Wednesday, December 31, 2008

AS THE YEAR CHANGES, SECOND ATTEMPT!

2008, such a special year, the first full year with Alice.

2008 has been a life-changing year, a year of many firsts with Alice. We had our first holidays together - I took her to Jersey (a very special place to my family). Alice got her first British passport and we went to France. We started new activities together, we established many of our family’s routines. I relaxed into parenthood, enjoyed it more and learnt more about how to relish every moment. I was amazed by Alice – how she copes with change, the rate at which she grows, the way she embraces life and is always ready to enjoy its next challenge. We said very sad goodbyes to Daisy and have just welcomed Pudding whilst continuing to get pleasure from Boo and Fuss being with us! At the beginning of 2008 Alice hadn’t even taken her first independent steps, now she’s running and jumping! Her speech and understanding has exploded this year, from a few single words to phrases showing insight.

Home has changed too in 2008. We had the kitchen shuffled – it was major upheaval at the time but has made a great difference to daily life. The playroom was redecorated and the original curtains were finally replaced. The playroom and study also had new carpets. So the ‘daily living’ end of the house is quite different now to how it was at the beginning of the year. Outside the paving around the kitchen has been extended to create more space for playing and entertaining.

Tonight I explained to Alice that it was the last evening of the year and why I would always remember 2008 as such a special year, that she was so good, brought such happiness and so wonderful (I don’t tell her that very often as I don’t think it would be healthy!)

2009 could be another hugely significant year for us. We start with a new puppy. Next week Alice starts going to Nursery for a full day once a week, in September she’ll probably start at a new school, a school where she maybe for up to the next 16 years of her life. One of the first events of 2009 will be my second appearance in front of an Adoption Panel (the UK’s final stage of approval to adopt). Possibly the biggest change for our family in 2009 could be Little Sis – 2009 could be the year that she is conceived, born or even matched with our family (the final option is a long shot!) (I’m still troubled by even thinking of projected timescales and associated events after getting expectations so wrong and becoming so stressed with Alice’s adoption.)

I am extremely grateful for 2008, whatever happens I hope that 2009 will be like 2008.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

NOT FORGETTING

(Watching Pud from the safety of the armchair, they won't be safe there for long!)

MORE DELICIOUS PUDDING!


PUDDING REVEALED!

M came round this morning to look after Alice while I went to get Pudding.

Pudding was not too happy in the car but only cried a little.

By the time I got home T had arrived too! Pudding wasn't too bothered about the new situation and started to explore pretty quickly - Fuss and Boo were behind the baby-gate in the dog-room but they were closely watching the situation. Pud was eager to meet the girls, but Fuss and Boo were far more hesitant. We let Pud explore the kitchen for a while and then let Boo out for more introductions - she tried to keep to the edge of the kitchen and sat down every time Pud came near! Then we swapped dogs and Fuss got the opportunity to avoid Pudding! Fuss has been very wary all day - not aggressive but wanting to be as high as possible and well out of the way. Pudding just wants to be friends and play.

Alice was keen to hold her and seems pleased to have her home

Pud ate lunch well and then had a long sleep before I took her for her first visit to the vet. I saw a vet that I respect highly, the same vet that came out to put Daisy to sleep. Pud did really well and was calmer in the car. She's slept for a huge amount of the day and the evening and she ate supper well too.

So Pudding so far:
  • has HUGE legs - she's going to be really big
  • is shorter than Fuss but significantly heavier
  • is still baggy in her skin
  • eats well
  • sleeps very well
  • doesn't like being in her baby playpen unless she's asleep
  • is very cuddly
  • snores LOUDLY
  • doesn't walk when she can gambol
  • has poor cornering skills and tends to skid or bump into things
  • likes to jump between the box bushes in the garden and nibble them round the edges
  • has slept everywhere
  • has true Labrador wind - heaven help us when she's fully grown!

Monday, December 29, 2008

PUDDING'S COMING SOON!

