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, October 10, 2013

THREE Years as a Family of Four!!!

Here I sit on the eve of our "Forever Family Day" filled with so much emotion. This past week I have gone over in my mind every little thing that I did and thought three years ago.  By this time, we had already been in Nanning China for a few days.  We were out and about exploring the capital of Guangxi, Lulu's province.  We wanted to immerse ourselves in the culture and learn as much as possible.  Although we did not have far to travel since we were living in Hong Kong at the time, everything was so different.  The language, the sights, the sounds, the smells etc.  It was a definite culture shock and one that Lulu would soon be experiencing as well when we brought her "home".  

We had many mixed emotions.  We were excited, anxious, nervous, scarred, overjoyed and overwhelmed.  Quite varying emotions to be feeling at the same time.  Elle was about to become a big sister for the very first time....something she had been dreaming about for the past 4 years.  And Patrick and I were taking this leap of faith into the unknown.  We also had been dreaming about this day for years but had absolutely no idea what to expect.  We had read all the books, attended all the classes and talked to many many many other adoptive families.  In theory we knew it all. In reality we were about to experience something that no one can ever truly be prepared for.  

In our hearts we knew we were meant to be exactly where we were.  The red thread was finally coming full circle.  The moment we met, our lives changed forever.  For us, many of the fears went away and we were filled with a surge of love for this little girl who was now our new daughter.  For Lulu it was a different story.  The fear just got worse as time went on in the first hours, days, weeks.  She had no idea what was happening, she just knew she did not like it and wanted nothing to do with us.

Fast forward three years and here I sit waiting for Lulu to come home from Kindergarten.  She goes all day every day and loves it.  Yes it has been an adjustment - as everything is - but she goes with a smile and comes home with a smile.  Yesterday I had the pleasure of going into her class to read a book.  Lulu and I chose one of our favorites - A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kazo.  Such a heart warming story that gently introduces the topic of adoption. Lulu's classmates have been asking questions about why we look different and how could I be her real mother?  This was the perfect opportunity to read a beautiful story that addresses these questions. Choco is a young bird living alone in the forest who desperately wants to find his mother.  At first he feels that his mother must look just like him so he searches for an older bird with yellow feathers, round cheeks, graceful wings and striped feet.  All the animals he meets differ greatly in appearance and he must look deeper to find the true meaning of love and family.  Mrs Bear - who looks nothing like Choco - turns out to be the perfect mother for him.  Unlike the other animals, she demonstrates tremendous affection for Choco by sharing hugs, songs and laughter.  By the end of the book Choco realizes that family and love are more than skin deep, and that Mrs. Bear is the mother he always wanted.  A Mother for Choco was the perfect book to help Lexi's classmates understand that children do not need to look like their parents to be loved by them.

Patrick and I have learned a lot in the past three years and we have come to realize that these learnings will not end. 
We have learned that "success" with our children is not "one-size fits all".  
We have learned to go at Lulu's pace, not ours.
We have learned that when children do not reach a milestone, that is perfectly okay.
We have learned to focus on what L can do and not on what she can not do.
We have learned to "let go" of expectations.
And we have learned that children can not be "fixed". 

Three years ago we met Lulu for the first time.  On our blog we described her as a small fragile child who was emotionally broken.  We thought we could "fix" her with love, care and guidance.  We soon learned that she is not a toy that can be fixed but that we can only assist her in becoming the best that she can be and that it would happen when she was ready.  Yes, we filled her with love, care and guidance but we were not able to "fix" her because children can not be "fixed".

As parents we would go to the end of the earth for our daughters to help them learn, grow and become all they can be but the outcome is really not within our control.  This is just something that we need to accept and love them for who they are.  

In many ways when we look back over the past three years we see a little girl who is much like a flower that has taken a long time to blossom. Lulu has grown and changed so much in so many ways.  Her outlook on life is bright and she has a zest about her now that we have never seen before.  I am sure that this all has to do with the fact that she is beginning to truly trust that we will always be together as a family.  We are starting to come full circle. It has not been an easy road and we still have a long way to go but we have lots to celebrate.  

Lulu is blooming....and she seems to be getting ready to show the world her colors.

Happy Forever Family Day sweet Lulu....
We love you like crazy cakes!
xo Mommy, Papi & Elle

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Birthday Girl

Our little girl is 5 years old!  
Now all she wants is to turn 10 so she can be older than her big sis!

