31 August 2009

School Eve

Here it is the School Eve! Julia is anxious, but did manage to get dressed and ready for the day mostly by herself and without too much prodding. We did some reading work this morning and she was pretty patient working on a new book that is filled with new words. It is interesting how she remembers some words from book to book and some just go right past her. I too down a new group of sight words to work on. We walked the dog and now we are going to get the backpack and lunch box "ready."

So far, so good.

And she has on a new pink dress and is walking around with a pink magic wand. So far, she has not wished to stay home tomorrow.

Much later.

I kept our activity level very low stress today. Julia and I visited the school which was pretty empty and dimly lit. We visited the office and asked a question. We went through the library and saw a few aides who have worked with Julia. We went to her classroom which was open but empty and we left some supplies there We found the name cards for the students, and I read all the names to Julia. Then we left and went to buy sneakers for gym. When we got home, we put her old lunch box in the drier and packed her backpack. We didn't buy new ones for this year to see if having the familiar pack and lunch box will not be so jarring (and because I am cheap. Both the lunch box and the backpack are a bit worn but fine. Cheshire spoiled me on this stuff. She loved the $1 backpack she bought in 3rd grade and used it until 8th.).

Julia's new clothes have been in her closet for more than a week and she has been wearing them when she wants to.
Everything to ease the transition! Will it work? Will there be few screams tomorrow?

I have no idea.

She took a bath after we got home because we begin the new therapy schedule today and Julia's therapists were scheduled to come from 3 until 7:30. I didn't want to start the bath routine so late. We did have a dinner break but once again, this is an intrusion into our family rhythm. Ah, we change.

In Fung Shui, they say that if you change a certain number of things in the house, 21, I think, that the chi, life force, of the house will change. I am beginning to believe that it is also true about a person -- change diet and routine and reading, etc., and something in the spirit changes too.

This has been a very upsetting day in the adoption world. Very recently, the mother of a little girl who was adopted from China two years ago, was arrested for the murder of her daughter. The mother had a long, hard road to adopt this child, and the adoption community and her agency really went to bat for her. It sounds like the little girl was home for about a year before she died. We question the why -- was the mother so overwhelmed by a difficult child? Did she reach out to anyone? Was the someone to talk to? I don't mean that a difficult child is any reason for violence, but there are plenty of parents who cannot admit to the challenge of raising a child who may not be attached, who may tantrum and scream most of the day or reject the parent's every attempt to parent. Who knows if more support would have helped in this case? I can feel the sadness in the air.

I spent almost an hour tonight talking to one of Julia's teachers about plans, ideas, and activities for Julia. She asked about how Julia was feeling and what she could do to ease the transition to school. I am so grateful for the people who are on our team, who are our support, who do so much for Julia. We are so lucky. We are so fortunate.

29 August 2009

Saturday Finally!

The buyers cancelled their contract in the late afternoon yesterday. My lawyer called -- actually his mother, who is the lawyer working on the estate while her son works on the property --Oy! We are going to have such a bill. It was as I expected but silly me, I wanted something a bit more personal from the Buyers. It was probably for the best that there was just a formal fax breaking the contract because the repairs were not done. Actually, the tank was not part of the written repairs, but we get their drift.

Our really great real estate agent called, commiserated, and then told me about the calls she received after the house was under contract. As a good agent, she kept all those numbers and perhaps the house will not really have to go back on the market.

I also had to write a letter to my sibs letting them know that we might have to split the initial cost of the remediation. I guess we are very lucky that our parents did not leave debts for us to split.

Much later now

It was a lovely day. So many lovely days. We walked the Farmers' Market. Passed by all of the bakery booths and found one that has GFCF muffins. We bought two and one was pretty good. We found delicious raspberries, great tomatoes, and a bowl full of tomitillos which will turn into salsa tomorrow. We came home and Julia did some therapy. David and I did chores around the house and I fit in an hour of reading (Much more about that in a later post.). Then we had lunch in our favorite Vietnamese noodle shop -- the one we are going to bring house guests to! They have a cold noodle dish that the three of us inhale. Then, came a buying spree -- a new toaster oven (ours has not been working well for months now), a small rice cooker, and a new radio/CD player/ipod dock for the kitchen. Oh, and Julia was rewarded for a week of working on words and reading with some new little pets. As we were heading into Target to look at appliance and find the little pet, David asked if Julia would go and see Ponyo is we bought a little pet. Julia said yes, we asked a few times to make sure. And we went to the movies!!

