10:40 PM

I'll answer the question you didn't want to ask

I love them exactly the same.

Emery - 3 months home

The first I grew, the second I did not, but my love for my kids is identical.  In my first I see my husband looking back at me, with my second she is a bit of a mystery, but one thing is the same, the love.  One has been with me from the first spark.  We mourn that we missed the first 18 months for our other. 

Elora - 3 months home
I am not a love at first sight kinda mom.  I did not have that movie moment in the delivery room where the mom wells with tears as she is swept with all encompassing love. I didn't get it when I first saw Elora's photo. I did not get the youtube moment in all the adoption videos where the mom is awash with emotion. I guess it can happen, but not for me. It did come, that sweeping love.  For what ever reason it just does not happen for me instantly.  It took about the same amount of time for me with both kids.  Some time between the first and third month, it can sneak up on you, so I can't pin point an exact moment or tipping point.  I didn't love one faster than the other.  In every way I love them the same.

I parent them very differently. Mainly because they could not be more different.  One is quiet, sensitive, thoughtful, delicate and dainty.  The other one is Elora, a fearless tornado.  The only thing they have in common is that they are both very happy children with easy smiles.  I never really had to set boundaries with Emery.  You simply told him the rules and he followed.  He was heart broken if he made a mistake and scolding him would send him into sobs of sorrow.  To say he is an easy kid is an understatement.  He practically raises himself.  His love of rules and structure also lend him to be an amazing big brother to a baby tornado.  He is the worlds best tattle tale and I have come to rely on him as my secret weapon, almost as good as actually having eyes in the back of my head.
I do sit back and ponder how these diffrences will be interpreted by them in future.  Will Elora be convinced I love her less because I raise my voice with her more?  Will Emery be convinced that he was the one less loved because I spent all my energy on taming his sister?

Right now I think all is well and both kids feel loved and special.  Right now I am home with them 24 hours a day every day.  What does the future hold when I have to toss work into the mix?  When the terrible twos hit or as some say the worst is really three, in which case I still have to get each of them through that stage. 

One day, Emery and Elora, if you are reading this, please know, there is no difference in my love for you.  You have both taught me so much about love and I would have only been half of the person I am today if it were not for the both of you.  I love you each in the way you need me.  It may appear different but it my heart it was always the same.

1:25 PM

Elora at 22 months (4 months home)

I just wanted to document where we are now.  Elora is like a childhood on fast forward.  She is different every day.  I remember saying that with Emery too, but if that was fast forward this is turbo speed.  In this short time with us she has become so incredibly mobile and independent.  Gone are the days of wanting and needing to be carried.  She wants to give me grey hair by WALKING up and down the stairs with out help.  Turns out she was refusing food from me because she wants to only feed her self.  Regretfully she can not be trusted to do that safely either but we are practising and it is getting much better.  She wants a plate and utensils and every thing grown up.  She is not a cling on appendage any more either.  As long as I can answer her "Mama?" she is content to be on a different floor than me, or she will just take her self up the stairs to find me.  Her language is getting better every day and now grandma and daddy can understand her too, most of the time.  She now has some words that are more than just one syllable.  She wants to have a conversation with you so any question you ask she will reply "ya!".  It is the cutest thing ever.  I need to get it on film before "no!" arrives.  She has started singing and will do a little rocking dance while she sings, Baby Mine is her favourite song to sing and usually wants mama to sing along.  She used to look at a toy with confusion or simply bang at it.  Now she will ride her truck and caterpillar, play dolly and kitchen games.  She used to destroy a book in record time, delighting in ripping them to shreds, even a board book was no match for her.  Now a dozen times a day she brings me a book to read to her.  She has grown 3 clothing sizes in four months and 3 shoe sizes too.  (Oh poor us, more shoe shopping to do!)  Her hair has grown about 2 inches too.  Hair washing is the last thing about the water she still hates. Baths, rain puddles, splash pads, swimming and water tables are all happy places now.  The grieving cry, the yowling, heart breaking cry has been replaced with a frustrated toddler cry.  She used to delight in understanding me and showing me she could do exactly as I asked, just to get my praise.  The novelty of that has worn off and now she giggles and runs the other direction, just because she can.  Why, yes, that is still driving me nuts.

Yep, turbo speed.  It makes me proud and amazed but also sad to see how fast it all disappears.  She is loosing any baby things that remain each day.  I lift up a footie sleeper she wore just last month and sigh "remember when she was this small".  It's not fair, I already missed so much of her babyhood and now the last scraps of it are flying out the window every day.  She is unstoppable.  If I could only use one word to describe her, yep it would be, unstoppable.

9:34 AM

Having fun with my camera - Sunday snapshot

I had a really hard time choosing a photo this week.  We have had a busy month and my camera got out of the bag more than usual.  This first photo won the treasured spot for me not because it was technical or perfect but just because I love it.  I love the subject, my 3 year old on his birthday.

I also took this one at his dino party.  It got a lot of "likehttp://nihaoyall.com/2012/07/sunday-snapshot-the-little-white-church.htmls" from my friends, and I love it too.  It was more technical, better focus.  But I love what I love and I can't really be objective even when one is a better photo because my mama's heart sees something no one else does I guess.
This one also got a lot of attention from friends and I love it too, but since I was not the photographer, just the editor, I didn't feel I could enter this one in a contest.
This is another favourite of mine, but it got no attention from any one else.  The colour, the angles, the fact that I got out of the auto mode for this shot.  All these reasons endear this photo to me.
 Interesting what appeals to us as photographers versus viewers.  I think that must be the most difficult part of making a job out of something so creative and personal.  I definitely am learning to have greater appreciation for people who do this craft well.  Happy shooting!