I once again found myself feeling a bit overwhelmed with emotions on the eve of Lulu's birthday.  Being the mother of a biological and an adopted child I experience two very different set of emotions prior to a birthday.

For Elle, I fondly remember all of the events leading up to her birth.  All the belly rubs, her kicking and elbowing me to let me know she was ready, the feelings of excitement coupled with nervous energy, my water breaking, rushing to the hospital with the bag that had been packed for weeks, the birthing room, the oils, the baths and the contractions.....oh the bloody contractions, the emergency c-section (and the "wait, I did not read that chapter in my 'what to expect' book!")...  The list goes on but mostly I remember holding my sweet baby for the very first time.  Looking down at her, smelling her and crying tears of delight in the miracle of birth.  I am thankful for having those memories leading up to her first moments on earth and I often feel sad that I do not have those cherished moments connected with Lulu's birth.  I know absolutely nothing about it.

In the days leading up to Lulu's birthday, I find that I give thanks for the miracle of birth as well but it is so different.  I am so disconnected from lulu's birth so it is hard to explain my emotions.  I find that I think about her birth mother over and over again and wonder what she is thinking around this day.  Lulu's actual birth date is not known.  Her birth date was given to her by the Director at her SWI.  Maybe it's a few weeks earlier or a few later.  Maybe even more as Lexi was about 8 months old when she was found.

To be honest, I get upset with myself that I even think like that.  Let it go.  August 25 is her birthday.  That is the day we celebrate wonderful her.  It is one of the many days through out the year that I stop and reflect on how blessed we are to have Lulu in our life.  I have a lot of work to do in this area so I can be best prepared to help Lulu through what might be an emotional roller coaster for the years to come when she thinks about the meaning of her birthday.

My wish for Lulu on her birthday is one filled of peace.  Peace for her to live a life full of joy, acceptance and completeness.  As well as peace for her birth mother and birth father.  Our wish is that they would know just how much this beautiful girl is loved and how thankful we are to be able to call her our daughter.

Bday hugs from big sis
Sharing cake with friends 
I wonder what she wished for....
Patsy the Clown makes an appearance at another family birthday!!
Thrilled with "new" bike
Birthday dinner request....sushi...and lots of it!

We love you like crazy cakes Lulu!!
Happy Birthday!!!
xo Mommy, Papi & Elle

Friday, August 23, 2013

Back to School

It has been a while and so much has happened since my last post.  We have moved - thankfully just a local move but still the same amount of work!  We have been to the US for our summer holiday (.... I promise an update soon with the details and pictures from the summer - it was GREAT!) and we started a new school year....and for Lulu a new school!

Coming back to Singapore after holiday came with lots of adjustments all over again. We lost all the progress we had made on sleep and had to get used to a new home too as we had moved house (just around the corner) days before we went away.  Not easy but okay because we know the dance very well.  Three steps forward, two steps back.  We will get back to where we were in due time.

Once back, we had 3.5 weeks to work through our challenges before school started so we got to work.  I focused on filling up my patience bank with as much yoga, meditation and exercise I could fit in.  I have learned that even 5 minutes of focused breathing in a calm and quiet room will do wonders for me let alone a 60 minute run!  One of my biggest lessons in life (that I am still working on) is that if I don't take care of myself, I will not be able to take care of my children.  Anyway....

I desperately needed to get the girls back into a routine.  Both the girls strive on routine.  Elle in a softer way than Lulu but equally as important.  Lulu simply can not function with out routine and with out knowing what to expect next.  It helps her to feel safe and secure in her day.  She watches the clock like a hawk and always knows what the date is....she just needs to know these things.  We call it "felt safety".

In my pre Mom days I would have said that summer was about sitting back with no routine and watching the clouds float by.  Having no schedule and just letting things come as they come.  Could I have been any more wrong?  This is exactly what does not work for Lulu.  It scares her, makes her suspicious and ultimately allows her to get swallowed up by anxiety.  

