Monday, December 21, 2009

Future?

If Duc and I had an anthem it would be this song, Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours". As I've said before, I felt Duc presence long before I ever saw his photo or held him and this song became my mantra and every time the lyric "It's our God forsaken right to be loved, loved, loved" played I would tear up. I do prefer his live version because he has since changed it to God-given right which sounds much better.



Well you done done me and you bet I felt it
I tried to be chill but you're so hot that I melted
I fell right through the cracks
Now I'm trying to get back
Before the cool done run out
I'll be giving it my bestest
And nothing's gonna to stop me but divine intervention
I reckon it's again my turn to win some or learn some
But I won't hesitate no more, no more
It cannot wait, I'm yours
Well open up your mind and see like me
Open up your plans and damn you're free
Look into your heart and you'll find love love love love
Listen to the music of the moment, maybe sing with me
All - ah peaceful melody
And it's our God-forsaken right to be loved love loved love loved
So I won't hesitate no more, no more
It cannot wait I'm sure
There's no need to complicate
Our time is short

This is our fate, I'm yours



Thankfully, Duc loves this song. It was one of the first I played for him and every time he hears it on the radio a peaceful expression takes over his face and he grooves to the music.



I found this video today and I have to admit, the boy looks like an older version of Duc! Given the number of times Duc has heard the song I'm sure he will be able to play it before much longer, AND he will know the words!

Friday, December 18, 2009

“At this very moment one year ago…”

I have begun many a sentences this week with this opener. It was been such an emotional week for me and I have shared it with family, friends, co-workers and strangers alike. You see, I am extremely grateful for this day. It was exactly 52 weeks ago today that Duc and I became a family (although if you are truly a technical person, we met on December 18th and our adoption was completed on December 19th, but for me, that Friday was it).



Words can not describe how grateful I am. Grateful for the opportunity to be his mother, grateful to the woman who gave birth to him, grateful to Vietnam and the orphanage that took care of him. Grateful.

IMG_0968 Friday, December 18, 2008 Making it official at our Giving & Receiving Ceremony

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IMG_0982_edited-1 Later at the hotel getting to know each other.

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My post from last year:



We arrived last night. Our flight was delayed by over an hour because someone had a late connecting flight. I think Korean Air is the best airline in the world! No kidding–I watched 3 recent released Hollywood movies during the flight and slept the remaining, oh, 18 hours. I also slept last night after getting settled in.



But that isn’t why you are reading, you want baby news, right? Well, at 2:45 pm my life was forever changed. It was quite the experience. We are staying at a really nice resort and less than a mile turned off the road onto some rickety looking lane. We turned once or twice more and drove up to his orphanage. The road leading to his orphanage was very narrow and the road had lots of broken bricks and was very rough. The level of poverty here is unimaginable. It is truly heartbreaking, but that is a post for another time.



We arrived at the orphanage and the very first room we entered is the baby room and his crib was just a few down from the door. When I first found him he was kind of crying and looking upset. As soon as I picked him up everything changed. He put his hands on both sides of my face, patted my cheeks and began smiling and laughing. The moment could not have been more perfect. He is very bright, very alert. He LOVES to be held, loves to cuddle, loves to be tickled. He sits up really well and the nanny attempted to show off his crawling skills by taking the toy I had brought and tossing it 18-24 feet away. The little guy hustled right over to it and picked up his book again! He can push his butt in the air with his feet and hands on the ground. The nanny would show off his balance by standing him up, letting go, and catching him as he began to fall. He will be a little dare baby! He loves to be fake dropped–like a roller coaster. He is very quiet, but if you really get him tickled he will laugh. When the nannies would take him from me or when our guide took him for his passport photo he would reach for me and try to find me. Even when Oma was holding him he seemed to know that I was mama. I’d heard that they know that somehow and always thought it sounded silly, but I am beginning to think that they do indeed know.



It was a beautiful moment, a beautiful day. As I told my mom, he is heaven on earth.

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This afternoon my mom and I had a few minutes together as Duc woke up slowly against my shoulder shaking the afternoon sleep off of him. She told me she had watched the local religious station most of the day and several verses stuck out to her. She had plenty of time to reflect on the last year and the miracle of it all. I still view Duc as my miracle child and as I reminded my mother that we were within one DAY of never knowing him. I cried. I can’t NOT cry when I think of how close we were.

