Today is my birthday. I am 41 years old.  I woke up this morning feeling a little under the weather–my allergies have gotten worse since moving to Delaware, and they sometimes leave me feeling foggy-headed and fatigued when I wake up.  My eczema has also been flaring for the past week, so my skin also hurt upon waking. Not a great way to start my birthday morning.

As I dragged myself out of bed on the later side (7:30 is late in our house as we have a 4 y.o. son, ZZ, and 1 y.o. daughter, JJ),  Paul was making breakfast for the kids and I put our son, ZZ, in his booster seat.  Before they started to eat, Paul brought me the card and presents that he and our son picked out (I think Paul gave ZZ some choices and ZZ had the final say).  I opened the card and it had pictures of cupcakes all over it–ZZ knows how much I love cupcakes.  Inside, he wrote his name (which he has been practicing), and he had also written I heart U. This is the first time  he had written something other than his name.   I cried, of course. Inside the box were a blue paper-bead bracelet and a beautiful necklace with turquoise, yellow, green, and dark purple stones.  My eyes teared up again, as my son was proud of his choice, and he decided on that necklace because he knew I liked yellow. He also knew that I loved bracelets and necklaces, so that is why he wanted to get me some in the first place.   I walked over to him and gave him a big hug and kiss, Then I kissed Paul. JJ, who joined our family last month, had no idea what was going on, but after seeing me kiss her big brother and Baba, she wanted a kiss, too. So I gave her one, of course.

This has been a strange birthday. It’s 2:00, and I still feel under the weather. Over the past few days, I’ve also been realizing that even though JJ’s post-adoption transition is  going as smoothly as post-adoption transitions go (in other words, it’s been hard, but not as hard as it could be), I have been carrying around a lot of stress since we brought her home–more stress than I would like to admit, actually. Much of the stress relates bringing a second adopted child into our family and getting used to everything that process entails.  Plus, given that I am an introvert, getting used to having another chunk of “me-time” taken away and being on-call for two young kids with assorted needs is a challenge. I often feel tired even when my allergies aren’t acting up. 

But despite this morning’s fatigue, foggy-headedness and need for some “me-time,” when I hugged and kissed my kids I could feel the love that I have for them surge through my body. My heart felt so much love even though the rest of my body (and to some extent my mind) just wanted to go back to bed and not have parenting responsibilities for the rest of the day.  And when I felt my heart light up despite how the rest of my mind/body felt, I realized how happy I am to get to parent two great kids, to get to be a parent in the first place, and to know that–after our long struggle to become parents the first time around–our family is finally complete. 

For the first time since we started trying to start a family back in January 2005, the stress and anxiety associated with the process is gone.  No more stressing about adoption slow downs, overstimming from fertility drugs, health problems that could arise and make us ineligible for adoption, all the miscarriages, all the required adoption paperwork and home studies, the huge sums money it costs to pursue alternative approaches to parenthood, and so on. No more irrational fears about the universe not wanting us to have any (or more) children, and no more feeling that anxious sense of relief when we crossed another hurdle that would bring us closer to becoming parents, yet still worrying whether we’d trip over the next one.

When it comes to our family-building efforts, I certainly still feel some residual grief about how much pain and loss we experienced through during those years, and some of that will likely never go away. But now, I also feel a sense of peace and calm. We are done. Our family is complete. Somehow, it actually all worked out, despite years of worrying that it would not.  It may have taken awhile, but we finally have ALL of our children.  

So as I sat at the breakfast table feeling foggy-headed, fatigued, and still a bit stressed and overwhelmed from our post-adoption transition, I felt blessed. Completing our family last month is perhaps one of the best birthday gifts that I have ever received.  I will certainly find other life and parenting issues to worry about, but family-building (finally) will not one of them.

 

 

Even though we won’t be traveling to China until May to meet JJ, we’ve already started preparing for her arrival. So far, we have purchased a double stroller, a new car seat, two sets of PJs, a few new glass bottles, and several new sets of toddler silverware. In the next month,  we will also purchase a co-sleeper for our room, a new dresser for her, and a second baby/toddler carrier.

We’ve also started to prepare for the trip to China. ZZ will need a stroller for the airports, so we purchased a very light umbrella stroller. We’ve also purchased a “diaper bag” that can hold the stuff of two kids. Paul is in charge of trip logistics, and he’s been reading travel guides to glean information about Hong Kong (this is where we’ll fly into), Guangxi province (and Liuzhou and Nanning, specifically), and Guangzhou. Even though we’ll be traveling with/for two children this trip, we’re hoping that we won’t have to pack more stuff than we did for ZZ’s adoption trip. To begin with, we’ll be in southern China for the entire trip, which means that we won’t need to bring jeans and heavy jackets–we’ll only need lightweight summer clothes. Also there is a ginormous Walmart near our hotel in Nanning, so we won’t have to bring too much stuff for JJ with us. Rather, we can buy new  clothes, diapers, etc. once we are there.

