Okay, January, you can't bring me down today. Yes, all my worries are still there, but you know what? My life has so much sweetness and light in it, so I'd better take some time to appreciate it. Even if they're small things, here are a random list of 10 random things that are making me happy this Monday...
January has always been my least favourite month. Everything is just DARKER and HARDER after Christmas. This January...whew. Lots of stuff threatening to drag us down.
We've all had three really bad colds in a row, the first one starting way back at the beginning of December. We just had a two week break from snot and I thought maybe it was over, but Vivi was the first to succumb to the latest virus on Sunday and now Adeline and I are sick again and David is valiantly fighting it off (but probably losing).
We had a tough re-entry into the world after holidays and Adeline has been very out-of-sorts, tired and crying just about every evening and she has a bunch of new fears/old fears re-emerging. We are working through it and things seem to be getting better and Adeline seems to be calmer, more rested and more at ease this week, but it's hard seeing your child so fearful and not really knowing how to help. The fears she verbalizes are mostly about monsters and a fear of the dark and being alone, but I think it's deeper than that. Just getting her to talk and really listening to her has helped, I think, and we've given her some tools such as a loud cowbell by her bed so that she can sound an alarm if she needs to, permission to come camp out on the crib mattress at the foot of our bed any night and we're getting her a video monitor for her room so that she knows that we can see her at all times. Of course we tell her again and again that she is safe, that there is no such thing as monsters, that we will always protect her and that nothing will ever hurt her in her bed, but her fear is real and no amount of logic or love is going to make it go away right now.
We're also in the process of making some decisions about school as we are increasingly unhappy with Adeline's school. Actually, I don't want to say it's her school that is bad as the teachers, staff and policies are all great...it's the demographics in Adeline's class and the broken-ness of our public education system that has left Adeline's excellent kindergarten teacher alone with a group of 20 children, 15 of which are boys and the vast majority of which have come totally unprepared for kindergarten and are starting at the very basics academically (as an example, Adeline was the only child in her class who could rhyme or knew her letters). In Adeline's class there are two children with autism, one of whom is aggressive and physically violent on a daily basis (Adeline has been pushed, tripped a few times and punched in the neck twice and has also endured verbal attacks and lots of "mean looks" from this child). There is also at least one other child who has daily anger issues/impulse control issues, but luckily for Adeline he sees himself as her protector right now. Then there's a new English speaker who could use some extra attention...how can Adeline's teacher do any teaching with all this on her shoulders? Adeline is very sensitive and this constant miasma of fear and aggression in her class takes a toll on her emotionally and the noise and chaos of her class is too much for her senses to process and her teacher says that Adeline often wears the noise-cancelling headphones. Adeline's teacher describes her as a model student, but that's not enough for us. She's bright and respectful and a rule follower and came to kindergarten with some good academic and social skills, but she is getting NOTHING at school. While her classmates hold scissors for the first time and learn what sound "B" makes, Adeline is spending her days doing colouring sheets and other busy work, living in fear of being punched in the neck and having to conform to silly girl culture or face being ostracized. We're seeing the start of girl-drama and bullying ("You can't wear red. If you wear any other colour than pink or purple then you're a boy and can't play with us", "You can only wear TWO braids. Only I can wear one braid, because there's only one Elsa at school and that's ME", "Dinosaurs are for boys. You shouldn't like dinosaurs", "Your glasses are weird", "You're a baby. Why are you so small?" etc etc etc). Unfortunately with only 5 girls in Adeline's class I can't just say "Go find better friends, who like you for who you are" as if you're not "in" with those narrow-minded and sometimes mean girls then you have no friends. Our neighbourhood is a hippie/yuppie/gentrified kind of place with lots of stay-at-home, well educated parents, but the other demographic at Adeline's school is literally from the other side of the tracks. Other grades have a mix of both neighbourhoods or are mostly families from our neighbourhood, but there is no one from our 'hood in Adeline's class. One of the reasons we chose to send her to this school was so she could have friends in the neighbourhood, but that's not how it's gone. Many of the parents of Adeline's classmates show a real lack of respect for education by allowing huge numbers of absences and not making their children complete their assignments or sending them unprepared when we've been asked to do something at home. I don't want Adeline to think this is normal and the right attitude to have towards school and her classmates will never catch up, never mind thrive, without support from home. Adeline loves to go to school, but I do think that it's where her current fears and insecurities are coming from and I just don't see that she's learning anything at all except how to sit still and be quiet and I actually think her natural exuberance and desire to explore, experiment and learn is being dulled. So we're looking at options and have our fingers crossed that our first choice (a private school) comes through, because other than that I think I'm looking at home schooling and while I know I could do it and would enjoy it, Adeline is SO VERY SOCIAL that I don't think it's the best choice for her either. We just love Adeline so much and want her to have a fabulous life. She's an exceptional kid and she deserves a great education in a place where her needs are met, she isn't scared or overwhelmed, where she can learn among other children who are being taught that education is important and where she can hopefully make some good friends. I also hate that there is no music or art at Adeline's school - 30 minutes of singing a week isn't music and following instructions to make a craft exactly like the example isn't art. It's her spirit we're most concerned for though, and we think we've found a school where that spirit will be tended, and now we wait to see if we can get in and then start making plans to come up with the money...