Pudding comes home tomorrow, I'm really looking forward to having a Labrador again.

But I'm also nervous - rattled by the reaction of others, almost universally people express extreme surprise and ask if I'm crazy, usually after a short discussion they realise that I'm not crazy or (in this instance) impulsive and that this puppy has been long anticipated and is not an impulse purchase! But the more worrying part of their reactions is about the puppy's colour - everyone seems to believe that CHOCOLATE Labradors are the maddest form of Labrador and the most challenging to control, a vet even told me that in order of sense Labradors are black, then yellow and finally chocolate, though he was placated when I explained how lovely Pudding's Mum was.

Don't expect too many posts in the next few days - I'm expecting to be busy, mopping floors, cleaning carpets, standing outside in the cold and acting as umpire between Alice and Pudding!

300 MILES, 2 KITTENS AND A FUDGE CAKE

Yes, we've been gallivanting again.

We were supposed to have friends coming for coffee on Saturday morning - but with Alice recovering from a chest infection and me feeling rough I decided that it wasn't a good idea, so we had lots of food with no visitors to eat it! After lunch we packed up the car and battled the traffic to GFW's. We stayed 2 nights and came home today. We had lots of fun with them and even managed to get into one of my favourite shopping places and I managed to bag a few bargains (all clothes for Alice!) As usual it was lovely to see them - Baby L is now 9 months old (the same age as Alice when she came home), it was great to see how she's growing and changing but it was also bittersweet, seeing how much more physically advanced L is than Alice was and the implications as to why Alice was physically delayed.

Today was a much quieter drive home, we came back via GMJ's and it was super to see them and belatedly give them our presents. They were looking after 2 farm kittens for GMJ's younger brother - the kittens were lovely and Alice ADORED them!

The fudge cake . . . was intended for the coffee meet-up, instead it was shared among Alice's Godparents and their friends!

It was lovely to see our special friends, but coming home has once again confirmed how much we love being home, I can't wait to sleep in my own bed again!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

CHRISTMAS DAY 2008

Christmas Day, a day I find really hard, despite Alice's presence, I find it difficult to face memories of Mum and Nick and Christmases from the past. Usually I can remember them with a smile, it's more difficult on days like today where there are such specific memories linked to a day. I look at the Christmas tree and remember how Nick would turn the lights on as soon as he got downstairs in the morning, even before putting the kettle on. Every part of Christmas Day holds memories of Mum - probably as so much of it is based around cooking, even I remind myself of her sometimes, especially when I'm cooking her recipes.

However today had many, many happy times too. It's been the best Christmas without Mum that I've had. It's the 6th without Mum and the 5th that I've 'done' the Turkey and all the trimmings. Not only was it the best Christmas for a good while but it was also the best meal - not actually any better than previous years but less stressful to produce, probably because I'm more practiced at producing a roast and this year I used an electric steamer to do 3 of the veg (harder to overcook them and more space on the cooker). This year there was a rhythm to the day. Last year Alice vomited after I'd fed her lunch, this year she ate with us and though she's not completely well (chest infection with antibiotics) she definitely enjoyed the day and understood what was going on.

I woke just after 7am, within 15 minutes I was aware that Alice was stirring. We went downstairs soon after and Alice discovered her sack of pressies. She was very calm and I wasn't sure she understood until she was very quick to answer 'Nes, meese!' when I asked her if she wanted to open a present. She was very good - she ripped each present open, tidied the wrapping into a black bag before having a quick play with the contents and then moving onto the next present (sometimes with a bit of prompting from me!)

We had fruit and freshly baked bread for breakfast at around 9am and then got dressed. C arrived shortly after 10am (after I'd panicked about par-boiling the potatoes in time to put them onto roast!) T and her boys arrived a bit later and helped Alice to open presents from them - T's boys and Alice adore each other and their enjoyment of one another is plain to see.

