Monday, December 17, 2007

Very Very Very Bad Dream

Ok I think this is the worst dream I have ever had in my entire life, and I've had a few of them. Kinda makes me a little leery about sleep tonight. I guess that's why I am sitting here typing it out so i can really see how ridiculous it really was. It started out the girls and I were sitting on the davenport watching a Christmas movie after lunch. Some one knocks on the door. I tell Meeko to go lay down as I open up the door. There are 5 Chinese people standing there. 3 Females and 2 Males. 1 female is maybe 45 - 50 and the other 2 are in their 20's. 1 male is about 50 and the other about 20. One of the 20 year old females asks if I adopted any children from China. I tell her yes, 2 girls. She asks me where they are from and I tell her JiangXi and HuNan. The girls get nosey at this point and come to the Door. In my gut I know something bad is going to happen but for some reason I can't stop it. Genevieve gets there first and saks who they are. Then the older lady calls out Lan Lan. Abigail turns to look and screams Aiya Aiya then MaMa BaBa. My heart sinks to my gut. The first lady who was talking asks if they can come in. I tell them NO. Abigail is beating my legs trying to get out as I am trying to close the door. In the mean time Genevieve goes to the back door and walks around the front and shows them the way in through the back and through the kitchen. All this while I am trying to pry Abigail away from the front door. I look up and they are all standing there. Abigail runs to the younger lady who is not talking to me and she begins to talk to Abigail in mandarin and Abigail is responding. All the while she is calling her MaMa. The older lady is rubbing Abigail's face and crying. The younger man is as well. The lady who has been speaking the entire time to me tells me she is their interpreter. The young couple is Abigail's parents and the older couple is her foster family.Her parents had full contact with her the whole time she was in foster care. They only placed her in the basket on the street so she could be found and get the surgeries she needed to be a normal child. They wanted her back after that. I told them we have not had the surgeries yet because she needs to weigh 35 lbs. Now they don't care is she has it or not. The interpreter tells me they have hired and atty here in the states to get her back. The whole time this conversation is going on my dog, Meeko is barking. Well I wake up to find he is really barking because he needs to go out. I Don't like those kind of dreams. They really sucks.

Friday, December 14, 2007

a very busy month

It has been a busy month around here and there's no sign of it easing up any time soo. This is a few pics of 2 very special days in our families life. Dec is the month to celebrate Gotcha Days. Here are some pics from our Gotcha Days and how we celebrated. Enjoy Genevieve's Gotcha Day - Dec 14th, 2003 Abigail's Gotcha Day - Dec 6th, 2005

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Happy Birthday Dear Abigail

4 years ago today a mother landed in Beijing China with great anticipation in meeting her first daughter. With little thought that her second daughter was being born at that very moment. A little bit of a girl with brown eyes and fair skin and the sweetest disposition any child could have. A little girl who is compassionate, loving and nurturing. What a beautiful little girl with an old soul. 4 years ago today a mother made the most difficult, loving decision any parent could.. 4 years ago today this baby was left in a grey shirt and pants wtih a pink blanket to comfort her in a box. The box sat under the street sign MiangXi Rd near the hospital in Nanchang, JiangXi. After all what chance did this little baby girl have. Being born a girl was hard enough, but being born with a birth deformity really gave her no such chance at a life in China. What a blessed family we are. I never in my wildest dreams would have EVER thought I could have such wonderful children.; Especially my Lan Lan. Her sweet smile and feisty demeanor will take her places.

Monday, November 19, 2007

God is Good

Check out some Great News for the Holiday Season

Sunday, November 18, 2007

From apartment bedroom to Girls bedroom

This was the bedroom in our upstairs apartment before we opened up the whole house. The girls LOVE Wizard of Oz. Most of the stuff is mine from when I collected it. I too am an Oz nut. It was weird, I was watching the movie one day when they were napping and when they woke up they were mesmerized by it and the hook was on. The window panes have pictures of the girls dressed up at different times and at different Oz Festivals. Curio shelves have several very expensive collectibles on it so I put plastic across it to keep little hands from enjoying them. There is the full set of Hamilton Collection Precious Moments Oz Figurines and scenes. The last thing to do in their room is for me to finish their Quilts. I am making them patchwork quilts with Oz Fabric. They are really looking cute. But to be honest they probably will not be done until after the holidays. I need to make 2 animal costumes by the 1st of Dec for their program and an adult Santa suit by the 8th. I guess I should get started as opposed to sitting on the computer

