Archive for December, 2006

Saturday at the office

Saturday, December 30th, 2006

Another 2 day post for me.  Sorry I can’t seem to get to the computer every night anymore. 

Yesterday was another day off for me, so we started out leisurely, sleeping in, and completely frittering away the morning, as we are wont to do.  Joe had a Border’s reward certificate of a significant amount, so we headed down to W. Lebanon, NH, to spend it.  We had lunch first, and Anna charmed the pants off of an elderly couple sitting near us, grinning and waving, cooing, the works.  Maybe she just likes old people.  Anyway, she was a pill for Joe at the bookstore.  She didn’t want to ride in her stroller, she didn’t want to be carried, she just wanted to run around and rearrange books, etc.  He was pretty frustrated by the time he ran across me, and she just threw herself out of her stroller into my arms.  She didn’t behave any better for me, but I guess she was as tired of him as he was of her.  Next we went to Kohls, and Joe did a few laps of the store with her.  She was pretty amusing, doing a strip tease act most of the time.  At one point she managed to get her pants halfway down and her overshirt off, all while strapped in the stroller.  This from the little girl who can’t figure out how to undo Dressy Bessy’s big buttons.  Finally he just let her out so she could run around.  She ran back and forth from him to me, picking up miscellaneous bits of paper, counting “one”, “two”, and generally being cute. Joe didn’t think she was so cute, but I was just so thrilled she was willfully interacting with me, I didn’t care.  After a late dinner at home, Joe said she slept straight through the night for once.

Today, I worked in the AM, and Joe had to come in to help Renee do payroll and get the year-end tax checks written, etc.  Anna had to come along, of course, and she keeps one of us occupied full-time.  After that was done, we decided that since we were out anyway, we might as well fix a few things up at the clinic.  I went out and did a little grocery shopping and picked up a few supplies while Joe had Anna napping at the clinic.  Then I took over the babysitting while he worked on the plumbing and the dryer a bit.  I think Anna spent more time in time-out than out of it today.  Between Renee leaving, and then Joe running in and out, she was distraught most of the time.  But we survived, and I’ve got her in the baby carrier this evening as I type, trying to calm her down enough for sleep.  She’s sort of whining herself to sleep right now. 

Joe’s a bit frustrated with her right now.  He thinks she’s backtracked to her China days since the family left, but I think she’s just coming out of her shell more.  She’s not showing such an obvious preference for Joe anymore, which means she is occasionally showing a preference for me.  I’m not complaining.  The psychology of what she’s been through is so complicated, I could spend years trying to figure out what’s going through her little brain, and why she’s reacting to each situation as she does, but I’ve about decided it doesn’t really make any difference what the reasons are.  We just have to roll with the punches and keep our responses to her loving and consistent. and I’m pretty sure it will all work out. 

12-30-06-1.JPG It was really cold yesterday (single digits) so I made Anna wear a cap.  She was awfully cute, but she couldn’t see.  Fortunately, she wasn’t required to walk anywhere.  We all know fashion triumphs over function any day.

12-30-06-2.JPG 12-30-06-3.JPG Here’s my little movie star, modeling her shades.

12-30-06-4.JPG She was still in the “strip to my diaper” phase when we got home.  It was so silly that Joe and I thought we’d play along, so we all took our pants off and stood in our chairs.  She thought that was pretty cool.

Alone again

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

Grandma and Grandpa Winter headed for home today, so we’re back to just the nuclear family, according to Joe.  We’ll miss all of our company, but it will be nice to get back to whatever poor excuses we have for routines around here. 

After lunch, I dropped Joe off at the clinic for a bit so he could make sure we had enough money to pay our humongous year-end tax bill, and Anna and I went to Walmart to pick up a few necessities.  Anna was tired and ready for a nap at that point, but she behaved all right for me.  We went back to pick up Joe, and by the time we got home, she was so zonked I was able to transfer her to her crib without waking her up.  What a treat!