Alice went to bed after lunch, it was lovely to share our Christmas meal with her this year, but she didn't sleep! (I think that her days of daytime naps are rapidly disappearing, ugh!) After 'nap' time we opened presents - Alice had mostly lost interest by then so there's still quite a pile under the tree for her. C left as it was growing dark and we made our way to our neighbours for a sit down and chat while the children and teenagers played and wound each other up. Alice had her first experience of a N*inetendo W*ii and loved it! She was ready to come home when I asked - not surprising after all she's done today and without a nap.

What I hadn't really anticipated was how much I'd miss Daisy today. Maybe my feelings were magnified by Pudding's imminent arrival, I'm not sure. Daisy adored Christmas - the tree, the turkey and most of all the presents! It was very strange to open presents without a Labrador's nose being stuck to the other side of the wrapping. Also hard to know that just a few miles away is a puppy who'll be home soon, who could already be home - I know I've made the fairest decision not to have her here for the chaos of Christmas but patience is hard!

Overall the best Christmas in years, Alice definitely enjoyed it too and that's the most important thing for me and our best present will be home within a week - now's the time to buy shares in kitchen roll and dog food manufacturers! Happy Christmas.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS 2008

Phew, Alice was on the 'Nice' list!

Christmas wishes to all - I hope that your Christmas is all you've hoped for and much more!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

NORAD

Follow Father Christmas's progress here!

THE POST WHERE I BRAG A BIT, BUT NOT ABOUT MY DAUGHTER!

Alice's sack.

This has been yet another pre-Christmas project! I'm not a sew-er but with C's help (she cut it out and did Alice's name in applique and then told me how to do the rest). While we were making this sack we also prepared the bits for Little Sis's sack - now I need to choose a short name!!

I'm EXTREMELY proud of this sack - there's a history to draw-string bags in this house (another post entirely). I hope that Alice will enjoy this sack and that it will become part of her special memories of Christmas. This truly was a labour of love, a huge challenge for me and it did turn out just how I had hoped!

CHRISTMAS EVE PREPARATIONS

We've put out mince pies and cider for Father Christmas, hung Alice's sack and left a carrot for Rudolph (though Alice wasn't happy leaving it all by the fireplace!)

Then we read a story about Father Christmas's journey on Christmas eve and listened to the high speed music that came with it! After that we read the Nativity story and found each part of the story in Alice's Nativity set (Fisher Price, hard to find, but Alice LOVES it!) and then we read the Nativity all over again! Alice insists that the lady in blue is called 'Mummy' and not Mary and the baby is 'Gee-is!'

I gave her her new PJs - Up*sy D*aisy ones, a great hit! For the first time ever Alice got down from my bed and ran into her nursery for bedtime! (The reminders about Father Christmas probably helped!)

THE REST OF CHRISTMAS EVE

(Photo from a few days ago).

Unfortunately today wasn't like the photo. Alice flung most of her breakfast around the kitchen and then couldn't understand why I was cross. Lunch was even better - she pulled the Christmas tree over (luckily the little one in the kitchen not the huge one in the playroom). At times through the day she was grumpy and poorly, me too, not a good combination!

I hope that Father Christmas's elves weren't anywhere close-by or her sack could become a coal sack! Seriously today was the worst her behaviour has ever been - I can't even put it down to Christmas excitement as I don't think she really has a clue what it's all about.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

WONDERING

. . . why I make the effort.

Questioning blogging.

I blog as a journal for Alice and me, but I share it on the web - to help others in the process of adoption, to connect with other families, to let friends and family know what's happening with us.

I SHOULD BE COOKING . . .

. . . but I needed to blog that Alice is still poorly with a rattly chest, streaming nose and a very short fuse, joy!

Meanwhile my hands are still rotten and mouldy - I know eczema doesn't sound that serious but when it was first diagnosed in Summer 06 I ended up in hospital and it's had life changing effects, including paranoia about avoiding perfume and all things containing perfume.

