Red Thread

"An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle but will never break." ~ Ancient Chinese Beli

Thursday, December 8, 2011

"Why no Santa in China?"

Despite the heat and humidity of is beginning to feel a bit like Christmas.  We have our tree up - and yes we finally came around to getting an artificial tree this year for a variety of reasons and I am actually okay with it.  No watering, no messy needles to clean up daily, no guilt feeling associated with the fact that a real tree comes to us via ship etc etc.  All of my Santas are out and "QD" (our Elf on the Shelf) is entertaining us on a daily basis.  

The girls love all of QDs' stunts and viewing spots !
The children have holiday parties, concerts etc and I have done all my shopping, wrapping and mailing. The count down has started and only 4 more sleeps until we are off to Switzerland to spend Christmas with Opa and the rest of the Stilli family.  Ella is beyond excited and Lexi has no clue to what we are doing, where we are going and why we keep getting her to try on these heavy clothes that make her feel like a stuffed toy!

Ready for snow in the mountains - for the first time!
Ella has always loved Christmas and it is a joy to watch her eyes light up as she shares the delights with her "Mei Mei" Lexi.  Ella has been busy teaching Lexi carols, reading stories and helping her make holiday crafts.  I especially love hearing Lexi sing her favorite carol "Tinkle Bells!"  ;)

Ella, Lexi & Isabella (neighbor friend) getting into the holiday spirit!
As every week passes Lexi's speech advances in terms of vocabulary, fluency and at times even her articulation.  She is constantly in the ask mode of either "Why?" or something more specific.  Ella was telling Lexi all about Santa Claus - who he is, where he lives, how you need to sit on his lap and tell him what toys you want for Christmas etc.  

I noticed Lexi was not asking her typical questions and there weren't many "why?"s.  
She was taking it all in and then turned to me and asked something that really threw me. "MaMa.....why there no Santa in China?"  Dumbstruck I said, "What do you mean?"  And she said, "There no Santa in China MaMa.  There no toys."  

It took me all I had not to cry or react in an emotional way and to be honest I am not even sure what I said to her. Ella just gave her a squeeze and whisked her away to work on another activity - and surprisingly Ella did not come back to me to further expand on the question/comment - something she has asked before in relation to children in orphanages and I always struggle with an explanation that does not cause more questions and concern.

I do not know what Lexi meant by her statement/question.  Perhaps it was just an opportunity to use the word Santa in a sentence and to talk about him as she really does not know what it going on. Lexi was 27 months when she joined our family a year ago October so last Christmas may have been her first time celebrating but she was still in a heavy state of grief and turmoil at the time so did not take much in. I do not know what was done in her Foster family or orphanage but realistically she would not really remember it anyway because she was so young.  

No matter what was meant or not meant by her statement, Lexi sent a strong message with her comment because she caused me to stop and remember that there are over 700,000 orphans in China and millions more around the world that likely do not have a Santa in their life to bring them presents or a little bit of joy during the holiday season.  Sadly there are just too many children in general around the world who go with out - not only at Christmas but every other time of the year as well.

Lexi's statement reminded me that despite how busy and engaged we get during the holiday season, we should all stop for a moment and take time to help make a difference in the world by giving back.  Be it a donation of some sort - maybe a gift for 'toys for tots', canned food for a shelter, a monetary sponsorship for a child in need, the gift of giving ....what ever it may matter how big or how small..... it is a giving well worth it.  We all find ways to give but there is always ways to give a little more and it is my hope that we can all do more this holiday season to help those around the world and in our own communities who are in need.

From our family to yours - we wish you a magical holiday season and a good slide into 2012!!


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gobble Gobble

This morning I started my day with a peaceful moment (which is rare) so I could easily make time to reflect and give thanks to all that I am so grateful for in my life.  Living away from family and good friends is difficult but on special holidays like today - Thanksgiving - it is that much more so.  Having said that, even though we are not together to share in the day we are in each others lives and have wonderful memories to reflect back on as well as joyful times ahead to look forward to.  For that, I am thankful.

I am also incredibly thankful to have my family of four being in a very good place.  Yes we still have many a challenge that we are faced with regularly, and that still lie ahead but in many ways that is just life, right?  A year ago we were a family of four for just a month on Thanksgiving day and to be honest I do not even remember the day.  Of course I was thankful but I was also severely sleep deprived (and still am but used to it!) and we were still in the "getting to know you" stage with sweet Lexi.  A year later we have all come so far, and for that I am thankful.

A year ago Lexi did not know how to play with toys, today she glows as she plays.
I, well "we" with assistance from our helper Charity, am attempting a Thanksgiving meal for my loved ones.  I opted for a roasted stuffed chicken versus the traditional turkey because I could not find a turkey small enough to fit in our fridge and that would suit our small meat eating family.  Plus I figure I am the only true blooded American in our family anyway and I dont even eat turkey!!!  Ella had turkey yesterday at school and they will never tell the difference anyway, right? Only a few hours will tell. 

Little did I know that our friend "Charlie" still had his feet and head on when I bought him/her!  All the appendages were neatly tucked in so it was a "clean" chicken in disguise otherwise I would have kept looking.  So.... I really am thankful for Charity's help today because I would not have been able to decapitate and de-feet him on my own!