About a month ago I ran into a former colleague in the hospital cafe. She, like most people that know our story, asked about him and I was more than happy to share all the great things that he is doing. She smiled at me and said, “every time I ask about him your face just brightens up and you can’t stop smiling.” I hadn’t realized that, but I believe she is right. And there are also many times that my eyes mist with tears as I talk about him because I am ALWAYS aware of how fortunate I am to know him.

Happy one year together, baby. Everyday you are my little piece of heaven on earth.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Boobies

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I’m not sure what other moms do, but bath time always creates a little stress for me. If I shower while he is napping he will wake up early and demand attention. But if I do it while he is awake I have few options:

  1. Shower with him
  2. Place him in a jumperoo that he outgrew many many months ago and hope he doesn’t flip it
  3. Let him wander around my bathroom

Showering with him is a hassle. He wants me to hold him the entire time and as most of you know, wet babies are slicker than snot. We are an accident waiting to happen. Last weekend I left him free to wander the bathroom and you can see the destruction in the picture above. He dumped the trash can’s contents all over the floor.



So, yesterday I put him in the jumperoo and he had to watch me towel off. As I was leaning over he poked my breast and said “boobie!”. Yes, my precocious child learned what boobies are before learning where his nose, ears and eyes are. Needless to say, I taught him about noses, ears and eyes in the event he says it at daycare. I don’t want people thinking it is the only body part he knows!



I don’t often talk about Duc’s development for a number of reasons. I decided long before I became a parent that I was never going to compare him to any other child. I wanted him to be his own person and not feel he needs to stack up to what little Timmy is doing. While I am proud of all his accomplishments, it does not impact me as a person or his mother. These are his accomplishments. Having said all that, I’ve known from the beginning that he was advanced for his age and the longer I am a mother and more I am around children his age or younger I realize just how advanced he is. Developmentally he is at the level of a 3 year-old child which is twice is biological age. Lately it is becoming more and more apparent. I see him around children in his class or with other children and I realize that being locked out of the house (see my last post) is only the tip of the iceberg. I really need to stay ahead of him and I think that will prove challenging to do.

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This is an emotional week for me. I can barely comprehend that it has been a year, a year, since Duc entered my life. Fifty-two weeks ago on this very day I was nervously packed. Michael offered to take me to my sister’s house since she lives near the airport we were leaving from. We left earlier than planned because an ice storm had hit and he was worried we wouldn’t be able to get out if we left later. We stopped for lunch at Long John Silver’s (there is a joke there that I’m not going to both explaining, but it has sentimental value to me) and I remember thinking that this would be my last meal out before becoming a mom.



I barely slept that night. We had to be up at 4 am because we had an early flight, but it didn’t matter. I flopped around on my sister’s couch counting the hours. Literally, every hour or so I was refreshing the count in my head. 96 hours…94….82….and so on.



Wow, I never could have pictured this a year ago. I never could have hoped for anyone better than Duc. We have been blessed.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Baby Mama Drama

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I knew when I saw the scene above that we were in trouble. This was on Monday. On Tuesday night he insisted on sleeping with me. In fact, when I finally consented and started to put him in my bed he nearly cheered. You see, we are not one of those families that co-sleep. Before Duc, I was all for it. After I spent our first night co-sleeping in DaNang, and especially when I attempted it once we returned home I knew it was never going to work.



So Tuesday night we co-slept for the first time in nearly a year. He was happy, but it didn’t help his cough and congestion one bit. He didn’t get better and he didn’t get worse.



Until this morning. He woke up screaming. For those of you that don’t know him, Duc is not a screamer or a crier. He screamed and big wet tears slipped down his purplish-red cheeks. He writhed around arching his back and kicking. He wouldn’t let me hold him or comfort him and it brought back the feeling of absolute powerlessness that I first experienced before we left HaNoi and our first few days home before I knew just how sick he was.



I was finally able to pour some Motrin down his throat in between screams and ultimately decided to call the doctor when the screams didn’t abate.



Double ear infections. I suppose we have been lucky that this is the first time he has suffered this. I mentioned to the doctor that we have had to deal with all kinds of funky illnesses that most kids never have or never have this young and now all the routine toddler crap begins.



If this morning wasn’t traumatic enough, this afternoon got worse. Sometimes I marvel at how much Duc has grown and changed and advanced these last few weeks and months. Truly amazing. Until your kid locks you out of the house. I stepped out to retrieve the grill cover that had blown off. I intentionally left the sliding glass door open so Duc could still hear me. When I looked back at the house I discovered he figured out how to get the door shut (it’s a really heavy door! Even I have trouble making sure I get it shut just right to lock it) and locked. I was locked out of the house while wearing only flip-flops, t-shirt and pajama bottoms in 30* weather. No cell phone and no key.