Most of the presents are wrapped. The remaining jobs are mostly cooking or food preparation, including cake, stuffing and a pudding for Christmas Day.

Monday, December 22, 2008

CHRISTMAS IS COMING . . .

. . . and Alice is sick! Typical!!

She was quite naughty when GFW, Aunty J and baby L were here on Saturday afternoon. She vomited during supper while D, D and A were here that evening and then had a hoarse voice for the rest of the night.

We had a quiet day yesterday so it wasn't quite so evident that she was off colour.

Today she woke crying around 6am, ugh. I brought her into my bed and she wombled without settling for 40 minutes or so before I offered medicine, 20 minutes later she was fast asleep again - that's very unusual, she slept for over 2 hours and didn't wake while I made and answered phone calls. She didn't sleep after lunch, hardly surprising after the long lie in this morning and was grouchy all afternoon.

Late this afternoon we both visited our lovely GP. As I thought Alice has a chest infection. She's got a 5 day course of antibiotics. The rot on my palms is getting worse, the ointment from 2 weeks ago hasn't helped so now I'm trying strong steroids and praying that if it is eczema that it doesn't get any worse - the Magnificent T was jokingly asking if Alice gets to open her pressies on the 25th if I'm in hospital - I didn't think it was funny and had a Scrooge moment (my hands aren't really that bad but even the GP is taking it seriously). I'm trying not to worry about it because worrying makes the eczema worse!

3 sleeps to Christmas - not ready, not bothered and not really excited.
8 sleeps to Pudding - nearly ready and very excited!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

STILL BUSY!

Yesterday we caught a steam train to see Father Christmas. Lovely trip but 2 disappointments - we went with K and her children E and A, so 5 of us went into see FC and I thought he was a bit rushed this year. As Alice is under 3 she travelled for free and had a 'baby' present - a logo teddy for the steam railway, I wasn't impressed with her pressie compared to the goody bag that the 3s and overs were given, luckily she didn't seem to mind! (Photos to follow in another post).

Then in the afternoon GFW, Aunty J and baby L came for a cuppa - during their pre-Christmas visit to GFW's parents'. It was super to see them but unfortunately L was really suffering with teething pain and I was suffering with painful behaviour from Alice (which was explained later on!)

Later in the afternoon, D, D and A brought a Chinese takeaway over for supper. Alice wasn't impressed with what was actually a delicious meal, she especially didn't appreciate the hot noddles. Partway through the meal she vomited, immediately afterwards she was in a much better humour and proceeded to demand ice cream and then more ice cream. Then the girls played while we watched the first part of the S*trictly C*ome D*ancing final - a great show, by this stage Alice had quite a hoarse voice and A was running a temperature. After the first SCD show D, D and A left and I put Alice to bed before the second part of the final. It was a great show - from the final 2 I wanted Tom to win but thought that Rachel was better dancer, until I saw Tom's free dance, fantastic! I actually agreed with the judges' scores from the first show and that Lisa should have won - but her free dance was a disappointment. Despite agreeing with the decision I still have a problem with the competition being turned into a popularity contest when it should be about the dancing and not the personalities!

Today's been quieter but just as busy as yesterday. Alice coughed sporadically through the night and more regularly through today. This morning we had a much needed visit to the supermarket. C arrived once Alice was in bed for her afternoon nap and with her guidance I worked on Alice's Christmas sack. The sack took over most of the afternoon and all of the evening (once Alice had gone to sleep) and I finally finished sewing on bells just after 10pm! I'm NOT a sew-er (or a sewer!) and so I'm very proud of the finished sack (photo on another post) - my Mum must be beaming (she was very good at sewing and always disappointed that I showed no interest or talent!)

Despite a busy weekend there's plenty more to be done before Thursday - including wrapping pressies, quite a bit of cooking and food shopping too. Happy Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 19, 2008

PUDDING

Not the finest photo!

This is Pudding.

