Sunday, September 26, 2010

Unique opportunities!

What an incredible week of unique and rare opportunities that culminated into a very special celebration!

This week included the anniversary of Grace and I becoming mother and daughter, the Mid Autumn Moon Festival, which is very important in China, meeting an important top person with Medicare, dining with the top officials from China, and celebrating our family with a luxurious meal atop the ball at the Hyatt Regency.

I've talked some about adopting Grace. I wish there had been blogs six years ago because so many of the details are already lost from memory. Neither of us are good historians, except for random details.

Mid Autumn Moon Festival was on Wednesday and somehow I completely missed it. It is a family focused celebration in China with family members traveling great distances to be with their loved ones. The first time I had heard of it was soon after Jana had adopted Darcey and for the celebration had bought this beautiful box of pastries called moon cakes. I looked at them envisioning the delicate pastries being filled with apples or apricots, maybe even pecans, but instead they contained white lotus seed paste and red bean paste and sometimes if you are very lucky, an egg yolk in the middle. Obviously tastes that you acquire.

The next time was in China during the process of adopting Grace. Grace's foster mother had sent a big box of these Chinese delicacies, moon cakes, with her and we sat in the floor of our hotel room at the White Swan in Guangzhou sampling each one. Later I learned how expensive that box was and know what a sacrifice, financially, much less emotionally, it must have been for her foster mother.

Other years I have bought moon cakes for the girls at the Chinese market and last year I even made my own version using my dream filling with apples in the center.

But it feels like so much has been happening, especially at work, that I got distracted and missed helping my daughters remember their heritage.

Part of what had distracted me was the big event we were hosting on Thursday. This week was the 6 month anniversary of the Affordable Healthcare Act, which included numerous new benefits for Medicare recipients and since my job is primarily working with Medicare recipients, I was contacted about hosting a very important representative from Medicare to make the announcements of the changes. Of course I jumped at the opportunity and we pulled off coordinating a sizable audience, press coverage, and all the other details in record time, making it appear effortless with no sign of the sleepless nights and worry that preceded it.

BUT I realized just how much my life has changed me.

When given this kind of opportunity in the past, I was all over it to meet the individuals, provide any of the extras to help make sure it was stellar for them, but this time I was much more focused on it ending on time so I could get the girls and be on time for our dinner in Fort Worth. Gladney, our adoption agency, was hosting THE top ranking officials from China who handle all the adoptions. I wanted these people to see that their trust in us was valid, that the adoption of the older children worked, and in some ways that a single person can be a good choice.

We made it to the Fort Worth Stockyards, to the Mexican restaurant, to meet the top officials from the CCAA, The China Center of Adoption Affairs, When you apply to adopt, you fill out tomes of paperwork. All of this goes to these very people, who pore over every detail in every document you send to ensure you are an appropriate parent.

If you are adopting a baby, it is rumored they look at your pictures and find a baby that seems to be a great match for you. I don't know how they do it, but I think God has a hand in it much more than just human decision making.

You have to remember that my girls are teenagers, or at least pre-teens, so you can know just how accepting they are of me and used to my actions.

Also, language is never a barrier or a deterrent when I am determined to accomplish something, especially when it has to do with my girls and all the other girls who need families.

So, of course, I found the top man, grabbed a translator, and proceeded to tell him how very important my daughters were to me. How having them had made my life. How the older child adoptions were such a success. How I grieved that I could not adopt again just because I am single, but would love to find a way to help those who "age out", who become 14 and for as many reasons as there are girls, have few if any resources once they reach that age, and how I would love to find a way to help. This stopped the conversation. Initially he said there are foster parents for these children. I explained that this would be foster care here, with the family providing home, food, and education, preparing for a career, but returning to China at the end. I'm not sure, but I think he understood and said he would take it back as a consideration. At least I have planted the seed. I'm not sure I could give up a child who lives with me for 4 years to return to the unknown that China would hold, but I know they would be better prepared. The laws seem arbitrary and for someone who likes to find solutions, it is really easy for me to say the laws just need to be changed.