You must understand that movies are what we do. We have been in mourning for the last few months since Julia said that she never wanted to go to a movie again. In general, movies are too noisy for her. It is not just the loudness -- and American movies are loud -- but the intensity of the sound tracts. Seeing Ponyo was perfect. We are all such fans of Hayao Miyazaki, and he tells the story of a young and overeager goldfish named Ponyo and her quest to become human. It is a sweet and gentle movie. Soft. The subject matter of a little fish that wants to be a girl, and transforms back and forth a few times fits into Julia's fantasy perfect. She loved the whole thing.

To make it easy for her, we did equip her well. We put foam ear plugs in her ears and cover those with ear phones. I've tried the ear plugs which are pretty effective as a sound block. There are a few kid movies coming out that might interest her. We'll see how she responds when we bring up going to the movies again.

We have been moving towards the GFCF diet for almost a month and have really been following it for a week. This morning we enjoyed the GFCF bread with our eggs. No, it is not like the regular wheat breads that we like, but we've been off wheat bread for about 3 weeks and even Julia thought that today's bread tasted good.

28 August 2009

Oh, I am in the worst mood today. Just miserable -- that miserable feeling that takes over one before real acceptance sets in. Calls about our contaminated soil ate up my morning -- the lawyer, the realtor, NJ DEP, and two remediation experts. I squirm under the tasks. Everyone is being very nice and helpful -- the DEP, not so much, but according to the guy I talked to, their budget has been cut, there is no one to do the inspection work, etc., etc. This does not bode well for a speedy cleanup. Even without that "inside" information, my lawyer and realtor told me that the hardest part of the job is getting the "no further action" letter from the DEP which will finally allow me to walk away clean.

And I haven't heard from the buyers yet.


I just want to scream, IDON'T WANT TO DO THIS!!!!

But I can't do anything else. I have to get into the garden and do some cleanup. The garden has to help because nothing else does. All I really want to do is to take a nap -- escape? Probably.

I am past denial. I've made the phone calls and began the plan making, but I am a long way off from full acceptance that the Bloomfield will be mine for months to come.

And just one more thing (Oh, I don't mean that!), it is afternoon in Wisconsin and way after noon in New Jersey. I have not heard anything from the buyers. If I was supposed to be closing on a house next Thursday, yes, the closing was on Sept 4, and was leaving an apartment that I had given notice to, I would be frantic. My frantic would have included getting in touch via lawyer or realtor with the sellers. Are they just in shock? Or what??

Gotcha Day +3

We did not take many pictures of our meeting Julia. We decided to spend the time focused on her instead of snapping away. This is different from lots of families receiving their children, but then again, Julia is different from most children coming home from China. She was beautiful. she was so small for 5 and a half, she was terrified, she was ecstatic. Most importantly, she decided that we belonged to her and she hung on hard.
Three years ago today, we met our darling second daughter. She has transformed our lives, challenged us on so many levels, and give us so, so much love. There is no way to imagine life without our spicy dragon, our Julia ZhuKuang Buchko Schanker.

26 August 2009

Julia and I went to an open house for her class on Tuesday, and Julia had a pretty awful melt down just before we left the house. This hasn't happened in a long time and she is so anxious about going to school.

I held her through a lot of the melt down and tried everything that I could to calm her down. Nothing that we usually do worked; Julia would calm for a moment and then ramp herself up again. Finally, I was feeling pretty desperate and started telling Julia, "You are safe." I suddenly felt that I was in the right place, and said over and over that she was safe, that I brought her to school every day and picked her up every day, that I was not going to leave her, that she was home, home in Wisconsin, that she would never go back to China, That I would never leave her, ever. I became very intense, speaking over her cries and threats to hurt people, speaking through and insisting. It took Julia awhile to hear me. When she finally did, she looked at me with big eyes and two tears came out of her eyes. She smiled at me and we played a little together before we left for school.

The school visit went very well. Rowan greeted Julia on the walkway to the playground and Julia was so happy to see her. She was incredibly appropriate as she said hello to the kids who were there.

