Saturday, May 31, 2008

MORE PHOTOS

We also had the bubble machine on again - I think Fusspot enjoyed it even more than the girls (she likes to eat them - the bubbles that is)!




BORING

I'm not bored, but life is boring to blog about - because we're busy having fun doing lots of the same things over and over!

We've had a quiet few days enjoying being at home, reading books, playing, building towers, splashing in the water table and running round the garden. This afternoon The S's joined us, lots of fun - Alice and A played together, shared toys, copied each other and had lots of fun. Good friends, good times.

Friday, May 30, 2008

EMAIL ISSUES

I'm becoming increasingly aware that I'm not receiving all emails - so if you make contact and don't get a reply then please try again - or leave a comment on the blog (I won't publish it).

Thanks!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

84 COUNTRIES

. . . Lebannon's the latest, what a cosmopolitan readership this blog has!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

AND THEN REALITY

. . . bites you on the b*m . . . it's cold here and room service aren't answering!

Edited to add: but clean sheets, a feather duvet and no sand in the bed make a girl feel at home (and there's no place like it!)

HOME

9 hours travelling . . . but now we're home . . . we had a good time . . . but the best bit of all was coming home . . . Alice . . . me . . . dogs . . . hugs and kisses all round . . . the routine's shot to pieces . . . she's still wriggling and partying in her cot at 8.30pm . . . but it was worth it . . . I won't be far behind her . . . but first there are 3 hairy 'girls' who need some TLC . . . there truly is no place like home!

Monday, May 26, 2008

OOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHH!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

OUR AFTERNOON

Long snooze . . . then off for a walk (Mummy was after a soft ice-cream) . . . we watched the beach while Mummy tried to persuade Alice that ice-cream was a treat and not a punishment (more work needed on that one!!) . . . another swim . . . shower . . . supper in front of Chigley . . . and now she's waffling and avoiding sleep while I blog in the dark!!

OH WE DO LIKE TO BE BESIDE THE SEASIDE!

It was tricky taking photos of Alice - she wouldn't look at the camera as she was too busy watching the waves!

She really loves the sea, so far she's only been up to her knees - I don't think she's realised that she could swim in it!! (I'll be in big trouble when she twigs!!)

LOTS OF MEMORIES - OLD AND NEW

Today we went to the place that used to be a Zoo - it's still the same place, bigger and improved but no longer called a zoo.

Mum was very much in my thoughts whilst we were there, it was one of her favourite things to do on the island and she would insist we went every holiday. She loved the Gorillas in particular - they were out in force today and as fascinating as ever to watch, I love them just as much as Mum did and Alice seems to share our love of them - she was transfixed by the 'Muggees', both the gorillas and the orangutans (the babies played inside for ages, totally absorbed in play, wonderful to watch).

THE FORECAST WAS RAIN!?

It looked OK this morning, good enough for Alice to wear shorts, we went to the North to visit the Durrell Animal Place (can't remember what it's called but it's no longer the Zoo!!) It was overcazst and chilly, so Alice was pushed around whilst being wrapped in a travel rug!

The photo is the view from our window at lunchtime today. Lunchtime - fab weather and a 75 minute wait for food. My blood boiled when I was told at 12.30 that it would be 90 minutes or more before I could order from the terrace - the indoor restaurant was closed as the terrace was open, but couldn't accept orders, atrocious - I wouldn't want to be the Manager when I get to speak to him and I WILL get to speak to him!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I'M NEAR HEAVEN AND ALICE IS IN LOVE!

Rewind to Friday (just). I got up at 2.30am, by 2.50 I was showered and Alice was ready for the car seat, for the first time ever the **** thing had come unplumbed, the car was loaded and so refitting the seat took some effort at that time of the 'morning' too!! Unfortunately Alice woke up while I was trying to find the holes in the travel grobag - she slept for bits of the journey.

