Thursday, April 17

The Mandarin connection

I have to concede that I have no Beijing Mojo.

If you guys recall, a couple summers ago, I did a lot of poking around on Chinese search engines. I found oodles of images of Zoe.

This week, I have been looking for the Beijing orphanage. I can find nothing, except the entrance.

“Man, I was really ruined by finding Zoe in the first page of returns,” I thought to myself.

I did another Huainan search out of habit. And found ANOTHER photo of Zoe that I didn’t have. (It included a boy that was adopted the same year; I sent it to his mom, too.)

May 2010

I quit doing the Baidu searches when the girl we hoped to adopt was moved into foster care. I might try to do them every so often, because it seems you never know what an algorithm will turn up. (And if/when that girl is adopted someday, I hope to be able to send her family the photos I found.)

While I didn’t manage to find any images from the orphanage, I did locate a very small image of the paper that ran Ani’s finding ad.

Since I didn’t have a translation of the ad, I asked LWB if they had any connections. A fellow volunteer translated it for me, and now I know what it says!

I also have the characters for Ani’s Chinese name.

Everything in her file was a JPG, so I didn’t have a way to cut & paste. I knew her name was YanQi. We learned in China that they called her QiQi (pronounced sort of like “chee-chee”).

But I wanted the individual characters. I love useful websites. let me draw the characters and now I have them cut & pasted at my disposal.

So. Beijing image searches? Nada. Chinese characters of Ani’s name? Check. Finding ad translation? Check.

A reminder to be thankful for all the Huainan & LWB connections I’ve made? Check.

Monday, April 14

Skating rinks and fishing rods

First time fishing

Saturday was Elizabeth’s 8th birthday party, and it was a Girls Only celebration at the skating rink. I asked Patti if it was okay for us to just drop Zoe off. (The party was during Ani’s nap time.) She said it was, so Kris took the boys on their own adventure: fishing for the first time.

Add the ice cream cones we had to celebrate my birthday (and Kris' mom's birthday belatedly), and what a Quintessential Childhood Weekend.

Something delightful, that I should blog so I won't forget: Ani laughs herself to sleep.

We put her down at the same time as the big kids go to bed, and she cruises around the crib. She flops herself down, laughing. Kicks her feet between the slats. Shoves her feet against the wall to move the crib. Giggles.

The television in our room is in an armoire, and Ani can reach one of the doors if it's open, so she bangs it back and forth. Kris tied a piece of fishing line to keep the door out of her reach, and we've been watching TV before bed again.

We keep missing dialogue because Ani is making so much noise and laughing to herself.

"It took her an hour to go to sleep," Kris commented the other night.

"Yeah, but she wasn't crying," I pointed out. "She laughed herself to sleep."

So, Ani. Still getting to know you. You seem like a happy kid. More than one person has had this to say upon meeting you: "she has a sweet spirit." And I think, like your big sis, you like music. Song you have lit up twice to so far? "Home."

And, because she's the only one visibly absent from this post, a pic of Zoe that ETW snapped when he saw her at the Special Olympics on Friday:

Friday, April 11

Matriarch at 36


When Mama Juanita sent my birthday check last year, I saved it. I had a feeling it would be the last one. I knew I'd rather have this piece of paper than the $25. (After her death, I found this in one of mom's calendars. It's been on my bulletin board ever since.)

It struck me hard this morning that this is my first birthday without all of them.

I am the family matriarch at 36.

(You could say "but Laura, there is Kris' mom and your dad's wife..." But that is not the same. I did not grow up with them. Of my familial ladies, I'm all that's left.)

The wisteria is blooming. That always reminds me of GJ.

So are the dogwoods.

Three outta four

And Zoe's azalea.

The sadness of this morning's realization aside, I plan to have a good birthday. I mean, I painted my nails and everything. (A nice coral color to coincide with Mindy's nails at the beginning of season 1.)

Monday, April 7

Forty dollar doughnuts

Donut time

One of the Moxie's clients brought doughnuts last week, and the kids enjoyed them for dessert. I enjoyed the last two for breakfast one morning; Cash cried when he discovered this.