She had an interesting episode after her nap.  I only wish it had lasted!  She was pestering Joe about something (I can’t remember what) and he was irritated and scolded her.  She gave him a look, and then walked away from him and held up her arms to me.  TO ME!!!  The only time she’s ever held up her arms to me is when she wants me to get her out of something, like her crib or her high chair.  I know I shouldn’t have done it, because she was in trouble, but I just couldn’t resist picking her up.  For the next couple of hours, she couldn’t be separated from me.  She either had to be touching me or I had to be carrying her.  She helped me make dinner, and we played.  It all came to a crashing halt a little while after dinner, though.  She and Joe were playing some game with the dogs, and I went down the hall for a minute.  She came after me, and wanted to take my hand to bring me back, but I wasn’t quite ready to go.  I tried to pacify her by picking her up, but that caused her to throw herself on the floor crying.  Sigh.  Back to normal.  It was really fun while it lasted.  But it did give me some hope that she might come around to me soon!  I think we can count this as a positive day!

I managed to get tomorrow off from work (most people are still out of town, or enjoying the week off, so they aren’t coming in to the vet), so we’re going to try to have a family outing of some sort.  Which usually means sleeping in, then shopping and lunch or dinner out, which are my favorite activities.  Yea!  Thankfully we don’t have the snow that our friends in the Denver area are having, so we can still go out and have fun. 

12-28-06-1.JPG Anna enjoying her green beans.  She’s finally decided she loves them, and she can’t get enough of them!

12-28-06-2.JPG Anna and Mama with matching pacifiers.  I’m trying to give her thumb a rest.

12-28-06-3.JPG Anna’s latest trick; sucking on both pacifiers at once.  Of course, this was during the 2 hours today she wanted me to hold her, so she was in agony because I wouldn’t pick her up.  But she didn’t drop those pacifiers! 

A little bit of English

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

I’m sorry I don’t have any new photos to post.  I’ve had to work the last 2 days, and Grandpa and Baba have been entertaining the little banana, while Grandma prepares delicious meals.  Joe and I are going to have to restart our Medifast diet when everyone’s gone back home.

Just over the last few days, Anna has started to parrot some English words intelligibly enough for us to believe she’s actually trying to say something.  For about a week or so, she’s been willing to imitate me pointing an my eyes, nose and mouth and saying their names.  She can count “1” and “2”, but hasn’t made it to “3” yet (she always jumps straight to the “5” where we all wave our hands around.)

Yesterday she was playing a peek-a-boo type game with Grandpa, and he kept saying, “Now I see you!”  It wasn’t long before she could repeat that phrase, and use it when she was peeping.  She can say cookie (now that she doesn’t like them anymore!) and apple juice, and she can say Kotcha’s name.  She’s been able to say Mama and Baba for awhile, but she’s added Grandma and Grandpa, and Uncle, too.  She says Anna when she sees herself in the mirror, although when she’s looking at photos of herself, she still says Qin Qin.  Last night, while she was snarfing green beans, we got her to make a reasonable attempt at “green bean.”  The bean part is pretty recognizable.  I don’t think she necessarily understands what all those words mean, but it’s as though suddenly a switch went off in her little brain, telling her that since we obviously weren’t going to learn the Chinese words she knows, she’d better start learning those strange Chinese words we use.  That maybe we weren’t just babbling strange sounds, but actually using them for communication!  She probably feels like the first marine biologist to realize that those strange screeching noises made by whales are a form of language. 

Her receptive language is ahead of her expressive language, as expected.  She seems to understand quite a bit of what we’re saying.  I found last night that I no longer have to ask her for a ching ching.  I can just ask for a kiss, and she’ll give me one.  (I still have to ask, though.  No spontaneous kisses from my little girl!)  After taking her from a time-out last night, I asked her for a hug, and she gave me one!  Of course, my dogs and cats are very good at reading my facial expressions and tone of voice, too, so it’s a little hard to figure out exactly what she’s responding to.  I’d like to think she’s getting the words, though.  My mom said she was trying to imitate me singing the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” with the hand motions today.

Speaking of the dogs and facial expressions, I often scold them just by looking at them sternly and pointing where I want them to go, or to lay down, or whatever.  She has taken to putting the most hideous scowl on her face, and pointing her finger in their faces and shaking it!  It’s too funny!  I don’t think the dogs really get it, but they don’t seem to mind!