After an uneventful drive to Weymouth we were in good time for the ferry. Luckily we had a calm crossing, the only stress of the journey was the parking position we were given on the ferry - I could barely open Alice's door (and due to luggage I couldn't get her out on my side!), I couldn't open my door and had to climb across - on arrival both these doors were completely blocked and no-one was around to help, sounds simple now but it was stressful at the time.

We were at the hotel (in Jersey) by 11.30am and within 10 minutes our room was ready! I managed to unpack before lunch. We had lunch on the terrace overlooking the sea in the sunshine - my favourite place in the world (when the sun is shining)! After her afternoon snooze I decided that we'd better make the most of the reasonable weather (I knew the forecast was rotten from Saturday onwards), the tide was low so we trekked down - lots of new things for Alice, she'd never been to the beach before but didn't seem to mind the sand (it's a beautiful sandy beach), she never seen the sea before - we went slowly but very soon she was hooked!! She adored the sea and the waves, she stood still and let the waves wash over her feet and legs (it was coming in so it soon got deeper), her feet became buried in sand and she had to be persuaded to move back. Eventually I had to pull her away, she walked sideways and soon made it clear 'Dat!' 'MORE, MORE, MORE!!' that she liked the sea and wasn't ready to leave. Unfortunately the downside of single motherhood is only 1 pair of hands so there are no photos only glorious memories. Then we went swimming before room service suppers for both of us - a great day.

Today we went shopping, Alice was OK to begin with but got teary just before noon, in hindsight I think that she was hungry, oops. M&S sandwiches and pasta salad for lunch, then we both took a snooze before having a swim. Alice had a babysitter to visit this evening while I had a superb meal downstairs, yum! Unfortunately the weather today (and forecast for the rest of the holiday) is wet which doesn't make for the best use of the hotel or its location.

This hotel is really special to me - I first came here with my Mum and her parents when I was about a year older than Alice is now and have been coming back ever since, unfortunately not as often as I'd like and more recently only every 2 or 3 years. I love it here but the last few trips have been a challenge as this place is loaded with lovely memories of family who are no longer with me. It's wonderful being here with Alice and starting a whole new chapter of history here. It's as good as ever except for the Children's menu which isn't as diverse or child friendly as it used to be!!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

GOING ON HOLIDAY

Have you seen the weather forecast? TYPICAL!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

FIRST HOLIDAY!

Alice and I are going on holiday next weekend - I feel fairly safe putting that on the blog as the house won't be empty and I have a good burglar alarm.

We stayed in a hotel for 2 nights for the CACH weekend in March, but this will be the first time when it's just us - no friends around, no support and not able to get home quickly should everything go pear shaped.

Those of you who know me personally will know where we're going!! But this time we'll be going by ferry - so we can take lots of Alice's things and toys which will help make the transition easier. Any comments welcomed about essential or helpful objects to take - I've been so absent-minded recently that I'm liable to forget everything!!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

BUBBLES!

Rough day - Alice whinged through most of it.

C arrived with bubbles during Alice's supper.

C broke out the bubbles after supper - Alice was mesmerised. When C ran out of puff I admitted that we had a bubble machine (still in box, but not for long!) Lots of bubbly fun - saved the day, thanks C!



Wednesday, May 14, 2008

RED THREADS

There is an ancient Chinese belief about red threads, it's referred to in the adoption community, it goes something like this:
the red threads join those who are destined to be together, the thread may twist and turn but never breaks