We visited the breeder after school today to choose Pudding. All the puppies seemed lovely. I had the choice of 2 bitches and I really struggled to -make the decision.

I chose the first puppy that I held, but not until I'd spent over 30 minutes deliberating. This puppy is slightly taller, lighter (weight and colour), outgoing but less extrovert than the other. This one has a broader head and was soppier! Most importantly she was the first to wag her tail, she fell asleep on my hand and when she woke up she wagged her tail again and then washed my hand. If I'd been making the same choice 2 years ago I may have reached a different decision - parenthood changes many priorities!

Alice was very good, not particularly interested in the puppies except for wanting to hold them (which I vetoed, letting her stroke instead!)

The puppies are available for collection from Tuesday, but I'm trying to be patient and wait until after Christmas, I'm hoping to collect her on the 30th. It's going to be a long 11 days but it will be lovely to have something to look forward to after Christmas.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

THE NEW 'DO' REVEALED

MY LITTLE STAR!

Tomorrow Alice gives her first performance! She needed a star costume, Mummy did the top half and C did the trickier bottom half - thanks C! I think Alice looks fantastic!

But today she was a star as well - sitting beautifully still to have a proper haircut, they cut about 3cm off, it looks much tidier and even though it's shorter I think she looks less babyish too. The staff at the hairdressers couldn't believe that I turned up without the pushchair - Alice walked in and sat in a big chair before sitting on a high stool for the actual cut (transfixed by S*hrek and a pot of grapes!

My little star.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

AS ALICE WOULD SAY . . .

. . . 'Uh-oh!'

Yesterday after lunch (I was on the phone and trying to keep Alice in her highchair for a few moments longer while I finished the call - there's another post about parenting skills!!) I produced a bag of chocolate coins. As soon as she saw the coins she announced, 'Pee-pee!'

(I used chocolate coins as the incentive when trying to potty train - they didn't work, Alice would demand 'Cho-cut!' any time except when she'd earnt it! But obviously some connection was made!!)

All I can say is, 'Uh-oh!'

Monday, December 15, 2008

THE CHRISTMAS TREE

I went to buy a Christmas tree last Monday on my way home from an appointment (Alice was at home with The Magnificent T). I enquired about delivery and negotiated good terms, then went to look at the right size of tree, the bloke finally came over to help me see them properly but then had to go and help someone else. None of the trees were great - and being me I like the expensive ones (they keep their needles better and smell better too), so I went back to the cashier and asked if they'd be having any more in - no but they did have more 'out the back'. I felt like a difficult customer but the ones on display were very uneven and they were too expensive to comprimise! The bloke came back and hunted through the trees still in nets before selecting and un-netting one. He explained why he expected it to be a good one and it looked much better than the rejects, I felt a little pressured after all their extra effort and the tree seemed OK so I settled for it. It was delivered last Wednesday and immediately un-netted and left to 'relax' in the Hall.

While Alice napped at lunchtime I decided to get the lights up. Fiasco - they worked until they'd been on the tree for 5 minutes, ugh. T stayed with Alice while I dashed back into A'g (we'd been there this morning!) I bought lights and dashed home again - only to discover I'd bought flashing ones. Cross, very p*ssed off, resolved to take them back and several hours later decided that I had to put them up and finish the tree today!

I love decorating the tree and rediscovering ornaments - the San Francisco tram with holly on it, Chinese enamelled ornaments (especially the panda and snowmen ones), all the different angels and the new ones too, this year one to remember Little Sis. Alice watched T*inkerbell while I decorated. She wasn't interested in the tree until she found Happles on it! Then Moon, Fairy, Sock (stocking) and Ghost (Father Christmas). She wanted to know what the pears were and was delighted to find the stars!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

OH YES WE DID!

Today we went to the theatre. It was Alice's second visit but her first full length show. We saw a pantomime (traditional British Christmas show), Cinderella.