My girls were the oldest children there and Annabel was one of the few who could still understand Chinese and much to her chagrin, I brought her over to talk to the executive director. I'm not sure what he asked her but know he got typical teenager's answers, including a shrug of the shoulders, "I don't know", and "I guess"!

The whole scenario bordered on bizarre, being in the Stock Yards, eating Mexican food, speaking to the people who hold so many other's futures in their hands while they sipped on margaritas and tried to understand the corn husks wrapped around a tamale. I don't think nachos, tamales, tacos, or taquitos translate into Chinese.

Before I adopted Annabel, Grace and I went to the restaurant atop the Reunion Tower each year to celebrate our "gotcha" day. The year we came home with Annabel, I knew I could not translate to her why and where we were going and besides, at that point, we could barely afford a glass of water there. Thankfully it was closed due to renovations.

Last year, rather than try to figure out two separate events, we decided a trip to Mexico was our "family" anniversary celebration of becoming a family.

This year our focus financially has been on the "extras" like tutoring and piano and art, so we opted not to take a trip, and found ourselves needing something though to mark our celebrations.

The view from on top of the ball was just too irresistible and since the renovations were complete, we made our reservations, got dressed up, and went for the most scrumptious of meals.

The surprising change was the menu was now Asian and the menu was full of dishes that the girls LOVED and very reminiscent of China. Tiny dumplings were followed by duck for Grace and quail for Annabel, each accompanied by noodles. We got there while it was light and watched our view change as the sun began to provide a beautiful sunset, and stayed until the lights of the city came on. It was a perfect way to celebrate. When the dessert menu came, my very practical minded girls opted to end the meal with a McDonald's sundae for $1, rather than $12 cookies!

Life is good.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Becoming mother and daughter

Six year ago today, I became a mom and Grace became a daughter and while it usually occurs simultaneously it took us a while to grow into our roles.

I wish I could describe those first moments as magical and fulfilling in all that I had dreamed, but realize I had not really had any REAL ideal of what to expect, even though the process had taken several years to actually happen.

I was prepared to be a mom, I convinced myself, I had taught school, I had been an aunt, I had baby sat, I had worked in the nursery, I was an expert! I did not need parenting classes, I knew well how everyone else had failed and I would be THE ONE to succeed and be the perfect mother, whose maternal instincts would flow immediately and love would be there to make it all work.

And so at the end of a long journey of paperwork, a trip that took days to complete, I was whisked to a building that I am not even sure its purpose or location, as the whole thing is a blur of jet lag and a fine mist that started that morning, making it feel almost magical, and put into a room with another family who were also adopting an older child, and told to wait as my Grace would be brought to me.

I'm not sure who all were in attendance, other than Jana, Gillian, and Darcey, but it felt like all eyes were on me and waiting on my reaction, as they brought this little girl holding this gigantic stuffed dog into me, and while I could recognize her from the pictures, all I could focus on was that gigantic stuffed dog, that was bigger than her, and my first thoughts as a mother were concern on how I could ever get that thing on the airplane and would I have to buy a ticket for it.

And so that maternal instinct did not kick in immediately, as expected, but my usual practical self took over!

I remember she had a ton of doo dads in her hair, lots of necklaces, a shirt with dice made out of glitter (an appropriate shirt for a 6 year old), jeans, and pink shoes.

She was and is the most beautiful child I have ever seen.

While I dealt with paperwork, Jana, Gillian, and Darcey stepped in and a bond was made between she and Gillian that is still so strong and profound that I don't know what I would have done without them.
In a blur we had pictures made, thumbprints made, signatures on all the dotted lines, and then whisked back to our hotel.

Within minutes I learned that all the things I thought had prepared me for motherhood were not necessarily transferable skills, but again, thankfully I had Jana with me to guide and direct me through those initial days.

My Grace, through our enneagram work, has identified herself as a lion and while I first thought she was anything but that, in hindsight, I see her strong character and will are her most basic qualities and what made her survive so we could become mother and daughter and why I love her so much.

Her strong will and mine clashed relentlessly for months afterward and at times it was not a pretty picture. I remember my dad even getting onto her and telling her she was killing me by her actions, but we persevered and she taught me and I taught her and we finally became worked into our roles of mother and daughter.