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Say a Prayer

Please say a prayer for Sandi and Hannah - Here is the news link that ran in Lansing this past week. Click on the photo to hear the whole story.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Check this out

The girls met their bud "C" at the theatre today to see the Bee Movie. It's really cute and they enjoyed it allot. Anyway they are showing previews for upcoming movies. There's a cute one coming out in a couple weeks about a prince and a princess who get sent to New York via time warp. I think it was called enchanted. But the best one comes out summer of 08 Genevieve's eyes lit up when she way those previews. She said "Oh Mommy look at Ping Ping, He's in that movie" That movie looks too cute not to see. Check the link out

From office/dining room to Dining Area

This is the Dining room Now. Pryor to this it was an overcrowded room that served as the dining room as well as office. It also served for what ever else we did as a family. Now it is a dining room. We have the office in with the classroom and we also use that area for crafts and projects. I love the look of all the beautiful collectibles I brought home from 2 trips to China. They have been sitting in storage totes. I also used many of these collectibles in other rooms in the house as they have been completed

Friday, November 9, 2007

From Bedroom to Class Room

Considering the recession our area is in, none of our houses have sold. So...... We have had to revamp each room in our house to accomidate us staying here another 4 years or so. This means home-schooling the girls. All of my little bit of spare time I've had has been used moving entire rooms to other rooms in our house to make everything workabale. I am going to try and get picks of the completed rooms in the next few days or so. What a transformation many of them have taken on. 8 rooms got a make over and a couple are not quite done yet. First up is what was our bedroom that is now the classroom. Enjoy

