Thursday, December 20, 2007

Brookelyn's 2nd birthday

We celebrated at my sister's house on Thanksgiving for Dakota, Sasha and my sister's daughter, Jacquie. All three have birthdays within three weeks of eachother. We celebrated there and then again on her real birthday. She had a good time and enjoyed the cake both times. We gave her some clothes, shoes and a stroller for her dolls. She got three new dolls. She calls one of them, "Big Boy,' and the other one, "Baby Girl." She is very sweet with them and likes to play with them a lot.

Brayden and Brookelyn's Holiday Programs

Brayden and Brookelyn had their holiday programs at school and they were very cute. Brayden stood there and did everything he was supposed to do except sing. When we tried to tell him too from our seats he just shook his head and stood there. Last year he had his fingers in his mouth the entire program and didn't sing a word either, so this was a step up. It was a cute show and fun for all of us to see. Brookelyn's holiday program was cute too. She didn't sing, but she enjoyed doing all of the hand motions to the songs and danced when she was supposed to. I looked around and noticed that none of the children were singing, which makes sense since they are all only two years old. It was very sweet. Brookelyn stood next to her best friend the whole time. I introduced myself to her best friend's parents and found out that we were in the hospital delivering our girls at the same time and had even had the same doctor! I knew the girls shared a birthday, but I can't believe they had so much in common! Her mother remembers me from the lactation clinic at the hospital. Great memory! Sasha enjoyed both programs as well as the one we went to for my nieces. My couldn't find the compact flash for Brayden's night and had to use a backup camera so we don't have many pictures and on Brookelyn's night the camera ran out of batteries. By the time we came home and recharged it she was done smiling for pictures. Oh well, I did get a few.

Pictures with Santa Claus

We went to a local park with the MOM's club I am in for our holiday party. We took a train ride that brought us to Santa Claus. Each of the children sat on Santa's lap. Actually, Brayden and Sasha were fine, but Brookelyn wanted no part of sitting on his lap. She thought he was very interesting from a few feet away, just not too close.

Noise reduction headsets

Colton's assignment was to chose a product and take photographs to use to advertise it. He chose noise reduction head sets. Dakota, Brookelyn and Brayden all helped with this project. I think Brayden has the most fun helping his brother with these projects.

Colton's Photos

My son is taking a photography class at school. He has used his brother and sisters in a lot of his assignments. Here are a few of my favorites.

