Wednesday, July 30, 2008

GET YOUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT, WITH A MAYO JAR AND 2 GLASSES OF WINE!

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 glasses of wine theory...

A professor stood before his philosophy class with some items on his desk in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous 'YES.'

The professor then produced two glasses of wine from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

'Now,' said the professor, as the laughter subsided, 'I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the
important things; your family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favourite passions; things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else; the small stuff. If you put the sand into the jar first', he continued, 'there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the good things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18 holes. Do one more run down the ski slope. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first; the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.'

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the wine represented. The professor smiled. 'I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of glasses of wine with a friend.'

Share this with a friend... I just did.

WHAT A DAY!

Did you cap your energy bills? I spent the first 90 minutes of the day (after the bedtime cuddles and milk) trying to contact the energy comparison companies by phone. By phone? Yup - desktop computer failed this morning. After 50 minutes of constant redialling I was on hold for a further 15 minutes before talking to a receptionist who took my number and promised that someone would ring me back!! [Updated - they rang at 2pm and got me a capped electricity rate 8% above this year's rate for 17 months, I think it was a good rate, it's since been withdrawn and a higher rate offered.]

So the desktop wasn't working, I tried the laptop, but the signal strength was very low and it wasn't coping. My reliance on technology was over emphasised several times today. T he desktop still isn't working, I can't email my technology solver as my desktop's ca-put! (However, obviously, the laptop's feeling better!)

The Magnificent T arrived early to 'Alice-sit' so that I could go for a pre-holiday pedicure (a girl's got to have pretty feet for a holiday!) But the car wouldn't start, the dashboard was dim and the control panel showed an 'Emission System Error' - I rang the dealership and they said that it would have to be towed in, ugh! (By this time I'm seriously worried that we won't be going away this week after all.) The RAC turned out in less than 20 minutes - hurray! The lovely mechanic was very patient and thorough - diagnosed a flat battery, then the search was on to find the reason for the flat battery, but none could be found. I rang the dealership again and they will look at the car tomorrow. I left the engine running for about 45 minutes after the RAC left. After I turned off the engine, the Magnificent T noticed that the headlights were still on - maybe the source of the flat battery? Meanwhile I'd rebooked the pedicure for tomorrow lunchtime, that's not going to happen again - as I won't have any transport or childcare, no pretty toes!

I managed to make it to my osteopathy appointment and then to collect Daisy's medications from the vet - only to find that they hadn't logged my telephone requests, so I had to wait while they prepared them etc. Daisy has degenerative arthritis (diagnosed by this vet's surgery), she's on the maximum meds and she's not going to get better. I was informed that they wouldn't repeat the prescription again without seeing her - despite the fact that the stress of the journey and appointment would be extremely detrimental to her. I think that I'll be looking for a new practice when we return from holiday, after 18 years I've had enough.

On top of all of that Alice wasn't feeling herself today - she was clingy and tearful, without medical symptoms, but nevertheless I think she's sickening for something.

Quite a day - some good, some worrying, some bad and some momentous.

MONUMENTAL DAY

Today I completed 4 and a half years of paperwork.

The final piece of adoption paperwork is finished and submitted.

What a huge journey - I could never have believed how long and how much it would take to complete, I could never have believed how much stress it would create, but most of all I could never have expected just how much joy and happiness it would bring.

Alice is mine, I am hers, forever.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

SHE'S SO MUCH FUN!

IT'S HOT 'ROUND HERE!

A lazy morning - Alice woke earlier than I was ready for (not surprising given the very warm weather), so we lazed in bed while Alice watched Maisy and Mummy tried to doze!

Then we went to the supermarket.


After Alice's lunchtime nap we got dressed for our neighbour's party - it was a lovely gathering but the weather was so hot that I didn't feel very social. We made it in time for pudding and Alice munched strawberries very happily, but she didn't want her supper when we got home, we were both hot and dusty by then so I decided that Alice could have a splash in the paddling pool instead of a bath. She had a lovely time, so did I - it was a great relief to soak my feet!!

SATURDAY - AFTER THE VISITORS HAD GONE HOME . . .

. . . it went quiet, that ominous quiet . . . I went to investigate . . . I found Alice in the garden - wearing just a T-shirt, nappy and pink sparkly wellies on the wrong feet!! She knows she isn't allowed in the garden barefoot, so she'd put her wellies on (she loves those pink sparkly wellies - despite the fact that she has new red ones that actually fit!!) but ignored the fact that she needs permission to go outside!