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

VERY interesting news letter

Newsletter Of The China Adoption Research Program, NOV. 2007 PAGE 1 NOVEMBER, 2007 University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Ave., EDU162, Tampa, FL 33620-8335 Tel: 813-974-6496 ● Fax: 813-974-5814 ● CHINA ADOPTION RESEARCH PROGRAM Mission: The China Adoption Research Program at the University of South Florida seeks to conduct rigorous longitudinal developmental research on child and family outcomes associated with the adoption of children from China, and to use the findings of such research to inform the adopted children’s teachers, active and prospective adoptive families, as well as policy makers, managers, consultants, support groups, and agencies involved in the adoption process. Director & Research Team Leader: Dr. Tony Xing Tan Psychological and Social Foundations Tel: 813-974-6496 ● Fax: 813-974-5814 Members of the Research Team: Robert F. Dedrick, Ph.D. Educational Measurement & Research Kofi Marfo, Ph.D. CRCDL & Psychological and Social Foundations MESSAGE FROM DR. TAM Dear Parents: I hope you are doing well. In this letter, I will be sharing with you my meeting with the CCAA officials on August 14th of this year, and some preliminary results on parents’ report of their children’s development. Thank you very much for helping me with the research for the second time. I was able to gather data from 670 families (out of the 853 families in the 2005 phase of the study). Unfortunately, there were about 120 families who participated in the 2005 study but their contact information was no longer valid. I am hoping that they will get in touch with me after reading this newsletter. The 2007 study is designed to learn about the adopted children’s development since 2 years ago. In this phase of the study, I focused on preschool children’s sleep patterns and sleep problems. For the school-aged children, I focused on their social skills and academic skills. I asked the parents to fill out a blue form (the same as the one they filled out in 2005) called the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). I also asked them to fill out a Social Skill Rating System (SSRS) and Sleep and Parenting Survey (for preschool children only). In this phase I also asked parents if they would be willing to ask their adopted children’s teacher to fill out a survey. I am sending the parents the surveys for the teachers this week. I have again arranged the findings in a Q & A format so that you can choose to read the ones that interest you. I hope you find them informative. Newsletter Of The China Adoption Research Program, NOV. 2007 PAGE 2 MEETING WITH CCAA AND PRELIMINARY FINDINGS FROM THE 2007 STUDY On August 14th, I met with the CCAA officials in their new building. While there, I noticed that the CCAA was busy welcoming children in Beijing for heritage tours. When I was at the office of the deputy director Ms. Chu XiaoYing (who was the Director of Document Review office in 2002 when I last visited), I noticed a large poster with many photos of the adopted children (current photo, current residence, adoption photo, orphanage, as well as a short message the child wrote to CCAA). I believe a couple of the children are actually in my study. At the CCAA, I had individual meetings with Ms. Chu and Ms. Tie Ling (Director of Infant and Toddler Care). I also had a brief meeting with Mr. Ji (Director of Domestic Adoption) (who was Director of the Matching Office in 2002 when I last visited). I did not get the opportunity to meet with Mr. Lu (Director of CCAA). Hopefully, when I visit again, he will have time to meet. My meeting with Ms. Chu focused on the current CCAA policy. We discussed some of the policy changes that had evoked strong reactions from the adoptive parents. The discussions were open and Ms Chu offered her insights that might help us better understand the policy change. The summary of the discussions are as follows: 1. Why did CCAA change the adoption policy given that it has been working well? According to Ms. Chu there were no fundamental changes in the CCAA adoption policy. The current practice was a reaction to the decrease in the number of children available for adoption. As the number of children decreases, it is necessary for CCAA to identify families that are deemed to be most suited to raise the orphanage children. 2. Single parents have been shown to be just as successful in raising adopted Chinese children, why are they not allowed to adopt any longer? Again Ms. Chu suggested that it was not because they did not believe in the single parents’ ability to raise children. It is because of the limited number of children available. She also raised questions about whether adolescence will present more challenges for the adopted children, especially those from singleparent households. 3. Why is it taking so much longer than before to adopt? Ms. Chu commented that this was occurring because there were too many applications piled up. The CCAA must process these applications before they can get to the newer ones. We talked at length about how the extended waiting might have affected the children as well as the parents. I mentioned that extended waiting might push people away from China and some parents might experience major life events while waiting, which might lead to a change of plans and decisions to adopt (I borrowed these thoughts from another adoptive mother). Ms. Chu was sympathetic about this but was unable to offer any better solutions. I subsequently visited their matching office again. This time, there were between 12-16 staff members working (in 2002, there were fewer staff members working on matching). Some of them have their cubic walls covered with baby headshots. I asked Ms. Chu about matching and she said it was more like an intuition than science. The staff members typically read through the applications to gain some sense of whom the adoptive parents are and based on that, they try to find a child that they believe is the best match. 