Then yesterday, Julia was standing on the stool in front of the bathroom sink while I was doing her hair. I was taking out the elastic that she had put in. The hair was wrapped around the elastic and so I was pulling hair and hurting Julia as I was taking out the elastic. I was trying to keep her calm and she was getting angry. I did not think she would try to hurt me but she banged her head back and hit my lip. Oh, it hurt! and it made me angry. I had to put her out of the bathroom and into the hall to get myself together. After I calmed down, I was able to take her back into the bathroom and did her hair. She was very apologetic and I was still hurting. I realized that I had the chance to say something special to her and I sat her down and told her that even though I was angry and hurt that I still loved her and that she was still my dear little girl. That nothing stopped me from loving her. And she told me that she understood. I think that she did.

Julia is anxious about the beginning of school. David said regression, and it feels like regression. She is angry more often, but she has also started to tell me that she needed to "get the angries out." Hugs work, and we will find other things that work. I find it incredible that amidst the turmoil that she is feeling right now that Julia is still moving forward somehow. She will find her way. I know that she will.

Julia does not know what before and after means. She understands with visual cues and in context, but does not really know what those words mean.

Ok, enough Julia.

I got some bad news today. The oil tank was dug out of the driveway of my mother's house, and it had many, many holes in it. The soil around the tank is definitely contaminated with oil and now I am responsible for cleaning it up before the house can be sold. All of the contaminated soil must be dug out and disposed of. There is no way to tell right now, how much soil we are talking about. The state in involved with this, and there are permits and testing and inspection before we get a "no further action required" certificate. I will get a state EPA case number. Because of the contamination, the city of Bloomfield will not give us a Certificate of Occupancy which we need to sell the house. Our realtor says that Buyers usually walk away from this kind of situation and I am waiting for that call. The cost of such remediation is quite significant. Undoubtedly, this will prolong probate.

This news knocked me for loop! I did not realize how much I want to be done with the estate work, especially the selling of the Bloomfield house. I have been holding my breath, hoping for closing next week, and knowing in my gut that something was going to happen. What I hate most of all is doing all the repairs on the house and now knowing who to call or how the work is being done. But going out to Jersey to watch them dig up the tank today would have been crazy. Being 800 miles away is just really out of my comfort zone, and constantly asking Barbara and her family for help in opening doors or checking on things is awful. I feel like such a leech.

And now, it may be months.


24 August 2009

Monday observations

Julia had OT this morning and Annie tried to get her to sequence a series of dots. Annie had prepared a pattern staring with two dots and progressing to five dots. Julia was supposed to jump from dot to dot according to the pattern. Julia memorized the four-dot pattern and then did only that. Annie changed her tactic and asked Julia to make a pattern, starting with two dots and progressing to 6. Then, they "read" and tapped the drawn pattern.

All this took almost 45 minutes and our entire OT time. I think that Annie was exhausted by the time it was over.

What I noticed:

This was a more math-related task than literature based, so Julia was not really interested in doing it. She also perceived it as hard. She said this immediately. And so, Julia's focus shift quicker then the bunnies that disappear into our garden, and kept shifting to the mirror, to toys in the room, to her shoes. Then, she had to go to the bathroom. She peed but I don't know how much she really needed to at that moment and how much she wanted to get out of the task. She took a long time in the bathroom, like she usually does, and I got frustrated with her. I didn't want her to waste her precious time with Annie. I told her of my frustration.

Back in Annie's room, I told Julia to focus and Julia tried very hard and with a lot of reminders and help, she was able to do the sequencing task. She was very interested in my happiness over her accomplishment of the task.

What I see:
-Julia can focus
-When Julia perceives a task is hard for her to do, she doesn't want to focus on and does not focus
-When Julia doesn't focus, she can't do the task and her perception of something being too hard for her to do is reinforced
-But Julia wants to please me
-To please me, Julia will attempt, with support and reminders, a task she perceives is too hard
-When Julia accomplishes the task, she wants lots of praise from me and is clearly pleased with herself.

If all she had to learn in school this year was how to read, we would be in a very good place. Our reading relationship has been building very well. Julia will usually, almost always, acquiesce to my directions to work on words and work on a book. I feel that she trusts my teaching of reading. If this trust can be transferred to her teachers, I think she will soar.

But then there is math and everything that is related to math, including patterns and logic. It is hard for her -- No part of math thinking comes naturally, and I mean not counting, not telling time, not measuring. And so, this needs to be worked on the same way that we've worked on reading.

