Monday, March 31, 2008

WHAT'S THE TIME?!

Spring forward . . . fall back . . . I know the rhyme . . . I understand the rhyme . . . it usually works for me . . . not this time!!

I woke up yesterday morning, remembered the time change, checked my time-signal clock, Alice woke, morning got off to the usual start - until the grandfather clock chimed the same time as clock indicated. Ooophs - time signal clock HADN'T automatically updated as it usually does . . . I started to get confused . . . the morning went to pot . . . got the planned jobs done (went to W@itrose) but was totally confused as to the correct time.

I'd planned to shift our routines by 30 minutes (just run a bit early) to get Alice half way to the 'new' time. My plan was in ruins before we'd managed to have lunch (late by new time!) Plans weren't helped by me fitting a bug - I feel rough, thinking's hard, coughing's harder, state of confusion is becoming my usual state.

So yesterday Alice didn't really adapt at all to the time shift. Today? She didn't nap at all at lunchtime and I managed to keep her awake all afternoon - she was shattered by bedtime and fell asleep very quickly, only to wake several times (so far) and scream for a couple of minutes each time, poor baby.

Me? I'm shattered too - late night last night and then an early morning parcel before 7.30am! My body-clock's confused - not helped by tiredness.

Home? Still in chaos. Kitchen progress? The units are all in place but without kick-boards, end panels, pelmets and cornice. The missing bits came in today (to the store) and I found out by accident - when I rang to check progress! Then I asked why I hadn't been told, they fudged an answer and didn't even apologise. Then they said they couldn't deliver for another 9 days, on checking they could get them to me in 2 days - relieved but not impressed. The tiling's finished but they still need a silicon seal to the worktops. The electrician was here all day - he's coming back tomorrow and hopes to get finished by the end of the day. The painter started today (back door hallway, kitchen and playroom) and should be finished by Thursday - if the kitchen skirting board is fitted in time to have been painted by then! Then next Monday the playroom and study will be recarpeted. Next Tuesday swimming classes start again - after lunch I'm going to lie down - on new carpet and stare at my beautiful newly arranged kitchen as I drift off to sleep in my quiet (but probably still dusty) home!! It's another step towards making this place my own but I may never eat toast again!

NEW COUNTRIES READING!

Up to 82 countries, so that's 2 new countries, but I've lost track and can't work out which countries they are!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

SILLINESS AT HOME!


. . . after the horse and dog show . . . amisted the chaos that was and (hopefully) soon will again be the kitchen and playroom!

FIRST PONY RIDE, BAREBACK!!

The Wonderful M (Magnificent T's mum and also my next door neighbour) has been itching to get Alice on a pony - today her wish came through!

What's funny though - is that Alice was convinced that she'd been riding on a 'dog!!'

C (T's younger son) also rode on Sebastian!

YOU ROTTEN LOT!

. . . not one of you even tried to guess what Alice was up to!

She loves playing in the water. She was a little hesitant on the first day (Tuesday) but on Wednesday, once she was dressed up and let into the garden, she couldn't wait to get there and get wet, very wet!! We haven't had any chances since then - the weather's been too grim - wet and cold.

But today was beautiful and (as usual) she couldn't wait to get stuck in! She has a great splashing technique - slapping objects into the water whilst looking away so that she doesn't get water on her face.

We had great fun for a while - until the Magnificent T came to invite us to a dog and horse show! We went as quickly as possible (after a complete wardrobe change - Alice had super fun, splashing and sploshing and giggling.



Thursday, March 27, 2008

KITCHEN PROGRESS, NEW FRIDGE!

The difference a week makes!

I love this new part of the kitchen.

It used to be 2 double base units with the glazed units above it with shelves between them. Originally our old pine dresser was supposed to go here, but it was 3cm too long! So Mum ordered extra units at the last minute. It was a more decorative part of the kitchen - displays with photos and cookery books, room for the stereo and fruit bowl, double plug for charging various things such as my mobile, but also one of the 'general dumping ground' areas. The cupboards weren't much better - the base units held Mum's china and teasets that I couldn't bare to use or part with (they're now packed up for storage) and the wall units had glass doors so were only suitable for glass storage. The glass wall units now have opaque glass and are over by the sink. Some of the base units are on the wall with the cooker (details in a post that's still needing to be 'written'!)