4. Why is that the new policy requires a very high income? Many families who have adopted and raised Chinese children would not have been able to do so if the policy was in place at that time. Ms. Chu said that it was not true that they required an income of about $80,000. She said they wanted the potential adoptive parents to show evidence of assets of at least such a value. She commented that it would be much easier for a family to qualify if they own their house/apartment. 5. Will the policy change back after the Olympics? Newsletter Of The China Adoption Research Program, NOV. 2007 PAGE 3 Ms. Chu said that the Olympics did not have anything to do with the policy change. I suspect that the CCAA is not responsible for policy-making/change. It is likely that the Ministry of Civil Affairs plays a central part in policy issues. As evidence, while in China I visited an orphanage and was somewhat surprised to find out that among the staff members greeting me was the Director of Civil Affairs from the local city. She was clearly the person “in charge” from what I could tell. 6. Will the adopted children one day have easier ways to locate their birth parents? Ms. Chu felt that the current reality of child abandonment makes it very difficult to search. She said usually they would tell the adoptive parents that it is not likely that the birthparents will be located. She was very curious about the recent case of a child in the Netherlands who found and reunited with her birth family (parents and two older sisters), who live in a remote part of Chongqing. 7. Has there been an increase in post-adoption disruption? Ms. Chu said that she was not aware of the increase. She mentioned that while the CCAA was sad to hear that some of the adoptions did not work out, they were unable to do much once the adopted family left China. 8. Is it possible that China will close international adoption if the number of children continues to decrease? She did not believe that this would happen any time soon. She cited South Korea as an example. She suggested that more children out of wedlock would likely become a source of international adoption. Meeting with Ms. Tie As I am very interested in using research to inform child care in the orphanages, I scheduled a meeting with Ms. Tie, Director of the Infant and Toddler Care Program. In addition to talking about the current policy change (her response was similar to that of Ms. Chu), I focused on what was needed to improve the child-caring quality in the orphanages. Ms. Tie mentioned that the CCAA was very interested in finding effective ways to identify high-risk children so that early interventions could be implemented in a timely manner. She felt that some systematic applied research on these children while they are in the orphanages would be very useful. Additionally, Ms. Tie also mentioned that the CCAA was interested in finding better ways to identify potential adoptive parents for older children. I told Ms. Tie that as a researcher, I would be happy to take on the task of developing usable tools that could be used to identify high-risk children, to help train staff members, and to help identify potential parents for older children. The discussions are still at a very preliminary stage. There are several things to consider very carefully. For instance, is there a way to ensure that children who are identified as high-risk indeed receive intended early interventions (instead of being removed from the list of potential adoption)? Additionally, Ms. Tie made it very clear that copyright of any research results would belong to the CCAA. This makes it hard for researchers who might be interested in conducting research in the orphanages. Of course, funding is also very big concern as the CCAA would not be willing to sponsor any of the research initiatives. I am currently brainstorming and conversing with other researchers regarding this issue. It might be possible to work with other organizations to test some of the ideas first. Brief Meeting with Mr. Ji Finally my brief meeting with Mr. Ji Gang, Director of Domestic Adoption, taught me something quite interesting. He told me that about 20,000 to 30,000 children were adopted domestically a year (I assume he was talking about recent statistics). Overall, I found the CCAA to be very interested in learning about the children, their adoptive families, their schooling, and their overall life experiences as adopted individuals. They are eager to find out whether over the years there is any improvement in the children’s developmental status at the time of adoption. I am currently compiling data on the percentage of children with delays by year of adoption (e.g., 2004 versus 2000) and by provinces. I will use Newsletter Of The China Adoption Research Program, NOV. 2007 PAGE 4 the data that I collected while at Harvard in 2002 and the data that I collected in 2005 and 2007. Hopefully, this will give the CCAA a better picture of the conditions of children at adoption over the decade. They are very excited to hear that some of the children have done exceptionally well (e.g., in 2000 One child was featured by the Australia Post on a special sheetlet of 25 stamps) (I recently learned that the same child, now in high school, has just won a writing award and is now one of six finalists at the national level). They want to know where these high achievers were adopted from and what their adoptive parents were like etc. On the day that we met, Ms. Chu was actually getting ready to host an 11-year old boy in her home. She was very excited and wanted to make sure that the child would enjoy the experience. She mentioned that she wanted to do some “American- like” things at home so the child would feel more comfortable. I suggested that it would be just fine for her to conduct her life as she usually would, so that the child could learn about Chinese culture. Preliminary Research Findings In my meetings with Ms. Chu and Ms. Tie, I also shared with them some information about the research that I have conducted. In addition to sharing with them that the Chinese children showed favorable post-adoption development, I also discussed a few findings that seemed to indicate elevated risks (e.g., observed signs of neglect at the time of adoption, developmental delays at the time of adoption, sleep problems, learning disabilities, and identity development issues). I believe some of these findings are also of great interest to the adoptive parents. Below is a summary of these findings (Some findings were from the 2005 Data). 