Friday, December 14, 2007

ReAdoption Paperwork

I finally started working on doing the re adoption paperwork, which is a little tricky since I had no idea where to start. I should say that I first called around to find out if I should go through an attorney. The first one I called said she charges $2000. WHAT?! I called several other offices and never could find another attorney who does international re adoptions. I finally started checking the Internet to see what I could find and found the forms on I downloaded the four forms and then took another two weeks to fill them out. Sounds like a crazy amount of time, but it really is hard to get anything done when Sasha is awake and she seems to take her naps while I am driving and is wide awake when we are home. She is fine with me sitting on the floor with her while she plays, but if I sit at the computer she pulls herself up against my leg and cries. Anyway, today I copied all of the adoption paperwork and drove up to Orange and filed the forms to re-adopt. This is also when we change her name legally from her Vietnamese name to the one we are giving her, which incorporates her Vietnamese name. The cost to file the forms? $20. I was told that I will get a letter in the mail stating that my forms were received and letting me know if they needed anything other paperwork. My understanding is that they will issue us a court date and we will go before a judge. It is supposed to be a nice ceremony that you bring a camera for. I don't really know where I got that idea, I guess I must have read it on the internet. It felt like a big deal to me to file the paperwork. I guess I am a little sad to be doing it because I feel a little as if I am taking some part of her history away when I change her name. Hopefully keeping her first and middle names as her middle names will make her feel that we honored her past. I certainly want to honor her being Vietnamese and teach her to be proud of her country. Anyway, that is done. I have to look into getting her a social security number. I don't know whether I have to wait until her name is legally changed or not. I am going to drive to the local office one day next week and find out. I think I am supposed to turn in the Certificate of Citizenship that was mailed to me a few weeks ago. I hope I don't because it has her Vietnamese name as well as a picture of her that was taken on the way home from the orphanage. I would hate to have to give it up since it is one of the few things we have with her Vietnamese name on it.
Sasha is doing great. She is just so cute and so happy! She babbles a lot now (da da da) and makes other cooing or happy sounds. She sits in the second row of our minivan and Brookelyn and Brayden sit in the back. Brayden always watches High School Musical when we are in the car but Brookelyn doesn't watch tv or videos, which is why she doesn't like being in the car for long and Brayden can be in it forever. Anyway, this week Brookelyn and Sasha have started having fun together in the car. Sasha makes her noises and Brookelyn laughs at her or repeats them and laughs. Sasha laughs back and makes more noises. It is very sweet. Brookelyn and Brayden are great with Sasha. Many people have asked us if our kids are jealous of Sasha, but we have never seen it. They both have been great with her and think she is so funny.
We went to Brayden's holiday show for his preschool class a couple of days ago. Sasha and Brookelyn had matching dresses and matching shoes. It was very cute. Brookelyn thought it was great that they matched. Brayden looked very handsome in his dress shirt, vest and dress pants and stood still for the entire performance. He didn't push anyone, pick his nose, cry (things that some of the other children did during the performance). He also didn't sing. Not a word. He stood there and looked around the room and at us from time to time, but when we would mouth the words, "Sing the song," he would just shake his head no. It was pretty funny since he was the only one not singing and he hadn't sung a word at the holiday performance last year. This is a child who says he wants to be a rock star when he grows up, is always singing and dancing in our house, knows all of the words to every song in Hair Spray and High School Musical and many of the songs my teenagers listen to. I guess Christmas songs aren't his thing.
I went to a Holiday chorus program for two of my nieces last week. It was during the day, so only Sasha, my mom and sister went. It was great! The teacher had made up a story line and fit a lot of fun holiday songs into it. Sasha loved it. She stood on my lap and waved her hands around like she was conducting it. She made a lot of happy noises along to the singing. My mom said she noticed several of the children in the show nudging each other and pointing to her. Luckily the singing drowned her noises out. We had a lot of fun and it definitely got me more into the holiday spirit. It has been COLD here. I don't really know how cold, but there has been snow on the mountains nearby. I love the idea of snow for the holidays, but I don't like being cold. I have a new respect for parents who live in the Midwest or east coast. Bundling the kids up in jackets and hats and then squeezing them into car seats is hard. And we don't have the snow and slush on their boots to deal with. I miss the feeling of excitement in the air that there is this time of year in the Midwest and East Coast, but I think I am okay with trading it in for warmth.

Monday, December 3, 2007

James Taylor

I can't believe that I didn't remember to write this until I wrote my last post. We met James Taylor a couple of weeks ago! I have listened to and loved James Taylor for as far back as I can remember so when my husband asked if I wanted to meet him I jumped at the chance. One of Ray's friends works for a company that is in charge of distributing JT's new CD so he mentioned to Ray that he was going to the signing at the Barnes and Noble in Santa Monica. He also knew James from working with him on the Ray Charles CD a couple of years ago. We left Brayden at home and brought Brookelyn and Sasha with us. When we got there JT was doing an interview with CNN so we waited off the the side. When he came out of the interview our friend stopped James and introduced us. You would think I would have someting to say to him, something clever. Nope. I just basically stared into his beautiful blue eyes and tried to memorize his face. I am weird, I guess. He asked us the names of our little girls and shook our hands. He stood there and kind of waited to see if we wanted to say anything else, but I had nothing. As he walked away he turned back and looked at me and said, "It was really good to meet you." Nice, nice guy. The signing was supposed to end at 8:00 pm but he was going to stay until he had signed every CD. I had just been hoping to see him across the room (since my seats at concerts were usually VERY far away) so I was really happy to have met him.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Fire and Rain