Now - it's 'food central' for the whole kitchen, a fabulous storage cupboard on the left (still waiting for the spice racks on the inside of the doors), fridge and freezer in the middle (that dispenses chilled, filtered water and ice - hoorah, at last!) and a wider (than the one in the old layout) larder unit. The units for this bit of the kitchen were the only new ones that were needed - they're not identical but a really good match.

I'm very happy with this bit too, but haven't worked out where to charge my mobile yet - it worked over here as there was network coverage (just!)

KITCHEN PROGRESS, SINK END

3 photos - the first was last week, the second is tonight and the third is self-explanatory!

Progress is being made, but it's slow because things are coming from different places not because the company are dragging their heels.

What's happened at this end? The base units have hardly been changed from the old layout - one cupboard's been removed (the veggie basket one), the narrow cupboard now has a door and the corner unit now has 1 door that's hinged. The wall units are different (they came from where the fridge freezer is now). It's simpler and it's better. There's one part I don't like, I knew that I wouldn't, the microwave is a bit high for me (made worse from the rack that sits inside it) and it hinges on the wrong side for the layout - but it was the best option - looks fine but just doesn't work too well for me!

The tiler started today - he worked really hard (8am til nearly 7pm) and I really like the results. I was planning to have the same tiles as before (4 tiles making a sun), but when I went to order them I found a different tile from the same range. I'm really pleased with the new ones - the square echoes the squares on the curtains and with these tiles the navy is pulled into the colour scheme, fab! It's odd sitting in the study, the tiles are handmade, terracotta and they click with the moisture of the adhesive - very strange!

This bit of the kitchen is nearly finished - just a few tiles to add, grouting to do, some electrics to finish, end panels, pelmets, cornice and kick panels to do. I'm really pleased with how it looks.

A NEW FRIEND!

We're delighted and relieved to hear that Baby Blob arrived safe and well yesterday afternoon.

GFW and AJ are now the proud parents to Baby L. We've already been shopping for pink! We can't wait to see just how beautiful she is (we'll settle for a photo, for now!)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

12 MONTHS ON . . .

Alice's referral paperwork was put together at the end of February and the beginning of March last year - so I'm assuming that the photo was taken at the same time. I didn't try to find a similar photo - except that I did look for one where she was fully looking towards the camera.

There's no doubt it's the same child!

YOU KNOW WHEN YOU'RE AN ADOPTIVE PARENT WHEN . . .

  • The fact that there are 143 million children without a parent to kiss them goodnight has made you lose sleep.
  • You realize DNA has nothing to do with love and family.
  • You can’t watch Adoption Stories on TV without sobbing.
  • You spend free time surfing blogs about families who have experienced the blessing of adoption.
  • It drives you crazy when people ask you about adopted child’s ‘real’ parents.
  • You have ever been ‘pregnant’ with your adoptive child longer than it takes an elephant to give birth.(2 years for the elephant, over 3 for me!)
  • You have ever taken an airplane ride half-way around the world with a child you just met.
  • You realize that welcoming a child into your heart and family is one of the most important legacies you could ever leave on this earth.
  • You have welcomed a social worker into the most private parts of your life.
  • You shudder when people say your child is so lucky that you adopted them, knowing full well you are the blessed one to have him or her in your life.

TODAY'S FUN

Can you guess?

(There's an obvious clue in the photo and there was another in a recent post!)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

EASTER BUNNIES

Alice had plenty of eggs and choccy from family and friends, so the Easter Bunny decided to bring our 'Little Miss Pickles' a rocking croc for the garden!! (As the weather's been so rotten the past few days the EB left the rocker in the drawing room to save Alice rocking in the snow!!)

Like her own Pickles Bunny, she loves her rocking croc!

EASTER - 2007 TO 2008

Several times today I reflected on the difference a year (ish) can make - thinking back to last Easter.

2007 - In the fortnight before Easter referral rumours started again. The previous month's referrals had got to the 24th October, my date was the 1st November - I was the 8th day in the queue. I didn't believe that I'd make the Easter referral batch, then the rumours grew stronger and it was rumoured that my date would be included. For the first few days of rumours I was strong, but as they grew stronger I began to hope and believe that I could be included that time around. I was interviewed for the Radio 4 programme about adopting from China, spirits were high, the weather was good, everything looked positive. Then referrals arrived, only 2 days worth, devastation and panic. Only 2 days, how many more months would I have to wait? Would I have to go back to school in September? Easter 2007 was hard, the uncertainty of if and when referral would arrive for me, the balancing act for school, the thought of a baby waiting in an orphanage or foster care, most of all not knowing if there was someone there to hold her while she drank her bottle or to comfort her when she cried . So many unknowns creating doubt and sadness.