1. Observed signs of early neglect and later development. In 2005, parents were asked to report whether they observed any of the listed 11 signs (e.g., scars, rashes) on the children on the day of adoption. We only asked parents to check on signs that could be easily observed. Data analysis showed that more signs were associated with more adjustment problems in the children. One of the ways that I interpret the results is that these signs reflect, to some degree, quality of care that the adopted children received while they were in orphanages. More signs of early neglect reflect poorer quality of early experience, which might have presented more challenges in these children’s post-adoption development. I have not looked at the recent data to see if these signs continued to have an impact on the children’s behavioral development or social skills. I am hoping that as time goes by, the impact of the children’s orphanage experience will gradually diminish. From a policy perspective, this finding points to the critical need to ensure that adequate care be provided to orphanage children. 2. Sleep problems among the adopted children. As a group (total: 410 children), from 2005 to 2007, preschool-aged adopted children’s sleep problems did not seem to decrease, despite the fact that many psychologists have believed that as children get older they are likely to experience fewer sleep problems (I did not ask parents about older children’s sleep problems). In 2005, about 9% of the children had sleep problems severe enough to be considered clinical or borderline clinical. In 2007, about 7% of the children were in this range. Sleep problems in children seem to have a distinctive etiology (as compared to other behavior problems). So far, factors such as age at adoption, current age, foster care prior to adoption, developmental delays at adoption and signs of pre-adoption neglect have all failed to explain the adopted children’s sleep problems. In the 2007 survey, I asked parents more questions about their children’s sleep problems/patterns, their family sleep arrangements, and how they felt about bed-sharing. The data showed that 43% of the children require an object (e.g., teddy bear) to sleep, 31% do not want to sleep alone most of the nights, 21% are afraid of sleeping in the dark, about 20% suck thumb/fingers, 17% frequently come to parents’ bed at night or early in the morning, and about 12% kick and thrash a lot when asleep. Frequent nightmares and night terrors only occur in about 2-3% of the children. Note that it is common for one child to have several of these behaviors. In terms of sleep arrangements, about 11% of the children co-sleep with their parents, around 55% of Newsletter Of The China Adoption Research Program, NOV. 2007 PAGE 5 the children sleep alone in their own bedroom, and 23% of the children share a bedroom with their siblings. Single parents are more likely to co-sleep with their children. For most families, co-sleeping occurred after the parents had exhausted options in managing their children’s sleep problems. Overall, adoptive parents tend to be rather neutral towards cosleeping. Many parents commented that if it is needed, they would use it. The most frequently cited method used to help improve the child’s sleep patterns is strict/consistent bedtime routines. Interestingly, I found that very few parents asked their children’s doctors about co-sleeping. For those who did ask, the doctors usually discouraged it. Families who struggle with this issue tend to use the adoptive community as a resource. When these parents do ask questions about co-sleeping, they frequently received mixed messages. The adoptive parents’ extended families also frequently discourage co-sleeping. This is not surprising as solitary sleeping is heavily favored in the Western culture. I suspect that culture preference to solitary sleeping might make it hard for parents to ask about co-sleeping. I will be sharing with you more findings on children’s sleep behaviors soon. 3. Preschool–age adopted children’s behavior problems over time. For the preschool-age children (total: 400 children), from 2005 to 2007 (The average age of the children was 2.5 years in 2005 and 4.5 years in 2007) their Internalizing Problems (e.g., anxiety, withdrawn) increased significantly but there was no significant change in Externalizing Problems (e.g., aggression). I am currently looking deeper into the data to find out more about why there was such a big increase in their internalizing problems. From 2005 to 2007, the number of children who were in the clinical/borderline clinical category increased from 7% to 12% for Internalizing Problems. For Externalizing Problems, the number of children in clinical/borderline clinical category remained 5%. For the normative sample in the US, 17-20% of children of this age range are in clinical/ borderline clinical category. Thus, the Chinese children are still better adjusted than the US normative sample, even if they have more Internalizing Problems than two years ago. 4. School-age adopted children’s behavior problems over time. For the school-age children (total: 276 children), from 2005 to 2007 (The average age of the children was 8.8 years in 2005 and 10.6 years in 2007) their behavior problems did not change much over 2 years. However, the number of children who fell into clinical/ borderline clinical category increased from 15% to 20% for Internalizing Problems (e.g., depression, anxiety) and remained at about 15% for Externalizing Problems (e.g., aggression). Among the US normative sample, about 18% of the children in this age range are in clinical/borderline clinical category. In other words, the school-aged Chinese children’s behavior profile is very similar to that of the U.S. normative sample. 