How did it go? Interestingly. Alice didn't want to sit for most of the performance - luckily we were in the second to last row and the seat behind us was mostly empty as the little girl sat on her father's lap through most of the performance. It was a very long panto, or that could just have been the stress of trying to get Alice to sit and be quiet. It was 2 and a half hours including a 20 minute interval. Alice really didn't want to sit down, which was both stressful and intriguing - as she will sit and watch a full length film without even blinking. She definitely enjoyed it - the singing, dancing, music and twinkly bits, most of all she loved the Shetland ponies that pulled Cinder's carriage and the 'Fairy' (Fairy Godmother).

My verdict - she might be a little too young for it at the moment but she'll learn from the experience and overall it was positive. The panto? Too long, they included all the traditional bits but didn't link them together very well. Some of the actors were very good but one of the big names was a disappointment and the 2 Americans on the cast actually spoilt the show - 1 huge, elderly filmstar and his younger, inept wife.

It was a CACH event. It was lovely to see other children adopted from China, I think Alice was quite a lot younger than the others, but of course as we were at the theatre we didn't get much of a chance to socialise - the others went on to have a Chinese meal together but I'd felt that the panto was enough for us this year, Alice fell asleep in the car 20 minutes before we got home and was awake in time for supper as usual and I was glad that we only did the panto bit - we're looking forward to seeing them properly at Chinese New Year. A couple of the other parents remembered Alice from the beginning of the year and the last CNY celebrations - none of us could quite believe the changes in Alice in a little less than 12 months!

Friday, December 12, 2008

LITTLE STINKER!

I'm exceptionally lucky that Alice doesn't usually wake until around 8am and when she does she wakes gradually so by the time she's chatty I go in to get her up and we have a smiley start to the day. When I get up in the morning I try to sneak into the bathroom to have my shower, more often than not Alice wakes before I'm back in my bedroom. This isn't a problem on 'home' days, but on work days it means that she's awake up to an hour earlier than usual.

Today Alice woke while I was in the bathroom. She woke crying (as often happens when it's an early wake-up), as soon as she saw me she declared, 'Cold, warm milk!' before returning to her whinging!! It agravated me and made me smile all at once - that she could quit the whinging to demand what she wanted, that she knew her own mind so vehemently!

'Warm Meek' has been popular this week!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

NURSERY PROGRESS

I'm busy, so in very brief - Alice stayed for lunch this time and continued to do really well!

I had the morning to myself, it felt indulgent and I got a lot done, so why am I still so behind?!

SO KIY GETS THE PRIZE . . .

. . . not that there was one, but she would get it if there had been!

Pudding - that's the name I've stuck on so far for Chocolate puppy, Alice can say it too.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

THOUGHTS ON CHOCOLATE PUPPY!

I showed her the photo as soon as she got up from her afternoon nap yesterday.

She was enthralled, gazed and gazed and gazed and then pointed out all its features. Ever since then she keeps taking me by the hand and leading me to the computer demanding 'Puppy!'

I'll take her to see the litter next week when I get to choose which of 2 puppies we will be bringing home.

As for names - thanks for the suggestions - my blog readers think the same way as me:
Buttons - a friends has a chocolate lab dog from the same breeder (12 months older than ours) called Buttons - she used to have a dog called Rolo!!
Coco - possible but it's Alice's name for someone she's very fond of and I'm not sure I want to confuse the issue by using it again.
Please keep thinking about it though, still need to try and better the name I've already thought of.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

COMING SOON!

Chocolate Labrador bitch puppy, 4 weeks old, ready in a couple of weeks but won't be coming home until after Christmas. I've reserved a puppy but haven't chosen which one will be coming home yet. Their mum is gorgeous - good looking but even more importantly a real softie, beautiful temperament and just likfe Daisy she loves having her ears stroked.

Now puppy needs a name - something connected with chocolate or Christmas but not suitable for a human - all suggestions gratefully received, please leave a comment.

