International Adoption Book

Monday, May 26, 2008

Hitting The Roller Rink...

On Saturday, Matt and I decided to do something different with the kids. Ft. Lewis is large enough that it has its own skating rink. We thought it would be a fun experience (for the kids, of course) to give this new sport a whirl...

We gathered up our two bundles of energy and headed out the door for a "surprise". M instantly asked if we were going to Chuck E. Cheese's again (that was our last surprise, almost two months ago). Nooooope! He bounced up and down in his booster seat and kept trying to out guess where we were headed. Each time he'd make a guess, we'd say "Noooope" and the cycle of guesses would start all over again. C kept signing "Where we go?" I kept signing back, "It's a surprise... You will need to wait and watch."

As we pulled into the parking lot Matt turned to the kids and told them we were going into the building where we would put on skates so we could roller skate around a floor. When M asked "What's roller skate?" Matt replied... "It's similar to skateboarding but instead of the wheels being on the bottom of a board the wheels are on your feet."

We walked into the building, which was quite warm (sadly, there was no air conditioning), paid (it was very inexpensive at $10 for all four of us... Guess that's why there was no a/c), and grabbed our skates before selecting a bench to sit on. I helped C put her skates on while Matt helped M. Then we each put our own shoes on. I finished first and began to guide C to the rink; thankgoodness for the carpeting, otherwise I would have been in trouble trying to re-learn how to maneuver my nicely rounded bottom around on wheels. Just as we got the the edge of the rink, ready to step out onto the slick surface that makes gliding so smooth, Matt and M came up behind us.

I wish we had thought to bring our camera because the entire population practically stopped to watch Matt and I slip and slide while trying desperately to hold the kids in an upright position. M could barely get his feet underneath himself and instantly decided he hated roller skating. Matt drug him around the rink so painfully slow that it made the other skaters look as if they were Speedy Gonzales. Matt was hoping to get M to relax enough to begin enjoying the new sport. And poor C looked just like one of those cartoon characters whose feet are whirling so fast that all you see is the blur of their legs as they slip and slide across an icy lake. It was almost comical if it weren't for the fact that Matt and I were desperately trying not to tumble to the floor with the kids.

You make have noticed the title of this little post, "Hitting The Roller Rink"... This title was selected on purpose because Matt, M, and C, quite litterally, hit the roller rink (floor). I'm surprised they don't have bruised bottoms from the sheer number of times they each hit the floor. I must admit, though... Matt only fell once, though he instantly blamed that on C (we had to switch kids)!!! And though I did not fall, there were numerous times I was so nearly there that I'm amazed at the feat of staying upright.

After our first attempt at traversing the rink with two inexperienced skaters, one of the fabulous employees suggested we get one skate as a "walker" (this is a skate that's wheels do not move). We tried this with a much nicer effect, though the kids still weren't stable enough to "skate" on their own. M definitely got better by his third round, though after that he chose to sit on the sidelines and watch C attempt two more trips (very reluctantly). The only way we were able to get her to go with us two more times was to place her in between Matt and I. We were able to gain much more speed and had C giggling by the time we were through. We coaxed M out for a final trip but I had to skate backwards while holding onto both of M's hands as I had done for his and C's previous single journeys around the rink (for having not skated in more than 20 years, skating backwards was quite a feat, if I do say so myself). He emphatically REFUSED to allow his daddy to touch him and grumpily went around the rink with me one more time, but only so he could play a computer game when we arrived home.

Though we were allotted two hours, by the end of one hour we were pooped... Matt and I were drenched with sweat. My muscles were so weak by that time that just walking to the van became an experience in walking on jello. After we collapsed safely into the van, we asked if the kids enjoyed themselves. Neither M nor C claimed to have had any fun. Both of them decided they didn't like roller skating one iota and I wouldn't be surprised if they never wanted to go again... Darn, because Matt & I had a blast!!!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

2008 Earthquake (updated June 5, 2008)

Since May 12, 2008, the day of the now infamous 7.9 earth shattering quake in Wenchuan of Sichuan Province, the news has been reporting the devastation that has become China's reality. The loss of life has been horrendous. I've seen photos of some of the damage that C's orphanage, Hanzhong City SWI, incurred from the Wenchuan Earthquake (Hanzhong is 85 miles ENE from the epicenter). Initial reports put the death toll in Shaanxi Province at 61 with 176 injured (as of today, Shaanxi's death toll is 122 - the third highest). The damage to C's orphanage is fairly minor in comparisson to what others are dealing with, though it is still impressive by many standards. One outer wall has been completely destroyed and the children and nannies are all sleeping outside for fear of further aftershocks and damage. They are waiting for the buildings to be inspected, but in the mean time they are suffering with an infestation of mostquitoes. (See some photos and a map of orphanages affected by the Wenchuan Earthquake, including Hanzhong, by following this Half The Sky link:

As of this morning the current death toll is 69,127 people. Sadly, many younger school children were crushed in fallen debris, as the massive 7.9 quake occurred during their nap time. And many families have been torn apart by the grotesque death toll, with the 4,000 children who have been left orphans being sent to orphanages across the country.