Tonight I was talking to a special friend (you know who you are and I told you I'd be blogging about it). We were talking about knitting - she's just starting a blanket for a baby that she's waiting for, I told her about Alice's blankets and in the process of the conversation we looked back to the beginnings of this blog - October 2006 - the month that Alice was born. There were so many red threads for Alice, so many that I was amazed:
  • On Monday (6 days before Alice was born) I finished her first blanket. Later in the week I started her second (but I have yet to finish it).
  • On Thursday (3 days before Alice was born) I wrote in this post "After all those worries about how this week would be, it's been good - can I do it again next week please?" I can't believe how significant that week was and just how special it was then, even more special than I realised.
  • On Friday (2 days to go) I blogged about the nursery and all the things that were 'Waiting for Whatshername' - including the taggy, chime ball and roly turtle that I took to China.
  • On Saturday (just hours to go) I blogged about the curtain fabrics that I'd seen, including the one that I finally chose over 7 months later. I also blogged about names for Whatshername - Alice was on the list but not at the top! It was also the anniversary of the day my papers were sent to China.
  • On the day Alice was born the blog turned pink and her first baby blanket (that I'd knitted) was given back to me (from a special friend who'd crocheted the edging) - because I remember being given back the finished blanket I remember the day that she was born.
  • Not only that but it was the year that I got sent lots and lots of flowers for my birthday, I usually get a bunch or two but not as many as the week that Alice was born.
Too many for coincidences, I believe in fate and red threads - thank heavens for the blog too!

TODAY'S NEWS!

I went back to work! For a pre-return-to-work-visit!

I spent the afternoon back at school. I was really nervous - mostly about leaving Alice but also a little about going back to work as there is a new headteacher.

Alice was almost fine - she developed a 'gunky' eye whilst I was away - I checked with the GP's surgery and we are seeing a doc tomorrow morning. In the meantime I'm bathing it with salty water - any other useful tips my bloggy readers??

School was great - the children instantly wanted to know where 'Baby Alice' was, but they were also pleased to see me. It was lovely to be back and I realised that I'd missed it. It was good to find out that it doesn't really change. I spent the afternoon smiling but also thought about Her Majesty very often!!

I'm LOOKING FORWARD to going back in on Friday (didn't think I'd be 'saying' that yet!) and I start properly after half-term - no details published yet as I'm not sure everyone who should knows the details at the moment.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

ICE CREAM!

Another busy day - visit from S this morning, we all got wet as Alice played in the water!

After lunch we met D and A for a swim - lots of smiles and giggles in the water and quite a bit of splashing too! Then we stayed on at the club for some food - Alice had some cheese on toast. Yesterday Alice ate ice for the first time so I was hopeful when she wanted to try my ice cream. Ice cream has never been a success - at best it's been met with sour looks and tears, at worst it has caused projectile vomiting, but not today! Today it was eaten with caution and then she moaned for more!! She ate 2 small scoops as it melted (so not as cold as before) from a fork!

I love her adventurous spirit - she's almost always willing to try new things, foods and experiences, so different to me!

FIRST THEATRE TRIP

Yesterday we went to the theatre - it was Alice's first trip. We went to see a morning performance of 'Elmer the Elephant' and then we went out to lunch.

The performance was nearly 60 minutes long - Alice was captivated - she watched the actors very closely and occasionally she watched the audience too!! She waved her trunk like a real elephant and clapped with the music and at the end - she clearly enjoyed herself and we'll go again as soon as I find another suitable performance.

The fantastic behaviour continued at lunch - where she sat for another hour - she had plenty to eat, spaghetti bolognaise, chips, chocolate cake and blue crayon, yum!!

Then in the afternoon D and A came round - the girls really played well in the water and were quick to imitate each other. They had lots of fun and we all got wet - lucky it was a warm day!

REFLECTIONS ON 9th MAY

(I know that it's a bit late, we had a thunderstorm that evening and we've been busy!)

9th May - the key date in my adoption journey to Alice.

2004 - I was already waiting for a place on the adoption course and for my homestudy to begin - I'd approached SS in February that year.

2005 - my Panel date. A traumatic day. I was organised until a message to tell me to get to the venue ASAP as Panel had a problem remaining quorate at my appointment time. That Panel meeting is now infamous, it's known as 'The Crying Panel' - every set of applicants cried in front of the Panel and its external assessor!! I cried harder after being told I'd passed than when I was in front of the Panel, people kept stopping me to ask if I was OK!

2006 - waiting, papers in China, only 6 months before I'd expected referral at about this time.