In hindsight it's easy to say 'I should have been strong, I should have savoured those times of being carefree and independent,' but the reality then was that I was desperate to know that referral would arrive, to know about my baby, to stop talking about the conditional and start knowing facts - to see my baby, to know her name, to know all about her and to hold her in my arms.

2008 - my arms, my life and my heart is full. Alice is here. Alice is wonderful. Motherhood is a fantastic challenge.

UNCONVENTIONAL BUT HAPPY EASTER!

With the kitchen still in chaos (more of that to come in another post) it wasn't going to be a conventional day.

After a lazy start to the morning (Alice woke just before 9am) we went to a local boating lake (known to me as 'The Duck Pond') for a stroll in the rain! We fed them very expensive bread from our local corner shop (I hadn't enough to spare from home!) The photos are from just before we set out for the walk - Alice playing 'Peek a Boo' (her favourite game), I wish you could have heard her sweet giggles!

We went home for lunch and her afternoon snooze and then went for a swim. Alice did fantastically!! Several underwater swims, no tears, lots of splashing, lots of leg kicking and she even used the woggle to support herself. It was wonderful to watch the transformation - recently she's been very clingy in the water but today she was full of giggles, fabulous and such fun.

We stayed at the club for Alice's tea, but she decided that she wasn't going to eat her baked potato, so we came home for playtime (photos coming in a separate post) before a calm bedtime.

Lovely day. Again.

Monday, March 17, 2008

8 MONTHS



STILL SO NOSEY!

Never one to miss an opportunity, Alice used the view from the top of the slide to watch the horses (or '@rses' in Alice speak!) as they ran across the field!

SUCH FUN!

The gardener came, he rediscovered the lawn and then we rediscovered the 'park'.

Such fun.

Alice has tried the slide at the soft play centre a couple of times (but only in the last month or so), today she really enjoyed it, so this afternoon we tried the big wavy one at home! I held her hands on the way down for the first few times. The first time alone she flew off the end of the slide, landed standing up and then fell forward, mouth open onto the grass and stayed there, motionless - it was funny to watch but I think that she was a bit shocked - after that attempt I 'caught' her at the bottom. She'll now even push herself off from the top, saying the softest 'Pushhh' as she does so.

As for the swinging - heaven on earth! The sound of her sweet giggles, the absolutely joy on her face - wonderful, life doesn't get better than this.

Such fun and I love the decadence of swinging in rainbow beads and pink sparkly wellies.

MORE PICKLISHNESS!

On tiptoes in wellies, such determination, meddling!

(Note - Mummy's chaos in the background, that should be the kitchen table but it's in the hall!)

WHAT AN OUTFIT!

Dungarees, pink and sparkly wellies, rainbow beads (her first 'jewels') and quiffed hair - quite a distinctive look!

COMMUNICATION EXPLOSION

Not signing 'explosion' but speech and signing are being used more every day.

The first photo shows Alice signing 'All gone!' and she say 'All gooong' at the same time - sign, speech and meaning are very clear. She uses this to communicate when something is finished or when she's finished with something - until recently this just related to food and drink, but today she used it when we finished reading a book.

The second photo is Alice's version of 'rabbit' - not the conventional sign but it works! No sound to this one yet.

She gets so much delight when I understand what she means, so do I!

LITTLE PICKLE!

A favourite activity for Alice - playing with liquid on the tray of her highchair.

I've already ordered a water table for playtime in the garden!!

HOW'D SHE GET SO GROWN UP?!

During a happy shriek.

Notice the sippy cup? She wouldn't touch it til last week - visiting a teaching student buddy and her sons, she picked up A's cup and drank from it. Peer pressure can be wonderful.

STRETCHING THE LIMITS AND LEARNING THE CONSEQUENCES!

Look closely - the water bowl was full just a minute or two before, the floor had been dry.

What happened? Alice!

She's obsessed with exploring the dog's water bowl.

The consequence? Eating lunch in your vest, socks and shoes (half an hour later I discovered that her socks and shoes were soaking too!)

The chaos at home continues - assisted (as always) by Alice and the kitchen is still a dusty mess (more of that later).

Sunday, March 16, 2008

NOT USUALLY POLITICAL

. . . but today I am.