5. Adjustment of children who have crossed over from preschool age into school age. From 2005 to 2007, 194 children had “crossed over” from the preschool group to the school-age group. For 130 of them, they have entered grade school; for the rest (64 children), although they are of school age they have not yet started grade school. For the 130 children who have entered grade school, the number of children in clinical/borderline clinical category of Internalizing Problems increased from 10% to 18%; the number of children in clinical/borderline clinical category of Externalizing Problems increased from 5% to 12%. For the 64 children who have not started grade school, the number in clinical/borderline clinical category in Internalizing Problems increased from 12% to 21%; the number of children in clinical/ borderline clinical category in Externalizing Problems remained at about 9%. For the 64 children, I will be asking their parents to complete the older version of the blue form (i.e., for children who have started school). Their input will help me understand whether it is age increase or school environment/experience that contributed to the increase in maladjustment in the adopted children. 6. Between Preschool and School-aged children, why is there a big jump in number of children in clinical/borderline clinical range? Newsletter Of The China Adoption Research Program, NOV. 2007 PAGE 6 I have also been very baffled by this finding. Among the non-adopted children, the number of children in clinical/borderline clinical category seems rather consistent (between 18-20%) for both preschool and school-age children. This is, however, not the case for the Chinese children. There are several possible explanations: a). Transitioning to grade school is more challenging to the adopted Chinese children than non-adopted children. If this is the case, it is conceivable that the Chinese children will have a harder time during school age. However, this speculation does not explain why these children continue to show more problems (e.g., after they have completed the transition) than we would have expected based on their preschool adjustment. b). School environment, coupled with the children’s increased understanding of adoption, makes it more challenging for the Chinese children. It is possible that as the children get older and start spending more time without their parents, they will learn to deal with questions that many other children would not have to face (e.g., Why are you adopted? Why do you look different from your parents?). c). Methodologically, it may also be possible that the form that I use (the Blue form that you filled out) might have led to more children at school-age to score in clinical/borderline clinical range. The blue form (called the Child Behavior Checklist) has a preschool version and schoolage version. Even though the two versions largely overlap, they do have some differences. However, I should point out, that these two versions have not been reported to create discrepancies among children who are not adopted. I am hoping to talk with some parents whose children have recently transitioned from preschool to elementary school, to learn more about whether the transition tends to be more difficult for the adopted children. More importantly, in order to learn how the school environment might affect the adopted children, I think a better source of information would be the children’s teachers. I would like to see if information provided by the children’s teachers can offer some insights into their school adjustment. For parents who have agreed to pass along a survey to their children’s teacher, I will be sending them a survey soon. I will be sharing with the research findings periodically. PUBLISHED AND FORTHCOMING ARTICLES FROM THE CHINA ADOPTION RESEARCH PROGRAM Tan, T. X. (2007). History of early neglect and middle childhood social competence: An adoption study. Adoption Quarterly, 9 (4), 59-72. Dedrick, R. F., Tan, T. X. & Marfo, K. (in press). Factor structure of the child behavior checklist/6- 18 in a sample of girls adopted from China. Psychological Assessment. Tan, T. X., Dedrick, R. F. & Marfo, K. (2007). Factor Structure and Clinical Implications of Child Behavior Checklist/1½-5 Ratings in a Sample of Girls Adopted from China. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 32, 807-818. Tan, T. X., Marfo, K. & Dedrick, R. F. (2007). Spe cial needs adoption from China: Child characteristics and behavioral adjustment. Children and Youth Services Review. 29, 1269-1285. Tan, T. X., & Marfo, K. (2006). Parental ratings of behavioral adjustment in two samples of adopted Chinese girls: Age-related versus socio-emotional correlates and predictors. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 27(1) 14-30. Tan, T. X., & Yang, Y. (2005). Language development of Chinese adoptees 18-35 months. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 20, 57-68. Tan, T. X. (2004). Child outcomes of single-parent adoption from China: A comparative study. Adoption Quarterly, 8(1), 1-20. Tan, T. X. & Nakkula, M. J. (2004). White parents’ attitudes toward their adopted Chinese daughters’ ethnic identity, Adoption Quarterly, 7(4), 57-76.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Naptime at the Trawick House