Ni Hao Yall

P.S. I am still debating if I posted the "wrong" photo for the contest.  Tell me what you would have chose and why in the comments.

5:13 PM

It can feel lonley

There have been a few unexpected things that have come up since we became adoptive parents and not simply parents.  I was so sure that it would not be that different.  In a lot of ways it's not, or it's different because they are day and night.  It still kinda took me by surprise to find out that parenting Elora can have lonely moments.  Despite the fact that I really enjoy being a stay at home mom, I really enjoy her and I have an awesome network and support system.  I only really notice it when I am hanging out with only other adoptive moms.  Then the absence of being different makes me realize that the feeling of being different is there, a lot.
In many ways Elora "matches" our family, so we don't get as much attention from strangers as the typical multi-racial family.  Caucasians especially just assume she is just another blondie I birthed, we even get asked often if they are twins (!!!!).  When I tell them they are 14 months apart I guess they just assume we were gettin' busy a lot when we Em was 3 months old.  Actually we were attending our first adoption meetings, but I digress.  Asian people are the only ones who have guessed and asked me "why does she look so Chinese?"  So on the day to day we don't feel different because we look like a different family.  It is the other little things about how the world sees my baby in comparison to how I see her.

The world sees a neerly two year old who is still wobbly on her feet who only has words her mama can understand.  They think she is slow, they give her looks of pity.

I see an amazing,  smart, determined achiever. If only they knew how fast she has come from "autistic behaviours" to "with in age appropriate".  She is going to whoop life in the butt, I never worry about her in this department.

The world sees a baby who climbs into a stranger's lap with a big hug and they think she is so sweet and out going.

I see my child "mommy shopping", and worry about what I should have done, can do, to foster a better attachment to me.  I am not proud, I am ashamed and worried I have failed her.

The world sees my daughter holding your child's face to hers, pressing her forehead against his.  You worry about your child's safety.

I see a visually impaired child taking a good look at her new friend.

You see a child throughing a temper tantrum in public.

I see my daughter has "lost" me even though I am only 3 feet away because it is loud and she can't see me or hear me.  Or the light that you have not even noticed is blinding her.

You see a mother yelling at the top of her lungs at her child.  You think, how rude/mean.

I am a mother who can't use the mommy-means-business-look or any other non verbal cue because she can't see me.  I have no choice but to use my voice and I hate it just as much as you do.  It works, but it is not how I would choose to discipline my child.

So you can feel lonely.  Others are worried about things that you are proud about and your worries are pooh poohed.  I am so blessed to have a great adoption community both on line and in my life. I want to kiss the person who first heard me complaining about this feeling, they gave me the very wise advice to get out there and get my self a community.  She knew what I didn't, so now I am telling you, if this is the path you are taking get your self a community!  You may not even realize how alone you feel until you are walking the path with some one else who just gets it.

5:39 PM

We have been busy regressing...

Did you miss me??  Haha.  Well I have been keeping up with all of you but we have been on the down low a bit because little Miss E had a 2 week long regression.  I didn't know what to say about it.  She would not sleep, she was banging, She was battling me, she had moments of spitting out every thing I gave her, that was oddest of all.  I was screaming, she was testing, her language regressed, I was pulling my hair out.  I still do not know what that was all about but it tested us both.  It was incredibly frustrating to see my happy well adjusted, obedient, smart, daughter turn into this hot mess.  Honestly, I only had about one ounce of sympathy for her, because I KNEW full well she was capable of so much better.  I knew all along that no patience was not ideal but I had trouble summoning any thing but a consistent firm lead back to the normal we were all missing.  I waffled and I wondered, grief or terrible twos?
On the other side now I can say that I think it was a big ol' case of the terrible twos.  She was trying to assert her independence.  Unlike with my son though there was always a big question mark hanging over each temper tantrum.  Parenting her is different that way (more on that to come soon).  I parent firmly, I don't budge on rules much, good behaviour and manners are first and foremost lessons that we focus on.  There were times when I thought about giving an inch last week but I just know this girl's personality would have resulted in her taking a mile.  I did try to balance out our hourly disagreements with cuddles, kisses, and nursing her, and she resisted.  Regardless the week took a toll on us both and she disengaged from me and would not reciprocate the affection.
Slowly over a few days as her behaviour improved I found ways to praise her in an over the top way and now after 3 days of solid gold behaviour she is finally loving on me again.  BIG SIGH of RELIEF.  This is tricky.  Learning each other plus the language barrier between us it can all add up to some stormy seas.  I know bad times are part of every experience, but I want to learn how to bring us through them faster and with a little more grace.  She and I are both very stubborn, we will have a delicate dance as warring alpha females for the rest of our days :)  Elora is in good company though she comes from a long line of alpha women, you would think that would make me understand her better, but unfortunately when I the stubborn alpha gets challenged I just digs in my heals.  It's only in the aftermath that I can see baby girl was only being just like me.  My oh my.  She is a blessing.  Her father had the ability to make me grow into a better person, and now she will mould me too.  That is one thing I never knew about parenting, how much your children would improve you.