Did you watch 'The Politics Show'? (If not, here's the link - it should work until 22nd March, it's from about 22 minutes into the programme.)

They reported on the reality of intercountry adoption from the UK. The people representing the adoption community did so really well - concise and clear without moaning or seeming to ask for sympathy (let's face it we don't want sympathy - just a straight-forward route in this country and support when dealing with the other country, A PROPER SYSTEM). The Government Minister's response was truly amazing - virtually sticking 2 fingers up to intercountry adopters, I'd like to spend 5 minutes re-educating Kevin Brennan.

There was plenty of food for thought in the programme and more than enough 'tasters' - hopefully it might tempt a documentary maker, there is so much more that needs saying. I'm glad to say that I had my say - but nothing that I hadn't already put in writing to the person in charge (not that she bothered about it any more than the minister).

I urge all of my readers to watch the programme - even if you're not in the UK you will learn about our system and then understand more fully just how much bringing each child home to the UK is an achievement.

Edited to add: let me clarify - for me the issues with the system in the UK are with the centralised process after Panel Approval, my SW and LA, even WAG have been extremely helpful and supportive, the problem is with the former Dfes that's changed to the DCFS and ultimately the attitude in Westminster.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

REFLECTING ON A LANDMARK DAY

Today Alice is 17 months old and continues to be wonderful!

Today I've had the privilege of being her Mum for half of her life - for 8 and a half months as she was 8 and a half months when we met. With many changes for her during her first 8 and a half month I am now the constant factor in her life.

Last night I was at my Headteacher's retirement dinner and I had the opportunity to meet with friends from the past, an opportunity for reflection. It's not tricky to work out how much joy she has brought to me and how she ended several years of sadness and solitude, but it's lovely that other's can see the happiness she's brought with her.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A BIT MORE EXPLANATION

What's happening at home?

We're having the kitchen rearranged! It started with the need for a new kitchen floor - the laminate flooring moves and creates gaps, in trying to fix it the problem it was made significantly worse, resulting in needing a new floor. Considering a new kitchen floor led to me considering the kitchen.

Mum had the kitchen and utility room knocked together and installed a new kitchen just over 5 years ago. I wasn't particularly involved in the plans as I was also in the process of gaining planning permission for several extensions to my house (including my own new kitchen). Mum and I used different companies. Whilst installing the new kitchen at Mum's the kitchen fitter panicked and for a time it looked like the major firm of kitchen fitters were going to fail. It was a stressful time, Mum was in direct contact with a board member of the company and threatening to sue them. Eventually they got more labour in to complete the work - it should never have been planned to be completed by a single fitter. More importantly the layout is atrocious - relatively the room is long and thin - they put the sink at one end, the oven at the other with the hob and fridge somewhere in the middle, all in a straight line. To cook a meal in the kitchen you can walk MILES

So in need of a new kitchen floor I decided to find out what my kitchen fitting company would do to improve the situation. Now they are ripping out and then reinstalling the kitchen - I'm keeping the units, having the same type of tiles and worktop and the floor (though not a laminate) will look very similar to the way it does now. The improvements?
  • Bigger fridge freezer that dispenses ice and water.
  • New range cooker - the old oven was a disaster from the day it was installed.
  • A better layout, including moving the table to be by the garden windows.
  • A complete floor with no gaps.
They're due to take 8 days - I hope that they can get the main bits done in this time even if it's not glossy and complete in that time!

1,000 POSTS!

Nearly 18 months.

Nearly 32,000 hits from 80 countries - but readers are predominantly from the UK and US.

An incredible change in the blog - the second half of an adoption journey, including the juiciest bits and then the beginning of family life.

GUESS WHAT'S HAPPENING AT HOME?!

Whoops! I meant to take 'before' photos but forgot!

The workmen arrived this morning - bright and early. This is what they've accomplished so far - the yard end of the kitchen (sink and dishwasher bit) is nearly finished already! They forgot to put in an extra 'filler' piece, they still have to arrange the electrics for the microwave (will go on wall between glazed units), replace the dishwasher and change the glass in the units. But I still think that they did a lot in one day.

The second photo is where the glazed units used to be - very soon they'll be replaced by tall cupboards and an American style fridge freezer in the middle.

The third photo is the long run of units running from the front to the back of the house - there's still an awful lot to do on this bit, but they've only been here 1 day.