So yeah. Lots going on in January.
But good things too...
Vivi is 18 months old now and is a HOOT. So cute and funny all day long. Talking in little sentences and learning new words all the time, playing, singing, dancing, laughing, hugging and kissing all day long, loving books and music and cookies... Just love that girl so much!
Adeline is back to violin lessons and is making good progress and continues to love it and be very proud of herself. She is excited to be preparing for her first music festival and she has made some lovely friends in her group class, which helps a little to mitigate the bad friends she has at school. Adeline has also made some great leaps forward in her swimming and is loving the water more and more. She and Vivian have also been doing some really nice playing and sweet interacting lately, which always warms my heart.
And February is coming... Hopefully in February we will find out that the private school has a spot for Adeline for the fall and maybe we'll have some of those glorious crisp and sunny days we often have in February that always improve my mood and trick me into thinking that spring is here.
Then spring...ahhh spring...I really feel like I NEED you this year.
Time to finally tell a secret.
On January 4th last year, we were getting ready to go to the pool for a family swim to end off our Christmas holiday. I was half in my bathing suit (which also made me half naked) when the phone rang. Usually if we don't recognize the number we let the machine get it, but something made me say to David "You should get that".
And it was our adoption agency calling. With a secret for us to keep and a wish to hold in our heart.
We were told not to tell anyone as it would just be too hard if it all fell through. Not to lose our hearts. To be hopeful but not to make any plans. That things were changing every single day in Vietnam and while they hoped that they would be asked to find a family for this sweet baby, it wasn't guaranteed. Even if they received her file, it was possible the match wouldn't be approved for our family. We were told that it could be up to a year before she could come home if the match was made. Maybe less. Maybe more. It could be that another agency in another country would get her file. It could be that her file would never be completed and she would remain at the orphanage.
We were asked...do you want to move forward to bring this baby home if everything goes as our agency hoped?
We didn't hesitate. Yes, yes, yes.
Then we went swimming. And every minute that Adeline was under water, David and I talked...and dreamed...and wished...and hoped...and made plans...and smiled...and worried. Luckily Adeline is almost always under water at the pool, as we had so many dreams and wishes and hopes and plans and smiles and worries that day. We vowed not to tell Adeline, as we knew that our hearts could survive if that beautiful baby never became our daughter, but we didn't know if Adeline's tender heart could withstand it, and we knew how hard the waiting would be for us, and how it would be impossible for Adeline.
Then we began to wait. And hope.
We were told that we would probably find out if baby Khanh had been assigned to our agency in a couple of weeks and then up to six months after that we would find out that we had been matched, then up to six months after that we would finally be able to travel. We hoped for the shortest timeline possible, which was traveling to Vietnam late in the summer, but we braced ourselves for having to wait for the winter or even possibly for 2015. And of course there was the constant thought of "Or maybe she won't come home at all". As the "couple of weeks" turned into months and there was nothing but silence from Vietnam, we worried constantly that something was wrong and the longer the silence went on the more we swung between steadfast hope and deep despair. A child waiting a year for a family that is waiting for them is terrible, and to see that timeline stretching out further and further and knowing that the little baby we saw in those photos was spending day after day in the care of an orphanage rather than a family was heartbreaking. We worried if she was getting enough to eat. If she was being held and talked to. If anyone looked into her eyes with love and delighted in making her smile. If she was sick and if she could get medical help if she needed it. A million worries for a little baby on the other side of the world, but nothing that we could actually do for her.