2007 - the day I first saw a photo of my daughter, the day I first read all about her. A very early start - I was dressed and waiting to ring the Post Office by 6.30am (how my step-father would have loved that!) My first reactions to her photo were relief that she looked healthy then followed by the realisation that she didn't look like a 'Clara'!!

2008 - I felt a bit of a traitor but I had a last minute opportunity to have some Mummy (retail) therapy - so I went to Cardiff and abused my credit card until I couldn't carry any more bags (I missed the pushchair's bag carrying capacity).

The beginning of this month has been a time to reflect and marvel at the changes of the last 12 months. As I begin to contemplate our journey to Little Sis it's good to remember the highlights and huge success of my first adoption journey.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

BLOGGER HICCUPS

Not sure what's happening but I can't get the blog to upload properly - there should be 5 photos in the update post, sometimes there are but when there are then some of the round photos are missing!

HIGHLIGHTS AND AN UPDATE

What's happened to the weather? Monday was good, Tuesday was better and it's stayed at least that good ever since. Warm weather, blue skies, sunshine - we've seen more summer this week than we managed in the whole of last year!!

We've made the most of the weather and spent lots of time in the garden - mostly playing in the water and occasionally with 'Aball!' We've had lots of fun, lots of giggles and I've managed to take some lovely photos - amazingly I've managed to dodge most of the water and my camera has survived so far!

Health-wise Alice is nearly at the end of the antibiotics for her tonsillitis but still has a very chesty cough, I think we may be seeing the Dr again soon. She's still pretty jolly but quick to cry or get cross - maybe she's just growing into the Terrible Two's?!

Fusspot was spayed today - I worried all the time she was at the vet's and had to remember to breathe when they phoned unexpectedly to ask if I wanted her hernia repaired as well! Alice came with me to the vet's this morning. Part-way through playing outside she noticed Boo lying nearby, went for a quick stroke and then noticed Fuss's absence (she's the most likely dog to be close), Alice went to the kitchen door and call insistently for 'Boo!' (she still calls Fuss Boo most of the time) - until I reminded her that she was at the vet's! I went to get Fuss alone - she came back in the nurse's arms, until she saw me and obviously wanted to be in my arms instead - it was good to know that she wanted me. When Fuss came home I told Alice she had a sore tummy and not to touch her, she insisted on stroking her head and then left her alone - she clearly understood - not sure if it was the words or the tone of voice but Alice was very good! Fuss settled on a dog bed in the playroom and was happy while I was moving, but then she cried when I sat on the sofa - until I moved her to me and then she settled to sleep after giving me a wash.

Meanwhile we had a visit from a friend and I had a phone conversation with another - it was good to catch-up with both of them, nothing major but they added smiles to my day and brought happiness - thank you!

Good times, I'm counting my blessings.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

EVER HAD 'ONE' OF THOSE DAYS???

. . . well I managed to have 'one' of them in style today!!

Swimming this morning - great, Alice did wonderfully for most of the lesson but lost it a little in the last 10 minutes. Good progress and mostly fun. The instructor commented on her progress and complemented me on persevering for so long - it's been worth it.

Then back via U - for a quick update with the Health Visitor and to collect pills for Daisy's arthritis.

Successful lunch - Alice ate baked beans again - having refused them several times recently. Usually Alice eats at 12.30pm ish and then I eat after she's gone to bed for her nap - I'm trying to eat with her and have a family meal, I'm also hoping that this will encourage her to feed herself.

Then it all started to unravel . . . I took a phone call from BT during her naptime - they seemed to be offering me a deal that's too good to be true . . . the poor salesman had to explain the deal 3 times . . . I signed up, eventually . . . but I'm still not convinced that there's a catch in it somewhere!

Alice got up . . . she's always slow to wake in the afternoon (I think it's probably as I usually have to wake her) . . . she sits and watches TV for a while whilst she 'comes to' . . . whilst I was on the phone (paying bills) she let herself into the garden . . . I encouraged her to play in the water . . . happy girl, no problems . . . then the doorbell rang . . . our SW . . . a week early!!