But I don't know how yet.

23 August 2009


Today, we acknowledge but are doing nothing special for, our 29th wedding aniversary! David and I as so fortunate. I cannot put into words (not that that ever stops me writing) the joy and fulfillment of our love and companionship. Neither of us is perfect, but I cannot imagine a more perfect soul and body to travel through this reality. We have grown and changed so much since we met 35 years ago -- EEEgads, 35 years! I still want him to be the first person I see in the morning and the last person I see at night. I still call him everyday at work to see how he is doing. I still want to talk about everything with him even though he still rolls his eyes sometimes. I would have no objection to another 29 years together!

Two thoughts right now before I dig into some PTO work:

The talk today in church was by a woman who teaching compassionate communication -- an utterly intriguing subject leaving me with the mere taste from a cup I would like to drink deeply of. In the middle of her explanation/stories, she used the phrase "Use your words!" It is a phrase that I remember using with Cheshire when she was first getting a hold of language, and now, it is a phrase that we use with Julia whose first impulse is to strike out physically.

She is getting so much better with that. Initially, I doubted the efficacy of social story books -- how could reading "Hands are not for Hitting" actually make a child stop hitting. But it is working. Really. Julia listens, she repeats the story lines, and it seems to go inside of her.

Last night, we read a social story book about being afraid. Julia was not too crazy about this one when it came home -- maybe it was too close to the untouchable core of her. There is also a page in which a little girl is bringing flowers to a grandparent who is clearly ill and in the hospital. Julia started talking about her Babja who died and who made Julia sad. We took times for hugs and talking and Julia, after beating around the bush for awhile, said that she was scared that Mommy and Daddy would die like Babja. I told her that I intended to be a very old lady before I died and that I had to take care of her for a long, long time. Then she changed the subject and asked if my hands were going to get as old as Babja's -- Julia is fascinated with old people's hands. I laughed at her and told her that they probably would but that old hands can love her, can make her noodles and rice, and can tell her lots of stories.

Then, we finished the story.

More later.

22 August 2009


Gorgeous, sunny day but a definite sweat shirt wearing day as well. I had hoped for a few more swimming days after we got back from all our traveling. I loved the weekend afternoon swims that Julia and I had during July, but . . . well, maybe it will warm up and maybe not. After being here for a little over 2 years, I am beginning to get in sync with the seasons. Last week, I decided to buy Julia winter jacket and snow pants and I've been collecting winter dresses and skirts from ebay for the past month. I have learned that short sleeves and dresses without tights or stretch pants are only for the first 2 weeks of school.

Julia is at the computer as I write. She is on the My little pony website and watching videos for "produces" and playing very commercial games. She runs from the computer to where her pony toys are and in passing calls out to me, "Friends are very important." I know that she means the pony friends and what she has just been watching but the message speaks volumes. She wants friends.

I have to add this to my list. I have not paid attention and cultivated someone for Julia. Even if the plate is full, which it seems to be right now, there has to be room for this.

A little later: David wanted to set up our new-to-us computer. It was time for us to buy a new computer and it was on the list for the summer, but on one wanted the computer at my mother's house that either Walter or Carol set up for her. It is newer than ours with a lot more space. We needed a new monitor (on sale at Best Buy) and a wireless card, but there you are for a mere pittance of what we thought about spending.

It is these things, ordinary and insignificant, that we took from my mother's house that touch me deeply-- the wooden tongs that I used when I was roasting peppers last week, a pile of white napkins that will come in handy this winter, a second wood rolling pin, the very casual early fall jacket that I will put on very soon. The big things that I took from the house -- two chairs and two chests of draws are just stored, the chairs wrapped in clear plastic wrap as if they were steaks from Copps -- have no place yet in my house, but the small stuff is put in appropriate draws and will make an appropriate appearance when needed. They will serve as small reminders of where I came from, what I left, and what I wanted to keep close.