"Hey," I offered. "How about Daddy takes you guys to pick out your own doughnuts tomorrow while I cook dinner?"

They have done this, like, one other time. The big kids are doing so well with their little sister; we want to celebrate that.

So they went and picked out doughnuts, and then even better, Jason came by and got to have one with them. (Jason is an older kid who lives a couple streets over. The kids love it when he cuts through our backyard and like to run out and see him.)

But in the parking lot adjacent to the doughnut place, a traveling fair had set up. The kids LOVED the fair in summer 2012. (FYI, if I link old posts and the pix are broken? Blame the Flickr creeper who made a photo set of Zoe.)

We missed the fair altogether last year, so the kids were set on going to this one.

"Don't worry," Ben told them. "We'll come back on Friday."

And Kris and I are like, HEY, we're the parents, we say. (And Cash was doubtful Friday morning, as it was raining.) But fine, okay, let's hit the fair on Friday evening.


They picked the dragon coaster first and then some race cars. We were probably the only people at the fair for the first twenty minutes, so you couldn't tell what a ride was like until it started. The cars jostled them pretty well and midway through, began to go backward. Zoe did not like that, but there was no way to rescue her. But she'd rallied by the next ride.


Cash didn't ride any more, saying his stomach hurt. He just wanted to watch Ben and Zoe.


I'm glad it looks like they had fun. The mass insanity of picking up both sets of kids and then Kris and navigating the closed streets for First Friday... and wearing Ani and wondering how long she could wait for an evening bottle... and then Cash puking once we got home... and then Kris and I both getting sick in the middle of the night... yeah, looking at these pics make me queasy. I'm sure that won't always be the case.

Still, this time? I threw away the last of the doughnuts.

Monday, March 31

Ani Bo-bani


As we are wont to do, the kids get silly nicknames.

In China, Ani had the tendency to head butt us a lot. We explained this to the kids in case she did it to them.

“We should call her Princess Bony Head,” Ben declared.

We used to call Zoe “Princess Bony Hiny.” Because she always had a knack of jabbing you with some bone when she sat in your lap.

And like I used to call him Cash Potato (why? who even knows; I've never even seen an episode of the Wiggles), I have started calling her Ani Bo-bani. The kids didn’t know why, so Kris and I did several rounds of the Name Game song.

Cash LOVED this.

Cash, Cash, Bo-bash, Banana-fana fo-fash, Fee-Fi-mo-mash, Ca-ash!

We also shared Labyrinth with them. Oops, kinda scared Cash. After the movie, we got the bummer news that Ani has a parasite. Not how you wanna end a spring break.

BUT it meant we could hit the pharmacy on Saturday and Ani has now had 7 (of THIRTY) doses toward killing the thing. We have to force the medicine on her, much like with Zoe. But Kris says Ani's version does not taste as rancid. Which is helpful, since we can't stir it into anything else like we did with Zoe.

A better way to end the break: Ani took her first solo steps on Friday. Kris and I made a big deal out of it, a lot of clapping and “look at you!” But it was cool to see how excited the twins were, as well. So proud of her.

Zoe and I missed it (she with Monk on a food run and me at WalMart buying more bottles), but Kris said Ben got Ani to walk a pretty long distance at his parent’s place on Sunday afternoon.

And at church, Dylan came to find me and ask where Ani was because he wanted to see “Ben’s baby.”

Wee one, you have so many champions now.

Sometimes, it’s a team effort. I still can’t smell, so the kids have been sniff testers to see if there is a “booty bomb” that needs changing. As I cleaned her up this morning, I realized I left her shoes upstairs, so Zoe and Ben went to fetch them.

Today is her first day at FBC. Kris said Cash talked about this very excited on the way, that they would be at the same school. (Until August anyway!)

I think she’s warming up to us, though she also seems pretty indifferent. I like that this hasn’t deterred her siblings. They just keep loving on her.

We keep talking about how much we have to teach her: to walk, to eat, to speak, to play, what a family is.