The name Grace describes her perfectly. She is strong but has a heart full of love and kindness. She is quick to learn new things and doesn't forget anything. She is patient and compassionate, shy, and great with a quick retort at the least expected times that make me bowl over with laughter.

There is so much more, but I want to stop here and attach a request I received this week.

When I become a millionaire or have the brains to figure out how to do this, I will help take care of those children left behind in China. Yes, I know there are children here who need help, so please don't fault me for wanting to help those in China. The difference is profound between what is available here and what is available there.

When a child becomes 14 in a Chinese orphanage, they are no longer eligible for help and pretty much on their own, unless there is a sponsor. I know there are families here who would "foster" these kids, allowing them to get an education that would prepare them to work when they return to China, but right now there are no such arrangements and what happens to them after they are 14 seems like a great unknown. If anyone reads this and can help me even find a foothold or a springboard on an idea of making this happen, I wish you would tell me.

In the meantime, this is one of the organizations that provided help for both Grace and Annabel until I could adopt them, providing funds for their education, their foster care, and other ways.I thought some of you might be interested in a way to help.

Hi, Like the kids here, our sponsored children from several of the Jiangxi orphanages are returning to school and they need your help. We need to pay the schooling costs for our sponsored foster children that attend the school near their foster home instead of the one near their orphanage. The cost is $155 for the year. I hope you can help!

I'm sure you can all appreciate the benefits to these children to be in a loving, attentive foster home instead of in the orphanage. And once they're in school they benefit from having a foster family that will encourage them and help them with their homework, giving them a chance to compete with all the other kids at school that have parents and grandparents focusing their attention on their only child. A child in the orphanage is at a significant disadvantage. The child in foster care also benefits by being in the community and seeing the value of an education and growing up with the expectation that she will someday be an independent adult that can get a job and care for themselves. And hopefully in a school away from the orphanage, surrounded by their
foster family and local community that accepts them, they will not have the stigma associated with being an orphan and can really live a normal life without bullying at school.

But to achieve all this we must pay for their schooling in addition to their foster family stipend and need some new sponsors for this. Here is a list of some children of the children that need a sponsor ($155):
Girl born May 2005, in kindergarten
Girl born June 2002 who has congenital heart disease, in kindergarten
Girl born March 2005 who has congenital heart disease, in kindergarten
Girl born March 2004 who has cleft palate, in kindergarten
girl - 5 y.o. - healthy - kindergarten
girl - 6 y.o. - HepB - primary school
girl - 15 y.o. - left leg deformity - middle school
boy - 3 y.o. - club foot - kindergarten
boy - 3 y.o. - lower extremity deformity - kindergarten
boy - 3 y.o. - healthy - kindergarten
girl - 5 y.o. - Cerebral Palsy - kindergarten
Girl born 11/04 (has Cerebral Palsy) in kindergarten
girl - 4 y.o. - possible autism - kindergarten
girl - 6 y.o. - Cerebral Palsy - kindergarten
boy - 3 y.o. - Cereberal Palsy - kindergarten
girl - 6 y.o. - Cerebral Palsy - kindergarten
NANCHANG this is the city that Grace and Annabel are from
girl - 14 yo - cerebral palsy - special ed school
boy - 15 yo - cataract - special ed school
girl - 15 yo - low IQ - special ed school
girl - 7 yo - cerebral palsy - kindergarten
girl - 10 yo - cerebral palsy - primary school
girl 9 yo - cerebral palsy and epilepsy - kindergarten
girl 10 yo - cerebral palsy and epilepsy - kindergarten
boy - 9 yo - developmental delay - kindergarten
boy - 3 yo - hydrocephalus - kindergarten
girl - 10 yo low IQ - kindergarten
boy - 13 yo - low IQ - special ed school
girl - 7 yo - "malfunction of the brain" - kindergarten
girl - 16 yo - low IQ and hep B - special ed school
girl - 13 yo - middle school
All of the above children need $155 per year. But we also have some older children that need more but this could come from several sponsors if needed so any amount you could donate would be much appreciated. A few of these are:
A girl from Leping, born 10/90, who has had polio and will attend Nanchang Financial College. She needs $994 for the year.
A girl from Nanchang, born Jan 1993 and has hep B, in her first year at Nanchang Women's College. She
is majoring in aviation service and hotel service and when she graduates wants a job as an airline stewardess
or job working in hotel. The cost is $268 per year.
A girl from Nanchang, born Jan 1990, has hep B, also in her first year at Nanchang Women's College.
She is majoring in metro service and administration, planning for a job associated with the subway. The cost is $268 per year.
A girl from Shanggao born 7/95, healthy, who is in high school and needs $315 for the year. (High school is not paid for by the government even though she is living in the orphanage).
Support is provided by donations to Altrusa Foundation which is a 501(c)3 organization in the US that works together with Amity Foundation in China. Altrusa does not take any admin fees out of your donation and Amity Foundation in China charges only a 7% admin fee. The rest of your donation is all going to your
sponsored child's schooling! You can learn more about us at .
If you'd like to donate by check it should be made out to Altrusa Foundation (tax deductible in the US) and
mailed to me at:
Altrusa Foundation
Attention: Peggy Gurrad
P.O. Box 1354
Longview, WA 98632
You can also donate through (which is a good option for those of you outside the US). But there are fees with PayPal also so please add about 3% for US donations and 4% of those from outside the US.
However it appears that you can choose an option that says this is a gift and then neither you or Altrusa are charged fees.) Using my peggy@gurrad. com e-mail address will take you to the Altrusa Foundation account.
Or if you want to use a credit card let me know. Please consider helping. We have lost many sponsors
because of the bad economy and won't be able to continue helping all these children if we don't find some
more people who can help. And it makes such a big difference. It's thrilling to see some of these kids continue on with school through university or professional school and then get jobs!
Peggy Gurrad
Altrusa Foundation