Sometimes I had to put the photos away. Not knowing was just too hard. Wondering and worrying and wishing was just too hard.
They said not to lose our hearts. But we did.
Every night I wished on the first star I saw, and my wish was always for baby Khanh. I wished that she would be safe and healthy and loved and that she would soon find her family, even if that family wasn't us.
We waited two months and twelve days hoping to hear just that Khanh's file had been given to our agency and we knew that once we had that piece of information that our next wait could be six months to hear that we were matched and then another wait of perhaps six months to hear that we could travel. Two months and twelve days of checking my email hundreds of times. Two months and twelve days of jumping and running every time the phone rang. Two months and twelve days of part of my heart being on the other side of the world.
But then two months and thirteen days came, and there was an email from our agency finally. On March 17th we got the news that all at once Khanh's file had been assigned to our agency, our match had been officially approved and that once we sent back our acceptance we were just waiting for the provincial authority to set a date for our official adoption ceremony, which would likely happen in just four to six weeks. No one was expecting this news, including our agency, and we didn't stop smiling for days. Baby Khanh was now our Baby Khanh - our daughter, Adeline's sister, Nana's granddaughter and we could finally just be happy and make our plans and shout it from the rooftops that our family was growing. Of course we still worried, especially after our first hard adoption experience, but we were assured by our agency and we tried to assure ourselves over and over again that everything would go right and Khanh would have her family.
And the rest of that story has already been told, starting here.
Well, not really the rest of the story. The rest of the story is what we're living every day, with our wonderful littlest girl.
Sometimes people say how lucky Vivian is that she was adopted by us, but truly, we are the luckiest people alive to have been given the honour of raising our two amazing children. I don't believe that we were "meant to be" as I hope no higher power would cause enormous pain to a first family or to a child just to bring us our family together, but I do believe that when Vivian was in need of a family that there were bigger forces than Vietnamese bureaucrats that brought us all together. I can't think of a better match for Vivi than us or of a better match for our family than our sweet Vivi.
Another one come and gone...
It was a good Christmas, of course. How could it not be, surrounded by my lovely family? It could have been lovelier though if that lovely family wasn't suffering from another round of wicked colds.
Kindergarten has brought so many new things into our lives, including a slew of novel viruses for our bodies to fight off. Adeline is always the least afflicted and seems to shake things off easily, but poor Vivian is always hit hard and David doesn't often succumb, but when he does it's always a doozy. Vivian doesn't sleep when she's sick and she was also getting a couple of molars, which probably impacted our Christmas the most, as she was tired and needing to hug Mama a lot of the day and night, from the 23rd through the 27th.
So yeah. Sick sick sick.
But that didn't stop us from having a wonderful day. Adeline woke us all up at about ten to seven and then GALLOPED down the stairs before my eyes were even open. She was thrilled with all her presents and excited to give her family the presents that she had made and bought for them. None of us were even much in a treat-eating mood, although Adeline did follow through on her plan to have Cheezies and gummy candy for her Christmas breakfast.
Adeline's Frozen obsession has waned somewhat, but she declared the present I got her better than any of the presents she had asked Santa for. I took a chance and ordered some super cheap Elsa and Anna costumes from ebay to be shipped straight from China. I thought either they wouldn't arrive at all, they would arrive too late for Christmas or they would arrive and be totally lame, but both of the costumes together were only twenty dollars, so I thought it was worth a chance. I was very surprised that not only were they here in time for Christmas, they're both really nice and Adeline couldn't be happier. It was one of her least expensive presents, but they really excited her and she's worn them a lot since Christmas.
The Elsa dress is nice and of course Elsa is Adeline's favourite, but I think Adeline makes a super cute Anna! Anna is the fun and spunky and brave one and is totally the hero of the movie...I don't get why all the girls want to be Elsa...
The big gift Adeline asked Santa for was a real camera. She was very impressed that before it went in Santa's sack, Santa took some pictures in the reindeer stables.
I don't think Vivian opened even one present, but she was content to sit and stand on all the boxes and play with the new toys as they got unwrapped. All the excitement of the big day helped her forget that she was sick and teething and she had a really fun first Christmas!