Alice doesn't even know yet as she's still asleep!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

CHANGING MINUTE BY MINUTE

. . . and now I have a date for Panel in early January!

THE INK'S STILL WET . . .

. . . but the signatures are there, my homestudy is finished.

Now I have to check a couple of references, ensure that the GP surgery have sent the medical, meet with the GP to discuss SNs and their implications, get a letter certifying employment and work on other bits for the dossier. T (my SW) and I had long discussions about the SNs that I'd shortlisted, these will be further clarified by my GP (I hope). YES - I am already working on the dossier for Thailand - I didn't work on the documents required by China until I had passed Panel, I'm still worried about tempting fate by starting so soon but things take longer to accomplish in these days of motherhood and I find it easier to complete paperwork when I've had time to consider it.

A bittersweet day - I'm pleased to be a step closer to Little Sis but sad that I won't be treading this path again - oh for a bottomless pit so that I could do this again!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

WONDERING, PAPERCHASING AND TIMINGS

Being in the middle of the paper chase for Little Sis I find myself wondering and occasionally worrying about the adoption process again.

Depending on your view point adoption is a gamble or a miracle. With Alice's adoption I definitely hit the jackpot - and that's what makes me worry. It was only after she was home and I knew that everything would be OK that I realised the huge gamble I had taken. This time it's different, bigger, this time I'm gambling for Alice's lifestyle as well as my own. As for the miracles - I think I see them more clearly in hindsight.

I worry that other people (not any old who, but friends and family) won't take to Little Sis as they have done to Alice. Little Sis will, most likely, come home with an extra challenge, a physical difference, I worry that this extra hurdle for Little Sis may also be an impediment to how other people connect with her. At the moment I feel that my awareness of this is the best preparation for others, talking it through openly and honestly.

I worry about the timings of this adoption. The nature of intercountry adoption is difficult to predict. With Alice's adoption the timings and uncertainty were the parts that I found hardest to cope with - this adoption is very different to Alice's in most ways, but I'm already facing different uncertainties. I want Alice to be old enough to have understanding of what's happening by the time we get to referral and travel - I want her to be able to remember the journey, for it to add to her understanding of her own adoption, I want her to be old enough to be more independent (and yet I hate that she's growing up so quickly?)

I'm a planner, a control freak. I'm still fighting to control, even though I know that so many parts of this process are beyond my control. When I can't control I worry. I'm facing these things and acknowledging them in the hope that this will help me accept them and bring me peace with them. Maybe I'm becoming an optimist?!

And I'm still left wondering - is Little Sis out there yet, has she been conceived yet? I'm so aware last time that I was so wrong as to when crucial milestones in Alice's life were happening that this time I'm using more ifs and maybes.

Just when I think I've got an idea as to how long things will take, something crops up to change my perceptions again. I'm hoping to go to 'Panel' in January (that's the last part of local approval for a second child), then I'll have to gather extra evidence for the dossier before sending it off to be checked in this country. The dossier goes to the DCFS (government department), a notary, the FCO (another government department), the Thai Embassy and finally back to the DCFS so that they can send it to Thailand. I was anticipating that the DCFS stage would take about 6 months, recently I've learnt that it could be considerably quicker. I was hoping that my papers would be in Thailand by the end of the Summer Term (20ish July), now it's possible that they could be there a whole term early - just typing that makes me nervous that the piles of paperwork could collapse around me! That means I hope to travel in 2010, now it maybe a summer trip instead of a winter one (but I'm very aware that trying to predict timings is a dangerous or futile occupation in the world of intercountry adoption). I'm asking for a baby as young as possible and the SN that I'm most drawn to is club feet - I hope that being such an obvious SN that I may receive a young child again.

Once my papers are in Thailand it should take between 9 - 15 months to receive referral with travel within 4 to 8 weeks - provided that Thailand accept my application. (There's a possibility that they may not, an opportunity for me to worry - I hope that this situation will be clarified shortly after my dossier gets to Thailand (unlike China where I had to wait 11 months from application to clearing the review process).