Once I joined her outside she headed straight to the water table, she had a bit of a splash and then (when asked) put every toy away (after she'd filled her wellies - see the video!)

SPECIAL VISITORS

We've had a lovely few days - a couple of visits from GFW, AJ and BabyL and M, C and L came to stay - they even managed to be here at the same time so special people in our lives got to meet each other!

It's lovely to get our girls together - L and Alice shared their lives in China and we try to maintain this connection. There was a noticeable change in this visit - the girls were more inclined to interact and copy without encouragement from the grown-ups, they copied actions, behaviour and speech, it was very special to see them develop their friendship without us!! As usual it was lovely to see them and I don't think that L wanted to go, we hope that they come back again very soon.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

ALICE MEETS BIRDS!

Lots of fun, very few moans despite no sleep.

She loved seeing every bird - she knows and can name ducks and geese and tell you that they quack or honk, a flamingo is a 'Fl-go!'.

She watched closely and would look for the things that we were showing her.

She loved every bird and couldn't get close enough. She showed no fear and was also keen to feed them, shouting, 'Ta!' to try and thank me for giving her the birds' corn!!

After all her adventures she was happy to sit in the cafe with a drink (sports bottle tops are the latest obsession and really help to get her to drink) and she even tried our ice-creams!


SL1MBR1DGE

(Our local (ish) bird reserve)

Some bad choices tried to spoil the day - we didn't leave home til after 1pm, I forgot some essentials, Alice didn't sleep in the car on the way there, a hotter than anticipated day, the wrong route home. I learnt many valuable lessons today.

MILESTONES - FIRST CAKE BAKE AND BATTER!

Our Learn1ng T0wer arrived on Monday (apart from stubbing my toes on it very regularly) it's great, Alice likes it and it's already helping.

Today we used it to make a cake and MORE IMPORTANTLY to taste the cake scrapings (no comments please about the risk of salmonella) and pronounced them, 'Num, num!'

Fun times.

Monday, July 21, 2008

TODAY'S NOTES!

Up promptly (hard after such a full day yesterday!), supermarket and then to soft play by 10am - that's an achievement any day (even without the supermarket visit!!) Lots of playing, fun times, friends, snacks and giggles before coming home for lunch with K, J, E and A - some of the family we will be with in France very soon! Simple but tasty lunch - cold meats, scrummy new potatoes in their skins, salad and coleslaw followed by Eton mess (Kate style) with strawberries and raspberries - YUM!

Alice went to bed and E and A had a quick play before saying goodbye. Alice slept for 60 minutes longer than usual - catching up from yesterday. This afternoon was a simple playtime with Shr3k 2 for our viewing pleasure - known as 'Dec' to Alice!!

Tonight C came over to tackle a craft machine - we both bought one of these over 12 months ago. Individually we've both done battle with it and failed - unusual as we're both quite techie and not frightened by crafting or technology. Tonight we tried again and WON!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

SM@RT1ES - THE LAST RESORT

We've had a busy few days.

Today we went to Berkshire for a Christening. It was a super day but a super long day too. By the time we were nearing Bristol this evening (160 miles and nearly 10 hours after leaving home), Alice lost it - she'd wedged the emergency bag of cheesy 'bics' down the side of the car seat and was inconsolable that she couldn't reach them, luckily I remembered the Sm@rt1es (and could find them) - peace and a smiley child!! What a relief!!

The rest of the day? Prompt start, I almost forgot to bathe Alice, she wouldn't eat breakfast (Spec1@l K - her fav!), drove to the church, changed Alice, walked her round (to stretch off the effects of 90 minutes in the car), jam sandwich picnic by the church and then she waffled LOUDLY throughout the service - except when I was reading, she tried to blow out the Pascal candle at the font and then the baptismal candle. As soon as we were out of the church Alice was quiet - the service was lovely despite Alice's attempts to sabotage it, it was very personal and relaxed. We went for champagne and cake before a meal together.

On the way home we stopped at GMJ's to drop off P's 4th birthday pressies (4, 4, 4 - can't be 4, must be wrong, where does the time go?!) as we will be in France for her birthday (so sorry - this will be the first year that I've missed it). Alice slept before GMJ's house for 30 minutes or so, she was very shy when we were there (despite having been there the previous weekend, but she was very tired this time) but intrigued to watch P. On from GMJ's house, Alice didn't sleep, she coped really well til Bristol - by then she was getting fractious and lost it completely when she got her packet of Cheesy biccies stuck down the side of her car seat, luckily I remembered and could find the Sm@rt1es - they saved the journey, my sanity and Alice's temper, phew!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

BAD NEWS BUT GOOD NEWS!

