Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Day Pictures

Here are some pictures from Christmas Day:
First, Frances opened her presents at home. She had a black silk Christmas stocking her mother bought for her in Guangzhou, and the first thing she pulled out of it was a stuffed black cat. Frances loves cats, so this captured her attention.
After the stocking was done and out of the way, we moved on to bigger and better presents. Though, to tell you the truth, she was more fascinated by the wrapping paper which she could rip to her heart's content.
And here she is right next to her father's big English schnoz.
Later that day we went to my cousin's house for a Christmas party, and Frances met a bunch of her relatives.
She had a blast with her cousin Marley and her new Curious George doll.
Here she is with an assortment of older cousins.
And here is Frances with Aunt Marilyn.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve was very low-key. We dressed Frances in her Scottish plaid dress and went to the 4 oclock mass, which was also the Christmas pageant. I ushered. I had a wonderful moment knowing that when they sang Silent Night, neither Suzanne nor I would be gulping down tears or gritting our teeth, because as we dealt with miscarriage after miscarriage, and then an adoption journey that stretched out several years longer than we had expected, we began to just dread Christmas and all the baby and childbirth references we were bombarded with at church during Advent and Christmas. But it was different this year. Frances sat with her mother and her godmother (she is being baptized on January 11) in the back of church, and flirted with one of the boys she met in our baptism class. In the row ahead of Suzanne was a family with a three year old girl they adopted from Chong Quing over a year ago--they asked us what our LID was, and it was only five months after theirs... ugh. I am so glad I don't have to monitor those LID matching cutoffs anymore (though I feel for those who do). The 4oclock service was okay--I kept remembering how thrilled my parents were when I was old enough to go to midnight mass so they could skip the service where, as my mother put it, you had the "snotty-nosed brat brigade decked out in full regalia." The priest sat down on the steps with several dozen children aged 4-7 and delivered the children's sermon--on an El Grecco painting.
By the time we went up for communion, Frances was sleeping in heavenly peace. Though she work up after services when the brat brigade was let loose in the church hall. After the service, Suz was helping the altar guild set up for the midnight mass, and I watched Frances. When she woke up, I took her back into the sanctuary and tried to take some Christmassy pictures, but being as she'd just woken up from her nap, she wasn't in the mood to be terribly cute. It was interesting to see who comes to the services--there were lots of faces I don't see anymore--the parish has gone through some "transitional angst." My mother had another saying about Episcopalians--"when the going gets tough, the tough become C & E's." Lots of C & E's were in attendance. 
We went home, and then our good friend Kevin stopped by. Every year since we've known Kevin, he had gone to midnight mass with us. And this year, he and I went to midnight mass. Suzanne stayed home with Frances. Christmas Eve tradition was that we also did something with our friend Jerri, but I think the long string of bad weather we've had made her decide to stay in Columbus. So Kevin and I went to midnight mass, and I was a bit surprised to see how many parents who had attended the 4 oclock service also came to the midnight mass--without the children in tow. The hymns are better, the choir is better, and you don't have to worry about the children acting up. 
So anyway, that was Christmas Eve. 
Christmas Day is still unfolding, and I will write about that later. (Frances is down for her nap, we're gearing up to head over to my cousin's in Hudsonville)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Damn and Gook

Frances said "Damn" the other day. She had been sleeping in her car seat, and I woke her up to take her out of the seat and she looked at me and said "damn." Suzanne was sitting there and she looked at me, and we said "did we just hear what we thought we heard?" And agreed that we did. Perhaps I am naively in love with this child, but I chose not to be offended by her choice of words. I think I read somewhere that "damn," in Chinese, means "hello beloved father, I am delighted to see you..." which means its another one of those expressions that suffers in translation--much like Frances' original name "Shi Tong" which means "red poem." Since I'm often called a communist when I talk politics, and since I am an English teacher, I felt "red poem" was an especially suitable name my child. (I still cringe when Frances gets mail from US Immigration addressed to "Shi T Lin" though)

I was, however, offended--only slightly--when someone left a comment calling Frances a "cute little yellow gook baby." I realize I should feel very sorry for this person, since he or she has nothing better to do than go around spreading hate on adoption blogs. What kind of life is that? Its a damn shame. But its interesting to me, because I've never been on this end of racism before. When I was in England in graduate school, I got some "anti-Americanism" from Brits on a bus--but once they found out I loathed George W. Bush more than they did, they didn't find me nearly as odious. But I'm a fat white boy--I've never thought about being on the recieving end of racism, and now I suppose its something I am going to have to be more aware of. I immediately deleted the comment, without even trying to see who would post such a thing, and am not sure if I regret doing that or not, because the poster might view that as a challenge to post another... next time I'll let it stay where it can be seen for what it is.