It seems as if the girls and the animals found their nitch for naptime around here

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Halloween in the Trawick House

It has been like a whirlwind around here, and I see no signs of letting up. Here are a few pictures from all of the Halloween festivities. I am so blessed that I have 2 little girls who want to be little girls and not old beyond there tender young age. I saw more children with costumes that were very inappropriate, in my opinion, for 4 year olds. I was pretty shocked. My girls just want to be kids and enjoy kid things not teenager things. Whew there will be time enough for that later on. They were Dorothy and Good Witch Glenda from the Wizard of Oz. We went to the zoo on Sunday before Halloween for "little zoo boo" for kids. They had a blast. Genevieve and her bud Chloe had a great time just being giggling girls. They are so protective over Abigail to make sure she is OK and not afraid. It's kinda like Abigail has 2 big sisters now. And believe you me, she sucks it up. They are just the greatest to watch play together. The 3 of them get together and play for ever it seems like. The girls had parties at their speech program. I am so glad that get that socialization. It's wonderful to watch them bloom. After Trick or Treating we went by Bonnie Doons to see Aunt Barbie and have Ice Cream. Aunt Barbie had to work, Darn It.

Friday, November 2, 2007

jenny bowen update

From: "Jenny Bowen" Date: Thu Nov 1, 2007 9:19:00 PM US/Eastern Subject: We did it!!!!! To all of our dear, dear friends of Half the Sky - YOU made it happen! This week in Beijing we got some wonderful news. Thanks to the concerted efforts of our most extraordinary HTS family, I am going to carry the Olympic Torch in Beijing!! I do not yet know if I will be permitted to run with the children. That will be up to the Olympic Committee. But you can be sure of one thing: Whether or not I am allowed to run WITH the children, the world will know that I am running FOR them. Thank you, everyone, for helping to share the Olympic spirit with China’s orphans. I know that those children who are old enough to understand will be so proud that they have a place in China’s grand celebration. With love and thanks beyond measure, Jenny Jenny Bowen Executive Director Half the Sky Foundation

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Things that Make You go Hmmmmmm

Not only am I forwading this but blogging it. Please read it through and then think it through. Have a Great Day - Julia The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary. I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu . If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away. I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat. Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to. In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking. Billy Graham 's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her "How could God let something like this happen?" (regarding Katrina ) Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, "I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?" In light of recent events...terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found recently) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK. Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem ( Dr. Spock 's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said OK. Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves. Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with "WE REAP WHAT WE SOW." Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace. Are you laughing? Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it. Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us. Pass it on if you think it has merit. If not then just discard it... no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in. My Best Regards. Honestly and respectfully, Ben Stein

Monday, October 22, 2007

Half The Sky

The HTS online auction is going on this week. Some of the special items include a tour of the set of hit TV show, Scrubs (in LA); a gourmet dinner for 8 (SF Bay area); and autographed books and artwork, Gpoing Home Barbies, and many other great items. We also contribute a few Yiyang calendars. 3598 Half the Sky is very active in Abigail's orphange and helped fund her foster care until she could come home to us. They are now in Genevieve's orphanage to help improve the conditions for the children who are still waitng to go home to their forever families. Please take a look at all they have to offer. If you have ordered a 2008 Yiyang calendar, thanks for the support. If you haven't seen one yet, note that the Early Purchase price of $20 each ends Oct. 31. Afterwards it will be $25. This calendar starts on Nov. 1, 2007. Order now and enjoy it for 14 months! and click on the Store tab

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Chinatown - friday

The girls and I along with some friends caught the train to China Town Chicago Friday. Poor little Abigail, by the time we were done, she was in a snow suit. I think she may be part lizard. The best part about the trip is the lunch it Lee Wangs. Yum, Yum, Yum. Genevieve helping her bud Chloe make her first store purchase without having a mommy stand over them. I was lurking in the doorway though. She and Chloe have just fell into a great friendship lately. They ask when they will see each other constantly. They are so funny.