Even parents of only one child know how difficult it can be to get one decent, sharp, well-lit picture of your child looking pleasantly in the direction of the camera. I can't even imagine how you big families do it! When we combined a wiggly-giggly toddler and a five year old who doesn't want to look at the camera EVER and is mad because...well, I can't remember, really (5 year olds seem to be mad a lot, right?), we had a real challenge on our hands.
Sometimes you get gems like this though...
Can't you just feel the Christmas spirit?
The whole time wasn't like this, and there were actually a lot of laughs in the about-four-minutes we tried to get this photo done before we realized that we had set ourselves up for disappointment and gave up trying to get the girls to sit down, look happy and look at the camera at the same time. It just wasn't going to happen EVER, so we quit before everyone was crying.
But then with a little Christmas magic (photoshop) we ended up with this...
By combining the best picture of Adeline's genuine, happy, shining-eyes smile and the one and only picture where Vivi was sitting still and looking at the camera, we have a picture for our card!
Whew. Thank goodness for Christmas magic.
Saturday after Adeline's morning violin dress rehearsal we went to get our tree. Poor Vivi was in desperate need of a nap, but she just had to wait a little bit while we picked out the perfect one. At first she was quite sceptical of the whole thing, but once Adeline started racing around searching for the best tree in the place, Vivian got right into it!
On Sunday after the violin concert it was finally time to decorate. Adeline was very patient with me as I put the lights on the tree on Saturday and was only a little disappointed when I told her it had gotten too late to start decorating. She was ready to do it the minute she got home from her concert though!
Adeline changed out of her "peacock dress" so she could eat some Christmas cookies, but Vivian insisted on staying fancy.
Adeline did almost the whole tree trimming job this year while Vivian emptied out the boxes and admired each ornament.
This is one of those moments I dreamed about when I thought about having two children, and it was a really lovely time. I think decorating the tree is my favourite part of Christmas. Nana stayed to help and it was nice to unwrap all our special ornaments and talk about where each one had come from. Our tree isn't colour coordinated or themed and it certainly won't be featured in any magazines, but it's filled with special memories. Isn't that what Christmas is really all about? Making memories?
As I cleaned up the boxes and tissue paper Adeline got out her violin to play some Christmas music for our tree. She was very inspired and instead of stopping at "Jingle Bells" she ended up serenading our tree with almost her entire repertoire.
This is where the picture of the actual Christmas tree should go, but I sort of forgot to take a picture of the tree. When you've got daughters as lovely as mine, who has eyes for anything else?
Adeline has been waiting since last Christmas for another chance to play in a concert. We missed the spring recital because we were in Vietnam and Adeline loves an opportunity to play for an audience so she eagerly counted down the days until she could be on the stage again.
Adeline LOVES the stage. Not a bit of stage fright from this girl. She spent as much time as she could on the stage before the show started - just feeling the excitement and looking out into the audience.
Couldn't be prouder of Adeline. She is passionate and committed to her violin and it shows in what a great violinst she's becoming. She really identifies herself as a violinist, not just a kid who plays the violin, so she's willing to put in the work to grow and get better each day. I never need to remind her to practice and she is excited to be given new music and then to master it. She is a little ways past the work that this group is doing, but won't have a chance for a solo until the spring when she'll be participating in a music festival. Adeline is super duper excited and not a bit nervous thinking about being up there all by herself!
Vivian was as good an audience member as could be expected from a busy and wiggly toddler. She mostly sat with her Nana, who took her for a couple of short walks at the back of the theatre until Adeline's group came on. Once Adeline was on the stage Vivi was very interested and she was the most enthusiastic clapper I've ever seen.
Vivian was completely thrilled to get a chance to goof around with Adeline's friends on the stage after the performance. Both my girls needed to be practically dragged off the stage as they were turning out the lights.
And to top it all off, the two sisters had a run in the sunshine! We've had a few days of GLORIOUS weather and it was wonderful to see proud and happy Adeline running up and down the ramps at the University calling for her little sister to chase her, which Vivi was happy to do.
Yep, another month, and my girl is marching (and running and jumping and climbing) away from her babyhood at breakneck speed. Lots of big stuff for our girl this month.
Vivian got her first haircut. It was time...most days she looked like a baby chick that had just had a tumble in the dryer, and I was always fussing with her hair, trying to get it out of her eyes. I do miss her crazy baby hair, but she's totally rocking the pixie cut and now it will grow out nice and thick and even - that's the plan, anyway. David is a little more bothered than I am when people compliment him on his handsome son, so we make sure Vivi has a headband or some pink when she's out with her Dad.