It has been several weeks since the fires were in our area but we are still having the effects of them. Just a couple of weeks ago we had another day where we had ashes falling from the sky. That is not as unusual as it sounds. I have seen that several times since I have lived in Orange County. We will hear about large fires and then the next day or so we will see ashes falling and have them all over our cars. Well we had had to clean up the ashes from inside our house as well as all around our porch and back yard area after the fires. My husband actually took the indoor/outdoor vacuum outside to do it a few times. Sounds crazy, but there were ashes all over our porch and the furniture there, on the barbecue and eating area in the back and all over the play equipment in the back yard. The kids would be filthy and still get filthy whenever they go back there and play from the soot. It turns out that the fire got all the way up to the back of our fence in our back yard and burned the fence in a couple of areas. Obviously we are very lucky to still have our house, but we are getting tired of the soot.
Well, last weekend it was really windy. I always open the kids windows when they get up so the rooms can air out. Last Saturday I walked outside to get something in my car and saw that it was covered with ashes again inside and out. My husband had taken the car seats out and brought the car to get washed. All three of the car seats were sitting in the driveway and were covered with ashes and so were the front two seats because the sun roof was open. I went inside and up to the kids rooms and there were ashes all over the rooms. It was such a bummer to clean it all up again. The air smelled so bad we decided to go to the beach to get some fresh air.
We spent most of the day in Laguna Beach. We walked along the ocean and then let the kids play in the playground for a while before we had dinner there and headed home. It was Sasha's first time going to the beach. It was warm and sunny and just a perfect day down there. It smelled fine and wasn't windy there either, which was great. It started raining Thursday and rained Friday as well. You think it would have washed away the smoke smell but it actually is stronger for some reason. It smells like a wet ashtray or a wet campfire outside. It is pretty bad in my area. In the weeks after the fire the smell would change from day to day. It almost always smelled like smoke, but some days it was a bad smell and some days it was okay. It had finally gotten so that we didn't notice any smoke smell when the wind and rain brought it back.
Sasha has her second tooth (bottom right) now. She just got it today. She barely drools at all, but it obviously hurts her because she keeps grabbing me and pushing her mouth into my shoulder when I am holding her. But her appetite is so much better. She seems to always be hungry now and eats a lot. It's a little tricky though. Sometimes we think she is eating and then find out she is just storing it at the roof of her mouth.

Friday, November 30, 2007

With Family

First studio photographs seven months old

Time is racing by

I looked at my last blog entry and cannot believe so much time has gone by since I wrote last. Sasha went through about a week of hardly eating or drinking anything. She would take two or three ounces at each feeding and hardly ate any food. It was actually getting to be upsetting. She was still active and happy and looked great, but I was worried. I didn't take her to the doctor because I know she would have just said that she looks fine and I should just kep an eye on her and bring her back if it goes on for much longer. It's just that Sasha has not one ounce of chub on her. Also, she may have some of her birth mother's immunities for a while, but since they weren't immunities to this country, I don't know if it helps her much. So I was worried and didn't sleep well for several nights. After about almost a week she went back to taking six ounce bottles and eating again. Yeah! She got her first tooth (bottom left side) two days ago so that very well may have had something to do with her not being hungry. Since her tooth came through she has been eating more and drinking more formula. She has also been waking up two times a night to drink a full bottle instead of once a night when she used to drink only a few ounces. I want her to put on some weight so I am getting up with her, but I know pretty soon I am going to have to wean her off of the middle of the night feedings because I am soooo tired. She usually goes right back to sleep after she takes her bottle, but Brayden wakes up every night too and I have to put him back into his room and stay by his bed for a few minutes until he falls back asleep. Not easy for me since I love my sleep.
Sasha continues to amaze me with her sweetness and happiness. All I have to do is smile at her and she laughs or makes a laughing like sound. Unless I put her down or walk away from her which really upsets her. I have been putting her in her walker with cheerios on the tray and she will race around following me wherever I go in the downstairs. If I have to leave the room for any reason she gets upset, even if she is following me in her walker. I get more done if I use the walker, but am constantly stepping and cushing cheerios and then vacuuming them up. She also likes to eat bread, avocados, chicken, turkey, pasta...anything we eat practically.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sasha is so busy!