Monday, September 20, 2010

Recording the history of adoption

In the last couple of weeks, I have either heard snippets of books written by parents who have adopted, seen a movie about it, and begun to read a book recounting the author's story of adopting.

On NPR I heard two different interviews with Scott Simon discussing his book about adopting his two daughters from China. Each time you could tell that he got emtional discussing it, and overall, he answered the questions candidly, humorously, and at times quite emotionally. I have not read the book, but his answers seemed to be a very straightforward approach to adopting.

In between I began to read a book that is supposed to tell about a woman adopting her daughters from China, though she actually began the journey as the companion of the "new" mother. I can't get far enough along to know how/what happens that she becomes the mom rather than her friend, because she gets so bogged down with this rather odd story about reincarnation or something. Like I said, I can't get into it.

Next came the movie Blind Side. If you have not seen this movie, I have to urge you to rent it. It easily deserved the Oscars it won and Sandra Bullock is remarkable as a woman who saw a need and filled it. No ulterior motives, no strange reincarnation, just a young man who needed a family and hers had room to spare! I liked that at the climax she and her new son are forced to address the motives of their arrangement and both could honestly say it was what fit and it worked.

The last was the book reading I went to featured a mother who wanted to tell the world about her trans racial adoption. I am evidently doing something wrong because I don't label my daughters as "trans racial" adoptees I guess I know what that means, but the emphasis is on the multi ethnic part of the adoption, rather than the people adopted, I guess. It makes me think of when I worked with people with disabilities and it was constantly preached to us to put the person first, then the disability. This seemed like all she wanted to do was point out that her daughter was a different race than she and the problems that involved.

Tomorrow is the six year anniversary of adopting Grace. I see there are all kinds of ways to talk about adoption and I hope I choose the best. More about our first days together later!

Time running, fleeting

When you are growing up, more times than not, you want the time to speed by, asking how many days till Christmas? How long until I can date? How old do I have to be to drive? Other than Christmas, spring, and summer breaks, the rest of the time seems to move at a snail's pace.

Of course when you are older you blink an eye and everyone got a LOT older, not you of course, but everyone else has. Your children seem to grow over night and all you want to do is put the brakes on so you can actually take time to enjoy life.