Good Rock didn't win . . . but they came second and polled enough votes to get through as a runner up!

Thanks to all who voted, stayed tuned - I'll remind you when to vote again!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

WEEEEEEEHEEEEEEEEE!

- my exact words this morning, coming downstairs for the second (dressed) time ready for breakfast I spied an envelope by the yard door. It was too early for our post, a small envelope but it looked official - I'm not good at dealing with post promptly but this was intriguing!

What was in the envelope - Alice's passport, weeeeeeeeheeeeeeee, we can go on holiday!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

BAA-HUMBUG

I've had several requests to post about issues on my blog, but this blog is about our family, Chinese adoption and things that relate to these things or interest me - so if the requests don't match these things then they don't make the blog. Sounds harsh until you consider the blog as a scrapbook relating to the things listed above.

Today I posted on a very well known Chinese adoption forum about Good Rock - a charity that supports Chinese orphans. My post was deleted as the forum doesn't support this charity - despite the fact that the forum and the charity are about aspects of the same subject but it does support other charities doing similar things - helping Chinese orphans. Harsh, I think. The same forum allows people to post about voting for their children in photo competitions and such?

PLEASE HELP GOOD ROCK

The Good Rock Foundation will be one of the five featured charities
on the www.optimistworld.com website for the week of Friday 11th -
Thursday 17th July. This is for UK registered charities with incomes
below £750,000.

Site visitors can vote for their favourite charity. The two most
popular charities will go onto feature later in the Autumn with the
chance to win a cash donation.

Ultimately, if we can get enough votes, we could go on to become the
Optimist Award Charity of the Year and be awarded a further cash
donation of between £10,000 and £20,000.

For a small charity, such as The Good Rock Foundation, any additional
funds are vital and make a huge difference.

Voting is easy - go to www.optimistworld.com and register. The click
on the khaki coloured tab marked "Charities". You will find that
week's five featured charities - scroll down to see The Good Rock
Foundation feature.

On the left hand side you will see the option to vote for your
favourite charity. Each registered user has one vote per week.

Please get all your friends, family and colleagues to vote for us
too - we need as many people as possible to support us to try and win
the week's vote. So don't delay....we are only featured for one
week - 11th-17th July

With many thanks -

From all at The Good Rock Foundation

ABOUT GOOD ROCK

WHY WE ARE NEEDED
We are a humanitarian aid foundation which believes that every child is precious & deserves to have a life of hope & opportunity.

China's special situation & a cultural preference for boys leads to abandonment of girl children & those with disabilities.

Our reputation & positive relationships in China place us in an excellent position to champion these children & bring a positive change. We are working with China's social services to improve child welfare policy.

China is now experiencing a rapid economic growth however there remains a deficit in social welfare for the disadvantaged such as the children we are reaching. Xinjiang is highlighted as one of China's poverty provinces & the economic boon's of recent years are slow to reach many parts of this remote region.

We work in the belief that what is needed are tools to enhance the opportunities for the children & their carers 'Give a man a fish & you fed him for a day. Teach a man to fish & you feed him for life' (Chinese proverb).

WHAT WE DO
FOSTER CARE:
We are passionate about foster care as we see the many benefits the children enjoy. Their health & development improves, they learn to become attached to others, trust & show affection.

We are confident that foster care is the positive long term solution for China's orphaned and abandoned children. In 2002 foster care was formally endorsed by China's Ministry of Social Welfare & Civil Affairs. Our international standard foster care guideline's helps ensure quality care by well supported foster families.

SPREAD THEIR WINGS:
Is our pioneer project for the disabled children who are growing to adulthood. We are creating community centres where the young people can engage in life skills training, socialise and become connected and contributing members of community. Our research shows that we have to be realistic & creative about the future of disabled children in foster care. We are addressing the special needs of these young people with solutions in adult foster care and group homes. We believe that this issue is one of the most vital to be faced by China's orphanage's & those of us who work alongside them.

THERAPY CENTRES:
Many of our children have special needs. We equip therapy centres in small orphanages & the villages where our children are in foster care. This means that the children receive regular mobility training & their foster parents are trained and encouraged to bring the children on at home so that they learnt the skills they need for future mobility & independence.

MEDICAL ATTENTION:
A number of children in our care have been born with profound disabilities or are in need of urgent medical care.