Vivian had some other firsts this month, including her first snow. It was only a tiny bit, but it made a big impression on her and she still talks about it a lot.
Vivi is a big talker. She got too many new words to count this month - I'd say her vocabulary has to be around a hundred words now - and she is starting to put them together. Dada shoe from last month has become "Daddy's shoes" as she refines her pronunciation and learns how to add the s's. She uses her words and those eyes to get most of the things she wants. Who can resist "Up peese, Mama" or "Lap peese, Daddy" or "Peese sing Moon, I See" (I See the Moon) or "Peese Daddy, bite of cookie, peese Daddy. Bibi (Vivi) bite peese!". She has also learned a really nasty-toned "NO!" from Adeline and she uses it A LOT.
Vivi stopped using signs this month, except for the sign for "music" which she uses every time she hears it.
She has started to call herself by name - Bibi. It sounds a lot like "baby" so most people think that's what she's calling herself, but it's definitely Vivi.
She also calls our cat by his name. "Zephyr" comes out "Dephyr" most of the time and it's super cute. He is SUCH a patient dude and they are building a lovely relationship, mostly around air kisses and napping together.
Vivian tried to turn "Mama" into "Mommy" and "Nana" into "Nanny". I guess she went from Dada to Daddy and then thought the rest of us needed the "ee" sound as well. Nope. I'm a Mama until I become just Mom.
Vivi still loves to kiss and hug - her family and anything else that she particularily likes, including pictures in books.
Vivian has started to have some definite ideas about fashion, which is totally new to me as Adeline still has next to no interest in what she wears unless she's picking a fancy dress for a fancy occasion. Lately one of Vivian's favourite looks is Adeline's swimsuit top worn over her clothes along with the doctor badge from the medical kit. She is VERY insistent that we put the bikini top on for her and then she makes us look with her until she finds the badge and then she happily wears this outfit all day. She also has a clear preference for a dress and leggings over any sort of pants.
Viv loves books. Some of her favourites this month include "Cookie's Week", "Hush Little Polar Bear" and "The Nice Book".
Vivian can really sing. She often doesn't have all or even most of the words but the melody is there and she's in tune and even strangers can tell what song she's singing. She even "sings" songs like "Frere Jacques" that we have never actually sung, but that Adeline plays on the violin. Her favourite songs to sing are "Happy Birthday", "Jingle Bells", "The Snowflake Song", "Let it go" (yes, Adeline is still pretty Frozen obsessed), "I See the Moon" and "Little Bird Fly Through my Window".
We listen to music in the mornings after we get home from dropping Adeline at school. My choice would be the classical music station on the radio, but most days Vivian chants "DRUM! DRUM! DRUM!" until I give in and put the traditional Vietnamese music cd on. She like to get her drum and play along.
Vivi finally started eating things that aren't beige! Woohoo! She is now a regular eater of many fruits including banana, apple, pear, watermelon, cantaloupe and grapes (her favourite) and she will eat some veggies as well like peas, carrot and sweet potatoes.
Lemon yogurt is still her favourite food.
Vivian can count to two and really knows what "two" means. She loves to hold two stuffed cats and walk around saying "Two cats! Two cats! Two Cats!" She also knows a few shapes - circle, star and heart.
Vivi is way less scared of things than she was last month when she was continually worried about things that might bite.
Vivi was looking down the storm drain and then fell flat on her face and got a nosebleed. Adeline came to the rescue with the ice pack and napkins from her lunch kit and it was soon taken care of.
Vivian has started to play more on her own. She is usually just a few feet away from me, but now she's playing and exploring instead of hanging on my pants and crying as I do some dishes or tidy up a bit. I can even occasionally go to the bathroom without her following me in there asking to be picked up. It's been a long time coming and I really appreciate it!
Vivian loves to play "Ring around the Rosey" and do finger plays like "Here is a Bunny With Ears so Funny", "A Ram Sam Sam" and "Open Them, Shut Them".
Vivian is the peek-a-boo master. She gets very creative with her peek-a-boo.