Actually she wasn't a week early - I was a week confused! So began our 12 month post placement report meeting. SW has to write a report on Alice's health, development, progress and character - all fine, but I was unprepared and hadn't gathered my facts (as I thought she was coming next week!) We also talked about Little Sis - I'm still not sure where she'll come from and am as confused as ever, oh well, more thinking time needed!

Edited to add:
The girls at Mimosa obviously know exactly how I feel - their post today echoes mine, while typing a response I remembered another element of the day:
I rang the phone banking service to pay a bill . . . they couldn't trace it . . . set up a new payment and then I realised that it's one of the ones I pay by DD!

Monday, May 05, 2008

MORE PROGRESS!

Last night we had friends staying - my school buddy K and the youngest of her children - O who was born on my birthday last year (so she's now just over 6 months old).

We climbed the stairs to get ready for a bath - I was chatting to K in the spare room, Alice wandered off, then I heard a thudding noise, I went to check on Alice - only to find her 2 steps from the bottom of the stairs!

She first climbed the stairs in early March at GFW's. Last night was the first time for her to descend unaided. HOW? By holding on to the banister and walking down like a grown up, not on her bottom or backwards - both of which I've been encouraging!! Time to get a baby-gate fitted at the top of the stairs!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

TICKLISH

This evening, Alice discovered that Mummy has VERY ticklish feet - not sure that's a good thing!

CONSPICUOUS!

The pirate party was to celebrate E's 4th birthday. Alice didn't join in anything - but it was good for her to see what parties are about. She settled into eating tea after 'the big kids' had left the table, she was very picky but took a liking to H00la H00ps and pink wafer biscuits!

As we were leaving another Mum commented on how beautiful Alice is and how she really cuddled in closely when I picked her up - the best thing you can say to an adoptive Mum! Then she asked if we'd been to Cardiff for Chinese New Year (we had) - she'd seen us there, 3 months ago and she remembered us!

[The party was nearly 20 miles from home, Cardiff is over 25 miles away.]

Just goes to show how conspicuous we are as a family and is a reminder of how careful I need to be.

AHOY THERE ME HEARTIES!

We went to a Pirate Party this afternoon. Alice stuck very close to my side and cried if I moved away - don't know if it was because there were lots of older (3 - 4) children, the noise or (I think more likely) because she's poorly.

Doesn't she make a pretty pirate?!

Friday, May 02, 2008

LOVING SATSUMAS

In some ways Alice is SOOOOO like me, like me she adores citrus fruit, like me satsumas are her favourite citrus fruit, like me I think they're probably her most favourite food of all!

She uses the sign language for 'orange' - she's so pleased to communicate so clearly, she peers to look at the fruit bowl and shrieks with joy as I go to get one for her and then gets very impatient while I peel it. (At Christmas time she ate the peel - so I should be thankful that she now waits for me to peel it!!)

When she's finished her satsuma she then signs 'orange' again - I tease her that 'Yes, you've had a satsuma and now it's all gone!' She doesn't get the joke, yet, but soon gets excited again if I ask if she wants more - from her response there's no doubt that she does!! When she's really excited she uses the sign for 'More' when she means to ask for a satsuma and it's not unusual for her to ask for 'More' several times.

She's very quick to eat them and manners go missing as she shoves the segments in - especially if she can see that Mummy's got more left than her. She may be quick to eat them - but she relishes every drop!

ALICE NOW

Obsessed . . . by balls . . . loves 'em . . . in this photo she was about to try to pick them both up at once - we were visiting some good friends who live close by. She proved to be pretty good at dribbling them too, but we're still working on kicking ( I hope I don't live to regret that statement!)

The following day we were in a large supermarket and they had a Winnie the Pooh football sized ball - I had to buy it. Alice was very pleased and proceeded to proclaim 'Aball' many times every minute - whilst holding it or reaching for it in the trolley. She's had it 6 days and she still loves it - will find it as soon as asked about it and carries it round for large parts of the day - if it had occurred to her I think she'd expect to sleep with it too!!