Grandma and Grandpa leave tomorrow afternoon so they can travel back to Oklahoma on Friday.  We’ve considered sending Anna with them, but apparently Grandpa is too tired to entertain a toddler full-time.  We’re wondering how she’s going to feel with only Joe and me to cater to her whims, but I think it will be good for her to see who’s going to stick by her when all the dust has settled.  I’m guessing she still won’t be all that enthusiastic about the Mama.  We’re approaching 5 weeks home, and she still fights to get away from me and run to Joe, but she’s so much better than she was.  Maybe in another few weeks, she’ll be willing to put up with me!

Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 25th, 2006

It’s been such a busy weekend, and it’s taken me about 3 hours to edit and upload these photos, so that’s mostly what I’m going to put up tonight. 

We started out Saturday morning with our usual breakfast of boiled eggs, milk and yogurt.  Mmmm, yogurt! 12-25-06-11.JPG

We had fun with Grandpa and Auntie Nicki. 12-25-06-2.JPG 12-25-06-3.JPG

We met up with all the family at the Eastgate in Littleton for a very nice dinner.  Anna got freaked out when we first went in, which was odd, because she’s always been very comfortable when we’ve taken her out.  It took her about half the dinner to calm down enough to sit in her high chair and eat a little of my rice.

12-25-06-4.JPG Uncle Jon, Joe and Anna

12-25-06-5.JPG Uncle Tony, Aunties Nicki, Renee and Eileen, and Uncle Jon

12-25-06-6.JPG Nono and Nana Casciari, Grandma and Grandpa Winter, and Uncle Tony

12-25-06-7.JPG The Aunties

12-25-06-8.JPG The Uncles

12-25-06-36.JPG The whole group. Aren’t we pretty?

Anna opened many of her gifts from the Winter clan that night. 12-25-06-9.JPG 

12-25-06-10.JPG Her first Paris Hilton purse.

12-25-06-111.JPG 12-25-06-35.JPG 12-25-06-12.JPG Aunt Ina Bittle sent Anna her first cowboy boots, because every little Oklahoma girl (by association with her new mama) needs a pair of boots!  They even have lights that come on when she takes a step.  She loves shoes, but the boots felt a little weird, so she only wore them for a bit, but she’ll get used to them.  She also got jeans and a denim jacket to go with.  She’ll be quite the cowgirl!

We moved on to Sunday, Christmas Eve at last!  Anna’s baptism took place at our Christmas Eve Candlelight service.  Pastor even worked her adoption story into his sermon!  We were very touched.  And tetched (my Oklahoma relatives will appreciate that!) My choir did a very nice job with their anthem, and I made it through all the accompaniment without completely messing up the congregation, so everything went well. Anna was having a hard time behaving during the service, so she and Joe spent most of it wandering around in the back of the sanctuary or in the foyer.  But she did great during the baptism itself!  We all wore our matching outfits from China.  Anna and I felt very beautiful, but Joe felt like a waiter at a Chinese restaurant.  You’ll all have to reassure him that he looked great!

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We went back to our house, and had a wonderful sit-down Christmas feast with all the family.  Jon made capilettis, Kay made pies and goodies, and Mom made the turkey and ham.  We had mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, gravy, cranberry sauce, spiced cider, wine, the works!!!  After dinner, Anna opened more gifts from the Casciari clan.

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Christmas morning!!!  Anna spent the night in a pair of jammies that I wore when I was her age.  They’re 40 years old, and still going strong.  12-25-06-21.JPG 12-25-06-22.JPG Santa brought her a “popcorn” lawnmower, and she got some raisins in her stocking. 12-25-06-23.JPG 12-25-06-26.JPG Uncle Tony continued to bond with Chip, and the other dogs enjoyed some tug-of-war. 12-25-06-24.JPG 12-25-06-25.JPG

Mama had kept back some of the presents for Christmas Day, so Anna probably thinks we’re going to open presents every day!  She got another cell phone and a laptop and a magnadoodle. My little girl can already multi-task! 12-25-06-27.JPG 12-25-06-28.JPG 12-25-06-29.JPG 12-25-06-30.JPG

Grandma and Kotcha both were invited to make calls on the cell phone! 12-25-06-31.JPG 12-25-06-32.JPG

Anna got some lovely stuffed animals from some of Mama’s friends, and a baby from Great Aunt Cheryl (she also got a lovely baby from Nana which she was very impressed with!) 12-25-06-33.JPG 12-25-06-34.JPG 

12-25-06-39.JPG Here’s Mama’s little Christmas tree, with no packages left under it!

