and also hot peppery girls. Amanda was also in the finale. So all three of my girls were in the same dance (Finale, Finale). Very emotional for me to see all three of them on stage together in the same dance.

Here are some pictures. I didn't get Anna in her peppery girls outfit unfortunately. The girls started practicing for this production a year ago. We had weekend runthroughs for 2 weeks prior to last weekend. Last weekend, we had a tech rehearsal Friday, then practically lived at the auditorium the rest of the weekend. Very beautiful performances and a lot of wonderful comments. But, it is exhausting and I'm glad we're done for now.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Wow, I can't believe how time flies! It's been almost 4 months since we first saw Amanda and it seems like so much longer.

Amanda/YangYang has come a long way. The first Sunday we were home, we went to dance class even though it was Easter. It seems like every mom, dad, grandparent, and child that spoke both Mandarin and English were at dance class. They loved Amanda. And it had the effect on her I had hoped it would - that I wasn't trying to take away everything she knew and that I did know people who could speak her language and keep her connected with her culture. When we went home that day, she decided to tackle her fear of the dogs and cat. She now loves them all. And who wouldn't love live stuffed animals?!! And after some initial fears on their part, Lucy, Sophie, and Jinny now love Amanda as well!

Within 2-3 months, Amanda was understanding pretty much everything we say. Sometimes I have to find another word or way to describe things, but now she is hardly doing any pantomime to get her point across. She is speaking sentences.

She loves the extended family ("family - good" is what she said after the first time meeting them). We've been to dance recitals, concerts, camping, vacation bible school, school shopping, ride the bus night. All fun things.

I would say Amanda's favorite activity is riding her bike or scooter. She's definitely got a lot of energy. I call her the Engergizer Bunny. She keeps going and going. Jessica says "she never stops talking!" I keep telling her that YangYang is 5. She's doing exactly what she's supposed to be doing.

She's had a few breakdowns as any 5 year old would. The kicking and screaming goes on until we are both exhausted. The last time, I told her I loved her all the time. All of a sudden she goes "WHAT?!?!?!" So I explained that I loved her in the morning, during the day and at night. I loved her when she was sad, mad, happy, excited. All the time.

She loves outdoors and activities. She likes to jump - around the house, on the bed, from the dresser to the bed. I know she'd be great at gymnastics, but I've decided we need to stick with dance - Chinese dance. She has watched Jessica and Anna at dance practice and now Jessica is teaching her some of the stretching and gymnastics part of dance. We've also found the other girls old dance outfits and shoes. She's excited about starting.

She also loves princesses, dressing up pretty especially in the princess costumes we saved, and watching Disney movies. I keep kicking myself for selling so many of the things I sold just last summer at my garage sales. I guess I had given up on believing I'd get Amanda. Sometimes I still can't believe she's actually home!

I still have to stop myself from looking at the waiting child list. Long-term habits are hard to break. I guess I've been planning for and/or waiting for my kids for the last 15 years or so and I now need some new long-term goals so I can move on.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Yesterday and today have been good days. I guess I'm not as scarey as the dogs are. Amanda slept in my bed the first night and let me carry her to the bathroom when she needed to go. The next morning I let her know I was going to let the dogs outside and she hid on the other side of the bed. Later in the day, she was fine with me holding one dog at a time in the same room as her. She actually pet the cat in the evening. No tantrums. She started pointing to things so I could tell her what we call them and she was going through the stickers and the First Thousand Words book. She decided to sleep in the bedroom she shares with Anna last night. She's the first to adjust to local time. The rest of us are all off kilter.

This morning Anna claimed she hadn't slept most of the night and then fell asleep on my bed. Jessica felt warm yesterday and slept most of the day and was up way too late, so was also asleep. So I decided to see if Amanda would go to the post office and Target with me while sitting in the car seat. No problems on either front. She hopped right in the car seat and enjoyed her trip to Target with me talking the whole time. She didn't have any trouble putting everything she saw into the cart, but didn't protest at all when I took things back out.

I'm waiting for a call letting me know my tire is fixed - it went flat while we were gone. Then tonight another friend and her daughters are coming for a short visit to meet Amanda. We'll also color eggs later. I think we'll stay home tomorrow. I just talked to one of my brothers to let him know we're not ready to entertain anyone at our house yet and I'd rather not travel too far, so maybe we can get together next weekend after we're a little more settled. He traveled to the Ukraine last year so figured we'd need some time to get settled and back to normal or to our new normal. There is still dance tomorrow, so I'll try to bring the girls to that since they have a recital in a few weeks. There should be some Mandarin speaking parents and kids there and I hope they can see if Amanda has any questions now that she's home. Then we can have a nice family dinner at home and Jessica and Anna can get ready to return to school on Monday.