Where possible we arrange for the children to receive medical attention locally or arrange for specialist care in one of China's specialist centre's of excellence.

NEW ORPHANAGE PROJECTS:
As resources allow, we expand our foster care & therapy projects with orphanages. Promoting our child sponsorship programme helps us help more children so please consider spreading the word about Good Rock.

COUNT ME IN:
Many orphaned or abandoned children have already reached their teens. Without our help their prospects would not reach beyond a life of drudgery in a menial job. We help fund their further education for college, university or provide opportunities for vocational skills. All of which translates to hope & opportunity. In Sept 2007 a total of 95 young people have been helped by our education programme

BLOOMING BABIES:
Good early nutrition is vital for every child's growth and development. Enriched baby and toddler milk is expensive in China and beyond the budget of many orphanages. Our support makes the difference.

IMPROVED ORPHANAGE CONDITIONS:
We provide child care training, aid for the special needs children, better nutrition & daily necessities for all. Our projects are in co-operation with local government - we don't take the responsibility from them & we require them to match funding in many of our projects.

www.goodrock.org.uk



Wednesday, July 09, 2008

SMALL EVENTS MAKE SIGNIFICANT DAY

This morning we went to school to watch the Junior performance of 'The Wind in the Willows'. It was a long performance - nearly 90 minutes. Alice was very good for most of the performance - with 2 notable exceptions, ugh!! As Toad escapes from prison and catches a train, the guard shouts, "All aboard!" Alice perked up at this point and shouted it several times herself - just in case anyone missed it the first time!! Several minutes later she also shouted, "Mummy!" - during a quiet solo, ugh.

Whilst we were away last weekend it was obvious to see that she won't be comfortable in a travel cot for much longer. Since we've been home I've done some research into 'Ready Beds', I found some good deals and then discovered that there is a first stage RB with a Fifi cover - that had to be the one. The cheapest I could find was on the High Street and not online (surprised me!) So today - with the magnificent T at home while Alice napped, I popped into A and bought the bargain (ish) Fifi Ready Bed.

When I got home I decided to put it together and let Alice try it out - to see her reaction. It was easy to inflate and Alice was happy to get into it and lie down - she seemed to know exactly what it was about and proclaiming "See-see!" (Fifi) in a happy voice. The little dogs were very interested in it too. No surprises until we deflated it, Alice insisted on sitting on the deflated bed but when we separated the bits to wash the outer and put away the inner- then Alice had hysterics while shouting, "Bed, bed!" in a very cross and determined way, she did calm down when I showed her the outer in the washing machine. It isn't often that Alice gets cross so it's always a surprise when she has a hissy fit.

We went out shortly after the bed went in the washing machine, all has been calm since - but Alice did carry the RB box around for most of the rest of the day!!

I won't forget today in a hurry - I suspect it's another day making family folklore!!

Monday, July 07, 2008

SOME OF OUR FAVOURITE FRIENDS

We've been gallivanting again.

We left home first thing on Saturday morning. The new car seat (yes, I finally managed to find a pink one!) had its first outing and proved a success - Alice was asleep before we got to Bristol! We got to GFW and Aunty J's by noon, Alice got to meet Baby L again and considering Alice isn't quite 21 months old herself she did pretty well.

Yesterday we hit the road again - to visit the H's to celebrate W's 3rd birthday. Alice was OK to begin with but got clingier and clingier as visitors and the clown arrived, she wouldn't be separated from me at all for over 2 hours, until the food arrived!! She did relax eventually - the distraction of food and balloons helped alot, by the afternoon she was happy to follow the big boys around the garden and investigate alone - she was quite independent once she'd settled in! She was asleep within 5 minutes of leaving.

Today we said 'Goodbye and thank you!' to the C-Ds and crossed Surrey once again to visit my GM M. It was lovely to see her - she especially enjoyed playing football with Alice and feeding Alice raspberries fresh from the garden, yummy!! Alice once again fell asleep very quickly - love that car seat!!

Once again it's lovely to be home, Alice and the dogs agree and we've all shared lots of cuddles since we've been home. Alice went to sleep very quickly, the dogs are keeping my feet warm (it's chilly tonight) and I'm tired too. Great friends, good times, long journeys and delightful home-comings - special times!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

'ONE OF THOSE' AFTERNOONS

Alice doesn't always wake up easily. Occasionally she wakes screaming, most often this happens after her nap.