Meanwhile we're living in the drawing room and cooking and eating in the hall - using a microwave, kettle and toaster. I'm already bored of toast!!

Monday, March 10, 2008

NEW YAHOO GROUP!

UKCA07 - for adopters in the UK and Brits abroad who adopted from China in 2007.

It's intended to be a social, chatty group used for forming connections between families and organising social events.

If you fit the criteria for membership - Brit with a child adopted from China in 2007, please come on over and join - if I know you just tell me who you are, if not please add more detail!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

FUN WITH BOXES?

Fun with boxes? For Alice, yes, for the Magnificent T and I, not so much!!

T tried hiding Alice under a box - but we could hear her crying, poor baby. However she loved being lifted in and out of an open box and playing 'Where's Alice?!'

Meanwhile T and I were trying to pack up the kitchen. Why? Because early next week the kitchen is being carefully removed, rearranged and reinstalled. Why? Because the kitchen floor (laminate) has gaps in, we need a new kitchen floor and once I started considering a new floor I started thinking more carefully about the kitchen - it's long and thin and the layout is appalling, I walk miles when really cooking.

The new layout will be more compact and (hopefully) more user-friendly. In the meantime we will be without a kitchen for 2 weeks or more - eating in the hall, cooking by combination oven, toaster and kettle. It's going to be interesting - let's hope that they don't overrun or hit unexpected problems. Alice was a little unsettled by all the boxes and commotion. I hope all this upheaval is going to be worth it!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

RECENT PROGRESS

Alice's progress:
  • Walking - is improving daily, she's still inclined to look a bit like John Wayne with the horse shot out from underneath him, but she's getting steadier and faster all the time. Her dancing is now moving round the room with a strange stomp walking to it too!
  • Talking - intonation and syllable patterns are very accurate and she's making more sounds too, sounds are increasingly recognisable. B tends to be D in Alice's world. Cows ('ows' for Alice) go 'Boo' not moo! Cats (no word yet) say 'Ow' as in 'Me-ow'! If in doubt somethings are 'Ducks' but mostly 'Dogs' - it's a great complement from Alice to be called 'Dog' as they're her favourite things! Beware of horse though - Alice says horse but it sounds like '@rse'!!
  • Signing - her sign language is exploding. She signs for milk all the time, with determination and cheekiness - difficult to describe how she does this but she's definitely got attitude first thing in the morning!! She's also using 'All Done', 'More', 'Home' and 'Bird' (?) with great accuracy and no prompting. We watch the first signing DVD and I've just bought the next one with high hopes, even if we make no further progress with signing we've already felt the benefits with these few words making life more peaceful and the pride Alice has when being understood is so satisfying for both of us.
  • Playing - she's very fond of pushing her baby buggy - but without a passenger! She continues to adore books and demands 'Up!' to be read to many times a day. She loves playing with anything if you'll join her in the game. Anything becomes a game if repeated more than twice and a great giggle will come too. She continues to be an adrenalin junky and will undoubtedly be the source of many grey hairs in the years to come with her love of adventure and risk taking. She loves to bounce anywhere, but when in the playroom and bouncing on the sofa, she will tell me 'No-no,' and point to the trampoline! Cuddlies are still great favourites, giving them kisses and cuddles, giving them to Mummy for Mummy to give them kisses and cuddles, making 2 of them give each other kisses - she's very affectionate with cuddlies, friends, dogs and especially Mummy!
  • Teeth - the final of the 1st set of 4 molars (bottom left) is coming through - causing lots of finger chewing and dribbling but luckily (so far) she's been quite jolly with this one - at least it's coming through on it's own, this will make 16 altogether.
  • Attitude - she's determined and demanding but compliant (usually)! She's now transferring rules between different scenarios - while we were away last week I told her not to touch a fig tree in my GM's kitchen, when we got to GFW's she indicated to me that she wasn't allowed to touch their weeping fig - she went close to it, almost touched a leaf and told me 'No-no!'
Other people have told me that she's smart and beautiful.
  • Smart? I don't know, I know that I continue to be amazed by what she does but I don't know how clever she is in relation to other children and with such different life experiences in her first year comparisons are difficult and besides - what do they achieve?
  • Beautiful - I think so, but then I'm her Mum, her No1 fan, I'm biased. I don't know if she's a true beauty on the outside, but I know that she has a remarkable spirit and a happy nature - that's important and a lot more important than the lovely packaging that it comes in!

TODAY'S PHOTOS