Sasha is such a healthy happy baby. She was so calm and serene the day we saw her for the first time and is overall has a calm nature. But she is also very active! She learned to sit up while we were in Vietnam and then started crawling a week or so after we got home. She doesn't crawl a lot. just from toy to toy or to get to me if she is a few feet away. We have hardwood floors on most of our downstairs so I really only set her down on the area with rugs. About a week ago she started climbing up partway on chairs or pulling herself to a almost standing position on baskets or other low objects. Four days a go she was standing up holding on the the side of her crib when I went in for a middle of the night bottle! Just a few minutes ago she pulled herself up somehow so she was standing up next to the couch! I didn't see how she did it even though I was sitting on the floor right next to her. I just looked away for a minute. She did it again a few minutes later and again I had missed seeing how she did it. She doesn't know how to get down yet, that will take some figuring out. She gets around quickly in her walker and really seems to like it. We bought a new high chair for her that has wheels, so I just her around when I am moving to another room. It has really helped me to get some things done like laundry and just general straightening up the downstairs. She cries if she cannot see me so it has been tough to get anything done while holding her and carrying her with me as I move room to room. Now I can just put some puffs on her tray and that will buy me a few minutes. We also bought her a little jumper that hangs on the framing to a door. We hand it on the door to our pantry and she seems to like it. It's hard to make sure the other two little ones don't "help" her bounce though, so we haven't used it much.
She liked taking a bath while we were in Vietnam, but cries the entire time every time I give her one now. But when I give my other two baths she keeps trying to pull herself over the edge into the tub. I'm not ready to have her in the tub with Brayden and Brookelyn yet. They are pretty active and I think it would overwhelm her. She still cries a lot in the carseat too. I usually drive to get my daughter from high school (25-30 minutes) and then take five to ten minutes with Sasha out of the car before we get back in to get Brayden and Brookelyn at their school. That is another 20-25 minutes. We get out and I put her in the front pack while I collect them, which takes a while because I used to work there so I like talking to the other parents and staff when I am there. We get back in the car for another 20-25 minutes and then we are home. Some days it works because she is tired so she sleeps, some days she cries, which is really hard. There is no way around it though, the kids need to get picked up and I am the only one who can do it. Luckily, I drive Dakota to school early enough in the morning that the little ones can stay home with dad. It's Dakota's last year in high school so we don't have to do this driving forever. It will also help when I can turn her car seta around and she can see the DVD player and watch Baby Einstien videos.
She has started to allow other people to hold her, but only for a minute or two and then she wants to go back to me. If someone else gets her out of her crib and she cannot see or hear me, she seems to be okay until I walk into the room. I know it's just a matter of time before she gets past it, so I am fine with it. I would like to be done with the one or two middle of the night feedings. I think she has slept through the night once or twice. I am tired! She only takes a few ounces so I know she doesn't need to wake up, but I plan on waiting another month or so before I try to wean her off of them. We've only been home just over five weeks. Wow! It seems so much longer than that!
We had her pictures taken a couple of days ago. She was not very smiley. The woman managed to get a few cute pictures though. I asked Ray to come with me because I wanted Sasha's six month pictures, Brookelyn's two year pictures, the three little ones pictures taken with their Christmas outfits on, and while we were we asked them to take pictures with all five of us together. The older kids are horrified by the thought of having to go through the ordeal of getting the whole family's picture. It is an ordeal too! Not a happy one. My husband always wants to settle for whatever is fast and easy (such as the kids wearing whatever they had on for their Christmas pictures) while I have something else in mind. I am not picky, after years of doing this (and doing it professionally while in college) I know that sometimes I have to settle for a cute smile whether it is their "real" smile of not. I told this lady I didn't need all the kids smiling in the family shot, just wanted to have them looking the right way. They turned out pretty cute. I may bring the three of them in for a better Christmas picture since Brayden couldn't stop biting his lip. Or maybe I'll just take them a few pictures in front of our Christmas tree.
I am amazed on a daily basis that we are able to raise this beautiful little girl!

Sunday, November 4, 2007


We had another great Halloween celebrating with my sister and her family who live close by. We went to a Halloween parade at the kid's Montessori school in the morning (I realized it was the 12th one I've been to there). Sasha was a Charger's cheerleader. That night we went over to my sister's neighborhood to trick or treat. It was the first year my son, Colton, chose to spend it with friends instead of going out with us. Dakota will be off at college next year so we were glad she came. My sister, her husband, and their three girls went out with Ray, Dakota (in gorilla mask), Brayden, Brookelyn, Sasha and I. In the evening Sasha wore a bunny outfit which was much warmer. She is so easygoing and happy. She was great all day and night!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Driving to Lang Son