And now some guilty truth, I don't really miss my mother. She was not a good mother to me. She was adequate -- food, shelter, clothing, and good education adequate -- and these days I am beginning to believe that adequate was good enough for a start (And I know that so so many children have no where near that start). Somehow, I cannot shake the feeling that I was good for her, I stretched her (not as much as would have been really beneficial to me), but what I learned from her was want, lack of generosity, lack of support, and not the kind of love that I needed to flourish as I grew. Instead, it took a painful break from the family to find support and direction, a break that she and I never talked about -- but then, that was the family way as well -- never talk about anything important. When my mother was ill, she talked about what she wanted to wear after she died. That was about as intimate, as close to the soul as we got. When I returned to Jersey in June and she was close to unresponsiveness, I said some things to her. I told her that I supported her decision to die. I told her that I was sorry that she and I were such an unlikely pair to be mother and daughter. I told her that I loved her but that I was not sorry that I was living my life just the way that I wanted.

She frowned.

So I am grieving in my own, probably warped, way. And I feel free. And oh, so guilty for feeling it. I said to David the other day that I can now design a winter holiday card any way that I want which was something that just struck me. David looked perplexed and ask if I always hadn't done that? Well, yes, but I had her disapproval in my head, and the one year that I sent cards that included by Christmas and Hanukkah, she called me to say that she never wanted a Hanukkah card from me again.

What will my cards look like this year?

What I do miss, is the sense of a stable family of some sort. Without my parents, I am now responsible to make and keep what I want of family together and living. I have been doing this for years for myself and my family of choice, but I never felt the responsibility of it. Now, it is very clear. The small things that I took from my mother's house remind me that I had parents, I had a mother, who tried, however imperfectly, to make and keep a family. It is good to be reminded of that; it is good to believe that they tried the best that they could and grew and changed as they were able. The last proof of that was my mother's acceptance of Julia and my father's excitement that we were bringing her home even though he never got to meet her. After not supporting any of the decisions of my life, this last decision that they were able to support or reject was possibility the most important to accept. For Julia, it meant that she had a Babja to talk to on the phone and visit a few time and watch die.

21 August 2009


Julia and I are beginning this day slowly -- breakfast in front of Sesame Street and a bit of a cuddle. A commercial on PBS for a new show called Dinosaur Train and Julia is besides herself. Do people still tape tv programs?

I brought Julia to registration for school yesterday, and she did a great job. Registration is pretty boring for the kids and there is no reason to even bring them, except that they are home and can't be left alone. There are forms to fill out a few fees to pay and a few grownup conversations. Most of the business was set up in the library and as I was filling out forms, she picked out a bunch of books and sat herself down to look at them. She even wanted to stay in the library, and did so very well, as I went to the office to deposit all the forms.

Yes, behavior is changing.

Julia's play has dramatically taken a turn to reflect that she is anxious about school. Since yesterday, lots of her dramatic play mentions school and she also gets angry quicker -- signs of her fear, I think. I laid out and she put on one of her new skirts bought for school. It is colorful and soft and Julia loves it so it was an easy dressing. I did remind her that the skirt was for the new school year. Oh, yes, we are transitioning.

This morning with Ellen (one of the line therapists), Julia is sharper and bossier (if that is possible). Much more of her loud voice and yelling when things are not exactly her way. This is her need of control kicking in when big transitions happen. The up side of all of this is still that Julia wears her heart on her sleeve. Her emotions are right there and up front, and so, much easier to deal with than if she was secretive, depressed, and quiet. More of the up side -- when the bossiness passes, Julia is really sorry for the behavior.

At one point, Julia was yelling and wanting to hit. I am not sure that she hit Ellen, but she fully intended to. I stepped in and cuddled with her, holding her in the way that protects me. It took about 10 minutes for her to get really angry, recognize her anger, find and get in sync with me, tell me that she was afraid (although not the why of her fear yet), and sing "row, row" with me. It was pretty much a picture perfect holding and calming, and I am very happy to see how we are working together. The months of doing this almost every day together paid off this morning.

I wonder if she will be a sullen teenager???

Our diet is transforming! We are almost GFCG. Yesterday, Julia asked for a glass of Almond milk, which I can now eat in my cereal, and she enjoyed the wheat free Cheerios as well. We have found spaghetti that we like, and Julia is really enjoying rice noodles with her soup. Although it is an inconvenience to do without wheat bread and pasta, and we are also missing milk based yogurt, this change is going remarkably smoothly. Summer with lots of fruit and vegies really have helped, and being home and cooking is an incredible plus. I give it another week before we are really GFCF and then I'll start counting our time.