"Charlie" with head, feet and all!
I had a fun day yesterday at Ella's school helping out in the classroom with a Thanksgiving activity.  Surprisingly the majority of Elle's classmates have not celebrated Thanksgiving so it was an interesting afternoon of learning.  Sadly, Ella falls into that camp as well -  the night before I asked her about the history of Thanksgiving and she proceeded to tell me "well it all started in the country of Turkey...."  ~ I will end it there. :)  Suffice to say that I am a bit ashamed to have dropped the cultural ball in her upbringing.  You can be sure that Lexi will be wearing a pilgrim hat at our table tonight!  Having said that, I am thankful for the flexibility in my schedule now so I can go into Elle's classroom and help out - and I am also very thankful for the cultural diversity that exists within our family - never a dull moment!
Ella and Classmate showing off their "What I am thankful for Turkey"
It feels so different this year as we are in a much better place as a family as compared to last year.  We were extremely thankful last year but feel a bit more connected this year. Ella has the day off today as she is at an American international school for the first time so the day is recognized despite it obviously not being a holiday celebrated through out Singapore - or Hong Kong - or Switzerland for that matter. Having Ella at home today has helped me a lot from an emotional perspective because in years gone by it was just a very normal day as she marched off to school and Patrick to work. Patrick also took the day off today so he and Ella are at the cinema watching Happy Feet 2 this afternoon.  I just hope they dont eat too much popcorn bc they will come to a feast.

Lexi went to pre-school this afternoon which is also a blessing because it would have been next to impossible to make all the preparations in the kitchen without her being overwhelmed at the site and smell of all the food.  Yes, she still has challenges with food but we are making progress - having said that, I will take a guess and say that Thanksgiving may likely become Lexi's favorite holiday!

So when I add up all of my blessings, what strikes me most about today is that Thanksgiving should really be a focus every day.  If we were smart, we would enjoy all that we've got and realize that it's a lot - not only today but all year long! 

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Our two blessings


Monday, November 21, 2011

What A Difference A Year Makes

I came across a great idea from some blogs that I follow of other adoptive families who have recently celebrated "Forever Family Day".  Going forward, on our anniversary of becoming a family of four I will take a photo of Lexi holding her referral picture.

As you can see, Lexi has grown a lot in the year that she has been with us.  She was quite frail and lacking muscle tone when we first met but she is a strong healthy little girl today - who by the way is now a non stop chatter box who was only able to communicate via grunts, squeals, screams and tantrums 12 months ago.

What a difference a year makes!
We love you baby girl!!!! 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rawa Island, Malaysia

A lovely 4 day get away to Rawa Island with DeBruin Family who was visiting us from Hong Kong - too busy relaxing to take many photos but here are a few.
We will be back!


Ella and Ava


Our Beachfront Bungalow

Lexi & Sophia

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Festival of Lights

Diwali ki Shubhkamnayein (दिवाली की शुभकामनाएं) = A Hindu greeting during Deepavali - also known as the Festival of Lights.

Deepavali (aka Divali)is considered a very important day of the Hindu calendar, and in Singapore is highly celebrated in an area known as Little India. It's a time for rejoicing and renewal for the Hindus and Sikhs. Lights play a unique part of this festival as it is believed that there are spirits of departed relatives who come back to earth and so the lights are the guidance for those wandering souls to their subsequent world. For the Indians, this festival is like a New Year celebration and all the celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends. Deepavali celebrates the victory of goodness over evil and light over darkness.

Little India is adorned with a spectacular display of fairy lights, garlands of jasmine, and colorful arches to mark this festive period. People pour into the area for celebrations, sightseeing, and festive goods such as costumes, food, furniture, arts, crafts, and jewelries. In order to experience the excitement of the celebration first hand, we decided to do the same.

Ella getting her Henna Tattoo
Traditional Indian clothing is colorful and graceful
And the more glitz and glitter the better!
Lexi loves her clinky bangles and beads too!
Deepavali is one of Singapore's most important festivals because it is a time that helps harmonize people, promote goodwill, and share understanding through various ethnic groups.  

Happy Deepavali!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Family Forever Day!!!

One year ago today we met our sweet Lexi for the very first time.  

Lexi came to us timid, frail and broken and although we still see the scars of deprivation and lingering fearfulness, Lexi does take a great deal of comfort and safety from us as her family.    We have learned so much in the last 12 months - and one thing in particular is that healing can not be rushed but it can be guided with love.

Happy Forever Family Day Lexi - we love you!!!!


Friday, September 23, 2011

Beginning to Feel Like Home

After years of living high above the tree tops....

View from 23rd floor in HK
 we are finally on ground level again....and loving it!

Our new home

With our own "back yard"
Surrounded by green!!
We have gone from a fast paced, crazy, quirky city to a slow paced somewhat boring island feel but again....a very positive change.  We love listening to the sounds of the jungle that surrounds us - and are even getting used to all the creepy crawlers and geckos that live amongst us.  We love the nature - the trees, the birds, the crickets, the flowers etc.  Living in the jungle is an adjustment but so what we need right now in our lives.

There are lots of fun family excursions that keep us entertained - the Singapore Zoo is fantastic and our annual pass gives us unlimited access to the Zoo, Waterpark, Bird Park and Night Safari (which we have yet to try!).

And the Botanical Gardens is a dream in itself, so having it practically in our backyard makes it very convenient to enjoy regularly for long walks, runs and peaceful moments!!

So yes, we do miss Hong Kong but we are transitioning well into Singapore and it is beginning to feel like home.