Uncle Tony and Auntie Nicki had to go back home today (they just called me from Philadelphia, stranded there overnight!), but Uncle Tony got some quality bonding time with Anna just before they left.  12-25-06-40.JPG

The holiday is winding down, Joe and I are computing and Anna is asleep in Joe’s lap.  Grandma and Grandpa are here for a few more days, but Mama has to go back to work tomorrow.  Soon all will be back to our boring old regular life, but it will be nice to carry on with our bonding and attachment with Anna.

Our wonderful Holiday Secret Pal

Saturday, December 23rd, 2006

I belong to several Yahoo groups that discuss Chinese adoption issues, and there’s a wonderfully supportive community out there.  My April2006DTC group (a group of people from all different agencies around the world who all sent their dossiers to China in April of 2006) has had several gift, postcard and quilt square exchanges.  When someone came up with the idea to have a special secret pal event, I thought, “Hey, that sounds great!”  So, I signed up.  I sent a beautiful blanket from China to my secret pal.

Yesterday, we received a HUGE box in the mail from my secret pal, Michele Kuhns!  It was absolutely filled with smaller gifts.  We decided to wait until tonight, Joe’s birthday, to open them.  Oh, what a treat!  Look at all the goodies!

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As an aside, Michele sent a very cute mug that says something to the effect of ‘If you want the best seat in the house, you’ll have to move the cat.”  Just thought I’d share what my couch looked like while I was trying to take these pictures.

12-22-06-14.JPG Gao-gaos everywhere!

Anna had a blast opening her presents.  You’ll see how entranced she was by the Backyardigans cards in several pictures!

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She got a very cute fleecy sweatshirt and a pair of jeans for kicking around the house.  She spent a fair amount of time trying to put her new jeans on over her jammies. 12-22-06-8.JPG 12-22-06-9.JPG

The pink peppermint pig was fun, but after she tasted the plastic covering it, she decided it wasn’t edible and gave it back.

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“These cards are fun, but they take so much concentration!”

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There were also “Blanket Checkers’, socks and a coffee mug for Mama, fancy mustards for Baba, a beautiful red photo album, and lots of cool candy.  I’m sure I’m leaving something out, but it was all great!

Thank you so much, Michele and Chuck, for being so thoughtful and sending such a wonderful gift!  You really made us feel special.  I hope you have a superb Christmas!!!

 

Joe’s Birthday!

Saturday, December 23rd, 2006

Happy 46th birthday, Joe!  Grandma made a lovely dinner of chicken and rice, and we had birthday ice cream for dessert.  What could be better!  Doesn’t he look excited?

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I understand Anna was a good girl today; she certainly was after I came home from work.  Here she is with Grandpa enjoying her 5PM martini. 

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Aunt Nicki and Uncle Tony brought her another little book of photos.  She can easily indentify Qin Qin!

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Nono and Nana will be glad to see that she’s getting more comfortable on her rocking horse. 

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Winters come to the Northeast Kingdom

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

Clan Winter has arrived safely in Waterford.  Mom and Dad flew into Manchester Tuesday night, and drove up to Littleton yesterday.  Nicki and Tony flew into Burlington today, and drove on over this evening.  Miss Anna is doing amazingly well.  She’s hesitant around the strangers initially, but within a few minutes, she’s interacting.  Grandma and Grandpa are already part of the gang.  And Auntie Nicki and Uncle Tony are sure to be close behind.

12-21-06-1.JPG Anna and Pablo from the Backyardigans in her rocking chair.

12-21-06-2.JPG Anna’s already bonding to Grandpa, holding his hand.  She even asked him to pick her up this evening, and they looked at a book.  I think he’s already ahead of me!  12-21-06-10.JPG 12-21-06-11.JPG

We had lunch at Hoagies, after an unsuccessful attempt on my part to buy a slip at Penney’s.  I need one to wear under my white dress on Christmas Eve.  You’d think Penney’s would at least have a good selection of undergarments.  But no.  I’m ever disappointed in our local Penney’s.  Anna entertained her grandparents by reading them a book at the table.  Baba was mostly asleep. 12-21-06-3.JPG 12-21-06-4.JPG

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Have you ever seen a child this age who can peel her own orange and eat it?  She’s pretty talented!