As Louie Crew says... Joy anyway.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Latest

This is Frances at her high chair... the last in the series is her big toothy grin which she occasionally uses to delight us.

It's bloody cold in Michigan. We are having our third big snow event in less than a week. I am trying to figure out how we're going to do Christmas at the cottage with the inlaws on the 27th, because the private road isn't plowed, and there are FEET of snow to contend with. I suppose I need to find someone who plows snow to clear it so people can get in.
Frances had her follow-up doctor's appointment today. She now weighs 19 lbs, so she's gained two since arriving. Everything else looks good. They gave her another vaccination, and we have two more appointments coming up for further vaccinations.

Friday, December 19, 2008


We got blasted with 11 inches of the cold white stuff through the latter part of last night into this morning, though it cleared around 2 in the afternoon. Frances loves the snow--she dances and tries to catch the snowflakes, and giggles. That's one thing that isn't made in China--especially in Yulin, which is subtropical. She is wearing a very special red hat made by someone on Staten Island who is very dear to Suzanne and I.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A beautiful present...

Diane, Suzanne's friend from the altar guild, made this gorgeous red thread panda bear quilt for Frances, and the back is lined with ladybugs. Its absolutely gorgeous. We tried to get Frances to cooperate and pose for a picture with the quilt, but she was more interested in pulling herself up on the big box of diapers in the corner of the room.
That being said, Frances has a new trick. The cats, when they want to get away from her, tend to run under our bed. Frances, then, decided to crawl under our bed after Snap Dragon, and then, once she got there, she wanted to sit up and play with the kitty, but she couldn't sit up, and bumped her head, and then she felt trapped, and this all triggered a major meltdown. She was mad because she couldn't sit up, she was mad that she bumped her head, and she felt trapped. And did I mention she was under our bed and out of reach? It was a sight. Finally Suzanne got her to crawl out from under the bed, and then the screaming baby emerged, with a big red lump on her little head. We figured then, since she was already screaming, it was a good time to suction out her nose--so we did that since she was screaming anyway, and then, after all that indignation, Frances went down for her nap. I keep thinking of Frances in the context of Mrs. Slocombe, a character on the 1970's British sitcom "Are You Being Served" who often said "How Ignomonius!" and so now, when Frances pitches one of her fits, we say "Oh, how Ignomonius!" in a posh British accent. Well, WE think its funny. I don't know that Frances gets the joke.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Frances likes kitties

She really likes the kitties. Whether they like her or not remains to be seen. I was able to snap a few pictures of Frances with Snap Dragon, in the short interval before Snap Dragon ran off and hid. 
We haven't been taking many pictures. It is just too bloody cold here. It was so cold yesterday--oh my gosh. It was too cold to take Frances anywhere. This morning we went out and it was so cold that my car stalled at the first stop sign. Today's low was 14 degrees and the high was 18 degrees. Its too cold to take pictures.  We are, however, going to Meijer Gardens on Thursday and will be taking Christmas pictures there. Frances has a pretty dress to wear--actually she has two pretty dresses to wear. That is the problem. One is a traditional lacy dark red number, and the other is a red and green plaid dress that is sort of in a Scottish plaid style. 
Is it just me, or does it seem silly to dress a Chinese baby in a scottish outfit? I don't want to confuse her-- I recall friends of ours having a daughted adopted from China who came home from school one day and asked her parents if she was Dutch, because someone had said "if you're not Dutch then you're not much" to her. Frances is not Chinese, and I don't want her to be impersonating a scottswoman--I feel like its putting pressure on her to be something she's not, because she'll never be Scottish. Or am I being silly? 
Anyway, things are going fairly well, though she still has a touch of a cold. The teething misery also continues in bursts. This past weekend, Suzanne's altar guild friends at church gave her a post-baby shower, and we received some wonderful gifts--one of which was a handmade red thread/panda quilt. I need to post a picture of it. The woman who made Frances' quilt also made most of the vestments at church, and its really beautiful. 