Meantime I appreciate every day with Alice and marvel at the miracle of Alice, the miracle of adoption and the privilege of motherhood.

PEEK-A-BOO



Friday, December 05, 2008

SURVIVING

Really busy . . . really tired . . . really tired . . . got that?

Alice has NASTY chest and ear infections. There's been a lot of vomit this week - Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights. She hasn't got a vomiting bug, it's just a reflection on how poorly she's been. Monday night was the worst, she cried, I ran, I picked her up to comfort, she couldn't settle, within a minute or two she'd vomited all over both of us, all her supper, everywhere. She actually settled down again really quickly (all things considered) but woke as I went to bed at 1am (Photo*box Christmas order!) I couldn't do anything to reassure her, she wanted me, she wanted to be in my bed, she wanted me but I wasn't allowed to touch her as she howled - the hardest part of being a Mummy, not being able to help your child as you watch them suffer. She howled again at 3am and 5am, it was the worst night I've ever had with her, one of the most traumatic too.

A measure of how poorly she's been this week is that we haven't done any of our usual activities. By Wednesday night I was in a quandary - Alice was due to start at nursery on Thursday, I wanted her to go as there would only be 3 sessions before Christmas and the 2 week holiday break, but I wanted her to be well enough to enjoy it and not to distress her when she was already poorly. Eventually I decided that if we were vomit free through the night then I'd start her this week. NO VOMIT, NURSERY HERE WE COME! But as I'd been undecided that led me to another dilemma, I hadn't prepared her by talking it through (recently, we done the talking after the visit at half term but that was 5 weeks ago) - I hadn't wanted to talk it through in case she wasn't well enough.

I was a nervous wreck, so worried about leaving her there and her thinking that I'd left her for good - reinstitutionalising a child who's been in an institution for many months is a very different issue than simply taking a child to nursery. I was worried for nothing - she'd left me to follow her buddy A (I had planned that Alice would go to the same nursery as A on a day when A is there, if I couldn't be with her at least she'd have a friendly face around!) Before we'd crossed the room to the coat racks (Alice's peg has an umbrella label and there's no coincidence that it's next to A's, great planning by nursery, not so great by the mummies who both bought the same coat and the girls share the same initials!!) I chatted briefly with the room leader and then said a quick 'Bye!' with a kiss and walked out the door. I spent the morning in school, just round the corner from nursery, killing time til pickup. Alice came out calmly with a big grin on her face and ran into my arms, lovely! They reported all the things she'd done - apparently she'd taken part in lots of things and thoroughly enjoyed them all - sand, water, fruit at break time, watching Joseff the rabbit and she'd made 2 wonderful Christmas tree decorations - a blue Christmas tree covered in red glitter and a yellow stocking covered in multi colours of glitter. All that playing, lots of small people to play with, paint, glue and glitter? Alice's idea of ecstasy!!

She hasn't said too much about it, if I ask about the rabbit I get 'Ssshh!'ed - I think they're encouraged to be quiet around him. She did so well that next week she's staying for lunch too.

My baby's growing up already, it's hard but it's so much fun too!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

BUSY

We had a busy and fun weekend.

Up so early on Saturday morning that I then had to sit down for over 30 minutes so that we didn't arrive at GMJ's too early!! Lunch with GMJ and her gorgeous daughter P (my God-daughter - who's growing up far too quickly, 4 now and thriving at big school!)

Then we went onto GFW's and had a super afternoon, evening and morning with them before going on to a Christmas party for families who are / have adopted from Thailand (this was the event that was the catalist for the other parts of the weekend). The party was lovely - it was great to see lots of Thai children and their happy families, super to put faces to names and start making new friends. Alice had fun - balloons and push cars! She wasn't so keen on Father Christmas but she loved the wooden lacing beads that he gave her.