We had a lot of DRAMA when Vivian tried to flush Adeline's Elephant down the toilet. Elephant is Adeline's very special lovey and she was so extremely upset that David had to take Vivi out for the afternoon so that Adeline and I could work through it together and count down the minutes until Elephant emerged from the dryer. Adeline is not a kid who is comfortable expressing hard emotions, so it was actually good for me to see her being so very sad and mad and dealing with it in a really appropriate way. Once Vivian came home Adeline told her "I love you and you're always my sister and you're a cute baby, but you CAN'T TOUCH ELEPHANT ANYMORE". Fair enough.
Vivian is definitely thinking about some big issues these days. As she's falling asleep she asks over and over again "Mama back?". She wants me to reassure her many many times that Mama always comes back, Adeline always comes back, Daddy and Nana always comes back and that her bottle always comes back.
Vivian had a lot of wakeful sleeps this month. A combination of wondering if Mama really does come back and lots of teething. Vivi got some new molars this month and is up to 11 teeth now.
Words I would use to describe my baby girl (yes, she'll always be my baby girl) are happy, curious, stubborn, quiet, funny, calm, loving, chatty, beautiful, smart and affectionate.
The time is going too fast. I just love the age Vivian is at now...but then what age don't I love?
Wowza...that went by fast, didn't it?
So so so many good posts I didn't make in November...
The fourteenth anniversary of the day I met my sweet husband (we celebrated with cough medicine shots - the good stuff the pharmacist keeps behind the counter). I tried to find a picture of us looking young and in love from that time period, but we seem to be smooching in all of them...
The fifth anniversary of the day Adeline was first placed in my arms (we celebrated with a round of tylenol for every single person in our family). I love my sweet and sassy big girl and the day we met is one of the truly memorable days in my life.
Adeline's first "gig" playing at a downtown restaurant (we celebrated with waffles and a trip to the clinic for two out of the four of us).
Vivian's first snow experience. (we celebrated with hot chocolate and opening up new boxes of tissue for every room in the house). As you can see, it wasn't much snow, but Vivi and Adeline were both out there before breakfast with their pajamas under their snowsuits trying to make the best of it.
So yeah...busy...and snotty. David is STILL sick more than a month later and my cough is still hanging around. My hope is that we've gotten our winter sickness out of the way now and we can all be feeling good for the Christmas holidays!
16 months already. It's hard to deny that my baby girl is turning into a toddler. Vivi is so sweet and funny and wonderful these days, so here's a very random list of where Vivi is right now.
Vivian is SO HUGGY. All day long I hear "Hug Mama" and she grabs whatever part of me she can reach, gives it a squeeze and says "mmmmmmm" or sometimes "mmmmmmmm, NICE". Super, super sweet. I also hear a lot of "Hug peese" and I have to stop what I'm doing and give her a hug.
Vivi needs a hug and a kiss for even the smallest of bumps and owies.
Vivian is working hard to learn to jump like Adeline and she can get a good bounce going and is often getting one foot off the ground.
Vivian loves to chase Adeline and Adeline loves to be chased!
We go to a weird park where people dump their old riding toys in the tennis court and Vivian can finally scoot around on the little cars.
She loves to jump on the bed with Adeline, but she does it on her knees, thankfully. Adeline's bed is only about 18 inches off the ground, so while I worry about them falling out, I can't say no the gleeful giggling that this sister activity brings on.
Vivian loves to go to bed. When she's getting tired she starts saying "Ni-night, please" and she tries to take your hand and lead you to the stairs. When you do finally say "It's time for ni-night", she crows with delight, smiles wide and RUNS to bed. She falls alseep easily most of the time and she naps around an hour and half during the day and then sleeps from 7:30 to 6:30. There are usally a few wake-ups in the night, mostly in the first few hours, but she tends to settle back to sleep with my help after not too long and she's rarely crying, just awake.
Vivi is still co-sleeping. It's not my first choice and it is hard for me sometimes, but it's really what she needs right now and I think it's really good for our attachment.
Vivian really likes to be "bootay" (pretty) and she loves to check herself out in the mirror.
Vivi wants a tiny pony-tail or a clip every day and she mostly leaves them in. Adeline is really into hair accessories right now, and Vivi wants to do EVERYTHING just like Adeline.
VIvi loves to check herself out in the full length mirror and she will often exclaim "Oh!" as she catches sight of herself.
Vivian likes to sing along to "Let it Go" when Adeline is singing. It's pretty darned cute to watch her throw her arms in the air and exclaim "Le i go! Le i go!".