Elle needed a break from school work, swim team, drama rehearsal and even from her friends. She is a child that definitely needs to retreat in order to recharge.  She has more energy than one could even ask for but it does get depleted and she needs recharging too.  In Singapore - or any expat community - the day that school gets out for summer there is a mass exodus back to everyones home countries or holiday destinations.  For the first time, we sat back and did not go anywhere for the first month.  I kept Lulu in her pre-school - which transitioned into summer camp so no big change - and Ella spent her mornings at tennis and swim camp and her afternoons playing guitar and reading or playing in her beloved make believe world.  This worked well for me because I was able to manage the move while knowing the girls were happy and content.

Then we went to the US for shy of 3 weeks - like I said a separate post with photos of "summer 2013". Once we were back home in Singapore again we kept our days simple but there was a structure to it. Wake up, eat breakfast, go for walk or scooter ride, come home rest, do some summer reading or math, snack, go to pool, home, eat dinner, scooter ride, shower, read book, sing songs, go to sleep....or hope to go to sleep.  We did much of the same thing day in and day out and occasionally would throw in a trip to the library or the museum of science.  I had visions of getting out and exploring more of Singapore with the girls while we had the time but we did not get much further than the Botanical Gardens and the pool on most days.  It is okay worked.  But, it is just the end of week one of school that I realize there is more that I could have done with Lu to help her feel secure in her days.  I could have, should have, gone over our schedule for the day.  Just like she does in school.  This would have saved her from having to ask me "what's next?" or "now what are we going to do?" over and over and over again.  She eventually figured out our routine but I did not spell it out enough for her so I could have made it much easier...on both of us.  

Before we knew it, school was here and there was lots of hustle and bustle about with the girls friends coming back from summer holiday.  For Elle the excitement was so high you could feel it and for Lulu I can say the same about her levels of wonder and bewilderment.  What did it all mean to be going to "big school".  What would it be like?  Would my teacher be nice?  Will I have any friends?  What will I eat for snack and lunch?  Will there be enough food to go around?  Will Mommy be home at the end of the day?  She did not ask me any of these questions but I saw them all in her eyes and in her unspoken words.  

As day one got closer, the days seemed to get longer.  She just wanted to get on with it all.  Orientation was held on the Saturday before school started and a mere 600 students and their families were there when we were.  They split the day by alphabet so we ended up in the afternoon so had hours to wait after we woke.  The time came and off we went.  I was a bundle of nerves because I just did not know how Lulu would handle it all.  She does not do well in new settings and she does not do well at all with tons of new people surrounding her, especially lots of adults.  Well...once again our little spit fire surprised us.  It did not start off so well but once we got into her classroom and she buzzed around checking out every single nook and cranny, book and pencil, desk and cubbie she was okay.  Especially when she saw all the lists!  She touched everything and sized everything up and down - with out giving a single solitary notice to anyone but her teacher.  It is amazing how she is able to be buzzing about the way she was but keeping her eyes on her teacher the entire time.  Very few words were spoken but yet so much was being said.  Lulu was okay.  She felt comfortable in her setting and verbalized that she could not wait for Monday so she could finally start school.  Her teacher is spectacular and knew just how to interact with her.  Not fussing too much but giving her the acknowledgement that she needed.  To say we are relieved is an understatement.

Sunday night Lu went to bed with ease.  There was a peace and sense of calmness that came over her while she was going to sleep that we have never seen.  She was even sound asleep by 8:30 with out tears.  This is unheard of!  She also only woke once but that has since changed. :)

Monday morn arrived and both girls jumped up and got ready with no encouragement at all.  They were out waiting for the bus long before it was due to arrive.  They were both ready to rock.

First Day of School - Lulu KG2 and Elle Grade 4

The week has gone from great to greater.  I am waiting for the ball to drop because it seems too good to be true.  To be honest, I would not expect less from Elle.  She is one of the most enthusiastic people I know.  It comes with its own set of challenges, believe me, but she never has anything negative to say and is always able to look at the glass half full.  She could not be happier with her new "super fun" teacher and all of her classmates. 

Lulu, on the other hand, could not be any further from that description. She is usually quite un-enthused (if that is even a word)  and never overly fussed or excited (unless it is driven by anxious feelings).  She is not a smiley, happy go lucky child.  She is typically quite serious, stoic and stubborn and she usually does not want us to know if she is happy or excited about something.  She is always safe guarding is as if she is afraid to show her true colors.  Getting a smile from her is something that does not happen all that often.  So when we do get a smile it means the world...we have learned not to take her smiles for granted so you can imagine how we are feeling this week when you see the photos that follow.....
Day 2 - L loves that she has a different uniform for PE days!
Day 3 - Music class - Not a big smile but you can see why she is enjoying school so much.
Day 4 - Very proud of the awards she received for doing summer reading and math work!