Honestly, I really wanted to cry. I didn’t, but I wanted to. I kept hoping he would figure out how to unlock the door, but no such luck. I went to a few neighbors’ houses and no one was home. I finally went to the neighbor’s house that I often have issues with and I am glad I did. I was able to call Michael and in the meantime my neighbor loaned me her coat and some socks. I went back to the door and stood there talking to Duc. He kept saying “mommy"!” and reaching for me…it was so hard. He went in the other room and gathered his blanky. He came back to the door, laid down with his hand against the door. Michael finally arrived and was able to get me back into the house. I’ve been concerned about Duc getting out, but I never really considered he might lock me out.

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(through yet another door)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Friends

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I think this is one of my favorite photos from our day with Aiden and Ellie. You have to keep in mind, the littles had not had naps OR had a lunch.  You can imagine how much fun the mommies had!  Is it just me or is Aiden a little poser?  Looks like he is used to having his picture taken!

IMG_0893 copy I love this picture of Aiden.  Look at the sweet expression on his face.

IMG_0903 copy Miss Ellie isn’t too shy either.

IMG_0913 I will never get tired of peek-a-boo.  This is my favorite game ever!

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We had a blast hanging out with our friends, but Duc was totally WOUND up the rest of the day.  The little stinker slept for only TWENTY MINUTES the rest of the day. 

Hopefully we can get together again really soon ladies and next time I will get my camera out a little bit more!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sentimental

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I’ve been feeling rather sentimental lately. I have been working on a couple of projects which have kept me from much computer time, and especially from blogging, but they have allowed me some time to reflect on the last year. It was a year ago Thursday that I learned that I finally had travel arrangements. The joy of hearing that was overwhelming. I attached a sign to my door at work with a photo of a jet in flight with a post-it note of how many days remaining until travel. I was so excited and scared and overwhelmed and that feeling didn’t disappear until I finally held my son.



I can’t believe I have been a mother for nearly a year. The things that I thought would make me crazy, haven’t fazed me a bit, and the things I never expected take my breath away. On Friday evening I finally got a night out. Michael and I dropped him off at my friend Laura’s house. I could tell he was unsure. He looked around, the expression on his face tugged at my heart and I told Michael later that if he had cried I would never have been able to leave.



I’ve been looking at photos from last year in Vietnam. It saddens me that it has already been a year because it still feels like yesterday, despite how much he is growing.

DSC_2378 copy This photo was taken the day after our G&R. I will be forever grateful to Chennie for being there that week to record those first moments. I wish we had the opportunity to see her more frequently! When Duc met me for the first time, he placed his chubby little hands on each of my cheeks and held my face and giggled. Those first few days together he would just stare at me and I knew he was memorizing my face, “imprinting” as my mother said. Even now he still holds my face like this when he wants to tell me something important (well, important in his mind, I still can’t understand half of what he says).

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Thankful

I have so many reasons to be thankful this year. Two years ago I had just begun the dossier prep once again and the process was even more arduous than the previous year. Last year, I had a referral for a BIG, beautiful boy and I had finally hit the point where I was miserable from waiting. I was rather patient, really I was. I didn’t stress over it until I learned that our travel was being pushed out and they weren’t sure when we would travel. At that point (around Thanksgiving) I was quite miserable so this Thanksgiving feels remarkably blessed. So, I thought I would spell out what I am thankful for.



A-adoption. Do I need to say more?



B-Becky Fawcett from HelpUsAdopt.org for all she did to make this year so memorable. She gave us a sizeable grant that helped create our family and chose us to tell our story nationally on The Today Show. (see the media tab above if interested in watching our video).



C-Canon. Yep, I love ‘em.



D-Duc. What did you think I was going to write?



E-Early bed times



F-Friends and Family. Thank God.



G-Good times.



H-Health. I love the times that we are healthy and long for it when we aren’t.



I-Icky hands. Seriously, it is gross, but I love it when he reaches for me with food covered fingers.



J-Jerri. AKA Aunt Jerri.



K-Kristen and Catherine for giving us extended family that get it. They truly do.



L-Love



M-My mother.



N-Nap time. For both of us.



O-Oh no! I love it when I hear those words out of his mouth.



P-Pancakes. Honestly, this kid can put them away.



Q-Quiet time. We both need it from time to time.



