2:45 PM

Update

It has been a long time since my last update, sorry about that.  Things have been pretty darn busy.  We moved this summer, Yoyo started kindergarten (!!!), she also turned four, and we have had a huge development in our birth parent search (more about this below), not to mention I am working full time and running my own business, I am feeling pretty mental these days.
School has been an incredible challenge for me.  It started last year when my son entered JK and experienced some pretty extreme daily bulling.  I was not really prepared for that to start in JK and we even did a stint of homeschooling when things just got too hard to handle.  I don’t have the best relationship with our school and I worried about what the next year was going to hold for Elora and my ability to advocate for her.  Things have gone more smoothly then I could have hoped, although not because the school got their act together.  After months of talk and explanation about her vision and adoption needs, we have had 5 teacher changes and a family tree project in the FIRST TEN DAYS of school.  Not to mention she has come home daily with scrapes and bruises as she learns (the hard way) to navigate this new environment.  Thanks, for listening to me school, insert eye roll here.  Regardless, she has been a trouper; although she cried her head off the first day, every other day going forward she has been pretty egger to attend.  She is in class with her brother, about the only thing I advocated for that has actually come to play so far.  We have been promised the world but are still yet to see an IEP for her, so I am incredibly unimpressed with them, but totally wowed with my girl.




We moved!!! Yeah for mommy, panic attack for Elora.   She also had a whole new house to memorize and has been having tumbles all around the house and yard, but now almost a month in, she is navigating well again.  It was really an eye opener about how much she does not see, really she memorizes most things in her daily life, and it appears to an outsider that she is seeing her environment, but this was a big wake up call to me about how much she really cannot see.  Again I am just amazed by how capable she is, all things considered.  Our new house has a pool and I am so impressed with her, this girl who was so afraid of water had a pool party for her birthday.  We all just stood in wonder as my little fish swam around with her friends all by herself, happy little clam.  It was not even 6 months ago that she was tolerating water but sort of like a cat does, with her claws firmly implanted in my arms the whole time.  Ouch.
In the early summer I was doing some of my typical social media birth parent searching, one thing I always do is follow the blogs of other parents adopting from Wenzhou orphanage.  I read that she had got an email from one of the nannies directly; I contacted her and asked if she could share it with me.  She did but said that other than the one email they had not gotten any communication from her.  We wrote a letter and asked a friend to translate it for us.  I sent it off, just like the many other bottles in the ocean I have sent.  I did not have much hope.  Nearly three months later we got an email back!  I was so excited, and even better it included a baby photo of our girl we had never received before.  We now have contact though this amazing app called WeChat and we can send messages and photos back and forth, all for free and best of all it translates for us.  We have shared videos, photos, stories and memories.  It has been incredibly healing for Elora.  All these years she missed Nanny, Mama she once called her.  All these years we thought that Nanny did a great job, but it was just a job, not a bond.  Our correspondence was never received, for all we knew all the love we sent across the ocean was not reciprocated.   We were wrong!  Nanny cares about all her children.  I wish I could have videotaped the moment that Elora received a recording of her nanny singing to her, a birthday gift, the song she instantly recognized as “my baby song”.  She twirled and swayed and the hugest grin was plastered on her face as she played and replayed the song over and over.  The most incredible gift EVER!!  We have been so blessed by this budding relationship.  I am the custodian of this friendship and the responsibility of this weighs heavy on me.  Every message I send I wonder if I am writing too much, intruding, stepping on cultural toes unknown. 

As we continue to build this relationship, I learn more about the woman who was mama.  It has been also so rewarding for me.  Do you know how incredible it feels to have a person in your life who also thinks everything your daughter does is perfectly perfect.  She was with me beaming and proud and teary eyed when I sent her photos of the first day of school.  She also thinks Elora is THE most beautiful singer, we both have mommy ears on.  She does not tire of yet another photo of our girl in a pretty new dress, or poorly shot iphone videos of her chatting away in a foreign language.

There was once a day when Nanny had my girl and I was the one an ocean away from her crying and wishing for her happiness and health, worried oh so worried.  Now I have in my life the inverse and I am so incredibly lucky to be able to share with her our girl, the one she and I raised together, because she is wishing those same wishes and crying those same tears.  She the second and I the third mama, one huge piece of the puzzle back in our life, yet one still missing.  This new relationship has both eased my frantic search and inspired me to try harder.  If this is all we ever get, that will be amazing, because I never even dreamed we could have this much of her past in our present.  On the other hand how incredible would it be to complete the circle and include first mama in all these moments of motherly sharing and pride.  If this is what open adoption can be, so healing, so rewarding, so bonding, so hopeful, so quenching, so much love for one incredible girl, then I can only ever want more of that.

10:33 AM

Second Adoption Day Anniversary

And all along I believed
I would find you
Time has brought
Your heart to me
I have loved you for a
Thousand years

Our little tiger cub Yoyo was placed in our arms two years ago today! We love her fiercely and she gave us so much love in return. This morning she told me "I had a really hard time waiting for you to get me in China, I'm not good at waiting". Melt my heart. Your mama is also not good at waiting. Counting my blessings every single day that she has been safe in our arms, now and forever.


4:03 PM

happy new year!