Vivian really loves to sing and all day long I hear either the words or just the tunes of songs coming out as she plays. "Happy Birthday" is probably her favourite song to sing and she's getting pretty good at it. I even hear Adeline's violin pieces being sung/hummed by Vivian sometimes. I think we might have two musical girls in our family.
Vivian really likes to go outside and she is thrilled to go to the park with her Daddy and Adeline.
Right now Vivi is ALL ABOUT transportation - especially busses. As soon as she's strapped in the car seat or stroller she starts chanting "BUS BUS BUS" and when we see one she is THRILLED and yells BUS! BUS! THE BUS! THE BUS!" and grins and giggles and wiggles. She is also a fan of trucks, vans, ambulances, fire trucks and planes. Luckily for Vivi we walk a pretty major bus route to get Adeline to and from school and we live under the float plane path so on every walk she is guaranteed to see a few big trucks, at least one bus and often a plane.
Vivi is also really into watching for birds and she knows the difference between "Crow bird" and "E-gull (seagull) bird" and just plain birds (the various chickadees, sparrows, finches and juncos we have in our yard this time of year).
Vivian knows LOTS of words. I can't even count them all, although lots of them you have to speak Viv-ese to understand. Here are just a few of her most used ones. Tiss (kiss). Hug. Mama. Dada. Adelie. Nana. Cat. Dogga (dog). Bird. Monkey. Owl. Bun (Bunny). Book. Bus. Cool Bus (school bus). Pane (plane). Tuck (truck). Car. Back. Home. Work. Cool (school). Bed. Shirt. Shoe. Ocks (socks). Pants. Peese (please). Up. Hurt. Ni-night. Birt (blanket). Nice. Uh-oh. Yesh (yes). No. Ba-ba (bottle). Milk. Apple. Meat. Cacker (cracker). Rice. Yogur (yogurt). Milk. Hot tea. Wet. On. Off. Open. Again. Eye. More. Help. Nose. Mouf (Mouth). Ears. Neck. Cheek. Mineminemine (I'd like that) A bite (I want some of what you're having). Bite? (I feel worried about that) and Bite!!! (I feel scared).
Vivi is worried about or scared of lots of things right now.
Vivian is using lots of word combinations as well. She likes to tell you who stuff belongs to, like "Dada's shirt" and "Adelie's milk" and throughout the day she often runs through her list of where everyone is - "Dada work, Adelie cool, Mama home". If I go out for awhile she gleefully exclaims "Mama back! Mama back!" when I get home and when she wakes up and I'm not there she calls "Mama back, peese. Mama hug, peese". One of her favourites is "Ocks off, peese" (socks off, please). I was really hoping she wouldn't be another naked kid, but she already wants her clothes off every chance she gets and she really doesn't like socks or slippers.
As Vivi is falling asleep she likes to list off everyone in her family in her sweet little sleepy voice. Mama. Dada. Adelie. Nana. Cat. Mama. Dada. Adeline. Nana. Cat...
With some encouragement, Cat has taken Lemur's place as Vivi's bedtime lovey. We have three cats so that there is no chance of being without. Vivi loves Cat and she falls asleep rubbing his tail on her cheek or twiddling his ears. Cat isn't the softest or cuddliest of stuffies, but Viv seem to prefer a small firm friend that she can tuck under her chin.
Vivian has really started to play this month. Her favourite toys are baby dolls, little people and animal figures, busses, trucks and cars, balls and musical instruments - especially drums.
Vivi has no interest in television, although if Adeline is watching something that has a catchy theme song, she'll race to the living room to dance to it. Vivian watched television all day long in Vietnam, so I worried that she'd be hooked on it, but it seems now that there are better things to do she's not interested.
Vivian would very much like to spend the whole day sitting with me or her Daddy reading books, singing and doing fingerplays. We, however, need to do other things in the day, which sometimes leads to some whining and crying and pant leg tugging.
I do think Vivi would prefer to spend almost every minute of the day and night touching me. Even though we're always in the same room, it's not enough for her most of the time and she wants to be touching me, even if that means hanging on my leg as I do dishes.