At AT, Marilyn made the observation that Julia seems to like all bugs except for spiders. I thought about it and it is true. Julia collects and plays with every other sort of bug that she can catch. She tried to catch bugs that I would never handle, but she is deathly afraid of spiders. Of course, at this time in Wisconsin, especially this year, we have spider webs everywhere. Our vacation really encouraged the proliferation of webs inside and around the porch. And Julia is afraid. Marilyn hypothesized out loud that there may have been lots of spiders in her room in China, and I can agree with that. I never thought of it but the quality of the fear of spiders and of where she lived in China is the same.

19 August 2009

Bug box pictures

Wednesday, right?

Gosh, I am having trouble posting pictures on the blog. I took some yesterday of Julia with her bug box. That little plastic box is now faded -- it has been left outside and put in the garage and kept on the front porch. It has housed all sorts of slow bugs -- bugs that Julia can catch. The present occupants are beetles that are eating any green leaf they can get a hold of. I am sure the neighbors would let Julia catch and train any beetle she would like. She does try to tell the beetles what to do. I don't think they are listening.

I am stuck with more estate work today, but I am almost ready to mail a 5 page letter and an accounting to our lawyer. Hopefully, this is the beginning of the end for my part of the work. Now, if only the closing on the house would happen. The Buyers have gotten very picky about repairs and frankly, I don't give a damm anymore. They are first time buyers who want a perfect old house (yeah, like we've ever found that!) and I think the house is perfect and they are getting a deal. It is funny, but when I have sold the houses we've owned, I knew the many flaws and never thought the house was perfect, but this is my parents' house and I saw the years of care that they put into it and I THINK that it is perfect.

I will try to post pictures later after I reboot.

Oh, and does anyone know how to get pictures from facebook imported to my photoshop or blog? I am stymied.

18 August 2009

Bits of frustration seeping into paradise

Oh Gosh, I need to vent! It is a beautiful, perfect for gardening day out there and I am stuck inside doing estate work. There is still some back and forth negotiations with the buyers, I still have bills coming in that demand attention, and a few checks that I have no idea what to do with. And I have to really laugh at myself because what would I be doing if I was working full time! Well, the garden would get weedier for sure. This morning I will once again apply myself to the estate work so I can at least feel caught up with it.

Oh, and I need a fax machine. Everyone in Jersey has one.

17 August 2009

We are home from all of our vacations and trips. No more traveling for a few months! And my head is full of ideas -- for our playgroup, for Julia, for Julia's workroom, for PTO, for our house and our possibility of moving, for Julia's school work this year. I am almost too full. I could use a day at a desk to work!

Julia had a marvolous time at OT this morning. Doing some cutting work with such concentration, some good divided concentration, and willing to accept suggestions.

16 August 2009


I am posting lots of pictures because the pictures capture just a little bit more than my words can. We had such a good time with our Nancang travel group. It is splendid watching the girls grow. It is so nice to hear people tell us how well Julia is doing -- and these are people who saw the early days and so we don't have to explain. It is wonderful to see Julia respond to these little girls with so much love and care. Her behavior was caring and gentle to the little girls -- no threats of hitting or being mean to them at all. She played with them, helped them in the water, and hugged each one of them. On Sunday, when we did our annual Red Couch Picture, Julia declared that she loved being a pretty Chinese girl and she wore her Chinese dress all the way home. She didn't want to leave, but even then her behavior was that of an 8 year old, who doesn't want to leave, not that of a traumatized autistic kid. I am so proud of all her work.
This was a two step forward weekend which I often don't realize until we take that step back.


Ach! I am missing one family. Please someone send me a picture of the family who got away from me.


The faces of our wonderful girls who were adopted from JiangXi, China, almost three years ago.

And the newest member of our cohort who arrived in th US in February to join his sister and happy parents.

14 August 2009

Great Wolf Lodge -- China Travel reunion 3

We are here! Much like Wisconsin Dells -- pretty hokey with lodge-y decorations everywhere and Julia loves it! "It is so cute!"

We started our journey just before 6, and Julia woke up enthusiastically jut before 5. She is getting better at picking out her own clothes and getting dressed. The drive was smooth. David and I napped while the other drove; Julia only slept during the last 10 minutes. We still have some work on her vigiligence to do. Periodically, she would ask what Jaden (one of the girls adopted the same day that Julia was) was doing. She said she was going to hug Jaden when she saw her, and I asked if she was going to hug Valerie and Kevin too. (Jaden's sibs). Julia said a cautious yes, but added that she wanted to swim with Kevin and that he was a very nice boy.