Aunt Nicki brought Anna a set of nested boxes, which were a big hit.  She ran back and forth with them, asking everyone to help her stack them. 12-21-06-12.JPG 12-21-06-13.JPG 12-21-06-14.JPG

Tomorrow I have to work in the morning, but then I’m off until Tuesday morning.  I’ve got some last minute errands to do, and presents to wrap, and piano to practice, and cookies to bake, etc.  Clan Casciari arrives on Saturday.  We’ll be ready!  Keep checking back for more fun adventures!

Ready or not …

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Here it comes … Christmas, that is!  It’s early AM on the 20th, I have a full day of work tomorrow, and the guests start arriving tomorrow afternoon!  But we’re ready.  The house is as clean as it’s going to get, most of the presents are bought, the child, dogs and cats are as housebroken as we can manage for now, and I still have most of my hair.  Joe’s hair is another story, but I don’t think that has anything to do with the upcoming holiday!

I don’t have anything really exciting to report, so I’m just going to put up some photos, from yesterday mostly.

12-19-06-1.JPG 12-19-06-2.JPG  A girl, her sippy cup and her gao-gaos.  What could be better?

12-19-06-3.JPG 12-19-06-4.JPG  Lest you think it’s all about the new minimally-haired kid, I haven’t forgotten about my loyal fur-babies.  Miss Tusi and Master Porter are still getting lots of attention from the mama, along with the rest of the children.

12-19-06-5.JPG After stacking her cups and removing mama’s shoes while she was trying to do something of vital importance at the kitchen table, Miss Anna resorted to her next favorite pastime.  You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose!

12-19-06-6.JPG 12-19-06-7.JPG  Anna does love her rice, and she can usually figure out which end of the spoon to use.  But sometimes, it’s a challenge. 12-19-06-8.JPG  And, other times, it’s easier just to forgo the silly spoon and find a more efficient way to get the food to the mouth. 12-19-06-9.JPG  Seriously, she does quite well with her spoon normally.  She was just getting full, and playing around with her spoon in the later photos.  At one point, she dropped her spoon somewhere in her lap and couldn’t find it, but she didn’t make any fuss.  Next time I looked at her, she was scooping up big handfuls of rice and trying to stuff it in her mouth.  Most of it missed and fell into the pocket of her bib.  She had a grand time after that, picking rice out of her bib and getting it to her mouth.  Hey, whatever works.  She’s quite the little character!

CPC Christmas

Sunday, December 17th, 2006

I didn’t get to post last night because we had our annual work Christmas gathering at the Grand Depot in Littleton, our most favorite restaurant.  Master Chef Rick Tilton and wife Pat take very good care of us every year, and we had a fabulous dinner.  Miss Anna went along, and behaved admirably for a baby forced to sit and be a grown-up for almost 3 hours!  Here’s our annual photo, after a bit of retouching to remove the scary red eyes from my two most demonic staff members, Jill and Jen, and now my daughter as well!

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The next photo is from last year’s party.  They were complaining last night that they hadn’t seen it, so here it is for them to enjoy.  Joe and I were definitely at our most balloony last year, so we’re not so proud of that.  We look a lot better this year, don’t we?

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This morning, I decided Anna should wear her Christmas outfit to church because next week, she’ll be wearing her beautiful little white Chinese dress for her baptism.  We made a grand entrance because we were our usual few minutes late, and everyone’s eyes were riveted on Anna.  She behaved pretty well during church again, although you can tell she’s feeling a little more comfy there.  She’s chattering a bit, and isn’t afraid to yell when she wants more Cheerios!  It’s kind of fun with strangers around, because she will come to me to be held if she’s afraid.  She wouldn’t do that when we first came home with her, so she’s definitely making progress.  Or I am, or something like that.  I didn’t get any photos at church today; we were just too busy there.  We had a potluck, then choir rehearsal for me and a quick voter’s meeting for Joe.  Joe joked that Anna was the first woman to make a motion at a Wisconsin Synod voter’s meeting; I guess she made some exclamation that was soundly approved.  I don’t know if she got to vote or not.  I took a couple of photos when we got home, but she was cranky already, having slept all the way home.  The first picture shows her outfit the best, but she’s already starting the whiny cry in that one, so I put in another one where she’s holding Joe’s hand, just starting to think about crying! ;-)