5:21 PM

Miraflex glasses review


Elora got her first pair of glasses, we knew right off that we wanted to get her Miraflex.  The majority of albinism kids we know wear them, kids and moms agree they rock! 
Elora wearing Baby Lux model

Cute factor
They come in lots of colors and styles to suit any style, moms know that letting kids have a say in their choices can help get them on board and you can rest assured that all of these are great choices.  They are also designed to fit a baby from newborn and up so you can find the right size for even the tiniest head.
Durable
They are constructed from one continuous piece of rubbery plastic. No hinges, no wires, no metal, they are twistable and pliable.  Elora has already face planted wearing them and they are no worse for wear.  Other parents mentioned they are also preferable for rough play that toddlers do because normal glasses that do break can also be a poking hazard to the child’s face.
They stay on
Elora’s beautiful moon shaped face’s highest point are her cheeks not her nose so typical glasses that rely on the nose and ears to support them do not work for her at all.  Her ears are also so floppy that typical glasses just fold them right over and they slip off.  Miraflex glasses are more like swimming goggles with an adjustable back strap to keep them secure on her head, the ears and nose play only a small supporting and positioning role but the main support comes from the rear band.
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Kids with albinism seem to have a huge spectrum of light sensitivity, but from what I can tell Elora seems to be more sensitive than most.  She is also only affected by natural light not indoor artificial light.  For these reasons we felt that transitions lenses would not be effective for her because they do not transition fast enough or dark enough and they have trouble differentiating from natural and artificial light.  We wanted something that was much more under our control.  Obviously we don’t want her taking her prescription glasses of for risk of loss or damage plus she needs them to see!  What I envisioned idealy were clip on sunglasses, but I could only find them in adult sizes and they are spring loaded these days and depend on the width.  I am still looking for the old school style that works on an actual clip and flip mechanism in a small enough size.  In the mean time I was inspired by sun glasses I found for my husband that are designed to slide over top of his prescription glasses.
He really likes these because they also provide side coverage.  They were just too big for baby, but any adults or older kids with albinism, check these out!  http://www.cocoonseyewear.com/
I took this idea and fitted my own device using Elora’s existing store bought sunglasses.  We are hard core sunglass collectors and we own about 15 pairs and styles.  Through some testing I found that sunglasses with a flat front worked best with our Miraflex style.  Just so happens that our heart shape glasses from Joe fresh were the best fit and at only $8 we stoked up on ever color!  I tried leaving the arms on the glasses and attaching them to the band and this may be a solution for your child but it was too weighty on Elora’s floppy ears. 
I removed the arms using a glasses screwdriver and threaded clear Goody brand hair elastics into the now empty screw hole and then created a linking chain of elastics to the opposite side. 
The little tab that used to hold the arms fits perfectly on top of the Miraflex glasses where the arm and frame meet and the elastic holds it in place. 
They are easy to use and Elora can take them on and off on her own, another goal we had. They stayed in place during a sledding outing and downhill tumble, so I am pretty impressed so far.

*Note: For any boy readers out there that may not be thrilled about heart shaped glasses I did find that aviator and Ray Band imitation style glasses were also good fit for the Miraflex, just avoid any thing that has a wraparound or curvature on the face.

12:32 PM

Glasses photos!

As a photographer, I think one of the best ways to improve your self image is when you can see yourself through the eyes of an artist.  Photographers are a little like magicians sometimes in that they can see you as artwork so they can help you to have a new perspective on your self too.  With that belief in mind I set out do do a photo shoot for my daughter to celebrate her joy of being just like me, now that we both wear glasses.  In addition this is the first time I have appeared in a photograph wearing my glasses in over 20 years, so this was a very empowering and healing self portrait.  How could I not feel proud and confident with that bundle of joy encircling me!



2:48 PM

Mirrors

I truly believe that one of the reasons having children can make you have a better life is that they can help you to be a better person.  Children have this undeniable way of reflecting yourself right back at you.  They can show us ourselves in ways that make us proud, when the very best parts and lessons we have imparted onto them appear we glow and gloat.  When it is our own flaws we see rearing their ugly heads, almost nothing can be worse, or harder to handle.  After all if we as mature adults have not managed to correct this perceived character flaw in the past 30 something years what hope do we have to steering our kids away from the very same problem?
The first step is in identifying the issue.  This can be harder than it sounds.  Often it is our spouses who can see the mirror image hard headed alpha females circling each other in a debate that goes nowhere while you and your daughter are just both flummoxed at each other’s wrongness.  So when you come to realize that you are in this pattern you can now try to break the cycle.
My flaw is a deep rooted hatred for my glasses and complete lack of confidence in myself when I am wearing them.  It is ridiculous that I feel this way, its source comes from be being bullied in my early teens because of my glasses.  The lasting effects are still so strong today that I will not leave the house without my contacts, I do not have any photos of me wearing glasses any more, and those that did exist from that time period were destroyed by me in my late teens.  It is so bad that for reasons beyond my control when I wear my glasses my entire personality, posture and outlook on life revert to that of the shy bullied girl.  I stop making eye contact and mumble.  It is the strangest phenomena and I wish it didn't happen… still.  The easy solution in the past was to wear my contacts all the time.  The problem is Elora just got her first pair of glasses.  She loves them and she wants me to wear mine too so we can “be the same”.  She even picked out a colour and frame to look exactly like me.  She is doing great with them; the issue is I don’t want her to pick up on my silly glasses phobia.
I have to shake this, pronto!  So far I have done well masking it but she is so perceptive I worry she will pick up on it soon.  I love her glasses and seriously you could put a bag on her head and she would still be the most adorable child ever.  The glasses seem to only accentuate her bubbly personality and facial expressions.   I hate to admit though that I miss seeing her face without glasses on.  How ridiculous and shameful is that.  I just feel like I can’t see her eyes as clearly, it seems like there is not as much eye contact between us and she just looks about 4 years older, like she aged overnight!

I think given some more time (it’s only been two days so far) I will see this as the new normal.  I have identified my flaw so I can take this challenge head on and overcome this silliness for her AND for myself too.  It’s about time I left this in the past and preserving and building up her self-image is all the motivation I need to tackle this once and for all.