So, we are here in Ohio before everyone else. Meerkat manor in one the TV, and David and I need a nap.

13 August 2009


Once again, Julia is getting much more angry with her therapist this morning than usual. She is really trying hard to control what she does and what she will allow Ellen to do. She doesn't want to make any choices for her schedule. I gave her a midmorning rice break but it doesn't seem to make much difference to her behavior.

I am gardening. And that is another paragraph or so for later.

12 August 2009


Well, my vitamins and new diet must be kicking in, or the stars are in a new alignment, or the gods are blessing me. I am excited and energized about my fall tasks. I've been working on PTO recruitment and have some of the board set and some old chair positions renewed and even a few new recuits. Just this morning, I wrote an entry on our play group yahoo group, and I hope to get that started again. The exhaustion of the late spring is gone!

What a summer!

Last night, I spoke to my friend, Jan, and told him about this odd feeling that I have lost my imagination. I have felt this for a few months now -- a fading away of the naratives that have always run in my head. I have always told myself stories which have entertained and sustained me through all sorts of hard times. Now, they are gone and I can't even seem to conjure one up. This is a scary transformation. I have been scaoring my mind and nothing seems to be left. So I wonder about my creativity. Where is it? And what will I do? I have always been the one to come up with ideas and games and plans and stories. My ego is also a bit attached here.

Jan gave me another take on this situation. He said that maybe I am living more in the here and now, and creating some magic out of what is in front of me.

Oh, I hope this is growth and a new productive phase of my life.

I just thought of all the change that I want to see in Julia, and then how scary this change is to me. I could laugh at myself! How does Julia know that the changes that she is going through are good ones? And shouldn't she be just as scared as I am?

Julia is having a rather rough morning. She is giving her therapist lots of back talk and resistance. She has had two time outs which are very rare these days, but she is also asking to be brushed (soft plastic brush firmly moved along her back, arms and legs) and also to be squished (Julia lays between two pillows when she is on her tummy, and pressure is applied to her back). These are two regulation type exercises, so it might make sense that she is asking for it on a day that she is having a hard time with her moods.

11 August 2009


Last night after midnight, Julia came into our bed and instead of finding her pillow and stealing as much of the covers as she can, she announced in the cheeriest of voices, "Hi! I'm here!" Ya' gotta' love that kid.

This morning, she couldn't wait for her first therapist to come but really doesn't want to play with her. It is very interesting to watch this dance. Julia asserting herself to play by herself and the therapist trying to play with her. Julia wants to ignore the timer and doesn't want to go outside.

Tonight, Julia decided that her new book is going to be The Cat in the Hat. I was going to do another shorter book, like Follow Me, Mittens, but she wants another Dr. Suess. We started it tonight, and there are soooo many new words, but she persevered through 9 pages. She knows the first two by heart but saying the right word and pointing to it at the same time is challenging. What she knows is not really the words but the sounds, she can repeat the lines as a whole lump of sounds. Now, she has to break those lumps down into words.

10 August 2009


Yesterday's shopping yielded more gluten free, casin free food, and we are easing into our diet this week. We travel again at the end of this week, just for the weekend, and I don't expect to keep to the diet for this trip. It will be another week before we fully embrace this diet. David is not that crazy about going wheat and milk free. I figure that we'll plan to do it for a month and see if it produces any change in anyone of us. Of course, I am more concerned about any change in Julia but I wonder about David and I.

The reality of this change is interesting. The soy yogurt I had this morning was nothing like my favorite greek yogurt, and Julia did not eat the glutten free toast with her egg. We are lucky that we are trying this during this time of year -- so many fruits and vegies are fresh. And truth be told, we eat a pretty unprocessed diet most of the time. Good bread, pasta, and cookies are the worst offenders for us and I bought a few kinds of replacement pasta and see how that goes.