We definitely feel more prepared for this trip the second time around. We know what the adoption trip is like in general, we’re already parents, and we’re more familiar with China/Mandarin/etc. Despite all that, the trip will likely be overwhelming, but I am also getting excited for it.

 

 

It’s been over a year since I updated the blog, but what better way to start up again by announcing our impending adoption of a 16 month old girl, JJ, from Guangxi province, China. She’s at the Liuzhou Children’s Welfare Institute but living with a foster family. We just received our pre-approval from the CCWA, and we’re hoping to travel in May. ZZ is a little worried that we won’t hold him as much when he has a sister, but he is also getting excited and asks when we are going to get her. He is also excited to ride the “jet airplane” to China. I’m not sure whether I’m going to blog about the rest of the adoption process and adoption trip here or on designated travel blog, but I wanted to post our new here first.

Here are two pictures of our sweet JJ:

Liu Run Jing Update PIC.1(1)

Liu Run Jing Update PIC.4

Just a quick ZZ post that I’ve been meaning to write for months. He’s doing awesome language-wise, but he still has a few pronunciation quirks that we just adore. We will be very sad when he stops saying them.

Octopus=OX-ta-pus
Computer=Com-PAY=na
Panera=Pa-PAY-NA
Banana=Ba-BAN-A
Girl=Girl-a
Squirrel= Squirrel-a

I have some very sad news to report. Our beloved Molly passed away on November 9th. We took her to the vet on the 7th because she, had developed some concerning behaviors over the past few days, and they determined that she had cancer. We didn’t expect her to go so quickly, but she went downhill fast. On Tuesday, I spent the day with her at home because I didn’t want to leave her alone. Thankfully, it was a very warm day, so we spent much of our time together outside. She went back to the vet, and the doctor suggested that she stay in the hospital that night and get an ultrasound in the morning. Paul took her to the hospital while I went to class and the next morning we went to the hospital to get her and the ultrasound results. We weren’t expecting good news, but we thought that we’d be able to take her home with us for a while. The doctor didn’t think that it was a good idea to take her home, as she wasn’t stable. We had to make a decision that morning to put her to sleep, which we weren’t prepared for at all. it was such a blurred day. I stayed with Molly at the hospital while Paul picked ZZ up from school so he could say goodbye to her. Then Paul brought him back to school and afterwards returned to the vet. Paul and I spent some time with her before we decided that it was time. The actual process went more quickly than I expected, and it was so hard watching her die.

There are so many layers to my grief–the fact that she’s not with us anymore, the fact that we didn’t have the opportunity to spend quality time with her before she died, and the fact that we were with her when she died. We have her ashes, a tuft of her fur, and a paw print in ceramic. I’m not sure what we’re going to do with the ashes. For the foreseeable future we will keep them with us.

Molly was my companion for almost 11 years. During the first two years we spent much of our days together. I wrote my dissertation and she hung out with me. We took walks together, ran errands in the car together, etc. When we drove places, she would lie down in the passenger seat and put her head in my lap. it made working the stick shift difficult, but it was so nice to have her head on me. After I started working full time we spent less time together, and that has always been a source of guilt, but we’ve tried to spend as much time with her as we would over the years and she slept with us every night.

I miss her very much.

It’s been tough finding the time to blog, but I’m trying my best here. Even though it’s been 6-7 weeks since my last post, I didn’t miss my once-a-month minimum post. Since my last post, lots of stuff has happened post-move.

1) Internet, phone, and cable: Check (yes, people, after a month of waiting, we got it all set up. Plus we got new–and working–cell phone plans to boot).
2) Renters insurance: Check
3) Drivers licenses, auto insurance, and Delaware plates (it took two months to get it all done, but it is finally done. Plus, the Delaware license plate looks great on our car).
4) Started new jobs: Check
5) Enrolled ZZ at school, got his PT set up, etc: Check
6) Closed our our Milwaukee bank accounts and are fully set up with our Delaware bank: Check (It is very nice not having to juggle two bank accounts and figure out which money from what account goes toward which payment).
7) Yoga place, ameditation group, and a Buddhist reading group: Check
8) Bike fixed: Check (although I haven’t had a chance to ride it yet).
9) Explored parts of the area: Check (although we have so much more to explore)
10) Enjoying the mild fall weather: Check (No offense to you, Milwaukee, but you sucked in this regard)
11) Visit regularly with family: Check (I love living close to family again)