Lately though, all I wanted was for time to speed up and get me through our event on Saturday. I am a die hard optimist on planning these big programs and insist that it will all work out, but for whatever reason, I did nothing but dread the inevitable on Saturday.
Time ran by and it was soon over and the rest I felt I needed so badly had to be delayed since both girls needed hair cuts, I wanted to attend a book reading, and then dinner with Mom and Dad. When we finally got home about 6:30 I tried to stay awake to tell my girls good night, but finally gave up at 8:00 with them in charge of turning out their own light. They told me later they turned it out right on time and said their prayers by themselves.

OK, now I am ready for time to go back to normal. I can't keep up with it at this pace! And of course it won't because before I could complete that program, I got a call with an opportunity to host an important event for Medicare and jumped at it!

Maybe I can rest this weekend!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Being different

From a very early age, I think we learn that we don't want to be "different". Now that is not the same as being the "same" as everyone else though. You don't have to be just like the others in your group, but you definitely don't want to be different.

For a variety of reasons I decided to ride my bike to work today, which really made me feel different.

From the get go, it seemed odd/different. I walked out with my keys in hand, going toward the car, but decided I had to give it a try and unlocked my bike instead.

Pretty quickly I had the impression that I looked a lot like a character from a favorite movie you might have seen. Does she look familiar?
The only thing missing was the basket with the little dog trapped in it.

Somehow riding your bike in shorts and a t shirt is one thing, but putting on your dress pants and riding seems a lot different. Then while we usually ride in the late evenings, I had not ridden in the middle of traffic! Which all really makes you feel different.

So while there was plenty of traffic, including foot traffic this morning, there just weren't a lot of middle age women in dress pants riding their bikes to work! Riding home made it even more "different" as the number of people out was even greater!

With all that said, being different was also exhilarating and liberating. It gives you a completely different perspective from the seat of a bike than from a car. I think I will do it again, but I hope it will be cooler!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Nurse Grace

My dad called this afternoon to find out if I needed help getting the girls home from school and then casually mentioned that Mom had hurt her hand but he had bandaged it and thought it would be ok. I told him as soon as the girls got home that we would come and check it out.

Since my Dad is the Master of Understatement (remember how he told me they had a small accident, which was actually hitting a concrete wall head first and the airbags were deployed?), it quickly began to nag me the way Dad so casually called about the girls ride home, which he rarely if ever does, and the even more casual way he presented Mom's injury, so I go over to check on them.

Now when I went to college, the first time, there were really only 2 choices for women, nursing or teaching. I figured out really quickly that blood was not something I liked and could never work around, so I went into teaching.

As a person who has had brain surgery and shots in her eye and 2 daughters, you would think I had finally gotten over my issue with blood and injuries, but still have not and when I got there and saw Mom propped up on the couch with her hand double the size that it should be with a really bloody, gross bandage around it, I knew I was going to be no use. I had to have my daughters, especially Grace, who, like Darcey, gets so involved in watching someone being bandaged that you can't see anything but their heads!

I called Lynne, who has been an answer to our prayers for car pooling, to find out where they were and explained the situation. She is so kind and I think if she had a siren and flashing light, would have put them on her car to speed the girls to rescue their mother and grandmother.

When they got there, Annabel comes in like a bomb exploding complaining about the heat, her homework, and dumping a pile of her belongings.

Grace walks in, without speaking, puts her things down, walks past us, and leaves me with my mouth gaping open, thinking she must have misunderstood how desperately I needed her help and fearful that I am still going to have to do something with this very bloody bandaged mangled hand.

Now to let you know how bad this was, Mom really thought she had cut off her hand when she saw the amount of blood. Taking so many things to keep the blood moving seamlessly through her also makes her skin extremely sensitive to any nicks or scrapes, and this time she was just putting clothes in the dryer and caught it in a way that for us, would maybe be a bruise or a scratch, but for her had caused her hand to double in size and bleed enough that she thought she would pass out.

Grace comes back in calmly and asks where is the first aid kit?