12 MONTHS ON

2nd May 1913 - my Granny, Jean Mitchell, was born - I think at home in Yorkshire.

2nd May 2007 - my daughter was born to me.

Remembering last year (I know I blogged about it, but it's my blog and I choose to blog about it again, it was such a special time!)

Monday 30th April, first thing - no news, no rumours, not expecting much, I went out and a couple of people asked if there was any news? I told them 'No' and that I wasn't expecting any news soon. I got home at lunchtime and simultaneously refreshed Rumour Queen and rang my buddy 3CMum (who was 6 days behind me in the queue), as I asked her what the latest was I read on-screen that my day was the cut-off, I was in, probably! What a day! From nothing to everything in the blink of an eye, without the usual rumours and speculation. I wasn't sure that I'd be included at that point - my date was included, but having sent an update the previous year it could have meant that my dossier had been moved back in the queue. Cautious relief and hope. I rang the Dfes (the UK government department that handles referrals), they knew nothing.

Tuesday 1st May - school trip to Swansea, I shouldn't have been 'working' that day, it was an extra so that I was up to speed on what the children experienced. I didn't have an easy opportunity to ring the Dfes so delayed the call to the next day - when they'd be more likely to know something?

Wednesday 2nd May - in school. The Dfes only start to answer phones at 1.30pm - the time we return to the classroom! I was able to make the call, it only took a few attempts to get through (I think!) I asked if they had my referral . . . they went to check . . . they confirmed they had a referral for me . . . I asked for details . . .they went to check . . .the tears started . . . I stood there wondering if I was dreaming (had they said they had paperwork for me? Of course, otherwise why would they go to get further answers - I was panicking and delighted all at once) . . . they came back, told me a name, date of birth and province . . . I asked if 'it' was a girl . . . 'it' was!

That day I only knew - 'An Hao Ming' 15.10.06 in Yunnan. Immediately I rang C (we shared a log in date) to find out if she knew anything, she didn't I told her my news briefly then I urged her to ring and rang off quickly. I don't remember how I found out about M&C's daughter L - they found out slightly more than me - they knew that their daughter was from Kunming CWI but also in Yunnan and was only 5 days older than my baby. It took another week for me to confirm that my baby was in the same CWI as their's - a great relief and a lovely link for the future.

Then the texting began - I had wonderful news to share but only limited detail - and I managed to tell everyone the wrong birthday!!

Later in the afternoon I spoke to 'Grandad' and 3CMum and then I had to stay on after school for extra training - instead of finishing sometime after 3.30pm I had to stay until nearly 6pm. At the time that seemed a little cruel - I wanted champagne not paperwork! I don't think I benefited from that training, unsurprisingly my head and my heart were elsewhere!!

When I finally got home D and A came to celebrate and later C brought over a Chinese takeaway.

Reflecting on the events surrounding referral, I think that my memories are already 'rose tinted' - May 2007, referral confirmed brought such relief and a new set of stresses and worries. It was wonderful to learn about my match but it also brought concerns about her health, her care whilst I continued to wait and worries about arranging travel, visas, hotels, permits etc, also worries about who was caring for her, how she would transfer to my care - all sorts of worries. But in May 2008 I can enjoy the memories of referral with the knowledge of the wonderful events that were to follow - a relatively straightforward trip to China, quick and simple handover and uneventful paperwork, all I could have asked for and yet so much more in the form of an incredible child who brings so much happiness. We are so lucky.

Meanwhile - how did we celebrate today?

Me? I got quite emotional every time I started to reflect on the changes over the last year.

Alice? In typical Alice-style, vomited! She woke, screaming at 12.30am and then vomited on me. So we visited our lovely GP this morning - Alice has tonsillitis and another course of antibiotics. I popped out after lunch and T stayed with Alice, not wanting to leave T out, Alice vomited over her too. She isn't her usual self at the moment, quick to cry and not as easy going - but still obsessed with 'oranges' (satsumas)!