Day 5 - After a long week, in bed and feeling great!

This afternoon - Day 5 - Lexi came off the bus in tears.  She says it is because Ella was able to bring home her school Ipad and she has to wait another four years.  :)  I would say it is because she is overly exhausted after going to school for 5 days straight, leaving the house at 8 am on the bus and not getting home until 4:15pm.  That is many long days...which make for a very long week!!

Some would say it is way too long of a day for a little girl her age and in some ways I feel the same but at the same time, I have to say it seems to be working for Lexi. She gets lots of stimulation, as well as structure and a routine, from the moment she walks out of the door.  She gets home and we snuggle and talk about the day for a few hours before she goes to bed.  She has much to report on!

I also have to mention what an amazing big sister Elle has been to Lulu this week.  She has taken on the responsibility of sitting on the bus with Lulu when she could be sitting with her best friend/neighbor who just joined the school.  She walks Lulu from the bus to her classroom every morning and checks on her through out the day.  I will eventually spend more time at the school and be there to check in on her too but for now we know this is the right direction to take because add me to the equation and it would often equate to a disaster of emotions.  It makes sense for now, as difficult as it is for me not to be there we are doing the right thing and I will get my time in the future.

Feeling very thankful for a great first week of school for my girls!


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Oh, the places you will go!!

Today is your day.

 You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!”

21 months ago Lulu joined Swallows and Amazons Pre-School as a timid and insecure little girl.  She joined a class which had children who were a grade level behind her peer group but what we felt was appropriate for her comfort zone.  With leaps and bounds she has made great strides moving quickly to the Parakeets and most recently joining her peer group this past October in the Toucans class.

The Toucans are special for a number of reasons but what has worked out so nicely for Lulu is that they are only  8 children in the class.  Four boys and four girls.  With such a small class the children have been able to really bond and grow together as a group of friends.  There are three teachers with the Toucans - a head, assistant and Mandarin teacher.  This just adds to it all because of the 1 on 1 attention the children receive.  

There is quite a bit of academic readiness that takes place as the children will be joining "big schools" now. Lots of attention spent on reading and writing readiness which is a great comfort for Lulu because this is what she gravitates to.  The challenge for the teacher was breaking her away from her comfort zone and getting her to develop her social and emotional skills.  And she has done just that.  Lulu now loves to play with her friends, to share and to collaborate in small groups.  She has really emerged into a more confident and social little girl who really enjoys school and trusts that I will come back at the end of the day.

There are still lots of challenges and nail biting moments but she is making her way.  I went to graduation today not knowing what to expect.  She was enjoying the preparations so that is all that really mattered but my hope was that she would make it through the ceremony okay...  

Toucans lining up for the big event!

Performing a song in Mandarin

A fun skit

Waiting to hear their names called

Diploma time with Miss Jackie, Head of School

Toucans Class of 2013 with Wu Lao Shi, Miss Mabel and Miss Wahila

Well as you can see from the above photos, our little graduate proved me wrong.....she more than made it.  She stood in front of the other students, teachers and parents.  She quietly joined in with the songs and skits and she proudly received her diploma from pre-school.  Some very proud Mommy and Papi moments.  Best of all....she is quite proud of herself.

We love you like "Crazy Cakes" all you can be!!!!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Peter Pan

The magical tale of Peter Pan is an irresistible story of incredible adventure, delightful characters and endearing, heartfelt moments.  This story is appreciated by so many because in a way we would all like to hold on to the simplicity of life as a child.

The drama group at Stamford American International School did it again.  Such a creative group of children who gave up their after school free time and Saturdays to make sure the show was a success.  And that it was!

Elle was once again fortunate to have the opportunity to be a part of the wonderful cast.  Grade 4 - Grade 9 have the lead roles and KG2 - Grade 3 have the singing and dancing roles.  

One of the proud Indians back stage

Since Switzerland and the US are a bit far to come to see the show, I have tried to capture a bit of Ella on stage via video - she is on the end of the second row with a pink feather.