Then she goes back out and in with a wet cloth and slowly begins the process of removing the bandage, sending Annabel, her assistant, after extra supplies like tweezers. This is very painstaking and Mom had already admitted that she was fearful of facing the pain of removing the bandage, but Grace works slow and steady!

Grace applies pressure where it needs to be to stop the bleeding, cleans the rest of the blood off her hand, applies antibacterial ointment, and I'm not even sure what else, because I left to cook dinner for us and knew that she had handled it all so much better than I could!

While the girls did their homework, I cooked, and then had Annabel call to say it would be ready in 5 minutes. Mom asked if she should make some tea and Grace flew up yelling no, she was to remain on the couch with her hand immobile! So they run next door to make sure Mom is not moving and get the table set and drinks for everyone.

After we ate, Grace changed the bandage again because it had begun to bleed.

She never ceases to amaze me with her kindness and compassion, and remains so calm in every situation.

As of September 21, it will be 6 years since I adopted Grace. I cannot imagine my life without her!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Any answers?

There are a few things I wish someone could explain to me tonight.

Why has it taken until 2010 for manufacturers to finally realize that women need a variety of shapes in pants. We have lots of different shapes and we would like to have pants that fit. There, I said it!

Also, why do they keep trying so hard to come up with a new reality show, putting people in precarious positions, with little food, and see who can make it as the survivor? Or race to the finish line first after a series of trials? Or follow people around who like to get into fights and make celebrities out of them? Why can't they put these wanna be celebrities in real life situations and see who can survive? Why don't they put them in remote areas of China and see who can build the best orphanage, with a school, and training for the children who age out? Or see who can find a way to feed villages on crops they plant and grow? Or go into areas hit hard by natural disasters and see who can rebuild lives the fastest?Why aren't the celebrities that are followed, the parents who make time to take their children to church? Who help them with their homework? Who provide healthy meals on low incomes?

Just some things I am wondering about. I am also tired of being sick. I see a pattern developing, feel like a rash breaking out, get sick to my stomach, lose things, and then my fever spikes to 100 and I don't feel like doing anything. Tired of that and have way too much going on this week to be sick!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Happy birthday, Dad!

Today is my Dad's birthday!

Dad is the go to person, not just for us, but for everyone in the neighborhood, church, the hospital, I guess everywhere he goes.

He gives great advice and has good sound judgment on almost all matters, except about me adopting the second time.

Very rarely have I had felt Dad's disapproval. One time being when I kicked the window out of the door because my bratty siblings locked me out.

Another when I grieved more over a boyfriend that did not show up for graduation, rather than enjoy my family who traveled a long way for it.

The night I came home really late and he was standing on the porch waiting for me and what was worse, did not say anything! Yikes, I knew I was in trouble that time!

But when I decided to adopt again, Dad did something he rarely does. He shook his finger at me and told me I would NOT adopt again, that my mother could not handle taking care of another child.

OK, I'll admit it was rather crazy around their house in those days as Grace went there after school each day as well as Jaan's daughters, and they all seemed a LOT younger then.

But if I could have known what kindred spirits my Annabel and my father would be, there could not have been any concern.

The two are peas in a pod. She doesn't care where Poppa is going, she wants to go, whether it is Tom Thumb, Home Depot, Lowes, it doesn't matter, just so she can go.

They both make friends wherever they go.

They share a loud verbal dislike of traffic and people who drive poorly.

While Mom and I are satisfied just sitting on the front porch, they have to be moving, usually tossing a ball back and forth.

Any project Dad is working on, Annabel is right there ready and willing to help.

I asked her how much she wanted to spend on Dad's present.


I told her that was very sweet, but she could spend less.

She told me she wants to get him something nice, maybe a couple of the books he likes to read. I explained that books generally cost a lot more than that.

She said she had up to $76 to spend! And for him it was worth it!

I hate to say it Dad, but I knew right on this one! Adopting the second time was right!


While at Mom and Dad's house the other day, Annabel watched a show about the devastation of 9/11.

I'm not sure if she had never seen it or if it is just now making sense as to what happened. It's not that I have purposely protected her from seeing it and I know that Grace and I have watched the films showing the planes crashing into the Twin Towers and talked at length about what happened.