R-Running naked. Not me. Him. There is a pure joy when he scurries away from me sans diaper and runs shrieking with joy down the hallway with his arms up like you would see among runners crossing the finish line.



S-Spring Rolls. I ate way too many for T-day



T-Time. I cherish the moments we spend together.



U-Unbelievable moments.



V-Vietnam. Forever.



W-Wa-wa. I love to listen to my son ask for water. It makes my heart smile.



X-XOXO



Y-YMCA. I don’t get to visit as often as I want, but when I do I enjoy it and enjoy playing b-ball with my boy.



Z-Zoo time.



And now for some Thanksgiving Day photos!

IMG_0501 These are bar chairs. I have to hike myself up to get up on them and yet he will pull himself all the way up in no time at all.

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IMG_0565 Oh my, I ate way too many spring rolls. Thankfully they are healthy.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

A boy’s life

IMG_0175 Last week I visited Wal-Mart (a rarity for good reason) and a woman working at the store sneered at him.  So he sneered back and it looked something like this.

IMG_0181 Waiting for the pancakes to finish cooking.

IMG_0190 Playtime in the window.

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IMG_0212 And, yes, he is giving you the bird.

IMG_0216 Subway.  Despite the face he is making he did eat ALL the ham on his sandwich.

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Lowe’s.  Checking out the overhead fans.

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IMG_0292 It was a very good day.

A is for Adoption

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Yesterday was National Adoption Day and while I forgot it and did not commemorate it in any way, I did take note of adoption. Actually, it has been on my mind a lot lately since we are coming up on nearly a year as a family. Suddenly, everywhere I look I can see adoption. Just this week I had a photo shoot with an adult trans-racial adoptee, today at Lowe's I met a woman who had two domestically adopted children, and while scouting areas for future I was at an abandoned build site and ran into some people while there. The gentleman asked Duc's ethnicity and I told him he was bi-racial (Vietnamese/Chinese--long story that I haven't gotten around to posting). The man, who appeared to be in late 40s or early, mid-50s volunteered that he was adopted from Korea at age 5.

In my own neighborhood I am surrounded my adoption. My next door neighbor, now a woman in her late 80s has 2 children adopted domestically. A lesbian couple down the road have at least one domestically adopted child, the married couple down the road and the the divorced woman living in the condos a stone's throw away all have adopted children.

Occasionally I will be out around town and I will get a knowing look from another parent and I can see it in their eyes, an unspoken understanding. Something about the way they look at their child or squeeze their shoulder, and I know, they get it. We are all connected.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Berta the Beast

I’ve felt rather apathetic lately. With my photography, with my work, with my personal appearance. There is nothing wrong at home—Duc and I are as happy (and healthy!) as we have ever been, but something has been off for a while. It wasn’t something I could really put my finger on, no immediate causative agent, but the tide has finally begun to change. Such small things have given way to some significant changes and life, although good before, is beginning to taste even richer.



I’ve known for a while I needed to upgrade my camera. I was planning on waiting until my next tax return since I knew I would be able to take advantage of the tax credit, but I honestly couldn’t wait any longer. This has been a big cause of my frustration—I was limited. I had taken my poor little camera as far as I could go. In the last week there have been some things that made me realize I need to upgrade and upgrade NOW. So, I blew the dust off some money I had stashed years ago and used my mad money. And it was worth every single penny.



While I did not win the contest I mentioned in my last post, I did win the free Pro SmugMug account so I will now be able to link this gallery to my photography site and set my prices directly on SmugMug. Honestly, this is an incredible prize and this was yet another reason for me to realize I needed to get my butt in gear. The only thing holding me back (besides outgrowing my camera) was me.



I have been a mother for nearly a year now and while I have LOVED nearly every single minute of it, I know that pieces of me were disappearing, namely the feeling of being a woman. I have been devoted completely and entirely to him and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I stopped doing my hair, putting on my lipstick and began wearing far more elastic waist pants than I ever would have imagined. So, slowly and gradually I am trying to add pieces back in that make me look good and feel better about myself.



So, life is good and getting better.



And here are some photos I took with Berta (the name of my new camera). These photos are completely untouched—this camera absolutely blow my socks off.

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IMG_0047 A little mini-session with my youngest niece.

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IMG_0094 Saige gets really involved with her TV shows.IMG_0120

Duc and Opa sharing a story.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Begging for your vote!

Ok, normally I consider myself above begging, but not today!  I just learned this evening that I am one of 10 finalists that have the opportunity to win free photography website customization AND an online professional gallery to show my clients their photos.  I hope you will consider voting for me.  You can vote here.  My name is Erica and I am listed as #5. 