Today was 'one of those' screaming wake-ups. I took her into my bed and we watched Maisy as she woke up gently with lots of cuddles, back rubs and soft talking. Eventually she was OK, we had a low key afternoon - playing, reading and a dog film.

She was very pleased when she found the bunny ears - she wore them for several hours without taking them off, though she did bend them forward so that she could see them whilst still wearing them!

PROGRESS

We returned to J0 J1ngles today, after a 2 week absence (work got in the way!)

The leader commented at the end of today's session how much Alice has progresses recently, having been away for 2 weeks it was very obvious today - she was much more willing and quicker to go to the boxes to choose and return instruments, she was more vocal and watched the instructor more closely and managed to mimic more than ever!

It's a fun group and it's lovely to see Alice not only enjoy it but turning into a 'big girl' in front of our eyes. The instructor is very talented and is going to start a teaching degree in the Autumn - so, sadly for us, there will be No J1ngles after the summer.

IDENTITY CRISIS?

This is Alice Bunny whilst watching a 1o1 dog film doing her crocodile impression!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

CELEBRATING ADOPTION DAY - 1 YEAR ON

I drove to Bath to collect C and L, then we drove onto Longleat.

We did some of the attractions around the House - first the Boat Trip (probably Alice's favourite bit). The boat was quite empty so we could move from one side to the other to see what was going on. We saw the gorilla, lots of sea lions, the hippos and the sea lions and gorilla again. Alice was very observant and obviously enjoyed seeing each animal, it was difficult to keep her hands inside the boat when the sea lions were around!

Then we were just in time for the train ride. Again Alice listened and watched closely. It had started to rain just before the train ride so after that we went for lunch. We were early enough to get a table and highchairs easily and the queues weren't too long. 15 minutes later the skies opened, the rain poured and the restaurant filled up very quickly. Lunch was OK - Alice devoured a huge plate of sausage, mash, peas and gravy, I couldn't believe how much she ate!

After lunch we went to Pets' Corner, Alice and I watched the bird show - L didn't like the noise so she and C went around the other animals. Alice watched intently and screeched with the parrots quite a lot!

We strolled around the gift shops after that, I looked for a 'Muggee' for Alice and she cried when I wouldn't let her have a hard, rough little monkey, luckily I quickly found a nice, soft, squidgey one!

It was still raining so after our retail therapy we decided to head home. Both girls fell asleep pretty quickly.

We had a nice day. It's always nice to see the B/E's and spend time with them. It's especially good when the girls get time just to be together, today with the poor weather they were a bit restricted - we'll make up for it next time!

FOUND - 1 EWOK!!

(Not actually sure what an 'Ewok' is - but S asked for a post-bobbles photo, so here it is!!)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

12 MONTHS

WOW.

IT'S NOT JUST ALICE DAY

It's L* Day too.

L is never far from our thoughts - her photos are on the blog, around the house and especially they hang in Alice's bedroom. Recently Alice has said 'Hello' to L every time she sees her in her room and asks every time we leave the house if we're going to see L.

12 months ago in China I gained more than a daughter, our family expanded to include the B/E's.

Today I remember that special time we shared in China. Tomorrow we will see 2/3s of you (M you will be missed). Tonight I asked Alice if she wanted to see L and C tomorrow, the answer was a very clear 'Yes' (signed) which was repeated more vigorously when I asked if she loved L than for me!!

ALICE DAY - THE TEA PARTY

I'm not good at taking photos during parties - in future I think I'll have to nominate a photographer! (Most of these were taken during the day, except for the ones with pressies which were taken during the teaparty).

GFN and his niece N were the first to arrive. (N it was great to see you and for Alice to play with you, C I hope that you are feeling better very soon, Alice can't wait to splash you!) T and her sons L and C brought pressies (it was supposed to be no pressies but you were very kind and ignored it!), thank you! C also brought books - you know Alice will adore them, thanks! J and D also came for tea - we don't see enough of them.

As you can see - Alice is becoming an expert at opening pressies and enjoyed playing with the wrapping paper nearly as much as playing with the contents!!

We had a super afternoon - nothing unusual but surrounded by special friends. Alice surprised me by helping herself to tea!! We also watched lots of the footage from China, it triggered many happy memories and quite a few tears (not just mine!)

A simple day, a special day - a day that memories are made of, wonderful. When I look at the photos I am reminded in every one of the priceless gift I was given in China - she is so special and we are so lucky. But also when I look at the photos I am amazed at the changes in just a year as I wonder when the baby grew into the spirited, wonderful, special and opinionated little girl!