Julia's OT this morning was good to see. Julia was not immediately ready to sit down and work but she was willing to power a scooter with her arms laying on her tummy. She scooted around the hall (on rugs which gave her much resistance) picking up little animals. She was willing to do all of this even though it was hard for her at times to move. Then she went back in the therapy room and put together small shapes acording to pictures to make bigger shapes. She was not competent at this but she was willing to accept help and stayed with it for the entire time that Annie allowed for it. Then she did some matching and although she was somewhat impulsive wanting to turn over more squares than was her turn, she also stuck with this activity for the entire short game.

This represents an incredible change from last year when it was almost impossible to get her to stay with any activity that became difficult, or which was hard for her to understand.

Tonight, I wanted to read The Cat in the Hat to Julia, but she wanted to read it herself. And so, I think that is our next book. She tried a few pages and she is recognizing words that she has had in her two other books. The kid is learning to read!

Julia is taking a long time to fall asleep these days and we wonder if it is time to stop laying with her until she is asleep. I am wondering whether we are keeping her awake or helping her fall asleep. I've been noticing, however, as I lay beside her and listen to her talking before she gets serious about falling alseep, that her talking is more real now. Not as much talk about who she is or what some movie character said. Instead, she asks real questions. Tonight, she said, "Mommy, do you like me?"

Yes, my dear, I do.

09 August 2009

Sunday morning

David is outside cutting the grass, I am lazing on the computer, and Julia has toys spread over three rooms but has come into the dining room to practice twirling. "Twirling" is a very hard work for Julia to say. I didn't sleep well last night -- too much comfort in my own house? -- wondering about all the changes that have come to our family over the past few years. We all resist change but each change has brought us closer to our full selves.

It will be a pool day today. Maybe we will see some kids Julia knows. And tomorrow, it is back to therapy. One more trip next weekend to see our China travel group and then home for a long haul. And school.

08 August 2009


We are home! And it feels so good. Julia is such a home girl. As we turned off the highway, Julia started cheering. We all tipped our hats at our pool and then headed another three blocks to our house. Julia really was so happy to be in her house with all of her things. Within 15 minutes, the entire livingroom floor was full of itsy bitsy toys. Then she enjoyed a bath and a spot of dinner, and took forever to fall asleep.

Last night, we watched a science program that had pictures of babies in utero and after birth. Julia asked about it and I told her that babies grow in their mom's tummy until they are big enough to be born. I said that Cheshire grew in my tummy.

And then, Julia asked me, in a very shy and smily voice, if she grew in my tummy. She knew the answer, but she was still asking. I told her no. That a Mommy in China had her inside her tummy. And then David said that we found her and adopted her. And Julia said that she was not going to live in China.

And then, she changed the subject by starting to fool around about other things.

Eight and a half years old, home almost 3 years, and she made the connection and asked the question. It is a beginning of questions, and oh, I hope that Julia can ask them all.

Tour of the Wine Country

On Friday, we went with a bus load of court clerks to the wine country north (I think) of Sacramento and visited four small wineries. The weather was incredible -- blue skies, warm in the sun, no humidity -- the wine was good, and Julia was a very well behaved girl.
At each place that we went, there was outside wandering places for a girl to get away from all the silly grownups.
Yeah, the grapes. Hearing about grapes, the wine process, and tasting different wines. One day, I'm going to learn more about wine.
Julia listened and knocked on the wine barrels.
Then, she was ready to order cases of wine delivered to our door.
Later, Julia found some sand to play with.
And I caught her pretty face.

05 August 2009

Crocker Art Museum

Julia at the entrance to a world of art.
No pictures of the art but you can tell by her face that she is contemplating something important. Actually, we spent an hour and a half at the museum and Julia loved it and asked many questions about the pictures.
Sitting on the front window ledge.
And just one more because she is just too cute.

Monday pictures

Julia and I began Monday morning at a little cafe in old town. We had eggs and sausage and the best buscuit that I've ever eaten. Julia scarfted it all down and was ready for lunch much too soon.
We found this very cool caboose in which a family was setting up a birthday party. Is that cool or what? Julia liked the outside and is getting better at posing for her mama.
What about this!! Julia still by the pool. Very soon after this she started getting wet.
That evening we had cocktails and dinner in the Train Museum. Anyone who loves trains should go there. There are lots of engines to look at and complete cars to walk through. It was a delightful evening, and within walking distance to our hotel.
Juli and David shake hands ov3r future plans in the mail car. I think it is something sneaky.
The sun sets over Old Town Sacramento.