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Last week my mother was over helping out. It wasn’t even 7 pm, but we were all spent and piled on one end of the couch. Duc lay between us, his head in my lap and his feet in her’s. We began to have a conversation that we have had several times before in a number of different variations. Usually it begins wih “can you believe this almost didn’t happened?” with a knowing look in Duc’s direction. No, I can’t imagine never knowing or loving him I often say. My life was good before. I really didn’t feel anything was missing. Until I met him.



This time the conversation began from her perspective. “I would have been ok with not having children or grandchildren. I wouldn’t have known what I was missing. But after you girls arrived and the grandchildren arrived…well, I wouldn’t want it any other way.”



She continued, “Your life was fine before Duc, but look at how much joy he has brought this family. He is such a happy, cheerful child. He hasn’t had any attachment issues so far, he bonded easily and quickly with you and is such a joy to be around. I wonder if the other families we traveled with feel the same way we do. I sure hope so.”



As she spoke my eyes teared up and when I opened my mouth to speak my voice cracked with emotion. I began blubbering huge achy tears as I told her that I am grateful to be his mother every single day. He has made me that happy. Even on the days where I feel extremely challenged I still go to bed grateful that I got to be the one he challenged.



I think about how close I came to not being his mother—both the extrinsic and intrinsic factors that almost lead to…well, not this. I thought about how afraid I was to become a mother, especially a single mother, and especially to a son whose gender feels so foreign from my own. I thought about all the external obstacles—money and delays with my dossier. And I thought of the biggest obstacle of all—my faith. Struggling with how I could believe I would receive a referral when so many others had been waiting far longer than I had. I am a big fan of fair and making things as fair as possible and this wasn’t fair. Knowing the day my son was born and where, but marching ever closer to September without knowing if our match would ever come to fruition. 066 copy copy

When I heard other parents say it, I never understood how the love could grow deeper and more intensely the longer you mothered your child. I thought love was just love, until I met Duc. I finally understood that my love for him is like a well watered plant. It grows bigger and the roots spread further and deeper with each passing day and week.



Perhaps it is for all these reasons that I find my heart seizing up as I try to picture my life without Duc. Before meeting him it would have been infinitely easier, but now? For me, knowing him for one day was to love him the rest of my days.



I hope I never have to live a day without him in my life. The very thought causes such intense feelings of grief and anxiety I can hardly stand to consider what my life would be like. Maybe that’s because the events that lead to our family were such traumatic times, for both of us. Or perhaps it is a reflection on my own childhood and all the early losses or near losses I suffered. Or, maybe it is simply being a mother. Perhaps my feelings are like so many unspoken rules of motherhood and until you get your entrance ticket stamped you can never understand.



So, I hold my baby every chance I get. Since he has been sick he has been falling asleep much earlier in the evening than he normally does. I’ve carried him in from the car asleep, picked him up off my feet or his blankey a sleep. Instead of putting him down in bed and getting on with my evening, I hold him. I watch his little face relax in a mask of sleep and I savor every minute.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Morning Traditions

Apparently we’ve been sick.  I say apparently because I thought we were sick, but then we got sicker and I felt like those earlier times were the good ‘ole days.  We are both on antibiotics now (first time we’ve ever been on them at the same time) and we are finally feeling better.  There were so many things I wanted to post about that I was never able to sit down and type up my thoughts.  Too tired, too sick, little one sleeping in the crook of my arm or nestled into my armpit.  Not a whole lot of “me” time.

Today we were able to return to some traditions.  I love traditions and I look forward to implementing more as Duc gets older and as we (hopefully) gain a sister. 

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012 Bringing blankey into the kitchen while he waits for the pancakes to cook.

017 This would be one of his begging expressions.

041 So, so close. 

045 copy Success!  Did I mention that Duc loves to dip his food?  I figured this out when we were on vacation last month and he dipped a corn dog in chocolate pudding!  So, so gross.  At least applesauce is healthy.

052 Happy boy.

055 copy Yum.

056 copy This would be the charming new talent that Opa taught him on vacation.  “See food!”  He mushes it up and then tries to stick his tongue out with the food still sticking.  Somedays he is more successful than others.    

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About This Blog

This started as my story, but has evolved to OUR story. This is the story of life as a single parent to a wonderful little boy while we wait for baby sister. China LID 2.12.07.


But these things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, be patient! For it will surely take place. It will not be late by a single day.
Habakkuk 2:3

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