One of the parents at school captured the finale perfectly so you can truly enjoy a scene from Neverland!!
Elle is the Indian on the end of the second row again.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Four Simple Words...

I finally heard what I have been waiting for.
I am still in shock.
I have been waiting for the moment for 2.5 years.
It finally came on Mother's Day of all days.
Perhaps it was because there was so much talk of telling your Mommy you love her at school.
Perhaps she overheard her big sister tell me.
Perhaps she has felt it for a long time but the time was not right yet.
Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.
There are so many things that I wonder about with Lex.
So many unknowns of her past and so many unknowns of what she is thinking.
It is soooo different with Elle because she tells me EVERYTHING.
Literally every thought that passes through her mind comes out at all times of the day.
This presents its own challenges but I do ALWAYS know what she is thinking.
With Lex we became so used to not knowing.
We became so used to the blank stare that still often is a big part of her day.
There are ups and downs and at times she can be a chatter box but often it is not about feelings, emotions or what she is thinking.  She talks A LOT about what she observes in the world around her.  She can tell you every single details of what someone was wearing and even what they said weeks if not months before.  She can walk into a room and notice immediately if something is different.  It might be a pillow out of place or a new book on a shelf....she will notice it and she will comment on it. She remembers all details because she has been hyper-aware for so long.
I do not even know if "hyper-aware" exists as a word.  But it is so real for Lex.  It is what she used for so long...and still help her feel safe.  It is survival for her.
But anyway...back to the four simple words.
Mother's Day morning was hard for Lex just as birthdays and holidays are.
I don't think it has anything to do with it being a special celebration but more because the day strays from the typical standard routine that she follows day in and day out.
Structure and routine are SO important to her.  It helps her predict and know what to expect next.
I muddled through the morning and tried not to take it personally (just as I tried not to take it personally on the Mother's Day Tea at school when she would not sit on my lap or hug and kiss me as the other kids did to their Moms).  I just reminded myself that it was just another day and it would get better.
Mid afternoon, out of no where, Lex walked up to me and put her arms around my legs and said 4 simple words. 

"I love you Mommy".

I looked down at her as she was looking up at me and she smiled.
I have known that Lex loves me.  I no longer question how she cares for me. I can see it in her eyes on some days and feel it as we go off to sleep at night.  She no longer clings to me for dear life but gently holds my hand and will give me soft kisses on my cheek.
She just has not been ready to say it or has not felt that there was a need.
But after hearing her say those four simple words and seeing the look in her gorgeous chestnut brown eyes, I know that she meant those words....she feels the love.....she has surpassed the level of attachment that she has been stuck on.....she is trusting on a totally new level...she is coming full circle.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

Today is a day like no other.  I sit in awe of the fact that I am so privileged and honored to be the Mother of two amazing...yet exhausting... girls.  On this day I also reflect on how thankful I am to call my beautiful Mother my Mom and to know that my Mother-in-law Rita is shining down on me.  For both I am so very grateful.  I also fondly think of the woman who gave birth to sweet Lulu... her Tummy Mama as we refer to her.  With out "Tummy Mama" we would not be complete as a family.

To Mothers everywhere...I salute you.  There is no greater job....there is no greater challenge....there is no greater joy.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston is in my heart

I am sad, I am angry, I am bewildered.

There are simply no other words to describe the feelings associated the horrific act of violence that has taken place in Boston.  This is not a natural disaster that struck us once again.  This is man made.  A person (s) planned this event and targeted the runners, volunteers and spectators and set out to kill and harm innocent people and wreak havoc.  Their work has been done.  Lives are shattered and people are living in the fear of their memories.  Boston and so many will never be the same.

I am sad, I am angry, I am bewildered.

Patriot's Day in Boston is a day of celebration.  Schools and businesses are closed.  Fenway Park has it's opening day of the season.  20+ thousands of people take to the starting line in Hopkinton MA to make the trek to Boston for the finish line.  Thousands of these runners are running for a cause very close to their heart.  Thousands more line the streets to cheer them on.  Every one in Boston is a Bostonian on Patriots Day.  It is a huge celebration of life and all of the history and beauty that Boston has to offer.

I am sad, I am angry, I am bewildered.