“First we have to teach her love,” Ben informed me on Sunday.

Yeah, Ben. First we teach her love.

(Seriously, I am SO PROUD of my Big Kids. Especially the Benster on how effortlessly he takes to sisters.)

Thursday, March 27

How we're Spring Breaking

A visit to the GPL

We've been to the library (got Cash his own card now), we've hit Chick-Fil-A. On that run, it got too close to Ani's nap time, so we wrapped early and brought the kids' food home. Kris and I were stressed (we have forgotten EVERYTHING about the baby stage, it seems), but the kids decided to eat on the deck in the sun. And Ben asked me "is this the life?"

Yeah, it is. I forget that pretty easily.

The boys have wanted to walk down to the "creek" (a.k.a. stagnant water in the bird sanctuary) every day. On one of these occasions, Cash wanted to hold my hand. (Protection against the bumblebees, I think.) Probably out of nostalgia, Ben took the other hand.

A little moment of perfection.

Using his imagination

Twinning it on Friv

We let the twins pick out shoes with laces and they have learned to tie them (mostly). Zoe can't wait to share this news with her teachers. Ben was delighted that his shoes made him run faster and took Kris on a jog.

Ani loves to practice walking. Besides her big siblings, she has found she can also push the high chair and small furniture as walkers.

Push it

We also managed a play date, haircuts for the boys and to find the rest of the My Mad Fat Diary season two episodes. (Priorities, people.) Cash has requested a thrift store run.

I felt sure we'd visit Noccalula, but yo, weather, figure out your issues already. When it got super windy on Tuesday, Ani and I both got the nose funk.

Tuesday, March 25

Tales of deep devotion

Because Rainbow said she needed an Arctic Monkeys primer, here's how I got on the AM train.

You know you like a band when you go read their Wikipedia entry, right?

The band's music is known to fall under the umbrella of indie rock although they have changed their genre of rock on each album, which is one of the band's key features.

(All of my favorite AM songs are either on their debut album or the most recent one.)

I had never heard of the Arctic Monkeys until I was working on my Misfits mix. I bought a song for that (Franz Ferdinand maybe?) and iTunes helpfully informed me that other users had purchased songs from Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. "Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secure" reminded me of the ASBO 5.

When I was looking for tracks for an Anna and the French Kiss fanmix, I was like "maybe another Arctic Monkeys song will work?" So I got "You Look Good on the Dance Floor."

And then because the Lola mix was like a sequel... excuse to use Artic Monkeys again! "Fake Tales of San Francisco:"

When these mixes get to the AM track, my pulse quickens. But for me to fall in love with a band, they have to reach me lyrically, as well.

...perhaps the key part of their sound and one that translates across their whole discography is lead singer and frontman Alex Turner's intricate and often rapidly-delivered lyrics, sung in a distinctive strong Sheffield accent...

Of course I'm a sucker for the English accent, but I also like the way he turns a phrase. Then I read this (because yes, I developed a Tumblr crush on Alex Turner and have now read his wiki as well):

Turner has since said that, had Arctic Monkeys not become successful, he would have studied English at Manchester University.

Well, obviously I have to like this guy. He would have been an English major.

By the time their AM album came out in September, I was a full-on fan. I particularly like "Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High," "R U Mine" and "I Wanna Be Yours."

Lyrically? I would deem lines like "I wanna be your vacuum cleaner, breathing in your dust" to be kinda lame. But wow, do I find that it does not sound lame when Alex Turner sings it. :)

Similar to "Fluorescent Adolescent" (I like it best acoustic) — with lines like "You used to get it in your fishnets, now you only get it in your night dress" — I was like "hmm, should I find this offensive?" (Nah. It was co-written with an ex-girlfriend.)

And I find myself analyzing every time I listen to "Mardy Bum." "But see, if you'd only called and told her that you were going to be late (because the traffic was a state), she probably wouldn't have the face on. She's upset because she wants to be with you and you seem like you don't care when you don't call..."

Yeah, as "primers" go... this isn't. But I love this band! Like I was gonna let a chance to talk about them ad nauseam pass. :)