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

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!