With these numbers, this quake has now made the top 20 list of most devastating quakes in the world for a total of 5 that originated in China, including the two most devastating earthquakes in the world's history. The first quake originated in the town of Shensi of Shaanxi Province on January 23, 1556. The quake was estimated to measure an 8 on the Richter scale killing more than 830,000 people. Shaanxi and Sichuan Provinces share a border near Hanzhong City. The epicenter of the second deadliest quake was in Tangshan of Hebei Province (this province borders Bejing) with a 7.5 quake that officially killed more than 255,000 people, though some estimate that the actual death toll is as high as 655,000.

I get goosebumps every time I think about the children who are being left alone due to this humungous natural disaster. But I'm also very thankful that my daughter was not there to experience this crisis. I feel horrid just thinking about C's "boyfriend" who was her rock during her stay in Hanzhong. He is left to help pick up the pieces with the other children. I look at his photo and hope and pray that he (and everyone else) will remain safe and out of harms way.

Information regarding the deadliest earthquakes was gathered from the USGS site. You can review the information by following this link:

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Tooth Fairy Is Coming... Again!

M lost his third tooth!!! All three teeth M has lost have been from the center of the bottom row of teeth. I can tell already, now that the first two teeth have grown in, that he'll definitely need braces!!! Those poor teeth are all bunched together leaving the big adult teeth noplace to go as they arrive. Aww, the luxury of parenthood...

C is starting to complain about her teeth "hurting" and "falling out", though she doesn't have a loose tooth in the bunch! I think she wants to be just like her big (albiet by only 6 months) brother and get new teeth... That or she wants that $.50 that the tooth fairy brings!

Sorry folks... The tooth fairy is on a strict budget. Besides (as she so rightly reminded my husband), what is a 5 year old going to do with the money besides put it into the piggy bank?!?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Whew... What A Vacation!!!

I've been quiet on this blog for the last couple of weeks because we took a jaunt down south to visit my family. It's been our family tradition to go "diving" for Abalone (a muscle that is found under and around rocks burried within the thick kelp beds of the world's oceans. It is quite tasty but very expensive to buy or quite tricky to capture). The limit is 3 Abalone in your possession at any given time because this amazing little animal has been fished out in so many places. The men in my family began diving off the northern coast of California well before 1962 (this was the year my dad first began diving for Abalone). Much has changed since that time, but the family tradition is being carried on by a select few of the men of my generation. Though Matt "plucked" each creature on his own the previous trip, he had been guided and taught by the older generation of family divers. This year was quite different for Matt... He searched, found, and captured this ellusive animal all on his own and was able to fullfill his quota... We were quite proud of his strenuous efforts and showed our pride through a full blown standing ovation with the capture of his third Abalone!!!

This was C's first Abalone Diving trip, so the experience, for me, was even more spectacular. We went to our traditional diving grounds only to find that it was being over-run by a significant portion of the population of San Francisco. The "beach" (a very rocky area sparsly spotted with black sand) is located down a steep cliff with rocks waiting patiently below for a careless climber. Trails that were originally etched out by cattle cut slightly into the hillside allowing us a steep and slow climb down into the abyss below. The first day, M and C wobbly made their way to the bottom holding tightly to my arms, pockets, and waist for safety. Once we reached the bottom, I took C around to all the tide pools that had been left wide open by the significantly low tide, which revealed treasures not normally witnessed by those of us who don't dare to tread below the ocean's depths. C loved each new creature she found and readily touched starfish, baby crab, tiny baby eels that were found under rocks, all waiting patiently for the tide to return. M sat on a large rock and refused to touch a single critter.

The jaunt back up the cliff was even more treaturous as I helped my father carry his hefty weight-belt as he helped my mom and my 18 month old nephew back up the steep incline. With C and M clinging to myself, my mom, and my sister the long trek up the slope was tiring. Though M utterly refused to return to the family beach the next day, he did decide he wanted to dive into the ocean's depths with his daddy as soon as he was old enough. M's departure from the outing left me free to focus solely on C, making the journey down to the shore far easier and more enjoyable than the previous day.

Luckily, near our camp site there is a nice stretch of sandy beach allowing us to have a peaceful and easy walk to the ocean at our leasure. M enjoyed this trek to the water much more than the alternative and readily went with us. He was able to build sandcastles and proceeded to wage war on his neighbor (me)! He fired large cannons (rocks) onto my castle and was able to nock down my state flag (a seashell) in the process, declaring himself the victor! Needless to say... M had a blast (no pun intended) in his own way!!!

Upon returning to my parent's house at the end of the 5-day journey, Matt, my parents, my sister and her fiance, and I began tearing down our camping gear, cleaning up the mess that we made during our excursion, followed my several days of demolition on my parent's front yard. Dad is forever remodeling something, so this new project was not totally unexpected. Matt extended his leave by a few days in order to help Dad with the more difficult aspects of the project. We're planning another trip down to help further on July 4th.

During our vacation, M was able to continue with his school work. My mom noted the differences she saw in his school abilities. Our only dilemma in continuing to do home-based schooling is getting M involved in extra-curricular activities and allowing myself some time to attend school to further my sign language skills. If we can work better around these two major issues then we may consider continuing with this type of education, as it seems to work really well for M.

Our journey these past two weeks has been tiring, rewarding, fun, and exciting!!! And we cannot wait until next year's trip!!!