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I was tagged

I was tagged in the Crazy Eights Blog Meme by Daisies, Doggies and Daddy, and since I'm in procrastination mode, I'll bite.

Eight Favorite TV shows: (I am part of the "Kill Your TV crowd, and look forward to February when my technology will be obselete with digital broadcast TV... )

Nanny 911

Are You Being Served?
Keeping Up Appearances
2 1/2 Men
Monty Python
The News
As Time Goes By
8 Things I look Forward to:
Frances getting over her cold
Me getting over my cold
Finishing the rest of this dratted grading
GM's stock price soaring
Any other stock I own, soaring
Going to bed
Finishing this survey
8 Things on My Wish List:
A daughter without a cold
Getting over my cold
A digital SLR
New windows for the house in GR
A big, fat raise
A sump pump system for the cottage
New flooring in the house in GR
An extension for the house in GR
8 Things I did yesterday:
Gave an exam to my 8am class at MSU
Gave an exam to my 12:40 class at MSU
Graded exams
Graded papers
Cuddled Frances
Ate food
checked email

8 Favorite Restaurants: (I don't think I have EIGHT restaurants where I can eat, anymore!)
"The Circle Inn" at Gun Lake
The Peppermill Grill
The Brandywine
Clara's Lansing Station
Sam's Joint
Sundance Grill
On the Border

8 Friends to tag:
(I don't have EIGHT blogger friends! Whatever shall I do? I guess I'll have to tag the only two who haven't done this meme yet, and call it good)
Alyzabeth An
Journey to Kavanna

Okay so the rules are simple, tag 8 of your blogger friends by leaving a comment on their blog. Answer the 8 interesting facts and enjoy.
Have Fun!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Caught on film!

Lets just say that Frances loves the kittys, but the kittys aren't quite so fond of Frances. Her mother snapped this picture on Wednesday... Frances was chasing Bouvier, and Bouvier took cover upstairs, which, up until this point, had been a safe zone for him. The upstairs is no place for Frances--its our chaos room. Its not heated well, and the whole upstairs of the house is one big dormer room which we call my "study" because it houses my academic clutter and the computer, but it also holds all my clothes, because the bedroom only has one tiny closet which Suzanne claimed. Anyway, Suzanne thought this was just the cutest thing. It was the first time Suzanne had left the door to the upstairs open for any period of time (she was bringing my laundry up) and Frances had never given any indication that she wanted to climb steps. Anyway, Suzanne called up to her, and Frances turned around for a split second, waved once, and then resumed her task. Suzanne snapped the picture before retrieving her from the top of the stairs. 
Frances has a new favorite activity--opening doors and cupboards!
I haven't posted much this week because it was exam week and I am still swamped with grading.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


I don't have any new pictures to post since Thanksgiving. Things are going very well, there just isn't much interesting to photograph. Michigan is covered with snow, it seems to have snowed all week, and I think its safe to say we've had at least a foot of the cold white stuff, over the past week. Because of that, we don't get out much, people don't visit, nobody wants to be out on the roads more than they have to. We've gone to the mall, we've gone to a few restaurants, but thats about it--there's been nothing particularly interesting to photograph. Its also been a very busy week for me at work, so I've taken scant pictures. This week is final exams, so I'm still crazy busy. After finals, I think we're going to head over to the Frederick Meijer Gardens, and take some pictures for Christmas cards.
People ask about teething. Frances now has four teeth--all in front--two on top and two on bottom. She was not happy when they were coming through--and she hated the orajel, even the cherry flavored stuff.
Everyone asks about her sleeping, and I seem to disappoint them when I say she sleeps for 10-12 hours at a go. Sorry to disappoint. Unless she has a night terror, which doesn't happen often, she sleeps through the night if she gets some protein at dinner, because she doesn't wake up hungry. Sometimes, when she wakes up, she has these "out of body" experiences where she cries inconsolably, like she's half-asleep. Once we get her completely awakened, she is her usual adorable self. Our referral said she is a deep sleeper, and they were right. The noise from the snowplows going by have disturbed her, a bit. But if she wakes up crying, all we have to do is tell her she's okay and reassure her that we're there, and she's goes right back to sleep within a minute.
She has this adorable, big toothy grin. It warms our hearts.
For the other IA folk, getting a SSN for Frances was not as easy as we thought it would be. Even with the birth certificate, the SSN lady kept throwing their computers into chaos when the system asked for place of birth, and she put "China." She was going to put down Grand Rapids for the place of birth, but then thought better of it. I think we got the newbie, because it took her over an hour to figure things out, and by the time we were done, there were two other workers coaching her through the process. The second middle name, with the hyphen, didn't work well with the system, either. I finally told them to just list her as "Frances Bernadette" with our surname, eliminating the second middle name, and that seemed to work.
Remember that Frances' Chinese name was Lin Shi Tong, with Lin as the surname. We got paperwork from USCIS addressed to Frances as "Shi T Lin" Maybe I'm hyper sensitive to this because she's my child, but I kept stting "Shit Lin." Yikes. This is why we hyphenated the Tong-Shi.
Anyway, Frances' SSN should be in the mail. And the birth certificate will solve the problem of the funny looks we get when we show up at the doctor's office with Chinese documents as our only proof of legal right over this child.
Anyway, thats what I've got to say for now. Frances is fine.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