But this has really hit Annabel hard.

She is especially worried because the people who did it were Muslim and a number of her school mates are Muslim. They had already told me how a lot of the kids were fasting at school this week and would miss school on Friday for Ramadan.

She and I took a quick bike ride Thursday after she watched the program, which was really good, as it gave her a chance to ask some questions, but I think they are just the tip of the iceberg.

She wanted to know why those people wanted to hurt us.

I tried to explain that they did not approve of the "Americans'" lifestyle.

She asked, why did they have to kill so many people? Couldn't they have just told us they did not approve? Or just close their eyes? Or find some other way rather than kill so many people?

Good point! I told her the people who did it had to be crazy to plan such a thing and purposely do what they did, in the name of their religion. I don't think it was especially because they were Muslim that drove them to do what they did, that was an excuse to hurt people.

Her prayers have gotten longer now. I am so thankful that she believes and understands that God is there listening to her concerns and worries and will take care of those she asks Him to.

Now she prays not only for our minister, his wife, my niece Marcie, her husband, and Isabel, who is expected November 24, and Gillian and Darcey, when they are not with us, and Grandmother and Poppa, and Grace, and me, and Nina and Ollie, and Aunt Lisa and Gillian and Darcey to be safe driving here, and all the people who were hurt from 9/11.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Power napping

When I was going to college, I would take a quick break between classes and work, with a REALLY quick nap. I had a clock radio, similar to the one above, only mine was avocado green and had a very important button on top, a snooze alarm.

I learned to turn the alarm knob until it went off, press the snooze button, fall asleep quickly, before the alarm would go off exactly 7 minutes later. Today that is called a power nap! It worked well enough to keep me at work until 9:00 at night when the Western store I worked at would close.

After an afternoon meeting, where I wished for toothpicks to prop my eyes open, I was in desperate need for a quick nap before I could even imagine doing anything else.

BUT since I no longer have my clock radio, I begged the girls to wake me up in just 30 minutes, that's all the time I had, and was sure that would be more than enough sleep.

I lay down, get comfortable and a shriek comes from my bathroom and Annabel screams that she is scared! The power had gone off and there are no windows in my bathroom, so I quickly rescued her, and then was down to 25 minutes for my power nap.

As soon as I laid down, Nina jumped up on the bed with me, followed by Ollie, the other dog.

Within a few minutes, here come Grace with a stack of laundry for me. The dogs jump down but Grace stops to talk.

My time is fleeting and so far my eyes have barely blinked.

The dogs come back in but then Grace whistles to let them know that their dinner is served and they jumped back down.

Then Grace came back in to talk and announced I had 1 minute left to sleep!

Thank goodness for Starbucks!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Lessons recently learned

Some things I have learned recently:

1. Every point in Oak Cliff is downhill from our house.

Yes, it is obviously true as I am learning by riding my bike to enjoy the cooler temperatures. After having lived here off and on all my life, I never knew our house was the HIGHEST point in Oak Cliff, but once you get away from our front yard and try to return, it is ALWAYS UPHILL! Another point I have learned riding again, that a cruiser, like this one, makes you wish you had learned to ride a 10 speed!

2. Bicycles make you know that cars will be even more problems and you better enjoy this age while you can!

Last night we were in a VERY competitive Wii game when a neighbor knocked on the door and invited us down to a party. We rode our bikes so we could check it out, since I wondered if we were actually crashing the party, and I guess we rode because I am crazy. There, I admit it!

It was only a few blocks and all downhill, but somewhere we lost Grace. Annabel, the very nimble and strong rider, went back in search of her "baby" sister and coaxed her down the hill. Grace has consistently had problems with her bike and I have paid to get the gears and brakes fixed and was wondering if maybe it was just the wrong bike for her.

As we left, Grace announced that she was having problems riding her bike because both tires were flat! I gave her my bike and please refer to number 1 above to know that I pushed her bike back UPHILL!

If we are having this much trouble just trying to get 3 bikes going at once, what will I do with 3 cars??? I hope by then there is such great mass transit or flying cars that I won't have to worry about it!