Based on my completed to-do list, it should be clear how happy I am to have moved here. It’s been great. Even the mildly difficult stuff (not having a Trader Joes nearby; having to order my Rishi Tea online, etc.) hasn’t been much of an issue. I have had numerous days where I have felt the joy surge through my body because of our move. I love being back on the East Coast. I love our house. I love that ZZ’s doing so well at his new school and in PT (more on that in another post). I love living close to family and that ZZ has extended family to visit and get to know. I love UD’s campus and I love our Newark Natural Co-op. And given how much I loved living in cities such as DC and Milwaukee, I love that we live so close to the “country.” One of my favorite drives is going one mile from our house up 896N to the Rite Aid. Not because Rite Aid is magical (I mean, it’s a Rite Aid), but because I get to drive up 896 to a peaceful and serene part of the city. We also recently discovered that we have a Ridley Creek State Park sort-of-place a mile from our house, complete with a wide cement running and biking trail, a creek, and lots of woods.

That said, it’s also been a hard move. I really didn’t expect the transition to be so tough, particularly given how “right” the move was for us. There’s been all the day-to-day glitches and headaches and stressed that I’ve mentioned in the this post and my last post. But it’s other stuff, too. We’ve all been sick a lot in varying ways (I’m on round two of a bronchitis/respiratory thing; Molly’s got crazy allergies, ZZ’s had some colds, Paul developed a hernia from the move); I’m trying to adjust not only to a new life and new job, but to working full time again post-mamahood. My teaching schedule is not ideal (I get lots of “I’m sorrys” from colleagues, and one colleague told me I was “brave” when I said what my schedule was). It’s been hell trying to find a doctor (for some reason, primary care physicians are in shortage here), which has made our various illness stuff more stressful and only reinforced my dislike for urgent care. I don’t have a social/support network here yet, although I see inklings of one forming. Basically, the fact that everything about my life changed all at once and I’m having to learn how to do life over again and reinvent the wheel, so to speak, is hard. I’m getting through it, but it’s still hard. At least I know the”macro” of our new life here is good. We just have to get the “micro” stuff settled down and sorted out. And maybe find time for a vacation. Because I really could use some time relaxing on a beach or on a cruise or something. For now, though, I’ll just appreciate our drives out into the country to see fall leaves.

It’s been a crazy two months. I do not recommend trying to renovate a house, sell it, and move across the country to a new house in a two-month time span. And a month at the new house is definitely not enough time to get settled in, particularly when the movers are a week late delivering your stuff, your still trying to sell your old house, Verizon goes on strike and you’re left without home internet, a landline, and television for four weeks, your cell phones get terrible reception in the new town, and your town is struck by an earthquake and a hurricane four days apart. Then’s there all the other little glitches (what do you mean I can’t get a Delaware drivers license because of an unpaid parking ticket from Maryland over ten years ago that I know nothing about?), an unexpected trip to the vet, getting the kid set-up at his new school and physical therapy sessions, etc. So I’ve been frazzled a lot this month, and a bit cranky.

But things are starting to fall into place. We’re settling on our Milwaukee house later this week, we love our new house, we love the neighborhood, we love our close proximity to Main Street and campus (we can walk to both), Main Street is great, the campus is beautiful, ZZ’s in a great class at a great school, and we’re happy with his new physical therapist, and the new jobs are good so far. There are things about Milwaukee I miss (besides my friends)–Alterra, Rishi Tea, Boswell, the Lake, my sangha, my yoga center/gym and the close proximity to Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and Beans and Barley. But we’re figuring things out. I found a yoga class that I like (although there aren’t many to chose from), I can use the free faculty gym on campus, I started to attend a small meditation group in town on Sundays, I can order Rish Tea online in bulk, Newark has a decent natural food co-op, and we can make monthly trips to Trader Joes and stock up on stuff. Also, Newark has a few things that Milwaukee does not–a decent Malaysian restaurant, a fun and bustling college town vibe, lots of restaurants only a five minute walk from our office (including a very good Indian restaurant), a gorgeous university campus, awesome state parks just a few miles from our house, close proximity to Atlantic coast beaches (we made our first trip to Rehoboth Beach two weeks ago), warmer weather, and hills.

And although there are things I miss about UWM, UD has some advantages–including better access to online academic journals (this might not sound like a big deal, but UWM’s online subscription collection was so small that I could only access numerous articles that I wrote via interlibrary loan); cheaper faculty parking; a 10 percent tuition faculty/staff discount at ZZ’s UD-run early learning center, a free faculty/staff-only gym, and annual “wellness dollars” that faculty can use for personal trainers and fitness classes.

We still have lots to do to get settled in September, but it should be less discombobulating than August was. I am looking forward to when we’re done with our settling and can just enjoy living here and focus on everyday life and work stuff.