Vivi loves books. Her favourites right now are "Night Cars", "Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you see?", "Wheels on the Bus", "Five Little Monkeys" and "Everywhere Babies". "Everywhere Babies" has continued to be one of Adeline's favourites and it has never left our book shelf even when all the other board books got boxed up. If you have a gift to buy for a new little one we highly recommend this book - it celebrates every kind of family, it's bright and engaging and my girls both love it.
How do I put this? Vivi isn't much of an eater. She is growing and healthy and full of energy and I don't know how she does it as she seems to survive on a diet of mostly lemon yogurt and crackers and not even very much of those. She's also very inconsistent and some days will act like corn (or eggs or banana or whatever) is the BEST FOOD EVER and will eat a big serving of it and then she will refuse it every single time after that. I think she gets enough dairy through milk and yogurt and protein is okay as she will often eat some meat as long as it's easy to chew and she gets enough carbs although I wish she'd eat healthier ones than crackers (even the best I can find are still pretty nutritionally void) but fruits and vegetables are just not something she wants to eat and I just never feel like she eats enough of anything. We keep offering healthy choices meal after meal to see them go in the compost, and all of us eat lots of tasty and healthy foods in front of her, but that's all we can do. I do make a vegetable soup that she sometimes likes and it's one of our go-to foods, but lately she's refusing that as well. It could drive me crazy if I let it! I supposedly only ate crackers and gravy for about a year of my life, and I turned out okay, so I know Vivi will as well.
Part of her not eating may be that she is rejecting the high chair, but at 16 months I'm not quite ready to have her sliding off a regular chair at the table. I do look forward to getting rid of the the high chair though!
Speaking of growing...Vivian is in the 90th percentile on the North American charts. People often think she must be over two, because of her size and her words.
Even though summer is long over, Vivian is still getting browner and browner. She was so pale in Vietnam but now she's a lovely shade of caramel brown.
Vivian grew a freckle on her knee this month. I tried to wash it off.
Vivian is not a fan of baths over 5 minutes long or showers.
She does love her toothbrush though. Giving her the brush with some water on it will almost guarantee you ten free minutes to get something done.
She also likes having her hair brushed and having moisturizer put on. She's a dry, dry girl and needs cream many times a day on her itchy spots - mostly her cheeks and the back of her neck.
Vivi loves to laugh. And giggle. And guffaw. You just have to laugh along with her.
Words I would use to describe Vivi right now are loving, cautious, curious, smart, gorgeous, calm, easy-going, sometimes serious, sometimes silly, affectionate, quiet, stubborn (in a good way) and happy.
I just love my sweet girl! Growing and changing right before my eyes.
Can you believe it? Our sweet little Vivi has been with us for six whole months already. Some days it feels like we were just in Vietnam yesterday going through one of the hardest times of all of our lives and other times it feels like we've been home forever.
We didn't take many pictures of our first moments, first days or even first weeks together. Vivian was so scared and so sad that it just seemed disrespectful to be taking her photograph. I don't even know if I should share those photos now, as they are just so hard to look at. Even when she isn't crying, the pain and fear is there in her eyes. But I do want people to know the truth about our adoption, so I guess I'll share this picture from what some would celebrate as our "Gotcha Day".
Not much to celebrate in this picture is there? It sure feels like "Gotcha" in the worst sense of the word. Poor Vivian was terrified and shrieking and shaking her head no-no-no-no over and over again. Adoption is a beautiful thing that brings families together, but it always starts with profound pain and loss. The pain of losing your birth family, the pain of living in institutional care and the pain of losing everything and everyone you know in an instant. Yes, children are resilient and love can move mountains, but these aren't the kind of experiences that can be loved away in just a few months. Vivian was so well attached to her nou-nou and she grieved hugely for a long time, but she knew how to love and she was able to open her heart to me enough that I could give her comfort and security right away and then our attachment could grow into the deep and loving thing it is now. It's still a work in progress as Vivian still has fears and clings to me tightly so that she won't lose me, but over the last six months we've seen her blossom and relax day by day as we prove to her in every moment that family is forever.
So here she is today, after six months in the loving arms of her family - Vivian!
Happy. So happy.
Growing (six pounds and four inches in six months)
Filled with love and laughter and hugs for her Mama all day long.
Always with a song in her heart and a dance in her step.
Curious and learning every moment.
Beautiful inside and out.
And me? I couldn't be happier. What an amazing thing it is to be given the privilege of being Mama to such a sweet and tender soul and to be the one there walking beside her on this journey.