I lived and worked in Boston for 12 years.  I lived in the Back Bay on Beacon Street.  I worked on the 46th floor of the John Hancock Tower in Copley Square. I have run 4 Boston Marathons on the Dana Farber Team and volunteered at many.  I've had the honor to run along side of my brother to support him for the climb up heart break hill.  I have cheered on thousands and thousands of runners as a spectator for more years than I can remember.  I met my husband in Boston.  I made amazing friends in Boston - many of whom still live there.  I made experiences in Boston which have shaped me to be who I am today.  Boston is a big part of who I am so perhaps that is why I am taking this so personally.

I am sad, I am angry, I am bewildered.

I pray for the families who have lost loved ones, for those that are injured and all of those affected by this tragic event.  Boston will never be the same.  Somehow Bostonians are pulling together and supporting each other through this tragedy.  It is all they can do but it is also what they know to do.

I can honestly say that after yesterday I feel more of a Bostonian than I ever did.  Seeing the events unfold on television oceans away was horrific.  I was actually able to imagine the terror because I have been there walking those same streets where I once lived and worked.  Seeing the blood stains after all was said and done really hit home because this was my home and is the home to so many of my very dear friends.

I am sad, I am angry, I am bewildered.

This print hangs in our guest room.  I still remember buying it at the Boston Marathon Expo in 1999.

Never has it meant more to me than now.  When ever I looked at this picture in the past I was reminded of the joy and celebrations that were a part of Patriot's Day.  I feel so sad knowing that going forward this special day will always be one filled with such grief and darkness.

So many of us are left feeling numb and not knowing what we can do to help, other than to send positive energy and prayers.  I have heard endless stories from friends who were running and other's in Boston yesterday of the acts of kindness expressed by so many.  People helping people because they cared, because they wanted to, because it is what we do.  It is my hope that today and going forward, we can all begin to search for the good in others and do good deeds ourselves out of the kindness of our hearts.  It is what we need to do in times like this to lift ourselves up and to help make this world a better place.

Heartfelt condolences to all affected by this tragic event and hugs to all of my Boston friends and all of my family.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Til Their Eyes Shine.....

9 years ago this month, I listened to the music from 'Til Their Eyes Shine - the Lullaby Album' for the first time while snuggling with my days-old baby girl, Ella. This cd was a baby gift given to Ella from her God Mother - aka Auntie Annie, my sister.  Little did I know we would still be listening to and singing it 9 years later!

'Til Their Eyes Shine' is a beautiful collection of touching lullabies written by female artists.  The artists donate their royalties to the not-for-profit Voiceless Victims Project of the U.S. based Institute for Intercultural Understanding.  What a treasured gift this cd has been to our entire family.  Not only does it support such a worthwhile cause but each and every song has become so meaningful to us. We all know every word of every song as we have listened to it 365 days x 8 times.

Ella's birthday wish was a weekend away in Hong Kong to visit her very best friend Ava. She wanted nothing more.  We had miles that were to expire next month so we were easily able to make this wish come true!  We left on Friday morning, and were back by Sunday mid day.  It was a quick trip but some good girl friend time was exactly what she wanted...and needed!!  Laughing, playing, sleep does not get much better than that!

E & A snuggled up in bed - notice their AG Dolls in the big bed above!

A tear in her eyes but a smile all the same after a special weekend.
Back in Singapore, we celebrated Elle's birthday at a local art studio along with a few of her friends.  The girls had a fabulous time painting, laughing, decorating and eating cupcakes.  A perfect way to enjoy a birthday!!

Lots to choose from....
Girls getting a lesson on the paints.....
Let the painting begin!
After the pottery was painted, it was time to decorate cupcakes.....
Lulu was sure to get in on the action for this part of the party!
Bella, Sophia, Isabel, Naomi, Ella & Heidi

Happy 9th Bday Ella!!!
As Elle drifted off to sleep on the night of her birthday, I snuggled up with her and once again we listened to "Til Their Eyes Shine".  I had tears in my eyes.  I will never tire of these lyrics and it will always bring me back to our first days together as mother and daughter.