It came!

Houston, we have a birth certificate!
Whew! What a relief. Now we can get her a proper social security number, and thus, taxes won't be needlessly complicated this year. Plus, we have a legal AMERICAN document giving us custodial power--so we don't get strange looks from doctors' offices, benefits officers or daycare facilities when we try to assert our legal rights to obtain various services for her. It also makes her all the more OURS. Its a tremendous relief.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Some pics from Thanksgiving

Frances got to meet her relatives out in the country. She met her Aunt Betty (left) and Aunt Joice and Uncle Jim (right). I've mentioned before that her middle name is Bernadette, in honor of her great grandmother Bernadine. Joice and Betty are Bernadine's younger sisters. 

Frances really enjoied meeting her Uncle Jim, Joice's husband, who is a retired police officer. Here Frances points out the chocolate cake to her Uncle Jim. Later, she took a nap in his lap.

Here's a picture of Frances, just taking it all in. She's been teething, so smiles have been few and far between. 

Things are well...

Its been a while, so I guess I'd better post an update on St. Frances of Kent... Things are well. I have taken pictures, but they are on rolls of film that are still in the camera, so when I get them developed, I'll post them.
My drive and productivity is a bit of an issue--I am still waiting for my students' papers to grade themselves... When given the choice between holding a cooing baby and grading essays, the baby wins. The backlog mounts up, the end of the semester approaches, and I am not even shocked at myself for slacking off... Next week is exam week, there is plenty of time to grade the damn things.
Frances is a good eater and a good sleeper. She sleeps 10-11 hours at a stretch at night, so long as she gets a bit of protein in her stomach before bed. She likes whole wheat toast and formula, watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon, she loves black beans and rice, and she likes plain tofu. She'll eat cheese in small amounts, as well as potatoes. She eats guacamole. I had been buying black beans and rice at Qdoba for her, but endeavored to make them myself, and put too much cayenne pepper in them, so Frances would eat a spoonful of my fiery concoction, and then cry for a minute, and then want another spoonful... until her mother realized that the beans and rice were too spicy for her. I made another much blander batch, and she doesn't cry when she eats them. I don't know what possessed me to put cayenne pepper in the beans and rice... it was just me thinking--oh, what should I do to jazz this up for her? Not realizing that babies' taste buds aren't as fried as are those of adults. Oh well... Suzanne enjoys the spicy beans and rice now.
Michigan's winter is in full swing--it snowed all day yesterday. From what I can tell, Grand Rapids got 6". It was enough to close many schools... but, alas, not the ones where I work. The drives to and from Michigan State University were nightmarish and very slow going. Luckily, I ride a van pool, so I didn't have to do the touchy driving. We saw several ditch parties (which, for you California people who don't deal with snow and don't know what a ditch party is--ditch parties are instances where you see several cars in a ditch along the highway, after they slid off the road due to icy patches.) Anyway... we bought a new washer and dryer over the holiday weekend, and they are being delivered today around noon, so that means I need to get out and shovel off the steps for the delivery people from Sears.