3. I am not good at taking risks, being an entrepreneur, doing anything I'm not sure if I will be good at, or being the grunt.

We have been participating in this program with other adoptees helping identify our personality characteristics to help us in relating to each other. Grace and I both identify ourselves as the same personality (shock to no one in our family) and while we LOVE independence and being in charge, we don't want to try anything we are not absolutely sure we will succeed in, not just complete, but we are driven to succeed!

So she is taking piano lessons and has made monumental progress very quickly. She is also as competitive as I am and wanted to know if I could play the songs she is learning. The short answer is no. So with a stroke of brilliance, I decided to sit in on her classes and learn as she did, without paying for more classes. Right??

Two things I learned there:

1. She is already so far beyond anything I ever learned, the class might as well have been in Chinese!
2. She doesn't practice the pieces that she is not as secure with. I hear a beautiful minuet often, but had never heard her other 2 pieces, so after the class we talked about this and I realized that I had all the things necessary to make bread for months, but it had set on my shelf because I am afraid it would flop!

So I attempted to make bread, which got interrupted by the bike ride to the party and thankfully I have a very kind mother who tells me it is delicious, even though it looks like this image they always give you in motivational classes!

Our neighborhood is undergoing some very welcome changes and people are coming out of the woodwork with brilliant ideas of new and better businesses and programs and I realize the only thing I am any good at is planning more stuff for older people to do, which they are not too thrilled about doing, and no one really wants to pay a lot for that! Keeping older people active and healthy just doesn't sell a lot of t shirts I guess!

So I just admire what these guys are doing and wish I could come up with that genius idea, that I would be willing to try, even if I did not know I could be successful! But in the meantime you can come back to Oak Cliff and enjoy what the young whipper snappers are up to!

4. One last thing I have learned this weekend, even with three days off, it is not nearly enough!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Early to late!

Some days for mothers start earlier than you plan.

When we went to bed last night, the forecast called for thunderstorms after midnight. When I go to sleep, I am just one level above dead and it takes a LOT to wake me up, but with the threat of storms, I try really hard to sleep lighter so if there is an emergency I can wake up.

So while I am expecting to be woken up by a storm, I was not expecting to be wake up with a conversation starting in the middle of a dream that makes me ask the question, What??


I'm not sure what is shorter than a second, but I do think I split several seconds trying to discern if it was absolutely necessary for me to get up when I realized it was only 5:00! But Annabel was not leaving without me and I followed her into their room where Grace was lying paralyzed, hand on her neck, and fear in her eyes.

I had no idea what to expect as I tried to put my hand over what she was holding onto so tightly. A very tiny bug that we used to call a "clicker" bug had landed on her and was enough to wake her up as it tried to make an escape and instead started our day off with a panic!I tried to convince them to go back to sleep because I knew I could but for the most part, our day was started.

So lots of stuff happened today and with our early start, I was ready to tuck everyone in and call it a day. Only rarely do things go as planned!

Mom had told me she thought that our little dog Nina was sick, as she would not try to go down the stairs when she let them outside. Usually Nina feels the need to protect us from the really fearful squirrels that hang around our pecan tree and willing to do it every chance she gets!

Sure enough, as they tried to get ready for bed, it was quite obvious that Nina is in pain. I know Annabel gets quite worried and without asking, is looking to me to solve the problem.

I try to reassure both of them that Nina will be better after a night of rest by telling them a story about my childhood.

And if you read here often, you can tell it takes me a while to get to my point, so I began my story, I had a dog once, named Blackie, who got hit by a car. I don't know how I got interrupted, but I did, so I started again, I had a dog once, named Blackie, who got hit by a car.

This time Grace picks up the story and started it with, I had a dog once, name Blackie, who got hit by a car, THE END!

NO, NO, NO, that's not the end, that's what I was trying to explain that it wasn't the end that after a few days he recovered.

So then they asked whatever happened to Blackie?

OK, I don't remember.

So Grace corrects her story and chimes, I had a dog once name Blackie, who got hit by a car, and I don't remember what happened to him, THE END!

The end for this day! I hope! As long as no errant bugs fly in!