Happy Birthday to the most amazing, spirited, talented and caring 9 year old 
American Swiss  Miss.....who we call Elza Belza Boo.  
From here to the moon and back....we love you like crazy cakes!!

xo Mommy, Papi & Lexi

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Gong Xi Fa Cai

We have really enjoyed celebrating the Chinese New Year again this year.  Extra special for us while living in Asia as it is a major highlight in the calendar of events. The girls both had big celebrations at school and we have seen many a dragon dance in the past week!  When we adopted Lexi we promised, in writing, to raise her to respect her heritage.  We do this in many ways through out the year but Chinese New Year has become a real fun tradition for our family to enjoy together.

Sunday the 10th marked the start of the Chinese Lunar New Year 2013, the Year of the Snake. One of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, the snake signifies cleverness and tenacity and is associated with the element of fire. In the larger Chinese astrological cycle, this year is also associated with the element of water, which makes 2013 the Year of the Water Snake. The combination of the water and fire elements may signify turmoil in the months ahead. But people around the world ushered in the new year with displays of fireworks, family get-togethers, temple visits, and street festivals. 

Monday and Tuesday were public holidays here in Singapore so everything was closed.  Schools, businesses and many shops etc.  It was the perfect opportunity for us to connect as a family and take some time to honor Lexi's birth country.  We spent the day in China Town on Tuesday enjoying the festive decorations and lots of yummy foods and the girls were able to spend a bit of their Hong Bao in the markets (The custom of giving hongbao to the young signifies the transmission of good wishes and good fortune. The money inserted in the hongbao is intended only to give a little joy to the young recipient, more important is the expression of good fortune represented by the red paper.)

Below is Lexi's preschool newsletter highlighting the celebrations of CNY in her classroom. If you look closely you might find her!


Here is to wishing you all a wonderful and prosperous year of the snake!
Gong Xi Fa Cai!!!!

And since this year Valentine's Day falls on the 5th day of the CNY holiday it is the perfect time to express our love and gratitude for everyone we hold near and dear to our hearts! xo

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Switzerland 2012

To Switzerland we go!!

At the airport and playing in the space ship exhibit.
Ready for our 2am flight.

First stop Zurich.  

Wonderful to be back in our "old stomping grounds" and to finally see Family Lemilla after a long 2+ years.  Nothing like being back together with such good friends. Since we had last lived in Zurich together (2001 - 2006), we had moved to Hong Kong and Singapore and they had been in Shanghai and Columbus, Ohio.  Now that they are living back in ZH, we know we will see them every year.  Heart warming. This was the perfect reminder to us that the friends we make in our nomad life become life long friends....who are an extension of our family.  Here's to good friends!

The 3 Amigos back together again - Elsa, Ella & Stella
Stella & Lexi making hot coco
Mandi came by for breakfast - Yola is her youngest of three now!
All stop Graubuenden.......

We finally arrive to one of our favorite holiday destinations in Switzerland which is about 1800 meters above sea level.....the holiday resort village of Arosa!  We were welcomed with lots of snow but moderate temps so the cold was not too bad.  Nothing like fresh mountain air!

Lexi's first day of ski school
Snack time!
Definitely enjoyed playing in the snow more than skiing!

Lexi only went to ski school for the morning so after lunch we would enjoy a walk around the lake to visit the ducks.

Back in his favorite playground.....
Ella in the gondola - she could not get enough of the slopes!

Yes, still wearing the same ski outfit since the 90s....really need an upgrade.
Race day!
So few children as we were there there the week before Christmas.
This is a group photo of a few combined classes.

Post race glory!
The beauty of the mountains is not only a fun day but everyone is happy and exhausted come bed time.
Notice, Lexi still has her mittens on!
Last year we could not get her to wear them, this year she would not take them off. :)

Sadly all good things come to an end and it was time to leave Arosa.
But we were all smiles as that just meant that it was time to head to Basel for more family time!
Christmas Eve

Next stop...Basel!

Together again!!
Opa and his grandkids
Another bonus of winter visits is a walk with the penguins in the Basel Zoo!
Lexi was amazed and finally understood what her ski instructor meant when she was asked to "walk like a penguin".
Fondue Chinoise!

A wonderful day in Basel City
Best Buds
Crossing the Rhein River by ferry boat.
Tante Elvira, Tami, Papi & Basti
Watching the world go by.....

Walking through "Klein Basel"

Bruder & Bruder
After a fabulous visit with family, it was time to head home to Singapore.

 A little blurry eyed while opening gifts that Santa left. :)
...but we will be back!!