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We’ve got a busy week coming up.  I’ve got a young lady coming to clean in my house for the first time tomorrow morning, so I’m a bit nervous about that, and Joe and I have been busy all afternoon trying to pick enough stuff up so she can actually get at the surfaces to clean.  Mom and Dad fly in on Tuesday, stay the night in Manchester, then come up to Littleton on Wednesday, and will be here slightly over a week.  Mom will be helping out a lot with Christmas preparations, and Dad will be actively spoiling his new granddaughter. I hope he can remember her name better than he does the cats’ names. :grin:  Sister Nicki and BIL Tony will be flying in Thursday evening.  Nana and Nono Casciari and Uncle Jon and Aunt Eileen will be coming up on Christmas Eve and staying for Christmas dinner on Christmas Day.  Anna’s big event is at the Christmas Eve service in the late afternoon.  Mama will be very busy that day, as she is playing the piano for the service and directing her choir as well.  And trying to keep from spilling something unattractive on HER beautiful white Chinese gown before the baptism!

Thanks so much to Pat and my Mom and Marion for suggestions after my last post.  I just want to do everything the best I can for Anna and our relationship, and I want to be able to let family members and close friends help out and be close to her as well.  I’m glad to hear everyone thinks that’s alright.  She’ll figure out how important the Mama is at some point!

I don’t know how the clever bloggers do it …

Saturday, December 16th, 2006

They come up with such interesting titles for their daily entries.  I’m about ready to start just using the date.  Or perhaps I’m over-stretching my limited creativity by trying to write something every day.  Well, I don’t really have to wonder about that last option; I KNOW that’s true. 

I had another long day at work.  Joe brought Anna in late in the afternoon so he could help Renee with payroll.  She again played happily upstairs, mostly with Renee, who is a very fun auntie.  I’d love to have her for an auntie myself.  In fact, I have her for a practice manager, so I get to enjoy her every day, and I suppose that’s just as good.  After work, Renee went out to pick up some carry-out for our dinner, and I found that Anna actually went to the door behind her and cried when she left, and then refused to play with me, even when I was sitting on the floor playing the games we usually enjoy.  She went back to her MUCH earlier behavior of pushing my hands away, pushing me in the face, etc. 

I’m mostly disappointed with myself and the way I allow myself to feel when these things happen.  I know I can’t hide my frustration; I have a very transparent face and can exude a pretty heavy negative energy when I’m in a mood, so Anna has to feel that.  I KNEW she would do things like this.  One of my travel companions in China had a similar experience with her first adopted daughter, and found that her little girl would deliberately shun her and go to her sister, whom she had never even met, when they first got home.  This went on for 6 weeks or so after they arrived home.  She ultimately got over it, but it’s so hurtful, and it feels so deliberate.  I know that much of it is a reluctance to allow yet another Mama into her heart, when the only ones she’s ever known have all betrayed her.  I wish I understood all the psychology, but even if I did, I don’t know if it would make me feel any better about things. 

I love that she’s able to get along with other people now, and enjoy playing and learning.  Renee is a great influence, and I don’t want to have to keep Anna away from her or any of my other friends until she’s thoroughly bonded with me.  All of these people lived through the whole preparation process with me, and supported me while we went to China and after we came back, and they deserve to get to see and enjoy this wonderful little girl, too.  I suspect that watching her interact with relative strangers better than she interacts with me hurts me much more than it hurts her, and her development is the most important thing right now. 

Those of you who have been there and done that, what are your feelings about letting your new daughters (or sons) interact with lots of other people?  I know that conventional wisdom states that during this early attachment phase, she really shouldn’t be exposed to many other people (and she truly isn’t at this point), but every situation differs.  If anyone has opinions or experiences with regard to this specific issue, this new mama would love to hear them!