I am a member of an internet group from the adoption agency we used. It has been a great resource for information and sharing with other parents. And it really helped to make the time go by quicker when we were waiting to get our referral and then waiting to travel. Something happened on it last night involving me that I felt was not very respectful and I feel a little as if I was "spanked" by the headmistress of the school. I am way too old and way to intelligent to be treated that way. What had happened was I had written about my husband and I renting a van to go see the province our baby had been born in. We had our hotel call and make the reservations. We had a driver and an interpreter pick us up (we didn't request an interpreter but the driver didn't speak English so they sent her along) and we went up to Lang Son. We drove up and took pictures as we went. We drove around Lang Son for awhile after we got there and then drove back. We did stop at a restaurant on the side of the road once so the driver and interpreter could eat lunch. End of story. Here is what I posted :

My husband and I wanted to go to Lang Son on our own a few
days after the G & R to see what it was like and take pictures of the
area where our daughter was abandoned. The people at the front desk
at the Melia found a place that would charge us $100 for the trip and
the people at the Somerset found a place that charged $80. The
people that charge $80 picked us up with a driver and an
interpreter. They were great and we were very glad we did it. It
was nice to go back and see the area with Sasha.

Last night there was a statement from one of the head people at the agency:
> I recently heard about a family who had rented a car at their hotel in
> HaNoi and taken an interpreter and gone with their baby to the
> province where their child had been abandoned to find out the history
> of the child. THIS WAS DANGEROUS. The main reason is that in the
> Northern Provinces, it is not unusual for the police to stop cars or
> vans driving foreigners to demand identification and to demand money
> from the drivers. In fact, we have had the experience of a van full of
> families going to their G and R being stopped, unloaded and searched
> by the police on their way to Lang Son province. There is still much
> suspicion of foreigners in some of the provinces. Another REAL danger
> is that if by some small chance, the embassy should get word that you
> were in the area that your child was abandoned they could think that
> you knew or had a relationship with the people or person who found the
> that VietNam is a communist country. So, under no circumstances are
> families to travel on their own while they are in VietNam to do their
> adoption. The exception would be on organized tourist trips or trips
> arranged by the in ###### Staff. If, later, when the adoption is complete
> and you return to VietNam, you wish to do something like this, then it
> would be wonderful to have more information for your child's benefit
> and ######### supports that. But we do not want anything to happen
> that could jeopardize your adoption. Please heed this warning.

Okay, what was that about? We never said we went to find out about our child. Did any of you read that in my post? Who added that part on and why? How crazy would that be for my husband and I to go to the province she was born in and start looking around for information about her? If I had been someone who needed information about her, I would never had SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED AN ABANDONED BABY, which I did. If we had wanted more information about her and thought there was more information to be had, we would have asked our agency if they knew any more. Too silly. Actually, no. Embarrasing to be involved in this. The way it should have been handled was if someone who works for the agency had a problem with my post or anyone else's post, they should email that person directly. If they had emailed me and told me that they had heard a RUMOR that my husband and I had gone searching for information and that they want to make sure people knew it could be a potentially dangerous thing to do to travel in the province for the sake of the adoption, the person who wrote the original email could go back and write another email telling the rest of the people about the danger. One thing my agaency has said again and again is that RUMORS are bad. Hmmmm.... Another thing I want to write, and then be finished with this whole emabarrasing matter, is that if it was dangerous to be traveling to the Northern Provinces, why were we not told that before we travel? And Halong Bay is in on eof the Northern Provinces and that is suggested as a place to visit while there. WHAT? There are many nice vans and cars on the roads to Lang Son and Halong Bay, so we certainly didn't stand out. I know this for a fact because we drove to and from Lang Son three times and to and from Halong Bay. I think after eight times on those roads I know what I am talking about. And I am not sorry I went, I think it will be important to Sasha to see the pictures. I probably would not have gone though, if I had heard it was dangerous from an agency employee.
After seeing the email from the agency clearly written about me I wrote an email to the group explaining that someone had changed my words and added things to it. I knew my email would not be posted writing that the agancy had not handled something in an appropriate way is a NO NO. Let me tell you that when someone writes something that is clearly about you and then you are not allowed to defend yourself, it feels pretty crappy. I feel better now.
One other thing. I don't have any negative feeling toward my agency. I am going to put this down as a mistake and move on. I had a great experience, loved my stay in Vietnam, and have an amazing baby who I cannot beleive I am lucky enough or blessed enough to raise. I just needed to get this out instead of feeling as if I am a young school girl.